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Recap of Snoball Fight for Charity

Posted on: July 10th, 2013 by fcasio No Comments
Posted in Uncategorized

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Crawfish Reigns Supreme on Brennan’s 7-7-7 Happy Hour Menu

Posted on: June 4th, 2013 by fcasio No Comments
Posted in Cocktail, News, Wine

Republished from Houston Press

Crawfish Reigns Supreme on Brennan’s 7-7-7 Happy Hour Menu

By Mai Pham Tue., Jun. 4 2013 at 6:00 AM


Photos by Mai Pham
During happy hour, this $7 crawfish enchilada is fantastic

Brennan’s of Houston may not come up in conversation as a go-to place for happy hour, but it should. During happy hour, which takes place in their Courtyard Bar, Brennan’s offers a 7-7-7 menu that includes seven cocktails, seven wines, and seven appetizers, all for just $7.

And the great thing about it? Unlike other restaurants where happy hour only happens during odd hours and only on weekdays, Brennan’s 7-7-7 is offered daily from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. — plenty of time for you to relax, unwind, and get happy.


The bar area is well appointed with attractive chairs

Three of my friends and I stopped in on a random Friday evening around 5 p.m., and were greeted enthusiastically when we arrived. Right inside the door, Brennan’s famous house-made butterscotch pralines were piled up on a plate to welcome us as well.

The bar area was lightly occupied at that time, so we got our pick of where to sit, choosing a four-top table by the window, where we started off with cocktails, including a Tom Collins, made of Segram’s gin, club soda, and fresh lemon and lime; a Deep Eddy Daly made of Deep Eddy Sweet Tea and lemonade; and a Smoky Mary, the Brennan’s version of bloody Mary made with smoked Poblano pepper infused Svedka vodka.

For food, we literally tried everything on the menu. I’m told the menu changes seasonally, but right now, all the happy hour offerings are crawfish themed, which means we had Crawfish Remoulade, BBQ Crawfish, Crawfish and Andouille Empanadas, Crawfish Boudin, Crawfish and Corn Fritters, Crawfish Enchilada, and Crawfish and Tasso Waffles.

Yep, that’s a waffle underneath all that crawfish

When they came out, the tapas-sized portions were all delicious, though some stood out more than others. My favorite out of all of them was the Crawfish enchilada, which I ordered a second order of because I didn’t feel like one shared bite was enough.

The Crawfish and Corn Fritters were fun and lighthearted, crispy fried balls pierced with skewers and served a dark piri piri sauce. My friends quite enjoyed the rich Crawfish and Tasso Waffles, which were full of flavor due to the sweet sugarcane smoked tasso. The Crawfish Boudin was also a hit, and went surprisingly well with the kimchi and crackers that it came with.

If you love boudin, you’ll love this crawfish and andoille version

We ordered a second round of drinks while feasting on the huge, well-priced spread, but saved room for dessert, which is one of those things you just have to save room for if you go to Brennan’s.

The chef decided to show us what their dessert was all about and brought out a sampling of some of their desserts: strawberry shortcake, pecan pie, two types of bread pudding, chocolate mousse cake, and key lime pie. My girlfriend’s eyes grew as big as saucers and she had to hold her hands underneath her legs while I took pictures. “Can I eat yet?” she asked impatiently before starting to do some heavy damage to the spread before us.

The dessert spread. Worth. Every. Calorie!

That was before a smiling server wheeled a cart over to our table and started preparing bananas foster table-side. The smell and the sizzle of the dessert was almost my undoing as we watched him perform an elaborate, fire-enhanced culinary mini-show . Talk about decadent. And mouthwatering. And absolutely positively unbelievably amazing!


Texas Wine of the Month: May 2013

Posted on: May 31st, 2013 by fcasio No Comments
Posted in News, Wine

Republished from Texas Monthly.

Wed May 29, 2013 2:15 pm

Inwood Estates takes a Chardonnay grape and blends it with the less well known Spanish Palomino grape commonly used in Sherry to create a white wine that balances crisp acidity with bold fruit and complexity.

The Wine:
Inwood Estates Palomino-Chardonnay Blend 2010

The Grape:
This is a blend of about sixty percent Palomino and forty percent Chardonnay. Palomino, native to Spain, is widely used to produce sherry in the southern part of the country. This is a contrast to Chardonnay, which is planted all over the world and responsible for the great whites of Montrachet, Chablis, and some of the best sparkling wines made in Champagne.

Who Likes It:
Jason Sherman, an Advanced Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, is the Wine Director for Brennan’s of Houston . Prior to Brennan’s, Sherman was a sommelier at Morton’s Steakhouse, but was lured from the more corporate feel of a national steakhouse to a restaurant with more than forty years of history as a Louisiana-inspired, family-owned operation. “I feel very blessed to work for a company with such a great legacy of sommeliers and chefs in this city,” Sherman said.

