Five Awesome Houston Treats to Bring to a Holiday Party

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Photo by Deb Smalls
Chocolatier and owner Annie Rupani makes some of the most beautiful chocolates.
Whether you want to gift the host a special treat or bring holiday eats for the party to share, here are 5 Awesomely Delicious Local Treats to Bring to Your Next Holiday celebration:

Exotic Artisan Chocolates
Where to get them: Cocao & Cardamom, 5000 Westheimer

These luxury artisan chocolates will make any party goer swoon. Get them in unexpected flavors like Szechuan peppercorn, coco curry, and five spice praline. Less daring chocolate lovers will go nuts for the flavors like smores -- made with housemade roasted marshmallow, milk chocolate ganache and graham cracker crumbs; or Nutella banana. Boxes starting at $20.

Gourmet Holiday Scones
Where to get them: Sparrow Bar + Cookshop, 3701 Travis

At $6 per order, chef Monica Pope's scone dough is available in flavors such as sour cherry pecan, gruyere chive, and lavender fig. Each ball of dough yields 10-15 small scones that will make the perfect bite-sized appetizers. And hey, people may even think you made them yourself. Order at least four days in advance from now through the end of the month.


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This Week In Food Events: See Holiday Lights On The Wave Then Have Dinner Downtown

Categories: Edible Events

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Photo by Troy Fields
Ride The Wave to view holiday lights around down, then return to have dinner at Batanga or other area restaurants.

Monday, December 15

Growers Champagne Tasting at Julep
Life the fancy life at Julep tonight! Taste nine different growers' Champagnes and have all the oysters you can eat for $50. Champagnes include Vincent Carre Premier Cru Brut Marne and Pierre Gimonnet Cote des Blancs "Special Club." Contact Julep ASAP for more info. 4 to 7 p.m. $50

3rd Annual Tom Bawcock's Eve At Double Trouble

Tom Bawcock's Eve is traditional in Mousehole, Cornwall, but Houston has its own rendition of the event. It honors the legend of Tom Bawcock who saved the village by fishing during a severe storm This is the third year that chef Richard Knight (formerly of Feast and currently part of the Kipper Club pop-up dinners) has led the celebration at Double Trouble. Historic cocktails like Cornish Tin Miner's Punch, Mulled Cider & Mahogany will be served. At 9 p.m., enjoy a shadow puppet show of The Mousehole Cat, narrated by Knight and performed by The Shadow People. 3622 Main, Suite D. 8 p.m.


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Previewing the 2014 Herradura Scotch Aged Reposado at Vallone's Steakhouse

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Photo by Carolyn McBride
From left to right, Herradura's blanco, reposado, and Scotch Aged Reposado tequilas.
Admittedly, I don't know much about tequila beyond the basics. If you've been reading my articles regularly, you know I've spent a lot more time on whiskey, and learning about that alone has been practically a full-time job over the last year.

That said, I enjoy margaritas and trips to the Pastry War, and I'm always game to try any high-quality spirit, so when given the opportunity, I'm certainly willing to give tequila a shot. I was invited to a Herradura pairing dinner at Vallone's Steakhouse, part of their promotion for this year's specially finished release, the Scotch Cask Reposado. (This is the third in Herradura's annual series of specially-finished tequilas; in 2012 they made a reposado finished for three months in a port cask; last year, the tequila was finished in a cognac cask.)

The three-course meal contained items especially prepared to be paired with three different varieties of Herradura tequila. Ruben Aceves, Master Taster for Herradura, was on hand to tell us more about the tequilas we would be tasting, and to go into quite a bit of detail as to the process of making tequila as well.

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Dish of the Week: Hamantaschen

Categories: Recipes

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Fill these pastry pockets with poppyseeds, raspberry, apricot, dates, walnuts, and more.
Photo by Meaghan O'Malley
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're sharing a recipe for hamantaschen.

Hamantaschen are filled triangular cookies or pastries that are typically eaten during Purim. According to judais.com, the word "hamantaschen" is a Yiddish word meaning "Haman's pockets" -- with Haman, being the villain in the story Purim. The pastries symbolize the Jewish people's escape from the enemy. The suffix "-tasche" references filled pouches of dough.

Though Purim isn't until March, the short bread-like cookies -- which are often filled with things like poppy seed, prunes, nuts, dates, apricot, raspberry, fruit preserves, chocolate, and even cream cheese -- would make a great addition to any holiday cookie exchange.

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The 25 Best New Restaurants In Houston in 2014

Categories: Best of Houston

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Photo by Troy Fields
These spicy, smoky, sticky ribs coated in morita chile sauce came from our No. 24 pick.

Houston, you had a banner year for new restaurant openings. It was a delightful struggle to rank the best and most significant openings of the year. Quality has become the name of the game in Houston and competition is fierce.

2014 provided a wealth of restaurant riches over a broad span of cuisines. It feels like a golden age. Southern, nouveau Korean, burgers, Texas barbeque and New American are just a few of the areas represented by the new crowd of establishments.

To compile this list, we considered restaurants with opening dates as early as December 1, 2013 to have a full year's worth of coverage.

