Monday, June 29, 2009


Tarbouch opened in my neighborhood about two weeks ago. The small Lebanese restaurant sits next door to Curra's on East Oltorf.

At dinner on Friday night, I was lucky enough to snag the last empty table of the dozen or so in the dining room.

Being new, the service was a little frazzled, but all was absolutely forgiven when the food arrived.

I tried the vegetarian plate, a selection of 5 dishes (chosen from a list of 9).

I got (clockwise from the top left) baba ghannouj, grape leaves, Tarbouch potatoes, tabbouleh and Greek salad. I'm not sure I'd get the Greek salad again -- it looked like a bagged iceberg salad mix tossed with some fresh red onion and topped with feta, but everything else was really good.

The tabbouleh was very fresh and bright, the grape leaves creamy on the inside, and the potatoes flavored with lemon and garlic, but the standout was the baba ghannouj. I could probably eat a plateful of that stuff and still go back for more. It's creamy, lemony and smoky - why isn't my baba ghannouj ever smoky? Whatever they did, I think it's some kind of eggplant voodoo because that stuff is almost too good.

I tried a bite of a falafel, which I thought was just okay. But to get more of the baba ghannouj, tabbouleh and try more, I'm planning a return visit.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Okra Stew with Black-Eyed Peas

I brought this stew to a potluck dinner Friday night. With gorgeous okra from Finca Pura Vida, I thought an okra stew would be a nice, summery dish.

French Quarter Stew
3 Anaheim chiles, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 teaspoons safflower oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 15-oz can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
3/4 pound fresh okra
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper

Heat safflower oil in a large pot. Add the onion and chiles with a little salt and pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook until beginning to soften, about a minute more

Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, and season with more salt and pepper. Simmer until the tomatoes begin to break down, about 10 minutes. Add black-eyed peas.

Cut okra into 1-inch pieces, discarding the stem ends. Add to the pot with the water. Cover and simmer over low heat until okra is tender-crisp, about 15 minutes. Serve over rice.

The chiles were much hotter than I'd expected, and much hotter than other Anaheims I've had this season, so I didn't have to add any more heat (I'd planned to use jalapenos). A little Sriracha on top would do, too.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


It's hot. Like I'm-not-kidding hot. I know this is Texas, but this is ridiculous—it's only June, and it's been pushing a hundred degrees for weeks.

Recently, I stopped by the new frozen banana stand Bananarchy to check it out. In the early afternoon, there was already a small crowd.

The menu is small, but it's really all you need, right? Bananas? Check. Chocolate? Check. For me, you can stop right there and I'd be just fine, but they give you even more choices. Vanilla or peanut butter coatings and a bunch of toppings.

You can make your own banana, or choose from a combo menu with Arrested Development-inspired treats, like the GOB or Afternoon Delight.

I chose to create my own, and went with a chocolate and toffee combo. The banana was cool and refreshing, but not frozen solid. I could bite right into it without gnawing at it, and the chocolate coating was crisp and sweet. Three bucks is a bit steep for one banana, but it refreshed and brought back memories of going to the Tastee Freez for frozen bananas as a kid. Good times.

bright sun and banana

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Enoteca Brunch

After hitting up the Farmhouse Delivery farmstand at Sinners Brunch at Jo's, the man and I headed to Enoteca for brunch last Sunday.

Luckily, we got there just after 11am, so we were able to snag a table inside and away from the already very hot sun. Also lucky, there were a few open tables, so it wasn't a problem when we had to switch when the air conditioning began dripping onto the man's back. (This was after his espresso was spilled onto the front of his shirt.)

After getting settled into our drip-free table, we perused the menus and ordered. Along with a new cup of espresso, we ordered a bowl of the special soup to share - a delicious fresh peach gazpacho with creme fraiche and blueberry compote. He missed the rush of juice you get when you bite into a fresh peach, but I thought it was fantastic. The fresh peach flavor was fresh and strong, and went really well with the cooked blueberries.

I got pancakes. Semolina pancakes with fresh berries and vanilla gelato, to be exact. I was a little wary that there would be a huge mass of cold gelato melting over my hot pancakes, so I ordered the gelato on the side. They arrived, and the scoop of gelato was smaller than I expected, which was a good thing—it was just enough to sweeten the pancakes and make them creamy. The cakes themselves were fantastic - slightly sweet, and crisp around the edges. The berries were great, too. Fresh and sweet.

The man got eggs. Really good eggs. They were perfectly poached into round little balls, and served over toasted focaccia with brown butter hollandaise, roasted tomatoes and sauteed spinach. The eggs with hollandaise were pretty rich, but the tart bite of the roasted tomato cut right through it.

We got dessert to go. I love their almond macaroons, and they seem to have a different flavor each time I go. This time, it was ginger cookie with peach filling. They were incredibly good. They're always good - so good, I didn't get a chance to take a picture of them. The smear of peach filling was kind of thin, but full of fresh flavor. Very refreshing on that hot day.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Farmhouse Delivery at Sinners Brunch

I've been getting emails from Farmhouse Delivery, a local produce delivery service, for several weeks, but I've never gotten a delivery. I like going to the farmers market way too much, so I've been reluctant to order.

Last Sunday, Farmhouse Delivery hosted a farmstand at Jo's Coffee on South Congress, so I jumped at the chance to try their produce while choosing it myself.

There was just one table, but it was loaded with goodies - heirloom tomatoes (fortunate, because we'd eaten almost all of those we got at the Saturday downtown market), sweet corn, Texas mangoes and citrus, chard, potatoes, and more.

I got a bagful of tomatoes, sweet corn, two types of cucumbers, limes and a mango.

farmstand booty

I can't wait to eat a nice tomato-cucumber salad, one of my favorite summer salads, and juicy sweet corn. The tomatoes smell fantastic, and the sweet corn looks great with its tightly closed husks and moist silks.

Farmhouse Delivery's farmstand at Sinner's Brunch runs Sundays 10:30 am -1 pm.