ATaste of Cozumel, One Night Only, in Texas

Sometimes in this life, as strange as it sounds, you get to go eat places that you don’t even get to go eat. That’s pretty much what happened last night, when I went to Cozumel on the Mexican Caribbean for a couple hours – by way of Chef Peter Laufer and his Table One right at the Hotel InterContinental on the traffic-snarled 610 Loop in Houston. You might say, we all pretended we were on the beach at a sister resort in Cozumel - perhaps no one pretending more than Chef Peter, who actually had to work this gig.

The disconnect was pretty extreme: six of us sitting in the tiny room off the InterCon’s busy kitchen (as a banquet for 600 trundled ahead somewhere that seemed far away). Though Table One is no Caribeno Palapa (pictured above), the Houston chef did his best to transport us by way of his food. We also got to swap war stories with two essential representatives of the Cozumel resort – Swiss-born GM Henry Walther, plus his Guadalajara-born director of sales and marketing, Martha Paredes. The menu carried us through tortilla chips with fresh salsa and guacamole, ceviche, a very classed-up version of tortilla soup, snapper roasted in banana leaf with guajillo sauce, and a dessert letting arroz con leche share a plate with fresh tango and a super-crispy sopaipilla.

And while it seemed an even longer leap of faith and food, we talked about the resort’s own edition of Alfredo di Roma. Years ago, I became friends with a polished but now-deceased gentleman named Guido Bellanca, who had somehow talked the heirs of Alfredo’s in Rome (that’s right, the place that invented fettuccine Alfredo in 1914, only to see it bastardized almost everywhere) into letting him open the real deal in New York City and in the World Showcase at Disney’s EPCOT. Someday, when I actually make it to the Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort & Spa in person, I won’t only feast on chips and salsa,  ceviche, tortilla soup, snapper roasted in banana leaf and some kinda tropical dessert. I already have my order in for some fettuccine that Alfredo di Lello would recognize as his own.

Sushi on a North Texas Country Highway?

In a world in which Japanese sushi is urban, urbane and expensive – especially at places like Uchi that expanded into the Houston market from Austin and Katsuya from Los Angeles – is it even possible that some serious versions of the stuff can be found at a general store that may or may not be a gas station outside Ennis, TX? The sign has trouble holding onto letters, obviously, but you catch the drift quickly and turn in off the winding highway through the bluebonnets. Talk about… Only in America!

Only after lunching and leaving the Bristol General Store and Grill (Bristol being the nearest town, or village, or hamlet, or whatever) did a local suggest the gas pumps weren’t actually functioning anymore. And that seemed a  shame, since “sushi at a gas station” was about as dramatic and unexpected as life can get. One of the employees was trying to jump-start someone’s car out front, but I suppose it may have been a family member’s.

So… you enter this little country store that may or may not pump gas, and if you forgo the pleasures of tortilla chips and canned ravioli, you step up to the counter and order from a picture book of entirely legitimate sushi and sashimi. Having pictures is a plus around here, apparently.  In this part of the country, a lot more sushi things are fried than we’re used to – batter-fried in the holy name of “tempura” – but otherwise the sushi tastes fresh and delightful. You can do takeout or eat from styrofoam at comfortable shaded picnic tables outside. We’ve traveled a long, wonderful road from brisket and beans, let me tell you!

Umami in Nine Courses by Four Chefs

Without even the much-ballyhooed “magic of television,” I went to dinner last night at two of my favorite Houston restaurants. The chef and sous chef of both Kata Robata and Haven got together (that’s a quartet of chefs, if you’re counting) to prepare something called an Umami Dinner. And while the dictionary does us no favors by defining/describing umami as “savoriness,” the four chefs went the extra mile to help us understand.

“Chef Hori” (Manabu Horiuchi) was the gracious host on behalf of Kata, but it was hard to forget Randy Evans of Haven was in the kitchen when these Texas Gulf Coast oysters showed up with a minimum of camouflage. Yes, there was something on top called “ghost pepper caviar” plus a very simple mignonette. But mostly what was waiting on these half shells was a glistening, salty-clean taste of the sea. The oysters were expertly paired with some bubbles, California’s Domaine Carneros Brut Rose.

