Saturday, September 29, 2012

Home is where you hang your 10 gallon hat

Five years ago today, I boarded a plane in Boston with a one-way ticket. Destination: Houston. I've gone back to Boston to visit, but in the figurative sense I've never looked back. 

View from our rooftop
In these five years, I've fallen in love with this city and its:
  • Friendly, open people 
  • Mix of nationalities 
  • Cool architecture and sense of design
  • Interest in preservation and sustainability
  • Amazing restaurant scene
  • Vibrant arts community
  • Growth and opportunity
  • Strong philanthropic streak
  • Warm climate (ok, the summers are brutal)

It's also been fun to discover that New Englanders were pretty off base when they warned me five years ago that Houston is full of cowboys and all they eat here is steak! We love showing off our city to visitors, and being local tourists ourselves.

Houston is:
  • Nearly the size of the state of Massachusetts
  • Home to 11,000 restaurants
  • The third largest home in the nation for consular offices
  • A 21% cheaper place to live than the nation's average city
  • Second only to NYC in our theater district capacity
  • Where more than 90 languages are spoken 
  • Host of the world's largest rodeo
  • Home to the world's largest medical center
  • The top port in international waterborne tonnage

Not to sound trite, but we're a city on the move. Sure, it's not perfect, but I'm amazed every day at how much is happening around us. It's perhaps most challenging to decide what to do on any given day. 

Now, if you'll excuse me I'm off to celebrate half a decade in H'town!

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Monday, September 24, 2012

The world in your backyard: Menil Collection turns 25

Anyone who found themselves on the grounds of the Menil Collection in Houston last Saturday met with good fortune in the form of a truly enjoyable celebration of the collection's 25th birthday

The catalyst for this astonishing, world-class and masterfully curated art collection actually occurred back in 1931 in France, with the marriage of John de Menil to Dominique Schlumberger. 

France's loss of these residents during WWII was Houston's gain, as the de Menils quickly steeped themselves in Houston's then-nascent art and architecture scene. The landmark building housing the main part of the family's collection was built by Dominique after her husband's passing. 

To me, and probably many thousands of others, this building is not only inspirational from the exterior in its harmoniously rooted connection with its park-like surrounding, but also the interior with daring proportions and almost startling white space and acoustics show reverence for (and deference to) the art and artifacts it houses. 

On this particular day in a series of events celebrating the collection's 25th birthday, we loved the family-friendly setting...

...the exciting live jazz musicians...
...the dancers sweltering in the heat...

 ...and time with my honey!    

Thanks to ongoing generosity of corporations and individuals, the Menil Collection is free, the event was free, and no passport is required to access amazing culture from around the globe. 

How much do we love living in Houston? 

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Foodies, rejoice - Houston culinary adventures

I like adventures. Traveling, learning, trying new skills - and especially eating. It's rare for me to miss out on good food. When it comes to telling a story about food, the next best thing after being there and enjoying the food is the memory of such joy, in the form of pictures.   

Here are a few from a recent collection: Corey's visit, and then from the just-opened and much anticipated The Pass and Provisions from Pilot Light Restaurant Group. 

Grilled tuna, pineapple-cilantro salsa, grilled avocado with watermelon

Corey is an adventurous foodie, which I love, because it's like the icing on the cake to hang out with her and enjoy food so much. She was craving fresh tuna (not available in Trinidad) so this was a wonderful Saturday lunch made at our house. It was ridiculously good, the tuna was seared perfectly, and I'd never tried grilled avocado. The watermelon provides an exclamation point of color and flavor.  

Then there were the favorite foodie fixes on Corey's list, including shrimp corn dogs at Haven and diver scallops in a green pea broth at Brasserie 19. It was a quiet afternoon before the dinner rush, so we had a great visit with Executive Chef Amanda McGraw.

Haven's shrimp corn dogs, lemonade

Brasserie 19 Executive Chef Amanda McGraw

Diver scallops from Brasserie 19

Illuminated foyer at The Pass and Provisions
The Pass and Provisions is such a treat for us, as we mourned the closure of Gravitas and the ensuing empty space at the end of our street. We feel like we won BIG with the opening of this amazing space brought to our community by the Pilot Light Restaurant Group, and outstanding menu meant to be shared. 

After all, we live an entire 10 houses away from the restaurant, so you can't beat the commute. Oh, and our friend Marty custom-built many elements of this funky space, including the bar structure, finishes and furniture.  

Have I mentioned how much I love living here?

Truffled maitaki mushroom pizza, fontina
Shaved potato and thyme pizza, tallegio

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Losing Touch - Is Fantasy Football Real?

Greg's Complete 2012 To-Do List

The NFL kicks off this Wednesday, September 5, signaling the beginning of the 2012 season of the mental blood sport known as Fantasy Football. You see, the "real" NFL games don't really matter to those of us addicted to FF. Sure, like most Houstonians, I want the Houston Texans to win the Super Bowl just as long as the Texans allow my FF players to rack up points against them. Fantasy Football has truly reshaped the definition of what it means to be a team fan. Can you believe that some people actually root for players who are all on the same team? That's just crazy talk!

There are so many things that are so wrong on so many levels with Fantasy Football. For those of you who may not know, I have provided a partial list of the warning signs below:
  • Spousal abandonment
  • Rooting for players who play for the Dallas Cowboys
  • Uncontrolled mostly manly screaming on Sundays, Mondays and many Thursdays
  • Reprioritizing FF as above things like family, work, faith, personal hygiene...
  • Belief that "Fantasy Football Today" is the only legitimate source for news and weather
  • Temporary suspension of disbelief for 17 weeks (C'mon man, Michael Vick will play 16 regular season games this year, I am sure of it!) 
  • The sudden and complete loss of the ability to think critically and make ANY decision
  • Hallucinations that include Tim Tebow throwing 6 TD one quarter
  • The term "Waiver Wire" becomes a common and favorite phrase
  • Wild mood swings
  • Going to Buffalo Wild Wings for the games and not for the wings
  • The total and complete loss of accounting for time

Alas, I enter my 4th year of Fantasy Football after promising my wife the last 3 years that I would not put through this again. Maybe after this season...

A fate worse than death!!

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