Road Trip to Galveston Island

Posted on June 2, 2016
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Short road trips are good for the soul. You are with friends while exploring — in our case, good food and interesting wine — while investigating history and discovering innovating, cutting-edge ideas. Mike and Carole Robinson, Shelby Schafer and I went to Galveston Island via Brenham. The Robinsons go to Galveston regularly, so they know the places the locals love. That made the trip a lovely mix between tourist attractions and local, quieter venues.

Our first stop was the Czech American Restaurant in West. Ordered the Sausage Reuben sandwich, Czech fries, and stuffed cabbage. Continued to Brenham stopping at Messina Hof in Bryan and Peach Creek Vineyards a little farther south on Highway 6. When checking in at Far View B&B, the owner suggested 96 West on the Square for dinner. What a wonderful surprise! We had Lamb tostados that tasted so fresh, Quail on mashed potatoes, Quinoa black bean sliders, a huge beet salad, and flat iron steak, with a professional waiter serving us. 96 West is open Wednesday through Saturday 4 to 11 and for brunch on Sunday.

IMG_5459Day 2 started with breakfast at Far View and then on to Galveston Island, a drive of about two-and-a-half hours. Lunch was gumbo and peel your own shrimp at the original Shrimp & Stuff. Checked in to The Tremont House on The Strand. Galveston benefactor George Mitchell (deceased) and his wife Cynthia refurbished The Tremont House to luxury far beyond the price. Prices for a Sunday through Wednesday in May were amazingly low — $104 plus tax per night. Dinner at Olympia Grill at Pier 21 was fresh and healthy with a great Greek salad, fish, and a skewer of roasted vegetables.

We had luxurious, slow mornings while in Galveston, never gathering before 11:00. At lunch on Day 3, we met George and Betsy Pepper at Sunflower Cafe & Bakery on 14th. Had Crab Benedict — crab cakes with poached eggs. Carole said, “Once I get to Galveston, all my stays are loosened!” Oh, dear! Sunflower was out of their famous lemon pie. In the afternoon, we drove to West Beach and Moody Gardens, plus a wine run to Spec’s. Stopped at Gaido’s mid-afternoon for an Amaretto Freeze sipped through a straw. This afternoon refresher is not to be missed! Dinner was at Saltwater Grill on Post Office Street. Although there is lots else, the salad with apple cider vinaigrette is what I will try to make at home.

IMG_5557Day 4 found us at white tablecloth Rudy & Paco on Post Office Street for lunch. Such a delicious meal — chopped salad with fried soft shell crab, red fish with grits and a dark roux barbecue sauce. After lunch, we walked through the beautifully restored Grand Opera House, took a ferry ride, shopped on The Strand, and hit LaKing’s Confectionaire, with an espresso bar, soda fountain, chocolates, and old-fashioned candy from suckers to jellybeans. Drooled watching them make banana splits and marveling over all the sweets and candies. Don’t miss the fascinating Bryan Museum of Texas History. The Gardens are on my wish list. Had dinner on this last night at the historic Gaido’s. The food is still delicious. The only bad news was they were out of flounder. Be sure to have a drink at the Galvez Hotel, the Robinson’s favorite. It is a lovely classic.

IMG_5797 Day 5 and it was time to go home, but first we had a late breakfast at Mosquito Grill. Don’t let the counter service put you off. The help was friendly and organized. Breakfast is served until 11, and our arrival at 10:55 still allowed us to order breakfast. I had the Shrimp, Grits, and Eggs. The shrimp were perfectly seasoned and cooked with cheese grits and sauteed spinach with Parmesan toast. Mike and Carole shared the Nancy and BET-C, which were Eggs Benedict on a toasted croissant. Directly across the street is Pattycakes Bakery. Go there for pull-apart Bafka sweet rolls and coconut macaroons, both plain and half-dipped in chocolate. Pick up a small package of dog bone snacks for Fido.

After one last drive down The Strand, we headed back to Fort Worth visiting all the way about our next road trip. We may head to East Texas and Shreveport — my hometown!

Blast From the Past

Posted on February 24, 2016
Filed Under Recipes | Leave a Comment

March 1998 Bon Appetit Cover
Was reorganizing my library and found this March 1998 issue of Bon Appetit magazine. Remember well being asked to be a part of the feature, “The Five Basics of Great Cooking.”

"Braising" Page 1

“Braising” Page 1

My contribution was on “Braising.” Created a Menu for Six starring Braised Lamb Shanks. Entire Menu was:

  • Yellow Bell Pepper Soup
  • Braised Lamb Shanks with Fennel, Tomatoes, Turnips, and Carrots
  • Rosemary Mashed Potatoes
  • White Chocolate Cheesecake with Cinnamon and Lemon
  • Pair with Syrah, Pinot Noir, or Merlot

    "Braising" Page 2

    “Braising” Page 2

    Looking forward to going back to the kitchen and making this menu again.