These days, fusion or no fusion, so many culinary threads come together over uncooked fish. This ceviche, for instance, was pleasantly citrusy, complete with the surprise of the “olive oil sorbet.”  At the tables, words like ceviche were awash among other words like sushi and sashimi. All in all, the Umami Dinner had nine courses, so each tended to be small and tending toward light.

While cooking definitely understands the concept of “top billing” – which of course goes to the chef-owner or executive chef of each restaurant – there was a good deal of attention paid to each sous chef: Mark Gabriel Medina of Kata Robata and Jean Philippe Gaston of Haven. This, for instance, was Medina’s reinvention of the salad, with grilled leeks, gruyere cheese, mustard seeds, spiced walnuts and a balsamic glaze.

Almost as though this were an Italian dinner, it definitely had a “pasta course” –  the pasta made with the fennel Italian cooks use as often as possible. Still, what happened to this pasta after that wasn’t Italian, starting with something called “karasumi,” plus Meyer lemon zest, pine nuts and olive oil. The wine paired with this was the lovely De Westhof Bon Vallon chardonnay.

Mackerel remains something of an acquired taste, whether we euphemize it as “full-flavored” or call it what all old-time Gulf fishermen always call it, “oily.”  Still, Chef Hori turned to mackerel for one of the most traditional Japanese dishes of the evening, braising the fish in miso before pairing it up with frisee, kumquats and an intriguing “espuma” tinged with mustard. True to tradition, the dish showed up with a glass of sake, the Kanbara “Bride of the Fox” junmai ginjo.

Chef Randy made a heartfelt joke to the 30 lucky diners, something about not wanting to ”mess up” seafood in front of a sushi master like Chef Hori. As big fans of Haven, we’re sure Evans would have done seafood fine. But we were more than happy with his quail “Scotched” eggs, meaning stuffed into a sausage ball, and especially with this veal with beat puree, crispy fried kale chips and unexpected (though unsweet) cocoa nibs The veal dish showed up with the delicious Z Blend from Paraduxx.

When you reach the ninth course of any menu, it’s kinda hard to guess what – if anything – the folks out front want for dessert. Hint: They want something. And second hint: it’s almost certainly chocolate. The four umami dinner chefs came up with a pound cake of dark chocolate and coffee, with a mildly bizarre trio of sesame sherbet, orange marmalade and tamarind curd. Whatever that sounds like to you, it produced nothing but empty dessert plates in Kata Robata’s dining room.

Latin Bites: The Next Generation

If you were among “the few, the proud” to embrace the original Latin Bites Cafe in the tiny corner space that once was Dharma Cafe, then you’re likely to find the new Woodway location bigger, better – and, happily, exactly the same. That’s what I caught myself thinking during dinner last night, in some ways missing the BYOB status of the old joint but rooting for chef Roberto Castre and his partners to make lots of money selling us  wine, beer and cocktails. Heck, when the manager brought us a Pisco Sour, the national drink of Castre’s native Peru, I raised a toast to the joys of capitalism.

I’m guessing you know enough about food history to know that potatoes hail from Peru – no, not from Ireland. And that, while most of us think of potatoes as a single thing, there are hundreds if not thousands of types of potatoes grown in Peru to this day. All shapes, all colors, all textures. Which helps explain how potatoes can anchor the Peruvian appetizer above, called causitas. Three little mounds or cakes of whipped potatoes support various salads plus a host of very different Martian-colored sauces that all feel like mayo on your tongue. The one with shrimp escabeche is our favorite.

Let me count… the menu at the new Latin Bites features no fewer than 14 spins on ceviche – here spelled cebiche and logically more in the Peruvian than the Mexican mold. Several of the most popular cebiches feature mixes of seafoods- fish, shrimp, squid, octopus, you name it. But the mood was upon us for shrimp, and this dish did not disappoint. Yes, there are excellent marinated shrimp under all that taste and texture, plus sweet potato, white Peruvian corn and a crunchy roasted version thereof.

Yes, even the main dishes that come with rice on the side come with potatoes in the middle – like this seafood entree called pescado a la chorillana, the pan-seared fish ending up tasting a bit Chinese in spite of itself. Fact is, there are tons of delightful Asian touches in Peruvian food, a “fusion” brought about naturally by millions of immigrants from China and beyond over the decades. To be Peruvian, I gather from Chef Roberto, is to embrace your inner fusion.

