Houston History Bus, Downtown

October 22, 2018 by  
Filed under Blogs, Community

Best Way to Learn Houston History: Houston History Bus, Downtown

Not all history lessons take place in a classroom. Hop on board the city’s one-and-only yellow-school-bus-on-wheels for an in-depth exploration of downtown. The owner and operator, a resident historian for KHOU, personalizes each tour for 20 seat holders, primarily focusing on the city’s founding, the Texas Revolution plus some local street history for good measure.

The Latest Cold + Flu Fighter

October 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Blogs, Health & Wellness

Although past studies have indicated that endurance sports (like that marathon training you’re pondering) put strain on the immune system, a new analysis in Frontiers in Immunology is flipping the script. We know that during intense exercise, infection-fighting immune cells increase 10 fold in the bloodstream, drop to low levels afterward and finally return to normal hours later—a finding that was previously interpreted as a sign of immune suppression. But now researchers speculate that this cell-turnover timeline is impossible, meaning that the “destroyed” cells (that were thought to have regenerated just hours later) can’t be replaced that quickly. Moreover, these “lost” cells actually end up in other more infection-prone parts of the body like the lungs. So it turns out that all exercise, and that includes the intense stuff, is good for immunity. One last thing, though: Make sure you’re balancing your marathon-training schedule with plenty of low impact, flexibility exercises like Pilates or yoga.

—Amanda Altman

International Smoke

October 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Dining, International Smoke

Wonder what’s burning in Citycentre? It’s the wood at International Smoke where they smoke and grill meals over open flames.

By Tom Flynn • Photos by Shannon O’Hara

International Smoke is owned by a couple of foodie celebrities, Celebrity chef Michael Mina and Food Network star Ayesha Curry (who happens to be married to Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry). The restaurant initially received bad social media reviews from pouting Houston Rockets fans still burning (pun intended) from the season ending defeat delivered by the Warriors. After some research, the reviews were proven unfounded and the only bad thing about Steph Curry is that he plays for the Warriors instead of the Rockets. Still, Ayesha ruffled some feathers when she opened a business in H Town.

Believe it or not, it smells like smoke in the restaurant. High-flying flames in the big open kitchen add some ambiance to the lofty interior as cooks run up and down the line flipping meat. Stained concrete floors, brick and cement pillars (some with graffiti) and dark, comfortable furniture contrast nicely with the fires.

The beef comes from 44 Farms just north of Austin where they’ve been producing prime and choice Angus cuts of meat for over a century. We order some, shaking. The Waygu Shaking Beef appetizer is cooked tableside in a cast iron dish with an Asian sauce. It’s accompanied with lettuce leaves, pickled carrots and radishes, fresh jalapeño and fried peanuts. Diners pile the beef on the lettuce, add a little sesame ginger sauce and roll their own lettuce wraps. The dish is fun, interactive and delicious, $16.

The Asian influences continue with Korean Smoked Short Ribs. It’s a large portion of meat served over sticky rice with a side of cold kimchi. The bone-in ribs are coated in a barbecue rub and Korean barbecue sauce and smoked until the exterior looks and tastes like burned end brisket. Inside, the meat is tender and juicy, $36. In contrast, the smoked sausage plate was just that, three types of sausage, mashed potatoes, stone ground mustard and an interesting dollop of fennel jam; $26. We ordered Green Papaya Slaw to lighten up our meal, plus another batch to take home, $9.

The menu is pretty extensive. Charcoal grilled oysters, clams and shrimp; steaks and lots of ribs; redfish on the half shell and fried snapper; duck wings, chicken and more. Most appetizers are $15–$20; entrees $30–$50 and sides $9–$15. There was one Cabernet Sauvignon for $55 (which was good), the rest were $100–$400. Fall is here and they have a large patio to hang out on. If it’s too hot or cold, you can enjoy the large, indoor bar.

Even though I’m a big Rockets fan, I’ll be back to International Smoke. Hopefully I can throw a Rockets victory party there at the end of this season; I’ll invite the Curry’s. H

On the Menu

October 1, 2018 by  
Filed under Features, On the Menu

A Reason for the Season

The latest restaurant trend to source local, sustainable ingredients is gaining steam. Here’s how to implement it in your Texas kitchen.

