Top Chefs @ The Beacon

This is seriously the do-not-miss foodie benefit of the year!

Houston's top chefs will be serving up their culinary creations to raise money for the Koonce family injured during Hurricane Ike in the Brennan's fire.

(copied from the brennan's website)

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23rd 4:30 ~ 7:30

For a suggested donation of $100 per person (pay at the door) , you can enjoy tastes from Houston’s top chefs and wines from the best wineries.

Enjoy Tastes from:

Bagher: 360;
Jeff Boudreaux: Brasserie Max & Julie;
Brian Caswell: Reef;
James Cole: Fleming's;
Mark Cox: Mark’s;
Levi Goode: Goode Company Seafood;
Jeffrey Everts: Olivette @ Houstonian;
Mark Holley: Pesce;
Jonathan Jones: Beavers;
David Lunas: Shade;
Hugo Ortega: Hugo’s;
Wes Morton: 17 @ the Alden;
Ryan Pera: The Grove;
Monica Pope: Tafia;
Chris Shepherd: Catalan

Please come and show your support at a special benefit on Thursday, October 23, at The Beacon, located at 1212 Prairie Street, from 4:30-7:30.

Free Parking is available on-site at 515 San Jacinto Street.

The Beacon is a program of Cathedral Health & Outreach Ministries (CHOM). The mission of CHOM is to respect the human dignity of the poor and improve their lives. CHOM has generously opened the doors of The Beacon to Brennan’s to hold a fundraiser for the Koonce family. The proceeds of this event will go to the Koonce family and a small donation will be made to CHOM in support of its programs.

For more information: email: Kathryne@BrennansHouston.com


beaver's and an OITF glimpse

2310 decatur st. near washington ave

the chowhounds and i made it over to beaver's for lunch a couple weeks ago to say hi to newly posted chef jonathan jones (aka "JJ"). after some positive reports, we were anxious to see for ourselves what kind of progress he was making with improvements to the food. luckily for us we picked a wonderful day to come in. JJ had a bunch of surprises in store for the table.

i had not planned on blogging about the experience b/c really, i just couldn't bring myself to write another lukewarm review about beaver's - a place i wanted to love so much but couldn't. besides, in all fairness JJ hadn't been there very long enough, the menu was still the same, and i knew the camera in my purse had nearly dead batteries anyway. but that was before i knew what was coming to our table.

corn puppies. a definite improvement over the first time i had them almost a year ago. more pronounced beer flavor. i still find the remoulade dipping sauce a strange combination. fried pickles. this is something i would never order on my own. delish! i went back for another half pickle. buffaloaf sandwich. moist, tangy sauce, lots of mushrooms which i love. the bread is still the same and slightly sweet. i can't say i ever liked the sweet bread. others at my table enjoyed the new and improved beaver burger, the gyro wrap, chicken tacos (huge!), and the pulled pork and chopped brisket sandwiches. we all nodded in approval. we liked the changes we were seeing.

my only disappointment was seeing the sad little iceberg lettuce side salad arrive at the table. it came with my buffaloaf sandwich. seriously, it's a waste of lettuce with no tomato or other vegetable to be found in the small bowl. the old vinaigrette was tasteless, the new one is too sweet. some good ole non-fancy ranch on it would have pleased me more.

then we were told JJ was sending out a few items for us. keep in mind we had just eaten a full lunch. first out, a brunch item he was working on. think 2 thick slices of texas toast topped with a thick bisque-like sauce (tomato cream based?) with small bits of shrimp and 2 fried eggs on top. YUMMMMM. anything involving cream and fried eggs is a guaranteed winner in my book.

then a huge basket of some of the most tender pork ribs i've ever had. OMG. and warm bbq sauce came on the side which i definitely appreciated. everyone loved the sauce and slathered it generously all over their ribs. it wasn't overly vinegary and it wasn't overly sweet. it had a great kick. the table was quiet. we were all knawing on our ribs which is a good sign. our group today was a loud one.

then we got a platter of items JJ was preparing for the outstanding in the field dinner being held the next day. we knew exactly what dinner he was talking about. it had sold out well before summer. there were huge grins on our faces and maybe even a bit of anticipatory drool.

head cheese made with pig trotters, spine, knuckles, and various other head and body parts. it was the most appetizing head cheese (or what i like to call meat jello) i've ever seen or eaten. also on the plate were crostini sticks fried in pig fat neatly stacked on top of each other.

and still warm pork cracklings! pork valhalla. my tastebuds sung. the pork fat crostini were over the top. so yeah, i busted out my camera. i could no longer resist the urge to document this outstanding and outrageous meal. thankfully i got in a few photos before my batteries died again.