There are several dazzlers among the desserts at the new Latin  Bites (which, by the way, is at 5709 Woodway, a location that most recently attracted attention as the gutsy but shortlived Rockwood Room). Our favorite finale, though, has to be the Latin Bites Terrine, a frozen layering of mango, chirimoya and white chocolate served with dulce de leche truffles and that glistening tire tread of raspberry coulis.

Terrific Tapas at Austin’s Malaga

I tasted my life’s first tapas in Spain four decades ago – I loved them then, and I love them now. In the interim, tapas have been the “next big thing” in food several times, without ever actually becoming the next big thing. Yet the basic concept – tasting small plates of many foods instead of one big plate of one thing – has worked its way into our ideas about eating. Yes, even here in Texas. Especially at the 13-year-old Austin tapas destination called Malaga.

With Central Market chef-instructor Nancy Marr at my side – she who makes even me look like I know what I’m doing when I teach cooking classes there – we settled in for a long night of radio, eating, drinking and visits from Malaga executive chef Alejandro Duran. Born in Spain to a Spanish mother but dragged through many regions of Mexico as a kid by his Mexican-agriculture official father, Duran seems the best of both Old World and New. And the tapas he served Nancy and me did too.

This metal tower, usually reserved in fancy seafood houses for those $75 shellfish samplers, here delivers my oldest and most favorite traditional tapa along with, as though to underline my point, something the chef probably thought up day before yesterday. Without a Mexican tortilla in sight, the tortilla Catalan (his version of tortilla espanola) is an omelet by way of a frittata. An egg thing, in other words. The bottom dish offers fire-roasted Spanish piquillo peppers stuffed with fresh goat cheese and capers.

Thankfully tending toward the mild side, goat cheese is a favorite for just about any use at Malaga, including contained in these fried cakes served atop some wonderful sweet red onion marmalade and then drizzled with honey. Atop that is something of a surprise, a few crumbles of dried lavender – like the cheese itself, nothing too overpowering. Duran has a real flair for combinations done with equal parts surprise and restraint.

You know your half-remembered high school Spanish is in over its head when the menu promises calcots y setas a la parilla, beyond guessing that something is going on the grill. The dish is actually a symphony of different tastes and especially textures: grilled asparagus, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, fire-roasted piquillos and spring onions, all done up with toasted Marcona almonds, Cabrales bleu cheese and a bit of Romesco vinaigrette for dipping.

I am definitely one of those guys, as I explained to Nancy with some trepidation, who never met a meatball he didn’t like. So of course I dove head-first into Duran’s albondigas en salsa brava. According to the chef, for every one customer who finds these rounds of beef and pork not fried or “Sicilian” enough, hundreds of others keep coming back for more. The tomato sauce is kicked up with cumin and coriander, definitely putting the brava in this salsa.

In a tapas bar like Malaga, it isn’t about the traditional progression from little appetizers to big entrees, since all the plates are small and intended to gang up on you. Still, I did find one of the things I most wanted to gang up on me: the so-called empanadas Salamanca, named after the fascinating ancient university town. Light years removed from familiar Mexican empanadas, these are light turnovers stuffed with spinach, Mahon cheese and mushrooms. There’s roasted garlic-herb aioli drizzled over the top, plus spicy roasted tomato sauce on the side. In an instant, I who was in Spain forty years ago and Nancy who was there a few months ago both found ourselves in the passionate heart of Spain once again.

Fab Food and Fab Five on Kemah Boardwalk

The concept of Sunday Funday is alive and well, and – especially during these glory days of spring and presumably fall – living on the Kemah Boardwalk. With temperatures mild during the daylight hours and turning chilly only after dark, the destination on Galveston Bay that used to be for bikers-only has been turned into a kind of Magic Kingdom for restaurants associated with Tilman Fertitta. And in the spirit of a lovely afternoon, that’s not a bad thing.

The modern version of Kemah lets you know it’s a Magic Kingdom because you have to get there by boat – if you want free parking, that is. The lot that doesn’t charge is connected to Tilman’s Boardwalk Empire by a “boat shuttle” that, instead of a 30-minute ride across a lagoon to Mickey’s place in Orlando takes about four minutes to cross maybe 30 feet of not-so-open water. Best of all, the boat deposits you and yours on the boardwalk beside (or maybe behind) the Aquarium Restaurant.

