Friday, March 13, 2015

food lately

Grab a snack because I'm about to tell you what I've eaten lately and I don't want to hear that I made you hungry at the end of this post. I mean, the name of this blog alone should be forewarning enough.

Our going out to eat game is still going strong, as is our quest for decent Tex-Mex in our (still new-feeling) suburb. You guys, it's awful. All I need is some edible queso, fajitas with flavor, and a margarita with a hint of real lime juice. This is Texas. It isn't too much to ask. I've eaten so many terrible meals on this quest that it's just gotten sad. Flat enchiladas, canned refried beans, and Wholly Guacamole are all things I can achieve at home, thanks. We're about to give up and just go to chain restaurants, but I'm holding onto hope for one more on my list. Fingers crossed.

Another thing I really miss is an easy breakfast place where I can get drinkable coffee and a stack of pancakes. Yes, both are easily made at home, but Andrew and I grew pretty accustomed to once-monthly breakfasts out before grocery shopping and it's a tradition we've missed the past six months. A coworker told me to try Humble City Cafe, a down home local place known for its homestyle food and ambiance. It's cute enough, but the food was terrible. Some of the worst pancakes I've ever had. How do you ruin pancakes? Make them rubbery with no flavor. The coffee was weak, the server grunted instead of saying "you're welcome" or "no problem," and he banged the coffee cup on the table every time he refilled it.

You want first world problems? Clearly, I've got 'em.

Andrew and I celebrated nine years of being together with an early, week before Valentine's Day date at Pax Americana. It's newish and was highly rated on my beloved Top 100 Restaurants in Houston list for this year, so I was excited. Perhaps too excited. The place is LOUD and the tables are close together, so you have to scream to be heard by your dining companion and the table next to you can hear you, too. The bread course (from my beloved Common Bond) was great, and the fish dish wasn't bad, but we had a squash dish that I could barely eat (it was mushy and one-note) and a pork dish that I got tired of after a few bites. Oh, and a carrot dish that was very take it or leave it. I hate when a meal doesn't live up to expectations.

But there have been pluses, too...

I went back to Weights and Measures, whose breakfast wasn't that great, for lunch earlier this week. I only took a picture of my friend's roasted carrot and redneck cheddar pizza, which I liked, but my salumi sandwich was both of our favorites. The chocolate chip cookies were decent, but the chocolate wasn't the quality I was hoping for. I went again for breakfast with friends and the breakfast menu is too eggy for someone who doesn't like eggs. My problem, not theirs, I know. I got a bagel and a scone which were fine but my friends LOVED their egg-filled selections. I want to like this place so much but I'm not loving it the way I want to.

And then my often dreamt-of Coltivare. Andrew wanted to go on Valentine's Day since they don't take reservations. I wanted to stay home and do nothing, but the call of their amazing pasta was too great and I found myself showering at 3:30 in the afternoon in preparation for our dinner date. We got there at 4:45 and got seated on the patio right away. Everything was delicious, as always - a grilled broccoli salad, charcuterie, oxtail pasta (serious question, what happens to the rest of the ox?), and a braised beef and roasted veggie dish that was awesome. We skipped dessert in favor of giving Fat Cat Creamery another try. I had frozen hot chocolate and Amaya coffee and cream in a brown butter waffle cone and I could barely move afterward. I've never been happier to be home from dinner at 8:00 and put on pajama pants.

In other, slightly chain-ier foods lately: Gino's East opened its first non-Chicago location in a suburb of Houston. I met a friend (hi Heidi!) for lunch there a few weeks ago and it was... fine. Not memorable, not cheap, and not worth the two hour wait that many people have had to suffer through. I have hated snowcones my whole life, but there's a Bahama Bucks with a drive-thru right outside of our neighborhood. It basically serves nothing but shaved ice and you can add cream and it's so good, even though it sounds gross. I was a total skeptic at first but I have a feeling we'll go way too often this summer. Oh, and Culver's is right down the street. They have frozen custard and a drive-thru so let's just say I might have been a few more times than I should admit.

AND! For anyone who likes to cook - we (mostly I) made the absolute best chocolate chip cookies that you'll ever eat a few weeks ago. I wish I had an unending supply because I'm already craving them again. Follow the recipe exactly, including the refrigerating and sea salt, and use the best quality chocolate chips you can find. I used semi-sweet since I couldn't find bittersweet and they were amazing enough. For even better results, I suggest making six at a time and then adjusting your cook time to your tastes. Yes, a lot of thought goes into our cookie baking. Find the recipe here.

6 comments:

  1. Ok, my mom's chocolate chips are the best and I use her recipe, but your love has intrigued me so I had to pin those.

    I'm sad you're not finding solid go-tos in your new neighborhood.

    I always want to go out to breakfast and MFD never does. I'd like to make a standing monthly date, that wouldn't be too much I don't think. Thanks for the idea. Not sure he'll thank you, but too bad. LOLOL

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  2. Lauren, I had a very similar experience at Pax - How disappointing! That squash dish was such a bummer. But I'm with you on my #1 love Coltivare, for sure!

    Do you live in NE Houston? I grew up in Humble and spent many a meal at Los Vega (the original one off of Atascocita Rd, not 1960). I don't know if their Tex Mex is still amazing, but it certainly used to be. After I went away to college my parents started frequenting Las Ramadas off of West Lake Houston Parkway. Again, it's been a while, so I'm not sure what it's like now, but it may be worth a try! If I can think of any other good ones I'll let you know. :)

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  3. Finding a good Tex-Mex place is hard. Good queso is the best, and you have to get it right. I love breakfast food, but tend to go to diners since they do it best. Hope you find a place you like.

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  4. That stinks you are having trouble finding good go-to neighborhood spots :( Maybe the universe is just telling you, you need to branch out more :) There are so many new brunch spots to try here that we almost always go once a week (either Saturday or Sunday), I've given up on making weekend breakfast. I have a new gelato obsession, I'm totally addicted but it's 20 minutes away and parking is heinous....first world problems :)

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  5. Finding good places to eat in new areas is hard, I still have very few favorites here and am excited when something new opens. My new friend and I have a dinner date on the 24th to at the new Vietnamese place and I hope hope hope it's good!

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  6. I'm a Texan living in Australia. When people ask what I miss the most about home, my immediate answer is TEX-MEX every single time. Damn. You don't know how difficult it is to live in a place without TexMex.

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I like comments and read them all but I'm not great about responding to them, so please don't be offended. I would much rather visit your blog instead!