July 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Dining

Pico’s Mex-Mex Debuts Insider Favorites

Chef Arnaldo Richards of Pico’s Mex-Mex Restaurant debuts menu consisting of old classics, off-the-menu specials and insider favorites. If one of your favorite items dropped off the menu, it could be coming back.

Flautas Estilo Mexico and the Sincronizadas Verdes o Rojas, were originals back in 1984. “I have customers who come to my restaurant once a week just to eat these dishes,” he says. Examples:

Tamales Oaxaquenos 2 6-oz Oaxaca style banana leaf wrapped tamales, you choice of Pork, Chicken or Portobello &Cuitlacoche Flautas Estilo Mexico Three crispy Flautas filled with your choice of Beef Barbacoa, Chicken or Potato and cheese, topped with fresh tomatillos salsa, sour cream, queso Cotija and avocado slices Sincronizadas Verdes o Rojas Roasted Pork, Roasted Chicken and melted Chihuahua Cheese served staked between corn tortillas and topped with salsa verde (tomatillo) or salsa entomatada (tomato) sour cream and avocado slices Asado de Puerco Tender chunks of pork loin cooked in a chile guajillo sauce with orange zest, served with white rice and refried black beans Filete Mestizo 8-oz charcoal broiled beef tenderloin smothered with our very own black bean mole, topped with Queso Cotija, served with Esquites and sautéed spinach Chamorro de Ternera en Chile de Arbol (Osso Buco) Tender Veal Shank slow cooked in a Chile de Arbor sauce served with Charro Style Alubias (cannellini beans) and slices of avocado Churrasco Poblano 8-oz of marinated flank steak, smothered with melted Chihuahua cheese and covered with a Poblano sauce made with roasted tomatoes, charred poblano peppers and sautéed kernels of corn accompanied with charro beans and slices of avocado

For more information about Pico’s Mex-Mex restaurant and its new menu, please call 713-662-8383.

How to increase sales

July 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Edit

THE UN-COMFORT ZONE with Robert Wilson

Keeping The Ball Rolling

by Robert Wilson

I know an advertising agency owner who never fully takes a vacation. He takes his family to fairly exotic locations, but never so alien that they are outside the reach of modern communication. In other words, he is never further than a cell phone call or email away. He checks in with the office several times a day — much to the chagrin of his family who want him to be fully engaged in the holiday at hand. So, he ends up sneaking off under the guise of visiting the restroom, or going to the bar for a cocktail, in order to connect with his staff, a client or a prospect. His wife and kids aren’t fooled; they just sigh and accept the inevitable. I used to think he was a control freak — someone who couldn’t let go and let someone else take over — until I came to understand the concept of Momentum.

In science, Momentum is equal to Mass times Velocity. Or just think of Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark running as fast as he can out of the tunnel while that huge stone ball rolls faster and faster after him. In business, Momentum is the point at which success begins to come easily. Business veterans jokingly refer to it as having, “paid my dues.” In short, Momentum is an accumulation of acquired knowledge, skill, experience and connections. And, those who understand it… also know it can be fragile and easily lost.

Sales professionals who have achieved Momentum will tell you that you must pursue a number of activities to generate sales leads: phone calls, emails, sales letters, networking events, etc. You keep it up building dozens, then hundreds of leads at a time. Then to convert those leads to sales you keep following up on each of them in a timely fashion. Meanwhile, you are still maintaining all the activities that continue to generate leads. So between generating leads, following up on leads, then turning leads into sales, you begin to feel like the guy in the circus who spins plates on top of poles — rushing from one plate to the next to keep them spinning.

No wonder these folks hate to take vacations — it breaks the Momentum they’ve spent months or years creating and they know it takes time to get it going again.

Years ago when I first started giving speeches, a seasoned professional speaker advised me, “It took me ten years to quit sweating cash flow, but even so, it is still all about non-stop marketing.” In other words: maintaining Momentum.

For a growing company, Momentum is the point where you have done enough advertising, marketing, public relations, networking, and so forth that business begins to flow. It is the point where you are garnering the precious and often elusive word-of-mouth referrals. Momentum is about building a reputation. Acquiring it, however, doesn’t mean you can taper off on your efforts… but it does mean that your efforts will become easier.

The best thing about Momentum is that once you get it, motivation becomes self-perpetuating. Momentum is energizing. It keeps you on your toes. And, the rewards come quickly and regularly.

I have found this to true in all pursuits. Even when I am writing fiction there is always a certain point in a novel that it takes on a life of its own and demands my daily attention, energy and focus until it is complete. Unfortunately, nothing quite puts the brakes on Momentum like finishing a book, or completing any other major task. The trick to avoid losing that Momentum is to begin another book or another task before you complete the first one. Then you just shift your energy over to the next project that is already under way.

Robert Evans Wilson, Jr. is a motivational speaker and humorist. He works with companies that want to be more competitive and with people who want to think like innovators. For more information on Robert’s programs please visit www.jumpstartyourmeeting.com.


Discovering the Essence of Portugal

Although an international gateway to Europe boasting a rich history and heritage rivaling that of its European neighbors, Portugal is often overlooked by American tourists. Which is a shame because unlike the cookie-cutter tours to Rome, Paris and London, the country which gave us some of our greatest explorers including Ferdinand Magellan, and the Porto wine for which it is so widely known, sneaks up on you. That is, you have to live it to feel it.

The convergence of old and new is apparent upon touching down at Portela Airport in Lisbon. The Iberian Capital is experiencing a dazzling rebirth. As I waded through security, I noticed travelers surfing wireless internet while sitting at shiny café’s and noshing on Portugal’s famed custard pastries, locally known as pastel de Belem.

