Perfectly Paired

happy hours / hosting / friendship

Springtime in Texas means a lot of things – bluebonnets, sunshine, green grass, baseball, porch sitting, and our favorite – CRAWFISH! While crawfish is for sure a Louisiana staple, we Texans have taken it up for ourselves as well. One thing we love about crawfish is that it literally forces you to have time around a table with people. It is a very labor intensive process to actually get full, so you are guaranteed time to get to know people and sit around a table and talk.You all know that we live for time around a table, so this is right up our alley. Better than actually eating the crawfish is the idea of having a party to go along with it!

This year we went all out and hosted a housewarming/birthday Crawfish Boil, so we want to give you an idea on what all you will need  to create your own Crawfish Boil as there are only a few weeks left of crawfish season. First – you will need a backyard and some gear. Luckily we have a great friend who already had all the gear, the pot, boiler, propane, etc. It is quite the undertaking but the boys loved standing outside with some cold beers watching all the action. The key to a successful boil and yummy crawfish is getting them live the day of. Since crawfish is so popular around here we recommend going to your favorite grocery store right when they open because they are known to sell out fast. We were expecting about 30 people so we bought 90 lbs of crawfish. This sounds like a lot, but if you’ve ever had crawfish you know that the meat that comes from one of those bad boys is a small bite, so you need a lot to fill everyone up.

Most grocery stores will have a pre-made seasoning for you to use, but you will also need some other goodies to go inside the pot. We had corn, sausage, and potatoes – which are classic additions to any crawfish boil. Other items you will want to grab at the store include – LOTS of napkins or paper towels, Wet Ones, beer, paper plates, table cloths, and other munchies to have out while the crawfish is cooking.

While crawfish is the main event of the crawfish boil, we love backyard parties this time of year because it means we have all our friends in one place doing what we love most – just hanging out. We had cornhole boards set up, which is a big staple in our group, while others just sat and chatted in the beautiful weather. We did have a little hiccup right when we were ready to eat – typical Texas, it started to rain- but a quick move into the garage worked just great. And of course a few minutes later the sun came out and cooled down the temperatures, making for the perfect transition to an evening well spent in the backyard.

How are you getting outside with friends this spring? Any tips for our next crawfish boil?

Peace and Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Anvil Bar and Refuge opened in 2009 and is still such a hotspot for Houston. Right in the middle of Montrose, there are a million different restaurants and bars in this area and we highly suggest that you give Anvil a try. It’s simply a classic cocktail bar with some originals on the menu as well. Everything we’ve tried there, we’ve loved. The classics are just amazing and you can tell it is deliberately done so. The cocktails they create are all made carefully and exactly how they should be. They didn’t become classic without a reason!

On the menu Anvil has seasonal original cocktails as well as a list of Anvil classics developed at the bar. I’ve already mentioned that they serve a multitude of classic cocktails as well, but to be more specific, there is a list of 100! 100 cocktails!! Anvil believes that every single bartender should know these classic drinks and theirs sure do. We absolutely love the list because we feel it is always so hard to think of a drink that you want and this menu is extremely helpful for us (and we think it will be for you too– I mean who actually knows the name of or what’s in all these standard cocktails?).  

Our favorite thing about this place is that They. Care. About. You! No matter how crowded it is, as soon as you walk in, they flag YOU down and hand you some menus. This is just unheard of in Houston. We’ve got great southern hospitality when it comes to customer service as a whole, but at the counter if that’s where you order. Typically, you have to head up and scavenge for a menu and then be met with a friendly, but rushed, face at the bar. That is not how things work here at Anvil. After you are handed your menus, you can head to wearever to digest it and figure out what your first drink is and then head up to the bar, unrushed, and order. The vibe inside is really classic with a twist. It feels like an old fashioned cocktail bar, but very industrial. Somehow it still has a feeling that is warm and welcoming at the same time as this industrial backbone.

They’ve got a selection of bar snacks, cheese, and charcuterie on the menu too. Although we would LOVE to get the cheese board, usually we just head to Anvil for some drinks with friends. As much as it pains us to say it– we haven’t tried their cheese board yet. We’ll be back though and you’ll get an update.  🙂 Our fave cocktails are: the Golden Gate Swizzle, the Martinez, and the Lion’s Tail. Every cocktail is so perfectly balanced here, so we know you won’t go wrong.

