Battle Michelada

The ballot and the remains
The ballot and the remains

Even though our own Plinio Sandalio once competed on Iron Chef (Battle Mango, alongside Chef Robert Gadsby), those guys have nothing on our boys and the Battle Michelada.

An impromptu michelada throwdown was organized on Twitter within the span of a few days after a fellow food blogger mentioned that she couldn’t find a good michelada in Houston. Before long, the discussion had evolved into a full-blown showdown between three of Houston’s best culinary talents.

Read all about it here to find out who won and to watch the video of the contest (which yours truly narrated, National Geographic-style).

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Bacon vs. Tofu: The Battle That Never Was

I am particularly proud of this morning’s bacon-related item in the Houston Press, a blog post and an accompanying slideshow of the 11 reasons that tofu is not the new bacon. It’s heretical to even suggest otherwise.

Check out the blog post first and then check out the slideshow.

A preview: “Tofu is one of the most peaceable objects on earth: mild, unobtrusive, yields easily and has no real qualms about taking on the flavors and textures of other things. That’s why no one will ever make an automatic weapon out of it.”

You know you want to read it.

Austin In My Rearview Mirror

Back from a very short weekend in drizzly but gorgeous Austin, which has somehow become the size of Tokyo since I last laid eyes on our little capitol city.  What happened?  Where did all this steel and glass come from?  Have the Highland Park and Midtown folks in Dallas and Houston abandoned their posts for the Hill Country?  Sadly, it would seem so.

Despite that, Austin is still gorgeous.  Sprawling and covered with yuppies (yes, I realize they were always there in some quantity, but now moreso than before) but gorgeous.  The wedding was on the lush grounds of Laguna Gloria, a Spanish-style house that’s part of the Austin Museum of Art and overlooks Lake Austin.

The bride (from West Virginia by way of Texas and Georgia and Connecticut and now living in Washington – this is important in a second) and groom seem to have suffered a bout of culinary schizophrenia while choosing the menu for the night, since it included tamales, sushi, Thai noodle salad, cheese biscuits, guacamole, brisket, chicken satay, tuna tartare and grits (which were covered with roasted red peppers and balsamic vinegar – please, do not ever attempt this at home – in fact, no one should ever attempt this abomination ever again), among other things.  But I love them.  And I loved the food, all 600 square miles of it.  So, really, what does it matter?  Eat what you want at your wedding, folks.

We had brunch this morning at Stubb’s BBQ on Red River, in downtown Austin.  Their famed gospel brunch was packed tight with squirming Austin families, gawking tourists and nearly everyone who had attended the wedding the night before, most of whom were shaking off the effects of the afterparty with Stubb’s build-your-own Bloody Mary bar.  The gospel music was incredibly loud but the food was good enough to endure the screams and wails coming from the stage.  More grits were in order, since it’s not a Southern brunch without grits.  Grits twice in one weekend makes me a fat, happy little Texan indeed.

Meanwhile, back at the blog, I wanted to call your attention to the fact that some more Houston food blogs have been added to the blogroll to your right.  Houston has always been an underground food town, and I’m constantly pleased when new blogs (sometimes “new” only to me) crop up to cover all the thousands of food facets this city has to offer.  Check out the newbies below:

Chili Bob’s Houston Eats: Chili Bob eats at – as he puts it – “Houston’s great diversity of eateries, with an emphasis on ethnic cuisines and peasant food, as opposed to haute cuisine, and places that are new to me.”  His posts cover a great variety of restaurants that most other bloggers never even venture into (or, if they do, we just don’t hear about it) and are an absorbing read.

Dirty Kitchen Adventures: Also known as @treelight on Twitter, this blog is more personal and occasionally includes divine-sounding recipes, like the recent ginger-vegetable soup entry which made me nearly choke on my own saliva.  Mmm…ginger.

Houston Uncorked: Although not updated very often, this is nevertheless an entertaining and easy-going blog on wine and the state of the wine community in Houston.

The Grub Junkie: On name alone, this food blog has the market cornered. I love this name. So much. Yet despite the name’s promise of things like greasy burgers and Frito pies, the brave blogger has recently embarked upon the Martha’s Vineyard Detox Program.  Follow along if you’re brave or thinking of a detox program yourself (or if you’re just voyeuristic, weirdo).

Houston Wok: Another misleading name. No, this blog isn’t all Houston Chinese food, all the time (although with two Chinatowns and about eleventy billion other Chinese restaurants in town, that wouldn’t be hard).  This relatively new blog does cover a lot of Asian food, though the author isn’t picky about which kind of Asian cuisine he’s eating that day, which is good – and enlightening – for us. But he also covers burger joints and lobster macaroni and cheese.

Is This Thing On?

Fish & Scallop Pie with Leek Mash

Test, one, two. Test, one, two.

Is anyone still here?

Buttermilk Pie

There. I thought those might do the trick.

I’m not dead. Far from it; in fact, I’ve been busier than ever lately. Funny how that happened. Here I was, thinking Now I can fully concentrate on writing and editing and social media and bunnies instead of doing all of that while performing all the duties of my day job – I’ll have more spare time than ever! Not so much. Instead, I’m busier than I can ever recall being in my life. But it was a nice thought while it lasted. Especially the bit about the bunnies. The fluffy, fluffy bunnies…

Anyway, life at the Press is wonderful. I enjoy my job more than I ever could have expected, although – as with all good things in life – it comes with the constant terror that it might all be taken away at a moment’s notice. Don’t act like I’m the only one who thinks that way. Whereas before, I batted at things like pageviews and linkbacks as if they were cat toys – interesting diversions, but not all that important to my trifling little blog – they have now become my very own Sword of Damocles. I live and die by pageviews now. Although I’m sure I’ll become more comfortable with it over time, for now I’m all too terrified of not meeting our pageview goals each month, something which has all but overtaken any enjoyment I take from writing for the time being.

That said, I was in print again last week with my review of Manena’s, a lovely Argentinean deli and pastry shop off Westheimer. If you missed the print edition, you can still read it online. And a million thanks to Jeff for being the first person to take me to Manena’s and making me wonder how I’d missed such a little jewel all this time.

As for my other food writing, I’m still at it (links below). I’m still plugging away at the photography, too. Some of my recent slideshows for the Press have been the most highly-viewed each week, so I’m both pleasantly puzzled and excited to have them so well-received. A sampling, for your clicking pleasure:

And, of course, you can keep up with my food photography over at my Flickr account.

Now, to the meat of it all: what I’ve been writing…

Continue reading Is This Thing On?