Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Weekend Gourmet Hits the Road...Easter Weekend in Houston Featuring Crepes, Old-Fashioned Milkshakes, and Brennan's Easter Brunch!

After a brief cooking/blogging break to visit our families in the Houston area for the long Easter weekend, I’m back! Just because I didn’t do any cooking over the past few days, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t eat well...quite the contrary! Michael and I had some fun food adventures, and I documented them all so I could share them with you in here. We visited an authentic French creperie in my tiny hometown of Alvin, enjoyed handmade old-fashioned malts and straight-from-the-candy-kitchen saltwater taffy at LaKing’s Confectionary in Galveston, and we wrapped up our Easter visit with a three-course brunch at Brennan’s Houston...complete with live jazz, the Easter Bunny, and adorable baby bunnies in the courtyard.

We visited my parents for lunch on Saturday at Ooh La La, a crepe shop that opened recently in Alvin, my hometown. My Dad made a special phone call a few weeks back to tell me about how good these crepes were...both sweet and savory. I knew I had to visit during our next trip home, because I love crepes...but I never make them at home. We started out with the Celeste, a savory crepe containing prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, herb de provence, and olive oil. 

They crepes were made to order and served fresh and warm...such a great combo of flavors! We opted for two dessert crepes to share: Tarte au Pommes (apples, brown sugar, caramel, and butter) and PB avec du Chocolat (peanut butter chocolate chip). Both were totally amazing...the apple crepe was like apple pie’s French cousin, and the PB-choc chip tasted like a melted Reese’s cup. 

I can’t wait to go back to Ooh La La and try more of their fun flavor combinations...the Delicieux with nutella, strawberry, and banana is calling my name all the way here in San Antonio! Later that afternoon, we drove down I-45 to Galveston to drive up Seawall Boulevard looking at the beach before stopping at The Strand Historical District to visit one of our favorite destinations: LaKing's Confectionary.

This combination ice cream parlor and old-fashioned candy shop has been open on Galveston island since 1976. They sustained flooding and damage when Hurricane Ike hit the island in 2008, but they remodeled and are back to serving all our favorite treats. Their malts and shakes are legendary...so this place is always packed with people young and old looking to cool off and enjoy some sweet treats. I always get a strawberry malt, while Michael prefers strawberry-pineapple with a double shot of malt. They are always the perfect consistency too...just thick enough to easily use a straw! LaKing's also makes a lot of their candy in-house, including some delicious saltwater taffy. When we were there on Saturday, the Master Candy Maker was making a huge batch of tutti-frutti saltwater taffy. We caught a still-warm piece as he tossed samples into the mesmerized crowd...it doesn’t get fresher than that, friends!

We attended Easter Mass on Sunday, then I drove back to Alvin to visit my extended family on my Dad’s side for our family Easter celebration. It was great to spend some time with my aunts and uncles...and my sweet cousins! Before I knew it, it was time to head back to meet up with Michael and his parents for Easter Brunch at Brennan’s Houston. This is one of our all-time-favorite restaurants, and they really know how to put on a special celebration! The Easter Bunny was greeting guests as the strolling jazz band played some great music. The bass player in the background of this picture is a musician friend of my brother-in-law’s who we’ve known for years, so it’s always nice to see him.

We ordered our food and settled in for three courses of delicious Texas-Creole food. My appetizer was the BBQ Breaux Bridge Crawfish Shortcake: crawfish in a spicy Worcestershire-lemon sauce served with a buttermilk biscuit. Michael opted for his favorite: Texas Wild Shrimp Remoulade. Both appetizers were very good, but my father-in-law raved about how delicious his Smoked Duck and Venison Sausage Gumbo tasted. 

Michael and I opted for the same entree: Gulf Coast Shrimp and Grits. This dish is ranked #9 on the Houston Press's 100 Favorite Things to Eat in Houston...and Chef Danny Trace recently cooked them on the Today show. It's easy to see why...this dish is totally AMAZING! The goat-cheese grits are creamy and rich, and the sweet shrimp are swimming in a spicy sauce that pulls the entire dish together.

Speaking of sweet...wait until you see our desserts! Michael opted for Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce, my father-in-law had the White Chocolate Bread Pudding, and my mother-in-law had the Bourbon Pecan Pie Sundae. I opted for the Honey Peanut Butter Cup, which featured peanut butter mousse in a chocolate shell...served with spicy peanut brittle and peanut butter ice cream. All of the desserts were as gorgeous to look at as they were to eat!!

I’ve had both of bread puddings before...and I enjoyed my dessert quite a bit...but my favorite was my mother-in-law’s sundae. That homemade bourbon-caramel corn sprinkled on top was really a nice touch...so good! Before we knew it, it was time to leave...but not before grabbing a few of their complimentary pralines at the door on our way out. They make really great road snacks during the drive back to San Antonio.

It was a wonderful holiday weekend back home in Houston. Truthfully, it doesn’t get much better than spending time with AND sharing great food with your family! I hope you enjoyed a peek into some of our food adventures this past weekend. I'll be getting back into the kitchen to cook up some new recipes to share with y'all later this week, but wanted to leave you with some gorgeous pictures of food in the meantime. Michael took many of these pictures for me, by the way...he has a really great eye for composition.

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