Friday, 30 November 2012

Mom's Chili

I'm not going to lie.  When it's a cold, rainy night, I crave comfort food.  And nothing is more comforting than a big bowl of chili like my Mom used to make.  Here is the recipe:

My Mom's Chili
  • 450g of extra lean ground beef (or ground turkey...although I think the ground beef tastes better)
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 can of brown beans in tomato sauce
  • 1 can of tomato soup or tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
Brown the ground beef with the onion until thoroughly cooked.  Add the chili powder then stir.  Add the brown beans and tomato soup then stir.  Add the sugar, vinegar and ketchup then stir.  Let simmer on low heat for at least 15 minutes.  Makes about five servings and freezes well.


One heck of a pot of chili!


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Grey Cup Food Extravaganza!

As I'm sure many of you did, I went to my friends' place for the Grey Cup and some yummy food on Sunday.  Although, I'm not going to lie, this was the most gourmet spread I've ever experienced during Grey Cup: Homemade Short-Ribs, Roasted Root Vegetables, and Tuscan Bread Salad with the Best Basil Vinaigrette Ever.   Needless to say, it was a very yummy meal!
The slow cooker short ribs that Mr. Tall One slaved over all day.  He wasn't ecstatic about the way they turned out, but I thought they were delicious.  I'm no short-rib specialist, but they were flavourful and the meat literally fell off the bone, so they were good in my books!  Mr. Tall One made them using a Whole Foods recipe (below) in case you want to try them out yourself.
Mrs. Mom of the Cutest 15 Month Old Ever made some very yummy baked root vegetables: potatoes, parsnip, carrots, and purple potatoes mixed with olive oil, salt, pepper and some freshly chopped rosemary and then baked for about an hour at 200F.  Yummy in my tummy!
My contribution was a salad. I felt like trying something new and when I spotted the Tuscan Bread Salad with the Best Basil Vinaigrette Ever from the Whitewater Cooks with Friends cookbook, I knew I had to make it. Seriously, who could resist a salad that has bread in it?
Roasting the peppers on the grill.  I learned that to peel the peppers you let them cool in a brown bag then peel the skin off while running them under cold water.  Way easier than I thought it was going to be.

Marinating the bread in the best basil vinaigrette ever.
Mixing the rest of the ingredients together: tomatoes, de-skinned grilled peppers, bocconcini, capers and red onion.

The finished product!  Everyone enjoyed this salad and the general consensus was it was a keeper.  Personally, I think I'd try it without the bread next time.  The bread added a lot of flavour because it really soaked up the dressing, but it also took away from the freshness of the salad a bit.  As for the vinaigrette, it really did kick some serious butt!

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find the exact recipe online, but I found one that was similar.  Just add some bocconcini, capers and roasted red peppers and you'll get pretty darn close!



Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Clearwater Beach, Florida

My next stop on my vacation adventure was Clearwater Beach, Florida.  I have some friends living there that I hadn't seen in far too long, so I was looking forward to visiting with them and seeing the sun.  What I didn't realize was that they literally lived in paradise!  Their townhome feels like a beachhouse, is right on the water and has a pool.  It's so safe that the lock on their front door is identical to the lock on my bathroom.  They're a 15-20 minute walk to one of the most post-card worthy beaches I have ever seen and the sand is literally as soft as a baby's bottom.  Oh, and did I mention they get around by Vespa?  It was amazing!  However, the best part was most definitely my amazing friends.  I miss them already and it hasn't even been a week.

Okay, enough sappiness, these amazing friends (we'll call them Mr. and Mrs. Crossfit) know their way around the happy hour and food scene in Clearwater Beach darn well, are amazing hosts and showed me a spectacular time.  So let's get to it!

Island Way Grill
Our first happy hour stop was the Island Way Grill and what a spectacular stop it was!  The restaurant has an amazing deck with a bar.  I felt like I was in Hawaii or was so relaxing.  As always, the company was the best part of the night...but the food and drink that we celebrated with were unreal!

