We’ve been overindulging a bit lately, so today we’ll concentrate on reading rather than consuming. That is, we’ll take a quick look at a few of our favorite food blogs, all of them local except for one.
And the one non-local sort of wishes she were here, in that she’s the Homesick Texan. The Texan, Lisa Fain, is a former Houstonian now living in New York. In this current New York Times article, Fain explains that she got a taste for big city life by watching Sesame Street as a kid. So maybe PBS really is out to brainwash your kids, after all.
Fain has made a name for herself with her blog, which is filled with recipes for dishes like poblano chorizo potato salad, and Hatch Chile apple cobbler, which take Texas food and make it even more intense. The blog gets around 15,000 views a day, but that total will probably increase now that Fain has published her first cookbook. (The cookbook is the inspiration for the Times article.) Fain, who has lived in New York for 15 years, says “I do love Texas. I just didn’t know I loved it until I lived in New York.” Isn’t that always the way?
Food in Houston is one of the better strictly local restaurant blogs. Between 2007 and 2009 The Anonymous Eater posted frequently, then went on hiatus. AE returned just this summer, and has blogged only twice, covering a wide range of restaurants. The newish Sorrel Urban Bistro gets this bottom line: “These are simple dishes, often with only 3 or 4 high quality ingredients. The kitchen is big on balancing contrasting flavors. Their minimalist approach to ingredients nicely fills a void in Houston's maximalist restaurant scene.”
As this quote shows, AE’s writing is clear, knowledgeable, and unembellished. Something about the blogger’s tone inspires confidence in her judgments. We hope he’ll be posting a little more frequently.
tasty-bits takes a different approach. Misha, as the blogger styles him- or herself, posts very infrequently indeed. There are a couple of posts from this year, then there’s a break going back to 2009. But Misha is more essayist than blogger. This early 2011 two-part series (found at the above link) about what Houston lacks in order to join the first ranks of restaurant cities is quite impressive. Misha writes about Houston diners “who are increasingly resigned to restaurants that charge premium prices for interchangeable menus of comfort food staples,” and notes that when Alison Cook (author of her own formidable food blog) tried to come up with a Top-10 list of new restaurants for 2010, she had to stop at eight.
But Misha (who apparently travels to Copenhagen “where cooking today is reaching stratospheric levels”) holds out high hope for the city’s “gastro-underground.” (Wish we’d thought of that term ourselves.) That is, the city’s pop-up restaurants, and private progressive dinners put on by Randy Rucker and others. Misha writes, “Some of the most exciting food I came across [last year] was right here in Houston. Just not in venues where you’d expect to see it.”
Misha has very interesting thoughts on how the local fine-dining chefs of the 1980s, led by Robert Del Grande, “failed to inspire a generation of young cooks” to follow in their footsteps.
All in all, this is a great read, one that may very well point to the future of adventurous Houston cooking.