Location: Sonoma Wine Bar

Recommended time: Happy Hour

The Perfect Pair: A bottle of the happy hour Cab and the Sonoma Pizza

 

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Wooohooo it’s finally Thursday!! Which I’m sure you’ve learned by now, for us means happy hour. Sonoma Wine Bar is a pick of ours and we definitely don’t **WINE** about it. Rightly named, this wine bar has us dreaming of Sonoma and planning our future trip there. Fingers crossed for the near future. We’ve only been lucky enough to try the Heights location, but the Upper Kirby location will be crossed off our list soon. This cozy and homey destination is a wonderful wine bar with a casual neighborhood feel.

 

 

 

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Happy hour is every day from open until 6:30 and it is fantastic. Every day of the week for happy hour they have select bottles of wine for $20, $1 of wines by the glass, $6 glasses of Sangria, $3 beer, and $5 snacks. On certain days of the week they have other deals. Thursdays there is ½ priced pizza. Yum. We went with the Sonoma Pizza and it was killer good. Four words: Gruyere, pesto, meat, and Artichokes. Yum. The wine list has been thoughtfully compiled and there is well over 100 bottles to choose from with every taste profile and every price range available. If you don’t want a whole bottle, they have plenty of options by the glass. On Sunday, they have all their open bottles of wine for ½ by the glass! Yes please! Oh and the wine flights. Oh, how we love wine flights. They all have cute names like “You had me at Pinot” and “well traveled.” A carefully chosen group of three glasses of three ounce pours and we can’t wait to try every single one of them.

 
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Did you think we would make it through this whole post without talking about cheese?!?! They’ve got a variety of cheese and charcuterie boards all sourced from Houston Dairymaids. There are premade boards that have lots of different combinations of meats and cheeses and accompaniments or you can choose to make your own board. We opted to build our own.  🙂 The cheeses we chose were the Drunken Goat and Prairie Breeze. For charcuterie we chose the Salami Etna. The board came complete with crackers, toasted hazelnuts, and honey. We were so pleased with the portions of everything. That didn’t stop us from eating the whole thing in about .27 seconds though…

 

If you make it there quick, you might just get there in time for a glass of wine in front of the fireplace before the cool weather disappears!

 

Peace and Pinot,

 

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Location: At home or at your favorite football stadium!

Recommended Time: Game Time!

The Perfect Pair: Wings and Beer

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We have almost reached the halfway point of this college football season, which means there is still PLENTY of time to Tailgate! You may be thinking, “I live nowhere near my favorite college campus, so I can’t host a tailgate.” But really you don’t need to be on campus to have a good time watching the game with friends. We do live pretty close to our beloved Texas A&M, but for away games or after a long week we like to do the tailgating at home. This past weekend was filled with some good football games in Texas, and they were spread out through the whole day. This meant we were “tailgating” all day long, which was an absolute blast and gave the Pals the perfect opportunity to have lots of different snacks!

 

Since the first game we wanted to watch started at 11:00 am, we kicked things off with a classic breakfast casserole and mimosas. The breakfast casserole was a family favorite recipe that is super easy to make. All it takes is bread, eggs, sausage, and lots and lots of cheese. It is best if you put all the ingredients together the night before and then just pop it in the oven for 45 minutes right before you are ready to enjoy! Breakfast casserole is best paired with a classic mimosa, so of course the champagne and OJ was flowing!

 

IMG-0030At around halftime of the first game the boys were ready for round 2, so we put them to work! Off to the grill they went with a mountain of chicken wings. We stayed busy inside prepping guacamole, black bean and corn dip, and sour cream and onion dip. All three dips are super easy and always a crowd pleaser.

Guacamole: we cheated on this one and just bought our favorite guac from HEB 🙂

Black Bean and Corn Dip: This dip is a passed down recipe that I have never written down, so it is all a taste test as far as amounts go. The ingredients include: black beans, corn, feta cheese, green onions, bell peppers, red wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, and garlic salt.

Sour Cream and Onion Dip: this may be the easiest one of the three. It is just sour cream and french onion soup mix. Stir together and enjoy. It’s so easy, you can find it on the back of the soup mix box.

 

From the grill the wings were marinated in either buffalo wing sauce or garlic parmesan sauce. Both were delicious and paired with carrots, celery, blue cheese dressing, and ranch dressing.

We snacked on the dips for the whole day, but the wings were gone in a flash. Around dinner time we of course needed something else to eat. The boys were responsible for the meat again, and this time they went with ribs. Another delicious and easy to eat option that is perfect for a tailgate. We cooked them in the oven, but if you were doing at tailgate at the stadium, you could easily cook them on a grill!

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We love any excuse to host and be with friends, so football season is one of our favorite times of year. This weekend, invite your friends over or pile in the car to see your favorite team play while enjoying some yummy snacks!

 

Let us know what your favorite tailgate treats are so we can add them to the rotation the rest of the season!

 

Peace and Pinot,

 

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Location: Home, preferably a patio

Recommended time of choice: evening

The Perfect Pair: Fall Sangria and Baked Brie

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Fall is such a wonderful time to host. Well, anytime is a great time to host. What we specifically love about fall are the colors, the smells, the spices, and the cozy that comes with it. (Here in Houston, we have to pretend it feels like fall outside, so we tend to go overboard with reminding ourselves that it is) For today’s post, we are going to share a couple recipes that are go-tos for any occasion. Of course we went with a sangria that is not so typical and it is a great combination of spice and sweetness. Secondly, we have a fantastic recipe for baked brie that is warm, delicious, and covered in caramelized onions. Swoon.

 

First up is the sangria.

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Fall Sangria

Ingredients:

One bottle red wine (We prefer Tempranillo or Cabs for this)

1 cups apple cider (not pictured- Oops!)

½ cup Brandy

¼ cup triple sec

2 Cinnamon sticks

1 apple (color of your choice)

1 pear (color of your choice)

1 orange or blood orange

Top with sparkling water or ginger ale

This is best if you let it chill for at least an hour before serving and preferably a lot longer. It is best if you make it right before you go to bed before serving the next day or even first thing in the morning the day you host. That way all the flavors have time to mix together and create the best experience.

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One of our most favorite things about fall are the spices, which is why the cinnamon sticks are my favorite part of this recipe. If I know a day or so in advance that I’ll be making this, I measure out the brandy and let the cinnamon sticks soak in it until I add both into the wine along with the triple sec, fruit, apple cider, and ginger ale.

First thing I add to the brandy and cinnamon sticks is the chopped fruit. Following that, just add the rest in and stir. That’s our kind of recipe!! Just make sure to stir well and pour over a little bit of Ice. Top with your prefered sparkling water or ginger ale and serve!

 

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Now for the Brie.

 

We’re going to top this bad boy with caramelized onions, which take lots of time and love. You can’t just snap your fingers for caramelized onions. Wow.. wouldn’t that be great. If you know you are having people over in a couple of days or less, go ahead and do the prep work early, that way you don’t have to rush the process. Make sure when caramelizing your onions, you don’t let them dry out and keep the temp low and slow. You don’t want them to burn, so stir them often. Butttttt don’t stir them so much that they don’t brown. Depending on how much you make, these could take about 30 minutes to an hour. We won’t put a specific time on it because it really depends on your preference. Really, it depends on your patience level as well… I would have kept mine going longer last time I made this, but I couldn’t wait any longer! As a final touch and a personal preference, throw in a splash of balsamic vinegar. You’ll be amazed at the depth of flavor this adds– yummm!

 

Preheat the oven to 350℉

 

Place your Brie in an oven-safe serving platter. You won’t want to try and move it after you bake it, it will get a little messy. A mini cast iron skillet makes for a cutie little aesthetic and it helps the Brie stay warm as you are serving it, so that’s our pick.

 

Cover the top with a couple of tablespoons of jam. Our pick for today is Fig jam, because we love it oh so much and all the flavors go very well together. There are so many other tasty options that we considered, one being blackberry jam. On top of the jam add the carmelized onions. I add the amount that I make with one large yellow onion, but I love this stuff. Add as much or as little as you like.

The next and last step is baking it! Throw it in the oven for about 15 minutes and serve warm.   

sangria

These are such simple recipes that will please any guest. That’s the key. Find things that are simple and that you love to make. They will inspire you to have friends over to host and serve. You know our philosophy, the best conversations are had when good friends are gathered around a table of good food. It’s even better when it’s wine and cheese.