    All recipes are on Search by the title of the recipes, and you will get matched to the recipe from the March 1998 article.

    "Braising" Photo Page

    “Braising” Photo Page


    NEW YORK CITY TRIP WITH STEPHANIE: February 4 – 8, 2016

    Posted on February 23, 2016
    Filed Under Travel, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment

    Renie and Stephanie

    Renie and Stephanie

    Thursday, February 4, 2016
    Comfortable American flight DFW to Laguardia arriving at 3 pm. Wore collar and had wheelchairs. Was a major help in getting through longest security lines we had ever seen!

    Uber to Hilton Midtown 54th and 6th — Uber was a challenge. Driver canceled trip — said he had emergency. Tried to get another Uber and screen kept coming up with original driver. So weird, but we had an advocate in Renie’s wheelchair driver who fiercely explained our situation. And yes, we were cold and in a brisk wind. Driver came and we safely arrived at hotel. Great room on 40th floor with a lovely city view and Central Park in background.

    Met Jill Miller Perrin at Aureole on 44th Street at 5:45 pm for appetizers and wine with yummy cheese platter and delicious short rib sliders. We walked into a happily crowded restaurant and Jill waving telling us to make our way to her at the bar. Thankfully we were able to gather three stools and loved the hour-long visit with Stephanie’s childhood friend and Renie’s former Bluebird.

    We slipped around the corner at 6:50 pm and walked out back door one block to theater for Beautiful, a two-hour journey of terrific music and a deeply meaningful story about how Carole King came into her own. So uplifting — Carole King began picking out songs on the piano at seven years old and began writing music as a teenager. ENERGETIC, FABULOUS, AND UPLIFTING!! A truly Beautiful story!

    Benoit's Melt-in-Your-Mouth Salmon

    Benoit’s Melt-in-Your-Mouth Salmon

    Renie read about a restaurant, Benoit, in the New York Times the day before this trip. It received two stars and a comment like, “A bistro that will take you to Paris.” Complete with small tiles for the floor, antique enameled vignettes between the mirrors and light fixtures with glass shades on the wall and those from the ceiling. The New York Times asked, “Are those French accents for real?” Everyone we came in contact with was brought here from France. The silverware was hotel heavy, the linens white and weighty, and the wine list mostly French (we had Chablis). Potato and leek soup, frisée salad, salmon, and warm chewy bread were perfect. We slept soundly!

    Friday, February 5, 2016
    Friday we caught a taxi to the Tenement House Museum for our reserved “Hard Times” tour — two families and their stories. Each had a three room flat that hadn’t been touched since the late 1800s. These flats were purchased in 1988 as is, and have been kept that way. The story of the Italian immigrant family alongside of their neighbors of German-Jewish descent revealed a life that was incredibly hard but devoted to family and making the most of life in their new country, America. The children of the families are still alive and gave testimony of the struggle and joy of being raised in a tenement house.

    After the tour, a trip to Pleats Please was in order. Renie is a model for all their clothes. She and Dani loved meeting and talking about what she would enjoy in the coming months (on sale of course).

    Lentil soup and yummy fresh nutty wheat bread followed at a ‘hole in the wall’ shop. We were two of four customers and it was crowded! We were chilled and the soup was balm for a cold soul.

    Although we took Uber some, we soon learned that New York City is still a taxi town. Taxis are always present and the drivers generally polite. Only negative was that several of them didn’t take MasterCard. After our card was denied again, we were told that MasterCard fees are too high so drivers sometime don’t use them.

    Frank Stella Show at Whitney

    Frank Stella Show at Whitney

    Off we went in a taxi to the Whitney Museum. We loved the Frank Stella show and were smitten with an adorable security guard, Aaron, who has ties to a woman in Dallas, Joanne Costello, who is a Fort Worth Country Day graduate and on the board of the Whitney. The Frank Stella show was amazing! Who knew canvases and art could be so dynamic -— huge enormous blobs of color and dynamic shapes were everywhere. The show is coming to the Modern Museum in Fort Worth in April. We can’t wait!!

    We left the Whitney to walk on the High Line in winter and watch the sun set over the river. The wind was very chilly but we loved seeing the day turn to night as the evening took hold over the pretty colors of the river.

    Perfectly Cooked Pork Chop at Supper

    Perfectly Cooked Pork Chop at Supper

    Back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner with Julie and Russell Cartwright. Julie was a classmate of Stephanie’s at Randolph College (formerly Randolph-Macon Woman’s College). Fabulous smells in this small, noisy, crazy restaurant named Supper. Supper, was as exciting as the many hugs, hilarious stories, smiles, laughter, toasts, and memories that filled the evening. We had delicious wine and Italian food overshadowed by fabulous friendships over lots of years. It was a wild, fun, very late evening!

