Friday, October 17, 2014

Yard House

Is it just me, or is October whizzing by?!


Scratch that - Is it just me, or is 2014 whizzing by?!

(Is "whiz" even an acceptable term to use in a food blog, in any decade other than the nineties, by a non-teenage boy or Stephanie from Full House?)

So here we are in the thick of football season, and I have yet to find my NYC equivalent in sports bars here in Houston, and I'm missing buffalo wings like whoa (#vegetarianproblems, can I get an amen?).

But then Yard House appeared and forever changed my life.


The first time I went to YH to catch a game was with my boyfriend Jon. The idea of going to a huge chain restaurant/bar for game-watching isn't generally my jam, but we were driving back from Katy that particular day, incredibly hungry, had heard great things, and figured we'd give it a whiz (<~~nope). The inside is massive, and there are screens everywhere. Bingo.

And the food and drinks? GAH.


I still have romantic dreams at night about the shandies at Pondicheri, so when I saw the west coast shandy on their menu, I pounced on it. And side note: Their beer list is ridiculously extensive. Like, there's literally 78294635 beers you can choose from. But this shandy was top notch - Refreshing, sweet, slightly bitter from the grapefruit (which I generally don't even like), and light. Oh, and served in a GOBLET, hello.

Jon has been on a Moscow Mule kick ever since having one at Down the Street, so the second time we went to Yard House (along with his friend Adam) we got mules. And when I say "Jon has been on a Moscow Mule kick," I mean, he had a few mules one night, went out the next day and bought copper mugs, a huge thing of vodka, ginger beer, mint, etc., and proceeded to make them for me and my entire family. And now at every restaurant we go to, the first thing he asks the server is, "Do you guys have Moscow Mules?"

"No sir, we don't serve Moscow Mules at Luby's."


Yard House has an entire section of the menu dedicated to mules, and Jon almost had a heart attack when he saw it. I ordered the Hawaiian mule, with pineapple vodka in it. Like the shandy, it was light and refreshing, though I think I'd just stick with the standard mule next time.


This spinach cheese dip is stupid. Crispy on top, and extra ooey gooey inside, the dip is loaded with creamy goodness. It's rich and tangy, and pairs beautifully with the crispy flat bread served with it. An awesome, solid (liquid?) appetizer. So awesome we actually ordered it both times we went!

Oh, and remember my despair about the buffalo wings?


There is an entire massive vegetarian menu at Yard House that includes VEGETARIAN BUFFALO WINGS. Guys, you don't even understand the magnitude of this. And not only do they simply exist which is exciting in and of itself, they are awesome. Adam ordered regular boneless buffalo wings and compared the two, and said he could not taste the difference. Spicy, saucy, and - I'll say it - meaty, they beyond exceeded all of my expectations and fairytale dreams of what a soy buffalo wing has to offer.

Oh also, this:


Jon got this chicken pot pie that was bigger than both of our heads combined (see fork and cell phone for size comparison). He claims it was delicious.

Yard House is located in the gorgeous City Centre complex, and is definitely worth a visit. What it lacks in that homey "mom and pop" feel I so love in a dive-y pub, it makes up for tenfold with its wide variety of drinks, gajillion televisions, and phenomenal food. I am definitely a fan.


So whiz on over!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Vacation Days: Cusco, Peru

Hey there! I would to go back in time a few weeks and share some more pictures from my trip to Peru and Panama! I gave you an overview of my hike on the Inca Trail and my whirlwind of a stay in Lima, and now I'd like to show you the photos I took during my 2-night stay in the quaint, charming, beautiful city of Cusco. I stayed in Cusco (known as the heart of the Andean religion) a few nights to acclimate myself to the altitude (which was NO joke) before heading out on the Inca Trail.

Okay, I'll stop yammering!


Aww, doesn't my little (giant) backpack just scream excitement? Not pictured: the two other bags I brought with me. Because I'm a pack mule and a disaster when it comes to packing. Moving along.

The beautiful view landing in Cusco, AKA: Sweet baby Jesus I'm going to be hiking something similar to that s.o.b. soon.


When I arrived at my hostel they greeted me with a map of the city and coca tea, which is supposed to help you adjust to the altitude. I drank a lot of it while I was there. Fun fact: I also had the most bizarre dreams on the trip, which I later found out from my guide was a result of drinking coca tea, which, oh did you know is what a certain substance that rhymes with "propane" is made out of? Um, nope. Didn't know.

(Mom, it's not the same, I swear.)

I kept seeing these signs everywhere, which I (*ahem* logically) assumed meant "no trumpets." After sipping on about 7 coca teas, I realized it actually means "no honking your darn car horns."


(Mom, I'm kidding, RELAX.)


The soup there is legit.

SO IS THE GNOCCHI.

I paid roughly $1.75 to get my picture taken with this alpaca baby. I was so excited, and I posted it all over my Instagram and Facebook with a million exclamation points, declaring to the world my love for alpacas. Imagine how awesome I felt when I showed this picture to my guide Ludwig on the Inca Trail, he laughed, and said, "Oh Kimberly. This is not an alpaca. This is a sheep."