Story and recipes by Tom Flynn

Seasonal ingredients locally sourced from sustainable suppliers are the future for restaurants, at least according to Current’s executive chef, Richard Mendoza, who preaches on creating ecologically sound menus. I’ve heard the sermon. Sitting at his desk wearing his tall chef’s hat with his feet flat on the floor, he spits fire and brimstone rhetoric on the sins of the food business. To paraphrase him: “Thou shalt not order product from California and waste hundreds of gallons on fuel having it delivered to Texas. Thou shalt not support a supplier who spits emissions into the air, or harms our streams, lakes or oceans. Thou shalt not serve aging and wilting ingredients that rode on a truck from afar. Thou shalt honor world-classic dishes created from fresh local ingredients.” Amen, brother.

I travel all over the world researching our “On the Menu” features. The kitchen at the Westin in The Woodlands (in which Current resides) is the most professional I’ve ever seen, from the facilities to the staff and processes. I spent an afternoon listening to their culinary philosophy and cooking secrets. When it came time to practice the recipes I learned, I realized how true they were to the chef’s philosophy. I ventured out to the beach, snagged a couple redfish and harvested crabs from my traps. I purchased dairy products, corn, edible flowers and shallots from Central Market. Virtually everything else came out of my garden. Get ready for a fresh, real Texas meal. H

Dinner with H Texas (Left to Right): Yennie Handika, Stephanie DiCiro, Vicki Dill, Thomas Gruber, Jasmine Chen and Marian Jacob

Tomato Burrata Salad

Place a mound of Burrata cheese in the center of a plate. Cut a variety of heirloom tomatoes into slices or wedges and scatter around the cheese, making sure not to overcrowd. Season the tomatoes and cheese with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle lemon-infused extra-virgin olive oil and white balsamic vinegar over the tomatoes. Garnish with micro arugula, basil and edible flowers.

Lump Crab Cake with Creamed Corn and Romesco Sauce

Traditionally, Romesco sauces are pepper and tomato based, but this one is all about the peppers. A combination of roasted red bell peppers and dried ancho chiles makes for some rich, smoky notes that pair surprisingly well with the sweet crab and corn.

For the creamed corn:
3 ears corn
3 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup diced red onions
½ cup diced green bell peppers
salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:
3 red bell peppers
¾ cup vegetable oil|
½ cup almonds
1 loaf white bread, cubed
3 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Red wine vinegar
1 small shallot
1 (1-ounce) package ancho chiles, rehydrated
salt and pepper to taste

For the crab cakes:
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 celery stalk, minced
¼ yellow onion, minced
4 fresno peppers, seeded and diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
½ tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups fresh bread, cubed
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons minced chives, plus more for garnish
1 pound jumbo lump crab

1. Make the corn: Shuck the corn, and then remove the kernels and set them aside.
2. Place the corn cobs and cream in a pot over medium-low and and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, warm the oil in a skillet over medium and sauté the onions, peppers and reserved corn kernels for 3–5 minutes. Strain the cream and add to the skillet. Allow to reduce and thicken to your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Make the sauce: Roast the bell peppers over an open flame, cover, steam, then peel off the skin. Warm the oil in a skillet over medium and lightly toast the almonds, bread, garlic and pepper flakes. Place the roasted peppers and skillet mixture (including the oil) in a blender and puree with the remaining ingredients, adding water if needed to thin. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Make the crab cakes: Warm 1 tablespoon oil in a pan over medium and sauté the celery, onions, both peppers and garlic, until translucent. Remove from the heat and let cool.
6. Combine the bread, mayo, seasoning, parsley, chives and cooled vegetables in a bowl until incorporated. Gradually add the crab, being careful not to overmix and break up the crab. Shape the mixture into patties. Warm the remaining oil over medium-high and cook the crab cakes on both sides until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
7.
Serve the crab cakes with the creamed corn and Romesco sauce on the side, garnished with chives.


To get more On the Menu recipes and a speciality cocktail check out the Top Doc 2018 issue.

Fighting for Houston

September 25, 2018 by  
Filed under Features

Houston Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson isn’t just battling for wins on the football field. The family man also spearheads the Kareem Jackson Foundation, which aims to help cancer patients and their loved ones live a better life.

by Rima Jean • photography by Nicholas Nguyen

Kareem Jackson is channeling his inner Tyson Beckford for a photo shoot at Discovery Green, when he calls out, “Modeling is hard. Harder than playing football.” Considering how easy he makes playing football look, this isn’t surprising in the least coming from the quiet, humble Jackson.

