Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Renaissance Fest

This year's Ren Fest was way subdue than the past. I think it's because we went on a Sunday instead of a Saturday, and it wasn't around any big celebration weekend. As a matter of fact, the themed weekend when we were there was Roman Bacchanal, which I was wondering because I saw a ton of people wearing toga, and was wondering how that fit into the Renaissance times.

While my eyes are definitely bigger than my stomach, and I'm sure I would've love a Steak on a Stick or Sausage on a Stick (and those are David approved, more so than what I picked). I was walking around trying to find the Polish area because I really wanted the Gnocchi.

The ones they have were potato and mushroom gnocchi, guess that is to accommodate the vegetarians. But let me tell you, they packed the stuffing to the max. Every bite has some of the 'meat' in there.

Yes, they have funnel cakes, toasted almonds (which I bought a big bag of it), turkey leg, pizza. Oh yeah, tons of non-time compliant type of junk food that all fairs should have. While the fair season is now over, this should give you something to look forward to for next Fall.

Texas Renaissance Festival
21778 FM 1774
Todd Mission, TX 77363
(800) 458-3435

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


When David heard that Candelari's started to carry Gluten Free Houston's pizza crust, we've been meaning to go try it out.
The crust is thin, and at Candeleri's, you can customize your toppings. If you customize the gluten free option is only available in 12 inch, which the base price is $13. Each of the toppings is 1.50, and you can build your own pizza that way.

Our pizza didn't have much tomato sauce on it. But the toppings I like, simply that their quality is good. So I'll definitely go back for it. And definitely have to try their Caprese, looked really good. They do have Happy Hour special, and you can order for pick up too.

2617 W. Holcombe
Houston, TX

Monday, November 28, 2011

Genji's Restaurant & Bar

Friends and I decided to grab some last night bite. And they wanted to go to Genji's. I've never been, so I'm just following their leads.
Pickled lettuce and it's not as sour as you think.
Beef tongue, quite crispy.
Chicken Gizzard, kinda chewy
Beef salad, the beef is covered with mayonnaise. The veggie has a thin dressing on it.
Sukiyaki, it's a pot with tofu, onions, veggies, and beef.

This is literally a hole in the wall. There's not much to it, the place looks like a dive, but once you get in, they have a karaoke bar. You don't have to go up on stage to sing, you can sing from your table. The entire place is very casual. It looks more like a place to sober up after a long night of partying. As a matter of fact, they are open to serve food till very late.

Genji's Restaurant & Bar
(713) 780-0827
7964 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77063

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Macaron

For David's work, he would like to have some pumpkin macarons for their Thanksgiving pot luck. I don't mind trying new recipes, so thought why the heck not.
There are alot of pumpkin mac recipes out there in the interweb. In my head, I was thinking I would only spice up the filling. After all, I read that Pierre Herme' consider putting flavor in your macaron shell as unacceptable. He believe in the flavor coming from the filling. But, since I'll only be adding a dry ingredient, is that so bad to flavor the shell?

So, the normal macaron recipe:
(adapated from Mad about Macarons)
35g egg whites - room temperature
62.5g icing sugar
20g granulated sugar
45g almond flour
dash of cream of tartar
orange gel coloring
1 tsp pumpkin spice mix

1, Sift the almond flour, icing sugar, and pumpkin spice mix and set it aside.

2, Whip egg whites until foamy, then add a dash of cream of tartar. When the mixture turns more white, put the granulated sugar into the mix.*

3, Whip egg whites to soft peak, then add the orange gel color to your liking. Then continue to whip till stiff peak.

4, Fold in the almond/icing sugar/pumpkin mixture into the egg whites. Careful not to squish out the air out of the meringue.

5, Pipe out the macaron on parchment paper. Let it sit for at least 15 mins or when it forms a skin on top.

6, Baked at 320F for 9-10 mins. (start with this, dependent on your oven, the time may need to be adjusted)

7, Let cool then add filling to sandwich

*When I learned how to make the whip, I've been taught to put little in at a time. Some people like to baby-sit the sugar as it is being incorporated into the egg whites. However, as I've been reading more and learning more, dumping it all in or doing it little at a time really makes very little difference. Can you imagine restaurants and pastry shops having to baby-sit the sugar in a large quantity at a time? The only advantage of doing it little at a time is that you can avoid sugar splattered to the side of the bowls and you have to scrape. So that is entirely up to you, just make sure there's sugar in the egg whites.