Appropriately on the waterfront, almost every eatery on Kemah Boardwalk serves seafood in some form, much of it delightfully deep-fried. There’s a Landry’s, of course, the place that launched a thousand concepts, in addition to the Aquarium – where you actually watch fish swim around even as you eat their kin. Still, the idea of Tex-Mex sounded right to our little group, launching us in the direction of Cadillac Bar. And that launched us in the direction of this Tortilla Soup, some of the best we’ve ever tried.

The thing about Tex-Mex: it always tastes a lot better than it looks. Here, for instance, is the cheese enchilada plate named for the border town of Laredo – and since the original Cadillac Bar was born on the border, it just kinda made sense. There are several types of enchiladas offered with several types of sauces (including the chili con carne with chopped onions so beloved here in Texas), but this one had more of a red chili (or chile) gravy bookended by rice and refried beans. 

And oh yeah… we shouldn’t forget the reason we thought of this Sunday Funday on Kemah Boardwalk in the first place. We wanted to see the Fab Five, one of the better Beatles tribute bands around. In the course of their almost four-hour set (after a performance by Elvis impersonator Vince King, who we want to catch next time), the Fab Five played not only the Fab Four but lots of non-Beatles British Invasion plus even some hits from Motown. Long after the sun slowly sank in the West, folks were dancing and clapping their hands, no doubt feverishly trying to work off the all-too-edible handiwork of Tilman Fertitta.

Chef Aquiles and James Tidwell on DM

NOW HEARD IN THREE GREAT TEXAS CITIES! 

AUSTIN Saturdays 10-11 a.m., Talk 1370

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

This week we check out one of the most interesting and impressive debuts we’ve encountered in a while: the tropical Mexican seafood place called La Fisheria in Houston. We sit down for a tasting and chat with handlebar-mustached chef-partner Aquiles Chavez, who’s something of a food-themed TV star south of the border. And in our Grape & Grain segment, we sample some exciting wines with master sommelier James Tidwell of the Four Seasons Resort at Las Colinas. 

HOUSTON Saturdays 2-3 p.m., News Talk 1070 KNTH

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

This week we check out one of the most interesting and impressive debuts we’ve encountered in a while: the tropical Mexican seafood place called La Fisheria in Houston. We sit down for a tasting and chat with handlebar-mustached chef-partner Aquiles Chavez, who’s something of a food-themed TV star south of the border. And in our Grape & Grain segment, we sample some exciting wines with master sommelier James Tidwell of the Four Seasons Resort at Las Colinas. 

DALLAS Saturdays 7-8 p.m., 570 KLIF

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

This week we check out one of the most interesting and impressive debuts we’ve encountered in a while: the tropical Mexican seafood place called La Fisheria in Houston. We sit down for a tasting and chat with handlebar-mustached chef-partner Aquiles Chavez, who’s something of a food-themed TV star south of the border. And in our Grape & Grain segment, we sample some exciting wines with master sommelier James Tidwell of the Four Seasons Resort at Las Colinas. 

Our 22nd Year of Eating, Drinking and Telling You About It! 

This Week’s Delicious Mischief Recipe

BEJAS GRILL SHRIMP ENCHILADAS 

We’ve always loved this outpost of creative Southwestern flavors at the heart of Fredericksburg. These shrimp enchiladas in a creamy cheese sauce have become a Bejas Grill signature. 

White Sauce:

6 cups heavy cream

4 tablespoons burgundy wine

4 tablespoons corn starch

4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

8 corn tortillas, dipped in oil

2 cups shrimp

1 cup mango

1 cup red bell pepper

Old Bay seasoning

Fresh dill to taste

2 cups Mexican rice

2 cups black beans

2-3 lime wedges

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large pot, heat the heavy cream until it boils. Add the cheese and stir

until blended, then add the wine and corn starch. To make the quick mango salsa, dice equal parts of

mango and red bell pepper. Squeeze the lime juice over the top. Peel the shrimp and butterfly. Marinate

for about 30 minutes using old bay seasoning and dill. After the shrimp have marinated, lightly grill

approximately 2 minutes, turning once or twice. Rough-chop the shrimp.

Moisten the tortillas with a little oil and preheat for 30 seconds on the grill, for greater flexibility in

rolling. Lay out tortillas, add shrimp and roll gently. Place in a ceramic baking dish, folded side down.

