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Take out or delivery near Brown Convention Center

Cafe TH or Hyunh are both short walks across the freeway for vietnamese. Calliope Po-Boy's is also pretty close and good for po boys and gumbo. Downtown is mostly a wasteland, but walking you could walk to Market Square and eat at the Niko Niko's there.

Sep 24, 2012
benjym in Houston

spit roasting a whole deer

Sounds like an awesome project! It might help to brine it first, that could help you with moisture loss? You could also lard it all the way through with strips of pork and a larding needle, although that might already be your plan

Or what about trying to pit roast it like they do with cabrito? I have done that with lamb and it kept them very moist.

Sep 12, 2011
benjym in Home Cooking

Smoked Mullet / Mullet Roe

Hey, does anybody know anything about smoked mullet and/or mullet roe in or around Houston? I have seen numerous references to it as a Gulf Coast delicacy, but it seems to be pretty much only in Florida and Alabama. Anyone know anything about more local sources? The people I know who fish around here seem to have little to know interest in mullet smoked or otherwise.

Sep 11, 2011
benjym in Houston

Best (Decent) chicken parmesan sub in Houston?

Mandola's on Leeland and Cullen makes what I would consider a pretty tasty chicken parm. It is very old school with red sauce and lots of melty mozzarella. In general, it is a great place for really old school Italian -- spaghetti with sauce, lasagna, etc. Its family owned and the owners are really friendly. They are lunch only right now, but they are also in the middle of expanding and adding a patio and when they are done they are going to be open for dinner as well.

http://mandolasdeli.com/default.aspx

Mar 11, 2011
benjym in Houston

does anyone know where i can buy fresh kaffir lime leaves in houston?

Yeah, that was my suggestion as well. The market is called Asia Market (http://www.asiamarket-hou.com/). They definitely have them, they also have good and very inexpensive thai food and a wide variety of other hard to find ingredients. Also, the people who run it are really nice. I would highly recommend it.

Feb 28, 2011
benjym in Houston

New Zealand Lamb

I'm pretty sure you can buy NZ lamb at Costco. I know people who have purchased a costco card for that reason alone.

Jan 26, 2011
benjym in Houston

Whole Animals

Thanks for the advice everyone. As requested, here is the follow up post on how it all went. I ended up going with Phonecia because you can just walk in and buy a lamb with no advance warning. They said they go through quite a few of them a day and so they always have fresh ones available. It was about $5.80/lb for whole lambs and they ranged in size from under 30 lbs to over 40 lbs. They said they could get a bigger or smaller lamb, but they would need a few days warning. I think you could probably find cheaper lamb in Houston if you had time to look around. I found some on craigslist, but didn't have time to follow up on them. (Has anyone here ever bought meat on craigslist? I find it very tempting, but also slightly frightening)

The lamb came whole with no offal, head, or feet. It looked a lot like a greyhound. We cooked it in a pit in my friends backyard. He dug a 4'x4'x2' hole and built a huge fire in it. While the fire was burning, we prepped the lamb by rubbing it with salt, pepper, chili paste, and lemons. Then we wrapped it in a couple of layers of tin foil, a layer of wet burlap, and some chicken wire. When the fire had burned all the way down to a thick bed of coals (it took a lot of wood and a lot of beer to do this, we burned through an entire pick-up bed full, which may or may not have been overkill) we threw the whole package onto the coals and buried it with the dirt from the pit. We also threw in a whole turkey (same rub) and a pork shoulder (orange, miso, garlic rub) prepped in the same way, because how often do you have a giant pit of coals to cook stuff in?

We left the pit alone for about 13 hours. That part was boring, spit roasting definitely gives you way more to look at. In the meantime we made some sides and drank some beer. After 13 hours we dug it all up. The dirt wasn't that hot and we were really worried that we had just spent 13 hours and invited all of our friends over to watch us dig up some raw meat, but it was all cooked beautifully. The lamb and pork were really really juicy, and the turkey was falling apart tender. While it was all cooked, the lamb was still pink in places and could have easily been left in for a lot longer. Also, I think if you could find some rocks to line your pit with you could probably use less fuel. The whole thing was really fun and we are already thinking about what to bury next.

Dec 19, 2010
benjym in Houston

Weekday dim sum in Houston

I'm not sure which of the big cart style restaurants are open on weekdays, but you can definitely get dim sum at a few places that cook to order. It's not as exciting as ordering of the carts, but the flip side is that everything you get is fresh out of the kitchen, which is a worthwhile trade off in my book.

