Chuck's Eat the Street Comes to Houston in July -- Here's a Preview of the Food-Filled Episode

Categories: Food in Film

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Photo courtesy Cooking Channel
Chuck eats Westheimer on July 31
"Houston has a lot of people and a lot of money," Chuck Hughes says. "Fortunately or unfortunately, you need people and money for restaurants. Houston has everything going for it."

This was a surprise to Hughes when he visited Houston at the end of May to tape his Cooking Channel show, Chuck's Eat the Street. Hughes is a French-Canadian chef who's competed on Iron Chef (and beat Bobby Flay) and is currently a judge on Chopped: Canada. He's better known in the United States for the Cooking Channel shows Chuck's Day off and Chuck's Week Off, as well as Eat the Streets, which brought him to town. The show centers around a single street in any given city and what culinary gems Hughes can find on that stretch of asphalt.

The third season debuts on July 10 with a look at Lamar Boulevard in Austin, and later in the month, on July 31, we'll get to see Hughes take a trip down Westheimer and eat at some of the loooooong road's best restaurants.

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How Houston Cooks: Kraftsmen Baking Keeps H-Town Fed Day and Night

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Photo courtesy Kraftsmen Baking
It's like heaven for carb addicts.
Every other week, we'll be bringing you videos that take a behind-the-scenes look at restaurants, breweries, marketplaces, bars and any other spots that define Houston food and drink. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

There are always great smells coming out of the old Oriental Textile Mill, an historic building that now houses Kraftsmen Baking and Kraftsmen Cafe. The tall brick structure with the clock tower on top was built in 1894, and has been used as a mill, a mattress factory and a Venetian blind manufacturing plant before Kraftsmen Baking took over the space.

Today, operations at the bakery run day and night. The lights are always on, and there are always people inside the space, kneading dough, baking bread, packaging rolls or loading boxes of goodies on to truck to be transported across Houston and as far away as Austin.

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Movie Review: Chef Is Sweet but Not Super-Meaty

Categories: Food in Film

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Photo courtesy Chef
Chef is part road trip, part father-son bonding and part food porn.
Throughout the screening, my friend, a chef, kept elbowing me in the ribs. It happened any time a chef or a cook in the film presented food to someone who proceeded to tell said chef or cook how wonderful the food was. Then, the chef would seem surprised and self-deprecating.

"Is it really good?" he'd say. "You promise? You really like it?"

This dialogue from the insecure chef was a little too much for her to handle. It was alarming in its accuracy, as was most of the dialogue in the film. Sure, the fact that the chefs had no burn scars and issues such as permitting food trucks bothered them not a whit took away from the realism a bit, but that dialogue was spot-on.

"Every line cook puts cornstarch on his balls at some point," my friend whispered during one scene. "Ask them. They'll tell you."

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Ramen Documentary to Premiere in Houston

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Photo courtesy Spilled
Get ready for Carl Rosa's ramen documentary.
If you're tired of hearing about ramen, stop reading right now. The craze isn't dying down anytime soon. In fact, many think that, at least here in Houston, it's just getting started, and we're about to go even more gaga over the Japanese soup, thanks to Carl Rosa, founder and president of the Sushi Club of Houston, and his new film, Spilled: A Documentary About Real Ramen.

This morning, Rosa released the trailer on the Ramen in Common Facebook group, and various Spilled websites went live, a move that will probably increase the local demand for the dish, which was once largely thought of as college-dorm fare in the United States. Rosa is crazy about all things Japanese--particularly the food--and he spends his days teaching Americans about the ins and outs of Japanese culture and cuisine. He's already tackled sushi in Houston, so now he's onto the next big thing: Ramen.


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Top 5 Foods & Drink to Binge on While (Also) Bingeing on 'House of Cards'

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Photo by Christopher Twigg
"A slice of pie is good for the soul."

For a significant number of Americans, February 14, 2014, was more than just Valentine's Day. The day's primary significance was not the annual celebration of our national Hallmark-sanctioned loveliest, but the release of the full second season of House of Cards. What's House of Cards? Okay, just stop reading now and hit yourself with a brick for not watching one of the best shows on television. Everyone else, get in the spirit with these five theme food and drinks. [Warning: some minor spoilers.]

5. Water. "Clean water," of course, since the "Clean Water Initiative" is Claire Underwood's baby (metaphorical and symbolic since she gave up having kids -- get it, get it? Okay, I'll stop.) And while water is a rather boring party libation, you'll thank me later, given the salty foods and other less salubrious beverages that follow on this list.

4. Steak. More specifically, a steak of "soy-fed Nagasaki beef," which goes for "200 bucks a pound," or so claims Raymond Tusk in season 2, episode 8. At that price, I'm not throwing my steak in the pool to be fetched by a dog like Frank did, but then again, seasoned cow flesh has always been my Achilles heel.


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Films for Foodies: Waitress

Categories: Food in Film

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Film still from Waitress
Feeling blue? Make some pie!
Movie studios scramble to have big-name stars headline their films, but in many of my favorite movies, food is the star. Few things are better than pairing a foodie film with a great meal so we can enjoy ourselves just as much as the folks onscreen are enjoying their own aliments. In this series, we'll highlight a movie in which food plays a leading role and suggest one or more local spots to provide an accompanying feast for you. Pull up a table and dim the lights, the show's about to begin.

Waitress (2007)

Synopsis
Waitress was originally an independent film shown at Sundance, but it was so well received that Fox Searchlight Pictures acquired the rights and distributed it across the country. So if you've seen it, thank Fox.

The story takes place in a small town in the Deep South, where Jenna (Keri Russell) is a waitress at Joe's Pie Diner, owned by the gruff and curmudgeonly Joe (Andy Griffith). At Joe's, Jenna gets to flex her creative muscle by inventing unique pies, often inspired by her life, like the "I Hate My Husband" pie, because, well, she does.


