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A touch of New Orleans at Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair with Brennan’s family reunion dinner

Posted on: April 25th, 2013 by fcasio No Comments

REPUBLISH: from CultureMap

4.25.13 | 1:38 pm
Former and current chefs from Brennan’s of Houston with Carl Walker and Alex Brennan-Martin Photo by © Shannon O’Hara

Family Affair at Sugar Land Food & Wine April 2013 Former and current chefs from Brennan's of Houston with Carl Walker and Alex Brennan-Martin

It wasn’t the French Quarter, but a little bit of New Orleans still spiced up Sugar Land Wednesday at the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair kickoff dinner on the grounds of the Imperial Sugar Factory.The seated dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair was part celebration, part Brennan’s family reunion with chefs Mark Holley, Jon Hebert, Randy Evans and Danny Trace combining their culinary talents in six-course meal that paid homage to Brennan’s restaurateur Alex Brennan-Martin.

It was a fitting start to the evening then, that the party started in the Old Imperial Sugar Mill Char House, a red brick building that was both warm and rustic, with white twinkling lights and a jazz band playing.

“(Alex) was about local, before local was cool. He’s my inspiration and why I do what I do,” Evans says.

The Brennan’s inspired dishes started with Oyster BLTs, Roasted New Potato with Dill Cream and Louisiana Caviar, Crawfish Empanadas and Shrimp and Tasso. In true Louisiana style, guests created a spontaneous parade, filing behind the band en route to the spacious white Gallery Furniture tent.

The evening benefited the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Restaurant and Hotel Management and students from the program served as staff, guiding guests through the chef’s dishes, starting with Holley’s crab and corn bisque that was paired with Stags Leap Chardonnay and could have doubled as dessert. Herbert’s course of Texas Wild Shrimp Remoulade balanced the creamy sweetness of the bisque and was paired with Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.

Haven owner Evans, anchored the fourth course of grilled Texas Quail that he served with a Honeycomb Balsamic Gastrique that encouraged guests to play with their food by crushing the honeycomb and combining with the quail. That was followed by Brennan’s executive chef Trace’s take on oysters and steak—the O Rockin 44 Farms Petite Filet, served with CYRUS wine.

It was fitting too that the dessert course was Brennan’s Bananas Foster, served with Iron Horse sparkling wine, but the sweetest moments came when the chefs recalled moments from their times at the culinary institution.

“When Chris Shepherd and I were lucky enough to be sous chefs, Alex brought into his office and asked us what we want to change on the Brennan’s menu. Nothing was off the table,” Evans says. “We were saying to each other, ‘”Even the turtle soup? Bananas Foster?’”

It turned out Brennan posed the question to the young chefs as a way to  “unchain us from the 40 years of Brennan’s history” Evans says. And no, the menu did not change.

“He was about local, before local was cool. He’s my inspiration and why I do what I do,” Evans says.

The High Tech Texan and Sugar Land resident Michael Garfield emceed the event which included Sugar Land Mayor James Thompson and wife Gay Thompson, Rita and Kevin Simon and other city and county officials.

The Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair runs through Sunday, with such activities as the On the Rocks Bartender Challenge, the Sip & Stroll, Bistro Lunch, the Grand Tasting and wine and scotch seminars.

Brennan’s chefs will kick off the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair

Posted on: March 27th, 2013 by fcasio No Comments

REPUBLISHED: YourHoustonNews.com

Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 7:57 am

Brennan's Crawfish Shortcake

Brennan’s Crawfish Shortcake

 

I can remember going to Brennan’s as a kid. The opening of their Houston location more than 40 years ago was a big deal in our household. We always knew it was a special occasion if we were going to Brennan’s.

H-town’s culinary scene has certainly changed since then, but one thing that hasn’t changed — Brennan’s is still a beloved spot by so many. Some of our city’s best chefs hail from the iconic restaurant’s kitchens, and four are them are planning a delicious reunion!

Their “Family Affair” will kick-off the 10th anniversary of the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair, a week-long event for food and wine enthusiasts on April 24-28. The event will be on the grounds of the historic Imperial Sugar Factory in the Gallery Furniture Pavilion.