I'm not sure where you are coming from, but I would recommend Yum Yum Cha in Rice Village (2435 Times Boulevard) or HK Dim Sum on Bellaire in Chinatown (9889 Bellaire Blvd # 110). I really like both. Yum Yum Cha is a little more expensive, but they have my favorite eggplant shrimp. HK Dim Sum has slightly larger portions and is also excellent. I think there are a few more places like this in Chinatown (maybe one in the plaza across the street from HK Dim Sum), but HK is my favorite.

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Yum Yum Cha Cafe
2435 Times Blvd, Houston, TX 77005

Dec 19, 2010
benjym in Houston

Whole Animals

Does anyone here know where I could find either 1) a whole lamb, 2) a whole goat, or 3) a whole pig. A friend built a cabrito pit and we want to roast a whole animal and I'm looking for recommendations for places that have good and reasonably priced whole animals available. Anyone?

Dec 09, 2010
benjym in Houston

Kemah-- worth going or not?

I guess its too late, but while I would agree that kemah can be skipped, I would recommend Rose's Seafood under the bridge as a great seafood market and also suggest that you look into visiting San Leon instead of Kemah. Gilhooleys grilled oysters!

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Gilhooley's Restaurant
222 9th St, Dickinson, TX 77539

Nov 27, 2010
benjym in Houston

Tamales?

Someone pointed this out on the last thread, but I just wanted to reiterate that there is huge difference between the machine made and the hand made tamales at Alamo on navigation. The machine made ones are really nothing to speak about, but the hand made ones are good.

If you are willing to hang around bars in Montrose (alabama ice house, poison girl, etc) you can always run into the Tamale Guy, a true Houston hero. His tamales have saved me many a night, and his hot sauce is awesome. Although, I've only ever had them while drinking, which tends to make everything seem awesome.

Sep 29, 2010
benjym in Houston

Pork Belly?

For anyone who is interested, I just finished my first slab of home cured bacon. It was a lot of fun but, to be honest, not that good. As I mentioned in my earlier post I "dry-cured" it in a rub of pickling salt, black pepper, and maple syrup. I put it in a zip loc, stuck it in the fridge, and turned it over once a day for 7 days. I pulled it out yesterday with plans to smoke it, but then it was pouring rain. After dinner I realized it had stopped raining and so I decided to go for it, without really thinking it through all the way. I soaked it in cold water for a bit to draw out the salt, but probably not long enough. I also forgot about letting it sit to form a "pellicle" -- the dry sticky layer on the outside. I started the gas grill and threw some mesquite chips in a smoke box i had borrowed. After about 20 minutes I realized I should let it sit out in the air, so I left it out for about an hour (about 5 hours less than the minimum recommended time). By this time it was already getting kind of late, but I decided to go for it anyway. I put the whole belly (with a little brown sugar rubbed in) on the opposite side of the grill from the flame and stuck a remote thermometer in. The grill was between 200-300 degrees. It took about 4 hours to bring the internal temp up to 150, which I had decided to do since I hadn't used any nitrates to prevent botulism. My smoker box didn't really start working until the last hour or so. I pulled it off the smoker around 1. It smelled great, but it was WAY too salty. I made BLTs out of it tonight and it is still way way too salty. The middle of the bacon and the side under the skin is good, but the side where the cure was touching the meat is painfully salty. Other than that, it is pretty good, maybe a little tougher than commerical bacon, but with a nice maple flavor (I used real syrup from my home state of VT!). Just way way too salty. Whoops. I think next time I might do two at once and try one with a wet cure and another dry cure, but this time soak the dry cure in fresh water for much longer before smoking - a couple of hours with a few changes of water at least. Any bacon makers out there with any advice?

Jul 20, 2010
benjym in Houston

Looking for Breakfast Places open early near or west of Galleria

People love the Avalon Diner which is up the road from the Galleria on Westheimer just before Kirby. It is a pretty standard diner, but can get really crowded.

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Avalon Diner
2417 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098

Jul 14, 2010
benjym in Houston

Pork Belly?

