Upcoming Houston Food Events: Dine Out for Life

Categories: Things To Do

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Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
Zelko Bistro is just one of the many restaurants participating in the Dining Out For Life charity event.
Join Backstreet Cafe, 1103 S. Shepherd, in exploring North Greece with a family-style wine dinner featuring special guest sommelier Evan Turner. Held on both Tuesday, April 28 and Wednesday, April 29 at 7 p.m., the dinners will showcase 10 diverse regional wines paired with Greek dishes, including octopus carpaccio, collard green dolmades, and lamb "riblets," to name a few. Cost is $110 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Reservations can be made by emailing BackstreetSpecialEvents@gmail.com.

On Thursday, April 30, more than 40 area restaurants will be participating in Dining Out For Life, the nationwide fundraising event benefiting local AIDS service organizations. Locate a participating restaurant near you, dine out, and a percentage of your sale will go toward this great cause.

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Openings & Closings in Houston: Trading Spaces, Restaurant-Style

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Troy Fields
Eatsie Boys cafe is closing, but another well-regarded, Montrose-based cook is taking over the space.

The big news in this week's Openings and Closings are the various Montrose restaurants opening, closing and taking each other's spaces.

Eric Sandler of Culturemap Houston reports that Eatsie Boys is closing on May 1 and the news is being received by Houston diners with mixed emotions. The little café, which opened in 2013, has been met with success and critical acclaim.

However, the partners of Eatsie Boys are also the owners of 8th Wonder Brewing Company, which is growing by leaps and bounds. The brewery just signed an agreement with Silver Eagle distributing company, which will put their beers--including Intellectuale, Hopston and Dome Faux'm--into even more bars and restaurants around town. Also in the works are plans to start packaging the beers in bottles and a new brewery and tasting room is under consideration, too.

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Chef Chat, Part 2: Jody Stevens of Jodycakes

Categories: Chef Chat

Baker Jody Stevens went through several phases in her life before coming to Houston to establish her business, Jodycakes. In Part 1, we learned she went from college to serving in the Air Force during Operation Desert Storm, to Houston for a career in finance that spanned a decade, to Los Angeles and then back to Houston.

In this final part of our Chef Chat with her, we'll learn how she got her cake business up and running in Houston and about some of her specialties. We'll also discuss The Depressed Cake shop, an annual fundraiser that she established to raise money and awareness for mental health.

EOW: To this day, your baked goods are still placed at different businesses around town. If people want to go buy your products retail, where can they go?

JS: My No. 1 seller right now is Revival Market in the Heights. They carry gluten-free products right now, and hopefully maybe in the future, we'll expand to some of the vegan stuff.

EOW: Are there any other places?

JS: I am in negotiation with some other coffee shops in the Heights area. So, hopefully pretty soon I'm going to have more outlets on a retail basis.

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The Blue Bell Recall: How Bad Is It?

Categories: Breaking News

Image from Blue Bell Recall Notice
In light of its product-wide recall, it may take some time for Blue Bell to get through all the possible ramifications.

As reported yesterday, Blue Bell Ice Cream has recalled all of its products after finding listeria bacteria in multiple facilities and containers.

We spoke with Houston-based personal injury lawyer Scott Callahan, who notes that while recalls are common, one of this scope is exceptional.

"First of all, you have different places and plants where the listeria has been located," he explained. "If it were determined to only be in one particular location or machine, then that could be identified and that line of product could be recalled. When you have a widespread problem in different places at different plants, then a recall of all products is the right thing to do."

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Chef Chat, Part 1: Jody Stevens of Jodycakes

Categories: Chef Chat

When baker Jody Stevens decided to focus on creating vegan and gluten-free cakes that were as delicious as regular ones, people told her she was crazy and it would never work. At the time, Houston was still known as a meat-and-potatoes city and not the culinary epicenter is it today.

Fortunately, Stevens didn't listen and kept working on it. These days, she bakes dozens of cakes and cupcakes a week for what was previously an underserved market. It's not her only accomplishment. She also spearheaded an event called The Depressed Cake Shop where baked goods -- all in "depressing" colors like gray, black and white -- are donated and sold to raise money for a local mental health clinic.

In Part 1 of our Chef Chat, we'll learn about Stevens's service in the Air Force, her prior career in finance and how her baking business first gained a big following in Houston. Be sure to come back for the second part of our interview tomorrow, where you'll find out where you can buy her products retail, as well as about The Depressed Cake Shop.