 

Peace and Pinot,

 

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Last September, we took a trip to a local Texas favorite destination – Fredericksburg! It’s a small town right outside of San Antonio, full of cute boutiques, fine dining, and LOTS of wine. You may not know this, but Texas is one of the top 5 US destinations for producing wine. Crazy, right?!

 

We wanted to share a few of the highlights and vineyards from the trip that you must plan a trip to. Let the vineyard tours commence!

 

Grape Creek

If there’s one thing to invest in during your time in Fredericksburg, it’s the wine tour at Grape Creek. You begin the tour in the middle of the vineyard to view the grapes, move into the fermentation tank area, and then, the best part, the barrel room. In the barrel room, you drink wine straight from the barrel. Seriously, no better wine than tasting it straight from the barrel itself! After the tour, you have a private tasting with the group. Grape Creek is the perfect way to start your day of vino.

 

Becker

Next up, a very well known winery – Becker Vineyards! If the wine isn’t enough, Becker has the most beautiful September flowers the make drinking wine even that much more enjoyable. At each vineyard, you’re able to choose which pallet to try – sweet or dry. The Pals tend to err toward the dry side of tastings, and that’s exactly what we did here. We all tried our only Port wine of the day, and it was very… interesting. Definitely requires a special taste! Another unique part of Becker was the grape stomping in the barrels. You could take your shoes off and stomp in the grapes as long as your heart desires. How fun!

 

 

Fat Ass

A must-go-to simply because of the name, Fat Ass, was a stop that was different than all of the others. It’s hopping atmosphere and live music completely changed the feel of the entire space. We even got up to dance and show off some moves! Our dancin’ was on point, thanks to all of our previous wine stops. After your wine tasting, be sure to grab their famous frozen wine slushie to wash everything down.
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Book your trip!

When you book your trip to Fredericksburg, make sure you keep these 3 wonderful vineyards on your list. They are fundamental stops on the 290 Fredericksburg wine tour, and we promise they won’t disappoint! Make sure you eat some breakfast… and enjoy the day!

 

Peace and Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Location: 13 Celsius

Recommended time: After work

The perfect pair: S’mores and Marques Murrieta tempranillo from Rioja, España ‘14

 

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Walking into 13 Celsius each time is like stepping away from Houston and into a European wine bar. It reminds us so much of time we have spent in Europe and specifically reminds me of a little wine bar that my husband and I fell in love with on an adventure in Bruges. I’m not even sure if the place had a name, but it sure has a place in my heart. The fact that 13 Celsius is so similar has me wondering how we made it so long without making this a staple in our rotation. The literal lack of a name on the building or any sort of signage, peeling paint, and marble accents all add up for the most perfect setting to escape the stresses of the daily grind. The last time we went, we went as a group of 4 gal pals meeting for a glass of wine after work. We stayed for 4 and a half hours. Four and a half hours, three bottles of wine, one cheese and charcuterie board, and one order of s’mores.

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Staying for hours on end is incredibly easy to do here. The perfect amount white noise surrounds you in your cozy chairs or on a couch and leads you to have the best conversations and loose track of time. Like I had mentioned, this past trip was a girls night following a long day of work. All four girls that were there work in the downtown area and 13 Celsius is the easiest location to make it to even in crazy 5:00 traffic. We all made it there quickly and with ease.

 

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First things first. We needed wine, cheese, and charcuterie to the table ASAP. We went with the small combination board with two types of cheese and two types of salami. For all the combination boards you get to choose whatever cheese and meats you would like. All the options sounded delicious and we don’t think you can go wrong. We were feeling like we wanted to stick with more spanish flavors (because we had our eyes on a tempranillo for our first bottle) so we picked the iberico salchichon and the chorizo for our salami. As for the cheese, we finally decided on the Manchego and then went off the spanish vibes for the second with cru di capra, which is a firm goat cheese (always a crowd pleaser). Our wine choice was the Marques Murrieta tempranillo from Rioja, España ‘14 and it was perfect. Easy to drink and so wonderful we almost ordered another when it was finished. That’s no fun though! We had to try something else, so we ordered the Vasse Felix cabernet sauvignon from Margaret River, Australia ‘10.
IMG-0220Darkness set in and we were still gathered around the table. The cheese board was long gone and we knew what we HAD to order. The s’mores. We had seen other tables order them and they looked too fun to pass up. Making s’mores is the most nostalgic feeling. The board comes with a little flame and you actually roast the marshmallows at the table. The order of s’mores comes with enough materials for 6. These are not your typical backyard s’mores roasted on an old wire hanger. I have nothing…absolutely nothing against Hershey’s chocolate and your basic, typical S’more. However, these were incredible. The chocolate is Lindt, there are thin sliced apples and dried cranberries you can add, and there are two little spoons on the board with scoops of Nutella and Peanut butter. You can go crazy with the combinations. We kept getting distracted with our talking and burning our marshmallows and could not stop laughing about it. Just like we did as kids… Who ever actually had the patience for the perfect golden brown marshmallow? Making these on a weekday night vs. a weekend treat felt a little indulgent in the best way, as did the bottle of Malbec we added along with them.

 

One million percent we recommend 13 Celsius for any occasion. The pals have nothing but love for this place and will be visiting for years to come. There are wines for every price point and there are different seating arrangements to suit your needs. **Bonus: On Sunday’s all uncorked bottles are half off. ** We can’t wait to hear how much you love it. Better yet — shoot us a comment, insta dm, or email us and we will meet you there!

 

Peace & Pinot,

 

The Perfectly Paired Pals

 

 

Location: Whole FoodsIMG-0189

Recommended Meal: Hosting with Friends

Perfect Pair: Seaside English Cheddar and Malbec

There is finally a light at the end of this long hot summer and the best season is upon us…FALL! The pumpkins are out, the weather is cooling down, and fall clothes are hitting all the stores. Whether it is for a football watch party, the Grey’s Anatomy or This Is Us premiere, or just a Saturday night, fall is the perfect time of year for hosting. We love spending nights at home with friends gathered around the table. There is just something so comfortable about being at home on the couch without the chaos of a crowded restaurant. This week we are taking you on a trip to another grocery store: Whole Foods. Some of you may be thinking… Don’t you mean whole paycheck? While we have heard that before, the purchase of Whole Foods by Amazon has made a huge difference in their prices and their deals!

IMG-0194This week our shopping list included: crackers, cheese, meats, fruit, nuts, and of course, wine! First stop: The Cracker Aisle. Wow they had a lot to choose from, but we chose a classic Garlic Water Cracker and a new staple, Tuscan Peasant Crackers. To be honest we didn’t really know what we were getting into, but let the labels do the talking. We had just finished dreaming about our next adventure abroad to Tuscany, so we were drawn towards any mention of Italy. We were definitely satisfied with our choices and would highly recommend them both.

 

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Next Up: The Cheese Department. Whole Foods has a huge selection of cheeses from all over. You may think it is overwhelming with all the options and unfamiliar names, but we find it helpful to stick with cheeses that sound like something you’ve had before. We know that we like cheddar, goat, gouda, manchego, and gruyere, so while we may try new things we know a variation of those are safe bets. This time we picked Seaside English Cheddar, Drunken Goat, Spring Fever Gouda, and a Mimolette Isigny. The last one was for sure venturing into new territory but it did not disappoint. A great thing about Whole Foods is they have a bin in the cheese section that is smaller portions of cheese all for under $5. This is great for trying new things and not breaking the bank for the off chance you don’t enjoy it. We had a blast going through this bucket and picking out new things with no clue what we were getting into.

 

IMG-0184Last Stop: The Wine Section. We could spend hours wandering through wine aisles looking at all the different labels and wines from around the world. That’s the cool thing about wine…it comes from all kinds of different places and ends up in your neighborhood grocery store. It’s like you get to experience a piece of the world from your own living room. We are certainly not experts or sommeliers, but we are starting to recognize parts of the world that do our favorite wines well. This is making our dream travel list quite long. To pair with our cheeses, we picked a Malbec and a Cab. You can’t typically go wrong with either of these and they are easy to find in all price ranges. We picked the Crios Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina and really enjoyed it! The Cab was Chasing Lions and was equally as tasty. Wine shopping can be overwhelming, but at Whole Foods they have members of their staff pick their favorites and those are labeled which makes the decisions a little easier. We were able to stay under $15 for both bottles of wine which is typically our rule of thumb when hosting friends, but if you’re looking to splurge there are lots of good options to meet every budget!

