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

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Sofa, To Dining

Living, To Patio

3rd Floor, To Living

4th Floor, To Living

Wine Glass Cabinet

Wine Tasting Station

Entry To Living

Whew, so there is the living room and patio. There will be a few more paintings after I finish Jerusalem, otherwise its the way I want it!

Interesting development: I found out this morning that all three of my cousins in Israel are expecting. In January 09 my aunt and uncle will be doubling their stash of grandkids. Live, live, live. מזל טוב‎!

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Saturday, July 26, 2008


After plumping up to 165 I went back on my F.IT diet. Its a pretty easy diet I find, just 6 days of a certain calorie limit then 1 day where I say F. IT and eat anything. I'm 11 pounds down but will continue for another two weeks as a preemptive strike against Houston Restaurant Week starting Aug 11th.

On my F. IT day, which was today. I decided to try a Houston legend - Frenchy's. If you are not knowing, they are Creole restaurant offering many items but if you ask anyone living in Houston after 1969 where the best fried chicken lives, they will all answer with Frenchy's.

Having spent a hunk of my youth in the Deep South I have consumed many a fried chicken part. Frenchy's is definitely a cut above the others. I loved the crispy heat thanks to the Creole-inspired recipe. And the Collard Greens were toothsome, spicy and savory with small bits of very non-kosherness.

Next week when I have my F.IT day I might have to go back. Its terribly convenient that I live close to the original location on the other side of 288. It might be a scary neighborhood but this kind of fried chicken tends to dampen down any residual fear.


3919 Scott Street
Houston, TX 77004

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Friday, July 25, 2008


I can stay in Houston now that I have found a great sushi joint.

As the spirals of leftovers from Hurricane Dolly started to subside I ventured out to try a recommended sushi venue, Oishii. I liked. Its not a pretty place nestled in its dingy digs on Richmond Ave. near Greenway Plaza. It is definitely not a place to see and be seen, which is exactly why it appeals.

They passed the standard sushi test of Yellowtail, Eel, Surf Clam and Toro. All were as good if not better than any others I've tried; the Toro being so fresh that it simply didnt require a chew. Rolls are mainly old-school but there are a few innovative specials. I highly recommend the namesake Oishii Roll for its texture balance of crab (with a C) and blanched asparagus topped with baked, chopped mussels. Delicious and I totally appreciated the minimalist sauce that accompanied.

Oishii is extremely well-priced for their high-quality goods. It is also a very small restaurant. The combination predicitably creates a wait for a table, as well as some slower turnaround. Service is still friendly and compentent, just don't expect now-now, go-go.

3764 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77046
(713) 621-8628

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I love indie films. But many good indie films never make it to theatre and they are rarely available on Blockbuster or Netflix. I finally found a way to get the indie films without the time and expense of traveling to Toronto or NYC for film festivals.

Its called Film Movement.

I signed up last month. Its a indie DVD a month for something like $13. The DVD has a feature film and a short film along with the usual fare of DVD extras. I think most of the films have not been (and probably will never be) released in theatre. I received the first installment and watched it over the weekend - Choking Man.

I liked. The story of Jorge, a chronically shy Ecuadorian dishwasher working at a diner in Jamaica, Queens and living in Harlem. He rarely speaks and most of his time at work is spent washing dishes and gazing at the what-to-in-case-of-choking sign postioned over his station.

Things start to look up one day when a perky Chinese girl starts as a waitress. But shyness seems to win out for Jorge causing him to delve into inner thought rather than acting on his feelings.

Two things were very interesting to me about this film. The location - Jamaica, Queens. Which is a distinct part of Queens and if you've been there you know why. My dad spent a hunk of his youth in Jamaica so its history and novelty have seeped into the rest of our family. But I doubt most people are familiar with Jamaica, not even native NYer's. An odd choice but it works extremely well with the gritty, quirky tone of the film.

The other interesting aspect was the animation blended with realism. If you remember the MTV video "Take On Me" by A-Ha then you will recognize the style immediately. Steve Barron produced that A-Ha video in the 80's and now apparently he is producing indie films. Nice transition!