Brennan’s current executive chef Danny Trace and former chefs Randy Evans of Haven, Mark Holley of former Pesce and Jon Hebert of Houston City Club will unite to create an incredible wine pairing dinner featuring premier vintages from Sterling Vineyards, Far Niente Winery, Iron Horse Vineyards, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Frank Family Vineyards among others.

For a preview of what could be included in the evening’s incredible fare, Chef Trace shared Brennan’s delicious recipe for Breaux Bridge Barbecue Crawfish Shortcakes with Goodtaste.tv. (http://goodtaste.tv/recipes/ showrecipe/ display/breaux-bridge-barbecue-crawfish-shortcake)

The savory barbecue sauce is incredibly rich with just the right amount of kick thanks to the hot sauce he adds. Chef Trace garnishes the dish with a St. Arnold’s beer aioli.

One of Chef Randy Evan’s most popular dishes at Haven is also a Cajun favorite–his wild-caught Gulf shrimp with stone ground grits. You can watch Chef Evans prepare the dish and get the recipe at Goodtaste.tv. (http://goodtaste.tv/recipe/wild-texas-shrimp-with-house-made-worcestershire-meuniere)

All proceeds from the five-day Sugar Land Wine and Food Affair will support a permanent scholarship endowment at the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management.

For more great recipes and wine pairing ideas, head to Goodtaste.tv. While you’re there sign up for our newsletter for exclusive recipes and chances to win fabulous prizes.

Tanji Patton writes about food and restaurants for HERE. She may be reached via email at: goodtaste@tanjipatton.com.

A Texas-Sized Mardi Gras

Posted on: February 12th, 2013 by fcasio No Comments

Republished from The Local Palate:

http://www.localpalatemag.com/blogs/news-events/item/a-texas-sized-mardi-gras.html?category_id=120&nbsp

Posted in News & Events on 12 February 2013

Written by Sydni Hebert
Photos Courtesy of Brennan’s

It’s Carnival season ya’ll! A time for eating, drinking and catching beads at the parades. That is, if you are lucky enough to live in a place that actually celebrates Mardi Gras. If not, you should order a King Cake and throw on your purple, yellow and green to get you feelin’ festive. For our friends in Texas, a special treat is in store for you. Brennan’s of Houston will be hosting their very own Texas-Sized Mardi Gras Extravaganza on the big day. The event promises to be an authentic New Orleans-Style Fat Tuesday celebration, complete with a faux float, live jazz band and fortune teller.

Guests will feel like they are in the French Quarter as they indulge in Executive Chef Danny Trace’s Texas Creole favorites. Highlights of the prix fixe menu include BBQ Breaux Bridge Crawfish Shortcake served with a buttermilk biscuit, NOLA-style barbeque sauce and St. Arnold’s beer aioli, and Lamb Chops Tchoupitoulas with Creole mustard crusted Colorado lamb chops, lamb debris meat pie, lamb sausage jambalaya and Mint Julep Tchoupitoulas sauce. And since no Mardi Gras party is complete without King Cake, Chef Trace has cooked up his own version, appropriately named Mardi Gras Mambo King Cake. It will be accompanied by Bulleit Bourbon praline caramel, Imperial sugars and Creole cream cheese mousse. Specialty cocktails will also be flowing (to make sure you really get in the Mardi Gras mood).

So if you’re feeling blue because you can’t make it down South to participate in the festivities, head to Brennan’s and enjoy a NOLA-style Mardi Gras deep in the heart of Texas. Reservations are required and can be made by calling Brennan’s of Houston.

Don’t forget to say “throw me something mister!” and let the good times roll!

web Brennans photo 3

Brennan’s Anniversary on Royal Street

Posted on: May 31st, 2012 by fcasio 1 Comment

By Tom Fitzmorris

See Original Article Here>>>

 

“Today in 1956, Brennan’s moved to its present Royal Street location, after ten years at the corner of Bourbon and Bienville. The landlord there wanted a piece of the thriving business, and Owen Brennan rejected the offer. The new place was an historic building: it was the former home of chess grandmaster Paul Morphy. With its large patio, it had been used as a restaurant for quite a few years, but without success. Owen’s friends tried to talk him out of moving there. But move they did, with the help of customers. They met for drinks at the old place, then carried furniture over to Royal Street in a parade led by a marching jazz band. The new restaurant was even more successful than the old. It’s hard to imagine Brennan’s anywhere else but there, now.”