 

Our cheese board was complete with mixed berries and some marcona almonds, the perfect supplements to cheese and crackers! Marcona almonds are pretty costly, but the perfect accompaniment and you really don’t need that many on your board. All of our recommendations (including the 2 bottles of wine) came in at $73 which is a little on the pricier side for us, but we had 5 people enjoying the goodies and there was enough leftover to make another complete board.

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We hope you enjoyed this grocery store trip and it makes your next shopping outing a little easier! Have some friends over this weekend and give your own pairs a shot, who knows you may find a new favorite!

 

Peace & Pinot,

 

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Location: A house with a big table

Recommended timing: At least once a quarter to keep the hype real

The perfect pair: Friends and winning cocktails all around

 

When it comes to our group of friends, we are extremely competitive and we love game night. We also love getting together and drinking cocktails, hence our weekly happy hours. One day we had this crazy idea that we would turn making cocktails into a competition and it stuck. This silly idea has been so much fun for us and such a learning experience. Through this post, we will walk you through our concept and rules so that you can host one of your own with your friends.

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The concept goes a little something like this:

  1. Everyone makes a cocktail and provides each person present with a half of a cocktail for them to try. Each person gets 3 votes at the end and the winner is the cocktail/person with the most votes.
  2. Winner of the competition has 3 months to host the next competition and they much provide the location, cups, and usually snacks too 🙂
  3. Winner notifies everyone of the new theme that they must follow. Themes for the competition can be almost anything. They can be the type of Liquor we use, a required mixer, a time of day it is consumed, or even a theme for a type of cocktail category. The ideas are really endless on that.
  4. We all use Uber or Lyft to and from these competitions and we completely recommend you do the same.

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Our process goes a little something like this:

IMG-1962 (1)1. We split everyone into rounds. We usually have 3 people per round and we go as many rounds as it takes. We prefer a max of about 11 people, or else it just gets to be too much. The rounds are to make sure we’re not all in the kitchen at once and it draws out the game so that it lasts a full evening and we’re slowing down the drinking. This makes it much more feasible. (We also usually just finish our favorites 🙂 )

2. After the round of drinks is made, the creator explains to the group what the name of their drink is and a little description. We go through all three people and try their drinks. We don’t down the drink on the spot; we will sip on them throughout the night to help decide where our votes lie.

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3. After the descriptions we take a break and talk together at the table and have some snacks. We have really gotten into doing conversation cards. We will ask the question and all go around answering. What a great way for us to get to know each other better and learn things we would have never thought to ask

4. Following all of the rounds, we vote. We get a little too intense on this part, but that’s what keeps it so fun. We give 3 votes, a first, second, and third. Your first place vote gets 5 points, second place vote gets 3 points, and the third place vote gets 1 point. Votes are tallied up and the winner is crowned!

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5. The winner is awarded the trophy that they get to sign and keep until the next competition. LOL our trophy is a spray painted massive plastic martini glass and it is great. The winner then has 3 months to plan the next competition. They also don’t have to make a drink at the next one, but still get to participate.

 

 

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This has been a blast for us so far! The first theme we had to kick everything off was a free for all, whatever cocktail you wanted to make. The themes since then have gone like this: Breakfast cocktails, rum, champagne, and then gin. Who knows what our next one will be??? We love trying new cocktails and drinks, but if you’re out, it can get expensive and there is a lot of pressure to order something you already know your going to like. This has been the neatest experience getting to try new drinks and figuring out what you like.

 

We can’t wait to hear your thoughts on our cocktail competition. Let us know if you’re planning on hosting one of your own! We can’t wait to hear your thoughts and comments on this and would love to answer any questions if you have them!

 

Peace and Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Location: The DelIMG-1130

Meal of Choice: Happy Hour

Perfect Pair: Gnocchi Tots and The Orange Blossom Cocktail

School is back in session, college football starts tonight, and cooler weather is hopefully coming soon…probably not soon enough here in Houston, but regardless of the temperature, it is the beginning of the best season…FALL! In honor of this fresh start, we are taking you a little further west than our usual stomping grounds to a cozy little indoor spot, perfect for escaping the heat that is still lingering, The Del. This crowd pleasing restaurant is off the beaten path and another one that you have to know where you are going in order to find it. Aptly named for the street it is on, the Del has a welcoming atmosphere with great service and even better deals!

 

First things first, Happy Hour is from 3:00-6:30, Monday-Friday. Another great option for those of you who have to stay at the office a little later, but even better for those wanting to start happy hour a little early! Oh how I wish we could go every afternoon at 3:00pm. The deals during happy hour are almost unbeatable! Appetizers are $5 each and still are full sized, and the drinks are all $6 or under. We have tried all the food on the happy hour menu and the clear favorite is the gnocchi tots. They are not your typical tater tot as they are made from gnocchi, so they are a little softer, and then covered in a delicious cheese fondue.

I know our usual cheese review is focused on cheese board type cheeses, but we do love a good cheese fondue- aka queso for the fellow Texans out there! This trip we also got the calamari, fried pickles, and of course the cheese board- because we had to. The cheese board is not included in happy hour, but we told the Perfectly Paired Boys that we had to order it for the blog :). Not sure they are totally on board with that being our new excuse to order all the delicious things, but they get to enjoy them too so it’s a win-win for sure.The cheese board is decently priced at $18, and has a great selection of delicious cheese, meats, and fruit. It for sure has the most meat and cheese we’ve ever seen for that price! Our only complaint about this particular board is the amount of bread is definitely lacking, but the bread that was there was quite tasty! If your mouth isn’t already watering, I’m not sure what will make that happen for you.

 

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetNow, onto the drinks! While we are always down for a nice glass of wine, the cocktails at the Del are definitely worth a try. All the classic cocktails are included in happy hour along with a few of the Del’s specialty cocktails. Our favorite is the Orange Blossom! This fun and fruity drink is not too sweet as it only has three simple ingredients, Aperol, St. Germain, and Prosecco. The boys typically go for the Old Fashioned and the rest of our happy hour group like the Moscow Mules. If we are wanting to order wine, their house selections are great. We have found that you really can’t go wrong here!

 

As you prepare for the Labor Day holiday this weekend, don’t forget about this hidden gem, the Del. As always, let us know your favorites or any new places we need to try!

 

Cheers! You’ve almost made it to the long weekend!

 

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Location: Home Sweet Home

The Perfect Pair: Rosemary Crackers with Gruyere and Prosciutto

From: HEB

 
f45a5ccc-e333-4ba3-bc47-04a540a0fe8b.jpgWhat kind of grocery shopper are you?

Do you go in with a list outlining exactly what you need or do you keep an open mind while you shop? Do you try to get in and out as quickly as possible or do you like to wander and feel inspired? No matter what kind of shopper you are, the pals can relate! We’ve felt all of those feelings, but one thing is for sure: shopping for wine and cheese never gets old! While we find spending a ton of time in the cheese section at the store SUPER exciting, some people may find this overwhelming and not even know where to start. We totally understand, which is why we’re here today to help a sista (or brotha) out! We’ve already covered grocery shopping for wine and cheese at Trader Joe’s, but now here we are to cover a native Texas favorite – HEB. Here we go!

 
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To the right, we have: Gruyere, Creamy Cheddar with a Nut Coating, a Spicy Buffalo Cheddar Wedge, Brie with Raspberry Chipotle Sauce, and Goat Cheese soaked in Red Wine. YUM!

Do you have a hard time knowing what cheese to buy? We’re not cheesemongers, but we do LOVE cheese. Some cheeses have holes and other cheeses are blue. Some cheeses are creamy and other cheeses are hard. There’s medium and sharp and spicy and ahh! So many options, so where do you start? You have to start with the basics: speak the cheese language. Swiss, Cheddar, Gruyere, Brie, Goat Cheese. You can never go wrong with these everyday favorites. Those cheeses cover all the bases: white, orange, holey, creamy, rich. You name it! Your cheese board will look pretty, and more importantly- taste yummy with these classics.

 

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Pick your Pairings

To pair charcuterie, we included Prosciutto and Salami as the Perfect Pair. Picking out your meats in HEB is less overwhelming than cheese, but it can still be difficult to know what cheese goes with which charcuterie. We always just pick our favorites, and everything seems to blend together nicely! Prosciutto is very salty, so it’s a nice balance with wine and cheese. It’s always one of the first things to go on our cheese board!

