Elegance and Grace
 
 
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January 08 Edition   ::   THE OH SO INDULGENT NEWSLETTER
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NEWS

5 STAR GOURMET
We have been awarded the coveted rating of Five Star Gourmet for 2007 and 2008 on Citysearch by our satisfied Clients.
Thank you so much to all of you, who took the time to write about your positive experience.
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NEW RESTAURANT by
CHEF ROBERT GADSBY
- OPEN!

Who hasn't long awaited this news? I first heard it as a rumor from a culinary charity contact. Next came a blurb,"Plinio Sandalio (formerly of the Cookie Jar) is collaborating with chef Robert Gadsby (last seen at Noé) on Soma, a new venture with the owners of Azuma..."on jamesbeard.org Somas New Cupcakes

But I received an email from the Sous Chef himself saying Soma is open for business as of Thursday Jan 3rd 2008. No official opening but they are already busy. Read his email at my blog.
Right now they are running short hours, but they expect to have 7days Lunch and Dinner within a month.

For all of you whose hearts go pitter pat at this idea you can read the sous chefs blog for up to the minute updates and a history of the making of Soma.

Soma
713.861.2726
4820 Washington Blvd
(at the corner of washington and shepherd)
Tues - Fri: lunch & dinner
Sat & Sun : Dinner Only
Reservations: Yes, Definitely
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BISTRO MODERNE - CLOSED
Its no longer just a rumor that over-hyped Hipster Hangout at Hotel Derek is closing. The official website offers a short "Thank You" to patrons and according to fellow blogger Chef Philippe plans to remain in Houston.

Read Philippe Schmidt's press release here.

What is next for him is still a mystery but I look on with a child's eyes and will report to everyone as soon as I know.
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NEW MENU
We have a new menu for 2008!
Some of the old items are gone but have been replaced with fantastic news ones. We've condensed it from the previous 14 pages to a still bounteous 10pg and I'm sure you will find it has something for everyone!
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NEW LOOK
That's right Indulgence has a new logo! We have taken on the peacock as our mascot. A symbol of beauty,elegance and grace.
Our new look is to go with our same great service and delicious food. Now we have a mascot that represents it.

 

HEADS UP!
Mark your calendars! Here is a list of not-to-miss culinary events taking place in 2008.
Let everyone know you heard it here first!

JANUARY
International Festival of Flavors Week

What:Michael Cordua and Cordua Restaurants present the inaugural International Festival of Flavors Week, which will celebrate the flavors of Perú. Artista restaurant, located inside the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, will be the venue for a series of informative cooking classes and exotic dinners led and prepared by notable Perúvian chefs. Visit www.cordua.com for more information on the festival, including a schedule of events.
When:Monday January 7, 2008 – January 12, 2008
Where:Artista restaurant, located inside the Hobby Center
How:For reservations, call Artista at 713-278-4782.

19th Rodeo BBQ & Chili Cook off - Cy-Fair Division
What:Proceeds benefit the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The 19th Annual Cook off will be held January 26 & 27, 2008 and will feature more rootin' tootin' "trail cooks" than you can shake a chili ladle at. Saturday's competitions include Jackpot Pinto Beans, Junior Chili, Jackpot Chili, Fajitas. Sunday will feature entries looking to be named the best in Chicken, Pork Ribs and Brisket categories. For More details on the judging visit website.
When:Jan 26-27 Starting at Noon
Where: Traders Village just minutes northwest of downtown Houston on N. Eldridge Rd, Parking $3.
How:For information or to register for the 2008 cook off contact: David Campbell - Email: david.campbell@pollocksummit.com.

CELEBRATION OF AUSTRALIA
What:A week of diverse events celebrating the food, wine, art, tourism, economy and culture of Australia. Festivities will include Central Market’s AUSTRALIA DAY on Thursday, Jan. 31, featuring Australian food and wine throughout the store and cooking classes with Australian chef Jon Antony. Chef Antony will also join Intercontinental Hotel’s chef Peter Larson for the AUSTRALIA DAY GALA on Feb. 1, which will benefit the Texas-based children’s charity, Project Joy & Hope.
When: Saturday January 26, 2008 – February 2, 2008
Where: Throughout Houston
How: For more details, visit www.aacc-houston.org.