They do have a Happy Hour, but boy it is short. From 4-5 Monday through Friday they have ½ priced drinks off the 100 list. Maybe we will catch you there sometime!

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Spring is here and there is no better way to celebrate than with fresh veggies, flowers, and of course cheese boards on the patio. This week we are taking you to another one of our favorite stores, Central Market, to shop for the perfect cheese board to have your friends over for some weekend patio sitting. There is only one Central Market in Houston but the location is great for all neighborhoods and close to some of our favorite shops – so double the fun when we venture to this store.

Before we get into the details of the cheese board, we want to tell you some of our favorite things about Central Market in general. First, this store is one of those grocery stores that is more than just a grocery store, it is somewhere you go for the experience of walking through their well defined maze and seeing what yummy surprises end up in your basket. We love stocking up on fruits and veggies because they always look so beautiful and so fresh! This time we were on a mission, so we only grabbed some strawberries for the cheese board. More than the produce department, all of the departments at Central Market are filled with all kinds of delicious goodies. The pre-made meals are perfect for those grab and go nights. But our favorite part of the Houston Central Market is the “California Connection” sandwich. It is truly the best sandwich we have ever eaten. If you haven’t tried this sandwich, you must go order it. Our favorite lunch consists of turkey, cheese, pesto, caramelized onions, and avocado – sooo good! Another great thing about Central Market is their cooking classes. We went on a double date with some friends to one of the classes and had the best time. We were able to make foods that we weren’t totally comfortable with making on our own, like mussels – who makes that on the reg?! Not us! Grab some friends and take one of their classes – such a fun night and even better because you get to make AMAZING food and eat it that night!

The cheese department is UNBELIEVABLE. We love cheese a whole lot, but we definitely aren’t experts. What we are for sure of is that you can find any cheese you want here. To help us in our shopping, we consulted our friends at “That Cheese Plate” to give us a list of the specific cheese to look for to make the perfect board. On our list was Brie, Mahon (a new one for us to try), Pecorino and Boursin. We were so excited to pair some of our favorite staples with new cheeses. We love trying new things because you never know what you will stumble upon.

After the cheese, we of course needed the other goodies for the board. We got some Prosciutto, Peach jam, crackers, dried apricots and mixed nuts. Another bonus about Central Market is the bulk section. They have just about every combination of snack mix or nuts you could imagine. Right now they also have sooo much Easter themed candy! It took everything in us to resist the candy. The last thing to finish of our trip was a stroll through the wine department. They have so many wines at all different price points, so it is really great for any budget. We picked a new Malbec that was so delicious! There were so many options that it was kind of overwhelming, but we found that if we go with our normal budget and a grape we know we like, we aren’t usually disappointed.

So now for the fun part, putting the board together. If you don’t follow “That Cheese Plate” or “Cheese By Numbers” on Instagram, they are a must follow. They help you create the most beautiful boards by giving you all the ingredients you need and then showing step by step pictures of the board as you build it. We took our inspiration for the board this week from them, and then made a few tweaks to include our favorite things. We will definitely be using this account for more inspiration in the future because this one turned out AMAZING!

Let us know what your favorite things are about Central Market or what other stores we should try!

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Hi there pals, it’s Julia. This week was my birthday, so I’ll be sharing some of my favorite things with you. For an easy skim of my list, run through and look for the bolded words.

Wine and Cheese and snacks

Obviously. Love wine and cheese. I’m trying to learn more about both, so I’m always trying new things. I think a big part about learning in general is stepping outside of your comfort zone and just tasting. Not to say that I don’t have my favorites! I just try and mix it up. When I just want something that I know I’ll like I go for the Trader Joe’s Cheddar Gruyere Cheese and some sort of goat cheese. Those are my all time faves. I also love Manchego and am a big fan of a little funk when trying new cheeses. As for wine, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Malbec is my go-to. Its full-bodied and I just always typically like it. I don’t really have a go-to bottle, I’ll just scan bottles that I want to try at the store on Vivino. I do this every time I buy wine and I don’t care that I’m the crazy person taking pictures of labels. I just read some reviews and check the rating and average price and wah-lah! I’ve got my pick. Some other wines I love (if you’re looking for something new to try) are Cabernet Sauvignon (Have you heard of it? lol), Super Tuscans, and Tempranillo. Snacks. KETTLE CORNNNNN. It’s a weakness of mine for sure. Some fun snackage I love to add to cheese boards to add to the grazing are Spinach and Artichoke Dip and Snack mix- like the Sweet Cajun Heat mix at HEB— Yum!

