Saturday, May 21, 2011

Houston - Things really are bigger in Texas...

Oh, to be home again.  After two weeks away, I was starting to feel at home living out of a suitcase, and I really hate living out of a suitcase.  But if that's happening, it also means I'm having some pretty terrific meals.  

It's been decades since I've been to Houston.  I recall some family trip down there to visit some family friends as a 13 or 14 year-old, and I definitely remember having a crush on one of the sons.  He was tall and dreamy and 16!  

Anyway, on the plane ride down, I solicited a foodie conversation with those around me.  I just can't help myself, and most of the time, everyone else wants to pitch in with their opinion on the best eats of the city.  Of course, during the conversation, I dump in questions like, "Yeah, is that like the salad at Olive Garden?" or "how does that compare to the steak at Outback?" because I need to assess where they are on the food critic chain.  When they say, "Hmm, that's a great question - which is better?" I pretty much let go of any mental note on anyplace they've mentioned.  If they say, "Seriously?  Olive Garden?" I know there may be a tastebud match.

In that little discourse on Houston Eats, I heard Treebeard and Pappa Deux's for Cajun, a few places for steak, and more than plenty of places for Tex-Mex.    

During my seminar on Strategic Foresight with the University of Houston which was held at the downtown Magnolia Hotel, they mentioned a church across the street that had some pretty good cajun.  So without much prodding, several of us headed over.  What a clever way to use a church during the week.  Great home cajun cooking that fed the people of downtown Houston during the week at way cheap prices, and I'm sure that helps to pay for the soup kitchen work they do along with helping to subsidize the church.  I like the mind of these people!!  The best part was after I paid for the meal, which was served cafeteria style, the receipt said "Treebeards" and I was so delighted that the Gourmet Food Fairies had led me to this gold mine without a second thought.  

And when I say the Cajun was great, it was!

This is the fantastic Shrimp Etouffee that was a tad fiery, lusciously rich, and with a complex flavor.  I had this over dirty rice, rued the fact that it had a few too many celery stalks, but was overall quite pleased.  This dish was all of $6.95.  Incredible! 

And then nothing was as sweet as these watermelon cubes served with lime and mint leaves.  I had never done much to dress up watermelon, but after going to a Greek restaurant a few years ago for some Watermelon & Feta salad, I was hooked.  This is just as good a combination of flavors, and I can't imagine not having watermelon with a squirt of lime atop anymore.  The combination, along with the mint is so refreshing, inviting, and satisfying, I can't believe I wasn't introduced to this before.  But hey - better late than never...

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