Because Houston Cares

October 1, 2004 by  
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The Rose is a Houston-based nonprofit breast health care organization, and its mission is to ensure that all women have access to early detection of breast cancer, regardless of their ability to pay. With two locations, The Rose offers mammography screening, breast cancer diagnostics and The Rose Empower Her Sponsorship Program. This program ensures that patients have access to these services and to a patient navigation program that provides the support systems (physicians, chemotherapy, radiation and/or surgery) needed to overcome the hurdles that prevent any woman from getting into treatment. These services are free to those who cannot afford the costs. The Rose is a beneficiary of community organizations including the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Pink Ribbons Project. Additional support comes from events such as The Rose’s Annual Shrimp Boil, which just celebrated its 15th anniversary, and its first annual golf tournament.

To contact The Rose, call The Rose Diagnostic Center on Featherwood at (281) 484-4708 or The Rose Joan Gordon Center on Bissonnet at (713) 668-2996, or visit www.the-rose.org. Contact by mail at The Rose Diagnostic Center, 12700 N. Featherwood, Ste. 260, Houston, TX 77034 or The Rose Joan Gordon Center, 3400 Bissonnet, Ste. 185, Houston, TX 77005.

Lazy Susan Dining in Taipei

October 1, 2004 by  
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Ten is the magic number of Taiwan’s ancient culture in the modern, metropolitan, industrial capital of Taipei. The number 10 represents good luck and prosperity. When it comes to dining, the Taiwanese meal has 10 courses served at round tables for 10. In what might be the first example of “extreme dining” with a Lazy Susan on every table, if you are not adept in the use of chopsticks, other diners will spin an adventure of flavors and textures right past you.

Taiwan was founded by Chinese immigrants who brought with them 5,000 years of customs, traditions and cooking techniques. Since most Chinese were Buddhist, and thus vegetarians, soybeans are still a mainstay in the diet. Soybeans are an easy-to-grow protein that has many inventive means of preservation. Preserved soy is often referred to as bean curd or tofu. The creative uses of tofu are often compared to the creative uses of cheese and are often just as delicious, with many different flavors and textures. Several ways to preserve tofu are by baking, roasting, smoking and even toasting it to the consistency of bacon bits.

While in Taiwan to attend the Taipei Chinese Culinary Exhibition, I found many things to taste, explore and learn. Most important was learning how to say “thank you” in Chinese, which is pronounced “she-say.” But when it comes to saying “she-say” while being served at a table, a brushing of the table with your index finger (much like the brushing of cards on the blackjack table to signal the dealer you want another card) is the preferred method of expressing gratitude, and it doesn’t interrupt the conversation.

One of the many restaurants at which we dined was Shang Hai. The restaurant boasted an outdoor kitchen with huge aquariums full of future seafood from around the island and the world – crabs as blue as turquoise, shrimp as big as human forearms and abalone as big as footballs.

The table was preset with two sauces. XO, a seasoning from the Kwangtung province, is made of red scallion buds, garlic, high-grade Kin Hwa ham and Thailand peppers. Eight Treasure Sauce is made of sweet beets, scallops, dried shrimp, black mushroom clams, Thailand peppers, garlic and ginger. Either sauce is good by itself or over a bed of rice; however, rice is never served to guests because it is considered too common.

Appetizers often include small servings of fish. Fresh abalone, steamed just long enough to open its natural oils and flavors, is often served within its iridescent mother-of-pearl shell. The shark’s fin soup, which Chinese emperors ate for its ability to enliven the body and spirit, is a delicate yet luscious broth. The swallow nest soup, made from the saliva of Asian cave swallows, is an acquired taste. Peking duck is three courses in one, with the crispy skin being served first, then the meat, and last the bones in a hardy soup.

The end of the meal is often celebrated with fresh fruit – slices of mango and papaya served with coffee-soaked plums that pucker your lips with a sweet tartness. Special treats are dragon fruits, an otherworldly fare with fire-engine-red skin and green fish-like scales. Its white meat, sprinkled with black sesame-size seeds, resembles and tastes like marshmallows. Served with strong African Arabica coffee or coffee liqueur, it’s a satisfying end for any meal.

Dick Dace is The Epicurean Publicist. He does lunch for a living.