A very important detail when it comes to pairing is the crackers! The cracker is a staple item when building your cheese board. It is literally what you put your cheese on, dip in your cheese, or munch on just to wash everything down! To the left, we have: Water Crackers, Rosemary Crackers, and Jalepeno Mini Bruschetta Bites. The clear favorite: Rosemary Crackers! They pair well with every cheese. You certainly cannot go wrong with these. The Jalepeno Bites add a nice crunch and spice as well. These three crackers were the perfect dynamic to the board that paired with it!

 

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Wash It All Down!

You don’t want to forget the perfect drink to wash down your yummy cheese and charcuterie board. This is also another area to be creative and specifically pair your drink with the cheese you buy at the store! Instead of just drinking wine, we decided to make a Summer Rosé Peach Sangria with fresh fruit. It was chilled and paired very nicely with our selection. And we love a beautiful drink!

Grocery store hauls are some of our favorite blogs to write because you get to pick out exactly what you want to make that picture perfect cheese board at home. It’s all personalized and customized just to your liking. How fun is that! This may be surprising, but HEB has a great selection of imported and unique cheeses. They are fairly priced, as everything is at HEB, and you will not be disappointed by what they have to offer. We encourage you to go and let your tummy be creative! Be sure to share with us the board you create… We may just have to come over and try some!

 

Peace and Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Location: Piggy’s

Meal of Choice: Happy Hour (Monday-Friday 3pm-7pm)

Perfect Pair: Matamoros Mule and Pretzelaches

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Congrats! You’ve made it to Thursday and it’s almost time to go to happy hour! This week we are featuring Piggy’s Kitchen & Bar. If you haven’t noticed by some of our group’s staple bars, we LOVE any place that has an outdoor patio. It may be crazy since we are in Houston, and it’s a reasonable temperature for a brief month of the year, but there’s something about sitting outside drinking a cold drink with friends. Piggy’s is new to the rotation but is sure to be a staple because of the great patio and even better drinks!

If you weren’t looking for Piggy’s you might just drive right past it. This cute little spot is tucked in some trees between a few apartment complexes (Thanks Houston “zoning”!). Once you find it you will not forget it. There is lots of shade and some covered patio seating for those not wanting the direct sun, and if you’re not into the outdoor vibe, there is definitely the indoor option. Depending on the night of the week, you may find live music, or even a full on pig roast, but no matter the night you are sure to have a great time!

Piggy’s is open for lunch and dinner, but of course we would recommend the happy hour! Happy Hour lasts from 3-7pm Monday-Friday. This is great for those of you who can’t quite make it out of the office before 5 to make those early happy hours, which is the case for a lot of our group. No matter how much we wish for it to, happy hour won’t pay for itself! The deals at happy hour include drinks and only a few small plates, but the prices are great! $3 Texas Draft Beer, $5 select Cocktails, $5 select glasses of wine, ½ off bottles of wine! All things we love are on special! There is a large selection of Houston beers, Texas beers, White wine, Red wine, and cocktails for every taste. Our favorite cocktail is the Matamoros Mule which includes a Texas favorite, candied jalapenos! If spice isn’t for you there are lots of other sweet options when it comes to cocktails, like Processed with VSCO with c1 presetthe signature frozen cocktails. These cocktails range from $8-$11 regularly, so the $5 happy hour price is really a treat! The appetizers may not all be on special during happy hour, but since your drinks are cheaper it is for sure worth the splurge on snacks. Our favorite shareable is the Pretzelaches (which we are so excited are on HH), a typical kolache but with a Texas twist (pretzel and beer cheese). Of course we also love the cheese board with the additional charcuterie, but sometimes you just need to change it up. The cheese board does have a variety of cheeses and includes a decent amount of each type which is a major plus. From the looks of the other items of the menu you can’t go wrong, so let us know what we should try next time we visit.

If you’ve already been to Piggy’s, stop by some of the other restaurants in the Creek group, Onion Creek, Canyon Creek, Cedar Creek and Cactus Cove. We have tried them all and would highly recommend.IMG-0137

Take advantage of the “cooler” summer weather here in Houston and stop by Piggy’s with your friends for happy hour this week!

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Location: Backstreet Café

Recommended time of choice: M-F Happy Hour, or Houston Restaurant Weeks

The Perfect Pair: Garden Nachos and a half price bottle of Rosé to share

 

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We’ve been to Backstreet Café on many different occasions. Dates, dinners, girl gang happy hours, double dates, you name it! No matter the event, there is one thing that always remains consistent – Backstreet never disappoints!

This wonderful little spot has been a must-try in the Houston area for over 35 years. It is located in a converted house in River Oaks just screaming to be your cozy spot for quality time and catching up. Inside the restaurant, there are multiple rooms with tables and a cute patio with string lights. With so many rooms to be seated, this popular place never feels overly packed. Every meal here is delectable, but happy hour and dinner are our faves. The Pals went recently on two occasions: for a birthday happy hour for one of our dearest friends, as well as on a date with our men for Houston Restaurant Weeks.

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Happy hour at Backstreet is Monday through Friday 3PM- 6:30PM. During their happy hour, they have light bites, a variety of cocktails, beers, and half priced bottles of rosé to make it just that much sweeter. We’ve posted about it before and we’ll praise it again— a bottle Miraval Rosé was our choice to start the evening! There were plenty of different bottles to choose from that would all pair perfectly with their selection of light and refreshing bites. Our favorite small plates were the Garden Nachos and the Mini Tuna Poke. So delicious! The hummus and house made pita is so yummy as well, so definitely add that to your list to order. Following the bottle of wine, we still had plenty of things to talk about, so glasses of the Signature Red Wine Sangria were ordered all around. We always feel like we need to try the sangria everywhere we go (We’re red wine lovers even though we live in an incredibly hot city!) and Backstreet’s was up to the test. It was easy to drink and not too light; pleasant and enjoyable to say the least.

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Houston Restaurant Weeks runs this year from August 1st to September 3rd and every meal benefits the Houston Food Bank. Restaurants that choose to participate provide a 3-4 course dinner for $35 or $45 a person. Restaurants can also offer breakfast or lunch for $20 a meal. This is such a fantastic way to try out restaurants in Houston, especially ones that you wouldn’t go to ordinarily (or if the price point is a little high). Backstreet’s menu was $35 a person and you had the option to include wine/cocktail pairings for an added cost. Our group opted for the Maker’s Mark, White Wine, and Bubbly menus, and they were all delightful. The red menu was incredibly tempting with a cheese plate for dessert, I repeat, a cheese plate for DESSERT! My love for steak won me over, as did the Fig Galette on the Bubbly menu. Even though the ladies didn’t order the red wine menu, we went for a glass of the Malbec anyways.  

When looking through all the possibilities of where to go for HRW, be sure to check out the other restaurants in the Backstreet cafe family- Hugo’s, Caracol, Origin, Prego, and Xochi. For a full list of restaurants participating, visit: http://www.houstonrestaurantweeks.com/.  Let us know in the comments below where you choose and help us decide where to go next!

 

Peace & Pinot,

 

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Location: Postino

Recommended Time: Happy Hour before 5pm or Reverse Happy Hour- Monday and Tuesday after 8pm

The Perfect Pair: A glass of Sparkling Rosé and Bruschetta Board

Happy Thursday everyone! It’s that time again and this week we are taking you to the IMG-0096newest, trendy spot in the Heights – Postino! With just opening their doors at the beginning of the summer, Postino hasn’t had any trouble filling tables. With their great wine and beer selection paired with AMAZING food choices, we know why this place is always packed. The anticipation of the opening earlier this summer was worth all the waiting because nothing about this spot is disappointing. From the cool/posh vibe to the endless choices for bruschetta, the Pals will certainly be visiting again

First things first, GO EARLY! This advice comes for two reasons:

1) Happy Hour ends at 5. Some of you may be thinking, “How am I supposed to get there before 5?” And that is a great question, but the deals are worth sneaking out of work a little early. Their happy hour special is Wine and Pitchers of Beer are all $5 before 5. Luckily this is an everyday deal, so for those of you with a boss who watches the clock like a hawk – Saturday and Sunday give you plenty of time to take advantage. Another awesome special they have is a bottle of wine of your choosing and a bruschetta board for $20. You can get this after 8pm on Monday and Tuesday. For the late night crowd this is a great option and an even better deal. With the board regularly coming in at $15 and wide selection of wine to choose from, you are sure to save money

IMG-00942) This place is always packed. In the dead heat of Houston summer, you can understand why the tables inside fill up quickly, leaving you with a pretty long wait. BUT, we snagged a table outside with couches under fans and umbrellas which made the heat a lot more bearable.

