Saturday, August 7, 2010

Photography & Photography Class

I have the best job in the world working at Rewards Network. I get to meet great chefs and restaurant owners with fascinating stories who put their heart and soul into their restaurants. Some will fail and a lucky few will succeed with the true American success story. It is my mission to help them succeed as much as possible. Rewards Network through its marketing efforts creates multiple websites and markets the restaurant to all the cardmembers. Cardmembers generally make a dining decision on two major factors; the restaurants menu and the photographs. My favorite part of my job is taking the photographs. I have been very fortunate to have had the honor of taking classes with the ultimate food photographer in the world Penny De Los Santos. Penny is a true artistic pioneer in food photography and I have decided to take on some of her philosophies. Organic is the word, natural light and real food that is actually edible & not altered chemically. Penny has many advantages such as experience, professional training, assistants, proper equipment and occasionally food stylists. Unfortunately I haven’t found a class on food styling yet. One assignment at an outdoor food market I discovered that I got a high from taking on an assignment. Giddy as I walked through mud puddles and yet I didn’t have the confidence yet to be imposing and in their face to get the real picture. Hopefully with time I can get the confidence and become more daring & bold. My family is very tolerant during dinner as I get my camera out and take pictures of their dinner as quickly as possible while it gets cold. The restaurant owners nervously hover & the patrons generally want to know what I am up to. I try & remember to send the good ones to the restaurant.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ephesus Mediterranean Grill - Katy Texas

Every once in awhile I run across something that is a true gem. The name Ephesus was unfamiliar to me. This is apparently the name of a famous temple in Turkey. Ephesus is an Turkish Greek cuisine restaurant. Located in a shopping strip in Katy. This location has changed repeatedly over the last few years. The changes now that strikes me are the brightly painted orange walls. Sitting down to eat the owners sit down with me & tell me here the spices are different can run hot & spicy. The really spicy luckily for me id usually served on the side. The owners here used to own the famous Empire Turkish Grill on Memorial Dr in Houston. My meal was delicious and the filet mignon literally melted in my mouth. It wasn't even necessary to chew the delicate meat. What still lingers with me is the Yaprak Sarma - delicate balance of grape leaves stuffed with rice, pine nuts, raisins, peppers, parsley and onion. There is a sweetness that lingers on my tongue after my meal that makes me want to go back to this restaurant again. 510 S. Mason Rd # B Katy Texas 77450 (281) 391-4777

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Danton's Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen

We had a family member that had not come to visit us in a good number of years. Keith had traveled all 50 states & we wanted to provide him with an exceptional experience of the excellent dining experience of Houston. We questioned him giving him all types of suggestions. Then I remembered that my friend Kyle Teas owner of Danton’s Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen had announced on FB that blue crabs had come in today for a limited time. When I mentioned blue crabs, Keith’s eyes lit up. We decided to give Danton’s a try with their blue crabs. We were quickly greeted by Kyle and April pleasantly waited on us. We started with several orders of his famous crab cakes lightly sautéed flattened patties made with blue crab claw meat & kernels of roasted corn & fresh bread crumbs and a tangy garlic remoulade sauce. Keith ordered 2 BBQ blue crabs, David ordered the halibut which he described as a stuffed filet topped with a garlic creamy crab meat sauce with capers, dirty rice on the side. Not being a seafood lover I nervously scanned the menu until my eyes settled on the certified Black Angus filet at the bottom of the menu. When I tasted the steak it literally melted in my mouth. I loved the taste of smoke from the oak and hickory wood. Best French fries that I have eaten in a long time too. We finished our meal (no doggy bags here) with an order of raspberry crème brulee and Patsy’s chocolate cake and the most delicious chocolate banana martini. An exceptional dinner – two thumbs up.

Danton’s Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen
4611 Montrose Blvd.
Houston, Tx 77006
(713) 807-8883

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Taste The Difference - Galena Park Texas

My first impression was a voice, a deep sensual male voice that spoke “hello”; he literally had me at “Hello”. My two hour drive from Sealy to Galena Park with heavy traffic was not wasted. Here on the far east side of town in a heavy industrial area near the ship channel is a culinary gem. Only two weeks old with a soft opening they are already operating in the black. A small restaurant decorated in earth tones and local artist’s artwork with a steaming service line. Refrigerated desserts filled with sweet potato pie, banana pudding and pound cake slices. The passing trucks thunder by missing the 3 layer 6 foot smoker filled with various meats fragrance the air with pecan and oak wood. I stood outside in the smoke just taking in my favorite scent. I meet with the father and son team, Richard (the voice) and son Derrell Gary. Bringing 30 plus years experience in the restaurant industry and Northern California influences I sit down and take a bit of the best French toast I have ever experienced. Hollow bread filled with brie cheese, topped with walnuts, sautéed fresh bananas, the right amount of cinnamon, vanilla liquor and powdered sugar topped off with a sliced large strawberry. The plate was served with perfectly grilled chicken apple sausage. They were mildly amused at my over excitement and brought me two delicious pork ribs slathered in a tangy bbq sauce. This unusual eatery also serves corned beef hash made from scratch (I thought corned beef hash was born in a can), smoked salmon omelet with a red bell pepper sour cream sauce for those of you that like more adventure in your breakfast. Come early as they sometimes run out of food each day. The big wigs at the local plants are beginning to discover this place very quickly.

