Posted tagged ‘houston’

Movie Review – Food Inc.

August 21, 2009

We went to Houston’s Angelika Theater to watch Food Inc. this past week. The movie/expose by fimmaker Robert Kenner gives a look into America’s agricultural business and how the industry has evolved within oh-say, the last sixty years or so.

Here is the synopsis from the official website:

In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.

Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield’s Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms’ Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising—and often shocking truths—about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.

Now before I give you my honest review of the issues within the movie, I think its important to tell you what type of person I am, so you can see the foundation of my opinions.

  1. foodincI am the most cynical person I know.  As an example, when it comes to politics, I’ve smiled and listened to both extremes of the left-wing and the right-wing on issues. And oftentimes, I think both sides are full-of-you-know-what spouting off uneducated none-sense and propaganda. I’ve seen too many people incoherently babbling on issues that they don’t even have full knowledge of recently.
  2. In going with the above theme, I believe it to be important for individuals to educate themselves on all sides of an issue in order to form their own opinion. Doing so will help you avoid coming off like an uneducated dolt aka one of them ‘sheeple.’ Understand that others will always try to influence you. From individuals and organizations to politicians and activists, everyone will have an argument to back their side. Take an objective look at the whole picture before you figure out where to plant your feet. And for God’s sake, when somebody tries to influence your thoughts and beliefs, check their premise before believing them.
  3. As soon as you have your facts straight and have planted your feet fully on issues, I think its okay to be an advocate – so long as you do it respectfully and avoid coming coming off like an idiot trying to push your beliefs on people. Challenge others to awareness and not opinion. Let them figure out issues for themselves through objectivity rooted in factual knowledge. That’s the respectful way to affect change.

 My Opinions on the movie, Food Inc.

 Variety’s review is correct in stating that this movie “does for the supermarket what “Jaws” did for the beach — marches straight into the dark side of cutthroat agri-business, corporatized meat and the greedy manipulation of both genetics and the law.”

With that fact in mind, I’ve gotten the following feedback all too often when talking about Food Inc. this week, “I’m scared to watch this movie.” or “Don’t do it, you won’t want to eat for a week.”

 Well duh you idiots, that’s what the movie is intended to do. But why in the world would you want to avoid something you could possibly learn from? I’m not saying believe everything you hear because I certainly do not. What I am saying is that maybe by watching films like Food Inc. and other like it, you may raise your own awareness of problems in the world you didn’t even know existed. I know that’s unfathomable for a lot of people. Most of us don’t want to be bothered. And films like this one delve in issues on a much-higher level than our usual ‘things that go boom’ and ‘girls like Sarah Jean Underwood’ that we like to be entertained by. I’m cool with that. I love those types of films too. But for real, it’s okay sometimes to walk out of the theater not jumping up and down about the bad-ass explosion sometimes. What a startling concept huh? To actually walk out of the theater with your head down because you learned something that jarred your consciousness… LOL.

Like I said, Food Inc. deals with complex issues. If you haven’t watched it yet, ask yourself how much you know about how our agricultural systems work. Probably not much. Films like this are good at showing you that. Honestly, walking in to the movie, I was thinking it would be nothing but a collection of propaganda and ‘facts’ bordering on bullshit. I was expecting another Da Vini Code but what this ended up being was my Zeitgeist about chicken. Except the facts were a lot newer and certainly a lot more irrefutable. I’m sure there is a lot more behind the food issue and the agricultural industry that I need to learn before I go off advocating anything other than awareness.

But here are just a few facts I got from the movie that warranted some thought.

  • It’s insane that four multi-national corps. (Perdue, Tyson, etc.) control most of the the food chain from planting to our stomach. The choices we see on the aisles are all coming from the same sources.
  • It’s sick how they grow beef, chicken, and pork. They’re truly not growing animals naturally, but rather growing meat for consumption. It’s not natural.
  • I never know large the corn industry was and how our government subsidizes it. From ethanol to food to beauty products, damn near everything we have contains corn.
  • Genetic-manipulation and patenting of said genetic advances have created monopolies of monstrous proportions. Scary sh*t. It’s Orwellian for sure.
  • There is much more to the agricultural business than I ever thought there was and it’s a lot to digest, no pun intended.

Reviews from other Sources about Food Inc.

Entertainment Weekly, LA Times, Salon.Com, Village Voice, and Rolling Stone gave highly favorable reviews. Rotten Tomatoes  gave the film a 97% rating.

Comments about Food Inc. that made me laugh

“It’s an “Inconvenient Truth” for food, minus the droning Al Gore and a handful of PowerPoint slides.”
 
“Smart, gripping, and untainted by the influence of Michael Moore.”

“A brutally disturbing, fundamentally important new documentary.”

