Bloody Good: Where to Partake of Palatable Plasma

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Photo by Emmanuel Boutet
Boudin noir before being cooked.
When I order steak at restaurants, I tend to make tired jokes about how rare I like it.

"I want my meat black and blue," I'll say. "Bring it to me still bleeding."

Though I don't literally want my steak bleeding onto my plate, there are some instances where a little blood in my meal makes it all the better. No, I'm not referring to when chefs season a dish inadvertently (see our October piece on horrific kitchen injuries). I'm talking about blood soup, blood sausage and any other dish that benefits from a little bit of the sanguine sauce.

In Houston, there are a number of restaurants at which you can get your fix. Just, maybe, don't bring your squeamish friends along. Cubed blood is not for the faint of heart. Or stomach.

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You Should Go to Moon Tower Inn; Here Are 10 Reasons Why

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Dogs like this aren't born every day. Except at Moon Tower Inn.
While we are certainly excited about their newest venture, Voodoo Queen, we revisited Evan Shannon and Brand Young's first baby, Moon Tower Inn, to remind ourselves just how great it is.

Here are 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit (or revisit) as well:

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Condom Flavors Ranked (Because We Want You to Be Safe and Satisfied) (sNSFW)

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Photo by Monica Fuentes
Brave Houston Press staffers testing a vanilla and a strawberry condom.
There are wine tastings and beer tastings and liquor tastings, of course. There are cheese tastings and barbecue tastings and even heirloom apple tastings. Chocolate tastings, kolache tastings, salsa tastings and weird new energy drink tastings.

But this is the first time we've ever heard of a condom tasting.

Yes, in the name of safe sex and scientific curiosity, several members of our editorial and advertising staff have participated in a flavored condom tasting to determine which flavor actually tastes the most like what it's supposed to. Or to determine which flavor actually tastes like anything, because that's really what it came down to.

One member of the advertising staff suggested that to really get the flavors to come out, the condoms need to be warm. Like, there needs to be friction. But as none of us felt like really going to town on the bananas we used as vessels, the condoms remained...room temperature.

We used both Endurance and Trustex brand flavored condoms, which, by the way, are FDA-approved. And, contrary to what you might read on the Internet, flavored condoms do protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. That means you can both taste them and...do other things with them. It's important to note that only sugarfree condoms should be used for vaginal intercourse because the ones with sugar in them could cause yeast infections. So now you know.

Ahem, here are the flavors ranked from worst to best:

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Texas Tailgating: Atomic Deer Turds

Photo by Robb Walsh
Note: This is a rerun of a post from 2008 in which former Houston Press food critic Robb Walsh shares a favorite tailgating recipe in honor of game day.

Tailgaters love to stuff jalapeños with cheese (usually cream cheese) and wrap meat around them. To make "atomic buffalo turds," you stuff a half a jalapeño with a "cocktail smokie" sausage and cream cheese, wrap it with bacon, secure with a toothpick and grill until the bacon is crisp. Then there's "armadillo eggs," made by wrapping pork sausage around a cream cheese-stuffed pepper.

In Texas, where tailgaters, trail drive riders and hunting camp cooks have lots of venison on hand, variations on this theme use deer meat. I've seen butterflied venison backstrap and venison hamburger meat used as the outer layer around a stuffed jalapeño -- but the most common meat for this use is venison sausage. These are known by a number of names including "atomic deer turds," or, in polite company, "venison sausage balls."

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Hofmann Sausage Co: Texas Is About to Get Real...Hot Dogs! If You Live in Dallas, Can You Bring Me Some?

Categories: News, Sausage Fest

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Photo by Hofmann Sausage Co.
So if you are from Upstate New York (like me), and if you love hot dogs (like me), and you live in Texas (like me), then you probably really, really miss Hofmann hot dogs. Like me. Because when I tell you I miss Hofmann hot dogs, I mean that I miss them super-duper terribly, especially when holidays like Memorial Day and Fourth of July and Labor Day roll around.

There is just really nothing like a Hofmann Hot Dog. I'm a Snappy Griller girl, but Hofmann Red Hot franks are good, too. The Reds (or franks) are more like a traditional hot dog and are made of beef, veal and pork blend; the White Hots (Coneys, or Snappy Grillers) are an all-natural, spicy pork-and-veal concoction that makes any other dog taste really sad in comparison.

Don't believe me? Last Thanksgiving, my husband smuggled Hofmann White Hots back to Houston in his carry-on luggage. Back in 2008, when we were living in Anchorage, I had to literally rip the phone out of my husband's hands so he wouldn't spend $120 on hot dogs-plus-shipping to Alaska.

Even I have to draw the line somewhere. But not for much longer, because Hofmann hot dogs are going national, and they are starting in Dallas.

Dear anyone coming here from Dallas: Please bring me some.

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Was I Happy at Happy Fatz?

