Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dallas/Fort Worth, Part II: Fuzzy's, Gloria's and Lone Star Bakery

Read Part I of my Dallas/Fort Worth Post here

Our Sunday in Fort Worth started with some final packing at Kerry's apartment followed by lunch at Fuzzy's.

What: Fuzzy’s Taco Shop
Where: 2917 West Berry Street, Fort Worth, TX
Honeys Heart: Queso and chips 

Fuzzy’s is my Uncle Steve’s favorite restaurant in Fort Worth. It’s a local chain with locations throughout Texas and in neighboring states. They serve great, quick tex-mex with a focus on tacos.

Now here’s a sad story, folks. I had a bit of the flu the night before, so in addition to not being able to go out to the bars with my cousins on Saturday night, I also had to take it easy with the food on Sunday. I know. It was the worst. I’m still mad about it. But anyway, I had to order with my stomach in mind, which is why I went with the ground beef tacos.

You know I would have rather had something else… but I had to go neutral. And the ground beef tacos were pretty good. Love that Fuzzy’s makes their tacos special by topping them with feta and garlic sauce in addition to the usual suspects. 

But what I liked best (despite the fact that I limited myself to four or five chips for my stomach’s sake) was Fuzzy’s queso with chips. This queso was unusual for me because it’s made with white cheddar. Yum! Sorry, didn't get a pic.

Other choices included Fuzzy’s grilled sandwich with fried potatoes (ordered by Justin) and the nachos (Kerry’s favorite).

After lunch, we spent the afternoon at Fort Worth Zoo.

Fort Worth Zoo has been frequently recognized as one of the nation's best small zoos. We all thought the exhibits were very well done and, at least when we visited, the place was immaculate. Definitely a must-see if you're in the area.

And for dinner that night: Gloria’s!

What: Gloria’s
Where: 2600 W Seventh St. # 175, Fort Worth, TX
Honeys Heart: Pupusas

Gloria’s is my aunt’s favorite restaurant. They serve Salvadorian food as well as Mexican and Tex-Mex food and, like Fuzzy's, are also a local chain. 

I first introduced my parents to pupusas, yucca and fried plantains in DC, and since my mom loved all three, I wasn’t surprised that she decided to go for Gloria’s  Sampler Platter which features all of the above plus beans, black rice, and a tamale. I chose the same.

My mom and I both loved the pupusas. They were filled with cheese and pork and were just crispy on the outside (the ideal since so one likes a soggy pupusa). The yucca and plaintains were good as well. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed in the tamale. These tamales were wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn husks so they didn’t have as much of that corn-y flavor (which I love) as other tamales. Oh well.

Kerry ordered Churrasco Tipico, a plate with grilled churrasco sirloin steak with chimichurri sauce, Argentinean sausage, plantains, black beans and rice.

My aunt ordered Pechuga de Pollomarinated, grilled chicken breast.

And Gilma, Kerry's future mother-in-law ordered Chicken Flautas. Yum!

On Monday, before Kerry and my aunt dropped us off at the airport, we stopped by Lone Star bakery for some desserts because really, you can’t travel with my mom and NOT get something sweet.

What: Texas Star Bakery
Where: 499 West Harwood Road, Hurst, TX
Honeys Heart: Pumpkin Spice Cupcake

Texas Star Bakery is your classic old school bakery. None of the walls are painted pink, no one’s wearing a cute little apron, and for sure, no one’s been on Cupcake Wars.

But in my mind, that’s fine as long as the pastries are good.

My mom, sister and aunt picked out a few cupcakes while I went with a gingerbread cookie (they're my favorite) and Kerry chose a frosting and chocolate chip cookie sandwich.

You know Mrs. Field’s? They serve these little chocolate cookie cups with frosting on the top. I was obsessed with them when I was younger. Like, I refused to leave the mall without a little bag of five of them (because you had to order in increments of five, duh.) Anyway, Kerry’s cookie sandwich brought back delicious memories of those little guys. My gingerbread cookie was good too.

But the clear favorite was the pumpkin-spice cupcake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. The cake was very moist and the frosting not-too-sweet. Good choice, Mom!

And then it was off to the airport! Thanks for a great weekend Kerry and Auntie Kathy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dallas/Fort Worth, TX: North Main BBQ and The Stockyards

Last Saturday, my cousin Kerry graduated from TCU (congrats, cuz!), so my mom, sister and I flew out to Dallas/Fort Worth to help celebrate.