Island Lemonade ($7.50): Tito's potato vodka with home-made lemonade.  AMAZING!  However, for all you Canadians out there, beware.  You can't taste the Tito's vodka in this fabulous drink; however, there most definitely is a lot of it.  Your taste buds will always be happy but I learned the hard way that your liver might not be happy the next day.  So, be careful.  That being said, this is definitely a must-drink if you're at the Island Way.

The gorgeous view from the deck.  Eating outside at the end of November...not too shabby.
Sashimi Salad ($11): wakami, seasoned squid and sunomono salad, topped with chef's choice of marinated sashimi and flying fish roe.  This dish was out of control!  I would eat it ever single day if I could.  Definitely a must-order.


Hamachi sashimi.  I had never heard of hamachi before, but it is very delicious.  It's a lot more of a solid fish, so the consistency was between tuna sashimi and cooked chicken.  Plus, it had much more vibrant flavours than tuna sashimi would.  I'd definitely order this dish again.

Pork and chicken pot stickers with cilantro plum sauce ($7).  After having lived in Vancouver, I'll admit that I'm a bit high maintenance when it comes to pot stickers.  These were not my favourite, so I probably wouldn't order them again.
Stone crab.  Stone crab was also completely new to me, but I'm very glad it was in season when I was in Clearwater!  Its flavour is similar to dungeness crab, but the meat is more of a chicken consistency: solid and not stringy.  The other thing that is interesting is that they only harvest the right pincher of the crab.  The crab's pinchers re-grow, so this way the crab continues to survive and the stone crab population doesn't disappear. 
We ate them in two different ways: hot with lemon juice and garlic butter (above), and cold with a lemon aioli sauce (below).  Eating them cold is the traditional way to eat them and I quite enjoyed it, but us Canadians also enjoyed eating them warm with melted butter.  

 Just be careful...those pinchers pack a wallop!  If you're not careful, you'll lose a finger...just ask Mr. Crossfit!
If you're ever in Clearwater Beach, I'd highly recommend the Island Way Grill.  It was hands-down my favourite place to grab a drink or bite to eat in Clearwater Beach.

Frenchy's South Beach Café
Unfortunately, I wasted the next morning nursing a hangover but I snapped out of it by lunchtime and made my way down to the beach for a gorgeous walk and yummy lunch at a Clearwater Beach staple: Frenchy's South Beach Café.
My view at lunch.  I think I could get used to this!
Normally I'm not a burger type of girl, but I was craving one something fierce today and Frenchy's didn't let me down.  The South Beach Burger: fresh chopped sirloiner fully loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, relish, ketchup, mustard and mayo ($9.95).  I think I completely made the server's day when he started listing off the ingredients and I kept saying yes to everything.  I thought he was going to propose when I asked to add bacon, but that look quickly disappeared when I was adamant that my burger and bacon had to be fully cooked.  Seriously, a medium rare burger?  No thank you.

 The burger was nothing spectacular, but it was a good, solid burger that satisfied my craving.
Palm Pavilion
After my nap on the beach, I know...such a tough life, I made my way back home and the Crossfitters and I headed out for happy hour and dinner.  Happy hour was at Palm Pavilion:  this cute beach shack literally on the beach.  There was live music and a great atmosphere.  I'd definitely recommend grabbing a drink or two there.

 My very yummy strawberry margarita.

Bobby's Bistro
After our margaritas, we made our way to Bobby's Bistro for dinner.  A nice restaurant, we had a great server and the food was yummy.  Just be careful, it's in the red light district of Clearwater Beach.  Just joking.  I didn't notice it when I was taking the photos, but I guess the lighting in the restaurant had a red tinge to it, so all of the photos are red.

Half Rack "JamAsian" Baby Back Ribs ($9): Jamaican jerk and Asian spice give this Bistro baby back its mulicultured flavour.  Served with a refreshing dipping sauce.  When this "half rack" came out, I just about fell off my chair.  It was massive!  The best part was that the meat literally fell off the bone.  Very yummy. 