Houston

We have tried A TON of happy hours in Houston. My favorite happy hour to date is Heights Bier Garten. They never ever disappoint. Their happy hour is unbeatable with their half price craft cocktails that are delicious. The atmosphere is great and in my opinion, it is also the best patio bar in Houston. There are a million but this place takes the W for me. Favorite wine bar is 13 Celsius. In our previous blog featuring 13 Celsius, we talked about how it has the most wonderful European vibe and it really is true. It has the best atmosphere and honestly the best and knowledgeable staff. They are so helpful with talking through which glass to try. I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite restaurant but two of my top and the dishes that I order at each could not be more different. I love Nidda Thai ( don’t @ me about how it’s not the best without a rec 😉 lol but really) and I usually order the Yellow Curry and the Steamed Dumplings. So good! I also always have the best leftovers for the next day! The other place that I always love is Adair Kitchen and there I order the Superfoods Bowl.

My fave other Stuff- Places and Things

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to travel- especially with the love of my life (I said I love cheese), Trevor. Traveling is a new love of mine because I really never did before we got married, but I have a feeling that my travel bug is sticking around. Italy has been my favorite (and I also think that it will stick around awhile too). It won me over with the views, the people, the food, the wine, the history, the art, the lifestyle, the everything. In Texas, one place that will always have my heart is the Texas Hill Country, specifically Fredericksburg. It’s always so lovely and if you haven’t been, you should. The wineries are great and there is plenty cute factor with the shops down main street.


  Tuscany (Chianti), Italy

     Camp Mystic- Hunt, Texas

     

Some things that make me smile: candles (I’m a sucker for Capri Blue Volcano, but who isn’t), plants and flowers, board games, Aquaphor, HomeGoods, and Texas A&M football.

Welp. That’s a wrap! Those were a few of my favorite things. Stick around for Lauren’s later in April 🙂

Peace & Pinot,

One of the Pals

Everybody is all about brunch these days and we are here for it. There’s something about brunch that just brings thoughts of sunshine and smiles. There is nothing better than a big group of friends just eating and drinking and catching up together for hours. Brunch always has such comforting options, which is why we just love to linger and chat with pals until we’re able to move again. That is why we think that sometimes eating brunch out at a restaurant in a large group can be difficult. We completely understand this is the unpopular opinion. Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE a good morning out at a swanky brunch place. You can for sure catch us at The Dunlavy or Tiny’s No. 5 every once in a while and we are always on the lookout for new places to try.

Last weekend was the perfect example of when to all meet up at a friend’s house for a good ole fashioned potluck brunch. (If you want to make everything and just host a brunch at your house— totally go for it, you’re a rockstar) There was a significant amount of us with some friends in town. We were all headed to the rodeo following our meal and wanted some good quality time with our friends we don’t get to see often before making our way to NRG. It’s always so hard catching up over a meal with a big group. You can really only talk to the 4 or so people around you and a lot of who you get to talk to just ends up being who you sit next to at the table. Also, depending on the noise level of the restaurant, it could be just the person next to you. It really is fun to go to lively (questionably rowdy) places full of atmosphere, but we just think if you really want to have some good conversation, save it for another time. Alright. So what’s our go-to brunch menu?

Always a breakfast casserole of some sort. We’ve been doing this one a lot lately because it is legit so easy. It also has a few of our favorite things: bread, cheese, and breakfast sausage. Yummm. Breakfast casseroles are a great way to go for things like this because you can make them the night before, pop them in the oven the morning of, and they feed a crowd. We also make them when we go on weekend trips around Texas together. We usually have bacon on the side as well. Sometimes we candy it– brown sugar is amazing, but this time we had a really sweet addition to our lineup, so just plain-jain amazing bacon for us hit the spot. For our sweet tooth, we made cinnamon roll monkey bread or as they are called in my husband’s family, “Pull-aparts.” They were the perfect offset to our savory options. We love them because it’s just like a bunch of centers of cinnamon rolls! No crispy edges. Also featured were some scrumptious Pigs in a Blanket and an assortment of fruit.