In The Bag

October 1, 2004 by  
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Trend spotter Marianne Horton hits the streets to bring you the latest from kitchen and cooking retailers

tabletop

Elm and Willow Who would have thought to actually use an oil can for cooking oil? Whimsical kitchen gadgets such as this can be found at newly opened Elm and Willow in Pearland. Additionally, this home store features a quilting studio. Pearland, 3702 Broadway, (281) 412-3832. Shown: Oil can, $21.99

Méli-Mélo A tightly packed cupboard inside Rice Village, Méli-Mélo extensively shelves hand-thrown and decorated pottery from Austria, Ireland and France. Eighteenth century-inspired Irish spongewear by Nicholas Mosse captures the Irish countryside and natural motifs. 5617 Morningside, (713) 526-9026

Kuhl-Linscomb These playful twig chopsticks suggest eating sushi by campfire, and why not? Kuhl-Linscomb adds the imaginative to the everyday by subtly twisting what?s familiar. Here everyone?s bound to stumble upon one of their wildest dreams. 2424 W. Alabama, (713) 526-6000. Shown: Michael Aram twig chopsticks, $20

Williams-Sonoma Forget broken stems in the dishwasher; Williams-Sonoma has introduced a stemless Reidel line that is dishwasher-safe and retains the same flavors in wine as its stemmed counterparts. Glasses are available for white and red wines. 4060 Westheimer, (713) 212-0346

Surprises It?s hard to resist eating from a jeweled silver spoon. Although not functionally necessary, artistic flair brings aesthetic appeal to the dinner table. And what better place to find these creative touches than Surprises? The two-story building features works by more than 2,000 artists who incorporate their talent into every aspect of the home. 4302 Westheimer, (713) 877-1900

accessories

Unika Deco Tempting even the safety-conscious to play with knives, this Danish knife holder stores cutting knives against its magnetic plating. It, and several other modern European innovations, can be found at Unika Deco, where functional design is a top priority. 4412 Morningside, (713) 522-2216. Shown: Rosendahl knife holder, $225

gadgets

Sur La Table Everyone?s getting silicone ? kitchen accessories, that is. Because of the substance?s high temperature resistance and low temperature flexibility, it works well in many cooking scenarios and is dishwasher safe. On the cutting edge of this trend, Sur La Table offers an array of silicone products such as gloves, basting brushes, egg whisks and spatulas. 1996 W. Gray, (713) 533-0400; 5472 F.M. 1960 West, (281) 444-1199

Buffalo Hardware Buffalo Hardware has remained true to its 1946 roots by keeping its focus on appliances. And, although you won?t find chocolate truffles in the kitchen department, a variety of old-fashioned and cutting-edge gadgets creates a seemingly endless display. Restaurants such as Smith & Wollensky and Carrabba?s shop here for high-end products. 2614 Westheimer, (713) 524-1011

products

Greenberry?s No need to pass the creamer when the pot, the creamer and the cup are all in one. Specializing in anything related to coffee or tea, Greenberry?s emphasizes the unique and carries its own blends, which are made fresh daily in Charlottesville, Virginia. 2311 W. Alabama, (713) 522-7005. Shown: Tea in One, $24.95

The Wine Bucket Get the wine and the glasses at The Wine Bucket, whose concept incorporates a wine cellar and a boutique. What?s here won?t be found on liquor store shelves because The Wine Bucket carries limited production wines from around the world. 2311 W. Alabama, Ste. A, (713) 942-9463

appliances

Crate & Barrel Beauty meets brains in Crate & Barrel?s newest Italian espresso machine. Its red industrial physique only hints at its espresso-making strength. Holding 80 ounces of water, it produces 18 bars of pressure and works with espresso pods or grounds. 4006 Westheimer, (713) 490-6400. Shown: Expressione espresso maker, $349.95

ABC’s of Houston Kitchens

October 1, 2004 by  
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From Asian to barbecue, breakfast to dessert, vegan to wild game, Houston dining establishments have taken the mere act of providing sustenance to a whole new unbelievably satisfying and extremely gratifying level. Why eat at home when you can experience such phenomenal cuisine? That’s a worthy question of any Houstonian. Alas, at times we must try our amateur hands at replicating these perfectly honed skills. It is fun, but never the same. Here are a few helpful hints at how to make your kitchen a bit more like the professionals’.

