Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hi-Falutin' Comfort

Last week was restaurant week in Dallas. Its the week when many restaurants limit their normal reservations in favor of serving the template restaurant week fare: a 3-course fixed price dinner. Usually the choices are limited during restaurant week but what they do offer is off their standard menu. Its always one of my favorite weeks since its a good way to try new-to-me places at a reasonable price.

This time I tried Watel's and Hector's On Henderson.

Watels, our French Bistro-like eatery in the way over-done Uptown area, was OK but nothing special. Some of the food was good, some seemed like it had been prepared the night before. I doubt I will be going back to try the regular menu.

Hector's On Henderson
2929 N. Henderson Ave.
Dallas, TX 75206

Hector's, on the other hand, was slightly beyond phenomenal, loved it. 3 restaurants have buzz right now in Dallas: Hectors, Hibiscus and Stephan Pyles. Hector's deserves the buzz. Most of what they offer is standard Southern or Texas comfort food but with very innovative twists and immaculate presentation.

Atmosphere is upscale but casual. I felt completely at home with my jeans and nice shirt, however I think the flip-flops needed to be left at home.

Service is stellar; friendly and well-versed on all of the ingredients as well as the techniques for creation and presentation. And yes, you will have questions, since their techniques are creative, if not ground-breaking. Also, adding a homey touch, Hector himself makes rounds about once a hour to introduce himself and answer any questions.


Fried Green Tomatoes: Living a big chunk of my life in south I am very familiar with these. I am also painfully familiar with how very difficult these are to prepare and still taste good. Green tomatoes can be bitter or sour, sampling the lot is essential. Overcooking them leaves them mushy. Undercooking them leaves them too hard. The batter can be too thick, leaving one with the impression of eating fried dough with a cold hard center. The sauce can be overspiced eclipsing what sould be a delicate tomato flavor. Hector has perfected this dish in all aspects.

Hazelnut Redfish: I love redfish; its a sturdy fish with a rather unobtrusive flavor. Hard to go wrong with the redfish when you coat it in the hazelnut. Really hard to wrong with it when you serve it with a light garlic beurre blanc and a spicy crab-avocado salsa.

Candy Apple Creme Brulee: Get the cart, I'm going into a sugar coma. Wow. Take an apple, blanch it, coat it in a spicy red candy shell, core it, then stuff it with creme brulee. Put the top back on it then serve it to your guests who will wonder in amazement just how you made it. I had to ask Hector about this one. I am not a dessert person but I loved this, so many textures and contrasting flavors.

Hector's is a pricey place but not nearly as pricey as some of the lesser quality restaurants in town. Here, you will get what you pay for, and you will love every bite.

Patty and Mistress Lauren, lawyer in waiting @ Hector's

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Q Boss

About two months ago, HD Guy cancelled his Netflix subscription and asked if I would put a few movies he didnt get to see on my Blockbuster queue. I gave him my Blockbuster account name and password and told him to add away.

I never check my Blockbuster account since it was set up over 5 months ago with more films than I would be able to watch in a year. But this week I noticed that my credit card statement did not have the usual monthly charge from Blockbuster, so I investigated.

I had to laugh. First, HD Guy added the few movies he didn't get to watch. Plus 75 more. He also re-ordered the queue to his liking. He deleted my credit card information from the payment section then added his own, he even upgraded my plan to the next highest level. Wait, it gets better, he added his name to the account.

I find it funny he did all this without mentioning it. I know he likes to be the boss of stuff so it isn't surprising. Its just nice to know that he is an accountable boss.

I'm not going to say a word about this, if he wants to be the boss of the queue, I'll let him :)

More on last week's restaurant week and the Austin trip soon.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Jim Manual - CH2: Ending Debates

Despite our age difference, Home Depot Guy and I are very compatible. Its in odd ways really, like the fact that we are both highly analytical and almost always non-reactive. We're both Buddhists. We're both cheating vegetarians. Another thing is that neither one of us watch TV. Of course HD Guy has gone a step further - he doesn't even have cable, I still do.

Back in January we both decided since we had never seen Queer As Folk, we would rent all five seasons and watch them together.

HD Guy: At 12 shows a season you do realize that you are committing to about 60 nights with me?

Me: Yes, I am aware of the simple math.

