Sunday, September 18, 2016

Brunch at The Union Kitchen - Memorial

My husband and I decided to try brunch at the Memorial location of Paul Miller's The Union Kitchen this morning. We arrived shortly after service began at 10:00 and were immediately seated. We ordered a bottle of the easy to find and consistently delicious Roederer Estate sparkling rosé to get our Sunday brunch started and began to peruse the menu. The bubbles were dry, smooth and fruity as expected!

We were out a bit earlier than usual so I was leaning more towards the breakfast side of brunch. I was also fairly hungry so I ordered the Ranchero omelet which came with diced char-grilled hangar steak, salsa fresca and pico de gallo along with a side of breakfast potatoes.

Our server also delivered a plate of mini-muffins with our entrees. It was actually hard to choose as several items had sounded really good, luckily, I was not disappointed with my choice. The steak was tender and the eggs were fluffy and, most importantly, not brown and it came with a generous but not overwhelming serving of potatoes. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

My husband opted for the Union bowl which came with scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, chopped bacon, green onions, bell peppers, shredded cheddar cheese and breakfast potatoes; he said he also enjoyed his selection.

He then suggested that we split the Bananas Foster French Toast for dessert as it had been difficult to choose between the sweet and savory items. This dish was composed of pan-seared custard marinated brioche bread with warm bananas foster sauce and a drizzle of maple syrup. Decadent and delicious!

A steady crowd had began to arrive and the dining room was filling up. Our first trip to The Union Kitchen was an unquestionable success, we will definitely be back. We looked over the dinner menu and decided we will try that for our next experience with this restaurant.

I can say with certainty, however, that the brunch at The Union Kitchen is recommended!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Date Night at Brasserie 19

My husband and I had each had a large lunch on this day so we decided to go to Brasserie 19 for our Friday night out for some Champagne and a little spread of cold seafood. While this restaurant has a fantastic menu with classic brasserie-style French food, we come here often just for the Le Petit Plateau de Fruits de Mer.

Brasserie 19 serves up some of the highest quality chilled seafood that you will find in Houston. You can always count on it arriving to your table fresh, perfectly prepared and enticing-looking. On this evening our array consisted of a dozen cold water oysters on the half shell, jumbo boiled shrimp, crab claws, tuna tartare and a half a lobster.

We also ordered a bottle of the NV Vueve Clicquot Brut Rosé Champagne to enjoy with our meal. It was listed at approximately its suggested retail price. The wine list at Brasserie 19 is well-known not just for its pairing ability with the menu but also for serving it up at prices that make any knowledgable winelover feel comfortable about when ordering.

Since it was the weekend, we ended our meal with espresso and the spiced pear cobbler topped with vanilla bean gelato and caramel, consistently yummy. We also splurged on a glass of Chateau Sisqueille Rivesaltes 1930 Vin Doux Naturel dessert wine which was new to the menu and decadently delicious.

Brasserie 19 is one of my top Houston restaurants.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

An Alfresco Evening at Aura Brasserie

Last night, my husband and I enjoyed an early dinner on the patio at Aura Brasserie in Sugar Land. We split the jumbo lump gulf crab beignets, the mac & cheese and the Wagyu carpaccio, all from the appetizer menu, served up with Willamette Pinot Noir by the glass. These three items were perfect for splitting and quite tasty, as well.

Aura Brasserie is run by chef/owner Frédéric Perrier from Lyon, France. He refers to his cooking style as "innovative American with an inch of French". 

Check out the delicious offerings at Aura Brasserie the next time you are in Sugar Land, it is a highly recommended restaurant and, unquestionably, one of area's best.

Edit: This restaurant has closed as the chef has moved onto other projects. Check out his fast and casual homestyle restaurant, also located in Sugar Land, Live Oak Grill.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Book Review- A Perfect Score: The Art, Soul, and Business of a 21st-Century Winery


Pour yourself a glass of some of Napa’s finest, then settle in to take a vicarious ride with one of the valley’s most perfect scoring couples. You will feel like you’ve joined them at their table as Kathryn and Craig Hall take turns telling their tale starting in Texas before they met on through the building of their California wine country empire. 