Jackson, 30, grew up in Macon, GA, and developed a passion for football in high school. He was recruited by the University of Alabama, where he played cornerback for the Crimson Tide. In 2010, Jackson was drafted by the Houston Texans, and he’s been here ever since, now in his ninth season. Lately things have been especially busy: He and his wife, Amber, recently closed on a house in Florida so his family could be close by during training. They’re also expecting their second child, a girl, in June. Their first, Kaylen, is two.

In Fighting Shape

Despite having his hands full, Jackson stays game-ready between seasons with cardio. Lots and lots of it. Early on in the off-season, Jackson starts off by running a few miles on the treadmill. He progresses to sprint work, hills, and then to speed workouts. “I never want to have to get back into shape,” he says. “I want to stay in shape, even when I’m not playing football.” Admittedly, this can be difficult, especially considering his penchant for sweets. “I love fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies…and any kind of fruity candy, like Skittles, Sour Patch Kids…and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Yeah, those things give me a hard time, for sure.”

Luckily, he enjoys the process of burning off those extra calories. “You gotta have fun with whatever you’re doing. Sure, you gotta put the work in, so you may as well have fun doing it.”

A Family Man

Off the field, Jackson dabbles as an entrepreneur with his clothing line, Fly Guy (flyguyshop.com), which features high-end lounge and streetwear for men. The line, Jackson says, is for men “who like to make a statement with their wardrobe.”

Jackson also spends his leisure time enjoying everything Houston has to offer: He loves hanging courtside at Rockets games, which he does often, or going bowling with buddies. He’s also no stranger to the city’s restaurant scene (see “Kareem’s Favorite Houston Eateries” below).

He admits to being a homebody, however, and prefers spending time in his “man cave” with friends, his three dogs—an Argentine Dogo, a French bulldog and a Chihuahua—and above all, with his family. “My little girl is growing every day, learning new words every day,” beams Jackson. “I don’t want to miss that. My family is definitely my priority.” A quick scroll down his Instagram feed, teeming with photos of him, his wife and his daughter smiling from ear to ear, is proof enough.

Conquering Cancer

Perhaps the second-biggest contribution of his time goes into his campaign against cancer, a cause very close to Jackson’s heart. “I started the Kareem Jackson Foundation a while back, but it’s really taken off recently,” he says. “My mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor and my sister is a leukemia survivor, so I guess you can imagine what my childhood household was like. I decided that once I was in a position where I could help people and families affected by cancer, I would jump at the opportunity.”

As Jackson’s brand grew, he was able to conceive his dream and the foundation took off. The foundation hosts a variety of fund-raisers each year, with the money raised going directly toward various programs that raise cancer awareness and provide educational, recreational and healthy-living initiatives for families affected by breast cancer and childhood cancer. Such programs include Christmas in July, which provides gifts to kids battling cancer and their siblings; the Pretty in Pink VIP Luncheon, which honors breast cancer fighters and survivors; and Texan for a Day, which provides families of children battling cancer with a free VIP day at the Houston Training Camp at Reliant Stadium. On May 22 Jackson and his teammates are teeing up at Topgolf Houston-Katy with a live and silent auction; the proceeds will go toward these initiatives. (For more information, visit kareemjackson.org.)

Jackson’s charity efforts don’t end there—the Texans cornerback is also active with the Candlelighters of Texas Children’s Hospital, a group that provides emotional, educational and practical support to families of children with cancer. “I do a lot of work with them every year, too,” Jackson says. “Anything to keep families from going through what we went through.”

Looking to the Future

In terms of his football career and the upcoming season, Jackson is optimistic. “The locker room has been pretty upbeat. We went through a lot last year, a lot of injuries, but at the end of the day, we all have the same goal. Getting our guys healthy again is definitely a priority. We’re putting last year behind us and looking forward to this year.” He smiles. “We just want to win.”

“Houston is home,” Jackson says definitively. “I love it here. It has so much to offer. This will definitely be home for me and my family when I’m done playing ball.”

As long as the modeling days are held to a minimum. H

Kareem’s Favorite Houston Eateries

“I’m a huge foodie,” Jackson admits. “And Houston’s got so many great choices.” Here, his top picks.

  • Willie G’s
  • Steak 48
  • Killen’s STQ
  • Blaze Pizza
  • Zaxby’s

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