I love Houston. I love her food scene. I love her museums. A lot of my close friends live in Houston. I love the diversity of the population and I love the art! If you’re in Houston from now to February 22, I strongly recommend checking out the Bruce Munro Field of Light exhibit at Discovery Green. The field is illuminated between 3 to 11 pm. If you’re not in Houston on these dates, check out the link anyway as Bruce Munro has multiple traveling exhibits.
I had so much fun setting up a borrowed tripod and taking these shots. The one photo of me was taken by my photography coach and friend for life, Thomas L Chen. You can read more about this night from his perspective on his blog.
Social artist, Konstantin Dimopoulos has a series of installations that involve painting trees a vibrant blue (not with real paint but with a safe pigment that wears off in time). He hopes that these vibrantly hued trees will raise awareness of the global impact of deforestation. He has installations of Blue Trees in Vancouver, Seattle, and various other locations. You can find a listing of cities on his website. Houston and Galveston are a couple of the newest addictions to his series. Kim and I frolicked at the Houston location last weekend. To find more information on the Houston and Galveston installations, you can check out their website, http://bluetreestexas.org/. I highly recommend going soon before the pigment fades!
I hadn’t seen my friend Cindy in way too long and I was especially excited to see how we would spend our day together over Christmas break. You see, Cindy and I have a penchant for the weird. For instance, we once ate at an allegedly haunted restaurant right before we saw actually reserved human remains as part of the Body Worlds Exhibit. That was exactly what I remembered when I asked Cindy if there was anything in Houston she has been meaning to check out and she told me, “the funeral museum!” I laughed and thought it was best suited for our lunch we had planned at Pho Binh by Night where they serve bone marrow pho. Bone marrow and funerals! It’s another themed date!
If you’ve been following along my blog or twitter long enough, you might gather I’m a sucker for noveltyandwackyexperiences. So I was super ecstatic about going to a funeral museum. However, I didn’t expect an awesomely curated museum. When someone says “want to check out a funeral museum?” The image that comes to mind is a run down house converted to a “museum” with a shabby collection of funeral programs and models.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the National Museum of Funeral History has an impressive amount of artifacts and originals. There is a heavy emphasis on presidential history with the original hearse that drove John F. Kennedy and Reagan. There is also a whole wing dedicated to the funeral ritual for popes, heavily emphasizing the death of Pope John Paul II. The papal wing even has an original pope mobile! You’ll also find original hearses from around the world and a section dedicated to the funeral and deaths of celebrities. I learned Walt Disney never had a funeral!
I highly recommend giving this place a visit if ever you find yourself in Houston. It’s ten dollars well spent and you’ll get a fascinating history lesson.
Eerily accurate model of Pope’s viewing
Custom three person casket
Question: What is your favorite unique local attraction to show your visiting friends?
It’s that time of year again! I share with you my personal recap of 2010. This year was much better than 2009 (which was much worse than my 2008). It was a year of recovery and regaining balance. I feel very fondly of 2010 but I’m ready to embrace 2011. Bring it!
800W Sam Houston Pkwy, Building 9
Houston, TX 77024
Just 5 minutes away from my parents’ house in Houston used to be an area we call Town and Country. It used to be one of the few malls in Houston. It evolved to a mall that only older mall walkers go to. Eventually the mall went bankrupt and I never really gave it a second thought. That was years ago. Shane was in town this past weekend and I hadn’t seen him since 2007. He told me he’d be with his friends (who ended up being old acquaintances of mine) at a bar in the Town and Country area. Intrigued, I go and meet him up on my way to see Aishah and Jennifer, old high school and college classmates. I never made it to see Aishah and Jennifer due to not wanting to drive that far out after a few drinks. It’s such a small world because one of the old acquaintances there knew BOTH Aishah and Jennifer.
The area is completely done up now and is now called City Centre, an upscale outdoor mall with restaurants and bars. What a drastic change from the dying mall that I remember! Here’s a picture of the Monnalisa, one of three bars we hopped on Saturday night.
The lights change colors! I think it’s pretty. Shane thought it was disgusting.
L.A. Burdick Chocolate Cafe
Harvard Square Cafe
52-D Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: 617-491-4340 www.burdickchocolate.com
Saturday morning, we started off our day at Burdick Chocolate Cafe. A day can’t go wrong if you start it off with chocolate. Mary Ellen and I each picked something to eat and split later. I chose a hazelnut orange cake and she chose the yogurt parfait. I really enjoyed the yogurt parfait which surprises me. I’m not usually the yogurt parfait kind of girl but the honey was a perfect match to the yogurt and the crunch of the granola was the perfect amount of crunch. It wasn’t too cold or tart which are the two most common complaints I have about yogurt parfaits. The hot dark chocolate was.. alright. Good but it doesn’t come even near how good Chocolate Bar’s (Houston, TX) hot chocolate is. The hazelnut orange cake was my favorite. Soooo good. If you’re ever in Boston, this is definitely a must stop if you’re a chocolate fan.
Now for the photos!
Have I told you lately that penguins are my favorite animal? I like to drop that in conversation at least thrice a year.
I got a demi cup of the hot dark chocolate.
I made my own shoddy version of latte art. Do you like my heart?
We each picked one thing and split it. I gleefully chose the hazelnut orange cake.
Our breakfast. Makes me wish I could go back in time.
Last weekend in Houston, Cindy introduced me to some really cheap and authentic Chinese food on Bellaire in the same shopping center as Sinh Sinh. The place is called Classic Kitchen. We ordered more than we could finish (2 family style dishes) and paid nine dollars with tip. I really enjoyed it and would totally go back, that is, with someone who can read Chinese/speak.
