Afternoon tea originated in Britain as a way to provide a mini-meal to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner. It typically consists of finger sandwiches, scones and pastries. Houston's hot spots for tea have menus that vary from traditional to Indian and Italian influenced. So whether you want to feel like royalty or are just feeling a little peckish, these five fabulous tea experiences won't disappoint.
Hotel Granduca Houston serves afternoon tea daily from 2 to 4 p.m. in Ristorante Cavour or in nooks throughout the hotel. Granduca adds an Italian flair to the traditional English tea service with three menu levels ranging in price from $52 to $85. Bubbles, scones, pastries and finger sandwiches are included. A special Bunny tea menu is available for children for $23. Reservations are required.
Radio Milano's High Tea is available in the lobby of Hotel Sorella daily from Noon to 4 p.m. Three tiers of canapes and sweets are available with price ranging from $25 to $45. Each menu includes your choice of 12 different French Dammann Freres teas. Specially selected wines and and six botanically inspired craft cocktails can be purchased a la carte. Reservations are required with a minimum 24 hour notice.
Indulge in an afternoon tea like no other at Kiran. A three course service is $40 and comes with gluten-free and vegetarian options. The traditional menu includes Kiran's special Chai blend with samosas, finger sandwiches with Darjeeling, and scones with Earl Grey. A special menu for young adults is available for $20. Tea service is every Friday and Saturday at 2 p.m. Reservations are required.
The St. Regis Houston Hotel offers a tranquil and luxurious tea experience including butler service and a harpist. Guests can choose from over 25 artisan blends from around the world. Afternoon tea includes signature sandwiches, scones, pastries and macarons. The Traditional menu is available for $49 per person or you can upgrade to the Traditional and Beyond which includes Tea Room Bubbles for $59. Children under 12 are $27. Friday - Sunday, 3 to 5 p.m. and Saturday - Sunday 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Reservations required.
Afternoon tea service at Bistro Menil is a relaxing and casual affair available Wednesday to Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. For $45 a person, guests get a glass of bubbly followed by an assortment of sweet and savory bites. Tea options include a selection of black and herbal teas. Advance reservations and a two person minimum is required.
I have been a huge 8th Wonder fan for quite some time, but for some reason I had never actually visited the brewery. Located at 2202 Dallas, 8th Wonder Brewery is open seven days a week. The brewery consists of an indoor taproom and a huge outdoor beer garden and fun zone. Their own food truck, Eatsie Boys is there 7 days a week, but outside food is allowed as well.
Being a UH alum, Cougar Paw is one of my favorite 8th Wonder brews, along with Rocket Fuel. Brewmaster and Co-Founder, Aaron Corsi is not only a fellow UH Cougar, but he currently teaches several courses at the University of Houston on the science of brewing. Now that's a course I wish was offered when I attended!
8th Wonder is only blocks away from Minute Maid Park, the Toyota Center and BBVA Compass Stadium. It's the perfect place to pre-game or hang out and watch sports on TV with some of Houston's best brews on draft. Beers are $5 for one token or $15 for 3 tokens and a souvenir glass.
New Orleans is a city of food, fun and festivities, but let's face it, most people equate the city with drinking. Each year, Bourbon street attracts thousands of revelers that can be seen walking the French Quarter with Hurricanes, Hand Grenades and Huge-A** Beers. Perhaps its because I'm getting old and cranky or that I hate crowds, but when I visit NOLA I prefer to drink like a local. This includes visiting some of their amazing craft breweries.
Courtyard Brewery , 1020 Erato Street
This cozy neighborhood nano-brewery is open seven days a week. They have over 24 beers on tap, half of which are their own and the other half include special craft brews from around the world. My Courtyard favorites were the See You In Mexico American Wheat and the Courtyard Peach Double IPA. Courtyard is a cool place to hang out, drink some great beer and peruse the local art hanging on the wall. FYI, parking is very limited.
NOLA Brewing Co., 3001 Tchoupitoulas
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., this tap room has a fantastic selection of sours, ales, porters and stouts. Beers are available in 12-oz. and 16-oz. pours or as a flight of four. I was in a dark beer mood on the day of my visit, so I made sure to include the Irish Channel Stout and Prytania Porter in my flight. The best part about NOLA brewing is the awesome rooftop patio, oh and McClure's BBQ located conveniently inside the tap room.
Port Orleans Brewing Co., 4124 Tchoupitoulas
Open everyday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (except Tuesday), this is my favorite brewery in New Orleans. The tap room is open and airy with lots of seating. You can't go wrong with any of their beers, but the most notable for me are the Riverfront Lager, Storyville IPA, Slack Water Brown Ale, and the unique RoyalTea Pale Ale that's infused with Earl Grey tea. Stokehold Restaurant located inside the tap room cleverly pairs culinary delights with beers on tap. You can dine on roasted bone marrow, grilled shishito peppers and Hungarian Goulash while drinking some of the best beer in NOLA.