    Saturday, February 6, 2016

    9/11 Museum

    9/11 Museum

    Saturday we started out at the 9/11 Museum tour at noon. Make reservations. Super-duper audio-enhanced two-ear device allowed us to listen and focus on the painful day of 9/11. We spent three hours and needed every minute of it. Only left because we were exhausted and hungry. Got in a taxi at 3 pm with a pretzel, coke, and water —- guess it’s a New York City lunch.

    Took a cab to the Frick museum. The elegance and beauty of the building was comforting as we walked into the home of wealthy people graciously conceived as a repository of beautiful art. It was like walking through history. Portraits of people painted by top artists of that day made for a memorable trip to learn about that era of history.

    We meandered down 5th Avenue and went to the Neue Museum, the home of a large sumptuously beautiful painting, The Woman in Gold, by Gustave Klimt. We were stunned by its beauty and radiance. Its history is a fabulous story of a moment in time when an important piece of art would shape future generations. This painting had been stolen by the Nazis, recovered by Austria, and claimed as Austrian. After a Supreme Court decision, the painting was given to the rightful heirs, and in turn given to the Neue museum for the public to enjoy.

    Renie and Lynn

    Renie and Lynn

    Dinner at Lynn Fredericks was a joy. Lynn and Renie adore each other and there is a love of everything food. Lynn’s company, Family Cook Productions, has made a huge impact on families cooking and eating together. New York Times recognized this and did a terrific article about Lynn and in January. Robyn DeLuca, Renie’s chef friend from Boston and roommate on a trip to India drove down and joined us for the evening. Robyn shared stories of her current culinary endeavors for a company that develops tools for the kitchen. Lynn served us cheese with truffle and tomato jam and hummus with every color of carrot accompanied with delicious wine. She told us stories of living in many places over many years and the
    impact different cultures make on the world we live in today. Her insight and observations over a lifetime of global exposure give her a unique clip of our life today and the choices we have in the coming months to elect leaders. Her son, Stephan, joined us and allowed us the opportunity to have 24-year-old energy into the room. He is a charming, smart, young man who specializes in private physical training. He is sincere and kind (and very good looking). We loved his company!

    Throughout a delicious brisket dinner, the discussions of life, the future of nutrition as it can overlay decisions of health care providers and the decisions that are made at the bedside given the impact of the Affordable Care Act. Lynn says she can help get the patients healthy. Pursuing this with a
    science-based approach and the fact that the hospital gets paid more if the patient’s outcome is good is motivating.

    Sunday, February 7, 2016
    Sunday was another beautiful day. Stephanie walked/ran in Central Park and the city for about two hours every morning after she kindly brought Renie coffee. So luxurious! We took gorgeous photos of the city from our 40th floor room. The light was perfect!

    Grand Central Station

    Grand Central Station

    Off to Grand Central Station for our 12:30 pm tour. Our guide, Barbara, was full of enthusiasm and abundant knowledge of how the station had fallen into disrepair into the late 80s. An insurance company guy took 15 years to raise money to renovate the station. Barbara told us many stories of the air rights and the importance of keeping them. Vendors were put in the station which helped traffic. Jacqueline Kennedy called the renovation committee and offered to help save the station. There is a bronze plaque describing what she did. Grand Central is a terminal station meaning trains only originate and end there. There is no commuting.

    Went to see Broadway’s Noises Off, but we eventually decided to leave because it was our last day together and we had not gone to the Metropolitan. We had two hours before it closed and were shocked at the crowds because it was Superbowl Sunday. We zeroed in on European paintings of the 19th Century, Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Van Gogh, Rousseau, Matisse, etc., contrasted with American 19th and 20th Century art and artists, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, and Childe Hassam.

    Renie went to an evening opening in the hotel of VINO 2016 sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission while Stephanie packed. At the tailgate party, the main change was tasting and spitting wine instead of drinking a glass (although some of both was appropriate). The highlight was tasting both quality and quantity.

    Afterwards Stephanie and I spent another ‘evening in Paris’ by revisiting Beniot restaurant. So delicious, easy to get to, and fabulous atmosphere. Foie de Veal (sautéed liver) and again over-the-moon succulent salmon. We ended the night with yummy scoops of pistachio and caramel ice cream while finishing our Chablis.

    A truly glorious trip! Such a pleasure to share with a daughter. We walked arm-in-arm at a fairly fast pace, and never even had a close call at falling. Since Renie’s neck is still broken, being careful is paramount. Maybe it was all the smiling and laughing that made every day brighter and more fun than the last. We are blessed!!!

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