Why He Likes It:
“While most great wines from Texas source fruit from the Panhandle area, the majority of the fruit used for this wine is sourced from Hunt County, right outside the Dallas area. It’s proof that great wines can come from all over our large state. It’s also a big, rich, full-bodied white wine, and we all know Texans love ‘em as full-bodied as possible.”

Suggested Pairings:
“With its rich flavors of hazelnut, spice and crisp golden apples, this wine would pair well with fish, like our pecan-crusted redfish. Another great pairing would be to go down to your local farmer’s market and get some honey and cow’s milk cheese.”

On Down the Road:
“I am constantly impressed at how well-made some of the wines [in Texas] are, from Duchman Family Winery Vermentino to Becker Vineyards Viognier , and how much better they get every year. I think Texas wine has a long road ahead, but it’s on the right track. The use of purchased grapes from California has caused some confusion with the public on what’s really Texas wine and what is not, but lower price points and esoteric varietals leave room for trying new things.”

Note from the Winemaker:
Dan Gatlin has been making wine in Texas since the early eighties. As one of the pioneers of Texas wine, Gatlin’s devoted research to making premium-quality wine has garnered him a reputation for being a top Texas winemaker. The Palomino-Chardonnay is a special blend he’s been making for some time because of his belief in making good Chardonnay in Texas—a grape that hasn’t always been successful across the board. Gatlin has recently added a single-variety Chardonnay to his portfolio with all of the grapes for this wine being sourced from within Dallas County that yields a crisp, minerality that many might find mimics a more French white Burgundy in style.

“The world of white wines tends to break down into three categories. First, there are high perfume whites such as Riesling, Muscats, Gewurtztraminer and Viognier. Second, there are high pyrazine or ‘grassy’ wines like Sauvignon Blanc. Third, there are more neutral whites like Chardonnay,” Gatlin said. “Reviewing the stats for wine sales across America, there is almost total domination by Chardonnay and the next runner up is far, far behind. My 35 years of experience in the wine industry tells me that people will drink perfumed or grassy whites for a while, but they always return to more neutral whites in the end.”

“The choices for neutral white grapes are shockingly few,” Gatlin continued. “After Chardonnay, Palomino turns out to be one of the very few, truly neutral grapes in the universe of choices. I have found that the Palomino is a perfect blend for Chardonnay with denser body and honeyed, tropical nuances, with an overall neutral finish. The Palomino-Chardonnay fills a very unique, but widely sought-after market demand.”

“The problem is the extremely low yield of the Palomino in Texas. At about one-sixth of the yield it takes to be economically feasible, it is hard to justify any increased plantings. We work very hard for less than two barrels of wine each summer.”

Availability: Due to low production quantities mentioned above, this wine has limited availability but can be ordered online through the winery.

Price: $80

It’s National Mint Julep Day. Celebrate with your own.

Posted on: May 30th, 2013 by fcasio No Comments
Posted in Cocktail, recipe

Brennan’s Mint Julep Recipe

Brennan's Mint Julep

Brennan’s Mint Julep


2 Springs of fresh mint

0.5 oz Simple Syrup*

2 oz Bourbon (your favorite)


In the bottom of a julep cup or old fashion glass muddle one mint sprig with simple syrup. Fill cup with crushed ice, add bourbon & swirl with bar spoon till the glass is frosty. Top with more ice. Garnish with sprig of mint. Dust with powdered sugar.

*Stir together equal parts of granulated sugar and boiling water. Stir until sugar is dissolved and liquid is clear. Chill before using. May be stored for several weeks if refrigerated.

Honey, raise that Julep cup in a toast to a good old Gulf Coast breeze & enjoy!


A Derby Party Recap

Posted on: May 14th, 2013 by fcasio No Comments
Posted in Uncategorized

Featured on NRN: Chicken-fried ‘Lot 42′ Cauliflower Steak

Posted on: May 7th, 2013 by fcasio No Comments
Posted in News

Republished from: Nation’s Restaurant News

Chicken-fried ‘Lot 42′ cauliflower steak

Brennan’s of Houston, Houston
May 3, 2013 Bret Thorn

Chef Danny Trace offers this item as part of his two-course, $25 Farmer’s Corner menu at lunch, as well as part of his $80 six-course vegetable dinner.

Lot 42 is a section of Gundermann Farms near Houston, where this cauliflower is grown. Trace cuts the cauliflower into half-inch slices without coring it. He drizzles the vegetable with grapeseed oil and sprinkles it with sage, thyme and oregano, and roasts it until tender.