Legends Of New Orleans Dining by Tom Fitzmorris

Posted on: April 5th, 2012 by fcasio No Comments

By Tom Fitzmorris

See Original Article Here >>>

“Legends Of New Orleans Dining
In 1910 on this date, one of the most important New Orleans restaurateurs of all time was born. Thirty-six years later, Owen Edward Brennan* founded Brennan’s. He was later joined in the business by his siblings Adelaide, John, Ella**, Dick, and Dottie, and then by his sons Pip, Ted, and Jimmy Brennan. What came out of that combination was a style of grand dining that dominated the high end of the scale for decades. In its evolved form, it still does.

Owen E. Brennan’s first business was the Absinthe House, which he opened in 1943. He was a congenial host, and the place became a celebrated hangout. A running joke was that people would go to the Absinthe House to complain about Arnaud’s. Owen duly reported this to his friend Count Arnaud Cazenave. Count Arnaud came back with a fateful challenge: “If you think you can do it better, why don’t you open a restaurant yourself? No Irishman can serve French food!”

Owen leased the Vieux Carre Restaurant (across the street from both the Absinthe House and Arnaud’s) and opened Owen Brennan’s French & Creole Restaurant***. Brennan’s was a success from the outset. Its freewheeling style–calling the food French cooking, but serving whatever sounded good to the customers–changed the way first-class dining rooms operated. It did so well that the landlord insisted on a piece of the business when the lease came up for renewal. Owen told him to stick it, and found a new location on Royal Street***.

A few months before the new Brennan’s was to open, Owen attended a dinner of La Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, a gourmet society of which he was a member, at Antoine’s. He ate and drank well. He died in his sleep that night. He was only 45. He left a legacy of hospitality that lives on in all the Brennan restaurants, and those owned by people who worked in them. I wish I had met him.”

 

Original Absinthe House on Bourbon Street

Brennan’s of Houston Notes:

* Owen Jr. was Alex Brennan-Martin’s uncle. He and his father, Owen Sr., (Alex’s Grandfather) jointly owned The Absinthe House and founded the original Brennan’s.

** Miss Ella is Alex Brennan-Martin’s mother who still idolizes to this day her brother Owen.

*** Brennan’s of Houston was founded in 1967 and has been a part of the Commander’s Family of Restaurants since 1973 when Ella and her brothers & sisters separated over different business philosophies from the widow of Owen E. Brennan, Jr. and her son’s who now run the only Brennan’s of New Orleans.

2011 Fine Dining Hall of Fame Brennan’s of Houston

Posted on: January 10th, 2012 by fcasio No Comments

Southern hospitality meets haute cuisine at Texas-Creole restaurant

By Ron Ruggless

Brennan’s of Houston, which was devastated in September 2008 by Hurricane Ike, has returned as a stately doyenne of Houston’s fine-dining scene.

Recovering from a 17-month closure from fire and rain damage, the Texas-Creole cuisine restaurant reopened Feb. 16, 2010–which, fittingly, was Mardi Gras — and was greeted with open arms by Houston diners.

“The outpouring of warmth and affection really caught us off guard,” said owner Alex Brennan-Martin.

The historic two-story building that houses Brennan’s of Houston was constructed in 1926. It resembled the home of New Orleans, and the Brennan family saw the 21,000-squarefoot building as the perfect spot to expand. They opened Brennan’s of Houston there in 1967.

“When the restaurant first opened, it was a direct copy of Brennan’s in New Orleans. It was successful for a number of years,” Brennan-Martin said. “By the time I got here in the mid-’80s, a lot of other restaurant had begun to open.”

So Brennan’s of Houston began using local ingredients in current and forward-thinking food, but also kept the New Orleans classics, Brennan-Martin said.

Teresa Byrne-Dodge, founder of Houston’s My Table magazine, said: “Brennan’s has always been a local leader in the dining scene. The kitchen, for example, was among the first in the city to make a point of seeking out area fishermen and supporting the Gulf fishing industry, even as the product was more expensive and, sometimes, less consistently available than what could be counted on from the giant distributors. That’s [all] the rage today, of course; back then it was groundbreaking.”

Brennan-Martin said Houston, which carries the nickname Bayou City, is “where the southern Louisiana culture meets the Hispanic culture. It’s an interesting melting pot.”