Pumpkin fillings:

Pumpkin Ganache (failed attempted) - need to do ahead
3 oz of white chocolate
1/3 cup of heavy cream
2 tsp of butter - room temperature
1 tsp of clove

1, put white chocolate (chopped) in a glass bowl

2, heat up the cream in a saucepan, remove when it bubbles

3, pour the cream over the white chocolate

4, stir until the chocolate is melted, then add butter. The butter add fat content to the white chocolate, but that's also why it will need over night in order for it to be in a solid state.

5, stir in the clove and mix well.

6, put in fridge until ready to use.

**Here's what went wrong: I think I had too much cream or not enough butter. I'm used to doing 3 oz of chocolate and 1/3c of cream along w/ 3 tsp of butter, but I think I should've done 1/4c of cream in order for it to work better. You can put it in the freezer, but the recipe above will 'melt' like ice cream in the macaron sandwich. So, less cream next time!

Pumpkin Buttercream (2nd try)
I modified Yummy Mummy's recipe.
4 oz cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp canned pumpkin filling
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened - room temperature
2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tsp clove

1, Whip or cream the butter and add sugar into the mix.
2, Add clove and mixed until incorporated
3, Add pumpkin filling, one tablespoon at a time until smooth.
This mixture worked out so much better and very much to taste.

I also submitted this for MacTweet, check them out!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving!

picture from Social Couture

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


One night, Mom and I decided to go out to eat, and our eyes and ears were totally bigger than our stomach.

Went to Toyama, and forgot that they give us free appetizers after we ordered. And because the waiter and the supervisor guys remembered us, they brought extra stuff too. Yikes!
This is the special of the day. It's tuna flown in from Hawaii. Essentially, it's tuna tartar with pickled cucumber and spicy sauce.
The free appetizer, tempera stuffed pepper.
Agedashi Tofu (my favorite)
Lobster Tuna Roll - YUM!
Beef Negima Yaki - sliced beef that you dip this sauce in
Caterpillar Roll - ust because I love the eel sauce and not the avocado

I think we did the most damage this time between Mom and I, and not intention. Totally not realizing how much food that was and it's just crazy load. The crew there totally took care of us and I love going back there. Don't forget too, they give you free ice cream with tempura banana!

2802 S. Shepherd Dr.

Houston, TX 77098
(713) 528-8528

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cupcakes - 2

So yesterday captured my 1st time going to Sugar Bunch's Cupcakes and Cocktails. I got extra ones for another set of friends to do the same thing. It is kinda neat to learn how to play with all the tools and seeing people's creativity on display.
First one, again, was the fish bowl. I learned now that the trick is not to take the teacher's advise about smoothing it out with a spoon. It will only make it very messy, and your icing don't stick very well.

The 2nd one, again was the chrysanthemum, and this time, since I know what it is supposed to be, it's less porcupine-ish and more like a flower. I saw that they have teal colored sugar, and it mixed very well with the pink icing available.

For the 3rd one, it's supposed to be our hopes and dreams. Again, it's way too abstract, but I did see these on Pinterest. So, I thought I'd give it a go.

Not quite like the pictures, but you get the idea...
The 4th one, again was under competition. I forgot the theme, but I decided to make an Angry Bird. It's pretty close to the picture I had on my phone. And again, I was out beaten by 2 different flowers. Gosh, never can read the crowd right. But that's ok, I am very proud of my Angry Bird.

At the end, you get to dip into their mini candy buffet. Last time we went, they had candied popcorn. You mix that with M&Ms, it's an awesome mix. This time they only gave us mint and Skittles, I'd rather have the candied popcorn.

This is a very good setting for girlfriends time. You may not be able to discuss alot of personal stuff, simply because you are very likely to be in a 'class' with strangers and you probably don't want to share your issues with people you don't know. But if you bought up the entire class, they accommodate 12 usually. You're welcome to do that.

The other thing Sugar Bunch Creations is known for is their candy buffet. It's very in and very hip for parties nowadays to have a candy buffet. And lord knows it is not cheap to buy all the pretty containers and candy for a color them. So, let them do the work. They even decorate the labels for your party.

