Houston, Texas

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 Happy Hump Day!!! After long awaited suspense I will finally reveal the gorge-fest that was Houston, Texas. I went down with my boss last Tuesday morning unexpectedly as I didn't think I could swing it and I was SO happy I did. What a fun trip and the FOOD! Houston has sooo many bars and restaurants I was overwhelmed and delighted. Luckily we had some Houston natives as our guides to not only the high security oil and gas companies but the world of food and drink. I wanted them to take us to what really screams Texas. What is truly southern cuisine and specific to this area. Here is what we dined on... YuM!



Here is a photo of the reception of our hotel- the Magnolia downtown. It was  newly renovated and had a great second story restaurant and bar which we frequented.
MAGNOLIA HOTEL



Salad? In Texas? Alas.. I was heading houseboating on Friday so had to be a TAD good. We were STARVING when we got off the plane and hit up the hotel restaurant. I just had this side salad with blue cheese dressing anddd..



This crappy mac n' cheese. They had me at "gruyere" but it really didn't turn my crank. Super bland and too saucy. I hate over sauced mac or salad. Yick.



My boss ordered this fabulous quesadilla with shredded beef, sweet corn, jalapenos and Monterey Jack cheese. It was SO good. Loved the big pile of guacamole and the sweet corn really balanced the spice of the jalapenos. I will definitely be adding corn to my next quesadilla with this gadget
PAPPDEAUX



O.M.G... That fondue in the middle ?! BEST THING I CONSUMED IN HOUSTON!!! For dinner we went to a Cajun restaurant chain specializing in seafood called "Pappadeaux". It kind of reminded me of an upscale Red Lobster with huge portions. This appetizer platter has fried alligator on the left, crawfish (their tails are similar to shrimp), mushroom & prawn fondue and calamari on the right. Our Houston contacts suggested just the big fondue and I'm STILL kicking myself for not ordering it! This cheesy meaty crawfishy dish is one I will not forget any time soon. Alligator on the other hand- meh, kind of like chicken.



This is my enormous serving of "Costa Rican Snapper Pontchartrain" for $28.95. WTH is pontchartrain you ask? Pontchartrain is a southern Louisiana classic dish for breaded fish. There was also shrimp in a brown butter sauce... I don't know what was in this brown butter sauce but it was like heavenly gravy. WOW. This dish was served with "dirty rice" meaning seasoning, sausage and some other tasty delights.



Chilean sea bass with jumbo lump crab gratin (a widespread culinary technique in food preparation in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg and/or butter) over sauteed spinach and roasted tomatoes for $32.95. YuM



HUGE piece of halibut with "smashed potatoes" - see how they look like a new potato literally smashed? and then smother in Parmesan cheese of course... This was the special of the day.



LOVED THIS DISH!!! I wasn't sure what the hell "Crawfish Etouffe" was for $20.95 but our Houston native RAVED about it and I really wish I would have ordered it. Etouffe is a cajun dish typically with shellfish served over rice. In this case there was crawfish and a lot of it! Look at all those guys! He stirred it all up so every bit had some rice and shellfish in a tangy, creamy sauce. It was SOOO damn good!!!!



In Houston most restaurants come around with PLATTERS of dessert showing exactly what you can order. Look how big these are after our gargantuan meals?! The banana pudding in the mason jar is supposed to be the best but we couldn't stomach it.



Me at our Houston headquarters
CAFE EXPRESS



Cafe Express is this AWESOME salad bar/express restaurant that are commonly found in Houston. You go to the front and order your meal whether it be a burger, salad, pasta, sandwich etc and are giving a buzzer for when your order is ready. The best part is they have this fantastic add-on area where you can add pickles, olives, sundried tomatoes, roasted garlic, peppers, extra cheese ETC ETC ETC to your meal. Look at those big pickles and huge jars of olives NOM NOM! We stopped here for lunch one day and it was PACKED!



oil, seasoning, dressing anyone?



Ron's chicken alfredo with peas... Didn't look so tasty but he said it was delicious



Chicken salad with lots of additions from the center bar.



MmMmmM this salad looked delicious! Tuna, pesto pasta and spinach



I ordered a cobb salad *shocker* with extra extra olives, pickles, roasted garlic and cheese :)



Heading out for some infamous TEX MEX!
EL REAL MEXICAN



Homemade chips & spicy salsa on the house for a starter



We ordered some queso (pretty much like cheese soup for your chips pronounced "case-o") and guacamole to go along with the salsa. The guac was really fresh tasting with crispy lettuce and a bit of red pepper. My only complaint is there wasn't enough ;)



I asked the waiter what the best thing on the menu was and what he suggested... He said without hesitation the enchiladas with a fried egg on top which "melt in your mouth"... This meal was HUGE! It was pretty damn good too but I don't know if I would say melt in your mouth.. Maybe stick to your arteries? It was a whole lot of enchiladas for this cowgirl who was downing margarita's on the rocks to wash this dish down. Not my FAV dish ever but very authentic!



Let's be honest. Mexican food is not the most photogenic. This is refried beans on the left with some concoction in the middle and a fried pablano pepper stuffed with cheese on the right. The pablano pepper was great after you scraped off the batter.



Two words: PUFFY TACO. El Real's specialty



Too many margarita's deep to remember this meal but oy! Not pretty... Apparently tasty though... I had a bite.. I think ;)



Chicken & beef fajitas... Is that a small bowl of melted butter near his belly ?!



Regular taco meal deal .. This looks a bit more palatable



What would a night on the town be without a stop at a martini bar? This is a hurricane from the bar Anvil. Fun night!



Followed by a stop at "Maple Leaf" a Canadian bar in which we drank one too many Canadian whiskey's. This is one of our US salesmen who showed us a great time!
TONY MANDOLA'S



Final lunch at Tony Mandola's. Tony is an Italian chef with a chain of restaurants in Texas and we went to his new seafood haunt. YuM



This Southern specialty is one of the strangest things I have ever eaten. Known as "boudin" and pronounced with a strong Texas accent this is actually pork and rice dressing in a sausage casing that is not meant to be eaten but just squeezed out... StRaNgE... Yet tasty....



Half eaten boudin .. hahaha another not very photogenic dish ;)



Starter salad to my seafood platter. The plate AND fork were ice cold. Classy!



Oysters Rockefeller. From Wiki: The dish was named Oysters Rockefeller after John D. Rockefeller, the richest American at the time, for the richness of the sauce. Though the original recipe is a secret, the sauce is known to be a puree of a number of green vegetables other than spinach. It consists of oysters on the half-shell topped with the sauce and bread crumbs and then baked



Deanna ordered the special of the day.. Grouper with prawns and this amazing cream sauce... Yummm.



My seafood platter had lightly breaded halibut, prawns which had a great creole seasoning on them and breaded jumbo scallops to go along with my oysters. The scallops were the best part... as was the cup of melted butter. DID I MENTION THIS WAS BEFORE MY HOUSEBOATING TRIP ?



Prawn linguine with tomatoes and Parmesan



President's Suite @ the airport. Great free snacks & booze!

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