HD Guy: Just clarifying in the name of good communication. I suppose this is sign that you like me enough for a couple of months?

Me: Yes, you are correct. And I'm sure you see that I assume the same.

HD Guy: Yeah, I see that. I also see your butt looks good in those jeans.

So, now 8 months later, we finished watching the very last show last night. Overall we both liked it, mostly because they addressed some heavy subjects in an unapologetic and straight-forward manner. I thought the writers lost steam after the 3rd season, the other two seasons just seemed like they were grasping at high drama storylines in order to retain ratings.

We both agreed Debbie (Gless) was the glue that made the show cohesive and Emmett(Page) was the most believable character. We were opposed on the final show. HD Guy loved it, I thought it sucked.

Me: You loved it?

HD Guy: Yeah, it had a good message, everything changes but everything is still good.

Me: Are you kidding me? The character with the most issues, Brian, was copped out and the writers did nothing to resolve them.

HD Guy: He accepted himself as is.

Me: He was copped out, surely you see that.

HD Guy: I see your butt looks really good in those jeans.

And so concludes the intelligent debate portion of our evening.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Formerly Currently

Get a notebook and a pencil.

The chef at the restaurant formerly known as Rooster, left and with his life-and-business partner opened Inwood Quarters. The chef at the restaurant formerly known as 36 Degrees now occupies the space formerly known as Inwood Quarters, currently known as ...

3109 Inwood Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Phone: 214-357-7243

36 Degrees chef was awesome at seafood and apparently he still is. While the menu is not completely saturated by sea creatures it does reach near critical-density in every category. If you are a fan of seafood, any variety, just close your eyes and pick something, you will like it.

For those that liked the intimacy and casual romantic quality of Inwood Quarters, relax, even though the colors have changed to some variation of 3-years-ago green, it still retains its original character. For those of you who had been to Inwood Quarters in the summer you know their AC could never quite keep up with 100+, this has unfortunately also not changed. A better bet would be to go later at night or when the temps are less than 95, that seems to be the magic number for comfortable dining.

I've been here twice, once with the incredible shrinking Laurel and again with Home Depot Guy. Both loved it. I loved it. If I had to recommend one dish it would be the Crab Ludwig. Think Crab Louis with a twist. The twist is all of the ingredients are molded into a tall cylinder then displayed on a stark white plate surrounded by thinly sliced cucumber. I loved the display; layer of crab, then egg whites, then egg yolks, then tomato, more crab, more egg, more tomato, more, um, well crap, I lost count but you get the point. A side of Ludwig (Louis) dressing and you are set for one delicious and deceptively filling meal.

This is definitely a date place; quiet, casual, comfortably romantic and reasonably priced.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Fall Bang

So Fall semester, my last semester, started off with a bang this Monday. Statistics. Spanish 3 and Computational Biology

Home Depot Guy is back after his summer vacation in NYC. We have seeing a bit of each other and having some interesting conversations about where he wants to be post-grad.

I pulled a muscle in my shoulder. Ouch. Then I did something wierd to my SI joint. Ouch. Getting older is not for sissies. Word. LOL

A friend of mine died. Ouch. She felt tired one day and left work early. Came home, laid down, had a heart attack and died. She was 39. I'm still really freaked out about this one, and of course very, very sad.

Its restaurant week this week so I should have some more eatery reviews coming shortly, as soon as I can sit in my computer chair for longer than 5 minutes without screaming :)

I get to go to Indi freakin' annapolis next week for work, yay!

Parental units are coming in a couple of weeks for recon on Austin.

Cincinnati for Quidam.

Altanta for interviews.

Grad Party planning.

Painting, sanding and grouting in the name of getting top dollar when I sell this townhome.

I think my Palm Pilot is crying uncle.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Cease-Fire Cocktail

More drink experiments this weekend, no big surprise there :)

I noticed over the span of the evening the many ethnicities of friends coming and going from my house for samples. Egyptian, French, British, Indian, Italian, Persian, Irish, Russian, Israeli, German, Armenian.

Then I noticed the different religions. Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant, Presby, Pentacostal, Agnostic.

Why is it that we can all get along? I don't know, but we do, maybe we just appreciate our diversity. In any case, we dedicated this drink to a sustainable cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hizbollah.