Sugar Bunch Creations
3206 Jackson Street
Houston, TX 77004

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cupcakes -1

So, a while back, there was a LivingSocial/Groupon/UrbanDealight type deal popped up. This looks interesting and good for a girls get together, so I went for it.

What it is, is you get 1.5hrs to decorate 4 cupcakes. For the grown up version, you can bring wine and drink while you decorate, for the kids version obviously won't have any alcohol allowed.

This is my first one, and it is supposed to be a fish bowl. We put on blue icing as the water, dipped the cupcake in Nerds candy (those are our pebbles in the fish bowl). We used writing icing to draw some seaweeds. Then stuck 2 Swedish fishies as our fish. Not the prettiest I've ever done.

The second one, we were to do a chrysanthemum. We again iced our cupcakes and they have pre-cut mini marshmallows for us to dip in colored sugar. Once we dipped our colored sugar, we stick the marshmallows in like petals for the flower. Honestly, though, mine looks more like a porcupine than a flower. (^_^!)
The 3rd cupcake we get to use fondant. I've heard tons about fondant and understand what they can do. After all those years watching Ace of Cakes got to paid off in some way.

But after all that excitement and anticipation, all I ended up with was a cookie cutter of a flower and couple of the small hearts. Hmm...

The last one, we were in competition with each other. The theme is Make a Wish, like they do on Cupcake Wars. That is just way too abstract than I can think on a dime. So I just cut a bunch of leaves for my 'flower' and use writing icing to 'glue' them on. Who knew that it turns out to look more like a Poinsettia?! So, that it is!

At the end of the night, they had us vote for the best decorated cupcake. Frankly, I still think mine was pretty difficult to execute. BUT! I lost out to a lady who did a bra in honor of Brest Cancer month. Alright... guess that is a better purpose than mine.

All in all, it was fun. They do use up the entire 90 mins. The teacher is nice enough to refill your wine, but you really don't have time to snack. I brought some snacks for me and my friends, and we didn't even have time to open the box. Sugar Bunch Creation Cupcakes & Cocktail Party 3206 Jackson Street Houston, TX 77004 832-267-7876

Friday, November 18, 2011

St Regis' Macaron

So my co-worker had to help run a lunch at St. Regis Hotel. Since we can't all go, she brought back some treats for us. This is a little dessert pack from the hotel. It has in it, (from L to R)a dark chocolate truffle, a nut truffle, a white chocolate truffle, and a macaron.
The pied (feet) looks great. It's tiny and cute to fit into their boxes...

As you can see, it barely measures to be 1 inch in diameter. So small.

I bit into it, and that's where things fell apart, literally. A good macaron should be chewy when you bit into it. This one, I bit into it and it all shattered. Which means it's too dry, and just been moist enough to keep it together. If it all shatters that can also means that it's been sitting out for too long.

Now, here's the tsk tsk for the hotel. For an upscale hotel like St. Regis who has a high tea that has a long waiting list, I'm surprised that they served a subpar macaron. I'm not sure if they're hoping the recipient doesn't know any better, or they just want to knock something out to fill the 4th spot in the box. It's one of those, if you can't do it well, don't do it type thing. In this situation, they shouldn't have done it. I rather them stick another truffle in there than to put a shattered, tasteless macaron in there. I was highly disappointed. Hope that was a fluke and not the norm.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

House of Bowls

So my friends told me about House of Bowls. I don't hang out at Chinatown very often, so I'm always the last to know about any good or new places. The style is very close to Hong Kong's Cafe, where we call the Cha Chan Tang style. Where it literally means tea restaurant, where they serve some Chinese food and food with Western influence, like baked spaghetti.
Mom and I ordered the salty fish diced chicken fried rice. It sounds weird, but I'm sure you've heard horror story of people who go to Chinatown in either SF or NY for the first time, or go overseas the first time and see dead fish hanging all dried and ugly looking.

As gross as that picture had painted, they are quite good. The traditional way of it is the fish is cut into a very small pieces, so small that you don't realized it until you ate it. It is definitely salty which helps accentuate the flavors. The chicken is diced, to me, it's really just provided the protein for the dish.