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Photo by John Suh
Lotus Blossom
Or was I just really feeling fat(z)? For those who don't skulk around the Heights looking for new places to prowl like me, perhaps you haven't stumbled upon this little dessert/coffee/hot dog shop. When I first heard about Happy Fatz, I thought it was an interesting concept. Who would've thought to put together frankfurters, cappuccinos, and cupcakes? But, the idea just sounded so right. Now I can satisfy my craving for an unhealthy all-American meal; follow it with unhealthy sweets; and then to fight the food coma, chase it with loads of caffeine so I can stay till closing time and pretend to do work on their wifi even as my head and my stomach fight over which will explode first.

Open for less than two months, Happy Fatz is one of the many newcomers to this booming part of town. And like its many Heights counterparts, it's housed inside a bungalow, which offers its patrons that "come hither and dine in my house like we're old friends" feel that is so coveted nowadays thanks to our growing cyber-dependency. There's a the quintessential wraparound porch, the hollow sound of footsteps on floorboards and the wooden furniture set cozily close to one another to promote (heaven forbid) conversations with strangers. At first glance, Happy Fatz fulfills every notion of a charming "mom-n-pop" shop typical of the Heights, and charmed I was.

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Tunnel Explorer: Charlie's Old Fashioned BBQ

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Disarmingly, surprisingly good. Also, a lie.
I had to go to Charlie's Old Fashioned BBQ (713-750-0562) three times before I made up my mind about it. For a while, I was half-convinced I had stumbled on some unexpected gem of Houston barbecue, hidden in the bowels of the First City Tower. I don't know if it was wishful thinking or the generous opinion of a growling stomach that clouded my judgment, but Charlie's, I'm sorry to say, is exactly what you're assuming it is.

It's easy to walk right on past Charlie's. It doesn't have much in the way of signage, and is tucked into the corner of a turn in a hallway leading from one stale-aired stretch of the tunnels to another. It looks like it must be a newsstand. I'm not really sure what lured me in to begin with, aside from a shrugging sort of "what the hell" curiosity.

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A Whataburger Taquito with Chorizo

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As Lennie Ambrose mentioned the other day, we here at Eating Our Words occasionally consume meals of which we are less than proud. We know it's hard to believe, but even we who breathe the rarified air of the food blog occasionally fill our breathing holes with unadulterated crap. In fact, sometimes we revel in it.

For me, there are few such indulgences that top the Whataburger taquito. I was among those who literally cheered out loud upon hearing some time back that the glorious breakfast wrap would be made available all day.

My taquito of choice has always been the potato, egg and cheese variety. The interplay of silken eggs, gooey processed cheese, and crispy hash brown sticks is a thing of beauty, even though I know it's really an abomination. Sometimes I even get an extra order of hash browns, and stuffing those inside my taquitos. Topped with Whataburger's version of Pace Picante Sauce, nothing else beats it when the craving hits.

I was intrigued, though, upon hearing that Whataburger was adding chorizo to the list of available taquito fillings. A fan of the spicy, piquant flavor of a good chorizo, I wanted to see how Whataburger's offering stacked up.

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Soyrizo: Even Better Than The Real Thing?

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Vegan migas con chorizo
The reason I first started eating Soyrizo had nothing to do with health concerns or the welfare of the animals that were going into the tasty Mexican sausage with the trademark bright-orange grease. No, it was a much more selfish reason than that.

I was living in a small town during college and simply couldn't find any real Mexican chorizo anywhere, no matter where I looked. Yes, there were "Mexican" restaurants in Waco, but while I was there, none of them had chorizo, even the more authentic establishments like the amazing coastal Mexican place that served up plump pulpo al vino.

Resigned to only eating chorizo on rare weekend trips back to Houston, I was surprised to see something called Soyrizo in the aisles of the brand-new H-E-B that opened up during my junior year of college. The H-E-B was absolutely immense; locals and Baylor students alike referred to it as "Taj Ma-Heeb." And it stocked foods we'd never previously had access to in the dusty Hill Country, foods like chorizo made from soy.

I grabbed a packet and tried it on a whim. And I've never looked back since.


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Al Marcus Makes Andouille

Categories: Sausage Fest

The Daily Cleveland Herald, in 1869, quoted lawyer-poet John Godfrey Saxe as saying: "Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion, as we know how they are made." In other words, both are nasty processes best left to others.

Cue Al Marcus.

Marcus, under the company name The Grateful Bread and Other Good Things, has been hawking his wares -- from Worcestershire sauce and homemade vanilla extract to smoked cheeses -- at local farmers markets for the last year and a half.

The best sellers are always the bacon and sausage, particularly the andouille (one of five or six varieties he makes), which we videoed this week.

Marcus calls his top seller "anti-andouille" because he doesn't smoke it, as is traditionally done. Customers like it better this way, he said.

Vegans might not rock out to this sort of footage, but for carnivores this is the real deal. Pork shoulder and spices -- no preservatives or slices of meat from the nether-parts of pigs.

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