FEBRUARY
The 2008 Rodeo Uncorked! Roundup and Best Bites Competition
- VOTE FOR US!!!
What:This year we will participate in the Best Bites competition as more than 4000 people come to sample our food! This lively event will feature the announcement of the 2008 International Wine Competition Champions, as well as a culinary competition of regional restaurants and catering institutions. The excitement will be uncorked as guests visit winery and culinary stations, tasting 2008 Champion Wines and voting on their “Best Bites.”
When:Monday, Feb. 18, 2008, at 7 p.m
Where: The floor of the legendary Reliant Astrodome
How: Visit Website for Schedule and to Buy Tickets

MARCH
Springfest-Wine, Art, and Food Festival - Texas Style.
What: Located just 20 miles north of Houston, Old Town Spring invites you to its 9th Annual two-day celebration of Texas wineries and artists. A pleasant stroll around the town will acquaint you with Texas wineries offering tastes of some of their finest wines, talented Texas artists showing their original art and 150 unique shops in the historic railroad town. Cost: Parking - $3. Wine tasting - $20. Please mention this listing when inquiring. Held annually, mid-March.
When:March 8-9, 2008 -
Where:Old Town Spring - Beginning on 403 Main Street, Spring, TX 77373.
How: For more information, call 888-U-STOP-IN or visit Web Site

German Heritage Festival
What: Music/Street Festival celebrating German heritage with music, food, carnival, 3 stages, kids area, heritage center, beer, like Oktoberfest in march, fireworks, German church, 150 vendors, antique shops, and much more. Wir sprechen Deutsch. Cost: Free. Average attendance: under 50,000. Held annually, last weekend in March.
When:March 28-30, 2008 Time: 10am - 10pm.
Where: Old DownTown Tomball. 200 block of Main St. (FM 2920)
How: This event is Free! For more information, call 281-379-6844 or visit WebSite

Flavors of Houston 2008
What:Benefiting the American Liver Foundation. This fourth annual fund-raising event brings some of the top chefs in the Houston area together for an evening to offer their signature culinary talents to a limited number of guests in an intimate and exclusive setting. Each chef prepares a five-course dinner, complete with complementary wines, their restaurant’s table setting and wait staff to a table of 10 guests.
When:Sunday March 30, 2008 6 to 10 pm
Where: Hilton Americas Hotel downtown
How: For more information contact the American Liver Foundation at 713-622-1318 or email pwittlif@liverfoundation.org.

APRIL
3rd Annual Glass Slipper Ball

What: Benefiting Zonta International an organization dedicated to helping women. Sample a signature item from 20 of Houston's Top Chefs. Participate in silent auction with proceeds to benefit Zonta and Dance to Scott Gertner and Band.
When: April 19 2008 7pm-Midnight
Where: The Hornberger Center
How: Click Here for Contact Info

International Festival
What: This year Houston's Downtown International Festival Spotlights"Out of Africa" with local artists and food vendors. One price gets you access to all the food booths and to see the art. Opportunities to purchase handmade crafts and professional art. Will include free lunchtime concerts at City Hall.
When:April 19-20 & April 26-27
Where: Downtown Houston
How: Just show up and purchase tickets. Website

13th Bayou City Cajun Fest
What:Authentic Cajun foods will be prepared and served by the French Quarter Market & Grill Restaurant, featuring traditional favorites such as Crawfish Etouffee, Red Beans, Rice and Sausage, Fried Boudin Balls, Sausage Poboys, Crab Roulees, and thousands of pounds of spicy boiled crawfish. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Houston Heritage Cajun French Music Association of Louisiana, a not-for-profit organization created to preserve Cajun culture. They will be serving Hot Gumbo and Boudin.
When: April 5th - 6th
Where: Traders Village
How: Call (281) 890-5500 Or visit Website for more information.