While turtle soup, crab cakes and bananas foster are among the signature dishes, Brennan’s of Houston does good Texas trade in roasted beef tenderloin, as well. But Brennan-Martin said the restaurant frequently puts twists on dishes, like his current favorite dessert: Creole cream-cheese ice cream with homemade cookies.

And the restaurant works to appeal to a wide variety of customers, he said.

“We will have as many pickup trucks in our parking lot on a Friday night as we will have Bentleys,” he said. “Houston is a blue-collar town. We pump things out of the ground. We ship things out of our port. We refine and manufacture things. We get up early and go to bed early. As far as fine dining restaurants go, we’re not stuffy. Southern hospitality is our hallmark. It’s something we live and breathe.”

Chef Danny Trace added that “Brennan’s of Houston is definitely a locals’ restaurant. People here will let you know what they want.”

Brennan-Martin says the restaurant is at “the crossroads of tradition and the future.”

“With the [post-hurricane] remodel, we were able to express that very well. I wanted people to feel like they were coming back to an old family home, but one that had been ‘gussied up’ some,” he said, adding that he doesn’t get to use that phrase “gussied up” very often.

Byrne-Dodge added that “Brennan’s has become ‘family’ to thousands of Houstonians. People celebrate anniversaries, births, promotions there. I think Brennan’s sets a standard for hospitality that goes beyond professionalism; there’s real warmth there.

“Brennan’s also supports hundreds of local nonprofits and givebacks in the Houston community with their contributions and participation,” she added. “And, of course, there’s the complimentary pralines that guests are urged to tuck into their pocket up leaving the restaurant.”

Brennan-Martin summed it up by saying: “It boils down to memories. Our goal is to create great memories for our guests. We call it the simple truth of our business.”

Nations-Restaurant-News_12-5-2011.jpg

How do you say “Praline”?

Posted on: December 13th, 2011 by fcasio No Comments

Many have argued about the correct pronunciation of our famous little lagniappe at the door, the praline. Whether you pronounce it “Praylene” or “Prahlene” we can all  in-arguably agree that they are a tasty treat…however, according to most New Orleanians there is only the correct way to say it: “Prahlene”.

Here is a little gift from our kitchen to your home. Sweetest greetings this holiday season!

lagniappe praline

Brennan's Praline's on a silver platter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brennan’s Famous Pralines (makes four dozen)

1            quart whipping cream

1            pound granulated sugar

1            tablespoon light corn syrup

1-1/2   cups medium chopped pecans

zest of medium orange (optional)

 

  1. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper, but wax paper will work. In a large heavy saucepan, slowly simmer cream, sugar, corn syrup and orange zest over low heat.
  2. As cream mixture simmers, be careful of boil over in the early states. Let mixture reduce, stirring occasionally.
  3. When cream mixture first starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, you need to stir almost continuously until done. As mixture reduces and the sugar starts to caramelize, the mixture becomes thicker and begins to turn light brown in color.
  4. When mixture reaches the soft-ball stage of 240 degrees, stir in pecans. Continue to stir while looking for the point when mixture starts to pull away from sides of the pan.
  5. Drop a small amount (size of a quarter) onto a lined cookie sheet. Look quickly to see if the praline runs out flat or hold a nice rounded top shape and if the praline has a dull looking appearance.
  6. When ready, the mixture should be close to firm-ball stage of 248 degrees. However, don’t depend entirely upon the candy thermometer.
  7. Use two dessert spoons to spoon out the pralines onto lined cookie sheets. Use one spoon to dip up the hot mixture and the other one to push it off onto the paper.
  8. If you’ve hit it just right, you should be able to pick up a delicious pralines in about 30 minutes. It should appear dry and not be chewy. If after a couple of hours you  can’t pick one up, leave them in a cool dry area on the pans for a day or two so they will dry.
  9. When ready, transfer to an airtight container and store up to 1 week.
  10. Or, skip step 1-9 and call Brennan’s and we’ll be happy to make them to you!

 

Brennan’s Fun Fact:

Did you know that we have a praline eating squirrel that lives in our courtyard? Fittingly enough, our staff named him Praline because he comes to the window each day awaiting his daily ration.