At Bowls, I must say, they did it right; like how I like it. ^_^

The other dish we ordered is Shanghai style fried noodle. The difference is really in the noodle. You can easily order any type of noodle dishes, but Shanghai style use thick egg noodles for the dish. It has shredded meat and veggie in the mix. My only complain is that it was way oily than it has to be. Otherwise, it tasted good.

My other 'thing' about Bowls is that their drinks is not up-to-par to the Hong Kong style anything. For instance, the Ying Yang drink is a mix of coffee and milk tea, but it is more of one flavor than the other. Twice I've gotten the same drink and it came out bitter. So, the mix wasn't done well. Same w/ the Lemon Tea my mom got, they should've sweetened it already, but all we can taste was the tea it was brewed in. That was slightly disappointing.

House of Bowls
6650 Corporate Dr,
Houston, TX 77036
(713) 776-2288

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Melange Creperie - City Hall Market

If you work downtown, you should definitely go check out the City Hall Farmers Market every Wednesday. There are alot of vendors there just in time for your lunch hour. If the weather is nice they do have tables and chairs along the reflecting pond for lunch. It's actually pretty relaxing.
Couple of the popular booths that you have to arrive early for are they Eatsie Boys and the other is the Melange Creperie. Both have lines starting straight up at 11a when the market opens.

For the lines at Melange, you do want to get there early before the crowd starts to hover. Every week, Shawn will make some special crepe with in-season ingrediants and fire up not one, not two, but four crepe makers to meet demands.

For $7, you get a nice lunch crepe. That week I had the garlic sausage with a pesto kinda sauce. I swear if you give Shawn any ingrediant he can make something good out of it.

If you don't work downtown but want a decent crepe, they now have 2 locations. One is the tried and true location in the parking lot of Mango on Westheimer & Taft. If you go on a Saturday, sometimes the Juice Girl will pull up and you get a nice little combo out of it. The second location is now at the parking lot of Stella Sola in the Heights.

Check their twitter for the latest update on times and locations. Either way, Wednesday they are at the Farmers Market down at City Hall.

Melange Creperie

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Aka Sushi

So, this is not a new place we tried, since we reviewed this back in Aug. But we did order something different, and thought it's worth a re-visit.
This time, I ordered the caterpillar roll, which have eel, cucumber, avocado on top and of course the eel sauce all over it.
Fresh chopped scallops. Forgot to tell them not spicy, so there was a kick to it.
We had an order of beef kusiyaki, which is a fancy name for beef skewers with lightly dusted teriyaki sauce.

I never had bad food or bad service here. As a matter of fact, my favorite wait person in the entire city works here. Even at its busiest during happy hour, servers made sure we're taken care of with large food orders ahead of us. So, I'm naturally partial to this place.

AKA Sushi House
PHONE 713.807.7875

Monday, November 14, 2011


I've heard alot about this place. From reviews and friends, all have been great.

We waited for a table for a good 20 mins on a late Friday night. It was ok since we were catching up with my friends so we didn't mind the wait, but our tummies did.
We ordered a meat and a veggie pizza. The pizza are all the same size, they were supposed to be a personal size, but none of us can eat that pizza whole.
I would say that each person can have couple of slices and it'll be satisfying. The crust is thin, and you can tell that they hand tossed, just like they do back in Italy. Speaking of, this is a real franchise from Italy.

3201 Louisiana St.
Houston, TX 77006
they do to-go orders, and can't hurt to call ahead and make a reservation

Friday, November 11, 2011

Petite Sweet

These are from different occasions but all are from Petite Sweets. The top is basically one of everything for a dinner party I went a few weeks back. I just love how vibrant their colors are. I know in there s a caramel, coffee, chocolate, pistachio, vanilla, mint, strawberry, raspberry, lemon and a blueberry. The others, I can't tell you what they are, but they tasted good.

And no, I didn't eat all of that by myself.
These are pumpkin and cofee
These are madelines, one is chocolate, the other pistachio. Very buttery.
One is berry of some sort, and the other vanilla.
All good, nothing bad comes from this box!

Also, one thing you don't know is that they have different cake balls, marshmallows, cookies, and if you need mini cupcakes for showers, you can pick your flavors when alot of places want you to order a dozen of the same flavor at a tme. Go order some for your parties.

Petite Sweets

2700 W Alabama

Houston, TX 77098
Phone 713-520-7007