Urban South Brewery, 1645 Tchoupitoulas
Laid-back is an good way to describe the ambience at Urban South. The industrial warehouse tap room is open daily (hours vary) and is kid and pet-friendly. Games, picnic tables and pop up seafood boils encourage beer lovers to just hang out. Beers here are light and hoppy with bursts of fruit infused flavors like the Grapefruit Holy Roller IPA. Their new Architecture Series focuses on bolder flavors with a slightly higher ABV. One must try is the seasonal Vietnamese Stout, Ca Phe.
I love cooking, but I absolutely hate grocery shopping. A few times a month I order from a home delivery service just for the convenience. I typically run out of dinner ideas and I love that everything you need comes ready to cook. One day, while at HEB, I noticed their new Simple Meals. They come in a variety of flavors and a meal for two is about $14
Pros: The meal kit comes with everything you need to prepare a quick meal minus a few pantry staples like oil and seasonings. The recipe card is very easy to follow with pictures for each step. Pretty fool proof. The entire process takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish.
Cons: The sauce comes ready to serve which means you can't control the amount of salt or sugar in it, plus it most likely has some preservatives. The rice is pre-cooked as well.
Overall, the taste of the dish was good and it's a great option when you're in a rush. Kits come in several flavors with the option of 2 or 4 servings.
The Italy America Chamber of Commerce will host its First Annual Pizza Contest on November 13th from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The event will take place at the Culinary Institute Le Notre. Seven teams will compete for "Best Pizza of the Night" as voted on by attendees. Participants include Amalfi Ristorante, 006 Pizza, Brio Tuscan Grille, Fork Italian Gourmet Catering, Sud Italia, Mascalzone and Culinary Institute Le Notre. There will be unlimited samples of pizza and drinks will be provided by Prosecco Superiore.
Pizza & Prosecco is part of the "True Italian Taste" campaign to enhance the awareness of authentic Italian products in the USA, Canada and Mexico. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online by clicking here. Tickets will $25 at the door. A portion of the proceeds will be donated in support of Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
Perry's Steakhouse is known for exceptional service and quality, so it stands to reason that only the highest caliber of wine can bear the Perry's label. This month, Perry's unveiled their 10th anniversary Private Label wine in a newly designed etched bottle. At a private "First Pour" event, Corporate Sommelier Susi Zivanovic explained to guests the type of wine Perry's wanted for their private label. According to Zivanovic, they wanted a "Burgundy-style Chardonnay and a Bordeaux-style Cabernet."
Zivanovic has been involved with the wine making process since its inception ten years ago. The grapes are hand-sourced from the Napa/Sonoma region and hand-harvested at night. Perry's works with Amici Cellars to create their own boutique winery where Zivanovic helps oversee the process from start to finish. The 2016 Cabernet contains Mountain and Valley fruit to give it a lush fruit taste with great structure and elegance. The 2015 Chardonnay is from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast producing a wine that has a dense fruit taste with just the right amount of acidity.
In addition to tasting the new vintages, guest were treated to a four-course pairing designed to showcase the flavor profiles of each wine. The Chardonnay was paired with bacon wrapped scallops and lobster tempura. The light touch of oak gave it the perfect amount of butteriness to compliment the scallops, but the winner for me was the tempura lobster with miso butter. The Cabernet was paired with a New York Strip and a Chocolate Crunch dessert to showcase its versatility. Steak and a smooth Cabernet are always a match made in heaven, but the decadent Chocolate Crunch stole the show.
For the 10th anniversary, a new label isn't the only change made by Perry's. They also introduced new large format bottles. The Cabernet is available in a 3L, 6L, and Magnum and the Chardonnay comes in a 3L, 5L, and Magnum. Quantities are limited, so visit a Perry's near you soon to get a taste of these delicious new releases.
By the glass:
Social Hour $16 Social Hour $13
Regular $20 Regular $15
By the bottle:
750 ml - $80 750 ml - $60
1.5 L - $155 1.5 L - $115
3 L - $449 3 L - $389
6 L - $999 5 L - $849
Kick up your Halloween party or Dia de los Muertos celebration with these bewitching brews. Each one has a unique label and taste that's sure to please any beer-loving ghouls and goblins.
1. Dragon's Milk (11% ABV) - New Holland Brewing
This Boubon barrel-aged stout will be the hit of any party. Slightly malty with hints of vanilla. You might want to save it all for yourself.
2. Dead Ringer (6% ABV) - Ballast Point Brewing
This Oktoberfest Marzen has an abundance of toasted malt and a dark reddish color. The aroma is loaded with hints caramel and the taste is quite smooth.
3. #9 (5.1% ABV) - Magic Hat Brewing
This not quite pale ale is sorta dry, sorta crisp, but definitely refreshing. Great gateway beer for the hop novice.
4. El Gose (4.5% ABV) - Avery Brewing
This German-style sour ale has a nice burst of lime and sea salt. Dress it up a bit by pouring into a chili-lime rimmed glass.
5. Santo (4.7% ABV) - Saint Arnold Brewing
This Kolsh-style beer has the addition of black malt to give dark color and great taste. It also has a cool calavera on the label.
