clap), food from the heart of texas (clap, foodie pen pals, things from texas

Foodie Pen Pals: August

This months Foodie Pen Pal comes to us from Esther, of Pink and Purple Lemonade, from deep down in the heart of Texas!  When Esther asked me what I would like to see packed up in my pen pal package I told her, as I say to everyone, include something ‘local to you.’  I mentioned my honey obsession and she sent me my first taste of Texas produced honey.  She also sent me some of the oddest looking ‘Energy Nuggets’ from her local HEB.  They’re deep black in color with flecks of nuts, seeds and other ‘good for you’ bits and they don’t taste half as intense as they look (seriously, the color is a bit intimidating–like there’s squid ink in there– but the taste really isn’t that different than any other dense protein bars).

Esther also sent me some wonderful, spicy treats like a Texas made Raspberry Jalapeno Jam (which I think will need some Ritz crackers and cream cheese to pair long while I watch some Sunday NFL Football) and some Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning.  My creole seasoning is almost four years old, from when I went to New Orleans, and was really appreciative to get a new seasoning blend.

In the package were some more breakfasty/snack containers from HEB, raspberry fig newtons and blueberry flax granola.  I had the best of intentions when I packed them on a deep sea fishing adventure The Missus and I recently went on, thinking we could snack on them while we were on the boat…

..but, as my luck would have it I was horribly sea sick the entire time–and The Missus was barely holding it together–so I have yet to open these up and give them a try. I love Fig Newtons, so I have no doubt that I’ll love these.

So, many thanks to Esther for her gifts from the Lone Star state. Every month, I’m digging being a FPP more and more, getting to see some unique and tasty food from across the country.

If you’re interested in seeing what I sent out this month, stop by and see Tracy at One Step at a Time.

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o-rama, restaurant grace, second chances

Redemption-O-Rama


I was in a bit of a pickle this past month with posting about Grace and their ‘Whole Beast Feast’ that we attended.  You see, because Professor A. is extremely organized, I knew several months ago that Augusts ‘O-Rama’ would reflect upon ‘Second Chances’ for restaurants. While I thought about venturing back to the site of some unimpressive meals, there is that hesitation that the meal and experience will be a disappointing repeat performance. And, well, it’s hard to part with a good chunk of change when you don’t have it in the first place.

But, sometimes you feel like you’re missing something that everyone else enjoys, that you’re somehow not in on the appeal of a restaurant.  Bresca was actually one of those places for us.  Long before I rocked the hyperbole for Chef Desjarlais, our first dining experience there wasn’t that fantastic. But, one thing to note, is that it wasn’t the service, menu choices or preparation.. it was what we ordered.  When we decided to give it another try, just about a year later, we ordered completely different things and were floored by how much we enjoyed it. It seemed like a completely different restaurant.

I now put Grace up with that same, dramatic change.  My first experience there was a for a launch of a new ‘cocktail’ style tomato from Backyard Farms. The best thing that came out of it was meeting Kate for the first time. Sadly, the second thing I remember of the meal is how painfully undercooked the risotto was. Raw rice crunchy.  I remember thinking that if the chef couldn’t prepare 10 dishes of risotto at even a passable level, then how was he going to execute hundreds of dishes a night?  The Missus actually wouldn’t even let it be a consideration because of prices.

“$40 for Lobster Bisque? In Maine?”

If you mentioned Grace, you incurred her rant.

Then there was a shift at Grace.  Old chef was out, new chef was in, though the menu didn’t really change much. Then Chef Sueltenfuss arrived and, despite our previous notions of the restaurant, we were willing to put that all aside. In fact, we were more than intrigued.

Our first meal there, sometime this past February, was filled with a slew of appetizers highlighting different cuts of pork–from pig ear to belly–and a heavy dose of foie gras. Dessert was a playful presentation of S’mores. I do believe there was even some sassafras in the marshmallows. It seemed like our reward for giving them a second chance.

We’ve been back a few times since then, eating and enjoying our way through Chef Sueltenfuss’ menu. For us, it’s no longer an overpriced, monolith of a restaurant whose food wouldn’t even pass in restaurants that charged one third of the price. For us, Grace is a new restaurant, completely different than the one I was disappointed with a few years ago. It’s one that we’re more than happy that we gave a second chance to.

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