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

Monday, August 25, 2008

Albóndigas de Jaime

San Antonio left a culinary impression. I was really impressed with the Albóndigas I had at Guajillo's, so I tried them myself. Not exactly like the one's I had but still noteworthy and servable to guests.

These are extra spicy, so cut the chipotle in half if you are heat-challenged.


  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 lb Ground Pork
  • 1/4 C Plain Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 C Cooked Short-grain Rice
  • 3 T Chopped Garlic
  • 3 T Chopped Cilantro
  • 1 T Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 T Salt
  • 1 t Black Pepper
  • 1/4 t Chipotle Pepper
  • 1/4 t Allspice
  • 1 t Cumin


  • 60 ounce tomato puree
  • 3/4 C Chipotle in Adobo Sauce
  • 2 t Onion Powder
  • 2 t Garlic Salt
  • 1 t Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 t Dried Oregano
  • 2 Ounce Dark Chocolate, Chopped
  • 1 t Black Pepper

To make sauce: Place all ingredients into a large saucepan and cook over high heat until bubbling. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 1 hour, occassionally uncovering to stir, taste and adjust seasonings.

To make meatballs: Preheat oven to 400. Mix meat and spices together by hand in a large bowl until blended. Form into 1-2 inch balls. Place meatballs on a baking pan and cook in the oven until firm, about 12-15 minutes. Remove and place into sauce. Simmer the meatballs in sauce covered for about 10 minutes.

To assemble: Serve 4-5 meatballs and sauce over rice, pasta or just by themselves. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Alas I was bad and ate them before taking a picture, when I defrost one of the leftovers I'll capture an image.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008


Apparently I am back to writing with a significant lag.

The work thing is busy this week; the principal is out for a bit and I am his backup.

I had a $1500 "tune up" on my car; good thing I dont have a car payment!

HEU Tara and the parentals were in weekend past, a good time was had by all. We ate at Cafe Annie, which was good 15 years ago and now its better. I drug them all to Pasha, which was surprisingly bad; dry meat and slow service, I'm hoping it was a glitch. We made it to the Museum of Fine Arts; still impressed with how easily I can get lost in the layers of exhibits that are below ground level. HEU Tara and I explored the world of $100+ bottle of Brunello, needless to say we did not make it off the sofa much that night :)

Friday, August 15, 2008


One of my neighbors while living in Dallas was a lovely lady named Joyce. Joyce was an interesting character - Chinese ancestry, born in London and raised in Jamaica; she didn.t see the U.S. until she was in her 60's. She had the accent, mannerisms and stories of a Jamaican. She was animated, energetic to the point that most people immediately shaved 30 years from her age, usually calling her 50 something not realizing she was 84. And she could cook Jerk Chicken like noone's business.

I love Jerk Chicken and while many try to make the dish happen in the US, it often just lays there lifeless. Lucky for me I live around the corner from Reggae Hut, a wonderful Jamaican restaurant serving authentic Jerk Chicken.

A co-worker, Sistah L, found this place online. I recognized the name having seen it daily and a group of us from the Cancer Shoppe decided to give a lunchtime try. There wasn't much conversation during lunch. The J's, engaged non-verbal communication; eyebrow raises and a few sounds that universally mean "We Like". And like we did. Sistah L was given due praise for her excellent find and we all vowed to return.

The atmosphere at Reggae Hut is very casual, the decor defintely could be considered island-ish. Not the place to take your snooty friends, more a place to take your real friends, your real friends who appreciate great food.

Other items to try here beside the Jerk Chicken are the Meat Pies; a spicy curry-spiked pastry shell wrapped around sweet-savory spiced ground beef. These are the size of small calzones so becareful not to order a dozen for apps. The Cocoa Bread was very interesting; a spongy-firm bread resemebling King rolls but with a hint of unsweetened cocoa. You'll definitely appreciate the neutralizing effect of the Cocoa Bread against the heat of the Casabel chile.

A special note to anyone who thinks they like spicy food. Jamaican fare is partial to Casabel chiles, which could be used as a lethal weapon, making the Habanero seems as tame as a bell pepper. So be careful with the colorful array of Casabel-based sauces stacked up at the entry. You could put an eye out.

Reggae Hut
4814 Almeda
Houston, TX 77004


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Thursday, August 14, 2008


After cousin Marnina's huge news about her pregnancy I got to thinking I had not been learning any Hebrew and I hadn't seen an Israeli movie in ages. In order keep in touch with my Middle Eastern roots I rented this one. Its a slow-mover but powerful just the same. It was nice to see an Israeli film that did not cover the terrorist or Palestinian topic.

Basically this is a story of one family unraveling and coming back together after the unexpected (and very odd) death of the father/husband. What I liked, aside from the scenery of Haifa, which I have not visited yet, was that the story resonated with reality. Scenes were awkward, tense and heart-warming in way that was believable rather than contrived. Despite the implosion of family architecture, in the end perspectives are adjusted and everything is בסדר (B'Seder, alright).

כנפיים שבורות‎ (Knafayim Shvurot, Broken Wings)

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Famlius Interruptus

Cousin from Austin was in town over the weekend for a get away from the kids trip. It was a surprise visit but still a great one. We gathered at Danton's, a seafood place near the Montrose bridge. A great evening of Gumbo and Martinis mixed with venting and dreaming.

