Category: Wine

Leaf Blowers

The Season’s visage wears a scowl. 

Cold smoke moves on specter toes. 

Join the lonely wind in howl,

Chant the words in Winter’s prose.

It has been a long, cold winter but the worst has passed. February brings milder temperatures to South Texas. The only sign of the old frigid man is yellow grass, some bare tree branches and pruned crape myrtles. A sense of season is easily confused. Landscapes surrounding office buildings and cul de sacs alike are planted with invasive, perennials of implacable green. The display of chocolate hearts is replaced by chocolate rabbits beside a sale for sunscreen. The new line of patio furniture relaxes in cool umbrella shade, inviting a shopper to sit and consider the sale price on the laminated tag. Everyone should own a grill at least once in their life but no one really needs a leaf blower. Did Washington and Lincoln believe in one nation under God with liberty and justice and 30% off for all? Wait! Don’t buy that, put it back on the shelf. Save your money for a weekend getaway to Port Aransas. The seashore is enticing but beware the Ides of March and the college students who storm the beach in amphibious assaults like drunken Marines. Spring loves to tease but she is just around the corner. Open a bottle of wine and listen to Carmina Burana. You may have to turn the stereo up loud to be heard above the mating call of leaf blowers.

Vive Le Pain

I bet you didn’t kneaux I spoke French, did you?

When it comes to haute cuisine, or less than haute, Houston has plenty to offer. Yes, it is Texas so beef is king, and anything that can be, will be barbecued. It should also come as no surprise to anyone with access to a map of North America that Mexican food is plentiful as are daily catches of fresh fish from the Gulf.

It might be less than common knowledge, however, that Vietnamese food is popular here, especially the beef noodle soup and the Bánh Mì sandwich. And while I am on the subject of sandwiches, nothing ruins a Bánh Mì or a shrimp po’boy like terrible bread. You know the type: doughy, under cooked and made with sugar. I am no baker, but unless you are making a cinnamon bun and the like, sugar should not be in your recipe.

The French are proud of their bread and because of their influence on both Vietnamese and Cajun cultures you might assume that serving anything less than a quality baguette at Pappadeaux’s or the Saigon Cafe would be unacceptable. You would be wrong in that assumption, though, Houston has a real crisis.

My quest for a decent dinner roll was aided by my insatiable thirst for wine. Serendipity, I think they call it. I celebrated a birthday last week, and I decided to splurge on some fancy French labels you don’t see in the discount bin at Spec’s.

As the name implies, French Country Wines is actually operated by someone from France and, being sympathetic to my plight, he directed me to Magnol Bakery. I was not disappointed. Magnol not only has staples like croissants and baguettes, but also a few sweet surprises like Canneles de Bordeaux which is like creme brulee in petit four form.

I confess, I will never grow tired of BBQ, but my beef rib from Hitter’s will be served alongside an epi baguette. And wine, of course.