Upon completion of all enchiladas, pour cream sauce on top and bake for approximately 10 minutes,

until hot and bubbly. Plate enchiladas with rice and beans, and add a couple of spoons of mango salsa

on top of each enchilada. Serves 4.

NYC, Izkali Tequila on DM This Weekend

NOW HEARD IN THREE GREAT TEXAS CITIES! 

AUSTIN Saturdays 10-11 a.m., Talk 1370

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

We broadcast from New York City this week, catching up on trends and visiting with friends. One of the most intriguing trends goes by the slogan “Asian locavore,” and we settle in to talk and taste with much-praised chef Simpson Wong. We also chat about the future of “hotel restaurants” with Klaus Ortlieb, whose Gotham Hotel includes an impressive eatery called Tenpenny. In our Grape & Grain segment, we zero in on Izkali tequila, based in Texas but made (of course) in the Mexican state of Jalisco. 

HOUSTON Saturdays 2-3 p.m., News Talk 1070 KNTH

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

We broadcast from New York City this week, catching up on trends and visiting with friends. One of the most intriguing trends goes by the slogan “Asian locavore,” and we settle in to talk and taste with much-praised chef Simpson Wong. We also chat about the future of “hotel restaurants” with Klaus Ortlieb, whose Gotham Hotel includes an impressive eatery called Tenpenny. In our Grape & Grain segment, we zero in on Izkali tequila, based in Texas but made (of course) in the Mexican state of Jalisco. 

DALLAS Saturdays 7-8 p.m., 570 KLIF

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

We broadcast from New York City this week, catching up on trends and visiting with friends. One of the most intriguing trends goes by the slogan “Asian locavore,” and we settle in to talk and taste with much-praised chef Simpson Wong. We also chat about the future of “hotel restaurants” with Klaus Ortlieb, whose Gotham Hotel includes an impressive eatery called Tenpenny. In our Grape & Grain segment, we zero in on Izkali tequila, based in Texas but made (of course) in the Mexican state of Jalisco. 

Our 22nd Year of Eating, Drinking and Telling You About It! 

This Week’s Delicious Mischief Recipe

LOBSTER EGG FOO YUNG

New York chef Simpson Wong of Wong in the East Village has attracted attention for many of his “Asian locavore” signature dishes – but none more than his upscaled spin on what may be the ultimate Asian peasant food. Here’s our version of Egg Foo Young made with lobster.

Sauce:

1 1/2 cup vegetable or seafood broth

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoon cold water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

 

8 eggs, beaten

1 cup thinly sliced celery

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup bean sprouts

1/2 cup diced fresh mushrooms

1 cup chunks cooked lobster meat

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 

To make sauce, heat broth in a small saucepan; add sugar and soy sauce and blend well over medium heat. Combine cold water with cornstarch in a bowl and then add to the sauce, stirring until thick and smooth. Keep sauce warm. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add the celery, onion, bean sprouts, mushrooms, lobster, salt and pepper. Mix together. Heat oil in a medium skillet or wok and brown egg mixture 1/2 cup at a time until set like an omelet. Serve Egg Foo Yung with sauce spooned over the top. Serves 4-6.

 

First Taste of Townhouse in Dallas

I went to check out the new Townhouse Kitchen + Bar at the Dallas Galleria the other night, not because I had some shopping to do but because – like the Monkees in their ’60s theme song – it may be comin’ to your town. In  fact, the Dallas restaurant is the first of three scheduled to be up and running in Texas by the end of this summer. The others are, quite happily, slotted to open in Houston and Austin.

Any restaurant that has deviled eggs on the menu has to be at least a little into childhood food nostalgia – and on some dishes Townhouse is a lot into it. Sure, there’s a dizzying variety of popular Latin tastes plus a nifty array of Asian (as you’ll see). But American food is the key to understanding the high-quality but also high-casual cooking emerging from this kitchen. These deviled eggs, by the way, are excellent, mostly the classic mix of mayo-lush and mustard-tangy but given a kick by the Asian hot stuff called sriracha.

And… speaking of Asian, one of the menu’s acts of pure genius is something called kung pao shrimp tacos. Come on! That’s like three of my favorite things, in a single dish. The spicy shrimp with peanuts are out in full force, all ablaze in the hot-meets-cool collision that makes Vietnamese and Thai food so terrific. And after all, few actions make anything taste better than putting it inside a taco. 