“Adrenaline.” Chef Edelberto Goncalves, Rouge

“Braise – because you can braise anything, especially with fall coming up. Basil because when you are cooking Italian, you have to have fresh basil.” Chef Bruce McMillian, Tony?s

“Cilantro – I like the taste of it, but I don?t like to eat it, so I’m constantly trying to find ways of getting it into food without having to bite down on it.” Chef Maria Gonzalez, Saba Blue Water Café

Diversity – trying new flavors and experimenting with new spices can inspire a new creation for your kitchen.

Eggs – the incredible edible original

“Fun – you must have fun in the kitchen.” Chef Jesse Llapitan, Olivette at The Houstonian

Garlic – not only does it keep vampires away, garlic is good for you and serves as a base flavor for many dishes.

Herbs – fresh herbs make all the difference in preparing food. Many grocery stores have fresh herbs in their produce section, but a surefire spot to locate hard-to-find fresh herbs is the farmers’ market on Airline Drive.

Iron skillet – cookware that keeps flavor and can be passed on through the generations

Juice – freshly squeezed, of course

Knives – make sure they are sharp. You cut yourself more often with a dull knife than a sharp one.

“Love – you have to have love for the kitchen, or at least for food.” Chef Mark Holley, Pesce

“Music – you need to have music in your kitchen. Both of my kitchens have music in them. It changes your state of mind and makes cooking more fun than work, and it’s a motivator.” Chef Lance Fegen, Zula and Trevisio

Neatness in the kitchen makes the whole experience more enjoyable, especially if you clean as you cook.

“Organization – your establishment is successful by how organized you are.” Chef Toby Joseph, The Remington at The St. Regis

“Peppers – along with corn and tomatoes, peppers are the foundation of Mexican cuisine.” Chef Hugo Ortega, Hugo?s

Quality ingredients make all the difference between ‘good cooking’ and ‘great cooking.’

“Red wine – because if you’re making the sauce, you have to be at one with the sauce. If you are cooking at home, then everyone can enjoy the fruits of life: good food, good wine.” Chef Michael Frietsch, River Oaks Grill

“Scratch – everything in our kitchens is done from scratch from homemade family recipes.” Chef John Marion Carrabba, Piatto Ristorante

Tomatoes are a staple in so many different cuisines. For a sensational treat, place a few tomato slices and some fresh mozzarella cheese on a piece of warm bread right out of the oven; drizzle with your favorite olive oil and enjoy. (In fact, this is what became of some of the items shown on page 35.)

“Utilization in the kitchen is the key to success.” Chef Mark Cox, Mark’s American Cuisine

Vinegar, whether of the red wine, white wine, rice wine or balsamic variety, is great in cooked dishes as well as dressings.

“Work ethic – if you have a good work ethic, it gives a consistency to the dish and to the food.” Chef Kiran Verma, Ashiana Fine Indian Cuisine

eXtra virgin olive oil adds great flavor to just about every dish. (See tomatoes above.)

Yogurt is a must for Middle Eastern and Near Asian cuisines, plus it makes a great spot for nestling your favorite fresh fruits.

Zest – a zest for the kitchen, food and cooking makes the whole experience worthwhile. And a citrus zester is a kitchen essential.

Top Houston’s Restaurants

October 1, 2004 by  
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Tuscan Homes

October 1, 2004 by  
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Combining refined artisanship, cutting-edge technology and extensive customer-builder communication, Tuscan Homes strives for perfection in every home built.

This Mediterranean masterpiece was designed by architects Sullivan, Stevens and Henry and built by custom home builder Tuscan Homes. Located at 11714 Fidelia Court in Bunker Hill of Memorial Village, the home is centered around the exquisite landscaping and flagstone and travertine pool while maximizing indoor space, offering 5,500 square feet of intelligent and luxurious living.

The home is complemented not only by the pool, but also by a heated spa, flagstone and pavestone walkways and an outdoor summer kitchen with thatched palm roof. The back patio and balcony above afford beautiful views of the extensive grounds and intricate design accents such as copper gutters, ornamental ironwork and tongue and groove woodwork.

The custom carpentry and cabinetry as well as natural stone and granite countertops throughout the house are perfectly complemented by the Italian travertine marble floors. The lighting fixtures and chandeliers throughout the home are from such quality manufacturers as Minka Aire and Lavery.