Houston Highlights, a Celebration of the Chefs
What: Once again, the Texas Neurofibromatosis Foundation (NF) has teamed up with Houston’s finest chefs to raise money and help find a cure for NF, a genetic disorder that causes uncontrolled growth of tumors along the nervous system and affects one in every 3,000 people. Each year, Texas NF hosts the annual “Houston Highlights, a Celebration of the Chefs” event, during which Houston’s finest chefs come together to auction off a four-course dinner for a table of 10 at their restaurants. All proceeds from this event will assist NF patients with treatments and offer them hope for prevention – and an eventual cure.
When: April 22,2008
Where: Houston,TX
How: Contact: Laura La Rue Phone: 713-590-3770 Email: Laura@thepadgettgroup.com, Visit Website

SEPTEMBER
9th Annual Houston Hot Sauce Festival

What:The “Biggest Bubba / Crazy Texan’s” hottest hot sauce buying, rockin,’ dustiest, festival on the Gulf Coast is in the works.
When:September 20 & 21, 2008 Sat. 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. / Sun. Noon – 5 p.m.
Where: Houston Farm and Ranch Club (Just off Hwy 6 – 1.5 miles North of I10)
How: Visit Website for Updates

Turkish Festival
What: Houston’s Jones Plaza comes alive with sights, sounds and aromas of Turkey in a grand bazaar atmosphere. Artists from Turkey, dancers and Turkish culture.
When:September (day TBD)
Where: Houston Jones Plaza
How:Visit Website for Day and Time or Call (832) 251-8405 for more information.

OCTOBER
The Houston Cellar Classic
What: Will feature more than 25 exceptional wine and food events. This schedule includes wine tastings, food and wine pairing dinners, wine classes, sommelier competitions, a farmers’ market, and more – not to mention amazing retail prices on TTR’s expansive selection of wines from around the world.
When:October 20-26, 2008
Where: Click Here For Locations
How: Check back and Click Here for Ticketing Info

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Recipes

Plan a Romatic Dinner on a Budget

Menu For Two
After shopping all those winter sales this month
you may not have much in your wallets for cooking up romance.
How about a few recipes, nearly anyone can make,
that will bring that special someone to their knees?

Menu
Fresh Prosciutto wrapped Melons
Rich salty San Danielle prosciutto offset by bright refreshing melon.
Apricot Glazed Chicken
Roasted to give crisp skin & tender meat and glazed w/ a cognac apricot sauce. 
Dizzy Chocolate Trifle
Fresh bright strawberries drizzled in decadent cognac chocolate and served with vanilla cream and .

Original Recipes - Copyright 2008 Chef Natasha Treu’ Fletcher

Fresh Prosciutto wrapped Melons
Sweet and Salty Sumptuous Bites

Ingredients:

 

1/4 Very Ripe Fresh Honeydew

1/4 Very Ripe Sweet Red Watermelon
2 Very Thin Slices San Danielle Prosciutto 4 Skewers
  • Directions:

    1. Using a melon-ball scooper scoop two round balls of honeydew and watermelon.
    2. Slice each in half.
    3. Slice the Prosciutto in half long ways.
    4. Pair the flat sides of a honeydew with a watermelon to make a two colored sphere and repeat for all pieces.
    5. On the skewer put one end of prosciutto then a duo of melon then pierce the prosciutto again so that it goes around one side of the melon then slide another duo of melon then finish sliding on the prosciutto so it is in an S shape. Repeat for all four skewers.
    6. Serve chilled.
    Makes 2 servings. Prep Time: 7 minutes
Apricot Glazed Chicken
A Dish for two to share

Ingredients For Chicken:

Apricot Glaze :

3lb Whole Natural Chicken - skin on

2 tbsp cognac

1/2 cup very thinly sliced yellow onions

1/2 c good quality apricot jam or preserves

2 teaspoons roughly chopped fresh thyme

1 tbsp honey

1/2 tsp roughly chopped rosemary

2 tbsp water
1/8 tsp fresh ginger 1/8 tsp finely chopped thyme

2 Ripe Organic Gala apples, cored and cut into eighths

kosher salt to taste
2 tsp brown sugar  
3/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper  
1/8 c cognac  
1/4 c apple cider  
olive oil  

4 tbsp unsalted butter

 
  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    2. To make the glaze, in a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients except water. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened and reduced almost by half, about 8 minutes. Whisk in water. Remove from the heat and reserve.

    3. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Rub lightly with olive oil. Season on all sides with the salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. Place in roasting pan that is coated with oil and roast for aprox 10 minutes until spices adhere to skin.

    4. Remove and brush with the apricot glaze. Return to oven and roast for another 25 minutes, or until the top of the chicken is golden brown

    5. Remove again and brush the chicken.Turn over on roasting rack in pan so that the chicken is breast side down. Pour the 1/8 c cognac into the bottom of the pan. Return to oven and lower heat to 325 and roast for another 20 minutes.