Sherry Garlic Sizzling Shrimp ($11): lightly sautéed with sherry and fresh garlic.  These shrimp were fresh and the sauce was amazing.  All three of us took turns licking the plate to ensure that none of the sauce went to waste.  Okay, okay...we may have used our bread to sop it up.

Bobby's Special of the Day: Seafood Pasta.  Fettucine, a light white-wine sauce, spinach, tomatoes, scrumptious cheese, mussels, clams and every other type of seafood you can imagine.  This definitely hit the spot.  I especially liked the sauce.  It had a lot of flavour but wasn't too heavy.
Mr. Crossfit's Giant Char Grilled Pork Chop served with caramelized Granny Smith apples and Mt. Vernon mustard sauce ($14).  As you can clearly see, the Giant pork chop most definitely lived up to its name.  I've never seen a pork chop that big!  It took some convincing to get me to try it (who knew you could also order your pork chop medium?!), but Mr. Crossfit found me a fully cooked portion on the outer edge and boy was I happy I tried it.  It was the juiciest, most flavourful pork chop I have ever eaten.  Hands down the best dish of the night.  It even rivalled the food at Island Way Grill.
Mrs. Crossfit's Grilled Chicken Campeche ($10): chili rubbed char-grilled chicken slices, torn greens, avocados, black bean salsa, bell peppers, broken tortillas and honey lemon jalapeno dressing.  This looked very yummy and Mrs. Crossfit said she thoroughly enjoyed it.

Our side of steamed asparagus with parmesan cheese on top.  Asparagus has to be one of my favourite veggies.  You can just never go wrong with it.  Now, if only it didn't make your pee smell so funny!

Chocolate Sin ($4): Belgian chocolate mousse cake, chocolate ganache and walnuts.  This chocolate cake was out of control.  It literally flowed out like lava out of a volcano!
When it came to dessert time, I was 100% completely full.  But, when our server said they had pumpkin pie...I officially concluded it was time to take one for the team, so I unlocked the compartment to my hollow leg.  Home-made crust, creamy pumpkin pie filling and cinnamon whipped cream...I was literally floating on clouds in heaven!
If you're in Clearwater Beach, this is definitely a good option for dinner.  Just make sure to go to the Bistro side of the restaurant.  Word on the street is the other side is a bit more uppity and doesn't make for as enjoyable an experience.

Guppy's on the Beach
On my last and final day...sniff, sniff...I started off the day by watching Mr. and Mrs. Crossfit's crossfit workout, which promptly made me very happy that I was still on vacation.  After their session, they kindly took the rest of the day off and we headed off on our road adventure.  We drove all the way down to the bottom of the Island via the mainland, then popped across onto the Island and made our way up it from St. Pete's all the way to Clearwater Beach.  It was such a lovely way to spend the afternoon.  The beachtowns were all so cute and quaint!  We all got the nibblies around Indian Rocks Beach, so we stopped at one of Mr. and Mrs. Crossfit's favourites: Guppy's.

If you like the looks of this coaster now, imagine the most delicious Mango Rita you've ever had standing on top of it...looks a bit better doesn't it!  And, in case you're like me and didn't know what a Mango Rita was, it's a Mango Margarita with tequila, lime, fresh mango and mango nectar for $7.50.  Needless to say, our happy hour got earlier and earlier, day by day.

Lobster bisque: Homemade, thick and rich, dressed with fresh cream, and lobster meat ($5.50).  This lobster bisque was amazing.  I took my first bite and my body was so happy with what I was feeding it that I literally felt it relax.  However, the portion was massive!!!  Everyone had made fun of me when I ordered a cup instead of a bowl, so I figured the cup would be really tiny so I changed my order to a bowl.  What they failed to tell me was that an American bowl of soup is like two Canadian bowls of soup!  I'm not going to lie, though, I licked my bowl clean.  It was well worth the stomach expansion.

Mr. Crossfit's Fresh Grouper Tacos: fresh grouper grilled, on top of warm flour tortillas with pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, adobo aioli and fresh lime ($14.95).  They looked delicious!