When the weather is this hot it is hard to sit outside drinking a glass of red wine, so the Pals opted for something a little more refreshing. This week we ordered Sparkling Rosé and Prosecco for a lighter taste (and chilled), and it did not disappoint. The prices are pretty reasonable for what you pay for wine at a nice restaurant, but if you make it during happy hour it is a much better deal. The boys stuck with their usual beer, but were pleasantly surprised by the size of the pitcher and the price they paid. If a good wine and beer selection aren’t enough to spark your interest then the food will get your mouth-watering. They have a huge selection of delicious appetizers, and for those of you whose happy hour usually spreads into dinner, they have lots of items that will help you leave with a full belly. Our favorite thing on the menu is, by far, the Bruschetta Board. At the very reasonable price of $15, you get 4 pieces of bruschetta in your choice of the 12 options. With a big group attending happy hour, we ordered two boards so we could try lots of the flavors. Some of the crowd favorites were: Burrata, Bacon, Arugula, & Tomato, Warm Artichoke Spread, Roasted Peppers with Goat Cheese, and Brie and Apples with Fig Spread. Once the boards were set on the table, it was hard to snap a pic before everyone was reaching for the delicious snack. If you are looking to transition into dinner, these boards are a great option because they are super filling, or you can choose from their selection of paninis or salads. We ordered a lot of their food and loved everything we tried!IMG-0093

This is for sure going to become a regular spot for the Pals, and we are eager to try their brunch!

What’s your favorite bruschetta flavor?! Let us know in the comments below!

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

 

Location: Your home!

When: Anytime you need to escape this Houston heat! A.K.A literally whenever you want this summer.

The Perfect Pair: Cilantro Lime Shrimp Salad and Miraval Rosé

 

Summer in Texas means hot, hot, hot! Especially in Houston, you have to be able to handle this crazy summertime heat and humidity. Some love it, some hate it, but us pals know the perfect trick to make the outdoors much more bearable and enjoyable, no matter who you are or what the temp is! Whether you’re grilling on the patio or sitting by the pool, we have the perfect seasonal pair just for you. It’s quick and easy, and we can tell you in just 5 steps how to perfect your summer pair to help you fight these triple digit temps!

 

  1. Take a trip to your local grocery store!

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HEB is my favorite place to go for wine. They have an amazing selection of every kind of wine you can think of, divided by type of wine or country of origin! The best part about HEB is the discount you get after buying 6 wines. If you buy 6, you are eligible for 10% off your wine purchase! I always say, “Never buy 1 bottle from HEB without buying all 6!” The discount is totally worth it, and you always have a bottle on hand at home for any event, while saving money in the long run. I’m sure we will finish any bottle long before having to worry if its gone bad. Here at PPP, we’re all about the best deal!

 

 

  1. Head to the Rosé section and pick out your favorite bottle!

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Without a doubt, the Perfectly Paired summer wine pick is a Rosé. It is a classic, chilled wine that is incredibly refreshing on a hot day. Depending on your preference, there are both dry and sweet wines. The Miraval Cotes de Provence is a wonderful dry rose. For only $18 at HEB, it is a killer deal for seriously some of the best rosé I’ve ever had! I like to stick between the $10 – $20 range for everyday wines, so this fits right into the budget. Everywhere else I’ve looked for this wine, it has been over $25… so make sure you go to HEB first! The best part about this wine is the bottle itself – check out how cute it is!

 

 

  1. Invest in your wine glasses!

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You’ve just gone to the store and spent a ton of money on wine, but you don’t have the right glass to compliment your new drink. It’s nearly impossible to put chilled wine in a glass and expect it to stay cold outside. And the glass sweating drives me crazy! My all time favorite outdoor wine glass is the Corkcicle wine tumbler. It is stemless, triple insulated, and keeps your wine cold for over 9 hours! It is amazing. It is perfect for sitting outside enjoying a glass of wine on the patio. If you live in a warm climate, invest in one of these amazing cups! You won’t regret it. Also check out that Perfectly Paired pink!

 

 

  1. Make yourself a light and colorful Summer salad!

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This is a quick and easy salad that is just as light and refreshing as the Rosé you are drinking to pair with it! It consists of cherry tomatoes, jalapeños, corn, avocado, onion, lettuce, and cilantro, lime shrimp from the grill. Talk about YUM. All of these ingredients came from HEB as well, so you can get everything in one stop! Whether you’re at home by yourself or hosting a summer soiree with friends, this meal is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Feel free to use it as just the appetizer, but it is definitely a meal just in itself!

 

 

 

  1. Create the Perfect Pair!

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With dinner ready, it’s always nice to pour yourself a new glass of Rosé in a regular wine glass. It makes us feel more sophisticated, right? With the shrimp only marinating in olive oil, cilantro, and lime juice, the Rosé is the perfect compliment to enable that light and refreshing taste that is not too overpowering to the meal. Summer is all about light, refreshing, and simple, and we think these two capture that feeling so well! So get yourself to the store, create the perfect pair, and enjoy a sweet Texas Summer night!

 

 

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Location: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Recommended Time of Choice: 5-8 p.m. on Thursdays

The Perfect Pair: A glass of the Cab and a stroll through the exhibits

 

MFAHsignFor all of you out there who have binge-watched (for the millionth time) a certain show where two besties catch up and vent on the MET steps and wondered where in Houston would give you the same vibe, this post is for you (XOXO, you know you love us!). If you don’t like Gossip Girl or don’t have any idea what we’re talking about, then that’s okay because spoiler alert — we don’t live in NYC. However, like NYC, Houston has it all: restaurants, bars, shopping, nightlife, and wonderful museums. I constantly find myself thinking there’s not enough time to try everything and thinking it sure as heck is expensive to experience all Houston has to offer, but that is not always the case! So today, we’re taking a little different spin on Happy Hour.

 

Recently the Perfectly Paired Pals discovered Happy Hour at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and we absolutely fell in love. We went with others from our Thursday HH group, and we were floored when most everyone said they had never been to the MFAH before! As a lover of the museum myself, I caught myself wishing this wasn’t the case for any other Houstonian and began planning exactly what I was going to write in this post to make sure that doesn’t happen.

 

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It might sound strange suggesting an art museum for happy hour, but you better believe it is an incredible experience. On Thursdays, general admission to the MFAH is totally FREE and so is parking! All thanks to Shell for making that possible! Outside of the museum, there is a bar with beer, wine, and specialty cocktails that are inspired by the current exhibits. Glasses of wine and cans of beer are just $3 and the specialty cocktails are $9. You can grab your drink and sit around tables chatting and feeling all fancy-schmancy while listening to the DJ play in the background. Something about the atmosphere just felt so relaxing. Surrounded by people who had just stepped out of the office and rushed to hang out with friends and co-workers over a glass of wine, gave us the most wonderful feeling of camaraderie. If you’re feeling hungry, no problem! Feel free to grab a snack from the food truck on site. It changes weekly, but you just can’t go wrong with Houston food. I’m sure whatever truck shows up that day will impress.

 

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After you’ve had your fill of drinks, music, and food, it is time to head inside to view some art! The MFAH always has spectacular exhibits and a large array of pieces that can appeal to all audiences, even if you’re not the art expert. There is so much to see, so if you are worried about not having enough time to enjoy the museum, don’t fret! You can just come back on a different free admission and happy hour Thursday to finish up the museum. The good news is that the MFAH also has longer hours on Thursday, remaining open until 9:00 p.m. Until September 3rd, go check out Big Bambú by Mike and Doug Starn. It is spectacular! Although you have to pay for this exhibit, the experience is completely worth it. Wow is the only word we have to describe it!

After leaving the museum, we felt a new appreciation for Houston and all of its offerings. Make sure you keep up to date with all the exhibits and schedules of the MFAH here. We know we will!

 

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

 

Restaurant: Heights Biergarten and Worcester’s Annex

Recommended Meal of Choice: Happy Hour

The Perfect Pair: Nduja Spread and “Fuzzy Reception” Cocktail

 

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Another Thursday Happy Hour favorite, Heights Biergarten is the perfect outdoor bar for any weather Houston throws our way. This relatively new spot is the perfect addition to the booming Heights neighborhood. The low-key outdoor vibe creates the perfect setting for big groups to meet up after work or to watch your favorite sports team take the field. It is mainly all outside, but they have a large structure in the middle to fend off the rain if we’re getting one of those surprise Houston downpours. Heights Biergarten is actually two bars at one location with one side boasting of fancy cocktails, called “Worcester’s Annex” and the other side with 94 taps of craft beer and a great wine menu, “Heights Biergarten.”