I ended up getting it at the market next to fufu cafe on bellaire. I can't remember the name. It was 2 something a pound and looked good. lj, any tips on making bacon? I rubbed mine with maple syrup, black pepper, and a bunch of pickling salt and put it in a ziploc bag in my fridge. I'm going to pull it out after 5-7 days, give it a couple fresh water rinses, and attempt to smoke for a couple of hours on my gas grill. I read a lot of conflicting things about using nitrates (instacure, pink salt, etc.) and since I didn't happen to have any, I figured I'd give it a try without. I'll let everyone know how it goes.

Jul 13, 2010
benjym in Houston

Pork Belly?

Anyone know where to get Pork Belly (uncooked) in Houston? I tried Burts Meat Market to no avail. I know I have seen it at Super H, but only pre-sliced for BBQ. I want to try to cure my own bacon, but I need to find the belly.

Jul 08, 2010
benjym in Houston

Looking for crawfish in Houston

I just had a boil two weeks ago. I ended up getting 100 lbs at the Market in Hong Kong Mall for .99/lb. They were decent sized and not too dirty, but there were lots of dead guys. It took me almost an hour to pick them all out and I ended up throwing away 10+ lbs. But the rest were fine and reasonably sized.

I called Rose's (in Seabrooke) where they were 1.49/lb for regular and 1.79/lb for "select", but then decided I didn't want to drive that far. I also called some of the places that wholesale (cajun crawfish and one other place) that were recommended by people on the internet, but they all required you to order several days in advance.

Just in case anyone was curious, the boil went well. I used Zatarain's Pro-Boil, but should have bought more than 1 giant jug as by the third batch they were not very spicy anymore. I did try two new (to me) things, that were both great.

The first was I peeled a bunch (12 heads) of garlic and boiled it with the spices. When it was soft I took it and blended it with a pound of melted butter and made really awesome crawfish flavored garlic bread. The market in the Hong Kong Mall has good french bread for 1.25/baugette.

The second thing was that I added artichokes to the boil. They took about twice as long as the crawfish and they were really good.

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Hong Kong's Cafe
1632 S Mason Rd, Katy, TX 77450

Jun 05, 2010
benjym in Houston

Good Local Seafood in Galveston-Houston Area?

Both have been mentioned on this board before, but I've had good experiences at Gilhooley's (San Leon) and The Cajun Greek (Galveston). Gilhooleys is more of an oyster bar/homestyle restaurant than a full-on seafood place, but their grilled oysters are awesome and cheap, and their raw oysters are cheap and good when in season. Cajun Greek is on 61st street and does basic fried and grilled seafood plates. It can be busy and slow, but I've always been happy with the food there.

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Gilhooley's Restaurant
222 9th St, Dickinson, TX 77539

Jun 05, 2010
benjym in Houston

hummus

I think adding some water while you are blending will get you the consistency you are looking for. I used to have texture problems with my hummus, I could never get it smooth enough. I tried upping the olive oil, the lemon juice, and the tahini in varying amounts, but by the time it was smooth it was either really oily, lemony, or tahini-y. Then I thought of adding some water and it worked perfectly. Smoothy creamy hummus just like the restaurant version.

Mar 12, 2010
benjym in Home Cooking

Farmer's market in Houston????

A google search will give you a bunch of markets in the loop. However, my experience has been that a lot of them sell very little local produce. Of the ones that I have been to I would recommend the Urban Harvest Farmers' Market (Saturday mornings on Eastside between Richmond and Alabama, http://www.urbanharvest.org/programs/...) as the best, although I have heard good things about the Rice Market as well.

Feb 10, 2010
benjym in Houston

Re-Tinning?

Does anybody know anywhere in town where I can get a copper kettle re-tinned? I just picked up a used simplex kettle for cheap, but the lining is thrashed. Alternatively, anyone ever tried to do it themselves? I have access to a metal studio, but don't really know where to start.

Feb 02, 2010
benjym in Houston

Oysters Rockefeller in Houston

I'm pretty sure that Gaido's in Galveston has them. I haven't been there in a while, but it is an old school white table cloth seafood restaurant right on the seawall. I believe I had Oysters Rockefeller on the oyster sampler platter the last time I was there.

Also, I don't think Gilhooley's has them, but I could be wrong. Their grilled oysters are great though, and really cheap. I think they do one with parm and butter, one with salsa and butter, and one with shrimp. Highly recommended, although it can be very smoky (no smoking ban in San Leon) so if that bothers you, you might want to go when its warm enough to sit outside.

Jan 27, 2010
benjym in Houston

Machaca/Carne Seca enchiladas, tacos, burritos, etc., in Houston?