Thumbs Up

Taste The Difference
2118 Clinton Dr
Galena Park, Texas 77547
(713) 671-1300

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Little Bigs - Houston

An old friend of my husbands once owned a small Chinese restaurant called Ming’s Café. Fay Jowl since opened another restaurant and has relocated minus his wife in Austin and sold Ming’s to make room for Little Bigs. Fay was a really good realtor, even sold us our previous house and attended our wedding 20 years ago. Late one night David and I decided to go by there and experience this new restaurant. I was stunned how different the place was by simply adding on a large deck and placing a large tented canopy overhead. Why hadn’t Fay thought of this? It is wonderful to sit outside and dine watching the Montrose night life pass by and feel the breeze. The outdoor flat screen tv has already begun to show signs of being effected by the weather with bands of green and purple displays moving across the screen. The parking lot has huge crater holes so be careful not to bit your lip as you pass through them. The location is nestled under huge trees and surrounded now by black iron fencing. Nirvana was soulfully singing over the speakers. We ordered the triple slider with two beef and one chicken. The beef with cheese had a lot of flavor blended into the sauté onions but the chicken was rather dry reminded me of a McChick of some type served with only a single round limp pickle slice. The chicken triangle was deep fried in a tempura styled batter was rather boring in my opinion. I really don’t understand why restaurant owners don’t pay attention to details and the value of real estate. I dined on the nice patio overlooking a rented Pod trailer looking into the back inside of the restaurants 600 sq. ft. dining room where they have stacked 100 sq. feet of boxes in one corner tying up a valuable corner in full sight. Little Bigs is a great spot to go back and eat but I think I will stick to the beef.

Saturday evening rain

The guys gathered yesterday and worked their buns off in the summer heat and sun. Three men work better 25 feet up in the air than just the usual two. Progression was rapidly made to the point they felt they were over the halfway mark framing the roof. We have decided to go three levels and the 8 stall barn is turning into a monster in size. We will use 4 stalls for the horses, then tack, storage and feed. The back will have an upper & lower deck with a party room on the second level. It is a funny idea to think we may very well cast our fishing lines from the second floor into the new pond. The view is beautiful and will be greatly appreciated when the geese are in and the distant towns display their fireworks. Tammy came over and worked the girls and assisted the guys proving to easily work along them as one of them. I prepared for the exterminator and left with Pandora in order to get her out of the house. Since no lead, rope, leash or window can hold her it was best to take her on an outing. We played with Tiffany awhile eating at Sonic and stopping over at an estate sale. Purchased Anvil Bar 5 new vintage glasses since he posted he could use a few more. Dropping off Tiffany I picked up more beer & fajita’s from Amigo’s on Westheimer. After all tummy’s were full back at the ranch the skies darkened, Joyce and Mike had unloaded the bikes from their truck and off went the kids, when they were about a mile away the clouds burst open providing much needed relief to the heat. It was fun standing around tailgating drinking beer and wine in crystal glasses while eating cupcakes & fresh strawberries and getting soaked. With the lightning above we moved onto the front porch wrapped in clean soft towels laughing and enjoying the cool breeze and soft jazz playing inside on satellite.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Taco Grill – Katy Texas

One year old family owned and operated small clean restaurant. Counter service with a smile. I ordered a marinated shredded pork torta sandwich. Served on a toasted bolillo bread about 8 inches long sliced in half filled with fresh avocado, Mexican sour cream and grilled ham. I selected the potatoes as my side dish which was seasoned with a mild unknown spice and topped with fresh farmer’s cheese. Served dry with a self serving counter and four different sauces available to place on the sandwich, I walked away feeling the sandwich was a tad dry. The avocado was lost in the ham and don’t remember actually seeing it on the sandwich but the tell tail sign of an allergic scratching throat proved it was in there. The dining room is divided by a half wall which proved to be a blessing with a be speckled bald male diner wearing shorts and muscle shirt talking rather loudly on his blue tooth accessory drowning out the CNN news coverage of the California fires that was located over the front counter. He was so involved in his loud conversation he never noticed my glaring looks or movement to the other side of the restaurant.
Thumbs Up
2004 S. Mason Rd.
Katy, Texas 77450
(281) 371-8226