What we can’t forget to mention is the last item on the menu Cream Cheese Sausage Croissants. These are not just a staple for our brunch get-togethers, they are a staple for most sports watch parties, sometimes games nights, and anytime one of us is hosting a shower. One of the pals grew up going to the most amazing camp and this is a recipe from the cookbook you get before you go to college. After the very first time it was made for everyone it was a hit. Now we all have the recipe and make it for our families. After all that hype here are the ingredients: Crescent rolls, cream cheese, breakfast sausage, egg wash, and poppy seeds. So easy. So amazing. As a hope that you’ll make these and host your friends we’ve given you the recipe!

It’s brunch… AKA there are probably drinks involved. 🙂 For our drink spread we had: Mimosas (duh) Bloody Mary’s (yumm) and coffee (because we all knew it was going to be a longgg day at the rodeo. The two staples for any brunch are for sure Bloody’s and mimosas. You can get creative and add other things to your spread, but for us it’s always easier to keep it simple and keep people happy. The prosecco we used this time was Savino Prosecco and it was about $10 a bottle. It was delicious. The pals usually only add about an eyedropper of orange juice in our mimosas, so good bubbly is a must. There is no need to go fancier though because in our opinion, you should NOT be adding anything to prime bubbles. For the Bloody Mary’s we use Tito’s, like any good Texan should. As for the mix- we use Zing Zang. Best mix we’ve found! Also, I’m seriously considering starting to be the girl who carries hot sauce in her purse because nothing is better than Cholula on everything and especially in a Bloody Mary– thanks for the tip Auqa from Cheetah Girls!

We can’t wait to hear about your brunch feasts and about all the special memories from spending time around your table with friends. There is truly nothing better than good food, good drinks, and great friends.

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Thank goodness it’s Thursday! Does anyone else feel like this week has been so long…maybe it’s Daylight Savings Time and losing an hour of precious sleep or maybe it’s the lack of sunshine here in Houston. Fingers crossed there will be some sunshine this weekend because of course we will be back at the Rodeo for the final weekend. Enough about the weather, this week we are taking you to a new spot in Houston that is so bright and colorful inside, you will forget the dreary days outside.

Blanco Tacos & Tequila is tucked inside of the Houston Galleria next to a lot of new fantastic restaurants, so it is perfect for a day filled with shopping and then wrapping up with happy hour. That is what we did as pals, and it couldn’t have been better. The only downside to this new great spot being in the Galleria is the parking, but never fear, there is valet parking right outside the door of the restaurant- but it will cost you a pretty penny.

Blanco Tacos & Tequila is for sure one of our new favorite places for happy hour! The deals are great and the tequila is better!. Here’s the lowdown – Happy Hour is from 3-6pm; food ranges from $4-$8, which is a great deal! Cocktails and beer are both $5 – talk about a great happy hour. The menu says that happy hour is only in the bar area, but we were able to sit at a table and get the good prices. Make sure you ask your waiter to clarify before being seated.

So what do we think you should get?! Absolutely try multiple things because we loved everything we tried. The margaritas were soo good and easy to drink and you can’t go wrong with a classic marg, but better than that was the red wine sangria. It tasted like a juice box which of course can be dangerous, but we could have sipped on that refreshing treat all day long. The food was also delicious and the portions were very generous for being on happy hour. We of course could not decide what to get so we tried quite a few. Everything they have is classic mexican food like queso, guacamole, nachos, and tacos. My favorite item we ordered was the guac. So fresh and the perfect mix of avocado and spice. The queso was also yummy and had guac, sour cream, and pico de gallo to mix in with the cheese. We always love when there is an added bonus to a staple in our diets. The nachos were the size of a small hill and loaded with all sorts of tasty toppings. You really can’t go wrong with any of the drinks or food! We want to go back to try their dinner options because the menu looked INCREDIBLE. If you’ve already been, let us know what we should try next!

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Rodeo Uncorked!