EOW: Are you from Houston?

JS: I actually am not. I am from Denver, Colorado. I moved here in 1995, and I've been here ever since.

EOW: How old were you when you moved from Colorado?

JS: I was actually almost 25.

EOW: Did you go to college there?

JS: I did. I actually went to the University of Colorado and halfway through my sophomore year, I decided to join the Air Force to go overseas.

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More Blue Bell Drama: All Products Now Recalled

Categories: Breaking News

Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
Just after grocery stores restocked their freezer shelves with Blue Bell, there's now a voluntary recall of all products.
Just when you thought it was safe to buy Blue Bell ice cream again, the company has announced that it is recalling all of its products. The news comes just days after local grocery stores started restocking their shelves.

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Le' Pam's House of Creole Offers Good Food and Greetings From its 
Dynamic Owner

Categories: Cafe Reviews

Le' Pam's House of Creole could probably run exclusively on the high-energy personality of its owner, chef Pamela Graham, but it doesn't hurt that she makes good food, too. Customers are enthusiastically greeted with exclamations like "Hello, my babies! Have you been here before? Come here and try my gumbo!" as soon as they walk through the door.

She fills little plastic sample cups with her andouille sausage gumbo on the spot and presses them into her guests' hands. Unlike many gumbos, Graham's doesn't have a dark roux, nor is it made with tomatoes. Instead, it has a rich chicken stock base, and it's not uncommon to find some gizzards in a pleasing state of tenderness. Lucky diners might even find a chicken heart here and there. The gumbo is chock-full of long-grain white rice -- perhaps a little too much, truth be told.

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This Week in Houston Food Blogs: Independent Italian Food in Conroe

Categories: Leftovers

Photo by Phaedra Cook
CocoDijon visits Table 57 at the fancy H-E-B on Fountainview and deems flavors to range from "good" to "very good."

Listen up. There's non-chain dining in Conroe. No, really, we read about a place called Vero's Italian Kitchen at the "I Chew And Review" blog. However, take heed of the disclaimer from the post:

Now let's have a little chat about expectations. If you come to a place like this and expect it to be Ciao Bello, you know you're in for a disappointment. You're in Conroe. Set your expectations accordingly.

The little counter-service establishment at 1301 West Davis boasts a plate of spaghetti and meatballs for just under $10. It also has "pellet ice," for those of you who are into that -- and several of you are, which is really interesting in and of itself.

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First Look at Peska Seafood Culture in Houston

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Photo by Mai Pham
Ahi tuna poke by chef Omar Pereney at Peska Seafood Culture is extremely fresh and delicious.

A common misconception about Peska Seafood Culture, the new seafood restaurant located in the BLVD place next to True Food Kitchen, is that it's a Mexican seafood restaurant much like Hugo Ortega and Tracy Vaught's Caracol. The confusion arises mainly because the owners, Maite Ysita and her brother Diego Ysita, are from Mexico, where they own and operate two successful seafood restaurants, La Trainera, in Mexico City and Acapulco.

Perhaps that's why they decided to name their first Houston restaurant Peska Seafood Culture, a name which in itself tells the story about the food that they serve. "At Peska Seafood Culture, our concept is a seafood market. So we carry seafood from all around the world, and we try to make preparations related with where we get our product from," says Omar Pereney, the 20-year-old chef wunderkind and executive chef of the restaurant.

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Best Online Foodie Gifts for the Long-Distance Mama

Photo courtesy of Will Pilson.
Mother's Day Sweets Box from Harry & David.

On Sunday, May 10, many of you will have the opportunity to treat your mother/maternal figure to a lovely meal (and, for the love of God, don't confine it to brunch). Some of us, however, won't get that chance. I'm not referring to those who don't have a relationship with their moms or those whose mothers are no longer with us (though my heart goes out to you).

I'm referring to myself, actually, and everyone else who loves his or her mother dearly but just happens to live 300+ miles from her (in my case, 1,463.1 miles). Meeting up for drinks and dinner is not an option; a Skype session doesn't seem quite special; and a generic card is not going to cut it.

Flowers, of course, are the conventional gift for the long-distance mama on Mother's Day, but if 1) you're looking for something more creative, 2) your green-thumb mom grows her own friggin' tulips and 3) food not flora is the way to your mother's heart, then consider sending one of these terrific Mother's Day foodie gifts from online vendors.

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