Me, Sister and Kerry
You’ll remember that I gained like 10 pounds during my trip to Austin, TX because the food was so good, but I wasn’t sure if I could expect the same culinary prowess in Fort Worth.

While Dallas/Fort Worth has about every chain restaurant you can think of (Joe's Crab Shack, Macaroni Grill, Chili's, even In-n-Out!), my cousin managed to find quite a few tasty non-chains that she shared with us.

First up: North Main BBQ for Kerry’s graduation dinner!

What: North Main BBQ
Where: 406 N Main St, Euless
Honey’s Heart: Pork ribs

My aunt Kathy first heard of North Main BBQ on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, so she recommended it to Kerry and I’m glad Kerry was brave enough to try it. I mean, this is the kind of place you would never go into unless someone told you it was good. It’s kind of a dive. And by kind of, I mean it’s exactly that. Big time.

At North Main BBQ, you can order a sandwich (get a black plate) or you can do it right and eat from the buffet (get a white place).

The buffet is a meat-lovers paradise. Pork ribs, pulled pork, chicken, sausage, sliced brisket and chopped brisket.

The ribs were definitely my favorite but the pulled pork and chopped brisket were excellent as well. Flavorful and smoky and barely in need of any bbq sauce. Yum!

The buffet also features baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw and white bread by the slice.

The baked beans were more like chili beans than the sweet baked beans my mom and I loved in Kansas City, but good nonetheless and my sister, who is practically vegetarian, liked the potato salad and corn slaw.

That’s the thing though. Coleslaw is about as close as you’re going to get to fresh veggies or fruit at North Main. There is none of that there. Not even a measly iceburg lettuce salad. Which is fine, of course, but just good to know in advance.

We finished up our BBQ meal with some graduation cake!

That night, we headed to The Stockyards, Fort Worth's main tourist attraction.

The Stockyards have a bunch of restaurants and bars, including Billy Bob's, the world's largest honky tonk. 

This is just a photo of the dance floor. Billy Bob's also has an arcade, a stage, live bull riding, and 20 bar stations. It has a capacity of 6,000. That's one big honky tonk. 

 Apparently you can also buy beers to go at The Stockyards. 

This is very strange to me. It also means that The Stockyards turns into Fort Worth's version of the Las Vegas strip on the weekends.

There's also a bar where you can sit on saddles while you get wasted on $13 margaritas. 

I mean, that's not what we did. But you could... 

Stay tuned for Part II featuring tacos from Fuzzy's, the fabulous Fort Worth Zoo and Salvadoran food from Gloria's!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

DIY Happy Hour: Easy Moscow Mules

On Tuesday, Lauren and I hosted a GINGERbread Holiday Party.

What is a GINGERbread Holiday Party?

Well, it's a holiday party where you eat Thai Ginger chicken and gingersnap cupcakes, and decorate gingerbread cookies, and play Guess the Ginger Celebrity, and drink gingery cocktails, and (ideally) listen to Reba McEntire's Christmas album. Obvs.

You can read all about the party on Lauren's blog here.

I was in charge of cocktails, so I decided to make one of my favorites: Moscow Mules. Usually you make them with lime juice and simple syrup, but I ended up using organic limeade instead and it worked just fine- and made these drinks that much more of breeze to make.

Easy Moscow Mules: 

- 1 oz Vodka
- 1 oz Limeade
- Ginger Beer
- Lime Wedge
- Ice


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Portland Restaurant: Portland Seafood Company

Earlier this month, Kel was contacted by the folks at Portland Seafood Company about coming in for a special media preview of their menu. She couldn't make it, so I went instead. Lucky me! Portland Seafood Company prepared quite the feast for us AND gave me to opportunity to hob nob with some Real Life Print Media Food Writers (my idols!). And by hob nob, I mean sit quietly while trying to absorb all their food knowledge. Anyway...

What: Portland Seafood Company
Where: 9722 SE Washington Street, Mall 205
Honeys Heart: Whole Rock Fish

My visit started off with a tour of the restaurant. Portland Seafood Company (which from now on will be referred to as PSC because typing is annoying) is located in the building that formerly housed Newport Seafood Grill.

The decor is nautical but in a completely non-cheesy way. Casual elegance, you might say.

Love their lighting. 

Here's our table at the bar. These communal tables will be great for the afterwork crowd.

But enough about that. On to the good stuff: the food!