“Consider food your guilty pleasure? Well, “Food, Inc,” shows it’s a killer. You need to see this film.”

Food Inc. Trailer

2009 Houston Culinary Awards -Vote Katie Leggett!

July 31, 2009

Andres_Pastry_ShopA Pastry Chef at Thierry Andre Tellier’s self-titled Andre’s Pastry Shop and Cafe, our very-own Katie Leggett  has been wowing Houston foodies and the finicky River Oaks crowd with her sweet creations for quite some time now.

From assorted French pastries, fruit tarts, and pies, all the way to the most complex types of cakes, this ninja can attest that her creations at Andre’s make up the BEST that Houston has to offer when it comes to pacifying the sweet tooth and I mean that.

The experience in both taste and presentation when trying Katie Leggett’s concoctions versus any other is akin to a Wine Taster trying a 1959 Chateau Lafite for the first time while he’s been used  to previously drinking the infamous pink Beringer Zinfandel all along. Truly an eye opening experience.

My Table, Houston’s Dining Magazine, recently opened up voting for the 2009 Houston Culinary Awards. This year, Katie has the distinguished honor of being a finalist in the category of Pastry Chef of the Year. Due in no small part to the cheesecake she brought over that one time, DNC Worldwide is pledging our support  for Katie Leggett as Houston’s 2009 Pastry Chef of the Year. Please do your part and VOTE NOW!

andresAbout Andre’s Pastry Shop and Cafe: Our café & pastry shop has been creating fantastic and award-winning pastries for years. A recipient of numerous awards and accolades, we continually strive for perfection to bring the best quality and flavor to our creations for every customer. Our true passion for this art extends to all our staff, whose constant goal is crafting fantastic pastries with amazing design and flavor. Whether a simple chocolate to your dream wedding cake, we hope to pass along our enthusiasm for fresh food with great ingredients. Our entire culinary team will strive to make your dining experience or special event a true success.

mytableAbout My Table Magazine: From soup to souffle, My Table covers local food and wine via a highly specialized magazine devoted to the pleasures of dining out in the greater Houston area. Each issue offers readers the most complete information on the restaurants, chefs, shops, foods, trends, caterers, festivals and personalities that make up the city’s lively culinary scene. – Teresa Byrne-Dodgem, Editor & Publisher

Help Us Fight Pediatric Cancer through Extra Life

July 21, 2009

tchpic1Salutations, I hope everyone is doing well,

As anyone who has been talking to me the last few weeks knows, I have been promoting Extra Life, a 24-hour gaming marathon to help raise money in support of The Texas Children’s Hospital to fight against pediatric cancer.   

We are currently looking for a location for the event and need your help in finding a venue for October 17.  If anyone has any connections or any knowledge on possible avenues to take to find a location, please contact us.  We are looking to hold a lock-in type event with the main activity being video games. This charity event is a one-night only event and we are willing to hold it in locations both large to small.  Any information on possible locations would be appreciated.

Also a note to all Houston area people, we will be holding a few information nights and fundraisers along the way before the Oct 17th event. We have one tentatively set for Aug 22nd at the CoffeeGroundz in Midtown Houston at 6pm. 

CoffeeGroundz is located 2503 Bagby Houston, TX 77006. Check out their site for more information. We would love if you joined us on that night to show your support.

To everyone else who are not in the Houston area, there are many ways to help out. You can sign up to participate and take part in your own gaming marathon. You will be participating with gamers all over the globe. We are always looking for more people to join us to take part in this noble cause.  When you do sign up, you will be given a fundraiser page to collect donations.

We are using social networking as a big tool to gain exposure and we will be using Twitter and Facebook to our advantage. Sponsorships are also greatly appreciated if you cannot participate directly. You may donate here.

Lets do our best, think big, and make an impact for The Texas Children’s Hospital.  If you have feedback or questions, contact me personally.  Also, please visit the site to find further information about opportunities with support and participation and also any other questions you may have concerning the event.

extralife

I hope this finds you well,

Allen Ragasa
Twitter – @takeorey
Phone: 281-686-4442

Houston Foodie Review – Pete’s Fine Meats & Deli

July 19, 2009

If you’re the type with an eclectic taste and a do-it-yourself attitude when it comes to preparing a fabulous meal, I have just the place for you.

2009-07-18 11.36.20

Pete’s Fine Meats & Deli, located at 5509 Richmond Ave, has a quality collection of every type of meat possible. With an exotic choice list that includes wild game such as wild boar, kangaroo, rattlesnake, and emu, Pete’s has just about everything a meat eater could want.

Serving Houston for over twenty-five years now, Pete’s also has your standard cuts of steak as thick as you desire. They’ve also got turduken, crawfish-stuffed sausages, all kinds of jerky, and much more. Pete’s also has an awesome selection of fine cheeses and homemade jams, as well as just about everything you need for a grill-out Sunday.