The animation pops up when Jorge slips into his inner world. Its chaotic on screen when this occurs but it beautifully represents the isolation that he feels as a new immgrant who cant quite find a fluid path around the social interaction barrier.

If you've ever felt isolated in any repsect, this film will speak to you. If not, just watch it for technical aspects, those are quite good.

Choking Man

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Before I continue on with new place I have to introduce Jerusalem, since it will be making an appearance in the living room post. Its my first attempt at using acrylic paint. Or any paint. I am not an artist, clearly, but I wanted to try. Its not done yet, I still have to put some more work into the religious symbols and I plan on adding some Hebrew lettering.

( I know its a bad shot, I took with my phone :) )

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Monday, July 21, 2008


I walked a bit over 10 miles a day in San Antonio. I probably wandered into some neighborhoods that I shouldn't have but noone gave me crap. I also found out that when you are starting to get heat exhaustion, you stop sweating. There is also some numbness in the hands. Cool, huh?

Beyond that I found the Alamo. Quite unimpressive given its impressive history. No need to visit this site, its simply not worth waiting in line in the blazing heat. Take a virtual tour from the comfort of your living room. Your cooler living room.

The Alamo

I noticed this building from afar and kept walking until it wasnt afar. It turned out to be the Emily Morgan Hotel. I'm fascinated with triangular buildings. Flatiron and that kooky building on Market near Castro in SFO were always favorties.

Emily Morgan Hotel

The Emily Morgan Hotel aside from being one of the few examples of Goth Revival architecture this side of the MS River, has an interesting but uncertain history. Built in the 20's as a medical arts building, it morphed into office space in the 70's then became a hotel in the 80's. Ealier, although this is not clear, Emily Morgam was lady for whom the song The Yellow Rose of Texas was written. The story goes that she distracted the Mexican General, Santa Ana, at the battle of San Jacinto allowing Texas revolutionaries to defeat the Mexican Army. I kinda don't believe that since there is no real historical evidence that I've seen. Plus it would be ironic and then some that the "Yellow Rose" was a black lady. I guess it makes for good storytelling just the same.

The other interesting find was a neighborhood south of downtown called the King William District. I could have stayed here all day, the homes and grounds were fascinating.

King William District

I'll definitely return to San Antonio. Next time I will keep my walks a bit shorter and perhaps earlier in the day.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008


San Antonio, Texas

We could call this my second "white-boy in a sea of Latinos" trip in less than a month. San Antonio's population is 80% hispanic. Spanish conversations dominate their English counterparts. Tourism, military (Air Force) and Groceries (HEB - Texas' largest) make up a large chunk of the economy. San Antonio proper has more people than Dallas proper. Its hot here, damn hot.

Water Park, Dolorosa St.

Above Riverwalk, Commerce St.

There many reasons why people visit San Antonio. Most tend to zombie along with the other touristas in the Riverwalk area, that mecca of sub-street dining and shopping clinging to the banks of the San Antonio river. Its actually very nice as far as those kind of centers are concerned but I had seen it once 15 years ago so I didnt feel the need for a return.

Mosaics, Market St.

There are literally thousands of Mexican restaurants in San Antonio. Unfortunately most of them do not serve Mexican food, rather its Tex Mex. Nothing wrong with Tex Mex unless you would rather not have your food choked lifeless by pounds of Jack cheese then embalmed by sour cream, guacamole and over-salted refried beans.


Fortunately there is a large enough population from Mexico to merit a restaurant that serves real Mexican food - Guajillo's. Guajillo's is a small family run venue started 8 years ago by two brothers. I met one of the brothers after he parked his Harley outside the restaurant and did his meet and greet tour of what seemed to be very regular patrons. Humble, personable and sincerely surprised to hear that his restaraunt got hundreds of rave reviews on the internet.

What to order? It was hard to decide but I picked Sopa De Fideo; a wondermous soup made with a tomato-garlic both served over pan-fried vermicelli. Then I tried Albondigas, which are meatballs stuffed with egg and rice, served with a stunning tomato-chipotle sauce. If you ever find yourself in the area, these two things are memorable. This was the best Mexican meal I've had in or out of Mexico.