HEU Tara models the Cease-Fire Peach Fizz

Cease-Fire Peach Fizz

  • 1 1/2 Ounce Absolut Apeach (Peach Vodka)
  • 1 1/2 Ounce Peach Tarragon Syrup
  • 1/2 Ounce Lemon Juice
  • 2 Ounce Champagne

  • Peach Tarragon Syrup
  • 2 Peaches, sliced
  • 2 C Water
  • 1/2 C Sugar
  • 2 Sprig Tarragon

  • 1 To make syrup bring syrup ingredients to a boil, cover, remove from heat and steep for 2 hours. Strain then refrigerate.

    2 Assemble: Add vodka, syrup and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker with some ice. Shake, strain into glasses, float the champagne on top and go.

    (thanks to Ryan for the champers suggestion)

    We also wanted to send out a warning, in case anyone is thinking of escalating hostilities in the Middle East. Don't. If you do we will mix up batches of these and drop them over your country. Your people will be drunk, like silly drunk, like Israelis and Hizbollah skipping hand-in-hand to the Syrian border, dropping trou and mooning smugglers kinda drunk. Not to mention the hangovers and morning munchies that will follow.

    We have the suppplies.
    We have the knowledge.
    Don't make us use them.

    Sunday, August 13, 2006

    The Highly Elusive Urban Tara

    We had a rare sighting of my friend, the Highly Elusive Urban Tara. I'm in the process of fining a place to host a grad party and she met us out for a recon mission at a wine bar last weekend.

    I don't know why I love this picture, obviously taken with my trademark Blair Witch filter, but I do.

    I've known the HEU Tara since she was a wee pup fresh out of college. She is really amazing in all that she attempts and accomplishes. Full time work, full time school, renovating her home herself, kickboxing and triathalons.


    I love her latest venture into light recreation - Roller Derby, yes! :)

    Friday, August 11, 2006

    Book Meme

    Jason snuck up behind me and tagged me with a Book meme.
    Hmmm, let me think.

    1. One book you have read more than once:
    The Stranger - Albert Camus

    I read it twice because I didnt get it the first time. I still don't like this book but I respect it and would definitely call it a classic.

    2. One book you would want on a desert island:
    5. One book you wish you had written:

    One Hundred Years Of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    Its not a cop out that two of the questions are answered by this book, I just liked it. Its not for everyone and of the people I've talked to about this book, there was no gray area, they either loved it or hated it. I found it to be a discourse on everything important and trivial in life, but it takes slow, patient reading to absorb. If you want to be passively entertained, this one is not for you.

    3. One book that made you laugh:
    Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

    Sledgehammer satire and sobering reality make this 60's novel shine as one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking.

    4. One book that made you cry:
    Schindler’s List - Thomas Keneally
    No explanation required here.

    6. One book you wish had never been written:
    Survival Analysis, Techniques for Censored and Truncated Data - John Klein
    Don't ask :)

    7. One book you are currently reading:
    Deception Point - Dan Brown

    Havent actually started it yet but its in my carry-on and ready to go. Wait, can we still take books on planes? :)

    8. One book you have been meaning to read:
    Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie

    If its good enough to net the author a death sentence and asylum, I should probably read it :)

    9. One Book That Changed Your Life:
    Cathcer In The Rye - JD Salinger
    Red Badge Of Courage - Stephen Crane
    Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne

    What? You expected just one? :)

    Wednesday, August 09, 2006


    It started out like any other morning, I woke up, stumbled down the stairs to make coffee, or what my friends would call 'that sludge that would give an elephant a heart attack', turned on CNN with sound muted, read the news banners and started that hour-long grueling process known as waking up.

    Mom called, we chatted. Call waiting beep, I picked it up, a friend asking me if I saw what was happening on the news. I paused, looked up and dismissed, I saw something like that happen years ago, sometimes small planes hit that thing, its huge and it happens. I went back to mom, then, minutes later, mom and I simultaneously hung up on each other. More minutes passed and my friend Amy called confirming our lunch date. Rather, she was calling to see if I was still in the mood.