Nobody doesn’t like a quesadilla, right?  And nobody doesn’t like barbecue either. Those seem to be the deep truths behind the duck barbecue quesadillas. It’s cheese, of course, that glues the two tortillas together. But inside of that lurks some of the deepest, sweetest and smokiest meat you’ll ever slip into your mouth. There’s an extra wonderful taste here that I never could quite identify, and I ate a bunch in the effort to do that for you. Neither the menu nor the chef was in any mood to give away secrets.

Just as there’s the Better Burger movement making the rounds in America, there’s what I hereby dub the Grownup Mac-and-Cheese Movement. You know the type: usually dripping with obnoxious truffle oil, a product that most actual truffle lovers (like me) despise. In this case, the mac and cheese is classically yellow and extremely cheesy, with no truffle oil in sight. And for a few extra dollars, you can make it almost an entree by adding applewood-smoked bacon or shrimp.

Side dishes, it turns out, are one of the strongest suits at Townhouse Kitchen + Bar. When you’re not shoveling mac and cheese in the general direction of your lips, you really need to try the hash browns. Or, to be precise, the Jalapeno Bacon Hash Browns. I ate as much of these as I could, then took the rest home. In my kitchen, the leftovers will soon find a home in what might be the best potato omelet ever.

With everything else Townhouse has going for it, including a fun wine list and even funner cocktails, you’d expect large, indulgent desserts. And you would be correct. The one we sampled was all that and more – involving, like so many other dishes here from start to finish, a salty-sweet flourish of bacon. These are “bacon doughnuts,” fried balls of sweet dough in a sugary caramel sauce plus bacon crumbles on top, topped by the perfect vanilla ice cream. Maybe your mouth needs something as simple as vanilla ice cream after an assault of barbecue duck quesadillas and kung pao shrimp tacos!

DF Grille and Alphonse Dotson on Radio This Weekend

 

NOW HEARD IN THREE GREAT TEXAS CITIES!

AUSTIN Saturdays 10-11 a.m., Talk 1370

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

Only a week after visiting Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House in Houston, we find ourselves (quite happily) chatting with the general manager and executive chef at the brand-new concept called Del Frisco’s Grille in Dallas. And let me warn you: they make us eat way too much. In our Grape & Grain segment, we visit with former NFL player Alphonse Dotson and his wife, who now earn their fame and (at least someday) their fortune growing grapes to fine make wine in Texas. 

HOUSTON Saturdays 2-3 p.m., News Talk 1070 KNTH

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

Only a week after visiting Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House in Houston, we find ourselves (quite happily) chatting with the general manager and executive chef at the brand-new concept called Del Frisco’s Grille in Dallas. And let me warn you: they make us eat way too much. In our Grape & Grain segment, we visit with former NFL player Alphonse Dotson and his wife, who now earn their fame and (at least someday) their fortune growing grapes to fine make wine in Texas. 

DALLAS Saturdays 7-8 p.m., 570 KLIF

A Presentation of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods 

Only a week after visiting Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House in Houston, we find ourselves (quite happily) chatting with the general manager and executive chef at the brand-new concept called Del Frisco’s Grille in Dallas. And let me warn you: they make us eat way too much. In our Grape & Grain segment, we visit with former NFL player Alphonse Dotson and his wife, who now earn their fame and (at least someday) their fortune growing grapes to fine make wine in Texas. 

Our 22nd Year of Eating, Drinking and Telling You About It! 

This Week’s Delicious Mischief Recipe

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER SOUP

2 heads cauliflower

3 garlic cloves

2 shallots

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup water

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 bay leaf

2 cups heavy cream 

Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut cauliflower into 1-inch flowerets (about 10 cups). In a large baking pan toss cauliflower, garlic, and shallots with oil to coat and roast in middle of oven about 30 minutes, or until golden. In a 4-quart kettle simmer broth, water, roasted cauliflower mixture, and herbs 30 minutes, or until cauliflower is very tender. Discard bay leaf and in a blender puree soup in batches until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), transferring to a bowl. Return soup to kettle and stir in cream and salt and pepper to taste. Heat soup over moderate heat until just heated through. Serves 6-8.