Chef Brian Poor is the Culinary Director over at Portland City Grill as well as at PSC and he came out to tell us all about the restaurant's "happy fish" philosophy. PSC only uses sustainable, high-quality seafood that are rated as a "Best Choice" or better by the Seafood Watch Program at Monterey Bay Aquarium. PSC also encourages diners to ask where their meal came from. Whether you're dining on Penn Cove oysters or Atlantic Quahog clams, they're happy to share specifics.

Ok, so we know it's sustainable and the fish are "happy", but how do they taste?

Chef Brian also explained PSC's culinary goal: to serve simply-prepared, big-flavored seafood dishes. And on that, I think PSC most definitely delivered.

Looking at my notes (professional status!), I think we probably sampled around 20 dishes that night. Here are the dishes I took notes on and/or photographed in order of preference. Get ready to drool a little. And then feel bad for my waistline because yes, I did eat ALL that fried seafood. And some of Kelly's leftover mac & cheese later that night. And then I didn't run the next morning. Cuz I never do. Oops.

Check out this baby. That's a whole Fried Rockfish, fried crispy and served with warm tortillas, avocado, red onion, and red jalapenos and topped with a spicy jalapeƱo-ranch sauce. It's pretty much DIY fish tacos and since I found this to be the most flavorful of the fried fish I tried that night, it gets the top spot on my list. Grab some coworkers, some local beers and this guy and you're good to go.

These are Steamed Manila Clams ($11.99) with basil, garlic, white wine and thyme, served with sourdough bread from Portland French Bakery. So simple, so delicious. And that bread dipped in the leftover sauce. My god.

This was meant to be a photo of The World's Best Fried Clam Strips ($7.99) but I think it's actually a Spicy Popcorn Shrimp Bucket ($8.99). Anyway, a big deal was made about the clam strips and for good reason. They were quite tasty. Can't comment on the "World's Best" part though cuz it's the first time I had them. But Chef Brian did say: "I'm old, I've eaten a lot. These are the best." Okay then.

Last year, Erica made oyster stuffing for Thanksgiving and it was so repellent that I vowed never to eat oysters again. But these Oven Roasted Freshly Shucked Pacific Oysters ($13.99) had bacon and bell peppers and parmesan cheese and butter baked into them sooo... I ate three of them. And they were awesome.


When this Shrimp Po'Boy ($8.99) (served as sliders for us) came out, I was reaching my food limit. So full. But then the shrimp was so nice and crispy and Chef Brian's "mom's slaw" was super flavorful so I ate a whole slider. But no Old Bay-seasoned fries. Even though they looked really good.


As you can see, by the time I got to the Fish & Chips ($7.99-$16.99), my food coma was such that I did not even care if my photos were fuzzy. So keep that in mind when I tell you that even though I really, really wanted to like PSC's fish & chips, I didn't. I don't even know why. Probably don't listen to me and order them anyway. Everything else was delicious, why wouldn't these be?

Here are Steamed Peel & Eat Gulf Shrimp ($11.99) with butter, garlic and parsley. And bread. The Real Life Print Media Food Writer next to me commented that she was surprised at PSC's choice to leave the legs on the shrimp. Having not often encountered peel & eat shrimp with legs, I was surprised as well.

Crab Bucket ($24.99). Sufficiently crab-buckety, gross andouille sausage and all. Sorry, not a fan of andouille.

NW Dungess Crab Cocktail ($9.99). Sadly, don't remember trying this.Was probably distracted by something fried.

Oh, wait! We should also talk about drinks. And drink-ish things.

This Bloody Mary Oyster Shooter ($2.50) was good. (At least the The Real Life Print Media Food Writer next to me said so. I've never had a Bloody Mary before- shameful, I know. )

This Margarita ($7) was not. More lime please.


This Oyster Shooter ($2.50) with spicy tequila and lime was good. 

This Lavender Cosmo ($1) was not. Super sweet on the front, unpleasantly bitter on the back.

OMG. Almost forgot about the clam chowder.

Super creamy. Plus they have tableside bacon bread crumb service, so yeah. Don't know what they've got floating in there cuz I was too full to care.

But seriously, food coma relapse just from writing this. Can barely form full sentences.

Go here. Eat PSC's simple, fresh and delicious seafood. But skip the cocktails. 

Also, they have $1 drafts & $2 house wines for happy hour from 3-6 pm.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Portland Dishcrawl: SE Division Street!