    Absolutely. I remember thinking it would be a good break, since I knew the rest of the day I would be watching CNN in disbelief and making phone calls to New York City. It was important to keep the lunch date, it was Amy's daughter's birthday and we didn't want to ruin it for her sake. We arrived at the restaurant at 1130, apparently the business lunch crowd was not yet aware of the current events, since they were joking, laughing and enjoying their lunches. We were not about to tell them anything was wrong, seriously wrong. Amy's daughter had a great time and a special birthday. We both did actually, since September 11th is my birthday as well.

    Later that day I met a group of friends for my birthday dinner, the mood in the mainly empty restaurant was somber to say the least. We all looked at each other for what felt like hours. Then, one friend finally broke the ice.

    "Dont you hate it when terrorists upstage your birthday!"

    It was very politically incorrect and exactly what we needed to hear. The rest is so much history but needless to say it was my most eventful birthday to date.

    When I first saw previews for this film, I was sure I would never see it. I lost a good friend to that day and there seemed no reason to pick the scab. But today, I found myself spontaneously flipping an illegal U-turn, darting across 6 lanes of angry traffic, landing at the theatre, buying a ticket and watching.

    World Trade Center

    You already know the storyline of the two Port Authority Policemen who were trapped but ultimately rescued from the collapse of the Twin Towers. This is their story. Its very personal, zoom in on their lives and thoughts during the tragedy, pan left and right to their families as they wait.

    What I liked about the presentation was the lack of cheap heart-string pulls, the production could have easily played that chord to the hilt but they showed admirable restraint.

    Nicolas Cage - Might as well call him Midas, I think he is incapable of giving a bad performance. No disappointment here.

    Michael Pena - I loved this guy when I first saw him Buffalo Soldiers, kept loving him through Million Dollar Baby and Crash. Still love him. You take some risks sharing the screen with Cage, he has a strong screen persona and you could become eclipsed and faded even in a stellar performance. Pena stands up under the Cage shadow, in fact, he was better.

    You know the Academy will nominate this for something, they have to, it would be political suicide not to do so. But still, World Trade Center is deserving of recognition in many ways. The sound and visual editing were phenomenal; archive clips, real-time Manhattan and computer generated images all blended seamlessly to give a painfully accurate viewpoint of being on the ground from first impact. Directing is soft-spoken, giving the viewer enough emotion to feel the memory without being swept away.

    Aside from the technical merit, this is still an important film and a defining moment in our history. I doubt anyone will forget exactly where they were and what they were doing the day the World Trade Center came down.


    Monday, August 07, 2006

    Strawberry Love

    More evil drink experiments on unsuspecting victims.

    This weekend I subjected Mistress Lauren, lawyer in waiting, to my newest mixture. She approved, I approved, now you be the judge.

    Strawberry Basil Slammer

    1 Sprig Basil
    1/4 C Strawberries, thinly sliced
    2 T Powdered Sugar
    2 Ounces Vodka
    1 Ounce Lemon Juice
    3 Ounces Club Soda

    1 Mix strawberries with basil and powdered sugar. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
    2 Muddle together strawberry mixture and place in a cocktail shaker with ice, lemon juice and vodka. Shake briefly.
    3 Pour the whole thing into a glass, top with soda, stir and serve.

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    Go Google Yourself

    I've been using Google Analytics for work lately. Its a backend web statistics gathering package, mostly used to analyze marketing campaigns. I tested it out on my blog, just to see how everything worked. Its fantastic! If you don't have a statistics counter on your blog or website yet, check it out.

    (I know, I know - dork! :)

    Google Analytics Site

    You sign up, they send you a code, you activate your account, they generate some code, you stick it in your blog and poof, a day later you get some really interesting data with very cool presentation.

    Like this ...

    I thought it was cool that you could see which website people used to find yours, the referring source as Analytics calls it. The entry did not surprise me, since I am a registered user., 13% of my traffic today came to me by first visiting this site which belongs to Jason at Lets Say You're Right

    He is one popular guy :)

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    Everybody's Got A Dream

    In 2004 my friend Cathy, who works for the Memphis Film & Television Commision, was telling me about this film she was working on, it was the age old story of a north Memphis pimp trying to bust out of his life through rap. She was excited by the cast, the storyline, the music and working with MTV people.

    "Its going to pick up some nominations!", she said

    Cathy was right, it did, nominated for best actor and I think to the shock of everyone, it won for best original song.

