The Great Banh Mi Cook-Off Was Really Great

Categories: Edible Events

Photo by Mai Pham
The winning banh mi: R&D Bar BQ's brisket banh mi on Vietnamese banh mi roll by Common Bond.

Creativity was on display in abundance Wednesday night at The Great Banh Mi Cook-Off competition organized by non-profit Vietnamese organization, Boat People SOS (BPSOS), as a fundraiser for their domestic violence programs.

It started with the organizers, who successfully pulled off a change of venue at the nth hour due to inclement weather. The event had originally been scheduled to take place on the rooftop parking garage of Khon's in Midtown, but by 3:30 p.m., organizer Mitchell Lam made an executive decision to switch venues to Kim Son Restaurant (one of the cook-off participants). Facebook notices, tweets, and no doubt several phone calls and texts later, everything had been moved and the threat of bad weather successfully sidestepped.

Close to 300 attendees turned out to sample creative banh mi sandwiches created by 11 Houston-area chefs and restaurants, many of whom were competing for the first time. Favorites emerged quickly as Greg Morago of the Houston Chronicle, Lily Jang of KHOU, Renia Butler of the blog Gristle and Gossip, and myself sat down to perform the serious job of judging each of the entries.

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The Houston Press Is Looking for a Few Good Videographers

Categories: Our Staff

Photos by Yuri Peña
Houston has millions of stories. We need your help sharing them.
Here at the Houston Press, we're all about sharing the stories of the city we live in. We're big believers in the power of storytelling and the need for certain stories to be told.

We're looking for new people to help us share the stories of Houston to a larger audience. More specifically, we're looking for a few good videographers who have the same passion for storytelling that we do.

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The 5 Best Things to Eat or Drink This Weekend: Spice Things Up at the 14th Annual Hot Sauce Festival

Categories: Edible Events

Photo by Molly Dunn
Karbach Brewing Co. will offer Karbachtoberfest at the Untapped Festival on Saturday.
Mixers & Elixirs @ Houston Museum of Natural Science
Friday, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
5555 Hermann Park Drive

Don't you just love Talk Like A Pirate Day? The Houston Museum of Natural Science sure does because that's the theme for this Mixers & Elixirs event. From 7 p.m. until 10 p.m., embrace your inner pirate and enjoy a variety of spirits from the cash bar while listening to live music from Mango Punch. H-Town StrEATs and Sticky Chicken food trucks will be on-site to fill up your tummies with some scrumptious grub. Tickets cost is $20 per person.

Saint Arnold Brewery Beer Pairing Dinner @ NOE Grill
Friday, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
4 Riverway

NOE Grill, located inside the Omni Houston Galleria Hotel will host a special beer pairing dinner featuring brews from Saint Arnold for $78 per person. Guests will be greeted with a reception of passed hors 'doeuvres of braised pork belly and enoki mushroom summer roll pinwheels with miso emulsion. The first course pairs Santo with ricotta and Spanish chorizo beignets, charred fresh onions and ghost-piquillo pepper aioli. Next, sip on Weedwacker with a green papaya salad including lemon-ginger shrimp and crushed salted peanuts. The third course features a coriander-crusted Bandera quail with green curried grits and pork belly lardons paired with Elissa IPA. The final savory course pairs the 20th Anniversary Ale with seared Texas antelope loin with Saint Arnold's Root Beer-rhubarb compote and black garlic buttered tri-color potato hash. Dessert includes Bishop's Barrel No. 6 and dark rum-poached raisin bread pudding with a vanilla meringue, caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream quenelle (beautiful oval-shaped ice cream).

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Upcoming Events: Taco Tuesday Special at Skeeter's Mesquite Grill

Categories: Edible Events

Photo courtesy of The Epicurean Publicist
Pair this fried avocado taco on Tuesdays at Skeeter's Mesquite Grill with another taco, plus chips and salsa, for just $7.
Taco Tuesdays have arrived at Skeeter's Mesquite Grill. Each location is participating in this special where you get two tacos with chips and salsa for $7. You can pair any two tacos off the menu together, which normally cost $3.25 to $4.75 each. Make a meal with the fried avocado taco topped with green cabbage, pico de gallo, cheddar cheese and poblano sauce, and the tempura-fried Baja shrimp taco with avocado, green cabbage and creamy chipotle sauce for one filling meal. If you visit during happy hour (Monday through Friday, 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. and all day Thursday), then you can throw in a $3 Jose Cuervo house marg or beer.

You don't have to be a member of Bayou City Outdoors to attend this meet and greet on Thursday, September 25. Head to Warehouse Bar & Chill at 6:30 p.m. to socialize with new friends and enjoy some scrumptious grub during happy hour. The Heights bar and restaurant offers a selection of local craft beers plus $4 happy hour items, such as fried cheese curds, grilled cheese bites, nachos topped with beef, cheese and pico de gallo, plus BLT Sliders with jalapeno jam. This event is open to the public.

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Openings & Closings: Enjoy Sorrel While You Still Can

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Phaedra Cook
So much for that soft opening idea...
If you enjoy Sorrel Urban Bistro, you might want to get over there for their last few months of service. Greg Morago of Houston Chronicle reports that Ziggy Gruber, of Kenny & Ziggy's, is taking over the space at 2202 West Alabama on January 1st to convert it into Dubrow's New York Grill, a Jewish-American concept. The changeover allows Ray Salti, the restaurateur who's ran Sorrel the past three years, to focus on his wildly successful and growing Pepperoni's Pizza chain.

