Category - Eat

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Agave Pantry- Tucson’s Hidden Culinary Gem
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Houston’s Most Instagrammable Bar- Present Company
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Community and Great Eats at Red Oak Cafe

Agave Pantry- Tucson’s Hidden Culinary Gem

After biting into the saffron and cardamom rose amaretti, I immediately sat back in my chair and savored the beautiful flavors as I chewed. They were rich, yet subtle and exotic. Have small cookies ever put you in such a state where you have not a care in the world? Well, these did; and Shazieh Gorji is, pardon my language, a fucking genius.

Shazieh is the sole owner behind the Tucson-based cottage industry brand- Agave Pantry. I had recently heard of the brand on social media, but then had the pleasure of meeting her during this past Cultivate Tucson market. Earlier in June, we met up and she shared some insights into her world of small batch and handcrafted pastries, infused salts, spirit pots, and an AirBnB.

She has always loved baking, even before she graduated from culinary school in 2014. While in culinary school, she did an externship at Acacia. After having her son, she decided to take a step back, and while at home with him, was baking and honing recipes and skills. She knew she wanted to still be in the food industry, and had heard about the cottage industry license (cottage industry means that you can make goods in your own kitchen, however, you cannot make anything that needs refrigeration).

So she worked on getting her license and figured out what she wanted to create, as she wanted to find her voice and do something that no one else was doing. She experimented with an amaretti, which is normally a crunchy Italian almond-based cookie with no flavor. She used the same ingredients, however, changing it up a bit and made it more marzipan-like. She then added flavors that are typical of her Middle Eastern background (she grew up in Pakistan to an Iranian family), such as cardamom, rose, and saffron. The mainly gluten-free menu has since expanded to other goodies, such as Lemon Tea Cake, Carrot Cake (also comes in non-GF), Chocolate Almond Torte (also available are Spicy Chocolate and Cardamom), Raspberry Lemon Cake (non-GF), Rosemary Cookies (non-GF), Vegan Chocolate Cardamom Brownies, and much more! All of her baked goods are made from non-GMO flour, free range eggs, and organic spices. She will start incorporating more locally-sourced ingredients after this summer. She grows her own rosemary, but will be adding Hayden Mills flour and dates and citrus from Urban Grove.

It was December 2018 when she officially launched Agave Pantry- the culmination of her baking, travels, and experiences. Her first market was the Fourth Schmourth Handmade Market, followed by Cultivate Tucson and other little pop-ups around the city.

Aside from the edibles side of her business, she also creates functional pottery that includes: platters, dipping/salt bowls, small spoons, as well as jars to hold just enough coffee beans so that they won’t go stale. “The act of using coffee helps you to slow down a little because you don’t want to be too rough. Making things that let you slow down and just appreciate little moments. For me, scooping out coffee from something handmade is beautiful… Creating beauty of the mundane of every day life.”

Another best-seller is the spirt pots. She considers them “food for your soul because they are affirmation pots. They are very intimate and personal. You don’t share your pot with somebody else, and using it adds the emotional and well-being of where you are, and that adds to the emotional well-being of everyday.” Be sure to check out her Spirit Pot Workshops , which you can book on Tucson AirBnB Experiences.

Be sure to also check out her Tucson AirBnB listing- Purple Desert Heart Guesthouse if you are in Tucson and need a place to stay and don’t want to be in a hotel. Also, check out her Instagram and Facebook page for new events and such!

Look for Agave Pantry at the MSA Annex Summer Night Market in September!

Have you been fortunate to try one of Shazieh’s amazing goodies? If so, what are your favorites?

Houston’s Most Instagrammable Bar- Present Company

After seeing hoards of photos that were taken at a very colorful Palm Springs-esque bar in Montrose called- Present Company, I decided that I, too, MUST check it out. The 4,700 square foot place was re-imagined by Shawn Bermudez (Pistoleros and The Burger Joint) My gal pal- Shasie and I ventured over there one day from brunch. We went just as it opened, as I was hoping there wouldn’t be any crowds, because the more crowds = shitty photos, lol. Since Shasie had been there before, she was my tour guide, and showed me all the ‘grammable walls, neon signage, the cabana area on the second floor patio, and really cool multi-color cage chandeliers.  We had a great brunch there. I got the Impossible (meatless) Burger and Fries, which was really good, though filling. I recommend checking out the restrooms, as the women’s room ceiling has graphics of David Bowie (à la Ziggy Stardust), and according to Culture Map, the men’s has Farrah Fawcett graphics. The experience is a lot to take in, but it’s well worth it. I would recommend planning your trip (and outfit(s)) accordingly, and maybe plan on arriving when they first open. 

Present Company is located at:

1318 Westheimer Rd.

Houston, TX 77006

HOURS: M-T: 3pm-12am, W-Th: 3pm-2am, F: 12pm-2am, Sat: 11-2am, Sun: 11-12am

 

Keep scrolling to virtually tour Present Company…

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Present Company, Houston, HTX, Montrose, bar

Have you gone to check it out? If so, what were your favorite walls, food? Let me know in the comments!

