Don’t Knock It Until You’ve Tried It

Sadly a lot of people will say they don’t like something even though they’ve never tried it.

People will say “I don’t like that…” whether it’s a sport, traveling, a new beer, or even a whole country of people they’ve never met. I can honestly say that I used to be this way too. I have found that by being close minded to new and possibly better things, you miss out on a whole lot of awesome.

Growing up, I used to eat my steaks Well Done because that is how my parents would order them and really, I didn’t know any better. If in early high school and you were to present me with a steak that was Medium or God forbid, Medium-Rare I would of rejected it. It wasn’t until I was in a situation where I had to be polite when offered a Medium-Rare steak that I found what I had been missing for so long. I then took the mindset of “Don’t Knock It Until You’ve Tried It” and applied that to food in general. I have come to find and love many more culinary delights since then and I can trace my culinary “open-mindedness” back to that one experience. Heck, if it turns out that you don’t like something… you never have to eat it again.

Medium Rare Steak
Photo by: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thaddeus_griffin/

This same concept can be applied to your views on people that are different from you. Whether it’s  their  religion, ethnicity, sexual preference, financial bracket, political preference or whatever else one can  conjure  up to divide us. If you don’t know someone who is White, Brown, Black, Green, Purple, Straight, Gay, Muslim, Christian, Canadian, American, Protestant, Catholic or whatever else, then it doesn’t seem fair to come to a conclusion when in fact you don’t know.

Don’t be afraid of the “Medium-Rare” because you might just like it.

Friday Fun Post: Houston Restaurant Week at Brennan’s

As a transplant to Houston, I have a long list of restaurants I have yet to try. Brennan’s is a Schipul client, and also extremely high on that list.

With reservations moving quickly in the first months since the February reopening and my budget going to other things lately, I hadn’t taken the plunge. Until last night for Restaurant Week.

Restaurant Week

Restaurant “Week” is a bit of a misnomer, the event actually lasts for the 3 weeks from August 1- August 21. Local restaurants offer a $35 three course dinner, with $5 of your meal cost going directly to the Houston Food Bank (the event is completely organized by volunteers, so every penny goes to the cause). New this year is the $20 two course lunch, with $3 going to the food bank. Eat great food with great friends for a great cause? Sign me up!

Brennan’s

It’s beautiful inside, somehow classic and modern at the same time, and it feels very posh when the waiter points to the corner table next to you with the high backed yellow armchairs and says “that’s where George H.W. Bush likes to sit when he comes.” The staff was fantastic, and the food was delicious.

I was dining with a group of LSU alums who know their Cajun food, so it was great to see them gush over the Bread Pudding and Pralines. For me, the sweet things stole the show – the peaches and candied pecans in my salad, the pecan crust on my fish, and the Bananas Foster (prepared table side with a huge impressive flame).


Brennan’s Restaurant Week Menu

1st
Turtle Soup Au Sherry
Cooper Farms Peach Salad
Summer Tomato Salad

2nd
Pecan Crusted Gulf Fish
Black Grouper & Local Field Peas
Tournedos of Beef

3rd
Texas Blueberry Shortcake
Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé
Traditional Bananas Foster


Don’t worry, it’s not too late!

You have until August 21 to enjoy Restaurant Week. Check out houstonrestaurantweek.com for participating restaurants and menus, and make a reservation now at a restaurant you’ve always wanted to try!

Happy dining!
~ Qcait

http://www.houstonrestaurantweek.com/Menus-2010-A_through_L.htm

Friday Fun Post: And That’s Why IKEA Totally Rocks!

Shipulites pose for the mock IKEA catalog at the IKEA 2011 Catalog preview party

Special thanks to photographer Annie Ray for the wonderful photo! To see more of her work or more photos from the event visit her site: www.AnnieRay.net

*Sigh* I love you IKEA.

Long before it was a Schipul client and I was Schipulite, IKEA was my home goods haven.

I’m a neat freak. Let’s just get that out of the way.

Also, it’s pronounced /ee-KAY-uh/. I promise. Let’s get that out of the way, too.