2009-07-18 11.49.51From what I saw, the staff at Pete’s Fine Meats & Deli is top-notch. The guys there greeted us as soon as we walked in. The prices weren’t listed on all the items but the staff is more than happy to give us any information we wanted. They gave us help on everything from what to buy to how to cook it all as well. Excellent customer service.

As far as pricing goes, this neighborhood butcher shop in the Galleria is surprisingly not that outlandish. You can expect about $25-28 on the really exotic stuff like the black bear, python, etc. but their steaks are about $5-8 a pound cheaper than most places, cut to your liking.

Now if you can order better than you can cook, the deli at Pete’s is rumored to have some of the best steak tacos & hoagies in town. They also serve some delicious barbecue, buffalo burgers, etc. The menu for their deli can be found here.

My Conclusion: Simply put, they are the end-all be-all when it comes to meat markets  in Houston.

4304258Pete’s Fine Meats & Deli
(713) 782-3470
5509 Richmond Ave
Houston
, TX 77056-6615

Houston Foodie Review: Calliope’s Poboys

July 9, 2009

oysterpoboyHaving eaten in New Orleans-style eateries ever since I moved to Houston from New Jersey, I thought I had a good handle on what constituted Crescent City cuisine. I knew what gumbo was… I’ve had many Po’Boys… But little did I know that I had been missing the key to good NOLA food all along.

You see, ole boy, it’s the intricate details that distinguish good New Orleans-style sandwiches from the rest. And despite the fact that I named the Po’Boy as one of America’s Top 10 Greatest Sandwiches prior to this review, I never really had one that truly captured my taste buds in such a way as it did about two weeks ago.

It was then that DNC Attorney-At-Large and our resident Bourbon Street expert, Eric Junker, wanted to pick me up for lunch in downtown Houston. Eric said he had something specific in mind, as he had been meaning to try out a Po’Boy place by the name of Calliope’s (pron: cal-eye-oh-pees) for quite some time. You see, Junker is a true foodie when it comes to Cajun / Louisiana-style cooking. I would even go so far as to call him a snob in that respect. So I knew he would be highly critical in judging this place afterwards.

We both agreed that we discovered at Calliope’s was nothing short of what is likely to be, without a doubt, the best Po’Boy place in Houston. And not only are their ingredients fresh and high-quality, but the portions at Calliope’s are significantly larger than what you’d typically get at your typical Cajun sandwich place. I think both Eric and I were very impressed with this unassuming little shop in the warehouse district. Personally, I loved the gumbo. The oyster in there was really key.

While we were eating, Eric questioned the owner, Lisa, on just about everything from how long they cook their red beans to who makes their bread. (they do.) She even shared a little of their history with us. It turns out that they’ve had a long time to perfect their unique brand of New Orleans cuisine. Calliope’s journey actually began right in the heart of New Orleans and they’ve taken it to Hattiesburg, Mississippi before the disastrous Hurricane Katrina landed then in our space city of Houston, TX.

Co-owner Lisa Carnley had this to say about Calliope’s on their newly-formed Facebook fan page:

“We are the first in Houston of a 20 year tradition of Po’Boy shops run by our family. Our food is great because the recipes have been tweaked and polished through years of experience.

Our vision is to bring an authentic New Orleans Po’Boy to the city of Houston. It all starts with fresh cooked french bread. New Orleans style french bread has a distinctive look and texture that was particularly difficult to duplicate in Houston. Like any sandwich we are only as good as our contents. Our seafood is fried and battered to perfection. We also feature a very authentic sloppy roast beef po’boy with homemade gravy. We are confident that you won’t find a po’boy in town that can compare to ours.

Calliope’s opened in Houston on 3/24/2009. We hope that you can take the time to stop by our neighborhood, located on the edge of downtown, and check it out.”

n90240906778_780My Final Verdict is that this place is best New Orleans-style eatery in Houston. But I’m probably not the authority you should ask. I’ll leave it to Junker to give our readers his final summation of Calliope’s…

“The red beans and rice are authentic New Orleans. Hands down the best in Houston.” Says Eric. “The key is in the bread. It’s as close to anything at Mother’s or Johnny’s in the French Quarter as you’ll find. The attention to minute details sets them apart.”  – Julius Eric Junker, Attorney specializing in Estate Planning, Probate, and Wealth Management in Richmond, Texas.

Additional Information on Calliope’s:

  • Address: 2130 Jefferson, Houston, TX 77003
  • Phone: (713) 222-8333
  • Hours: Mon-Sat 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
  • Houston Press Review of Calliope’s.
  • Diner Reviews from Yelp.