The kitchen showcases state-of-the-art technologies that can be found throughout the home as well. The infrared grill is just the beginning of the high-tech trappings in the home, such as interior wiring and sprinkler systems, surround sound and speaker jacks for home entertainment, and structure wiring for an extensive surveillance system. The home also features a leak-detection system that prevents damage from plumbing or water leaks.

The grand entry of the home invites guests with rich travertine marble and ironwork details. An inlaid star in the marble floor adds an Old World touch to this ultra-modern abode. The scrolling ironwork on the front door begins the aesthetic theme and is carried through the circular staircase and throughout the home. The residence is built with numerous windows and extensive natural lighting, a signature of Tuscan Homes providing a luminous atmosphere.

Tuscan Homes is a full-service custom builder. Whether you need design assistance, lot finding, engineering or just building on an existing lot, Tuscan Homes can assist your needs. It also builds spec homes in exclusive neighborhoods such as Memorial Villages, River Oaks, West University, Sugar Land and The Woodlands. Many of the homes that Tuscan Homes builds fall within the $700,000 to $3 million price range.

“We work with our customers from start to finish on their home,” says Jason Ritchmond, president of Tuscan Homes. “We work with local Realtors, renown architects and qualified vendors to ensure every project is a success. When a customer invests in us, we ensure that their return more than exceeds their expectations. Your home is your castle, our advice is to make sure your builder cares about its success as much as you do.” Plan well. Live well. Build with Tuscan Homes.

Women in Business

October 1, 2004 by  
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Elevating Mass Transit

October 1, 2004 by  
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Looking for a solution to the ‘honk-screech-crash’ method of public transit? Maybe we should go up, up and away.

Living up to its image of “Space City” by installing 7.5 miles of light rail (eat your heart out, Dallas), Metro is now looking at ways to expand the rail service as much as another few miles. The problem is, there is a problem: The trains keep slamming into cars.

The situation has become so common and such non-news that the local media hardly give these wrecks a mention anymore and concentrate on the more meaningful coverage of lost cats. But we can safely assume that the more mileage of tracks we build, the more train-car collisions we will have. In virtually all of these wrecks, it has been the drivers of the cars who were at fault, usually making illegal left turns in front of the trains. This simply shows that Houstonians make those illegal turns 24 hours a day but only get caught when they are hit by a multi-ton passenger train. So the expansion plans present some real challenges.

Still, we all know the No. 1 rule around here: Don’t complain unless you have a solution. Let us offer our advice to our mass transit agency.

On the Level

The main problem with all of these wrecks is that the trains and the cars run on the same level, i.e., the ground. One cutting-edge solution would be to build the new tracks below the surface, yet another scientific breakthrough for Houston. These underground rail lines would be called “subways” and would move people safely and quickly in trains deep beneath the surface while avoiding all but the most inebriated motorists. There is the problem of flooding, of course, so we install a big drain with a plug and mount heavy-duty windshield wipers on the trains themselves.

Up, Up and Away

Once, several years ago, Houston dallied with the idea of building a monorail, a one-track elevated train system, but a majority of our citizens felt it was “too modern” for this city. Also, there was the danger of the monorails falling off the edge of the earth.

Now, Las Vegas has built a monorail parallel to the Strip, connecting nine casinos and the convention center. This idea shouldn’t stay in Vegas. Houston should consider building its next section of track as a monorail, up above the traffic.

The advantages are obvious. While riding the train, we could go fast, avoid other vehicles and look in second-story bedroom windows. To be sure, there are disadvantages, not the least of which is falling off the edge of the earth. Another idea: We could build the new tracks at the ground level and elevate all the streets.

Study Hall

Before we make any decision on how and where to put the new tracks, the situation needs to be thoroughly studied. We should hire a top-flight transportation expert and pay him or her loads of money. Oddly enough, I know just the person.

Oh, Say, Can You See?

We seem to have stealth trains because they are invisible to so many Houston drivers. Metro has put bells and lights and all sorts of attention-grabbers on the trains, clearly without success. What would cause people to take notice of something the size of a house moving their way?

Maybe if we painted “Free Sex” on the nose of the train. Or, “Ask About My Anthrax.” Perhaps, “Honk If You Have WMDs.” Or, better yet, we put up pictures of Tom DeLay and John Culberson. With them gazing down, no one would dare make a left turn.

A Variation of the Above Ideas

Since the collisions involve the front of the train, we have two options. We could put cow catchers on the noses, or the trains could simply run in reverse. Other solutions include putting a picture of an MTA train on the side of milk cartons with the question: “Have you seen me?”

