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New HEB, Fountainview and San Felipe, Now Open (9 1/2 Thoughts)

Love the fact that you can ask to sample the cheese at CM.

At Ikea, I, like you, have figured out how to skitter through the shortcuts and back alleyways. But, unlike you, have not tried their frozen meatballs.

That's something I plan to rectify forthwith. Thanks for the recommendation.

Mar 24, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

Polish Festival First Weekend in May

Love to be there but heading north on road trip to Missouri & Kansas for that week. Unfortunate timing for me. Unfortunately.

Otherwise I'd definitely be there.

Mar 24, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

Wall Street Journal article

Yep, definitely exciting. And thanks for the post. Otherwise, I wouldn't have seen the article. So the post was a great idea, even with the (very) few "omitted facts."

(And I do feel the need to point out that the Whataburger, Buccee's, and HEB Tamales threads are about Texas as a whole, not just San Antonio, if that makes you feel any better about your fellow San Antonians.)

Mar 17, 2015
Jaymes in Texas
1

Wall Street Journal article

Just to clarify this post a bit...

Here's a link to the WSJ article: "6 Great Small Cities for Food Lovers" http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-next-...

And they chose San Antonio as one.

Along with Columbus, Sacramento, Raleigh-Durham, Spokane and Omaha.

Mar 17, 2015
Jaymes in Texas

Tucson (+ some Phoenix) Report

Do you remember the name of the gin? If you don't remember, 'spose you could find out?

As a fan of gin, I'd love to know. And, honestly, sounds like you liked it well enough that you might want to know the name yourself, no?

Mar 16, 2015
Jaymes in Southwest

Radio Milano at City Centre - Two Thumbs UP

Yes, it is a nice review. In fact, I've been considering giving my son a restaurant gift certificate for his birthday and, after reading your review, think this will be the place. Thanks.

Mar 15, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

Closeby small town places where you like to eat for a mini roadie

What a great topic. When we lived in Austin, I had tons of places to go for a mini-roadie, but haven't found many here (although one of my Austin roadtrip faves, Royer's in Round Top, works for Houston as well). I had decided that's because the cool & cutsie kinds of little cafes, restaurants, shops, galleries, etc., were much more keen on locating in the hill country than down here. So I'm going to be following this topic with considerable interest.

To aid in the search, here's a link to a Texas Monthly article: The 40 Best Small-Town Cafes in Texas http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/40-... I've actually been to one, Florida's Kitchen in Livingston, well worth the drive.

JC - Just to be certain nobody has to 'off' me, I'm completely ignoring the suggestion for Dairy Cone in Columbus, so don't you worry. My next time through I definitely will just go back to Schoebel's instead of trying out that fresh hand-made burger with thick bacon which doesn't sound good at all.

(Appreciate the tip about the excellent lunch and less-crowded DMV at Hempstead. Do you have any suggestions for a place where I can eat well and avoid that ghastly crowd and parking ripoff - which ought to be illegal and I'm dead serious; it's deplorable - at the IRS on Clifford?)

Mar 14, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

We Do Not Like and Do Not Get Niko Niko's

To me, "real" Greek food, in Greece, just seems so much more flavorful. Like they kinda "dumb down" the seasonings here. Is that your main complaint as well? Or do you find other issues/deficiencies?

Mar 13, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

We're #1, for food snobs

Well, I'm not sure being called any kind of "snob" is complimentary. To me, "food snobs" would be people that won't lower themselves to eat any sort of food that they consider to be beneath them. I think it goes beyond valuing and appreciating and seeking out and enjoying the best that the culinary world has to offer, to being dismissive and even insulting of "plebian" food. However, I suspect that, in this instance, Travel & Leisure was using the term tongue-in-cheek.

My best example is, years ago, I was at a party where the hostess had made the traditional "queso" with Velveeta and Ro-Tel and one of the guests went on and on about how he wouldn't eat "that stuff" because Velveeta "isn't real food, just a bunch of chemicals from a factory," and espoused his own "real chile con queso dip" that he made from "actual real cheese" following Helen Corbitt's recipe. (As an aside, after this experience, I, too, made Helen Corbitt's recipe just to see what the difference was and the main difference was that Ms. Corbitt's recipe was a hell of a lot of work, in addition to costing considerably more. That all might have been fine, if it tasted better, but it didn't.)

So, in my book anyway, being called a "food snob" isn't necessarily a compliment.

