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Food for Thought

Season’s Feastings: Why wait 'til Thanksgiving to gain weight?

Season’s Feastings: Why wait 'til Thanksgiving to gain weight?

News_Marene_oysters_Good Co. Seafood
Oysters from Goode Co. Seafood
News_Marene_holiday sides at Central Market
Holiday sides at Central Market Photo by Marene Gustin
News_Marene_wine
A little wine with that? Photo by Marene Gustin
News_Marene_oysters_Good Co. Seafood
News_Marene_holiday sides at Central Market
News_Marene_wine

Oh, the life of a food columnist. It’s not as easy as you think.

Last week started out OK.

Now that we’re into the Gulf Coast oyster season I decided I had to high tail it over to Goode Co. Seafood. Love sitting in the old rail car, all retro and relaxing. Plus, I wanted to taste the first Gulf oysters for myself and support the industry while dispelling any lingering fears by people (who should know better) that the oil spill contaminated this year’s crop. (Yeah, you know I’m talking about you.)

Anyway, Dad and I grabbed a table and I asked the waiter about the new crop of Gulf oysters. He said they were looking good, plump and yummy. I went with a half-dozen on the half-shell and they were good. Not great, but pretty darn good. Not as briny as I like, but they went down well with the horseradish and red sauce chased by a Bloody Mary. The medium-size oysters were indeed plump and none the worse for BP’s folly.

Raw oysters are not fattening. But I did steal some of Dad’s mesquite-grilled shrimp and fries.

Still, so far not too bad.

OK. But then came Central Market’s Season’s Feastings media tasting. Presumably the folks at this mega-foodie store where enticing us to write about their holiday fare, but I secretly think they wanted to lure us into food comas. It was not a tasting as much as a full on holiday meal, the kind you eat and then pass out from.

A huge spread, laid out on a festively decorated table featuring roasted free-range Mary’s heritage turkey, jalapeno pecan stuffing, green bean casserole with porcini mushrooms and gruyere topping, dried fruit stuffing, red quinoa, a sinful spinach artichoke bread pudding with French brie, roasted cauliflower with truffle oil and shaved Parmesan and potatoes au gratin with a strong Manchego.

Executive chef Curtis Cooke did himself proud with this feast. I’ve been trying to decide whether to go to a restaurant for Thanksgiving Day or eat at home. Central Market would certainly make that a tempting choice. You can order family meals from them or just stop by the deli case and pick and choose what and how much you want. I know I’m going to at least pick up some of the jalapeno pecan stuffing (just to eat by itself or mix with scrambled eggs the day after) and may some of that spinach artichoke bread pudding with French Brie. It was a delight.

After eating my weight in holiday fare, we were then served two (two!) dessert plates. Decadent sugary delights that made my eyes glaze over. I tried to taste everything even though I’m not really a sweets person, but Mrs. Paschal’s Buttermilk pie drew me in. It was creamy and awesome. I ate almost every bite.

As I waddled out of Central Market I realized that it was Veterans Day, and I had promised Dad, a retired Air Force vet, that I would take him to Blanco’s Bar and Grill for beer and burgers that afternoon.

Oooooh yeah. I did it. Again. Ate burgers and curly fries on top of the holiday feast.

Could this week get anymore caloric?

Um, yeah.

I had committed to being a media judge for the rodeo’s wine competition.

Every year about this time, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo holds a two-day judging to choose the medal winners for Rodeo Uncorked! The annual wine auction, Best Bites Competition and wine garden have become wildly popular parts of the February through March rodeo.

Vineyards from around the globe enter the wine competition and the judging is very serious with results audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Kinda like the Academy Awards.

The journos, obviously, were not real judges. We weren’t even allowed near the real judges. But we did get to find out what the process was like in a mock judging complete with mock drinking (you spit the wine out after tasting it). We had 10 Shiraz/Syrah wines to blind-taste. Sip, spit, repeat. (Actually Sam Malone did not spit, radio people can really hold their liquor.)

Calorie-wise, it wasn’t such a bad deal. Of course after we rated the wines and chose our medalists we went back and actually drank some of the wines to see why some loved them and some hated them. Wine, like so much in life, is subjective.

After that I was starving and in need of a real drink, so I wound up eating a buffalo chicken sandwich and a mountain of fries over at Armadillo Palace, another Jim and Levi Goode joint across the street from the seafood place. So I guess I ended the week just about where I started. Only about 10 pounds heavier.

So stick a fork in me, I’m done.

For this week anyway.