    6. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until almost caramelized (not quite translucent), or about 6 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and when melted, add the brown sugar and cook until melted.

    7. Add the apples, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper, and cook until all caramelized, about 10 to 12 minutes.

    8. Add the cider and remaining herbs to the apples, and cook; deglaze the pan, cover and reserve.

    9. Remove the chicken from the oven and while it rests pour the pan juices into the left over apricot glaze and cook on med-hi for 3 minutes or until bubbly.

    10. Serve the whole chicken on a platter with the caramelized apples and the remaining apricot glaze.

    Makes 2 servings. Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 45 - 60 minutes
Dizzy Chocolate Trifle
A Dish for two to share

Ingredients:

 

1 Pint Fresh Ripe Strawberries - Rinsed & Sliced 1/4" Thick

1/4c Refined Cane Sugar + 2c Powdered Sugar
1 Pint Heavy Whipping Cream 1 tsp Pure Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract
1/8c + 1/4c Cognac (XO or VS) 1c High Quality Dark Chocolate Pieces
1 Pack of Lady Fingers or Pound Cake 2 Large Topped Wine or Brandy Glasses for Serving
  • Directions:

    1. Stir strawberries in ¼ c sugar and let sit 5 minutes to macerate.
    2. Make chantilly cream by mixing whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla in stand-up mixer or in bowl with hand mixer until whipped well.
    3. Heat chocolate in microwave until just starting to melt (aprox 15 sec) then stir in cognac.
    4. Set berries aside and reserve liquid.
    5. Whisk the remaining cognac into the berry liquid.
    6. Place 6 ladyfingers or two slices of pound cake the size of the bottom of your glass into the berry sauce and toss until coated completely.
    7. Place in the bottom of the glass and pour any extra sauce on top.
    8. Top with a few berries then layer with cream and top with the rest of the berries.
    9. Add a dollop of cream topped with one whole strawberry .
    10. Drizzle in zig zag patter all over with cognac chocolate.
    11. Serve immediately with long spoons.

    Makes 2 large servings. Prep Time: 30 minutes

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Rants n' Raves

Tafia

The Anticlimax
t'afia
By Chef Natasha Treu'

Chef Monica Pope was nominated for the 2007 James Beard award.In 2005 Houston Press Chose t'afia as Houston's Best Restaurant. In January of 2005 Gourmet Magazine said, "No Texas restaurant is more passionately local than Chef Monica Pope's new venture, t'afia." How do I know this? The information is printed in very large letters on the front wall of this fine dining establishment. With such bragging rights being utilized one should expect phenomenal flavor and an exquisite experience. Here is mine.

I had been looking forward to this for a long time. I've read about Monica Pope's concept and respected her ideals. I agree that it makes better dishes when you grow your food where you eat it and think it much better to use local ingredients than trucked or flown in items. I have advertised her farmers market in my newsletter for as long as I have known about it and respect her bravery as a female in the kitchen which is not easy even in this day and age. Because of all of this I had held off going to her restaurant until a special occasion. This was to be something to savor!

My husband surprised me with reservations on our date night and I was ecstatic! As we entered my husband commented on how it smelled just like Whole Foods. I informed him that it must be because they use so many local and natural ingredients and it is surely a good sign not a bad one. We sat down and I started looking over the menu. The specialty drinks made with the restaurant namesake called "RATAFIAS" were a must for us both. We heard the couple at the table next to us clamoring about their excitement as well, thus enhancing the experience.

It was a little wait for our server but it was the holidays so we understood that they might be understaffed. She brought us cute little soft rolls and butter in shot glasses. I loved it. Then we put in our drink order and asked for an appetizer recommendation. I asked if the chorizo was Spanish or Mexican and she didn't know but said it was great. We went for her recommended item, the bacon wrapped chorizo stuffed apricot. It was delicious. Full of flavor and simple. A lovely starter.