6. Purple Haze (4.2% ABV) - Abita Brewing
This lager is brewed with raspberries which produces a subtle and fruity beer. It's the perfect party beer that even non-beer drinkers will enjoy.
7. Devil's Backbone (8.10% ABV) - Real Ale Brewing
This Belgian-style tripel may be pale in color, but it packs a punch in taste. Spicy hops and Belgian yeast give it a very unique taste and aroma.
Looking for some ghoulishly good wines for Halloween? Here's a collection of some tasty and affordable wines that are worth getting your claws on. Why should the kiddos have all the fun?
Casillero del Diablo (The Devil's Cellar) has long been known as the official wine of Halloween. This Cabernet has a deep, intense ruby red color and flavors of cherries, plums, and black currants. It pairs nicely with a blood-red steak of course. Zombie Zin is deep purple in color with bursts of berries and just a touch of black pepper on the finish. Pairing suggestions include bloody BBQ and sinister soups.
19 Crimes The Banished is the darkest wine I have ever seen. This wine boasts flavors of chocolate and vanilla with forest fruits on the finish. Be sure to download the 19 Crimes app and watch the label come to life! Stella Rosa Black is out just in time to celebrate Stellaween. This fun and flirty wine will definitely get the party started. Plus, its slight effervescence makes it a great addition to a big bowl of Sangria.
Apothic Inferno will add a splash of heat to any Halloween party. This limited release wine is aged 60 days in whiskey barrels giving it a unique taste that is most definitely a treat and not a trick. For white wine drinking ghouls and goblins, you can't go wrong with Rest In Peace Pinot Grigio.
No matter how you choose to spend the witching hour, be sure to drink responsibly. No hexing while driving, and hire a driver for your hearse if you've had one too many potions.
Drink Pink this October for Breast Cancer Awareness.
Radio Milano will be hosting a special Drink Pink Soiree luncheon on October 21 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Chefs Adrian and Ana Amaya will prepare five courses of small bites to go with Rose wines from around the world. Sommelier Joshua Theis will be on hand to guide guest through the tasting. The cost is $30 plus tax and gratuity and 100% of the profits will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Space is limited. RSVP with Radio Milano at (713) 827-3545.
Throughout the month of October, Le Colonial will be donating 50% of proceeds from the sale of their signature Saigon 75 cocktail ($12) to the Pink Door. The Saigon 75 is a combination of Blanc de Blanc Champagne, London No. 1 Blue Gin, Violet Extract, Hibiscus and Rose Extract, and Mint.
During the entire month of October, all Rose wines at Royal Sonesta Houston are just $7 a glass. For every glass purchased, $1 will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Hotel Sorella in CITYCENTRE will be offering a special Pink Lady cocktail for just $10.
The Fourth Annual Culinary Stars (rescheduled due to Hurricane Harvey), will take place on October 26th at the Houston Chronicle Event Center. The gourmet food and wine event will feature over 30 restaurants including several of Alison Cooks' 2017 Top 100 list. The event will benefit those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and organizations working to help displaced residents and pets, including: Second Servings, The Ballard House and Golden Beginnings.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Ritual and talk with Black Hill Ranch founder, Felix Florez. A Jack-of-all-trades, Florez has been a rancher, butcher, chef and even a sommelier. No stranger to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Florez lost 108 pigs during the flood at his ranch in Katy - nearly a whole generation of babies, along with a few breeders.
For the Culinary Stars event, Florez will be serving what he calls "The Whole Barn". Simply put, the dish represents all the animals raised on a farm. His demonstration first started with the proper trimming of a beef tenderloin. The loin was then stuffed with a lamb tenderloin rolled in pork belly and then wrapped with caul fat. In what can only described as "meat magic", Florez uses skill, molecular gastronomy and a generous sprinkling of transglutaminase to help all the meat bond together.
After being sous vide for 9 hours, the meat will be seasoned and grilled. The finished product will be served at Culinary Stars with cheddar oatmeal, collard greens and a bone marrow Hollandaise sauce to respresent "The Whole Barn".
Several Houston-area bloggers got the opportunity last week to visit with participating chefs and restaurants to get the scoop on some of the signature dishes being presented at this gourmet food tasting event. Gristle & Gossip chatted with Chef Yamila Castre of Latin Bites to learn about the classic Peruvian dish - Causas. Hangry Woman went to Xochi for a tamale making class with James Beard Award winner Chef Jose Ortega. Hot In Houston Now got some Southern inspiration from Harold in the Heights Executive Chef Antoine Ware.
VIP tickets are sold out, but general admission tickets are still available for $100. Don't miss this opportunity to taste over 30 of the best bites in Houston. Tickets can be purchased at tickets.foodandvinetime.com
Houston Chronicle Culinary Stars
4747 Southwest Freeway, Houston, TX 77027
October 26, 2017
VIP 5:30 to 9 p.m.
General Admission 6:30 to 9 p.m.
About the Author
I like eating, traveling, and enjoying liquid libations. I'm all about great wines, signature cocktails, and local brews.