My Bronzed Grouper Sandwich ($13.95).  I had also never heard of grouper before visiting Clearwater but it was everywhere!  I knew I had to try a Grouper sandwich before I left, so I figured this was as good a time as any.  The fish itself was white, moist, flavourful and meaty.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I also discovered that anywhere you can order something "blackened" you can normally get it "bronzed" as well, which means half-way inbetween grilled and blackened.  Definitely a yummy lunch.
Mrs. Crossfit's Lost Tuna: black-n-blue yellowfin tuna sashimi, with pickled ginger, wasabi & a drizzle of toasted sesame soy glaze ($10.50).
There's no better way to enjoy good food and good drinks than on a patio in the sun.  Guppy's definitely has this mastered.   
Island Way Grill - Round 2
I couldn't handle the thought of leaving Clearwater Beach without another one of Island Way's scrumptious Tito lemonades, so we headed back to Island Way for our last happy hour together.  We were all pretty full after our late lunch, so we just ate some appies at Island Way.

  Salted Edamame ($5).  Yummy as always.

Jalapeno Conch Fritters with island sweet chili dipping sauce ($9).  These were interesting.  They had the same consistency and texture as hot off the presses doughnut holes at the fair, but they were savoury instead of sweet and had little bits of fish in them.  Yummy.  That being said, I would eat them again but I wouldn't go out of my way to order them again.
We also ordered Frankie's Tuna, a tempura roll of tuna, kani-kama, cream cheese and vegetables ($15), which I forgot to take a photo of.  It was a good sushi roll, but I thought the price was a bit steep for what it was.  I'd definitely order the sashimi salad or hamachi before I ordered the Frankie's Tuna.

And, have no fear, my Tito's Lemonade did not let me down.  Delicious as always!

Breakfast in Chicago

 My flight out of Tampa was far too early, so I ended up grabbing a second breakfast during my layover in Chicago.  I discovered Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal this past summer and it's quickly become one of my favourite on the road breakfasts.  My favourite part is the separate bags of almond slivers, cranberries, raisins and brown sugar.  That way you can make it to your liking.  For $3 it's one of the healthiest and quickest on the go breakfasts that I've managed to find.

Snacks on the plane
Due to the odd hour that I woke up, I got some fierce nibblies on my flight from Chicago to Vancouver.  I was flying United Airlines, so I ordered their Asian Noodle Salad with chicken ($5) and the Tapas snack pack ($10).  The Asian Noodle salad was surprisingly tasty, fresh and yummy.  I'd definitely order it again.  However, it's more of a snack size than a meal size.  Hence, the need for the Tapas snack pack, which I was thoroughly impressed by.  It included a bag of plain pita chips, two different little packets of crackers, a container of hummus (at least 1/2 cup of natural, no preservative hummus), an asiago cheese spread (I wasn't a fan of this...barely ate any of it), bruschetta style salsa (good flavours and was refreshing), a bag of green olives (about 10 of them...they were delicious!) and a bag of chocolate covered blueberries and acai berries that were scrumptious. 

To be honest, I wasn't expecting much of the plane food that I ordered.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't mind-blowingly amazing, but it surprised me enough to want to include it here.  I'd definitely order both again.

All-in-all my time in Clearwater Beach was utterly brilliant!  My only regret is not taking a picture of Mr. Crossfit's gourmet cheese boards.  Every night when we came home from happy hour, he'd make up a cheeseboard that made Mrs. Crossfit and I drool, then we'd cuddle with the doggies by candlelight and enjoy the cheese board with a scrumptious glass of wine.  It was lovely.
To the Crossfits, thank you so much for being such great hosts, for all the catching up and for all of the fun and laughter.  Great big hugs to you both!
'Til next time Clearwater Beach!


Monday, 26 November 2012

Houston, Texas

First of all, I'd like to apologize for the lack of posts this past week.  The good news is that it was for good reason: vacation!!!  And the even better news?  I have lots of food to report on!  So, let's get to it.

