Baseball Extravaganza

What started as a birthday present from my parents to Dan one year has become an annual tradition that we look forward to every summer.  My parents are big fans of the Houston Astros and enjoy attending as many games as they can.  Several years ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates were playing the Astros in Houston, and my parents gifted their Pennsylvania native son-in-law with tickets for us to join them for 2 games of the weekend series.  We decided to stay at the baseball-themed “Inn at the Ballpark,” located less than a block from the Astros ballpark in downtown Houston.  At the time, staying at a baseball hotel and attending 2 baseball games in the same weekend seemed like a lot of baseball, so we nicknamed the experience the “Baseball Extravaganza.”  We had such a good time that weekend that a tradition was born.  Our baseball weekend has become a rite of summer for us — usually falling on Labor Day weekend and always including a wonderful stay at the Inn.

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Restaurant Week 2011

Last week was Restaurant Week, during which participating restaurants around town put together special three-course meals that cost $35 per person, $7 of which is donated to two local charities.  We seized the opportunity to try some new restaurants and visit a couple of old, special-occasion favorites and decided to make an entire week of it — going out to dinner Monday through Friday.  It was a wonderfully decadent week, but also surprisingly exhausting.  As glad as we are to have had the experience — sampling lots of amazing dishes, gathering inspiration to try in our own kitchen and discovering a new favorite eatery — we ultimately learned how much we really enjoy our lifestyle of planning our menus for the week and cooking and dining at home (except for the part where we have to clean up and do dishes.)  Rather than exhaust all of you with every detail of every dish from the week, we’ll just hit the highlights.  (But with a week’s worth of three (sometimes four) course meals, there are A LOT of highlights.  You have been warned.) Continue reading “Restaurant Week 2011”

Napa Valley

Okay, this is the final post from our trip to Napa Valley — pinkey swear promise.  I whittled the more than 300 photos down to these, but there are still A LOT of pics.  So if you’re not the type of person who enjoys looking at other people’s attempts to capture their amazing vacation memories in waaaay too many photos of lots of the same things, sit this one out and check back in a day or two for regularly scheduled food-related content.   Continue reading “Napa Valley”

Trinchero Winery

Dan and I are blessed in many ways, including wonderful friends and family, our health, and the means and ability to travel.  We also happen to be very lucky to have good friends who have a connection in the wine business, and who were kind enough to hook us up with a private winery tour on our recent trip to the Napa Valley.  Many thanks to Lindsay, Damon and Mr. G for setting up this amazing experience for us!  We felt quite important and special on our first-ever winery tour, getting an inside look and lesson from our guide:  the very knowledgeable Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator, Rosie, of the very classy Trinchero Napa Valley winery.  Trinchero is a beautiful place and the wines we tasted there were outstanding.  The winery was so nice that we felt like we could live there, and the wines were so good that we joined their wine club.  We look forward to our first shipment, assuming it ever cools off here in Texas so they can send it without risking damage to the wine from the heat (just one of the many things we learned from the folks at Trinchero — if a winery won’t agree to delay shipping to hot climates until cooler months, then you probably don’t want to purchase that particular wine.)  It was a lovely afternoon and one of the most memorable experiences of our trip.

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Ad Hoc

Some of the best things in life are the most simple.  Dan and I recently took a wonderful trip to Northern California, including a glorious long weekend in Napa Valley.  We took tons of photos, and plan to share each and every one of them.  Just kidding, we won’t be *those* people.  But we will have a couple of posts sharing some California goodness, starting with this one covering an amazing – yet simple – dinner we had at Ad Hoc, a Thomas Keller restaurant in Yountville, CA.

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Sweet Auburn Curb Market

Last weekend, we traveled to Atlanta to attend our first-ever food blogger conference.  We had a great time, met some wonderful people (including our Charcutepalooza heroes and new friends!) and learned a thing or two along the way.  All in all, it was a successful trip that made us appreciate this community of bloggers that our little hobby has led us to join.  One of the highlights of our visit was an excursion to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, the oldest public market in Atlanta.

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Mi Cocina (Restaurant Review)

For my birthday lunch this year, Dan took me to one of our favorite Tex-Mex restaurants, Mi Cocina.  They have multiple locations around town, many of which we have been to many times.  We each have our preferred items on their menu, but pretty much everything we’ve ever eaten there has been delicious.  Sometimes as a restaurant expands with numerous locations, the quality suffers.  Not so with Mi Cocina — all the restaurants where we have dined offer high quality, perfectly seasoned Tex-Mex dishes with fresh ingredients.  As often as we eat there, we never get tired of it.  Continue reading “Mi Cocina (Restaurant Review)”

Crawfish Boil

My youngest brother Adam’s birthday just happens to coincide with crawfish season in Texas.  For the past several years, he has celebrated his special day by hosting a crawfish boil with lots of friends and family. And mudbugs. It’s always a great party that we look forward to attending, and this year was no exception.

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Breuckelen Restaurant (Review)

We spent a too-short weekend in New York recently, visiting Dan’s brother Sean, his lovely wife and their adorable baby boy.  We love their neighborhood in Brooklyn, partly because of the Breuckelen Restaurant, where we had an early dinner on Saturday.  When you dine at Breuckelen, you can tell how much the Chef really loves food and appreciates combining quality ingredients into mini masterpieces on every plate.  All of us enjoyed our meal immensely.

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Bijoux Restaurant

Being foodies, we love finding great restaurants.  And Dan being born 4 days before Valentine’s Day means that we get a chance to try fancy/romantic/new restaurants on his birthday without any hassle about getting a reservation or fighting the Valentine’s crowds.  This year, we decided to try Bijoux, “a contemporary French” restaurant.  Bijoux offers a five course prix fixe menu, or you can just order however many courses you’d like – a la carte style.  They also have a chef’s tasting menu, but we passed on it this time, since we just had the tasting experience last month at Fuego.  Bijoux is a wonderful restaurant — perfect for celebrating a birthday, Valentine’s Day or any other special occasion.  The ambiance was romantic and luxurious, the service was excellent, and the food was outstanding.    Continue reading “Bijoux Restaurant”