A Perfect Score: The Art, Soul, and Business of a 21st-Century Winery is a story anyone can savor, it is one of two hard-working, determined people who come together first in love and, then together, dream a dream big enough for wine lovers everywhere to share with them. 

Available today on Amazon or at Hall Wines.

Media Sample for review purposes.
Also posted at Wine Thoughts.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

A Re-post, in memory of "The Lady of the House - Margrit Mondavi"


As originally seen at Wine-Thoughts.com.

One of the highlights of this trip to Napa Valley was the opportunity to meet Mrs. Robert Mondavi, the Vice President of Cultural Affairs at the winery that bears her husband's name. I was introduced to her at the dedication of their newest art addition. The piece was placed in front of the main entrance to honor the mind that had originally imagined and then overseen all that each visitor views upon their approach.

Margrit Biever Mondavi was instrumental in the selection of this bust of Robert Mondavi, a fittingly larger-than-life rendition of the head of the man whose mind had long ago envisioned the Napa that we see today. She discussed with me the initial difficulty in choosing the right piece of art to honor her husband as the founder of the winery.

She had originally considered a life-sized depiction of him standing with a glass of wine in his hand welcoming all who came, a memory that all who knew him would have certainly cherished. She ultimately decided that his vision, his ideas, were the greater statement on who Robert Mondavi was so she commissioned the bust to be created by artist Len Urso.

Keeping the spirit of Robert Mondavi alive and well is Margrit Biever Mondavi's greatest passion. He is still seemingly overseeing much at the winery today. His hospitality is displayed when servers bring out Moscato d'Oro slushies with dessert and quickly explain that this is purposefully done, this is how Mr. Mondavi preferred it. This well-placed faith in his decision making continues throughout. You hear it from the head winemaker as well when she discusses both grape growing and wine making decisions originally made by Mr. Mondavi that are still followed today to always ensure his preferred style.

Many that were in attendance at the dedication remembered the man that they called Bob. He was seen as a friend and neighbor throughout the region. His ideas about Napa Valley and the wines that would come to be made here were visionary. Margrit Mondavi's choice to have this thought-full man's visage oversee the comings and goings of the guests arriving to the winery while at the same ensuring their view is of the man who had the idea is a truly fitting tribute.

Together the couple supported the arts in the community at every level and you can see their devotion on display throughout the buildings and across the beautiful grounds. Margrit Mondavi created the concert programs that benefitted the Napa Valley Symphony and Opera. She brought chefs in from France and from across America to showcase the magic of food and wine pairing. The couple wanted to give their winery guests an opportunity to build a greater appreciation of both the wine and the culinary arts.

Many of the Food and Wine Experiences that are available today were born of her endeavors. Her sketches adorn the tops of the menus for these events. She continues her support of the arts across Napa Valley while continuing to oversee that the vision of both her husband and herself remains realized. The lady of the house was definitely in and she was a pleasure to meet.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fruit Bowl Breakfast

In anticipation of the holiday weekend and a lot of indulgent eating ahead, I thought I should start off Friday with something healthy. One small banana with a handful of huge organic blueberries and some sliced organic strawberries was my choice this morning.

I also had home-brewed organic French roast coffee with just a drizzle of organic heavy whipping cream for my small luxurious splurge.

Organic was the theme this morning aside from the bananas which were the only conventionally grown produce in the bowl.

What's your favorite food with which to start the day?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Lunch at Café on the Green in the Omni Houston

I ate lunch at the Omni Houston Hotel's Café on the Green recently where I had the opportunity to taste Food and Beverage Director, Eric Parker's top wine pick for the Fall along with some of the favorite items from the menu.

Just featured in the Houston Chronicle, Eric Parker had chosen the 2014 Etude Lyric Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County as the wine to enjoy this season citing its versatility and food friendliness as the reason. I enjoyed it with the ahi tuna crudo, the fish tacos and the brisket quesadilla roll. This easy-drinking wine didn't just stand up to these flavorful dishes, it truly enhanced them.

Parker has made a highly recommended choice, try the 2014 Etude Lyric Pinot Noir by the splash, glass or bottle on your next visit to the Houston Omni.