H-E-B Creekside in The Woodlands got everyone in the mood for Mardi Gras last Friday with a 6-course dinner and wine pairing called "A Night in the Bayou." If you shop at H-E-B then you are familiar with the Cooking Connection set up between the bakery and the meat department. Featured products are used to demonstrate easy meal ideas and samples as well as recipe cards are passed out to interested shoppers. Creekside H-E-B takes its demonstration to a whole new level thanks to Cooking Connection Manager Dominic Dawkins.
Each month, Dawkins designs a five course themed menu with complimentary wine samples. Dinners are typically $25 and can accommodate 16 to 24 guests. The really cool thing about these dinners is that products to make them are all found at H-E-B. Not only do you get a delicious meal, but you come home with new ideas for dinner and wines to pair with them. The wines are very reasonable and ranged in price from $10 - $20.
The evening started out with Oysters Rockefeller paired with Passimento Romeo & Juiet Prosecco, Itlaly. I love drinking sparkling wine with oysters. This light bodied wine had just enough acidity to balance the salinity of the dish. Next up was Shrimp & Grits paired with Fall Creek Headwaters Chenin Blanc, Texas. The shrimp was tossed with Bayou Brothers BBQ Shrimp Mix. The third dish was Tilapia Creole served over wilted kale and paired with Sacha Lichine Rose, France. The fish had a perfectly seared blackened crust and the kale was lightly sauteed with HEB Relish That Corn.
You can't have a night in the bayou without gumbo. Chicken and sausage gumbo was paired with Bending Branch Red Blend, Texas. Now I'm a traditionalist when it comes to gumbo and I like to make my own roux. For gumbo in a pinch, Cookwell & Co. 2 Step Gumbo Starter made a believer out of me. Just add shredded chicken and sausage to the starter and you have a super easy meal! Next up was Boudin Stuffed Pork Terderloin wrapped in bacon served with okra and tomato Ragu, dirty rice, and sweet pepper confit paired with Conn Creek Herrick Red Blend, California.
The final course was a sinfully delicious dessert. Bananas Foster Bread Pudding topped with Bayou Brothers Bananas Foster Sauce and HEB 1905 Vanilla Ice Cream was paired with 19 Crimes 'The Warden', Australia. My crime for the evening....eating every last crumb.
For more information on H-E-B Creekside Cooking Connection or to get on the email list for monthly dinners email Dominic Dawkins at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week members of the Houston Food Blogger Collective were invited to take a sneak peek at Astros owner Jim Crane's newest Italian eatery, Ossa & Kristalla. The casual sister restaurant to Potente opened to the public this past weekend. Both restaurants are overseen by executive chef Michael Parker and feature modern Italian fare.
Ossa & Kristalla is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu focuses on fresh, local ingredients and large portions that encourage sharing. Bread, pastas and pastries are all made in-house. Lunch includes salads, sandwiches, pasta and wood-fired pizzas.
The rustic dining room at Osso & Kristalla features an open kitchen which allows diners to be part of the action. The restaurant has an extensive, yet reasonably priced wine list as well cocktails. The Quattro Formaggi pizza, Rigatoni and Meatball pasta and Arancini were my favorite dishes of the night.
Our final treat for the evening was a quick look at the upscale Potente. A laid back bar is connected to the elegant dining space. The bar features several signature cocktails and a variety of Campari and Gin based drinks. Open for dinner only, the menu at Potente includes daily seafood selections, pastas and steaks.
It's Valentine's Day and you didn't make plans. What to do now?
Here are some last minute dining options:
Buca di Beppo is offering a special dine in only package for $49.99 which includes a heart-shaped lasagna (serves up to 3), small mixed green or Caesar salad, small garlic bread and three chocolate chip cannolis. Don't feel like dining out? Buca also has two Love packages to go for $49.99 that include a free heart-shaped pizza.
Current located in the Westin Woodlands hotel is offering a 4 Course Prix Fixe dinner for $60.
Beginnings: Butternut Squash Soup, Tomato Soup, or Jumbo Lump Crab Cake
2nd Course: Texas Blue Mousse, Caesar Salad, or Baby Green Salad
Entrees: 8 oz. Filet of Beef, Blackened Red Fish, or Seafood Gnocchi
Dessert Trio of Chocolate Hazelnut Torte, Bread Pudding, and Tiramisu Shooter
Pasta e Pesto has a special Valentine's Day menu which includes Pasta e Fagoli, Pork Loin in a mushroom sauce and a red velvet tiramisu.
Papa John's Pizza
If you're looking to spend a romantic evening at home, Papa John's has a deal for you. A medium one topping thin crust heart-shaped pizza and a brownie is just $15. Or you can get two medium heart-shaped pizzas for $18. Just add wine!
About the Author
I like eating, traveling, and enjoying liquid libations. I'm all about great wines, signature cocktails, and local brews.