Looking for a new bar to visit this weekend? The former Goro & Gun space at 306 Main reopens this Saturday at 7 pm as Moving Sidewalk. Don't go expecting food; unlike Goro & Gun, Moving Sidewalk is not a restaurant. It's strictly a bar, but with notable bartender Alex Gregg at the helm, you can expect some delightful and inventive cocktails. We had a peek at the drink list last night and it looks promising. More details are available at the Houston Chronicle web site.

Now that the weather is starting to cool down just a bit (this week we can mainly thank the rain), the Urban Harvest City Hall Farmer's Market has resumed. It's a reason to get outside and enjoy freshly-made, grab-and-go food options from the vendor tables and pick up some a few groceries for home, too. There's construction going on in front of City Hall, so for now it's just down the street at the Central Library at 500 McKinney.

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Chef Chat, Part 2: Rebecca Masson of
Fluff Bake Bar

Categories: Chef Chat

Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
Rebecca Masson inside of the shop that will become Fluff Bake Bar

In Part 1, we learned about Rebecca Masson's journey that would take her from the slopes of Breckenridge, to one of the finest culinary schools in the world and, eventually, to Houston.

Here in Part 2, we'll find out how she became a contestant on "Top Chef: Just Desserts" and sought crowd-funding to take Fluff Bake Bar from a rented kitchen space to a storefront bakery on Gray Street.

By the way, Masson has been a long-time supporter of the dog rescue organization Lucky Dog and has hosted several dinners along with other volunteer chefs to benefit the organization. The tenth (and final) of these dinners is on October 26th. Keep a watch on the Fluff Bake Bar Twitter feed for the announcement that they're going on sale. If you've never been to one of these, they are always an amazing, multi-course experience.

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Savory Spice Shop in Rice Village: An Easy Way to Test Out New Smells and Tastes

Categories: Grocery Guide

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
I respect any establishment with an entire wall devoted to curry.

It's not every day a store clerk encourages you to drop your sample on the floor once you've finished testing it.

It makes sense, though, at Rice Village's Savory Spice Shop where 99 percent of the wares are in powdered form. The store has been open since August, but had its grand opening this past weekend.

And "grand" is certainly a fitting descriptor for anything having to do with the shop, whose voluminous spices, oils, marinades, seasonings, etc. are meticulously ordered and artfully arranged in a space reminiscent of a French Victorian apothecary.

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The 5 Best Happy Hours in the Galleria

Photo by Troy Fields
Recognize this bar? We'll give you a hint: free pizza.
If you love happy hour as much as we do, you'll love this new series. We're taking a look at the best happy hours in town, 'hood by 'hood. To narrow it down, we're focusing on the spots with the best deals on not only drinks, but eats, too. From upscale eateries serving bar bites and half-priced wine to dives with cheap beer and burgers, we've got it all. See the complete list at the end of this post

This week, we're moving on to the bar and restaurant packed 'hood around the Galleria.

Note: For purposes of this list, the Galleria is defined as anything west of Loop 610, south of Woodway, east of South Voss/Hillcroft and north of Richmond Avenue.

Honorable Mention: Craft cocktails and small plates at RDG Bar + Annie, fresh and bold Peruvian flavors at Latin Bites, and 7 for $7 at Table on Post Oak.

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A Wine Competition for a Cause:
Iron Sommelier 2014

Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
Iron Sommelier 2014 is just a few weeks away!
Iron Sommelier, the annual wine competition and fundraiser, returns on October 2nd from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at The Houstonian. The event benefits The Periwinkle Foundation, a non-profit organization which helps seriously ill children and their families. It's also an opportunity for Houston's top sommeliers to go out and demonstrate their deep knowledge of wine.

The somms come up with a theme and present wines for attendees to taste that best represents it. The theme may be about a particular grape, region or style of wine. There are also plenty of small bites and snacks, overseen by The Houstonian's executive chef, Neal Cox.

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Filling the Gaps: Tel-Wink Grill

Photo by Nicholas L. Hall
My wife only gave me one bite of this waffle. That says something.
I've lived in Houston for 22 years. It took me 16 of those to visit the Rothko Chapel for the first time. I didn't eat at Ninfa's on Navigation until I'd counted myself a Houstonian for nearly a decade. I still haven't eaten at Frenchy's. The list of glaring omissions goes on and on. Before you boot me from the city for civic negligence, or at least refuse to continue allowing me to write about Houston food, let me assure you that 2014 is the year I start fixing this problem. I'm making a list of places. Places I should have been by now. Places even I can't believe I haven't visited. This is the year I get (re)acquainted with my city. Maybe you'll find a few from your own list in these posts. I encourage you to follow suit.

I've almost gone to Tel-Wink more times than I care to count. Once, I accidentally went to Triple A when I'd meant to go to Tel-Wink, somehow confusing the two famed breakfast haunts, neither of which I'd been to. More often, the mission was aborted on account of kids, and their often staunch insistence on sticking in a rut, and to a known favorite. While we had one such tiny person with us when we finally made it out to Tel-Wink, he has not yet developed the ability to speak, making his only possible veto one of all restaurants. Thankfully, he abstained.

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