A typical night for our group involves starting at the cocktail side and gradually working our way over to the beer and wine side of the garden. Surprisingly enough our Perfectly Paired men LOVE the cocktails, their favorite of the huge selection is the Purple Rain. They are able to get past any embarrassment of drinking a purple cocktail because the taste is so refreshing. Some other favorites include: “Block Party”, “Fuzzy Reception”, and the “Lock and Key.” Watching the bartenders mix up these specialty cocktails is also so fun- I mean how do they remember all those ingredients! After starting with cocktails, the Pals of course switch to their classic wine. A great perk of this two in one bar is that you can start a tab at one and it carries over to the other side as well. They also have great deals during Happy Hour, Monday-Friday from 3-6pm. Cocktails and wine are half price and craft beer is $3! Can’t get much better than that.

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“Fuzzy Reception” (Right) and “Purple Rain” (Left)

Now let’s talk cheese boards. As you can see the cheese board at Heights Biergarten is HUGE with lots of delicious goodies on it. The only downfall of this board is the price. It is definitely a splurge at $35, but sometimes you just gotta treat yourself. However, we are impressed by the size of the board because we can easily feed our crowd. The board has lots of meats and cheeses that you won’t find every day. If you ask your server, they will gladly explain each of the unique cheeses. One of our favorite items on the board is the dark chocolate pieces. The perfect addition to a pretty salty mix, but nothing overbearing. We have tried a lot of the other shareables, but our favorite is for sure the Nduja spread. The funny name fits perfectly with the funny looking dip, but wow it is good. Don’t let the look of it steer you away because it is for sure worth trying, and it is much more reasonably priced at $9. They also serve some delicious sandwiches and have a taco truck outside for those of you who may need a little more sustenance in your life.

They also have the cutest flower truck outside. It’s the perfect spot to grab some flowers for a last minute surprise for your girl. The Pals are still waiting for our men to get the hint on that one.

If you’re willing to brave the heat this summer, Heights Bier Garten and Worcester’s Annex is a must visit. We have loved gathering at the big tables chatting about our weeks or some crazy idea we have for the next group trip. We always leave with full stomachs and smiles on our faces.

What are some of your favorite cocktails? We would love to hear from you!

 

Until next week, Cheers!

 

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Restaurant: Tiny Boxwoods

Meal of Choice: Brunch or Dinner

The Brunch Perfect Pair: Morning Cheese and Meat Board with Mimosas

 

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If you live in Houston and haven’t been to Tiny Boxwoods, you are doing everything wrong and NEED TO GO RIGHT NOW THIS VERY SECOND to experience all of the goodness that is this quaint, delicious, gem of a place. Built in the middle of a plant nursery in River Oaks, this restaurant is privately tucked back away from the street in a flower and greenery wonderland. You can’t even see it until you walk in through the gates, but this is one of the reasons that makes Tiny’s such a beautiful, hidden gem! With seating both indoors and outdoors, the setting is just the perfect place to pull you out of Houston for a couple of hours with friends and enjoy a delicious meal at any time of the day.

The three perfectly paired pals, of course, had to take pictures in the nursery after brunch because it truly is one of the best parts about Tiny Boxwoods. It’s always fun to walk around and look at the gorgeous plants and flowers, and better yet, they are all for sale! You can get your plant shopping and brunch in at the same place. The best!

One of our favorite things to do when you go to so many different restaurants, is to read about their stories and how they came to be. I really enjoy the Tiny Boxwoods story, as well as the mission of the restaurant. The reason why Tiny Boxwoods is so unique is because the owners made it personal from the start. To learn more about Tiny Boxwoods, click here to head to their About Page on the website. They have the cutest story – including how they would hand out free lattes for business, as well as how they came up with the name Tiny Boxwoods!

Now, Let’s Talk Food
Processed with VSCO with b5 presetAs soon as you walk in, you’re greeted by this cute, chalkboard menu hung up on the wall. It makes it easy to order food that’s written so beautifully! This board also gives off the farmhouse vibe as soon as you walk in.

The PPP’s ordered a little bit of everything, but we obviously had to order the Morning Cheese & Meat Board to share, containing a trio of cheeses and cured meats, honeycomb, fruits, flatbreads, rosemary hazelnuts, and jalapeno jelly. We tried Tiny’s lattes and mimosas to pair, and both were great! However, you just can’t go wrong having a mimosa with brunch.

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The board had a little bit of everything, and a lot of bread. The bread was delicious – very thin with the right amount of sea salt. However, there was not enough cheese & meat to pair with it. We had a ton of bread left over and it took up half of the board! We wish that we could have gotten a little more cheese & meat to equal out the portion sizes. At $18, this board is on the pricier side, but you definitely pay for the quality of the food. You can always count on Tiny’s to deliver the cleanest foods in your meal, and that’s one of our favorite things about this place!

Our favorite detail of the board, clearly well thought out by Tiny’s, was the rosemary hazelnuts. OMG they were to die for! The PPP’s think rosemary is the perfect addition to any board, and it paired perfectly with the crunchy hazelnuts. We couldn’t get enough.

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Do yourself a favor, grab your best girlfriends, and treat yourself to a Tiny Boxwoods meal. The experience alone will make your day just by being around flowers and pretty outdoor spaces while eating clean, yummy food! The Morning Cheese & Meat Board was delicious, but Tiny’s has so many amazing meals to offer that you really can’t go wrong with what you choose. Be sure to let us know what you think about your experience at Tiny’s in our comments below or on our PPP Instagram! We can’t wait to hear what your favorite meal is. Maybe a dinner blog is in our future…

 

Peace and Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Restaurant: CRISP

Recommended Meal of Choice: Happy Hour

The Perfect Pair: Baked Texas Goat Cheese and Marinara and a glass of 2012 Citra, Montepulciano D’Abruzzo from Italy

 

A staple in the Thursday Happy Hour rotation, CRISP is one that never disappoints. It is easily accessible in the Shady Acres neighborhood of the Heights. This cozy gem brings our busy lives to a halt as we gather around the table eating family style with a glass of wine in hand.

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Baked Texas Goat Cheese and Marinara– YUM! 

As a group, we value good apps as much as we value good wine. There can be around 10 of us who go to happy hour together and we always have a hard time finding apps that satisfy all of our snacking preferences. We definitely do not have that problem at CRISP.  On Wednesdays and Thursdays, it’s HALF OFF all appetizers! Over all the times we’ve been to CRISP together, we’ve ordered every single app, but there are some clear favorites. At the top of this list is the Baked Texas Goat Cheese and Marinara. It comes with killer garlic bread that is wow… just wow. It is beyond perfect. The drunken garlic bread alone is one of the best garlic breads we’ve ever had, but dipping it into the savory goat cheese and marinara is comfort food at its finest!  When ordering this for a group on Wednesday or Thursday, just go ahead and order two (you can thank us later)! It will cost only $2 more than just adding the extra bread! We also love ordering the Truffle Parmesan Fries. They are a huge crowd pleaser and an easy finger food for the center of the table. The yummy pizzas are crispy crusted and delectable. You can’t go wrong with any flavor, so just plan to come back to try them all! Last, but surely not least, the Dairymaid’s Cheese board. Pros: the cheese is all so delicious and there is plenty of it, the accompaniments are the perfect addition to the board, and it is priced well. Cons: there could be definitely be more bread and each slice of meat comes at an additional cost. However, you don’t need the meat to enjoy all of the wonderful cheese already offered on the board.

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Dairymaid’s Cheese Board pictured with and without added meat slices

 

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Chip card for the Enomatic machine 

You bet your bottom dollar we didn’t forget about the wine! Crisp has an enomatic wine machine. A.K.A. a wine vending machine that runs off of preloaded cards that are what we like to call, “Adult Dave and Buster’s” cards.  You add cash to it via your waiter whenever you want, and just whip out when you want to go and get some wine. This is awesome because you can pick your pour size and essentially try the wine out before getting a bottle for the table or just try all the kinds you want to! If it wasn’t too good to be true already, during happy hour, all the wine in the enomatic is HALF OFF! On the other hand, if your legs don’t want to move after a full day of work, you can just order off the menu instead because all glasses of wine are $2 off from 3pm to 7pm. 

We’ve mentioned before that building community is one of our favorite things. If we’re able to do that while drinking and eating… praise! When it comes to this, CRISP has it in the bag. This is a place that makes friends feel like family. As our friends all order their favorite apps or pizzas and place them in the center of the table, we share stories as readily and as easily as we share the dishes themselves.  Every night there are different specials and you can’t go wrong. We can’t wait to see you there!