Brother's Tacos on Dowling sometimes has dried beef and egg tacos in the morning. They are good, but mostly egg.

Dec 08, 2009
benjym in Houston

Creative raw foods in Houston...

Sun Fired Foods at OST and MLK has raw foods (which I find to run the gamut from pretty good to meh), but not much in the way of atmosphere. They did renovate recently and it is better, but still not a place that I would want to hang out per se.

Sep 22, 2009
benjym in Houston

[Hou] Crabs

Thanks everyone! I will let people know what I find!

Jul 17, 2008
benjym in Houston

[Hou] Crabs

So anybody have any hot tips on where to buy crabs? A friend and I are having a crab fest this weekend and we are looking to buy a lot of crabs. Do we need to drive down to Galveston? Is there anywhere closer to town? Thoughts?

Jul 15, 2008
benjym in Houston

Breakfast Tacos in Houston

Brother's Taco's on Dowling at Pease (just off 45) is not too far from Hobby, and they have excellent breakfast tacos. Freshly made flour tortillas (pulled off the grill when you order), a wide variety of fillings, and, best of all, a giant taco will cost you between $1.00 and $1.50 (depending on filling). The options vary from day to day, but i would highly recommend the rajas y queso (a poblano pepper and farmers cheese stew) with egg and potato. Although really, most things are pretty good (the other day they had a pork and potato stew that I had never seen which was great). Also, if they have the limon agua fresca you definitely want one. They are amazingly good and a total bargin at $2.00 or $3.00 for a giant (32 oz?) cup.

Jul 09, 2008
benjym in Houston

Looking for crawfish in Houston

I had some crawfish at Ragin Cajun earlier this season and was not too impressed. They were not too big and kind of mushy. I can't remember exactly where I read this (maybe Robb Walsh), but I remember reading something a few years ago about how we should all expect declining crawfish sizes because they have started exporting the biggest ones to Europe to be sold as Langostinos (or small lobsters) for much higher prices. Ahh globalization!

Jul 08, 2008
benjym in Houston

[HOU] Frozen Custard

Here's a question for Houston food explorers: does anyone know where to find frozen custard? I recently went to Ohio for a college reunion and rediscovered the joys of custard. For those of you who might not be familiar, frozen custard is very similar to a soft-serve ice cream, but made with real custard and thus much richer and creamier. A brief google search suggests that I might be able to find it at Connie's, Ritter's, or Shakes? Anyone know anything about any of these or other places?

Jun 18, 2008
benjym in Texas

Cafe Montrose [HOU]

I second the french fries and great beer. I would also highly recommend the brussel sprouts. I have enjoyed several of the non-moules entrees, although they are definitely inconsistent at best. The stew can be great, but it can also be very tough. The mussels are usually great, I think the marinerre are the best.

Cafe Montrose is one of my favorite restaurants in the neighborhood. The service ranges between indifferent and downright surly, it is a little dingy, and the french fries come with homemade mayonnaise. Its just like being in Europe. My only real complaint is that they have recently hired an extremely overbearing waiter (used to work at t'afia) who makes dining there a little stressful. Other than that, I think its a great dining experience. Also, the dame vert (pistachio ice cream with homemade fudge) is awesome and you get your own pitcher of fudge!

Jun 10, 2008
benjym in Houston

[HOU] Super H Mart

Whoa! I might be late in finding out about this, but I just went to visit the new(ish) Korean Super H Mart and it totally blew my mind. It is located just north of 10 West (the blalock exit if I remember correctly) and it is well worth a visit for anyone with any interest in Korean food.

The produce section alone is staggering. I had no idea that so many types of radishes or choy familiy veggies existed, or that they were so cheap. Add to that a huge selection of made-in-house kimchees and other banchan (although, the regular cabbage kimchee I tried was a little salty for my taste), a butcher department packed with amazingly beautiful thin sliced meats (I have never seen raw pork belly look so incredible), a huge seafood department, and an entire aisle filled with nothing but different kinds of chilli paste, and you have a grocery store well worth the trip. And that is not even mentioning the food court where you can get korean bbq, bibimbap, sushi, chinese food, korean fried chicken and more.

If that wasn't enough to convince you, how about this: when you purchase your groceries, they throw in a FREE grab bag of new sponges! How can you beat that?

Jun 06, 2008
benjym in Texas