JJ sat down with us and showed us a photo of the whole pig that he had on his cell phone. his inspiration for the head cheese was a couple fergus henderson recipes. he said that he used 95% of that pig. talk about nose-to-tail eating. see photos from the OITF dinner on alison cook and cleverley's blogs. this is something i hope to participate in next year.

boy are we glad JJ is working inside the loop again. if you haven't yet, it's definitely time to go back to beaver's and give it another go.


brazilian breakfast? not quite

2604 dunlavy st @ westheimer

with the plethora of wonderful restaurants in houston, why is there such a dearth of good breakfast joints? HUH? buffalo grille is so overrated. west gray cafe and bibas are best enjoyed after 2 am BEFORE i'm going to bed IMO. baby barnaby's? yawn. the breakfast klub is great but who can eat a greasy plate of food that really weighs you down for the rest of the day more than every once in awhile? okay enough bashing for now. what about really creative breakfast options beyond what you can easily whip up at home?

for this, one of my favorite breakfasts in houston is at cafe brasil and with their newly expanded kitchen comes a newly expanded menu. even more recently, the dining room expanded too by knocking out walls that previously housed a smaller kitchen and bathrooms. on a hot summer day, great! but seriously, with gorgeous weather like this, head straight back to the large garden courtyard that connects the cafe, domy books, and raye boutique, all very hip and lovely, and just-a-tad expensive. several large tables are available for big groups. soothing background music plays. it's a well designed space, minimal, and has a bohemian serenity about it.

for brunch on this particular occasion, i ordered the breakfast salad which is the tastiest AND healthiest breakfast dish i can think of. actually, i can't bring myself to order anything else but the breakfast salad - an off-menu special which they always seem to have when i'm there - ever since i discovered it.

who concocted this dish? it has the word "female" written all over it. i dunno, but it's both ballsy and genius!

the breakfast salad is composed of spring mix, sauteed egg whites and mushrooms, quinoa, and a cactus pear vinaigrette. it's warm and feels nice getting both protein and ruffage in the morning. the salad is also huge and makes a filling meal. btw, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a complete protein source: 12-18% protein and contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans. it's also a good source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. it's an extremely versatile food. i really don't have enough good stuff to say about it.

onto my friends' plates...

this is brasil's cilantro, poblano, and cheddar scone. it is buttery, cheese-y, and rich. just look at it! brasil knows scones.

breakfast quesadillas. i think i first saw breakfast quesadillas on farrago's menu, but they are better here. scrambled eggs, chunks of smokey bacon, and white cheese are layered between wheat tortillas. fresh guac, tomatoes and salsa verde for dipping.

migas are a perfect hangover cure. although i didn't taste them, they look fabulous.

a side of roasted potatoes. quite oversalted on this particular day.

as popular as this place is in montrose, it's very interesting how it doesn't have a website. there are daily breakfast specials on the chalk board when you walk in and stand in line to place your order.

cafe brasil. not brazilian at all really (named for the brazilian art gallery that previously reside there). you'll find plenty of taste, but unfortunately no wi-fi here. you'll also find surly baristas and long lines to order food, but plenty of good salads. i've realized that you can never go wrong ordering a salad here. even a breakfast salad.


flavor trippin news

so a few tidbits of news re: the flavor tripping parties coming up next month:

the houston chowhounds will be hosting a second party at the saint arnold brewery on sun, 11/23 from 5-7 pm. the sunday date was chosen with restaurant and industry folks in mind and this event will be more geared towards foodies. we plan on having some funky food items that the general population wouldn't even be able to recognize like injera, natto, bitter melon, and sichuan peppercorns.

btw, the first event is already 75% sold out so if this is your date of choice and you don't have your ticket yet, better click here.

if you already purchased tickets for the first event and would like to transfer them to the second one, please email berryfairyhouston@gmail.com.

i'm also pleased to announce our two event sponsors: houston press and the cleverley show. look for our ads in upcoming issues of the houston press. tune into cleverley's radio show on saturdays at noon on CNN 650 radio news to listen for our radio ads.

lastly, if you don't have a copy of the fearless critic houston restaurant guide or their latest book the wine trials: 100 everyday wines under $15 that beat $50 to $150 wines in brown-bag blind tastings, you can pick up a copy (or two - think: awesome christmas prezzies) at both events. two houston chowhounds wrote many of the houston restaurant reviews and it is seriously the most entertaining and wonderfully irreverant reviews you'll ever read. best of all, $3 from the sale of each book will be donated to the koonce benefit fund. bring cash b/c it smells better than plastic and we'll have miracle berry tablets for sale there too!

[edited on 10/14: the fearless critic has joined as an event sponsor and will be donating $8 from every $18 copy of the houston restaurant guide and $6 from every $15 copy of "the wine trials" sold during the both events to the koonce fund]
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