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo 2019 is in full swing. It has everything you could ever hope for in a Rodeo and much more. If you haven’t been yet, you still have 11 chances left- including tonight’s show, so you better hustle. If you can, go every night. Wow, just kidding. That would be so exhausting. Just try and go a time or two at least- really at least. Our favorite day of the week at the rodeo is Saturday because we essentially spend all day on the grounds. (More specifically most of our time is spent hanging out in the Champion Wine Garden). Rodeo only comes once a year and for Houston, it’s our biggest event. Everyone you know is going at least once and most are going multiple times. We like to say that El Tiempo on Washington is “the place to see and be seen on a Friday night” and we believe that the Rodeo Wine garden is the “place to see and be seen at the HLSR”.  

Here in the Wine garden there are over 70 different wines to choose from by the glass or by the bottle. They have all competed in the Rodeo’s international wine competition and are all winners in at least one category. The prices are great too! Most bottles are in the $24- $38 range and the markup from retail pricing is truly not that bad. With this pricing, it is so easy to rotate who buys the next bottle for the table. We all know that with the great atmosphere there and the live music that one bottle won’t be enough. If you’re like us you’ll start with a bottle of Rosé for the group (somehow we convinced the men to join in on the pink wine) and then move on to a bottle of Cab. Houston has some pretty dang hot weather, so one thing we always love is that they serve their reds slightly more chilled than we would typically enjoy.  Our favorite Rosé this year on their menu is the Monte Stella Rosé by Llano Estacado and our favorite Cab is the LangeTwins Family Winery and Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Of the two, we were really digging the Rosé.

As for food, you can bring whatever you want from the grounds into the wine garden. Out there is like a Disneyland of fried foods and southern goodness. Everything is amazing and some things are shocking. Shocking might seem dramatic, but there are things like Fruity Pebble Fried Shrimp and I’m sure many other crazy things that make that look tame. Once getting to the grounds, we walk straight to grab food. If we’ve already eaten a meal before we arrived we walk straight to get fried oreos. Everyone has their favorite fried delicacies, but the fried oreos are TO DIE FOR. For you it might be the Fruity Pebble Fried Shrimp or Hot Cheetos Cotton Candy. We wait all year for the Oreos and year after year they live up to the hype. After ordering and walking around some of the food options to see what the new creations are, we head over to grab our vino. If you’re looking for food inside the Wine Garden, they do have a cheese plate and Charcuterie platter. We have ordered the cheese plate out of pure curiosity and our opinion is to go grab food elsewhere. It’s not bad, but we just don’t think it is worth the $18. If you are looking for snacks for the table there are plenty of homemade kettle chips and loaded fry options out in the carnival.

After you’ve gone to see the best rodeo in the world followed by a great concert, don’t forget to head back out to uncork some more fun. The live music continues out in the garden and the bands are always great. We also love to walk around and look at all of the booths inside NRG center. The shops are so cute (especially after the wine) and walking through them all is a blast.

We will never get tired of the HLSR and never get tired of the Champion Wine Garden. We will for sure be there next week on Friday and Saturday. If you see us there, flag us down and we’ll make room for you at our table. If you don’t have tickets into the rodeo, you can always purchase tickets to the grounds for $15 or a season pass for $35.

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Hey there Pals! We have a treat for you this week, a post detailing our latest adventure to Colorado! This past weekend the Pals and their men went on a trip to see a friend in Boulder. The weekend involved lots of eating, skiing, breweries, and a nice break from the crazy hot then cold weather here in Houston. We were only there for a few days, so I’m sure there are lots of great places we missed, but we wanted to share some of our favorites from the weekend – just means we will have to go back again soon!


After a long and grueling travel day, we finally made it to Boulder. *Travel tip: If you’re going somewhere cold, dress ready for the cold on your flight…you never know what may happen and trust us being underprepared is not ideal.  We immediately went to bed and woke up craving a good, hearty brunch. Our Boulder local took us to a fabulous little spot called Walnut Cafe. The weather was amazing so we were able to snag a table outside to enjoy this much needed meal. Everyone’s plates were overflowing with food – omelettes, pancakes, waffles, fruit, quiche, and of course coffee! After stuffing our faces, we decided to walk off our meal with a stroll down Pearl Street. The shops in the area were so cute and it was such a fun street just to browse. An area of the street is blocked off to cars, so it is perfect for a casual stroll. It was cold and windy, so there weren’t any booths or street performers outside, but when the weather is nice the street is filled with exciting things to look at. Once we were feeling a little less full, we decided to make our way to our first brewery.