But I think it definitely is a compliment to say that Houston is the best city in the country to which said food snobs should hie.

Mar 12, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

We're #1, for food snobs

I kind of took it to mean that if one were a "food snob," in that you particularly liked to eat exceptionally terrific food, rather than being satisfied with run-of-the-meal mediocrity, Houston is the current number one place to be.

Ergo, a compliment.

No?

Mar 11, 2015
Jaymes in Houston
1

We're #1, for food snobs

Um, wait...

Is that a compliment?

Or an insult.

Mar 11, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

I Refuse to Eat Crawfish in a Restaurant

Sounds pretty good. I'll have to show up around lunchtime some day.

Mar 11, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

I Refuse to Eat Crawfish in a Restaurant

Thanks, Doobs. Both the "pastrami" and the "corned beef" sandwiches have essentially the same ingredients as a Reuben. Interesting that they don't call it that. And, insofar as I can tell, anyway, they don't say anything about grilling the entire sandwich after it's assembled, which is usually the main difference between the Reubens I see most often, and the original.

I wonder if they'd grill the entire sandwich on request if asked. Of course, if they are of the "how high can we pile the meat" variety, it's next to impossible to properly grill the entire thing. I could ask them, though, to please make me a thinner sandwich and grill it after it's made. I have asked that on several occasions. Sometimes it works but, more often, they say they can't, for one reason or another. Frequently, surprisingly enough (to me anyway), they say it's because they don't have a grill. Which is why they just make the sandwich on toasted bread and call it a day. Or, in this case, a Reuben.

I do sometimes just take the sandwich home, remove about 2/3 of the corned beef, and make myself a couple of Reubens the way I like them.

Mar 11, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

I Refuse to Eat Crawfish in a Restaurant

Dang, JC. You're right - Yelp link doesn't work. But I'll for sure try out North China, based on your recommendation.

RE Reubens, since you like making them at home (and it sounds like you've never had the thin, grilled version), try this: Brush your rye bread with whichever dressing you prefer - Thousand Island or Russian. Squeeze some sauerkraut as dry as you can between two paper towels, making a "bread-shaped" patty while you're squeezing. Don't make it too thick. This sandwich depends upon having the "right" (ie, not too much) of each ingredient for the exact balance. Now add a slice or two of good Swiss, and several slices (but just a few - definitely not a big pile) of thinly-sliced corned beef. Now put it all together. Butter the outside of the top piece of bread and put the entire sandwich into a hot skillet or grill, with the buttered side down. Now, butter the outside of the other piece of bread. When the bottom piece of bread is nicely grilled, turn it over. Get something heavy and put it on the sandwich to compress it while it finishes cooking. If you've done this right, and it's thin enough, the cheese will melt beautifully and all the ingredients will achieve perfect and beautiful harmony.

I've been told that a George Foreman Grill, or a panini maker works well for this.

You might still prefer the "big pile of meat" sandwich.

But you might not.

And PS - as a "wing-lovin'" guy, I think you're blessed to have a wifeacita that loves them as well. Sounds like you're a lucky guy. Of course, she's pretty lucky too, no?

Mar 09, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

New HEB, Fountainview and San Felipe, Now Open (9 1/2 Thoughts)

Obviously I need to go see it. If, I mean, I wish to have any idea at all what I'm talking about.

Of course, as most of you here can attest, that doesn't usually slow me down one whit.

Mar 09, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

New HEB, Fountainview and San Felipe, Now Open (9 1/2 Thoughts)

Well, that's good. I'm not a fan of the rat-maze, either. Most fairly new HEBs do seem to have at least a modified version, rather than the original. That Austin Central Market was extremely difficult to navigate unless you wanted to follow the "suggested" path.

Mar 09, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

New HEB, Fountainview and San Felipe, Now Open (9 1/2 Thoughts)

Re - the "bizarre layouts." We were living in Austin when the first Central Market opened (1994). First store I'd ever been in with the rat-maze layout. Had a friend that worked there. She said that the Head High Honchos at HEB thought that funneling customers along a certain path was a good idea, so you went in at produce and wound your way around a predetermined path. Took me several visits to figure out the (intentionally obscured) back ways and shortcuts used by the employees. Whatever HEB/Central Market was trying to accomplish with this must have worked in their view because every HEB I've been in that was built after that seems to be some version of the pattern of that first Central Market.