Their menu is in Chinese.
We ordered the spicy beef noodle soup and something that is directly translated into “grab pancake.” The noodles come three different ways: small, big, or sliced and cut from a block of pasta. We chose cut and sliced.
spicy beef noodle soup
The beef was SO incredibly tender. It was amazing, how tender it was. The broth was delicious. It was the first time I’ve heard of or had these kind of noodles. It’s a bit firmer and heartier than most noodles. I’d so order this soup again. A restaurant is a winner to me when I think about what I’ve had there and it makes me want to go back fast and relive it.
Close up of the noodles
I forgot the Chinese name for this but it translates to “grab pancake.” It’s call grab pancake because they grab the dough and fluff it up before they fry it so you get nice stringy and fluffy layers. It’s awesome. I’d order this again too.
I was satisfied and impressed by Classic Kitchen. A LOT of good food for dirt cheap. You can’t go wrong there.
Friday night, I had a date with miss Kim and we were initially going to do something crazy and try grasshoppers at the famed (and RIGHTLY so) Hugos. We ended up not going with the grasshoppers for appetizers when we got there but man was I surprised. I had no idea the best restaurant I’ve been to in Houston would be MEXICAN. First of all, I’ve never had Mexican done up like this. My experience with Mexican is pretty limited to quesadillas, fajitas, tacos, and enchiladas. Holy crap did Hugo’s open up my world to Mexican cuisine and rocked it.
Squash Blossums are apparently in season. It’s funny because I’ve only just heard of squash blossoms on the Food Network when they featured it on a show about Italy. Here there are, featured in a special menu for squash blossums.
We went with the squash blossoms crepes for appetizers. They had squash blossoms, huitlacoche (fungal delicacy that grows on ears of corn), mushrooms and cheese topped with poblano cream and gratineed. We liked. Yum. Never had huitlacoche or squash blossoms. Great first experience.
Kim ordered one of the specials that was featured Friday, soft crab and some kind of corn bread that tasted like a done up fancied up Rudy’s cream of corn. Funny, because we bought thought of Rudy’s cream of corn at the same time. The soft crab was delicious! She did good in ordering as always.
My entree: Mariscos al Aijillo.
Mine comes with rice. This makes me want to do some rice sculpting.
My entree was the Seafood plate.. or at least that’s how I translate “Mariscos al Ajillo.” Mariscos al Aijillo has shrimp, scallop, lobster, mussels, clams, oysters and octopus, sautéed in olive oil with roasted garlic, chile de arbol and lime. I’ve never had octopus. My thoughts on octopus: like squid, it’s okay the first 4 seconds of chewing, afterwards the texture really gets to me. The dish on the whole was AMAZING. There’s a little bit of sauce from the olive oil, chile and lime that served as a great broth to eat with the rice. The seafood in it was fresh and I’ve never had a scallop as big or as juicy as the scallops they had. Kim and I poked at it with our forks and oohed and aahed at its extra plump texture. The lobster tail was succulent. Seriously, this restaurant blew me away. It’s a bit pricey. Runs 40-70 dollars a person without alcohol but very much worth the money.
Our waiter suggested we have the churros because it is “very Mexican.” It’s filled with dulce de leche filling and served with chocolate icecream (always a winner) and their famed Mexican hot chocolate. I’ve never had Mexican hot chocolate, after having Hugo’s, I vow to seek out Mexican hot chocolate more often. It was a lovely treat. Don’t be too shy to dip your churro in the hot chocolate. It’s like a crisp cinnamony donut.
My lovely date. I like this picture. She’s pretty AND quirky.
Do you see how high the ceiling is? Loved the ambiance.
Next time I’m in Houston, we’re definitely going back and this time for brunch. If you ever find yourself in Houston, do yourself a big favor and make this restaurant a food priority.
I’ve been to Fufu’s once before with Cindy, Thomas and Chris almost two years ago. We originally went for soup dumplings but they ran out. I haven’t been back til this past weekend. Thomas was in town from California and we met up over lunch and then I spent the rest of the day with him and Kim. I’ve had soup dumplings only once before and it was during my 2nd trip to NYC with Kym, Nam, Meffy at Joe Shanghai’s way back in 2005. Here’s a picture I still managed to have.
Joe Shanghai’s soup dumplings, NYC
So here we are, 4 years after my only experience of soup dumplings (amazing experience) and 2 years after my first trip to Fufu’s Cafe in Houston. They had soup dumplings this time!
Fufu Cafe’s Soup Dumplings, Houston
The main difference is that in NYC, Joe Shanghai’s dumplings only had broth in it. Fufu’s had some meat. The winner by a mile is NYC. Kind of disappointing as I don’t know when the next time I’ll be in NYC. The broth in Joe Shanghai’s is much more flavorful and I really like their crab broth. However, Fufu was still tasty and it was nice to catch up with an old friend. Pictures of the rest of our feast.
Yummy! Thomas has been talking about this Greek place for a while now and we finally had it as one of our last meals together since he’s all gone and moved to California now. Poo.
Located on Montrose close to Westhemier, Niko Nikos is lit up with shiny neon lights. We went right before the dinner crowd showed and by the time we left that place was BUMPING. I can see why! I had a gyro with their potato that’s soaked in lemon, butter, and dill. Holy shit, was that potato GOOD. The gryo was delicious. I haven’t had a gyro is at least a year. The tzatziki sauce was thicker than I’m used to but I still ate it up. This place is definitely bookmarked for the future.
That potato! Mmm. So lemony and buttery and… well..dill-y.