The country is known for its quality of life. Lisbon, as a gateway capital of Europe, is a unique compromise. The city enjoys a fantastic year round climate, and its proximity to the sea ensures all the benefits this affords. Unspoiled wild sand dunes, waves lapping upon quiet shorelines, and a calmness that permeates the fresh breeze.

Portugal is preserved, having learned from the mistakes of Spain’s urbanization efforts which some claim cast a pall on the seaside resorts. A beautiful old port city, Lisbon features fresh seafood brought in daily, sailing and surfing. In the North, there are elegant mansions lining the seaside and the atmosphere is akin to what you’d find in Biarritz, or even Cape Cod. No wonder the royal family of Spain decided to live in exile in Portugal, and that the King of Italy also chose Portugal as his place of exile during WWII.

As a capital city, Lisbon is easily discovered on foot. With sidewalk café’s and alfresco dining around every corner, the palpable rhythm of the city creeps up on you.

Many Americans travel with a checklist in hand of sights they wish to visit. Discovering Lisbon is a journey to be undertaken without a checklist. Tourists come to Lisbon to experience life, to enjoy the bustling outdoor café’s and the winding, cobblestone streets.

Which is not to say Lisbon is sleepy—quite the contrary. Like the international airport terminal, mixing old with new seems to be the trend. In the Old Quarter, trendy boutiques selling the latest fashion may be found next door to an elderly woman hanging out her clothes, or selling antique bird cages. The city is mixed, like its people, who herald from many parts of Europe.

Late night haunts include trips to local bars to hear musicians sing the Fado, the traditional Portugese music. The harbor is another evening hot spot with tourists and locals partying late into the night.

Although there are significant historical sights and museums to be had, Lisbon is not a place for the cruise ship mentality, i.e., a checklist approach to a vacation. As in: been there, saw that, check.

Take the cherry drink called ginginha. This old, traditional drink where the alcohol is mixed with cherries is savored by locals and tourists alike on street corners where they buy the drink from local stalls.

Portugal is, of course, famed for its Port wine — not simply the red syrup that Americans expect as an after dinner liquor, but also the light, white crisp tasting port served with meals.

As far as accommodations, the city offers numerous hotels tailored to fit any budget. Lisbon’s finest hotel is managed, not surprisingly, by the Four Seasons, and is called The Ritz Four Seasons Hotel, Lisbon.

Originally opened in 1959 when Portugal was controlled by Antonio Salazar, the hotel was established with the aim of becoming one of the fanciest, luxury hotels in Europe. Twelve of the wealthiest families in Portugal came together to ensure that Portugal’s capital city, with its burgeoning business community, would create an institution in Portugal. Now the Four Seasons brand, the best in its league, manages this fine place. Once again, the hotel manages to cleverly weave a rich tapestry between old and new.

Over 600 pieces of original Portugese art adorn the Ritz Four Seasons Hotel, a passion project of some of the founding families. Which is not to say the atmosphere is staid and old-worldly. The stunning spa and pool ooze that of a cool, contemporary space, with spa treatments rivaling those found in Manhattan or Beverly Hills. Situated on one of Lisbon’s famed hilltops, the rooms offer commanding views of the city and the park below.

A feature of the Ritz Four Seasons Hotel that can’t be missed is the food, best exemplified by the elegant buffet lunch which caters to Lisbon’s business and social elite. The food mixes contemporary Portugese cuisine with traditional favorites, once again inspired by old and new.

Favorites include the fresh fish and meats of the day, sushi rolls rivaling those found at the Tokyo fishmarket, seafood ceviche, and the famed Portugese cheeses and desserts on display.

When HTEXAS dined here, a comment was overheard that the food “tasted like a kiss.”

For another unforgettable dinner, try Café Olivier. With exquisite food and wine pairings, the idea at this culinary showstopper is to simply relax and recline while various amuse bouches are presented at a dizzying rate. The goat cheese puff pastry with honey and nuts was a major highlight until the fresh sea scallops arrived along with entrees of white veal accompanied with truffles; and fish, prawns and spinach tucked neatly inside the famous Portugese baked pastry crust.

Both the Ritz Four Seasons Hotel, Lisbon and Café Olivier offer a selection of Portugese wines from small, local producers that are not found in the United States. A rarity, these days, when it seems as though the homogenization of culture has produced an unfortunate after effect: travel without surprises.

Americans, especially Texans who enjoy following the path less traveled, should love Portugal. A place where one can explore ‘off the list’ while enjoying a true feast for the senses.

Summer Beauty Must Haves

July 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Beauty & Fashion, Blogs

Beauty Talk

Super Summer Beauty Must-have-it Products

Laura Mercier Sun-free Gradual Self-Tanner hydrates skin while provides instant shimmer and a sun-kissed glow ($38 www.lauramercier.com)

Benefit Lip Glosses- Gloss of Your Dreams! is non-sticky with a soft cushion applicator and available in 8 shades ($18 www.benefitcosmetics.com)

Per-fékt Skin Perfection Gel is an all-in-one, enriched with antioxidants primer and sheer foundation, sweat and water-resistant product that dries as a flawless powder finish ($57.50 www.sephora.com)

Cosmedicine Medi-Matte vaporizes oil all day long while protecting your skin with an SPF 20 ($42 www.nortstrom.com)

Diving in Jamaica

July 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Travel Blog

Words by Dick Dace

Jamaica’s most famous dive spot, the Wall, is a five-minute boat ride from the beaches of Grand Lido Braco Resort & Spa on the island’s north shore. The Wall drops 1,000 feet and is home to colorful aquatic life, including parrotfish, giant Caribbean lobsters and schools of parading squid.