Edifice Wrecks

Avoid more collisions by leaving the trains in the barn.

Less is More

We could change the trains themselves to some form of transportation that would move slower than Houston traffic and thus give car drivers a chance to get out of the way. Besides, mules are cheaper. In any event, we have paid hundreds of millions of dollars for this mass transit system, and the problem of these constant collisions needs our solution. We must use our imaginations. Think outside the bucks. Which reminds me, we need that study. When you write the check, remember there are two “n’s” in “Lynn.”

Enjoy Memorial Park

October 1, 2004 by  
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Did you know that Memorial Park is actually a memorial? The trees planted in the park (planted in the middle of Houston) are in memory of Houston soldiers who lost their lives in WWII. Since Ima Hogg donated the money to build the park, Houstonians have been enjoying the amazing outdoor retreat. Located on Memorial Drive and Loop 610 North, Memorial Park is a convient oasis for many on their way into or out of the city. Whether you choose to run on the 3-mile track, practice your swing at the driving range, lob the ball around at the tennis courts or kick a goal on the soccer field, Memorial Park offers a multitude of choices for you to enjoy Houston’s fall weather.

Taipei

October 1, 2004 by  
Filed under Travel Blog

Lazy Susan Dining in Taipei is a treat for Dick Dace

Ten is the magic number of Taiwan’s ancient culture in the modern, metropolitan, industrial capital of Taipei. The number 10 represents good luck and prosperity. When it comes to dining, the Taiwanese meal has 10 courses served at round tables for 10. In what might be the first example of “extreme dining” with a Lazy Susan on every table, if you are not adept in the use of chopsticks, other diners will spin an adventure of flavors and textures right past you.

Taiwan was founded by Chinese immigrants who brought with them 5,000 years of customs, traditions and cooking techniques. Since most Chinese were Buddhist, and thus vegetarians, soybeans are still a mainstay in the diet. Soybeans are an easy-to-grow protein that has many inventive means of preservation. Preserved soy is often referred to as bean curd or tofu. The creative uses of tofu are often compared to the creative uses of cheese and are often just as delicious, with many different flavors and textures. Several ways to preserve tofu are by baking, roasting, smoking and even toasting it to the consistency of bacon bits.

While in Taiwan to attend the Taipei Chinese Culinary Exhibition, I found many things to taste, explore and learn. Most important was learning how to say “thank you” in Chinese, which is pronounced “she-say.” But when it comes to saying “she-say” while being served at a table, a brushing of the table with your index finger (much like the brushing of cards on the blackjack table to signal the dealer you want another card) is the preferred method of expressing gratitude, and it doesn’t interrupt the conversation.

One of the many restaurants at which we dined was Shang Hai. The restaurant boasted an outdoor kitchen with huge aquariums full of future seafood from around the island and the world – crabs as blue as turquoise, shrimp as big as human forearms and abalone as big as footballs.

The table was preset with two sauces. XO, a seasoning from the Kwangtung province, is made of red scallion buds, garlic, high-grade Kin Hwa ham and Thailand peppers. Eight Treasure Sauce is made of sweet beets, scallops, dried shrimp, black mushroom clams, Thailand peppers, garlic and ginger. Either sauce is good by itself or over a bed of rice; however, rice is never served to guests because it is considered too common.

Appetizers often include small servings of fish. Fresh abalone, steamed just long enough to open its natural oils and flavors, is often served within its iridescent mother-of-pearl shell. The shark’s fin soup, which Chinese emperors ate for its ability to enliven the body and spirit, is a delicate yet luscious broth. The swallow nest soup, made from the saliva of Asian cave swallows, is an acquired taste. Peking duck is three courses in one, with the crispy skin being served first, then the meat, and last the bones in a hardy soup.

The end of the meal is often celebrated with fresh fruit – slices of mango and papaya served with coffee-soaked plums that pucker your lips with a sweet tartness. Special treats are dragon fruits, an otherworldly fare with fire-engine-red skin and green fish-like scales. Its white meat, sprinkled with black sesame-size seeds, resembles and tastes like marshmallows. Served with strong African Arabica coffee or coffee liqueur, it’s a satisfying end for any meal. H

Dick Dace is The Epicurean Publicist. He does lunch for a living.