Yesterday I Went on a Field Trip to IKEA’s Cafeteria

*Faints*Food at Ikea is reasonably priced.

It was exciting. And that’s when the magic of it all hit me, and I realized how much I love this place.

The menu is decent. The food is good. The view isn’t bad. So what’s the magic you ask?

For me, it’s the same magic most sane people feel when they open the catalog and start imagining the room they’ll build with the furniture they’re eyeballing.

Eating in IKEA’s cafeteria is like eating in IKEA’s catalog.

And I’m not afraid to admit it:   I’d love to live in the IKEA catalog. (The photos that Annie Ray took at the IKEA 2011 Catalog Preview Party prove that most people would!)

Some of the menu items include their famous Swedish meatballs, organic pasta and Princess Cake. Also, shoppers can purchase some of the goods in the Swedish Food Market section of the store and take the yummy goodness home. (It’s near the Bistro/Exit Cafe‘, which is a whole other blog post).

I’m Still A Neat Freak

The best part of the experience came with putting away my tray.   There’s a pretty blue wall, and in front it looks like a condiment station. But be not fooled! The hind side of the wall holds a shelving system just for trays. It’s the most efficient, DIY, tray taking system I’ve ever seen. I shed a tear (@happykatie saw it…maybe).

I encourage you to visit the restaurant. No. You’re not gonna get a five-star, Zagat-rated meal. But you’ll get good food in a pretty place. And who wouldn’t want that?

Creating Houston Chowhound Memories at Brennan’s


Celebrating Houston Chowhounds’ 2nd Anniversary

Amateur chefs, food writers, bloggers, enthusiasts and a selection of individuals with discerning palates, collectively known as the Houston Chowhounds (@HoustonCH), gathered at Brennan’s of   Houston for their second anniversary celebration.

The Houston Chowhounds seek the best places to eat in and around town, and in addition to Brennan’s decadent selection of menu items, it was a great opportunity for members of the group to visit the Houston staple since its reopening in February.

Always excited to connect with great Houston folks and a great client, Courtney (@cpembyrun) and I   got a chance to enjoy the Houston Chowhound’s anniversary brunch full of   yummy cuisine and great Houston foodies at Brennan’s Houston.

Brennan’s is Easy on the Eyes

Walking into the restaurant made me feel all genteel, and I think I ditched my rapid-fire Cindy Brady lispy chatter for a Blanche Deveraux drawl…with a rolling ‘R’ and everything…which I personally hate because that’s more Georgia than Texas/Louisiana.

The brunch was held in one of the beautiful upstairs dining rooms, (this one to be exact).

Brennan's of Houston restaurant dining room

Every aspect of the restaurant is charming to the eye. Once I entered the dining room, I was happily greeted by Houston Chowhound members Jody Stevens (@Jodycakes), Joanne Witt (@foodprincess) and mimosas. After a few minutes the room was brimming with victims other Houston Chowhounds, whom Courtney and I immediately attacked with the camera had a chance to ask a few questions about being a Chowhound and memorable Brennan’s experiences.

And Then There Was Food

The Brennan’s brunch menu for the event offered four choices of each the appetizer, entree and dessert. I started with the famous Turtle Soup Au Sherry while Courtney opted for the Barbecued Crawfish Shortcake. I promptly referred to her dish as “a biscuit thing with crawfish.” And while our table was   nearly an even split of the biscuit and the soup, we divided and conquered the second course menu selections.

I had the Lamb Debris & Sweet Potato Pancakes, which is braised lamb with blue cheese butter, chicory greens, a crispy poached egg and mint julep hollandaise served over soft, cinnamon-tasting pancakes. The pancakes were so moist and delicious no one at our table used the individual sides of maple syrup.

Conversation was at a minimal, though the meal was peppered with compliments about the sauce, praise of the aroma, and nods of approval on how appetizing the meals looked. No matter what item we selected, it was hard not to sneak a peek at surrounding plates. It was also hard to keep in mind a third course would soon arrive. Halfway through the pancakes I forced   myself to stop eating.

That’s also right around the time the band began playing breezy Dixieland tunes. This only helped transcend me to a faraway land some people like to call,   “New Orleans.”