Community and Great Eats at Red Oak Cafe

“Our God is Awesome!”

“I love these pancakes!”

“You’ve got this…God’s got you!” (Philippians 4:13)

“Be the reason someone smiles!”

These are just few of the hundreds of notes written on sticky notes that are decorated all over the walls inside the ladies restroom at Red Oak Cafe in League City. This…along with the exceptional food and service are what prompted me to tell you guys about this lovely family-owned restaurant.

Kim Oravetz is a longtime resident of Friendswood, and mother of four boys, and three grandchildren. It was about ten years ago when her eldest son- Justin, passed away in a car accident. She began searching for a way to honor his memory, and opening a restaurant sounded like a good idea. “Being a mom, he was probably my biggest eater. So I felt like I knew how to feed people, along with large groups of people, because with four boys, you’re always feeding.” She opened up a tea room in Friendswood. When that closed, she still wanted to open up another restaurant. She found the current location at the border of Friendswood and League City, and thought that it was perfect. She felt that the area needed something like it- a place where the community could gather.

When Justin passed, they planted a red oak tree in their backyard because they felt like it represented the strength that he had. So naming the new restaurant was practically a no-brainer… “Red Oak Cafe” just fit. They officially opened September 2015. The cafe has a Christian-inspired environment, which is full of love, inspiration, family…and amazingly great food. Kim feels that due to her hard work and obedience to God, the restaurant has been incredibly blessed.

All her menu items are either something she’s created herself, or family recipes. The granola was her grandmother’s recipe.. She wrote it for Kim on the back of an old bank envelope, and she still has and cherishes that envelope. “She sat with me probably 30 years ago and we would make chicken salad. So that was just totally inspired by who she was and what she helped me learn in the kitchen. My grandmothers were both of my inspirations for learning how to cook. I became a young bride and had to learn very quickly on how to feed my family.”

The story behind the famous sticky note-covered restroom walls is this… It was about two years ago when Vanessa, a server who has been with the restaurant since day one, brought up the idea of putting sticky notes in the bathroom and seeing what would come from it. So they placed a pad of sticky notes and a pen in the ladies room and it exploded. Every square inch of the room is literally covered with prayers, words of wisdom, shout-outs, praises, and more! The mens room also participates, but is not as covered. When I first saw the walls, I was just in total awe. There are times when I loose faith in humanity, especially after watching the news, as well as just in passing when I’m out-and-about. But these walls help restore some faith that people still feel, connect, and love.

Red Oak Cafe, restaurant, League City

Red Oak Cafe, restaurant, League City

Red Oak Cafe, restaurant, League City

Red Oak Cafe, restaurant, League City

Red Oak Cafe, restaurant, League City

Red Oak Cafe, restaurant, League City

Let’s chat about some of their menu items… One of the things they are known for is their coffee. They not only brew Katz Coffee, but also have their signature Texas Hill Country Pecan Blend, which is 85% of what they sell.  As for breakfast- they are known for the pancakes. “It’s not a buttermilk pancake. It’s sweeter and denser.” I did get to enjoy the pancakes recently, and they are some of the best I’ve had. They were comforting, and didn’t leave me with a ‘ugh, too full’ feeling. What’s also great is that they offer a menu of mix-ins for the pancakes. You can pretty much get anything you want, but the kitchen sink. Speaking of ‘kitchen sink,’ they offer the Kitchen Sink Quesadilla, which is filled with veggies, eggs, black beans, salsa, cheese, etc. For lunch, the Chicken Salad and Club Sandwiches are popular. The paninis are also recommended, especially the Grilled Cheese, which was inspired by her grandmother. They add in apple slices and bacon (“Because everything is better with bacon, I believe.” -Kim). “One of my favorite snacks as a kid growing up, from my grandmother, was apples and cheese, so we threw that into a panini,” Kim explained. Other must-haves on the menu are the Palo Pinto Power Bowl, Jambalaya, and Chicken Pot Pie. I personally LOVE the Prickly Pear Veggie Sandwich with a side of Chipotle Ranch dressing and a cup of Tomato Soup. Be sure to also try the seasoned saltine crackers!

Red Oak Cafe, restaurant, League City

Red Oak Cafe, restaurant, League City

Red Oak Cafe, restaurant, League City

“Our culture is what is so important to us…The servers have that culture as well. Our families, the love, the customer service..just that we provide the southern hospitality…You’re going to get good food when you come, but you’re also going to get loved on, and we really think that that’s the most important part.”

Red Oak Cafe will soon have an Alvin location! Breakfast is now served ALL DAY! Be sure to also follow them on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

They are located at:

6011 W. Main St.

League City, TX

HOURS: Open Tuesday- Sunday~ 7am- 3pm

Red Oak Cafe, restaurant, League City

Red Oak Cafe, restaurant, League City

Red Oak Cafe, restaurant, League City

Red Oak Cafe, restaurant, League City

 

 

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