Houston Trip

Hey y’all!

(I spent four days in Houston and thought I could pull off the Texas twang – until I realized I sounded more like a bad cartoon of Paula Deen than a Southern belle, so that’s the first and last y’all that you’ll here from me.)

It’s true what they say, everything IS bigger in Texas. Bigger roads, bigger cars, bigger houses, bigger steaks (of course), even bigger donuts. It was my first time visiting the cowboy state and I had a grand time.

My friends Sabs, Anika, and I decided to spend the the long weekend there to visit Sabs’s sister, her boyfriend, and their new baby. The weather there wasn’t as warm as I was hoping it would be, but it was still considerably warmer than the freezing temperatures in Boston! So it was a really nice get-away, very relaxing, with plenty of good food and great company.

On Saturday morning, we had big plans to visit one of the most popular attractions in Houston:

Saint Arnold Brewery!

I’ve never been on a brewery tour and was really excited. Unfortunately, there was a two hour wait before we can get inside the Saint Arnold brewery! The people in line were already waiting for an hour and a half and most of them came prepared, with pizzas and other food items that they can munch on while waiting (and I think you can bring the food inside too). We didn’t want to wait for two hours so we decided to head somewhere else and get our beer fix at noon. (What, you’ve never had beer at noon? We’re on vacation, remember?) So we went to Cedar Creek instead:

Cedar Greek has a big, bright, creek-side patio...

... and addicting fried pickles

I tried a lot of fried things in Houston: fried pickles, fried okra, fried jalapenos (no fried chicken though, I had to exercise some self-control). All good, but these fried pickles were the best.

our hosts for the weekend Lei and Clayton, with their friend Bill

and this is Hanna, the cutest baby girl ever

a trip to Texas is not complete without shopping for comboy boots, right?

guess which pair I was mine

That night, we had a girls’ night dinner at Backstreet Cafe (no relation to the Backstreet Boys) which is one of the fancier restaurants in Houston and serves seasonal American cuisine. The place was beautiful, service was so warm, and the food was GLORIOUS.

we started with warm, crusty sourdough bread and cool, creamy butter

a couple glasses of sweet sangria

I had one of the night's specials: red-wine braised lamb shank with mushroom risotto and sauteed spinach

This was the epitome of a hearty winter meal: tender falling-off-the-bone meat, soft fragrant risotto, and garlicky spinach. Texas does its meat well, and this lamb shank was perfectly cooked. (And no, Andrew Zimmern, it wasn’t gamey).

you can tell from this picture (and the happy looks on our faces) that we ordered multiple desserts to share

On Sunday, we went to Cyclone Anaya’s for a Mexican brunch:

this is the XX Michelada, which is like the Mexican version of a bloody mary (but made with beer - XX lager - instead of vodka)

I didn’t order it because I don’t really like bloody mary’s. But I do like mimosas, in fact I like mimosas a lot, and had several glasses while I was in Houston (it was a vacation after all!)

I ordered migas con chorizo

I know that plate looks pretty drab but there is nothing drab about migas con chorizo – scrambled eggs with crumbled chorizo and tortilla strips. It was actually a tad too salty but still very flavorful. The baby bottle and the beer bottle in the background both belong to Baby Hanna.

she's already rolling her eyes

it was Anika's birthday weekend and the sweet staff at Cyclone Anaya's brought out a delicious tres leches cake!

We spent the rest of the rainy day driving around Houston, seeing downtown and all the big mansions, and the NASA Space Center.

NASA Johnson Space Center

That night, after watching the Patriots lose before watching the Golden Globes, we went out for some good ole Cajun food at Mardi Gras Grill. We shared a couple of dishes:

Crawfish Etoufee and Fried Crawfish Tails on the side

Southern/Cajun food is one cuisine I don’t get to eat a lot, so I’ve never even heard of etouffee before. Etoufee is a Cajun specialty which is a shellfish dish similar to gumbo. I could tell that the crawfish etoufee at Mardi Gras was slow-cooked, as all the flavors meld together wonderfully and the sauce was thick and rich.

we also shared their famous chicken and sausage jambalaya

During our last day in Houston, we went to the Kemah Boardwalk, which was a fun destination filled with amusement park rides, game booths, and restaurants. I can imagine it being bustling during the summer, but most of the game booths were closed for the winter, and it was actually a pretty cold rainy day, so there weren’t a lot of people there. But we still managed to have some fun!

in fact we had so much fun that we ended up getting the baby in jail

This picture is my favorite picture from our Houston trip! Don’t worry, both her parents are lawyers so they got her out.

I had a blast visiting Houston and definitely want to make another trip back. And to all the single ladies out there, may I just make special mention of the guys in Texas. They are big manly men (not skinny-jean wearing boys), charming and all polite, all Southern twang and cowboy boots. I didn’t meet a real cowboy but maybe I will when I come back.

Have y’all been to Texas? (Ooops, that’s really the last time I use y’all!)


17 Responses to “Houston Trip”

  1. #
    Lauren posted January 21, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Looks like you had a blast! I actually lived in Houston for 1 1/2 years when my husband (then fiance) was transferred for work. I have to admit I didn’t love it… in fact, I couldn’t wait to get back up to Boston! I think it can be a fun city to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there again. Just my opinion ;). Guess I’m just a Northern girl at heart! My brother lives in Austin and we’ve visited a few times – it’s definitely a cool city.

  2. #
    Elizabeth posted January 21, 2011 at 8:27 am

    All that food looks soo good. I LOVE tres leches.

  3. #
    Michelle posted January 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

    While all of the food looks great, the one thing I was to say is that baby is ADORABLE!!!

  4. #
    Emily @ A Cambridge Story posted January 21, 2011 at 10:28 am

    What a fun weekend! I love getaways with girlfriends. Im actually going to TX for a bachelorette party in April and would love to try some of these awesome dishes!

  5. #
    Dana posted January 21, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I’ve never been to Texas (or most of the South for that matter), but I’d love to see it one day. Thanks for the preview!

  6. #
    Daisy posted January 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    XX Michelada – I want!! You do it up right on vacation. all this food looks incredible and the baby is SO Cute.

  7. #
    Rachel posted January 21, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Bianca, so glad you had fun in Texas! I’ve never been either, but it looks like a blast and your pics came out great : )

  8. #
    Stephanie @ The Cookie Battle posted January 21, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    I love texas…I have never been to Houston, but have been to Dallas and just love it there.

    All that food looks amazing! MMM fried pickles….

  9. #
    MelissaNibbles posted January 21, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    So much fun! The fried pickles look amazing.

  10. #
    Megan posted January 21, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    So fun! I love fried pickles.

  11. #
    nicole @ Making Good Choices posted January 21, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    I’ve never been to Texas. Those boots are awesome!!

    I want to try fried pickles, they look yummy!

  12. #
    Susan posted January 22, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Yay for girls weekends! What an awesome time. You should go to Sam Adam’s brewery here, it’s awesome.

  13. #
    Beth @Sailing Foodie posted January 22, 2011 at 10:12 am

    That looks like an amazing trip! I am sitting here craving fried pickles at 9am! Looking forward to hearing all about it and celebrating you Bday tonight! Welcome to the Dirty 30 club!!!

  14. #
    Tori @ FIToriBLOG.com posted January 22, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Please pass the bread and butter! :)
    I love the baby in jail pic!!! That’s my absolute fave!!

  15. #
    Amanda L. (Tales From A Kitchen Misfit) posted January 23, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Looks like you had a great time in Houston! We are hoping to get there soon!

  16. #
    Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday posted January 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Aww how fun!!
    Did you end up buying a pair of cowboy boots? I’ve ALWAYS wanted a pair.

  17. #
    Susan (Oliepants) posted January 24, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Hey! You’re in my home state! I love Houston (I live in Dallas) and they have the BEST food! My husband (boyfriend at the time) lived right next to a Cyclone Anayas and we never went! I do have to say – we do fried pickles right! :)

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