 

Praline the Squirrel

 

 

Uncovering our past…one layer at a time

Posted on: June 3rd, 2009 by fcasio 4 Comments

Every day it’s something new…or old that is!  With each new day comes a glimpse of our past like uncovering a diary lost long ago.  For every board that comes down a treasure is revealed.  Some leave us questioning its origin, others bring a little tear.     

A building so filled with history & memories should be brimming with gems, but we were surprised with what was unearthed.  These finds have taken place over these long months; some only have meaning to us whilst others conjure up reflections from your past.

The first to be unveiled was the wall fabric that graced the newly crowned Brennan’s of Houston Main Dining room walls back in 1967.  This fabric was exposed when the crew started pulling down the fabric that we knew was there.  As it turns out the botanical and fowl design is coming back into style and was used as inspiration for our new decor.

The following months brought more discoveries that are from before our time here, back when the Junior League was residing at 3300 Smith Street.  We are vastly dumbfounded by the exposure of seemingly random bells around the building up on the second story floor joists. 

Another piece of history we came across was what they used for a sound barrier in the ballroom floor.  I think we were all shocked when the demo crew reveled tons of shredded newspaper.  Yes, newspaper!  What is most surprising is that it was unharmed by the flames.

The conclusion of last week brought a touching find.  The demo crew pulled down the coating surrounding the water station & uncovered the autograph walls of the Original Kitchen Table.  Unfortunately, some pieces of autographs came off with wall covering.  However, enough was left intact to get a glimpse of the many memories that filled this intimate space. 

As we get closer to being whole again we are reminded daily of where we have been and to never forget our roots.  Alex always says that the mortar of this building is filled with memories; this must be why it is so tenacious!    


Passionately Committed to the Creation of Enduring Dining Memories

Posted on: March 1st, 2009 by fcasio No Comments

For over 40 years the Brennan’s family of New Orleans has been passionately committed to the creation of enduring dining memories.  More than a restaurant, Brennan’s of Houston is the culmination of that single-minded passion – a unique dining destination that, to its many loyal guests, has been a virtual second home over the years, hosting countless birthdays, weddings, graduations and anniversaries.

Known for its renowned culture of Southern hospitality, Allison Cook of The Houston Chronicle’s “Cook’s Tour” Dining Blog says of Brennan’s,

“I have a vivid memory of sitting with my college-age sister at a small table against the back wall of the stately main dining room, eating turtle soup and mustardy steak Diane — a period piece long since banished from the menu — that seemed absolutely thrilling. Our waiter, who doted on us, knew perfectly well we couldn’t afford it. He didn’t care. We were queens for an evening, and the feeling of welcome and occasion that he exuded — and which endures — has always been one of my favorite things about this restaurant.”

Sadly, the Houston culinary landmark was left in ashes early on the morning of Saturday, September 13, 2008 by a fire that erupted as Hurricane Ike began to barrel into town. Firefighters struggled in vain for hours to contain the fire, which was whipped by ever gusting winds that blew from all directions. With no hope for the restaurant, fire officials concentrated on keeping the fire from reaching nearby buildings… for more, read the Full Houston Chronicle Article:

Brennan’s Restaurant, revered Midtown landmark, destroyed by fire
By BRADLEY OLSON AND MIKE TOLSON

Brennan’s of Houston – Over 40 Years of Memories

Posted on: March 1st, 2009 by fcasio No Comments

This blog is about where we are going. But first, here is where we came from:

For over 40 years, Brennan’s of Houston has been a preferred choice for those seeking a memorable dining experience. Bringing its Crescent City flavor to every table.

Brennan’s offers exquisite preparation and impressive presentation, blending the best of Continental Creole with a Texas twist – Texas Creole, if you will.

Whether for an important business lunch, a special dinner celebration, or a relaxing weekend jazz brunch, Brennan’s offers something for every palate and occasion.

Alex Brennan-Martin, of the famed New Orleans restaurant family, leads the way in keeping this Houston institution fresh and popular.  Under his leadership Brennan’s kitchen has produced throughout the decades many well known “alumni” such as Chef Mark Cox of Mark’s; Chef Lance Fegan of The Glass Wall; Chef Mark Holley of Pesce; Chef Mario Childs of Pappas Bros.; Chef Chris Shepherd of Catalan and most recently Chef Randy Evans of Haven.

Brennan’s provides the perfect ambiance, whether you’re planning an intimate dinner or wedding celebration.