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Dude! Alamo Drafthouse Introduces Cocktails to Pair With Your Favorite Films

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Photos by Kaitlin Steinberg
Left to right: The Getaway, Dark & Stormy, Manhattan and The Clooney margarita.
Nothing pairs better with drinks than the right food. Except maybe movies.

From the White Russians in The Big Lebowski to martinis in any (and all) James Bond films to the French 75, which rose to fame after its mention in Casablanca, films and cocktails have a long, mouthwatering history. Alamo Drafthouse is paying tribute to movies through booze starting this month with a new cocktail program.

If you've ever seen a movie at Alamo Drafthouse, you know the place has a lengthy food menu and a great wine and craft beer selection, but today is the first day you can see a movie at the theater, liquor in hand. Other Alamo Drafthouse locations in Austin started their cocktail program first, and it was a such a hit that our local bartenders traveled there to train and create a unique cocktail menu for the two Houston locations.

There are currently 12 cocktails and four loaded milkshakes on the menu, but the local bartenders and Bill Norris, a mixologist for Alamo Drafthouse corporate, are developing new drinks to pair with films all the time.

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Films for Foodies: Eat Pray Love, in Which an Annoying Character Eats Great Food

Categories: Food in Film

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Photo courtesy Eat Pray Love
It's a hokey film, but the food and scenery are incredible.
Movie studios scramble to have big-name stars headline their films, but in many of my favorite movies food is the star. Few things are better than pairing a foodie film with a great meal so we can enjoy ourselves just as much as the folks onscreen are enjoying their own aliments. In this series, we'll highlight a movie in which food plays a leading role and suggest one or more local spots that can provide an accompanying feast for you. Pull up a table and dim the lights, the show's about to begin.

Eat Pray Love (2010)

Synopsis
Eat Pray Love is based on the autobiographical novel by Elizabeth Gilbert. The film opens with Liz (Julia Roberts) in Bali, riding her bike to see a healer, who tells her she will have two marriages, will lose all her money but get it back again, and will return to Bali someday to teach him English.

The film then cuts to New York, where Gilbert is at a party. Though she has a successful career, a loving husband (Billy Crudup), a house, savings and anything else the modern woman could want, Gilbert finds herself unhappy with her life. In the middle of the night, she gets out of bed and prays, not really knowing how, and she hears God tell her to go back to bed. When she lies down again next to her husband, he says he doesn't want to leave New York. Gilbert says she doesn't want to be married.

The couple separates, and Gilbert begins dating an actor, David (James Franco), who tells her that his inner peace and calm are the result of his relationship with his guru, whom he met in India. Gilbert decides that she needs to take some time off to travel. She plans to go to Italy, then to India to meet the guru, then finally to Bali to see the healer again, hoping to find herself somewhere along the way.


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Celebrate the Return of Downton Abbey With These 5 Foods and Drinks

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Photo by Charlotte Coneybeer
Shepherd's -- aka "Cottage" -- Pie

While Downton Abbey isn't ostensibly a 'foodie' show, I still can't watch it without getting a bit peckish. All that blather about inheritance and estate upkeep that goes on during these dinner scenes can't distract me from mooning over the exquisite china and decadent meals. Season 4 is in full swing, and to celebrate I'm noshing on these five Downtown Abbey-inspired foods and drinks.

5. Oysters on the Half Shell. Grand Downton dinners comprised many, many courses, and seafood was almost always featured earlier rather than later in the meal as palate preparation for heavier proteins. Oysters, by far the most popular shellfish during this period, were usually served on the half shell, often with a simple dressing. If shucking, cleaning, and preparing your own bivalves at home makes you want to swoon, I suggest letting Liberty Kitchen or Brasserie 19 do the work for you.

4. Shepherd's (Cottage) Pie. More a "downstairs" rather than "upstairs" meal, shepherd's pie (also known as "cottage pie") was popular working-class fare not only because its combination of potatoes, dark meat, and root vegetables made for hearty fuel, but also because it could be made easily from leftovers. Given Downton is airing during the winter in the U.S., this warm comfort food is particularly fitting for a Sunday-night viewing potluck.


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Films for Foodies (and Winos): Sideways

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Film still from Sideways
MIles, left, teaches Jack, right, how to taste wine with your eyes.
Movie studios scramble to have big-name stars headline their films, but in many of my favorite movies, food is the star. Few things are better than pairing a foodie film with a great meal so we can enjoy ourselves just as much as the folks onscreen are enjoying their own aliments. In this series, we'll highlight a movie in which food plays a leading role and suggest one or more local spots to provide an accompanying feast for you. Pull up a table and dim the lights, the show's about to begin.

Sideways (2004)

Synopsis
Ah, the road-trip film. Road trips are a staple of cinematic plot lines, and Sideways offers up an alternately depressing and hilarious one set against the backdrop of the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley.

Miles Raymond (Paul Giamatti) is a depressed, divorced, borderline alcoholic writer and wine-lover who embarks on a weeklong trip with his buddy, Jack (Thomas Hayden Church), a failed actor. Jack is soon to be married, and Miles, the best man, wants to go on a trip through wine country for a relaxing bachelor party, and Jack wants one last fling before he's a married man, so the two decide to hit the road in Miles's convertible and tour a few wineries with which Miles, a veritable wino, is already fairly familiar.

During the trip, they stop at the Hitching Post, a restaurant where Miles has often come to eat and to admire Maya (Virginia Madsen), a waitress. With Jack's help, he strikes up a conversation with Maya and finally gets to know more about her. The next day, Jack and Miles meet Stephanie (Sandra Oh), a pour girl at a local winery, and upon discovering that she and Maya are friends, the men arrange a double date.


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