Two weekends ago I was lucky enough to go visit a dear friend and her wonderful husband in Houston, Texas.  The week before I left, my friend started sending me a bundle of links to different restaurants.  I'd heard that Houston had really good Tex Mex, and the restaurants she was sending links to looked delicious, so I was expecting some good food, but the places she took me to completely blew my expectations out of the water.  There was so much variety and totally different tastes than you would ever get in Vancouver due to the different populations.  It was a real treat and I'd like to thank my friend (we'll call her the hot Texan marathon runner) and her husband (we'll call him the future curer of cancer) for being such fabulous hosts and showing me the best the city has to offer.  I can't wait for our next visit!

On Friday night we headed to MKT Bar for happy hour.  It is literally a bar in the Phoenicia Specialty Food grocery store.  It was one of the neatest concepts I have ever seen and boy do they have a happy hour!  Live band, fun atmosphere, and scrumptious food!  I started off with the beer sampler and added on the food sampler.  For $7 I got the following:

From left to right: Yule Shoot Your Eye Out Ale, Sympathy for the Lager, Hopadillo IPA, Weisse Versa Wheat.  All delicious and so much fun in sampler size!

The food sampler from left to right: Dark chocolate ginger snap, orange and fennel salad, seared scallop with black olive vinaigrette, corn fritter with shredded curry chicken.  All extremely yummy and way bigger portions than I was expecting for the total cost of $7 for the beer and food sampler.

Za'atar Shoestring Fries ($7): za'atar dusted handcut fries with lemon zest, spicy Moroccan ketchup and garlic sauce for dipping.  These were the best stand-alone fries I've ever had.  There was so much flavour.

Curry Shrimp Skewers ($15): grilled gulf prawns, halloumi cheese, red onion, zucchini & cherry tomatoes with eggplant salad.  I stole a photo of these from my friends' friends' plate because they looked really good. 

Lebanese potato salad ($8): poached gold potatoes, arugula, parsley, preserved lemons & Aleppo pepper.  This dish stole the show for me tonight.  It was fresh, filling, lemony and the Aleppo pepper was out of this world.  I'm definitely going to have to find a recipe and try this one at home, because I'm not going to be able to live long without it!
The chocolate cake special.  My friends' friends ordered this for dessert and it was all I could do to refrain from reaching across the table and stealing a bite!

Cardamom Creme Brulée ($8).  My friend's husband, Mr. He's Going to Cure Cancer, ordered this for dessert but didn't take more than one bite because it had Cadamom in it.  Mr. He's Going to Find the Cure to Cancer has a special spot in my heart, but it had Cardamom in the name!!!  What were you expecting??  The good news is that Mrs. Hot Texan marathon runner thoroughly enjoyed it, as did I.  The cardamom made it amazing!!!

My apple cinnamon baklava gelato ($3.50).  Not the most traditional gelato I've ever had (it was a lot harder than true gelato) but the flavours were awesome!
I'd highly recommend checking MKT Bar out for happy hour if you're ever in Houston.
Oh My Gogi! food truck
So, I know that Vancouver and Portland have a food truck scene, but I was most definitely not expecting Houston to have one.  Lucky for me, it did!!  After dinner we still had a bit of the nibblies, so we made our way to the Oh My Gogi food truck for some Oh My Gogi fries.

The official OMG! Fries ($6): basket of 3/84 inch cut fries with your choice of beef short rib, chicken or spicy pork (spicy pork is the way to go in my opinion), topped with four Mexican cheeses (monterey jack, mild cheddar, queso quesadilla and asadero), spiced up with their house-special spicy sauce (tasted like the sauce used in spicy tuna rolls) and sriracha sauce, onion and cilantro.  This is one heck of a unique poutine.  It rocked!  And the portions were very big.  You could easily split it. 

Definitely a great place to check out if you've got some nibblies.
La Guadalupana Café
The one thing that I had requested of Mrs. Hot Texan Marathon Runner was to try authentic Mexican food while I was in Houston.  So, after our morning runs on Saturday morning (albeit Mrs. Hot Texan Marathon Runner's was five times as long as mine) we headed to La Guadalupana Café for brunch.