Houston Chowhounds Grub and Give

Recipe 4 Success Houston non profit logoAfter the band, we took a few minutes discuss Chowhound matters like ideas for community involvement, fundraising and possible throwdowns. The Chowhounds are known for their throwdowns, which run the gamut from ceviche to bourbon to fried chicken. The group also works closely with Recipe for Success, a local non-profit dedicated to combating childhood obesity. Not to mention the group regularly participates in restaurant crawls, which support local eateries.

Talking was pretty much a lost cause once the scent of Bananas Foster, Texas Strawberry Shortcake, Brennan’s Pecan Pie and Creole Bread Pudding began wafting through the dining room. We had to snap photos of the food as quickly as possible.   It was a matter of seconds before forks hit the plates and desserts began disappearing. We weren’t exactly starving, but boy were we excited!

That’s the gist of the Houston Chowhounds though: excited! They are a lively bunch with interesting stories of world travel,   food adventures, friendships and memories. I couldn’t imagine a more charming place to hold a brunch for a such a charming group of people.

Friday Fun: Oh I Wish I Had an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile

Some say it’s a myth, others say they have only heard of its legendary tales…but few can actually say, “Dude, I was there…AND felt it’s golden buns.” If you have any inclination as to what buns I’m referring to, I can only assume your heart is racing with anticipation. As was mine when I pulled up to the Kroger… questioning…hoping…sweating profusely…and then I saw it. Just over the horizon, the glorious orange and yellow glistening in the sun…I was in the presence of the one and only Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

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This past week, the famous Oscar Mayer Wienermobile became the centerpiece for Houston Children’s Miracle Network fundraising event. Children ate hot dogs, stained their clothes with sno cones and sang “Oh I Wish I Were an Oscar Mayer Wiener” in harmony while I led the chorus in spelling out O-S-C-A-R-M-A-Y-E-R.   Seeing as though my organized choir tale was false, I feel a sing-a-long would have been top notch, possibly increasing my chances at a record deal.

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The highlight of the day you ask? Dress your own giant plastic hotdog then stand in front of the Wienermobile while the photographer yelled, “Say Cheesy Wienes!” And no I did not wait in line for 15 minutes amongst toddlers so I could get my chance of being spotlighted in the magnificent glow of my childhood dream car….ok, I’m lying. Hello my name is Courtney Pemberton…and it was awesome.

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For the grizzly men out there, let me give you a run-down of what this wienermobile is packin’ under its lightly toasted buns. This bad boy is a Chevrolet W4 Series chassis, V-8 with a 6.0 liter 350 Vortec 5700 engine with a GPS navigational system and a state-of-the-art audio center with wireless microphone system. I know what you’re thinking…Dear Santa, instead of a Toyota Prius this year, can I have a Wienermobile with all the trimmings…and a 6 pack of 100% cotton tube socks.

Of course, we all know the Wienermobile would have never come into existence if it wasn’t for the man…Oscar Mayer himself. It was through the genius marketing of the Mayer family that for the past 73 years, ten versions of the Wienermobile have brought excitement…and sometimes confusion, but mostly excitement, to children all over the country . So here is my shout out to Oscar G. Mayer III, who passed away this week…R.I.P buddy. You made Houston’s day.

Oscar Mayer

If you want to follow the Wienermobile and the Hotdogger’s travels, check out their Hotdogger blog or follow them on Twitter!

Thanks to Guadalupe   for being an awesome Hotdogger…I couldn’t have dressed my plastic hot dog with out you!

Wine Tasting to Benefit the Houston Humane Society!

Houston Humane Society wine tasting with Fayza and QCait

photo by Courtney Pemberton

Last night Schipul and the Houston Humane Society hosted a wine tasting event at Vineyard on the Square in beautiful Sugarland square. It was a great evening for a great cause! Thanks to all who came out to support the Humane Society and the fantastic Lisa Pogue and Natalya Sumner for their hard work putting everything together!

Houston Humane Society volunteers Natalya and Lisa Sugarland Square

photos by Courtney Pemberton

Here are some things we learned about wine from our EXCELLENT sommelier:

  • 90% of wine is NOT meant to be aged – drink white wine within 2-3 years of the date on the bottle and red within 3-5
  • Wine does not like temperature fluctuations – after you open a bottle, keep it in the fridge (even red!) to make it last longer and keep it out of the Houston humidity
  • If storing wine long term, keep it in a dark place where it won’t get moved like under your bed or in your closet
  • Most people start out liking sweet wines (our instructor admitted to drinking nothing but boxed wine 5 years ago) and then graduate to fuller, dry wines. If a wine is too dry for you, try eating it with something acidic (like an apple or smoked gouda) and it will mellow out on your palate.
  • You can only actually taste a few flavors – salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and savory. The rest come from your sense of smell. If you don’t believe it, try eating a strawberry while holding your nose!
  • Drink what you like! As we heard over and over – “it’s your disposable income, spend it on what makes you happy!”

But don’t worry! Even if you missed out this time, there are lots of things you can do to help the Houston Humane Society.

How can I help the HHS?

  1. On Twitter?
    Follow @HoustonHumane on Twitter for the latest updates and tell your friends!
  2. Adopt!
    Check out the Houston Humane Society on YouTube to view videos of the dogs available for adoption!
  3. Already have a furry friend in your family?
    Check out the Houston Humane Society clinic! HHS offers spay/neutering, vaccinations, and microchipping at an affordable price. All of the  proceeds benefit shelter animals.
  4. Shop at Whole Foods!
    On Wednesday, June 24! 5% of sales on that day at any of the Houston Whole Foods locations will go to the Houston Humane Society!

Shop at Whole Foods June 24 to support the Houston Humane Society!

Participating Whole Foods markets:

  • 2955 Kirby Drive, Houston, TX 77098
  • 4004 Bellaire, Houston, TX 77025
  • 6401 Woodway, Houston, TX 77057
  • 11145 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77042

For more information call 713-341-3311 or e-mail lpogue@houstonhumane.org.

Bring Your Dog Out to Shampooch to Benefit the Houston Humane Society…the Smellier the Better!

Fellow Schipulite, Courtney (left), and  Houston Humane Society's Public Relations Director Lisa (right)  having some play time with spunky Bonita!
Fellow Schipulite, Courtney (right), and Houston Humane Society's Public Relations Director Lisa (left) having some play time with spunky Bonita!

Are you ready….to let the dogs out? Go ahead, give a good bark…you know you want to. We also know that between your busy schedule, American Idol mayhem and tweeting about #medievelmovies that good Ol’ Cranston hasn’t seen a bathtub since the Philadelphia Eagle’s last Super Bowl win. Folks, I’m not sure if you’re aware…but that has been a really, really long time. So what’s a dog with an extreme odor issue to do?
The Houston Humane Society (Schipul client) and Whole Foods Market invite all Houstonians and their furry friends to Shampooch, a benefit dog wash this Saturday (May 23, 2009) from 10 a.m. -2 p.m. The event will take place at ALL Houston area Whole Foods Market locations:

2955 Kirby Drive
4004 Bellaire Blvd.

15900 Southwest Freeway in Sugarland

11145 Westheimer Road
6401 Woodway

How perfect is Shampooch? You can take care of that long-overdue grocery list while Cranston gets a taste of the good life…cleanliness. And not to worry, your beloved is in the hands of the Houston Humane Society staff and volunteers where they will bathe, lather, pamper, and quite possibly treat your pooches to a delightful song and dance number. Alright, the song and dance number is optional…I just thought since “Keyboard Cat” was such a hit that, well you know…it’s just a thought. Whole Foods Market will be providing all-natural products used for the washes. All donations will support the HHS’s efforts in promoting humane treatment towards animals. For more information contact Lisa Pogue 713.341.3311 or via e-mail lpogue@houstonhumane.org.

If you would like to adopt the adorable Bonita featured in the picture go to the Houston Humane Society shelter and ask for tag 240.

Houston Humane Society Hours:

Monday – Wednesday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Thursday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Friday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.