1001 NW Loop 410 @ Blanco Rd.
San Antonio, TX. 78213

(As you might guess there will be a SATX2 tomorrow :) )

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Thursday, July 17, 2008


So I guess its going to be a post a week on new place; I should be done by December at this rate. Anyway, I am off on treks through new territory; touring a new city and I have started painting with acrylics. Pics of both soon. Happy Weekend!


Sunday, July 13, 2008


Continuing on with new place - The Dining Room.

I wasnt sure about the dining room lighting. Its two slabs of glass with a bunch of coiled up wire inside. The actual light bulbs look like Christmas tree lights. It all hangs off 4 thin wires from the ceiling. Its growing on me but I still live in fear that it will drop from the ceiling and crack the marble table :)


Saturday, July 12, 2008


Beth Gibbons voice is dished up over and over like the perfect counter-culture lunch served al fresco in a thunderstorm. She sounds disconnected, off-balance and slightly disturbed by the musical tracks around her. Her voice floats like a disembodied head through the haunted house that is her band's latest offering. And if that sounds bad, well then, you don't get the group and you're probably not a fan.

Many tracks have been displaced from my iPod to make room for newer, more novel tracks but the 13 from their 1994 trip-hop beacon Dummy, have remained.

11 years between releases is a long time but it was worth the wait. Third is not like their other releases. Gone are the bassy, scratchy backgrounds that seared them into the 1990s trip-hop era. Replaced by cleaner, stranger sound reps and straight drumlines that present themselves unadorned without apology.

I liked. Portishead still has an undeniable magnetism, if only for their stubborn refusal to sleep with formulaic success.

Portishead: Third

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Thursday, July 10, 2008


Emerald Beach, Coprus Christi, Texas

I spent the 4th in Corpus Christi. I dont know why, it just sounded appealing; watching fireworks on the water, fresh seafood, a place I had never been in all the time I had lived in Texas.

I liked Corpus and I will return. Short version: its a laid-back, coastal city based mostly on tourism and oil. Anything and everything in Corpus can wait until tomorrow, so you can just leave your impatience at the city limits.

I understood the demographics before I left: 70% hispanic. But thats academic. The reality of being the only blonde out of 2000 people on the beach is quite another thing. It was like being in Mexico only closer and without those pesky border rituals.

I visited the State Aquarium, which is nice but small. Dolphins with tricks, pools of manta rays to pet, pools of jellyfish to not pet. Its not really worth the $20 admission ($4 of which is parking) but the surrounding area - the outrageous density of T-shirt/tourist crap shoppes and the USS Lexington - are entertaining and worth a visit. Corpus Christi has some very creative T-shirt designers, I wound up with 4 only because I loved the designs and the materials were great!

Texas State Aquarium

Dolphin Tank

USS Lexington

I wanted to visit the South Texas Art Museum but it was closed on the 4th and the hours didnt work with everything else I wanted to do. Next trip!

Downtown and South Texas Art Museum

Theres not much reason to go to Corpus and eat anything else but seafood. Fresh seafood, which is obviously abundant, has a wonderfully different flavor and texture. I found a couple of really good places but my favorite was Water Street Oyster Bar. I think I went 3 times in 2 days. Two things stood out; the mesquite grilled sampler (crabcakes, shrimp kabobs, tilapia and yellowfin) and a sushi roll called the Water Street (shrimp and avocado in a remoulade sauce, rolled then topped with seasoned, seared tuna). Even if you are eating in a group still try to eat at the bar, its quieter since its away from the main dining area (which is usually packed with families with small children in tow).

Water Street Oyster Bar

The gay community in Corpus is interesting. Well, if you like over-the-top macho Latinos, most of whom go out with their wives then are solo before midnight. Very friendly people regardless of agenda and I have to say it was the first time I truly enjoyed going out to a bar since I left Houston in 1993.

The fireworks display was incredible, despite the persistent drizzle and gray that permeated the weekend. Me and 2000 of my closest latin friends watched as they launched for about 30 minutes off a barge parked in the Gulf. The uninterrupted view and reflection off the water made for much better fireworks viewing.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Happy 4th!

Yes, I know its early but we will be spending some time in a place where internet access will be questionable. Its a town I've never been to but I've heard alot about. Pics next week!

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