The homemade tortillas and spicy and mild salsa that came complimentary with our meals.  Yummy in my tummy!

Huevos Rancheros ($6.99).  I officially showed my Canadian-ness when I was asked "flour or corn tortillas?" and responded "whichever you think would be best."  ha ha ha.  It caught me off guard.  I've never been given the choice before! I think I made the server's day, though, she almost cracked right up on the spot!  The Huevos Rancheros were good, but not quite as flavourful as I was expecting.

Breakfast Torta ($4.50).  This thing was massive and looked like it was full of yummy goodness!  Mrs. Hot Texan marathon runner thoroughly enjoyed it.  She also had a cup of their coffee which is well-known for its cinnamoniness.  I didn't have any because I don't drink coffee, but I took a sip and even I would have enjoyed it.  It was really good!

The inside of the café.

The outside where we sat.
If you're ever in Houston and are looking for some good, inexpensive Mexican food, you should check La Guadalupana Café.  I'd just recommend trying the Torta over the Huevos Rancheros.
Philippe Restaurant and Lounge

To ensure I got to see a little bit of everything that Houston had to offer, Mrs. Hot Texan Marathon Runner made a reservation at Philippe, one of the most popular upscale restaurants in Texas, for Saturday night.  It made for a very yummy and enjoyable evening.  Although, in my personal opinion, the company had as much to do with it as the food. 

 The goat cheese salad ($9).  Both Mrs. Hot Texan Marathon Runner and I had this scrumptious salad to start.  Unfortunately I can't remember the exact ingredients, but it was essentially a bed of thinly sliced pears with greens, mushrooms, candied nuts and two pan-fried tubes of goat cheese.  Very yummy.

Sherried Onion Soup with Melting Gruyere ($10).  Mr. He's Going to Cure Cancer said this was good, but it was not a classic French Onion soup and he would have preferred a classic French Onion soup.

My fish dish.  Unfortunately, the menu that Philippe has listed online is not the same one that we ordered off of, so I don't have all of the details available.  The fish was a white fish, and the plate included three home-made potato chips, fresh veggies, and a stack of au gratin potatoes.  It was good.  The fish was a fish that I never have the opportunity to eat in Vancouver (which is why I can't remember what type it was!).  The fish was more meaty and drier than most white fish I've had before.  It was good, but didn't blow my socks off.

Seared scallops with andouille sausage, spring vegetables and smoked carrot coulis ($29).  Mrs. Hot Texan marathon runner thoroughly enjoyed this meal.

This was Mr. He's Going to Cure Cancer's Tuna.  Unfortunately, I can't find the details on his meal either.  The most important thing is that he licked the plate clean, so I think it was pretty darn good!

Tres Leches: with coconut chantilly, pineapple chip, passion fruit caramel and fresh mango ($9).  I'd been told by many a person that I had to try Tres Leches when I was in Houston, so I ordered it for dessert.  This particular one tasted similar to Tiramisu and I was promptly informed that it was not a traditional Tres Leches.  It was good, but nothing spectacular. 
Blackforest cake ($9).  Mr. He's Going to Cure Cancer thoroughly enjoys a good piece of blackforest cake.  He said this particular piece was good, but not mind-blowing.

Churros with chocolate dipping sauce and salted caramel ice cream ($9).  When the desserts arrived at the table, Mr. He's Going to Cure Cancer and myself instantly regretted our dessert choices and hopped on the churro train.  It's a good thing Mrs. Hot Texan Marathon Runner was full and willing to share!
Overall, I would say Philippe's was good but not great.  I could also be partially biased because I'm not so much of a fancy restaurant type of person, unless the food is mind-blowing.  In conclusion, I would say that if you want to go to a fancier, trendy restaurant in Houston, this is a good choice.  If you're looking for a more relaxed atmosphere, with casual but delicious food, Philippe's is not the place for you.