Let's forget that whole "Kim has no idea what a sheep looks like" thing ever happened.

We're going to call this next section, "Kim Discovers what 'Perspective' in Photography is, and Demonstrates it Over and Over Again on Some Churches".

Apologies in advance.


I actually went to mass on Sunday though I am neither a) Catholic, nor b) Spanish-speaking, so I had little to no idea what was actually going on. But the church was beautiful, and I did get a few "Please Don't Let Me Die on the Inca Trail" prayers in, and I did in fact live, so all in all I think it was a good decision.


 
This picture was taken on my first day in Cusco because I was hunched over in the fetal position in a corner and needed a break. You see, after drinking my initial propane tea, the hostel manager urged me to take a nap to help acclimatize. I said, "Nah, I'm good! I want to go explore!" So I went exploring, tried to walk up this hill, and ended up doubled over in an alley, trying to rediscover air.

And that's that! I absolutely fell in love with Cusco, and I definitely recommend visiting if you ever get the opportunity. The city is so charming, the people are warm and inviting, and it is rich with such culture and history. If you hike the Inca Trail, I recommend staying in Cusco at least two nights beforehand, but actually more if you can. The altitude is seriously a force to be reckoned with.


But leave your trumpet at home.

*All photos were taken with my Nikon D60 and my iPhone.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Trip to the Suburbs: The Tasting Room in Kingwood

Happy October!


I just got back from a lovely weekend in NYC for my friend LJ's wedding and was able to get a taste of my beloved northeast fall. But I hear Houston also had a beautiful fall weekend, and I can't stop eating pumpkin things, and smelling harvesty things, and my heart is so full right now, and I want to squeeze everyone.

My heart is also full because I went to The Tasting Room's Kingwood location recently with my friend Meredith, and she said she had an important question to ask me. To which I asked her if she was going to propose, she said yes, and we got married, the end.

Okay, she actually asked me to be the godmother of her perfect beautiful little nugget of a baby, Lincoln!

(My heart is also full because she was finally able to partake in post-pregnancy libations with me).


Oh, but this cheese.

We all know I never met a cheese I didn't like. And their cheese board was pretty darn awesome. It was just the right amount for two, and the slow dough baguette was a nice subtle vessel for the cheese. The accompanying figs, dried apricots, sugared walnuts, grapes, and jam were the perfect compliment. And each cheese was light and contrasted the other very nicely.


We also ordered the truffle parmesan fries, which were great but admittedly on par with any other truffle parmesan fry in town. They were salted, seasoned, and crisped perfectly. The aioli served with it was good, but I may have liked more it if it was a little less heavy/creamy. Overall we were very pleased, and no fry was left behind.


But THESE.

The "mini" grilled cheese sandwiches were   i  n  s  a  n  e  . A slow dough pretzel baguette envelopes a gooey rich layer of goat cheese and is topped off with a sweet/tart/salty tomato jam, and once again your heart is so full you just die of happiness. If I was forced to only ever eat one thing for the rest of my life, these no lie would be in the final running.

And also, how cute are they?


We finished everything off with a little chocolate sampler, and after all of the amazingness we'd just experienced, I'm bummed to say we were pretty underwhelmed with this one. Everything was so tooth-achingly rich I could barely take two bites.

But my heart was still full! Because I'd just been dubbed a godmother! And the view of the lake was absolutely breathtaking! And, wine!

The Tasting Room is a great chain of wine bars, and the Kingwood location on the lake is definitely worth a visit. Grab a friend, order a bottle of wine, split 1 or 5 plates of mini grilled cheese sandwiches...


...and fill up your big silly hearts.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Vacation Days: Lima, Peru

Hola blog amigos! Picking up where I left off in my South and Central American adventure, I'm going to rewind to the beginning of the trip and share with you my visit to Lima! Even though I spent a total of roughly 11 hours there (specifically in the trendy Miraflores neighborhood) before bouncing off to Cusco, I was able to sneak in a little sightseeing and have some amazing food (OBviously).

So let's get started!


^ How did that picture get in there? Huh...


The hostel I was supposed to stay in looked like this. But they were booked solid, so they put me up in an apartment that looked like this:



I mean, if you insist.


I managed to grab dinner at the lovely Huaca Pucllana. The restaurant overlooks the Pucllana Ruins, which are located smack dab in the middle of Lima. The food and view were absolutely breathtaking.



Peruvians are very proud of their Pisco Sours. And rightly so.


Because, #wine.


I was able to deduce that these were peeled potatoes with some cheese dip. I had no idea what I was ordering ever, but luckily it was all phenomenal.


I just made sure to train myself to say this: "No mariscos, por favor, unless you'd like to give my epi-pen a whirl, which I'll admit could be a barrel of fun!"


Again, I'm not really sure what you are, but you were delicious.



Look familiar? In the background that's Pucllana during the day.



And there you have it - my quick and delicious 11-hour stay in Lima! I've got posts on Cusco and Panama City coming your way soon. Are you pumped? I'm pumped.

Oh, and here's the lovely breakfast I had, courtesy of the great hostel I stayed at!


South America, you sure are tasty.

*All photos were taken with my Nikon D60 and my iPhone.