Win-Win With Catering from Ohba Sushi

Categories: On the Menu

Photo by Jimmy Kieu.
Cucumber Wrap Roll.

"Oops" is not what you say upon discovering you've scheduled an international trip over Valentine's Day, leaving your significant other alone with only two cats for romantic entertainment. Most of the words that come out of your mouth involve four letters and therefore are not fit to print. Even worse, however, is what you imagine your partner will say when he finds out you're skipping town on V-day.

Something bold, and knowing my husband, involving food and drink had to be done. Eating out on the days leading up until Valentine's Day can be tedious, so I decided to plan an intimate dinner in the comfort of our home. Not takeout, though (that's for regular lazy weekend nights), but rather catering from Ohba Sushi.

Ohba Sushi scored points early by agreeing to put together a miniaturized version of their standard sushi platters (unsurprisingly, most of the parties they cater consist of more than two people) and doing so on fairly short notice (48 hours).

They earned additional accolades by customizing a diverse platter of rolls, sashimi, and nigiri to suit our protein preferences. And although our order did not meet the minimum dollar amount for delivery, kindly employee Chris offered to meet up in a location convenient to my house en route to another event.

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Dish of the Week: Carrot Cake

Categories: Recipes

Photo by Gonzalo Malpartida
Carrots make cake extra moist and delicious.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

With Easter right around the corner, this week we're taking a look at carrot cake.

In case you've been living under a rock, carrot cake is a cake with -- you guessed it! -- carrots mixed into the batter. Though putting carrots inside of a dessert may sound odd, those veggies actually make the cake incredibly moist, while also adding texture and a hint of sweetness.

Though the origins of the carrot cake are unclear, many historians believe the use of carrots as a sweetener dates back to medieval times, when cheap carrots were plentiful and sugar was too expensive and hard to come by. In the middle ages, the carrots were used to make sweet carrot puddings.

Today, you can find versions of the cake all over the world. In Europe, it is often topped with a lemon-sugar or kirsch-sugar (cherry brandy) icing, while in the U.S., a creamy and decadent cream cheese frosting is more common. Sometimes, cinnamon, nuts, and raisins are mixed in.

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This Week In Houston Food Events: It's Menu Of Menus Time!

Categories: Things To Do

After months in the making, the Menu of Menus is this Tuesday, March 31.

Monday, March 30

Cheese Tasting At Revival Market

Drop by Revival Market and for a complimentary cheeses paired with beer, cider and honey. 550 Heights. 5 to 7 p.m.

"In Pursuit Of Balance" Wine Event at The Parador

Wine initiative group "In Pursuit Of Balance" is hosting a walk-around tasting at The Parador. It features Pinot and Chardonnay producers who create food-friendly wines that reflect the natural character of where they're grown. Participating restaurants include Backstreet Cafe, FT33, Mark's, Pappas, Pass & Provisions, Pax Americana, Sonoma Wine Bar and Underbelly. Get tickets here. 2021 Binz. 6 to 9 p.m. $115.

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Houston's 5 Best Weekend Food Bets: Thai Brunch & a Rare Beer Fest

Photo by Paul Joseph
You can expect plenty of rare and one-off cask beers at the Houston Firkin Fest.
2nd Annual Patio Crawfish Boil @ Tony Mandola's Gulf Coast Kitchen
Saturday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
1212 Waugh

Head to this Gulf coast kitchen for a good ol' fashioned Cajun crawfish boil on Saturday. Live music starts at 1 p.m. but the mudbugs start at 11 a.m. Get them for $8.99 per pound with potatoes and corn, or $16.99 per pound with potatoes, corn, Andouille sausage, shrimp and whole artichoke. You can also expect happy hour prices on selected beverages throughout the day.

Houston Firkin Fest @ Hennessy Park
Saturday, 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.
1900 Lyons

Head to this beer festival to get a taste of rare cask beer from your favorite local breweries, including Saint Arnold, No Label, Buffalo Bayou, and more. A $35 ticket will get you a tasting cup, plus eight samples, with additional sampling packages available for purchase ($4 for 4 sample tickets, $8 for 8). VIP packages with early admission, plus a T-shirt and growler ($70) and designated driver tickets ($10) are also available.

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Upcoming Houston Food Events: Celebrate National Oyster on the Half Shell Day, Passover Seder and MOM

Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
Get Holley's beautiful oysters for half off on National Oysters on the Half Shell Day.
Tuesday, March 31 is National Oyster on the Half Shell Day. Since that actually exists, Holley's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar, 3201 Louisiana, will be celebrating by offering all happy hour and dinner time raw and baked oysters at half the price. The slurping begins at 4 p.m.

Also on Tuesday is the Houston Press Menu of Menus annual event! Tuesday, March 31

Houston Press Menu of Menus
It's held at Silver Street Station where you can sample food and drink from several Houston area restaurants. The highlight of the evening is the Iron Fork Competition where undefeated chef Kevin Naderi of Roost and Lillo & Ella will try to successfully defend his title from new contender Randy Rucker of forthcoming Bramble. Chef Randy Evans is the host and the competitors will be judged by Phaedra Cook, restaurant critic for Houston Press, Eric Sandler, contributing writer for Culturemap Houston and Whole Foods Bellaire team leader Kelly Nelson. Get your tickets asap because they're going fast 1500 Silver Street. 7 to 10 p.m.