Next, he dusts the cauliflower with flour, dips it in tempura batter and deep-fries it to a golden brown.

He serves the cauliflower with a potato salad made of Purple Majesties — a type of Peruvian blue potato — mixed with sautéed shallots, bell pepper and celery, along with capers, Creole mustard, yellow mustard and lemon juice. He finishes the salad with some chopped green onions.

He pours a vegan mushroom gravy on the cauliflower, which he makes by heating four parts mushroom stock with one part almond milk and puréeing it with some cooked rice to thicken it.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

Source: Nation’s Restaurant News

Revana Wine Dinner

Posted on: May 2nd, 2013 by fcasio No Comments
Posted in Event, Wine


By Jason Sherman

After a year or two of putting off a wine dinner with local Cardiologist, Dr. Revana, we finally got him in the books. For those not familiar with his wines, he has wineries in both Napa Valley and Willamette Valley (Oregon).

The Napa Valley winery is now lead by the talented Thomas Rivers Brown (Heidi Barret made the wine there previously), who has worked at such wineries as Turley, Schrader and Outpost, while the Oregon operation is headed by Lynn Penner-Ash, of Penner-Ash fame.

Dr. Revana will be in attendance to talk about both wineries, as well as some new releases and some old friends. We will be pouring the new vintage of Willamette Valley Riesling and pinot gris, alongside two pinot noirs—a single vineyard Alexana Dundee Hills 2010, and a 2008 Sitar, a small production wine made at Alexana Winery by Tony Rynders, formerly of Domaine Serene.

Lastly, we will be enjoying the 2009 Revana Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. These wines are very hard to get and some I have saved for this occasion for a few years. Chef Danny and I have worked hard to prepare a great menu and hope to see you there.

Revana Wine Dinner at Brennan’sDate: May 21, 2013
Time: 6:30 – 9:30
Price: $145 plus tax & gratuity
Tickets required

To purchase tickets to this event and see the menu, follow the link to the Revana Wine Dinner event page>>>


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
Posted in Brennan's History, Event, News

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.

H-Town Chefs Rock Austin Fest

Posted on: April 25th, 2013 by fcasio No Comments
Posted in Current Events, News


Robin Barr Sussman | Photo: Courtesy Image | April 22, 2013

Attention foodies and chef followers! Top Houston toques will join national celebrity chefs like Susan Feniger and Andrew Zimmern this weekend, April 26-28, for the Austin Food & Wine Festival by Food & Wine Magazine.

Chefs Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrance Gallivan of The Pass and Provisions

Guests will mingle with food and wine luminaries as they cook, shake cocktails, pour hundreds of wines, and enlighten guests on all things epicurean. Live music included! For tickets and a complete schedule, visit austinfoodandwinefestival.com. Can’t make it to ATX? Hit up their H-Town restaurants for these new spring menu items and events.

1. Chef Danny Trace of Brennan’s (3300 Smith St., 713.522.9711) is bringing his Texas-Creole culinary swagger to the party Friday night as a participant in the Taste of Texas Kickoff event. If you miss the fun, there’s always something brewing at Brennan’s, including the last of the Courtyard Series, Mudbug Madness. Or spring for the new Digging Texas Creole Vegetable menu.

2. Chefs Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrance Gallivan of The Pass and Provisions (807 Taft St., 713.628.9020) will both grace the Austin Taste of Texas Kickoff event and dish out samples of their whimsical thought-provoking creations. Back at The Pass, look for a new spring tasting menu of meticulously composed “potato bread” with a lobster roll and corn; eggplant carpaccio; pork crackling, nori bucatini and more.

3. Houston-born Philip Speer, executive pastry chef and culinary director of nationally buzzed Uchi Houston (904 Westheimer Rd., 713.522.4808) and Austin, will wow guests with amazing treats in a demo called Classic Desserts in a Modern Kitchen. Back in H-Town, Feast, a dinner series by Blaffer Art Museum Houston, pairs Houston artists with Uchi for unique wine dinners created in the private homes of Houston collectors, which runs through August.

4. Lauded Underbelly chef Chris Shepherd, recently named this year’s 10 Best New Chefs by Food & Wine Magazine, will strut his stuff this weekend at the Taste of Texas Kickoff Event in Republic Square Park. At Underbelly, (1100 Westheimer Rd., 713.528.9800) look for this new menu dish among others: smoked pork with grapefruit BBQ sauce and fried green tomatoes.

