February 8th, 2010

The Week That Was 2.7.10

We’re a small operation, but we cover a lot of ground. Sometimes it’s hard to sit down and write out an in depth experience about the places we go to every week. To compensate for that we’ll publish a sweet little ditty about the notable adventures of The Loop Scoop every Monday. Where did we go? What did we hear? What did we eat, drink and see? These are all questions that we ask each other and we’ll answer for you in our public forum. Enjoy.

This Week: Infiltrating Foodie Nation, Taste Test at Anvil, Nouveau Antique? Oxymoron much?, Thinking Indie at Cactus, Market of the Arts, Bagels: Breakfast of Slackers

Throwing Down Fungi with Houston Chowhounds
I have to admit the Houston Foodies scare me. They’re like that exclusive clique of high schoolers that were always making fun of everyone, but you never knew why. Anything that they say is way outside my zeitgeist and I feel like one little slip of my keyboard, one misspelling of “foie gras,” or not knowing the definition of “roulade” will end my chances of being “cool” in their eyes. I had to face my fears on Monday having bought a $30 ticket to the Mushroom Throwdown organized by the Houston Chowhounds. It was a veritable “who’s who” participating in the culinary competition (Robert Del Grande of RDG, Mark Cox of Mark’s, David Grossman of Branch Water Tavern, Michael Kramer of Voice, Chris Shepherd of Catalan, and LJ Wiley of the up-and-coming Yelapa among others), but it ended up being Rebecca Masson who took home the judges’ award. Was it worth the price tag? Maybe.  I didn’t get to try every dish, though I left Vic and Anthony’s with a full stomach. [Houston Chowhounds is on Twitter as well as Blogspot]

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The Three Reasons I’ll Never Quit Drinking Are…
You might think to yourself “Paul spends entirely too much time drinking at Anvil,” but don’t judge me. I do it for you.  It’s all field research done to make The Loop Scoop the loopiest and scoopiest publication out there. Each sip of Widows Kiss is less an exercise of imbibing than it’s collecting data for our Houston experiment. After a night of hobnobbing with the Houston Chowhounds and the various chefs on Monday, I needed a drink to wind down. Behind the bar, Justin and Mindy were taking the orders. It was a relatively slow night so after ordering the usual Old Fashioned I needed answers to a riddle that’s been bugging me for weeks.

“Justin, you once said that Green Chartreuse is one of the three reasons you would never stop drinking. I have to ask. What are the other two?” I inquire after wondering about that particular question for three weeks.
“Well, I’d have to say two and three would be Averna and common sense,” Justin replies with little hesitation.
“Common sense would be my #1 reason,” I contest.
“That goes without saying…”

From there, the tasting party commenced. Mindy (of @drinkswmindy fame) grabs four bottles from the narrow shelves behind her and eight glasses. She pours me a sip of Green Chartreuse, Averna, Fernet-Branca, and Cynar. If I’ve ever felt like a budding connoisseur of the alcoholic arts, this was it. I might have to move Anvil ahead of Common Sense on my list of reasons to continue drinking.

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Nouveau Antique… Unless My French Fails Me, That Doesn’t Fit
A new bar has opened up on Main Street between Elgin/Westheimer and McGowen. The Nouveau Antique Art Bar is one of the more eccentric establishments that I’ve been to in Houston. It’s not very often that you find a place with a theme revolving around reproduction Tiffany lamps and antique furniture. They boast one of the largest private collections of lamps and even if the owners are lying you’d be hard pressed to argue with them considering the number that grace the ceiling, tables, and shelves in the bar. Of course, my experience started off on an odd foot when I ordered one of the kegs of Fosters that they have in the cooler. Don’t ask me my reasons to be compelled to make such an order. I have none. After making it through my much-too-large can of Australian beer I made a wiser choice and switched to St. Arnold’s Brown Ale. A couple of brews with Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra crooning over the sound system (Wednesday they’re the exclusive musical guests) and True Lies for some reason being broadcast on CMT as my visual entertainment made it at the very least a relaxing night.

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A Pilgrimage to Cactus Music
“Do you ever have days that you wish you could crawl inside a song and live there?” was a question posed to me this week. The answer is “every day,” if you were wondering. This compulsion leads me to Cactus Music every three weeks or so. Sometimes I go with a specific album in mind. Other times I just pick something that I think that I’ve heard of or an album with an intriguing cover. Either way, you can’t go wrong when you go. On Friday I set out for the corner of Shepherd and Portsmouth needing a soundtrack for my weekend. Of course, if you think you’re to spend $10 at Cactus you end up with $115 in merchandise by the time you check out. Danielle may live for the accessories, but I live for the playlist.The best purchase of the current trip is a toss up between Willie Nelson’s and Wynton Marsalis’ collaboration Two Men with the Blues and The Magpies’ Eastern Standard Time. Check them out, you can’t go wrong.

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First Saturday Arts Market
The Heights is a place of wonder for me. The little town situated neatly within the city limits of Houston is comforting for anyone who stops to enjoy it. For as much as suburbia scares my constitution, the Heights version is something that I can get behind. With things like the First Saturday Arts Market happening week in and week out, there aren’t many excuses to avoid the area of town. I met up with Mitch Cohen, the director of the Market, to give me a little tour of the parking lot fair and some insight into the project. Artists, artisans, and their customers roamed around the small parking lot for nearly seven hours on Saturday. In one word I would call it “refreshing.” I have 799 more to expound later this week when we publish the full experience. Consider this a teaser.

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Prepping for the Super Bowl with a Bagel or Three
Breakfast isn’t really my thing. A couple of handfuls of Cap’n Crunch will usually do the trick if and when pre-noon hunger takes hold of me. For some reason Sunday brought the urge for some morning snacking that wasn’t going to be fulfilled by Toucan Sam. I attempted to make myself presentable and hit the road headed for the Hot Bagel Shop on Shepherd (2009 South Shepherd Drive). I love a good everything bagel and the one at Hot Bagel Shop blows the popular chain of Einstein’s out of the water. Sure, I’m biased toward Houston’s own entrepreneurs, but it’s easy to support a better product no matter what. After two everything’s and a honey wheat, toasted and with cream cheese, I was ready to take on Super Bowl Sunday and the transplanted New Orleans Saints fans sure to be “Who Datting?!” all over town.

— Paul

Comments

Richard — Tuesday, February 9, 2010 8:51 am

Good choice on that Willie and Wynton collaboration!

danielle — Thursday, February 11, 2010 11:48 am

I second the Two Men with the Blues album…in fact, this accessory-lover has been craving a visit to Cactus.

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