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Grocery store: Trader Joe’s

Recommended Meal of Choice: Apps and Snacks

The Perfect Pair: Trader Joe’s Cheddar Gruyere Cheese and a Malbec

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It is so exciting to roam around Houston looking for the best happy hours full of cheese and charcuterie boards, craft cocktails, appetizers, and bottles of wine to share amongst friends. Boy oh boy, how can you not love that!? Taking in the atmosphere of a new location or even something more familiar can be a sweet escape from the workplace. However, nothing beats hosting some pals (or just yourself) in your cozy home with a carefully curated (by you) drink menu and spread of yummies. Nothing beats this quality time where everything is focused on deepening friendships and there are few distractions other than refilling the crackers. This is why we’ve chosen to include some grocery store trips and tips for y’all here on Perfectly Paired.

 

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Pastry Bites with Feta Cheese & Caramelized Onions

If I’m in need of a one-stop shop before having friends over, I always run straight to Trader Joe’s. The quality is impeccable and the price on their cured meats, cheeses, and wines is surprising to me every time. Their freezer appetizer section is top notch and has my guests and I throwing elbows to get every last bite. No joke! Okay a stretch, but no one ever leaves the last Pastry Bite with Feta Cheese & Caramelized Onions uneaten for long. Trader Joe’s even has amazing prices on flowers. It’s like the whole store is screaming for you to have people over.

 

I’ve already mentioned the spectacular morsels that are the Pastry Bites, but let me walk through our go to basket of goodies for an oh so perfect happy hour at home.

 

One day when I was watching “The Kitchen” on Food Network, one of the hosts said when making a charcuterie board that, “Things pair well together that dwell together.”  So when making a board, you’ll usually have good luck on meats and cheeses going well together if they’re from the same country or region. This rings true and is such a good tip when you’re not sure what you want or if you just want to narrow down the selection. On the other hand, if I’m buying and doing all the choosing for a crowd, then I want all my favorites no matter what region they are from! Nothing makes me happier than guests raving about the mix and playing with all the possible combinations.

 

TJcheeseA must have is the Cheddar Gruyere cheese. Of all the different kinds of cheeses I’ve put out, this is the one that always has people raving. It is the ultimate crowd-pleaser cheese and it is so easy to pair with any accompaniment. It tastes like a mild but aged Cheddar overall but still has enough Gruyere taste in it that I don’t mind putting it on my French Onion soup. As a sucker for Manchego, the Spanish Tapas cheese trio is a good addition to the board. It comes with three Spanish cheeses- Manchego, Cabra al Vino, and Iberico. They are pre-sliced and delicious. A perfect match for the Spanish Charcuterie mix of three that Trader Joe’s also offers. Although Trader Joe’s has a ton of wonderful cheeses you HAVE to try, I will recommend just one more. The Chevre Goat Cheese log. They have a herbed Goat Cheese and a cranberry one around the holidays and I love those both. However, when putting it on a board with this large of a variety, I suggest to just get the plain.

 

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Things I usually also grab are dark chocolate peanut butter cups (put them in the fridge or freezer and it’ll change your life) and flowers. *Peonies only available when in season

Fun combinations are made of more than just meat and cheese! You need other little bits for your guests to nibble on. Some things I recommend adding to the plate are candied pecans, sliced fruit, maybe some roasted veggies, and some sort of spread or dip. Trader Joe’s has the most wonderful candied pecans. They don’t have too much sugar on them, but they’re still sweet and crunchy! I add them to my charcuterie boards all the time as well as add them to salads and snacks. A spread I love is the Pepper Jelly. A little sweet and spicy, just put a spoon in the jar and put it on your board! Yum! You could also do the same for any other type of dip or mustard. You can’t forget the bread or crackers. The pita bite crackers are my go to (also good with hummus and just to snack on!). I love slicing up a baguette as well and sometimes bake it a bit with a drizzle of olive oil for color and crunch.

 

A bottle of wine (or two) is next on the list. Depending on how many people are coming you might need a couple of bottles. There is no need, I repeat- no need, to spend over $15 on a bottle when you’re hosting like this. When you’re hosting and a yo-pro, no one expects you to spend a fortune, and you don’t need to. I actually prefer to stay under $10 and you can always find tasty wines at Trader Joe’s in this price range. With all the things we’ve added to our board, I think a medium bodied Malbec, like the one in the picture,  would be a great pair! Trader Joe’s wine selection is nice too because they describe all the wines right underneath the prices so you know exactly what you’re getting.

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The Final Product! 

For all of the things that we have recommended, it will cost you about $41 and that includes a bottle of wine! This might seem like a lot, but we had this exact board with 4 friends over a game night and it was perfect. We even had leftovers of everything but the goat cheese and some of the meat! Another complete board could most definitely be made. We hope this guide to one of our favorite stores was helpful! We can’t wait to hear about all the perfectly paired boards that you make!

 

Peace & Pinot,

 

The Perfectly Paired Pals

 

Restaurant: North Italia

Recommended Meal of Choice: Happy Hour

The Perfect Pair: Bottle & Board

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetNorth Italia is a MUST in the Houston food network. With the Galleria in its neighborhood and Whole Foods right next door, you’ll be able to shop, get your groceries, and grab dinner and drinks with friends all in one trip! With a fun Italian flare on their food and the most trendy restaurant vibe, North Italia gives you everything you need for someone who has lots of love for a glass of wine and a cheese board to be happy It is a favorite go-to stop, with a happy hour that lasts all the way from Sunday – Friday, 3 – 6pm, and if that wasn’t enough, they even include half price bottles of wine all day on Sundays. Someone pinch us!

The Perfectly Paired Pals came to North Italia one Wednesday evening for the perfect middle of the work week break. We decided to start off the evening right, splitting a carafe of sangria. There really is nothing better than starting the evening with a cold glass of sangria to cool you off from this Texas heat. Now, I’m pretty critical when it comes to sangria because I don’t like to feel like I’m drinking a glass full of sugar that’s only going to make me feel worse later in the evening. However, North Italia’s sangria is the perfect amount of wine, fruit, and overall sweetness! Nothing is too overpowering, which I really appreciate. And, who doesn’t love a pretty drink that tastes just as good as it looks!

After quickly drinking the entire carafe, we ordered a North Italia Happy Hour specialty: the Bottle & Board. For just $20, you get to choose between a pizza, bruschetta, or the chef’s board, and a bottle of red or white wine to accompany your food choice. Of course, we ordered the chef’s board, full of meats, cheeses, and other goodies with a bottle of red to pair! We loved the fact that this board came with an overwhelming amount of meat, specifically prosciutto. A lot of times we run into having much more cheese than meat, so the board tends to seem unbalanced. However, this was not the case at North Italia! The board also includes a creamy cheese that can be spread on bread, paired with prosciutto, or serve as a dip for the asparagus bites. With a multi-functional cheese, this allows all components of your board to be appreciated to the fullest, and with a little cheese that goes a long way, we were able to enjoy this board for quite awhile without feeling like it was gone in seconds.

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PPP Pro Tip: When you cut your meat, bread, and cheese cubes into smaller pieces, it makes your board easier to share with friends and you all get to enjoy it at a much slower pace!

The red wine that came with the board was a 2016 La Fiera from Montepulciano 

d’Abruzzo, Italy averaging about $9 and 3.7 stars (thanks Vivino!). A very smooth, balanced, and medium bodied red, it paired perfectly with our chef’s board for the evening.

One of my favorite things to do is to Vivino wine at the dinner table, because then I can see how much more I paid for the wine at a restaurant instead of the grocery store. It is so shocking to see the price difference sometimes! For this particular Italian red, I was extremely comforted to get the bottle at exactly the recommended price from Vivino. With the chef’s board priced at $10 on it’s own, and the bottle averaging $9, we got a very fair deal for $20. I couldn’t recommend the Bottle & Board more!

After Happy Hour was over, we decided to all split the Prosciutto Pizza with mission fig, goat cheese, and arugula to satisfy our hunger for dinner. It was the perfect way to to experience more of the Italian cooking that North Italia has to offer. It was paired best with a 2016 Malbec. We couldn’t get enough!

If you haven’t already, be sure to put North Italia in the Top 5 of your food bucket list in Houston. With their Italian wines, great Happy Hour deals, and lots of fun to go around, it will always be a staple for the Perfectly Paired Pals.