Sunday was Mrs. Hot Texan Marathon Runner's birthday, so we went out for a yummy brunch to start the celebrations.  Unfortunately, she was driving which meant no mimosa for her...but it didn't mean no mimosa for me!
She was kind enough to pick a well-known Mexican restaurant with an amazing brunch buffet and mariachi band, so I could try out some more authentic Mexican food while being serenaded.  It was a lot of fun!  I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking. 

My excitement over the food led to a rookie mistake: I forgot to do a pre-food walk of the buffet prior to starting to load up my plate!  So, needless to say, I ended up with one very full plate that included: tamales, rice, corn bread, eggs benedict on corn bread, chips and homemade guacamole, cacti salad, marinated veggies, marinated name it!  My favourite was most definitely anything that had the corn bread in it.  It was so moist and flavourful...scrumptious!  The cacti salad was also fun to try.  Although, I had a bit of a panic attack when I bit a herb and thought it was a cacti needle!

Dessert: two shortbread like cookies with a light caramel-flavoured filling inbetween them (heavenly mouth-watering!), churros (not as good as the churros from the night before), some sort of a cake that tasted like pistachio cheesecake with all the different layers combined and, drum roll please, the real Tres Leches.  This Tres Leches was unbelievable.  I had never heard of it before my trip to Houston, but it's a sponge cake which has been soaked in condensed milk and then topped with the richest whipped cream you can ever imagine.  It's unbelievably heavy...but unbelievably scrumptious.  Definite two thumbs up.

Some hot chocolate, another short-bread-like cookie, and two pastries to finish off brunch.
I thoroughly enjoyed this brunch, although, I'd warn you that it is very expensive ($29/person).  I can eat a fair bit, but there's no way we got our money's worth with that price.  It was lovely to be able to try a little bit of everything, though, and the atmosphere was great. 
13 Celsius
My last taste bud experience in Houston was for Mrs. Hot Texan Marathon Runner's birthday dinner at 13 Celsius.  She'd picked the location but she thought it was just the three of us going out.  Little did she know that her husband had arranged for her friends to be there...mwah ha ha ha!
It was an evening full of great people, laughter, yummy food and even more delicious wine.  In all honesty, this lovely place absolutely stole my heart and was by far my most favourite taste bud experience in Houston (although the Lebanese potato salad is a photo finish second).
The interior of 13 Celsius.  Word on the  street is that it used to be an old laundromat.  I absolutely love restaurants with distress and feeling, so this place really tickled my fancy.

The birthday girl's dinner.  I'm heartbroken over the fact that 13 Celsius doesn't have their menu online because this was one unique sandwich.  If my memory doesn't fail me, it was reubenesque but with a fried egg and on a fresh pretzel bun.  It looked and smelled amazing, and was reasonably priced (around $12)!

I am again crushed that I can't provide a better description of the sandwich that I had but the long and the short of it was fresh bread, prosciutto-ish meat, ooey-gooey cheese and greens, and served with chips and gerkins!  Who cannot love a sandwich that comes with a mini dish of pickles?!  The sandwich itself was delicious and reasonably priced.

Now I'm not sure if this was actually on the menu or whether Mr. He's Going to Cure Cancer  pulled some miraculous dessert action but, after dinner, a plate of S'mores managed to landed on our table for dessert!  Graham crackers, marshmallows, hershey's chocolate, peanut butter, nutella, another spread that I can't remember, peanuts, cranberries, apple slices and our own mini campfire that never went out.  It was completely and utterly spectacular!

You have no idea how much restraint it took to take the time to take a photo before popping this delicious yumminess in my mouth!
Two random gentlemen who came over to try their hand at burning a few marshmallows and making some S'mores.  I still can't get over the interior of this restaurant.  I loved it the moment I walked in!
Needless to say, if you only have the time to go to one restaurant in Houston, I would highly recommend 13 Celsius.

Mr. He's Going to Cure Cancer and Mrs. Hot Texan Marathon Runner, thank you very much for your hospitality and for showing me the culinary delights of Houston!  It was a treat to see you both.  Let's just make sure it doesn't take as long for a visit next time...and that there are plenty more culinary delights included!