    Hustle and Flow

    I didn't share Cathy's enthusiasm for this film when it first arrived in theatres, it sounded too much like 8 Mile, which I could barely sit through. Then I saw both Terrence Howard and Ludacris were featured. Both were excellent in Crash so I decided to give it a look.

    If you don't want to subject yourself to plenty of fowl language, violence and down-n-dirty ghetto life, then pass. Otherwise buckle up for the Terrence Howard show, he carries the whole thing.

    I've spent alot of time in Memphis, so I recognized the familiar local accent, Howard had it nailed. His acting is far more dramatic here than in Crash, some of the scenes are so powerful I almost had to look away, great stuff. What surprised me was that he did most of his own singing. He and co-star, Taraji P. Henson, laid down the title track and although rap is not my thing, they both could pull off musical careers if that acting thing doesnt work out for them in the future.

    I wasnt sold on Taryn Manning as the Wonder Bread white ho, but after a time her character really grows on you. In the end you applaud her more than the others.

    The overall message is a good one - have a dream, go after it with everything you've got. Even if it doesn't work out, at least you have the peace of mind knowing you didnt submit to a beatdown. The methods and mechanism through which this happens might be rough and unconventional in Hustle & Flow, but you still can appreciate what they have to say.


    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    Family Matters

    I had a nice email tonight from someone concerned for family in Israel. They are fine. I'm always concerned about them, you know, since some their border buddies can get a wee bit cranky, but I'm not worried for several reasons.

    First, they live in Arad and Be'er Sheva, both south of the West Bank, out of Hizbollah rocket range. Also, and more importantly, all three of my cousins work for צבא ההגנה לישראל, otherwise known as the Israeli Defense Force.

    When I pop on CNN I do look for my youngest cousin, since he's active Army, but I havent seen him yet :)

    Salmon, Berry Salsa

    Now that I have more than 5 minutes a day to cook, I am doing exactly that. Here is one of my new favorites.

    Salmon with Berry Salsa

    1 Cucumber, finely chopped
    1 Yellow Bell Pepper, finely chopped
    3 Green Onions, finely chopped
    1 Serrano Pepper, finely chopped
    1 T Cilantro, finely chopped
    4 T Rice Wine Vinegar
    1 C Blueberries, chopped
    1 C Strawberries, chopped
    1/2 t Black Pepper

    1/2 Stick Butter
    3 Cloves Garlic, chopped
    2 T Soy Sauce
    1 T Honey
    2 t Lemon Juice
    1 t Lime Juice
    1/2 t Black Pepper

    4 Salmon Fillets

    1) Mix salsa ingredients, except berries, in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Before serving mix in berries.

    2) In a saucepan melt butter and garlic over low heat. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients and cook for 5 minutes.

    3) Prepare grill and brush sauce on both sides of salmon. Place rack about 4 inches above coals and grill fish for 5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily. Baste with sauce after each turn and again when done. You could also oven bake at 400 for 10-14 minutes.

    4) Serve with salsa.

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Big, Big Torch

    Finally made some time to go see

    Superman Returns

    Its a formula, so the plot was predictable, good conquers evil. There was a little plot wrinkle which clearly indicates the Superman sequel machine has started.

    I enjoyed it as I expected. But here were the surprising elements. Parker Posey - she showed up as Kitty, Lex Luther's girlfriend. It doesn't matter what role she plays or how much camera time she has, Posey's characters all take center stage. Except for Brandon Routh, she outshines everyone, even Kevin Spacey. They don't call her the Queen of the Indies for nothing.

    The other surprising element was situational. I had no other time to see this but Sunday afternoon. The theatre was jammed full of kids. Not my usual scene and I thought I would have to go to the extremes of the theatre to get some peace. However, the kid density worked for me. Everytime Superman saved someone, the kids, en masse, applauded and shouted. Anytime Lex Luther appeared he was booed, some kids even threw popcorn at the screen. I totally enjoyed the enthusiastic audience participation. Aside from cleaning butter flavoring out of my shirt, I think seeing Superman movies with a big group of kids will be the way to go in the future.

    The Superman torch has been passed to Brandon Routh. He is a beautiful man, a convincing superhero and very much worthy of carrying on the Superman legacy.

    Somewhere, Christopher Reeves is smiling.