arashall's Profile

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Difficulty lighting my gas grill.

As for the spark starter, check the battery. Lots of people don't realize it has a battery.

Coconut Ice Cream

about 24 hours ago
arashall in Recipes

Taking 2 college guys to dinner help me please

What about a food truck tour instead of a sit-down dinner? That's very Austin, budget friendly, and probably fun for college guys.

May 22, 2015
arashall in Austin

Recommendation for a Grill and Where to buy it?

+1 on the Weber if your budget and grilling ambitions are just average. I've used a little Spirit for years, with excellent results.

If you do have a truck, Lowes will put it together for you, which saves some time. Weber customer service is great. It's like talking to your best friend's mom, in Minnesota :-)

May 21, 2015
arashall in Philadelphia
1

Pollinating Tomato Plants

You have plenty of advice on the tomatoes, but did anybody tell you to put the mints and oregano in their own separate containers (only as big as you want them to fill) because they will spread like crazy and take over your other herbs? The thyme will spread too, but not as wildly as mint.

I just stick the tomato in a big pot in full sun, water a lot if it's really hot, water less if it's not too hot, and give it some tomato food every so often. And fight pests if they appear.

May 21, 2015
arashall in Gardening

New Orleans to Austin

I second the recommendation to avoid 290! Just before you get to Columbus is a quirky place call the Industrial Country Market. It's a great place for kids. There's and outdoor art installation that constantly changes, a fish/lotus pond, and lots of etcetera. Not for a meal, but a fun stop. Lots of people pass it by because they don't realize what's really there and how amusing it can be. They have a green house with fabulous homegrown tomatoes and herbs for cheap.

May 20, 2015
arashall in Houston

New Orleans to Austin

Also on the way through town on I-10 (at Blalock) is 99 Ranch. It's a big Asian grocery store with a food court that would allow everyone to choose their own meal. It has a very popular Vietnamese crawfish place, as well as traditional Chinese offerings, Korean, and probably some other stuff I am forgetting. There's a smoothie shop, and an in-store bakery. Very economical choice, and the kids can run off some steam looking and interesting things in the market.

May 20, 2015
arashall in Houston

New Orleans to Austin

HUGE new Buckee's on I-10 in Baytown. Clean bathrooms, and tons of stuff for the kids. Not necessarily cheap, though. All of those goodies can add up fast.

May 20, 2015
arashall in Houston

Breakfast service near the Houston Convention Center

Breakfast? That's a tough one. Almost has to be a hotel, but I wouldn't call that fun. The Four Seasons does a really good job on meeting breakfasts. You might try Phoenicia Specialty Foods. They have a little bistro in the store. They might work something out with you, since it's family owned they can do whatever they want.

May 12, 2015
arashall in Houston

What to do with tough skirt steaks

Can I asked how you cut it? If you're not familiar with skirt steaks, be sure to cut across the grain, in thin pieces. As others mentioned, marinades (think fajitas) and a little rare also help.

Instacart

I don't know if the business model will hold up as they grow, but I've used Instacart in Houston several times, as have co-workers, and we have all be thoroughly impressed by the level of service. You pick which of several local grocery stores to use for the order, and then you can get anything in the store. They have even called to ask about a substitution when a certain flavor was out of stock.

May 07, 2015
arashall in Food Media & News

Restaurants near Magnolia Hotel

Just FYI - the Magnolia has a courtesy SUV that will take you just about anywhere nearby.

You are close to the Hubcap Grill, which is known for fabulous burgers. The newly opened Jackson Street BBQ is nearby, but I haven't been yet. It has a good pedigree, so I anticipate good BBQ. Irma's Tex-Mex, by the ballpark is popular with lots of folks, but not a big favorite of mine. Not to be confused with Irma's Southwest Grill.

Bombay Pizza company is about 2 blocks away. It's a good example of Houston's multi-cultural outlook, combining Indian flavors and pizza. Of course, there are all of the requisite steak houses nearby. For ethnic, and lots of Houston's better restaurants, you need to get out of downtown. Lots of discussions on the Houston page.

For a step up, Ibiza, is just outside of downtown, and the Magnolia car could take you. Also Charivari, which is traditional continental fine dining. It's often overlooked and looks like nothing from the street, but this husband and wife team do really great quality food.

Tons of food options here. I hope you enjoy your time in Houston.

May 07, 2015
arashall in Houston

How do I keep chocolate desserts cold while traveling?

I live in Houston, so I feel your pain. Unless there's a really important reason why you have to have chocolate frosting, it would be much easier to switch to brownies, cookies, or even a chocolate cheesecake that could be kept cool. The advise already given about frosting onsite is good, too.

May 05, 2015
arashall in General Topics

Colorado camping / grilling service and assistance

LurkerDan makes a good point about the possibilities of fires being banned. Also, a large percentage of campsites are in state and national parks. These will all tend to be full of mostly families. You might want to consider something like renting a cabin or campsite on private land if you're not wanting to share your bachelor party.

May 04, 2015
arashall in Mountain States

Colorado camping / grilling service and assistance

First question, what part of Colorado? I'm thinking this sounds more like a dude ranch experience.

May 04, 2015
arashall in Mountain States

Children of the Corn: Baby Corn, Demystified

I love it when I lived in Thailand and could by it fresh, for cheap, in the produce section of TOPS.