And on Tuesday, March 31, Brand Ambassador for Cooley, Cain Fitzgerald will be hosting a Cooley Irish Whiskey Tasting at Reserve 101, 1201 Caroline, at 6:30 p.m. 100 percent of proceeds from the sale of tickets will be donated to Lucky Dog Rescue. RSVP at

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Openings & Closings: Neapolitan-Style Pizza Is on the Way

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo courtesy of Cane Rosso
Reportedly, the stunning pizza ovens used by Cane Rosso are so big, the Houston one will be installed in the middle of the restaurant.

Foodies familiar with the Dallas area were abuzz this week with the news that Cane Rosso is expanding to better cities with a new Houston location. The Houston Chronicle's Syd Kearney says that it's opening in the same center as the forthcoming Hunky Dory and Bernadine's at 1835 North Shepherd. Cane Rosso currently has four locations and is known for its Neapolitan-style thin-crust pizzas. The chain uses San Marzano tomatoes and local sausage, and also makes pasta and sandwiches.

It looks like a downtown location of Christian's Tailgate is on the way. It's set to open in as little as two months in the Pillot Building at 1012 Congress.

Kearney also reported that a Fellini Gelato & Caffé is opening in CityCentre. It's a partnership between Nash D'Amico and his daughter Brina D'Amico with Salvatore Albelice (a partner in the original Fellini Cafe) and Monica Gonzales. In addition to gelato, espresso drinks and coffee, it will offer salads, panini, Italian pastries, beer and wine.

Last week, reader "justthefacts" let us know that Tony's Barbecue & Steak House at 1225 Travis has closed. The tipster wrote, "Sign on the door stated closed due to lack of customers. It suffered from all the construction nearby." A call to the restaurant's phone number confirmed that it's been disconnected.

Jakesha Wilmore of Eater Houston says that there's another multi-concept place opening, this time in Upper Kirby, which has been bereft of clubs since ROAK, Hendrick's Pub and others shut down last year. VII Kitchen & Craft Cocktails will be downstairs at 2207 Richmond, while SE7EN Ultra Lounge will be upstairs. Both open on March 27.

Yelp indicates that The Republic Smokehouse & Saloon at 1910 Bagby is now open. The menu includes brisket, mac and cheese, Reubens and catfish po-boys. According to Culturemap Houston, the place is like babe-cafe-meets-smokehouse. It has an all-female, shorts-clad waitstaff, but that doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't have good barbecue. The pitmaster is Cedric Williams, who ran Williams Smokehouse until a fire destroyed that business in 2007.

That's it for this edition of Openings & Closings. What did we miss? Leave a comment or send an email to See you next week!

Alton Brown and His Culinary Variety Show Come to Houston

Categories: Things To Do

Photo by David Allen
Alton Brown is bringing his brand of delightful madness to Houston in a live show on April 4.

"Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour" comes to the Cullen Performance Hall at the University of Houston on April 4. The original 7 p.m. show in Houston on Saturday sold out, so another one has been added for 3 p.m. (Let's hope Brown doesn't run out of steam after putting on two high-energy shows on the same day. That sounds like a lot of work!) As of press time, orchestra-level seats were still available. Tickets are $55 and can be purchased here.

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Recipe: Overnight-Rise Oversized English Muffins

Categories: Recipes

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Muffin Mise-en-Place.

Do you know the muffin man?
The muffin man, the muffin man.
Do you know the muffin man?
Who lives on Drury lane?

It's not every day that one finds culinary inspiration in a nursery rhyme, but after I read an interesting print article about innovative toppings for English muffins, this tune reverberated in my brain while my stomach growled. Figuring the only way to appease both organs was to actually eat some English muffins, I set about to procure some. And in the spirit of industry and large-and-in-charge Texas food, these muffins would be homemade and oversized. The recipe below takes some time and patience; however, the muffins that emerge blow store-bought out of the water.

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HISD Students Are Cooking Up Change

Courtesy of Healthy Schools Campaign and HISD
Winning students from last year's Cooking Up Change competition
"Cooking up Change" is a competition for high school culinary students that challenges them to create school menu items that are healthy, compliant with USDA guidelines and within a budget of a mere $1.40 per meal. It's the same kind of budget constraint that food services programs in public schools face every day.

The Houston competition is this Saturday, March 28, and seven teams from four Houston Independent School District campuses are participating. This year, the teams hail from Barbara Jordan, Davis, Milby and Westside high schools.

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Coming Soon: The 12th Annual Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair

Categories: Things To Do

Photo by Phaedra Cook
Sipping and strolling at the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair at the historic Imperial Sugar factory.

The five-day ultimate wine and food connoisseur event in Sugar Land returns for its twelfth year. Several chefs are coming to Houston from other cities to participate, including former White House chef John Moeller; Maine-based Chefs Shanna and Brian O'Hea; Jose Duarte of Taranta in Boston; Jeff Balfour of soon-to-open Southerleigh in the Historic Pearl Brewing complex in San Antonio; Rob Snow of Greenhouse Craft Food in Round Rock; Mark DeNittis from Denver; Jason Nauert of the Rocky Mountain Institute of Meat; Kevin Williamson of Ranch 616 in Austin and Carlos Crusco, also from Austin.

More than 10,000 attendees are expected over the course of the festival, which kicks off on Wednesday, April 8, with a five-course, Italian-themed VIP dinner called "La Dolce Vita." Chefs from Arcodoro, Coppa Osteria, Quattro and Ristorante Cavour are lending their culinary skills while Banfi takes care of the wine. Tickets are $150 each.

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