Another ten or so minutes went by and we patiently put our drink orders in. We both ordered the Ratafia Royale. When it came we noted that it smelled somewhat familiar which was strange since I had no idea what Ratafia was. We sipped and though it tasted quite unappealing and we couldn't shake the feeling that we'd had it before, somewhere... then it came to us both as if a light turned on. It tasted like cheap, Boones, strawberry wine, but worse, I had to trade mine in, I couldn't stomach it. The glass of wine I exchanged it for was much better so I optimistically moved on.

Anxiously we consider what we will have for our entree, then as a side. Strange combinations appear before us on the menu but we have confidence in Chef Pope, she must know how to creatively handle these flavors. Finally we chose and my husband orders a curried mushroom couscous, sounds great. I choose .

Our food comes somewhat slowly and I have enough time to overhear the table next to us quietly discussing their disappointment in their dishes and their drink. Discussing the lack of flavor and mediocrity that everything exhibited. "They must not appreciate the food," I think to myself. Surely it cant be all that bad. Then the wife starts in on "how hers simply tasted awful," and "maybe something was wrong with it". I tune them out and soon enough our food comes.

There isn't any kind of presentation but I enjoy rustic plating so I move on. Then my husbands face changes to a blank stare. "What is it?" I ask

"Well, just taste it," handing me a heap of dry yellow couscous.

"It taste like nothing! How is that possible, its curry, how can someone make curry that is flavorless?!" I am very upset.

"I know, I know." He sighs.

I close my eyes to taste mine, it must be better. Shock! My mouth taste like a health food store in a drought. We reluctantly finish our meals then the waitress returns and offers dessert. We give her a look as if she must be joking and after she is gone my husband jests about stopping at Taco Bell for a "real meal." Now I can't help myself, the temptation overtakes me and I turn to the table next to us.

"How was your meal?" I ask them.

"Um... well." Two long pauses. Then the husband answers. "Honestly, I thought the food would have more flavor, especially with the reputation."

I smile, "We thought it was bland as well. I'm so relieved that we're not crazy. We were really looking forward to this but it was quite a disappointment."

The wife replies, "I came here two years ago and it was fabulous, I really don't know what happened but this doesn't seem like the same restaurant. Very inconsistent."

"THis is my wife's birthday so we got the semi -fredo and she hated it so I told her we should stop and Mc Donald's for dessert on the way home," the man jokes.

"We said almost the same thing," laughs my husband.

"Oh well, at least we had the experience. Sometimes a bad experience is nearly as much fun as a good one." I seem to tease, but I mean it.

Everyone nods and then waitress hands each each table their bill.

ratafia
rat·a·fia \ˌra-tə-ˈfē-ə\ noun
French Date: 1699
1 : a liqueur made from an infusion of macerated fruit or fruit juice in a liquor (as brandy) and often flavored with almonds

t'afia
713-524-6922
3701 Travis St. Houston, 77002

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Seasonable Selections
Why eat seasonal?  

From a Chefs view:

Seasonal food is at its peak of flavor.
Its fresher and so it tends to be tastier, more
colorful, easier to work with, less expensive
and more nutritious.

Buying seasonal produce also provides
an exciting opportunity to try new foods
and to experiment with seasonal recipes.

From the Earths view :

By purchasing local foods in-season, you eliminate the environmental damage caused by shipping foods thousands of miles, your food dollar goes directly to the farmer, and your family will be able to enjoy the health benefits of eating fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables.

It also helps to to reduce the energy (and associated CO2 emissions) needed to grow and transport the food we eat.

NOVEMBER: What's In Season Locally in Harris County

HERB / FRUITSeasonal TX Fruit

Lavender (year round) Pick your own
Mix Herbs (year round) Cut your own
Grapefruit Pick Your Own
Honeydew Pick Your Own
Lemons Pick Your Own
Limes Pick Your Own
Oranges Pick Your Own
Watermelon Pick Your Own

Cut Flowers & Artisinal Goat Cheese - Pure Luck Dairy

PEPPER / VEGETABLETX Seasonal Vegetables

Beets
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrots
Celery
Greens Cut Your Own
Mushrooms
Spinach
Squash Pick Your Own
Sweet Potatoes Uproot Your Own
Tomatoes (year round) Pick Your Own
Turnips

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Looking For Fun Ideas In '08?
Want to Surprise the One You Love?

Try Out These Great Suggestions for Size

This newsletter is intended for entertainment purposes only. Indulgence and all those associated take no responsibility for any mistakes or misinformation.