Mar 09, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

I Refuse to Eat Crawfish in a Restaurant

Been to Chang's a couple of times. Tried it once right after we moved here and thought it was just okay and continued the search for "our" Chinese place. Went back to Chang's to try that fried chicken wing app and certainly agree that it's about as good as food gets. However, as a girl that watches her figure (and by that I mean I've watched my figure expand exponentially over the decades), am concerned that eating all that fried chicken, including every scrap of that utterly delicious crunchy, greasy skin, isn't something I should do regularly. And the other things I usually order were, in my view, while just fine, not as much to my taste and liking as several other Katy Chinese restaurants - Hong Kong's Kitchen and T. Jin's China Café come immediately to mind.

Pho - did go to that restaurant once. Like Pho Saigon considerably better.

Wing Place - I have a theory about wings - primarily a guy food. And I'm a goil. I never go out for wings and can never see myself doing it. Messy and too much work for what you get. It's a standard, of course, in front of TV football games so I have to eat them from time to time but they are never ever my choice and I haven't tried this restaurant.

The Mongolian BBQ place - love Mongolian BBQ and we've been to this one and to the one in La Centerra. It's fine, but I had a bad experience. Was with my daughter and her husband and four kids. Their meals arrived fairly promptly but mine did not. Waited and waited and waited. We kept asking the waiter where mine was and they kept saying something like, "it's coming." It never did. Finally I got up and went to investigate. Turned out they had given it to someone else (a boy of about seven who took a bite of my very spicy combination and immediately started crying loudly enough that we had heard him over at our table but had no idea what had happened). By then, our four kids were reaching the end of the time window during which they were capable of behaving in a public place and there was no way I could start over in gathering my barbecue stuff and waiting for it to be cooked, let alone eating it. Haven't been back. I'm sure it's fine, though, although I'm difficult to please when it comes to Mongolian BBQ, having first eaten it at least once a week back during the several years when I lived in Southeast Asia. Thus far, anyway, haven't found anything here that compares (to cooking it outdoors over a wood fire). Although we do enjoy going out for Mongolian BBQ from time to time and am certain we'll do it again. How good it is does basically depend upon which ingredients you yourself put into it, but it's also true that restaurants differ in the variety and quality of ingredients that they offer, and in the cooking method.

Haven't been to the other restaurants there.

Regarding Mason Jar. Tried it back when we first moved here. I was looking for a traditional "real" Reuben Sandwich and was steered to Mason Jar. I really hate cigarette smoke and unfortunately that smoke permeated the place. Seems to me looking back that the smoking section was in the front of the restaurant, which meant that you had to walk through it to get anywhere else. Probably would have put up with it, though, if their Reubens were like those of my late teens and early twenties when I was living in Omaha and eating the originals at the coffee shop in the Blackstone Hotel, where they were invented. It's a thin sandwich, like a grilled cheese. You put some dressing on the rye bread, then Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and a THIN layer of corned beef, and you grill the WHOLE THING. The sandwich should be thin, a bit greasy, a lot crunchy. At Mason Jar, as I recall it anyway, it was today's typical sandwich - big pile of stuff on grilled toast. So, all in all, wrong sandwich and too much smoke. Haven't been back.

Mar 09, 2015
Jaymes in Houston
1

I Refuse to Eat Crawfish in a Restaurant

I really like Orleans Seafood Kitchen. Had some of their fried shrimp and hushpuppies just last week. Often pick up some gumbo to go. Nice to have it in the fridge waiting for me on these cool evenings.

Mar 07, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

El Tiempo - is there a preferred location ?

Based on several reports here, finally made it to El Tiempo on Washington for the crab enchiladas. I thought they were pretty dang fabulosa. I'd happily recommend them to anyone and will for sure return.

Started out with a bit of a glitch, though. I like classic margaritas; ie, nothing whatsoever but silver tequila, some sort of orange liqueur, and fresh lime juice. The waiter said that would be fine and it would cost $9.95. I said great and that I liked them "straight up." To which the waiter said it was going to cost more. I said, "Why?" and the waiter told me that, because they add more booze so that the "straight up" drinks look better (fuller) in the glass, it costs more. I said that I didn't want more booze, it wasn't the money, I was driving back to Katy immediately following dinner and I just did not want a drink and a half and that I did not care one whit about how it looked. A half-full glass would be just fine. The waiter and I got into quite an argument about it and we both got kinda testy. I was with my son who was rolling his eyes at what a PIA I could be. He told me that the policy was up to the bartender or manager and that the waiter couldn't really do anything about it. Then he said, "Mom, you've really upset him. Hope he doesn't spit into your crab enchiladas."

I bet my son I could work it all out. God hasn't given me the gift of charla for nada.

Sure enough, by the end of the meal, the waiter had even invited me to visit him and his mama in Morelia over Easter. Jajaja.

Mar 07, 2015
Jaymes in Houston
1

I Refuse to Eat Crawfish in a Restaurant

Ah yes, Good Ole Boys.

Would love to do a meetup out there sometime. Especially love their boudin balls.

http://www.cajun-eats.com/

Mar 07, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

Old Fish Shack-type place

You need to post this on the Houston board (or ask the mods to move it).

The area you are talking about is basically in the wider Houston metro area and this exact subject gets covered with some frequency.

You're definitely not the only one that remembers these sorts of places fondly.

http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/67

Mar 07, 2015
Jaymes in Houston

QUESO DIP - sub for inferior "new" Velveeta?

Is nobody else having trouble?

Mar 04, 2015
Jaymes in Texas

QUESO DIP - sub for inferior "new" Velveeta?

Hey, thanks. I will! Was unaware it existed.

Options. Nice to know I've got options.

Mar 04, 2015
Jaymes in Texas

Restaurant recommendations - Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos

When I'm in Taos, I always go for breakfast at Taos Diner. Not fancy but I think their breakfasts are hard to beat.

Mar 01, 2015
Jaymes in Southwest

Need veggie-friendly lunch stop between San Antonio and Houston

Schobels in Columbus has an extensive menu including a nice salad bar and lots of sides.

schobelsrestaurant.com

Mar 01, 2015
Jaymes in Texas

QUESO DIP - sub for inferior "new" Velveeta?

Yep, Clancy's is from TJ's - and/or Aldi, which turns out to be owned by the same folks.

I really wish I had one of the old Velveeta boxes to compare Clancy's ingredients.

Mar 01, 2015
Jaymes in Texas

QUESO DIP - sub for inferior "new" Velveeta?

You, my friend, clearly have the magic touch (something I've known for years, I should add). I'll admit I didn't make it in a slow cooker, but never have. I use microwave or a heavy saucepan stovetop. And I stood over that pan stirring and stirring. Couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. Added some cream. Stirred some more. Finally got it to where we ate it, but it certainly didn't melt like it has for the previous, what, thirty years. Also tried mac & cheese, and cheese sauce. Had a very difficult time with each.

Silly of me, I suppose, to be upset over what is a pretty low-end product.

But I am.

Haven't tried the Kroger "Nice & Cheesy" (I'm hoping someone else has) but did try "Clancy's," and it worked much better. I did a taste test, as well, on a cut-off chunk. I think the flavor of Clancy's is better, too.

Also, think Clancy's is cheaper.

Not superior enough to drive all over town to find it but as long as I have both an Aldi's and a Trader Joe's within only a couple miles of me, as I do now, won't be buying Velveeta again.

Mar 01, 2015
Jaymes in Texas

QUESO DIP - sub for inferior "new" Velveeta?

The last few times I've made Texan's favorite dip, Queso, I started like I have for several decades - melting Velveeta with Ro-Tel, but the Velveeta didn't melt properly. The first time this happened, thought I was doing something wrong. Or just got one box of bad, or old, Velveeta, maybe.

But then I did a little investigating, and label reading, and realized they've changed the formula for Velveeta. Now it's horrible. Less dairy (ie, real cheese). Won't melt properly. Disintegrates into a gooey, lumpy mess.

Went online to find if anyone else was having problems with Velveeta not melting properly and, whatdaya know, a great many folks are having that problem.

Suggestions for substitutes that are still made the way Velveeta used to be made were: Kroger Nice & Cheesy, and Clancy's, sold at Aldi and Trader Joe's (supposedly they're owned by the same company).

Clancy's: http://www.fooducate.com/app#page=pro...

Has anyone else had this problem with Queso Dip, or Mac & Cheese, or cheese sauce for broccoli & cauliflower, or any of the other myriad things folks use Velveeta for?

And suggestions for substitutes?

Mar 01, 2015
Jaymes in Texas

New HEB, Fountainview and San Felipe, Now Open (9 1/2 Thoughts)

I think you mean "Doobious," don't you? Don't forget to report back. I love HEB. Not perfect, of course, but easily the best large-chain grocery purveyor I've ever found.

Feb 26, 2015
Jaymes in Houston
1