5. Chef Jamie Zelko of Zelko Bistro (705 E. 11th St., 713.880.8691) is all about local and sustainable, so get in line at the weekend fest for her New American comfort fare with a fresh twist. New this spring to her Houston bistro menu: Verlasso farm-raised sustainable salmon, known for fabulous flavor and texture. Slow-baked salmon with grilled fennel, garlic spinach and Meyer lemon aioli anyone?

Restaurants ready for soft-shell crab season

Posted on: April 22nd, 2013 by fcasio No Comments
Posted in crab, News
Chefs develop new preparations for the delicacy as its season approaches
Apr. 18, 2013 Fern Glazer
Fried soft-shell crab at Brennan's of Houston
Fried soft-shell crab at Brennan’s of Houston.

When Victor Scargle tasted his first soft-shell crab back in 1995, it was at the behest of some more senior chefs he was working with in a New York City seafood restaurant. Then a young, up-and-coming chef who was more familiar with the hard-shell crabs of his native West Coast, Scargle thought his new co-workers were pulling his leg when they told him to eat the whole crab, shell and all. But he took the bait and has been in love with the delicacy ever since.

“It was wonderful,” said Scargle of that first experience. “What a delicious surprise and treat it was.”

Scargle is now chef at Lucy’s Restaurant in Yountville, California, where, once the season hits in late April, he plans to serve fennel pollen and phyllo-crusted soft-shell crabs with Lucy artichokes barigoule, morel mushrooms, wrinkled crinkled cress and apple balsamic.

“It’s such a great product, very versatile, sweet flavor, has a crunchiness to it,” he said. “It goes well with a lot of stuff.”

Scargle isn’t alone in his passion for the delicate crustaceans. Chefs across the country are discovering the uniqueness and versatility of soft-shell crabs and are increasingly adding them to their menus. According to Datassential MenuTrends, soft shells now appear on 15 percent more restaurant menus than they did five years ago.


Brennan's of Houston's Blue Crab Bread Pudding with Soft-Shell Bisque

Brennan’s of Houston’s Blue Crab Bread Pudding with Soft-Shell Bisque.
Soft shells are most common on fine dining menus, where 10 percent of menus feature the item. The biggest increase over the last five years has occurred at the midscale and casual-dining segments, where the appearance of soft-shell crabs on menus increased by 28 percent and 20 percent respectively.

A number of trends are driving the increased interest in soft shells, say chefs, including diners’ desire to eat more seasonally. At a time when most seafood can be had during any season and in any location, soft-shell crabs remain seasonal. They are only available from late April through summer when the crab sheds its shell in preparation to grow a new one.

“It’s a very unique time of year that you can eat the whole crab,” said chef Frederik de Pue of Azur in Washington, D.C, a contemporary seafood restaurant that opened Thursday. “You have to take advantage of products that are in season and unique.”

While soft shells are traditionally deep fried, de Pue prefers a lighter preparation. He will serve pan-roasted Maryland crab with English peas, house-made crème fraiche and Japanese yuzu koshu paste.

Also breaking from tradition is chef Mike Isabella, chef and owner of Graffiato in Washington, D.C., and former contestant on Bravo TV’s Top Chef and Top Chef All-Stars. Isabella will be serving a wild rice–crusted soft-shell crab with eggplant relish and green plum. The breading, which includes fried rice, flour and egg, gives the crab an exterior he describes as being “almost like a Rice Krispie.”


Soft-shell crab

Mike Isabella features fried soft-shell crab in his cook book, “Crazy Good Italian.” Photo: Greg Powers Photography

“It’s cool lookin’ … unexpected,” said Isabella of his puffed-rice creation. “Everyone loves a fried soft-shell crab.”Though soft shells primarily come from The Gulf of Mexico, The Chesapeake Bay, the Carolinas, Louisiana, Georgia and Florida, advances in packaging, shipping and storage mean the crabs can noweasily travel across the country, allowing chefs such as Sonny Sweetman of Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles to serve them as well.

“They have an amazing natural, briny, sweet flavor, and they remind me of home,” said Sweetman, who is originally from Maryland. “But the season is short so you have to get them quickly when they are available.”

Sweetman puts soft shells on the menu at Wolfgang Puck every spring and varies the preparations. This year he’ll be coating Maryland soft shells in tempura, deep frying them and serving them with fava beans, eggplant and Indian spices.

In Houston, chef Danny Trace of Brennan’s of Houston plans to take advantage of the rare product by serving a variety of preparations. His menu will include Soft-Shell Crab Imperial, Blue Crab Bread Pudding with Soft-Shell Bisque, Blue Crab Soufflé with soft-shell saffron cream, Crispy Smoked Soft-Shell Crab and Soft-Shell Provencal.

“There’s something unbelievable about a fried soft shell crab,” said Trace. “[I’m] always excited to see them coming. We always try to do something different.”