We missed each other on Saturday somewhere between their massages and facials and my going downtown to see Dark Knight. We really intended to try Pasha on Sunday but they checked out of their hotel at 3am on Sunday morning. Apparently a frat party broke out in the room next door and hotel security could not get the situation in order even after three attempts. Suckage for them since they get few opportunities to get away. Also a good data point for me not to stay at or recommend Hotel Zsa Zsa. I kinda got the feeling it was a self-congratulatory, bubble-world clientele anyway.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Good Job, Heath

There's a reason Dark Knight has dethroned The Godfather from its #1 movie of all time position.

The Dark Knight

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Turkey has been popping up more and more on the radar. My parents just got back from a tour of Istanbul. They loved the city, people and food. I never thought we would get them anywhere close to the Middle East but now it seems we won't be able to hold them back from a return. Two other friends are set for late summer departures. Turkey has been on my to-see list for an eternity.

Since I have no vacation time until January, I will be living vicarously through others and continue to sublimate my jealousy by eating at Turkish restaurants. Ha, that'll show 'em.

I had a favorite Turkish in Dallas - Cafe Istanbul. It became the ruler by which others were measured. Not so much anymore, there is a better place in Houston - Pasha.

Pasha is hard to find. Its on a main street, Univeristy, near Rice. However, its in an old house with minimal street frontage and the street repairs and townhome construction are completely blocking it's westbound approach. The other gotcha with Pasha is that there are 4 parking spots in front (more in the back but noone knows how to get to them). No worries for me because I walk there, its only a mile from the subway stop and the big trees along University make the Houston heat almost bearable for walking.

I've been twice and twice I've been impressed. The menu is comprehensive and very well-priced. The service is casual but efficient. The decor is quirky but inviting; partly blood red deco, otherwise token Turkish items and generic Middle Eastern touches.

Pasha is super busy during the week and at night which is why I consistently go on Saturday afternoon. Last time I went it was me and two older Turkish men in the restaurant. They spoke Turkish and true to their Turkish roots they could not stand that I was at a table by myself. They talked and talked to me, they questioned and laughed. I could barely understand them but I think they felt they did their duty of entertaining the party of one. This time it was me and a table full of Muslim ladies. Odd - I was expecting them to converse in Arabic or some foriegn language but I got chicken-fried southern English. The other interesting aspect was that they were all black ladies. I've learned to expect the unexpected in Houston.

Muslim Ladies

Pasha has every dish honed to perfection. The hummous is thick and creamy with just the right garlic and lemon kick. The dolmas are dense and flavorful even without the yogurty dill sauce that comes with. The Iskeden Doner ( thinly sliced beef cooked in a garlicy tomato sauce then served over chopped pita) is awesome! Portions here are Texas sized. I can never eat a whole meal, I have to bring at least half home with me (although this time I gave the to-go box to a homeless guy in the Medical Center)

Pasha is now a staple; if you come to visit me in Houston, I will make sure you visit it at least once.

Turkish Coffee

2325 University Blvd
Houston, TX 77005
(713) 592-0020

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Today we get a snow day. Except theres no snow, just a big green comma hanging out over the city spitting out upwards of 10 inches of rain and some gusty 60MPH winds.

This isnt really a big deal, except the streets will flood, there will be tree branches all over the place and the power will go out.

Most people left work yesterday between noon and 3pm to "prepare". The building was completely empty by the time I headed home. This morning there are light sprinkles and no wind. I've yet to secure all the stuff on the patio because there won't be any weather drama until 9am.

Updates if anything interesting happens; just dont count on it.

UPDATE (330p) Oh my, there were leaves falling and I think my patio got wet! LOL. There is some serious street flooding, so I would have had alot of trouble getting around.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

500ml Epinephrine Push

I shut my cable down years ago - no regrets. It does keep me from watching some series real-time but I've found renting them from Blockbuster with a lag is perfectly acceptable. Of course I dont know what shows are available on TV but my friends offer recommendations. So far I've really liked some of their suggestions like Six Feet Under and Sopranos.

Earlier this year someone recommended this series. Probably because when I worked for The Company, I worked with a few people I was sure didn't have social security numbers, employment records or any other information that could verify their existence.

The someone was right. After watching the first show I went on gluttonous weekend of watching the complete first season, all 24 espisodes. All I can say is this is not the show to watch right before bedtime, you probably wont descend the suspense cliff quickly.

I love the writers for this show. While mainly sledgehammer action and insane suspense that loops back on itself, the situations and dialogue required some head work to make the progression of events seem anywhere near believable.

I've always liked Kiefer Sutherland and now I like him more. I would not have cast him as the hard-boiled counter terrorist operative but it works well. I'm only up to Season 4 but so far, aside from the Jack Bauer character, my favorite is Chloe. Her "personality disorder" driven behavior gives a much needed, quirky pause to the 45 minutes of jaw-clenching suspense.

Now that I've seen it I really dont understand the years-gone-by Muslim (over)reaction to 24. Yes, they portray some of their terrorists as Muslim. That is realism on screen, isnt it? They have also portrayed some terrorists as American, Serbian, French, German and Mexican; none of which had any connection to Islam. It seems balanced, not pointed or skewed to me.

Besides that, isnt the big picture message of the show that no matter how crazy and evil you are there will always be someone just as crazy but good to invalidate all of your well-planned destruction and, in fact, your very existence?


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