Apr 30, 2015
arashall in Home Cooking

Steak near Houston airport

Definitely faster to go downtown. If you're going to Vic & Anthony's, take the Highway 59 South exit out of IAH. Follow 59 south to the "Downtown/Jackson Street" exit.

Go down the long ramp that will take you into downtown. You'll be facing Minute Maid Park (our baseball stadium). Jackson will end at Minute Maid and Congress. Turn right on Congress. Go 2 blocks and turn left onto LaBranch. 3 more block to Texas Avenue. Vic & Anthony's is in a red brick building.

For any other downtown destination, you can take the same Jackson Street exit.

To get back out of downtown, go one block over to Crawford, and head back along side the ballpark. Turn right on Franklin, then turn left on CHENEVERT. You'll see signs for Hwy. 59. This take you back up the other side of the same ramp you used to get into downtown, and you are pointed back toward IAH.

Hope you enjoy your short visit to Houston :-)

Apr 24, 2015
arashall in Houston

Steak near Houston airport

There is always more potential for traffic problems on I-45, and ongoing construction right before the mall (which is the area where you'd be going). But if you have 5 hours, you should still be OK. Time and day matter, too. It will be more congested on the weekends because it's a popular location for shopping and dining.

Apr 24, 2015
arashall in Houston

Steak near Houston airport

Hi! Since I actually live near the airport (IAH), and work downtown, I'm going to chime in. The cab fare from IAH to downtown is about $52-55, depending on your exact destination. If you rent a car, I'd recommend driving to downtown. It's about a 20-25 minute shot straight down Highway 59. I frequently shop in the Woodlands, and it will take you longer and probably be a more frustrating drive for someone not familiar with Houston (lots of highway construction in the area right now). There are a number of good steak houses downtown, but the consensus seems to be Vic & Anthony's is best. As others have pointed out, you have plenty of time to go wherever you want.

Apr 24, 2015
arashall in Houston

Too many restaurants withholding ice!

You can actually buy the type of ice machine that Sonic uses. It takes some extra hardware for home installation. Ken Hoffman, a columnist with the Houston Chronicle, has all of the details and puts them in his column periodically when people ask about it. If I remember correctly, it's in the neighborhood of $5,000 for a home machine.

Apr 02, 2015
arashall in Austin

Good lunch place near downtown Houston (Hyatt)

If you're looking for casual, but fun, and representative of Houston, Bombay Pizza is a good option. It shows off our multi-cultural side.

Apr 01, 2015
arashall in Houston

Good lunch place near downtown Houston (Hyatt)

Well, some more detail would help, but... Shula's in the Hyatt does very well with steaks and seafood, and handles groups very well. If the budget is bigger, Brennan's in nearby. Damian's does very good Italian and has a nice business atmosphere. The list could go on and on. FYI - yellow cab does a $6 cab ride (cash only) anywhere in downtown. Three Forks (chain) handles groups well and you can take the Green Link from the Hyatt. If you want to give more detail on budget, size of group, preferred type food, I can help. I work downtown, and part of my job is includes a wide variety of business meals and events.

Apr 01, 2015
arashall in Houston

Chicken Fried Steak

James,
I have never heard this bit about pounding the flour in, but it makes sense. I can't remember the last time I made chicken fried steak, but the next time I get a hankering, I will try this. Thanks for the tip!

Fast and easy way to cut a mango

You can skip the spoon and the sink. I was in India (Gujurat) when mango was in season. My friends showed me how to make a mango "popsicle". Roll the ripe mango around in your palms to squish up the pulp. Pop the stem off and squeeze the fruit out the top. Eat what comes out. No kitchen tools required. But in the case of amateurs like me, it might still require some cleanup.

Mar 30, 2015
arashall in Home Cooking

La Carta de Oaxaca - good?

Oh no! I hate to see this. I went 2 years ago when I last visited, based on what I'd seen about the black mole. I thoroughly enjoyed the rich complex mole, but admit that whatever my sister chose (not mole) was good, but not fabulous. I was going to drag the whole family up there in August and make them all order the mole, but it sounds like it may have gone downhill. I'm from Houston, so we have every kind of Mexican food from the gifted Hugo Ortega to cheap, greasy Tex-Mex. We certainly don't need any more Mexican unless it's really outstanding. Opinions? Has the masterful mole lost its mojo? Thanks!

Mar 27, 2015
arashall in Greater Seattle

Peeps!!!!!!!

What a great idea! We used to do that with Tootsie Roll Pops. Wish I had thought of the Peeps.

Mar 25, 2015
arashall in General Topics

Is it possible to connect bread together?

Where are you in Thailand? If you have an Indian restaurant nearby, chapati make an acceptable substitute. And I'd bet that any Mexican restaurant in Bangkok or Chiang Mai would sell you a few tortillas.

Mar 24, 2015
arashall in Home Cooking

Tilapia (farm raised)

There is tilapia that is farm-raised in the U.S., and in South America that is farmed under much better conditions than the infamous Chinese import. However the price might reflect the difference in quality. A good alternative for you might be U.S. farm-raised catfish. It's very mild in flavor, and can be cooked in any way imaginable.

Mar 17, 2015
arashall in General Topics
1

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

And great chocolate malts made with Blue Bell at the Dairy Cone!

Mar 17, 2015
arashall in Houston
1

Texas Itinerary Help

Yes! We want a trip report!

Feb 13, 2015
arashall in Texas
1