Peace & Pinot,

The PPP’s

Hands down, the best day of the week is Thursday. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel with the excitement of the weekend in sight! Each Thursday night is spent around the table, at the happy hour destination of our choosing, with our “Happy Hour Crew.” Fun fact: This group of people actually became friends by attending weekly happy hours together! Although we were skeptical about how long this tradition would last with the busyness of work and life in general, we have truly been amazed by this crew – a bunch of recent college grads, all from different places, who didn’t know each other well or at all beforehand, has honestly become our little Houston family.

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Each week, we explore a new happy hour destination, since Houston has so many great happy hours to find and restaurants to try. However, since we have been at this awhile, we can’t help but consistently repeat a few of our favorite local finds, and this week’s post features one of those special places: Down the Street!

Down the Street is tucked in the heart of Houston, in a neighborhood known as Cottage Grove. If you didn’t know what you were looking for, you would miss this hidden gem as it is right in the middle of the neighborhood (hence the name Down the Street!). This spot is the perfect place to sit outside, enjoy the string lights, drink the best sangria, and share a cheese board with good friends. It’s the kind of place that you can spend all day and completely forget the time. Since two of the Perfectly Paired boys used to live in the neighborhood, this was a staple among our friends. The big, outdoor patio is dog friendly and has seating for groups of all sizes. They have a very “come as you are” vibe – perfect for an after work happy hour, lazy brunch, or kicking off a night on the town!

 

While Down the Street has lots of good food and drink options, a steady favorite is the Autumn Plate perfectly paired with a glass of Sangria. The plate is filled with seasonal cheeses, fruit, and delicious bread. The cheese included is manchego, burrata, and brie. Down the Street also has an option to add charcuterie to any board, which is an opportunity that we never pass up! Looking at the Autumn Plate overall, it has a significant amount of cheese for the small price you pay – just $12! If you have a large group (or are always hungry like we are), we definitely recommend adding the charcuterie. Down the Street has great appetizers in general, so even picking a different appetizer to supplement the board is a great choice. You really can’t go wrong!

 

While the Autumn Plate is definitely one of a kind, the Down the Street sangria complements the plate perfectly. It is the perfect mix of sweet and refreshing. You can get it by the glass for $5, and even better, in a carafe for only $12! Some of our other favorite treats from Down the Street include the Frozen Ruby Red Bellini, Truffle Parmesan Popcorn, and the Big Toasted Pretzel with Queso. Down the Street also offers a great brunch menu on the weekends complete with Eggs Benedict, Creme Brulee French Toast, and of course, mimosas! You won’t be able to pass it up.

If you’re in the mood to spend an evening outside in this Houston heat, or if you want to opt in for their indoor seating, Down the Street is the place to go. And who knows…you may just run into the Perfectly Paired Pals while you’re there!

 

Peace and Pinot,

Perfectly Paired Pals

“Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures. – Michael Broadbent, Wine Critic” – Emily, Lauren, & Julia

 

Hey y’all! We are thrilled to introduce ourselves as the Perfectly Paired Pals, and we are so happy you’re here. Welcome to our Perfectly Paired Page!

 

We are three girls who simply love wine and cheese. We believe that some of the best conversations come from sharing a bottle of wine (or two) over a cheese and charcuterie board with your best friends. When we look back on our friendship throughout the years, our memories remind us that there is nothing more perfectly paired than good wine, good cheese, and great friends – and we believe everyone should experience such a pleasure.

 

Based in the greatest state in the United States and one of the top ten ranked culinary cities in the country, Houston, Texas is our home sweet home, and we wouldn’t trade it for the world. As we consider ourselves classic foodies, the three of us have eaten our way through Houston scouting the most delicious food at the most reasonable prices. This journey just reaffirmed what we already knew: wine and cheese, separately or together, makes every meal better. A cheese and charcuterie board with a glass of rose for brunch? OMG! A bowl of queso before eating tacos? Yes please! A glass of sangria under the string lights? Keep ‘em coming!

 

We have seen time and time again the community that gathers when you’re sitting around the table, and we want to encourage those around us to not take those moments for granted, but to remember the fellowship that comes eating together (and a little wine and cheese never hurt nobody).

 

Our Story

 

One Texas summer night last June, we were sitting on the porch at Canyon Lake – wine glass in hand – enjoying the best kind of conversation with the best of friends. The best conversations are always over wine, right? (I’m even drinking a glass right now!) What started as a dreaming sesh has now brought us where we didn’t know we’d be today. We thought about it all – from opening a perfectly paired restaurant to eating our way in cheese throughout the West coast to traveling across the world to Tuscany and riding vespas in wine tours to taste the finest Italian wines. Does it get any better than that?! We couldn’t hold ourselves back. It was too fun to think about! And while dreams like these are always the easiest and definitely the most fun to talk about, we decided to put a temporary bookmark in that chapter of life, and to come back to it when the time was right later down the road. Well… only about 6 months later, we decided that there was no better time than now to do SOMETHING. We just didn’t quite know what.

 

While many of the ideas that we brainstormed together will happen one day (we hope!), we asked ourselves what we could realistically do right now. The answer was simple. We spend so much of our time together trying different Houston restaurants, scouting the best happy hours, having girls nights together involving unreal amounts of wine and cheese, and so much more, we knew we had an opportunity to share what it looks like to live our everyday. We’re not changing anything we do on a daily basis, but now we’re just going to share it together with you!

 

Meet the Pals

Followers of Jesus, Texas A&M Grads, and Working Gals!

 

Processed with VSCO with a8 presetEmily: Our Cabernet Sauvignon girl in every fashion. Her full bodied personality always keeps us on our toes and her love for prosciutto is unmatchable. Born in Phoenix, AZ, but raised in San Antonio, TX, she considers herself a Texas girl in every way. Recently married to her best friend Mike, she is loving all of the new wine glasses and cheese boards given as gifts from their registry. She’s ready to host our next get together and it’s safe to say, that we’re excited! Emily is happiest when she’s with her friends, having dance parties with her husband, listening to music with the windows down, eating tacos (don’t forget the guacamole), or planning her next party, vacation, or adventure. She is a wife, daughter, sister, dog lover, listener, and a friend to all. Her next mission is to get her hubby to like wine – A tough venture but Emily is up for the challenge!

 

Processed with VSCO with a8 presetJulia: A Houston native, Julia is sure to always find the best wine and cheese deals in the entire city! Raised just outside of HTX in Katy, TX, Julia married her high school sweetheart, Trevor (we’re still swooning!) post college. Together, they have been able to already check many things of off their life bucket list! Her passion to travel with her hubby and explore different places and cultures has enabled them to cross the world – and even perfect Julia’s perfectly paired palette. With a heart for serving others and a desire to host as many events as possible, Julia makes sure everyone leaves her home with full tummies and a big smile. In the words of her husband when it comes to throwing parties—“She’s a little extra” and it’s our favorite thing about her! She’s a lover of all wine and especially the “nibblets” to go with it. A sucker for reds, but Malbec is always her go-to because it pairs well with her favorite kind of night – steak on the grill and board games surrounded by the best of friends.

 

Processed with VSCO with a8 presetLauren: Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Lauren has recently made Houston home and is taking the city by storm (not a literal storm because Houston has enough of those) in every way! Although Dallas will always have her heart, we sure are happy that we get to do all of Lauren’s favorite things with her now in Houston – shopping, eating great food, drinking good wine, and being social butterflies! When she is not enjoying happy hour or creating a delicious cheeseboard, Lauren is an accountant for a Big 4 firm. Lauren is perfectly paired with her BRAND NEW fiance, Austin, who influenced the move to Houston in the first place, and boy are we happy about it! Oh, and don’t forget to ask her about her new bling! A few of Lauren’s favorite things include: chocolate chip cookies, Dr. Pepper, quesadillas, and watching Gilmore Girls. When it comes to wine and cheese, you can find her sipping on a classic Pinot Noir paired with Manchego cheese.

 

Soooooo, come and join us!

 

We want our fellow wine and cheese heads to come on our journey with us as we continue to explore the different ways wine and cheese pair so perfectly together, and more importantly, enjoy fellowship around the table. We want to share with you what it’s like to be a foodie in as a young professional – a champagne taste on a beer budget… (and yes, we’ll take a glass of prosecco with that please!) and everything in between. We hope you have as much fun as we do along the way. Just know, you already mean the world to us. So sit back and relax, grab yourself a nice glass of wine, and welcome to Perfectly Paired.

 

Peace and Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals