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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Craving Peruvian? Head South to Chuyos

Chuyos ceviche
Photo by James Brock
The mussel ceviche at Chuyos is a perfect spoonful.

About 40 minutes south of Houston there's a small restaurant in a strip mall whose owners are from Lima, and they are making some very good and authentic Peruvian food. Ana Cecilia and Oscar Dasso opened the place in 2008, and it has since become a favorite of Peruvians and others looking for lomo saltado, ceviche or beef seco.

I spend a good deal of time in the Clear Lake area, and during the past several months a number of people have mentioned Chuyos to me, so on a recent weekend I took a trip to League City, straight down 45 South, pork on my mind.

A clean, well lighted place is Chuyos, and at 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon it was host to a few families and several couples. The occupants of my table were the only ones not speaking Spanish, which I took as a good sign.

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Where Are We Eating? Hint: King of Crabs

At this new cool spot, you can get King crab legs -- but not served in any sort of traditional manner. Instead, the leg meat is removed and topped with a truffle oil-infused hot sauce and some fried lotus chips. It's sweet, spicy, totally different and totally addictive.

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Where Are We Eating?

At this burger stand in the East End, lunchtime is the busiest time of the day. But there's a not-so-secret secret to avoiding their midday lines: call ahead. Your food will be ready by the time you get there and you can take it with you or eat in the cute -- if spartan -- outdoor dining area that's attached to the side of the stand.

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Where Are We Eating? Clue: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Although this sushi joint didn't make our recent list of Houston's 10 Best Sushi Restaurants, it's still one of my personal favorites. One of the reasons is the casual patio, and another is the creativity shown in rolls like the rainbow roll. This traditional roll is served in a straightforward manner at most sushi places, but here it's topped with a quail egg and beautiful orange masago.

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Where Are We Eating? Clue: Pizza, Pasta and More

This new hot spot just recently opened for lunch, serving pizzas, sandwiches and smaller portions of its housemade pasta. Below is one of those pizzas -- which recently snagged a spot on our Top 10 Pizzas list -- with potato, roasted garlic and taleggio.

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Where Are We Eating? Clue: Classic Creperie

At this new French restaurant in the Heights, you'll find a menu of Gallic favorites and plenty of crepes. It's one of a passel of new restaurants to specialize in the stuffed pancake, which can be made sweet or savory. A spicy chicken version has been my favorite so far.

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Where Are We Eating? Clue: B.Y.O.S.

At this new Galleria-area restaurant, you're encourage to B.Y.O.S. -- build your own salad, to order -- from an array of interesting ingredients. During a recent lunch, I enjoyed a spinach salad with bacon, beets, goat cheese and pumpkin seeds in a light lemon vinaigrette that paired nicely with a creamy bowl of lemon-artichoke soup ordered on the side.

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Where Are We Eating? Hint: Nuevo Latino

At the new restaurant of the former Samba Grille head chef, you'll find a menu that focuses on Peruvian favorites such as lomo saltado, anticuchos and -- of course -- cebiche, served fresh from a full-service cebiche bar. This particular dish features snapper marinated in lime and aji limón leche de tigre with choclo, roasted corn, red onions and sweet potatoes.

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Where Are We Eating?

At this critically acclaimed restaurant, an Asian spin is given to an old Southern favorite: fried green tomatoes. Here, the tomatoes are battered and fried in crispy panko while accompanying shisito peppers get the tempura treatment, making for a sweet side to the tart tomatoes. And underneath it all, a layer of creamy grits is mixed with kimchi for a tangy, sour punch at the end.

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