As you know, Katie moved back to Portland at the end of June and started a job as the Portland Event Manager and Marketing Director for Dischrawl PDX. This social dining experience is right up our alley...4 restaurants in 1 night with fun people, I'm in! In the beginning of November, LivingSocial sold tickets to a SE Division Dishcrawl as part of Living Social Adventures. I've been on multiple Dishcrawls as a volunteer and Katie's right hand gal, but on Tuesday I had the pleasure of going on my first Dishcrawl as a crawler!

First Stop: Slice Brick Oven Pizza
Where: D-street Noshery, 3221 SE Division St.
Honeys Heart: Alla Vodka Pizza

Slice Brick Oven Pizza is a fully mobile food cart that opened about a year ago by a couple looking to break into the Portland culinary scene. The thin New York style crust is topped with homemade sauces and fresh local ingredients. I prefer my pizza with super thin crusts, so this was my kind of slice.

Jenna went for the Cheese, while I opted for the Pizza Alla Vodka with sausage and caramelized onions and a classic vodka sauce. Both were pretty delicious and a great way to start the night!

Second Stop: Oregon Ice Works
Where: D-street Noshery, 3221 SE Division St.
Honeys Heart: Kevin

Next we walked all the way across the food pod to Oregon Ice Works. I first tried Oregon Ice Works at a World Forestry Center fundraiser and again when Katie and I hit up D-street Noshery this summer, so I already knew I would like this stop! Kevin, food cart owner, Philly native, and Italian ice enthusiast, introduced the two flavors. One was a Bourbon, Peach and Ginger Ice, and the other was Caramel Apple Pie Ice with Caramel Sauce.

They were both amazing, but I think the apple with caramel sauce was the favorite. In the cold, slightly drizzling, autumn night it just tasted like fall. If you're thinking that Italian ice sounds too cold on a winter day, don't fret, Oregon Ice Works also makes soup. Or, if you do want Oregon Ice Works through the winter, without the cold food cart part, ask them about their weekly pint club!

Third Stop: Noho's Hawaiian Cafe
Where: 2525 SE Clinton St.
Honeys Heart: Noodles

A great aspect of Dishcrawl is that you walk to each restaurant. This gives you time to talk about the last place, get excited for the next, check out other great spots in the neighborhood, and not to mention, burn off some calories! After D-street Noshery, the group walked for 10 minutes to Noho's Hawaiian Cafe on SE Clinton and 26th. Noho was there to introduce the gigantic plates of food brought out for groups of 4 to share.

He opened his restaurant, at that location, in 1992. Leaving the corporate world to take a risk as a restaurant owner, he shared stories of how that Clinton street corner has changed over the years and how he cannot imagine doing anything else with his life.

The food he serves is based on his mom's home cooking and the style of meals he remembers growing up with. We were able to sample chicken, pork, noodles, rice and macaroni salad. There was even food left over for some people to take home. Lucky!

This Noho's location doesn't serve alcohol, only because there isn't room in the kitchen to keep it cold, but since this was a special event they brought in Hawaiian beer for everyone. So nice!

Fourth Stop: Bula Kava House 
Where: 3115 SE Division St.
Honeys Heart: A feeling of calm... 

Last stop was Bula Kava House. Kava is the name for the plant, root, and drink made from piper methysticum, and was first domesticated in Vanuatu (an island nation in the South Pacific) thousands of years ago. Judd, the owner of Bula Kava House, first tried Kava in Hawaii and decided to bring this traditional drink back to Portland, and we're glad he did! We started our Kava experience by learning about some of the physiological effects, mostly muscle relaxation and a general feeling of calm, while maintaining mental clarity. The active ingredients are called kavalactones, of which there are eight different types resulting in different physiological effects for every drinker.

 We tried two different types of Kava: Boroguru and Borogu. Boroguru is a strong kava with a pleasantly smooth flavor, fast acting and potent, while the Borogu is a "party kava," more mild and easy with a peppery flavor. Both Kavas definitely had a peppery and (honestly) dirt flavor. But the good news is that you chug (yes, chug) it and chase with a pineapple slice, so you don't have to deal with the flavor for long if it's unpleasant for you.

Kava has historically been used in different ceremonies so we enjoyed ours with a tradition from Hawaii. We clapped once before chugging our Kava to call spirits that we might want there with us, and then clapped twice after to scare away any spirits you don't want there that might have accidentally been called with the first clap.

We will definitely return to Bula Kava House soon. Not only for the kava, but to try some of the sandwiches or pie. Yum!

Next Dishcrawl: A Nob Hill Sandwich Showdown! This could quite possibly be the best Dishcrawl yet. Buy tickets here for only $26!
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