How, we ask, does food columnist and author John Mariani weigh less than an NFL tackle? The man who eats for a living swept through Houston on a foodie binge last week sampling lunch and dinners at RDG, Valentino and a host of other eateries. We pulled him aside between pastas and profiteroles to ask a few questions.
Q: How would you describe the current Houston restaurant scene?
A: It's more vibrant than most cities outside of New York. I would say that the reason I come here every year is because there really are restaurants that have to be checked out. Sometimes, I won't go to New Orleans for a year. I may not get to Atlanta. But I just always have to come here. This trip, I've missed visiting a couple of places. I may have to come back before the end of summer. There are two or three more places that I want to see.
Q: How do you fight the battle of the bulge?
A: I try to watch it as much as possible. I try to get to the gym, do all the regulation things. And when you do it for a living, it's not that . . . I mean, this suit doesn't fit like it once did. The last time I went to the tailor and asked him to let my pants out, he said, "Look, I'm a tailor, not a magician."
Q: What is your exercise regimen?
A: I power walk for three miles then I go down to the gym for the Nautilus type machines and so forth.
Q: What are your eating habits when you are not visiting restaurants every lunch and dinner?
A: When I'm at home, I have a very small breakfast and a small lunch because invariably if I'm not out at a restaurant in New York, my wife is a phenomenally good cook. She co-authored our last book. So we always eat very well at my house and always with a bottle of wine.
Q: What do you do enjoy doing during your down time?
A: Napping and reading the paper.