Author Archives for Laura Green

The Queen of Pinot: Long May She Reine

In March, I was lucky enough to snag a last-minute tasting appointment at Merry Edwards Winery, located in the renowned Russian River Valley region of California, about 70 miles north of San Francisco. We were staying in nearby Bodega Bay on a family vacation, and it was an irresistibly short trip from there to get to wine country. I took off on the scenic drive through fat green hills dotted with sheep and dairy cows to the land of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

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Everything I tasted at Merry Edwards that day was exceptional, and I ended up leaving with three 2013 single-vineyard designate Pinots: Olivet Lane, Coopersmith and Georganne. These successfully made the trip home (stuffed into my checked luggage), but we soon exhausted this small supply, so I ordered several bottles of the 2014 Olivet Lane from the winery. (Merry Edwards wines are not widely available through retail. Instead, you will find them on the wine lists of fine restaurants, where they are among the top sellers. The best retail selection I have found in our area is through The Houston Wine Merchant.)

How nice to find these amazing Pinots while on vacation! I thought that was the end of the story. But wait…

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Understanding the Art of the Meal

Last year John and I attended a horizontal Bordeaux tasting and dinner held by one of my favorite wine gurus at a great little midtown restaurant. It was a fine evening until the drive home. After encountering a couple of wrecks and an interminable number of mystifying slowdowns along I-45, we finally reached our driveway two hours later. It’s that kind of experience that makes it difficult to work up the enthusiasm to drive “into town” on a weeknight for dinner. And that’s a shame, because some of my favorite eating is inside the loop.

It’s not that there aren’t some wonderful restaurants in The Woodlands area. The last decade of growth out this way has brought sorely needed depth and breadth to the food scene here. Research Forest Drive, the Market Street development near The Woodlands Mall and various points in their vicinity have burgeoned with wine bars, sushi, steakhouses, street tacos, gourmet pizza and various takes on New American cuisine.

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What we’re still lacking, for the most part, is that “inside the loop” vibe. It’s an aesthetic that’s difficult to put a finger on, but Mark Zientek, general manager and co-owner of The Refuge Bar & Bistro, located on The Woodlands Waterway, has set about the task of bringing that feel to the exurbs. He and his partner Luis Padilla, who also serves as bar manager and sommelier, are putting the finishing touches on their highly anticipated new restaurant, The Refuge Steakhouse and Bourbon Bar, set to open in a matter of days and located in the spanking new Crossroads Square developed by Lake Investment Group and located on Kuykendahl Road at Creekside Forest Drive. Continue reading

Update: Where to Find a Good Cup of Coffee in Spring and The Woodlands

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I’m always on the prowl for new and interesting places to get a good cup of coffee in the suburbs northwest of Houston. It’s easy to get spoiled by places like Blacksmith in the Montrose area, where every bean is meticulously sourced and the espresso drinks are made with such artistry. And though Spring and The Woodlands may not be known as bastions of coffee culture, you don’t have to resign yourself to a long wait in line at a certain American global coffee chain that shall remain nameless. So here, in no particular order, is a list of (mostly) local coffee houses and other spots out this way that take their coffee seriously.

This list is updated from time to time as new coffee shops pop up and as others, sadly, close their doors: Continue reading

Old Vegas, New Vegas

Are you Old Vegas or New Vegas? New Vegas is the strip and its immediate vicinity–plush and opulent, shiny and modern, fairy tale and fantasy. But sometimes the glittering exterior doesn’t deliver on the expectation it creates.

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Back Where We Started: Finding Refuge During Wine & Food Week

Recently, we headed back to the place where it all started, way back in June of 2014, when your humble food and wine blogger put pen to paper (so to speak) to share a few thoughts about the The Refuge Bar & Bistro, the popular Waterway Avenue craft cocktail bar in The Woodlands. Local wine expert Denman Moody hosted a vertical tasting of Jordan wines, and it was held on the first night of Wine & Food Week.

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Well, here we are two years later, and Continue reading

The New School Old Cool of Brennan’s

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The meal began with a Cajun-spiced Bloody Mary. And it just kept getting better. A rain-free interlude during our mostly water-logged family vacation to New Orleans this spring. Day after day of downpour, triggering memories of those 100% humidity bad hair days that were a fact of life for all us girls who grew up in south Louisiana during the years B.C. (“before Chi”).

But we didn’t let the rain stop us from getting to everything we wanted to do on this trip–browsing the shops on Magazine Street, exploring the 19th century Creole mansions that line the edge of the Quarter along Esplanade, even making a side trip to Chalmette during the height of the “monsoon” to take in the museum and soppy grounds at the site of the Battle of New Orleans. And then Friday morning, while the clouds held onto their contents for a few hours, we put away the umbrellas and made our way to Brennan’s, where the food and surroundings seem to make their own sunshine.

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Bring Me a Red from Ribera del Duero

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When U.S. wine lovers think of Spain, they immediately think “Rioja.” But there’s a new kid on the block, gaining prominence and shelf space as more people discover its robust yet elegant reds. The accolades for the Ribera del Duero continue to grow, and in 2012 it was named wine region of the year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Officially founded in 1982, the denomination is fairly new, yet wine has been produced there for thousands of years.

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