See if your favorites made our list of The 25 Best New Restaurants in Houston.

This story continues on the next page.


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The Chicken Ranch Is Delivering For Lights In The Heights

Categories: Restaurant News

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Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
Out during Lights In The Heights tomorrow (or maybe stuck inside hiding from humanity)? All of this can be brought to your door.

If you find you're in The Heights tomorrow night and feeling a little peckish (or even a lot peckish), The Chicken Ranch, 6500 N. Main, wants to help. Tomorrow night during Lights In The Heights from 4 to 10 p.m., they'll be out delivering fried chicken and sides to the area on their Stella scooter.

You may have to suppress some giggles ordering, though. Here are the offerings:

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The 5 Best Things to Eat or Drink This Weekend: A Chili Cook Off & Drunk Santas

Categories: Edible Events

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Photo by Drink Hoist
Nothing like dressing up like Santa and grabbing a beer with your buds.
Tomball German Market & Christmas Festival @ Old Town Tomball
Friday through Sunday, Fri. 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
200 Market

Join the holiday cheer at this family-friendly music and street festival, held at the intersection of 200 Market and Walnut in Old Town Tomball (near the Train Depot Plaza). The event will feature the lighting of the City Christmas tree, an ice skating rink, an open air market, entertainment, and traditional German food and drink -- including Glühwein (mulled wine) and German beer, Christmas stollen & homemade breads, kaffee und kuchen (coffee and pastry), bratwurst, red cabbage, sauerkraut, and apple strudel alongside festival foods like funnel cake, corn dogs, hot dogs, hamburgers, kettle korn, and barbeque.

Chili Cook-off @ The Petrol Station
Saturday, 1 p.m.
985 Wakefield

Houston's chillest craft beer bar is hosting a chili cook off this Saturday. Sign up at Petrol if you want to be a contestant, then show up with the chili made. The winner will be decided by a public vote, with the prize being an entire case of Prairie Christmas Bomb!.

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Upcoming Events: Lots of Beer and A Holiday Mixology Class

Categories: Edible Events

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Photo by Joshua Justice
Celebrate the holidays with beer and cheer at The Petrol Station.
Hyatt Market Street, The Woodlands goes to the dogs this month, as top area chefs have created whimsical gingerbread doghouses displayed throughout the hotel. This four-legged take on a holiday favorite concludes on Monday, December 15 with an open to the public, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. cocktail reception and silent auction benefiting Operation Pets Alive!. The local, non-profit, all-volunteer organization is dedicated to working with people and government to provide life-saving, no-kill programs through innovative programs that raise awareness, reduce the number of dogs and cats that enter shelters and increase the number of pets that leave shelters alive. 9595 Six Pines

On Tuesday, December 16 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Yellow Rose Distillery will be hosting a Holiday Mixology Class. They have enlisted Houston Farris of The Pastry War to lead an evening of cocktails and fun. Leave with the knowledge of how to impress your guests, friends and family with sensational libations for the holidays and long after. Tickets are $35 per person. 1224 N Post Oak

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Openings & Closings: El Cantina Superior Gets New Owners and Menu

Categories: Restaurant News

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Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
El Cantina Superior has new ownership and is getting a new menu, too.
This one is something of a closing and a re-opening: a press release from restaurant group F.E.E.D TX says they are partnering with Ken Bridge of Delicious Concepts restaurant group to make over El Cantina Superior, which was apparently struggling. (It was the site of the Houston Press Tequila & Tamales throwdown that was held a mere two weeks ago.). F.E.E.D TX's other projects include Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette as well as BRC, which Delicious Concepts is behind places such as Witchcraft Tavern and Pink's Pizza. The restaurant, located at 602 Studewood near Fitzgerald's, will relaunch with a new menu in place late next week. A representative from F.E.E.D TX says the menu, "will be Tex-Mex with our view of how food should be done. Don't be surprised to see a chicken fried steak on the menu or a juicy, delicious burger." 


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MF Sushi's Chris Kinjo Announces Plans for A New Restaurant in the Museum District

Categories: Restaurant News

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Photo by Mai Pham
Sushi Chef Chris Kinjo will be opening a new restaurant in the Museum District in Spring 2015.

Fans of MF Sushi may have wondered why chef Chris Kinjo hasn't been at his MF Sushi location on Westheimer. "We parted ways in late October," says Kinjo of he and his former partner. "I'm no longer affiliated with that location."

The acclaimed sushi chef, who relocated to Houston from Atlanta, opened MF Sushi in December 2012, only to close it several months later when his restaurant burned down in a fire. He successfully re-opened again in May of this year, but in early October, the restaurant abruptly closed down. When it opened again, Kinjo was no longer part of the picture.

A call to the MF Sushi Westheimer location in late October revealed that they would be operating as usual, without Kinjo. "He's moved on to other projects," a young man who answered the phone said.

This week, Kinjo confirmed his plans to open a new restaurant in a contemporary building at 1401 Binz Street in the Museum District. The lease was signed late Tuesday afternoon, and architectural plans are being submitted within the week.


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