If you’ve ever been to Boulder, you know that there are about a million breweries so it was a challenge to pick just a few to check out. We again went with the suggestions of our local friends. First stop was to Bootstrap Brewery. This brewery is off the beaten path and could easily be missed if you weren’t looking for it. But trust us you don’t want to miss this one. It was a small place, but the beers were delicious! We stuck with our usual variety – a golden ale and an amber ale. Both exceeded our expectations. There were no snacks at Bootstrap, but we were still so full from brunch that beer was all we needed. A perk of this place is that they had games on the tables. And if you have been following us for a little while, you know that we LOVE games! We sat around a table playing Trivial Pursuit for about an hour- this game is so hard, but we learned a lot of new fun facts! After doing some learning and drinking, we headed home for a little breather and to go rent our skis for the next two days. After those errands of course it was time for dinner, and off to another brewery we went.

For dinner we went to Fate Brewing Company. We heard that they had all day Happy Hour on Saturday’s so naturally we were quickly sold on this place. The appetizers did not disappoint- we ordered the fried pickles, backyard bbq dip, and caramelized sweet potatoes. All of them were AMAZING. As you may expect for a brewery there were so many options of beer to choose from. But this isn’t your average brewery with typical ales and lagers, but they have created unique and fun flavors. We ordered a snickerdoodle beer, that tasted just like a cookie, and then a blonde chai beer that was exactly what it sounds like. For someone who isn’t a huge fan of craft beer, this was for sure my favorite place to have a brew. The dinner options also did not disappoint. A few of us ordered the Trifecta Burger and we also had the pulled pork tacos. Both were delicious and the perfect amount of food to fill our never empty bellies.

The next two days were filled with skiing in Breckenridge and Copper Mountain. Both were super fun and covered in fresh pow pow. If you are a big skier, this is the year for you. Some of the mountains will be open all the way through May! We may be a little biased because we aren’t professional skiers so our judgement of ski towns strongly depends on the other activities to do at the base. The winner of the prize is Breckenridge – it is the cutest little town filled with shops and lots of delicious restaurants. While we were waiting for some of our group to finish skiing, we found warmth in The Canteen. In typical Texas fashion we ordered margaritas and queso. The marg came in this large “canteen” and the queso was practically a trough. Both were so good and made our Texas hearts so happy.

After our first day of skiing we were so beat that we opted for a pizza at home night. There is something about Colorado pizza that is always so good. It may be because it is warm and a great contrast to the cold outdoors, or just that people in Colorado know what they are doing when it comes to pizza. We ordered from Proto Pizza, a place close to the house we were at in Boulder. After day two of skiing, we decided to push past exhaustion and try one more brewery for dinner. Following another local recommendation we went to Avery Brewing Company. Avery is also a little off the beaten path, but has a super cool building and a long list of beers. The taproom is open for dinner every night and has a delicious menu with options for all taste preferences. They are one of the bigger breweries in the area, and are very popular among the locals. We have to agree with them on this one because the food was tasty and all the beers we tried were so good! A perk of this brewery is the option to get a 2.5 ounce taster which allows you to try so many different beers without ordering a full beer. We would definitely recommend that this brewery makes your short list when visiting Boulder.

Our last day was of course a travel day, but that didn’t stop us from making one last stop for brunch. We went to a Boulder classic, The Buff. We tried to go here on Saturday when we arrived, but the line was so far into the parking lot that we couldn’t even see the door. If you want to try this place, which we totally thing you should, try to go early on Saturday or go on a weekday. They still have the same menu during the week so you don’t miss anything. Must be something about brunch in Boulder, but the food again was overflowing on the plates. We made it a rule this time that everyone had to order something different because there were so many things that sounded amazing. To start things off, they have 99 cent mimosas, bloody mary’s, and tequila sunrises. WHAT A DEAL! They limit you to three, but that is a steal and they were so tasty. To eat, we ordered omelettes, scrambles with fried eggs, and eggs benedict. They had so many options of different kinds of omelettes, scrambles, and eggs benedict- so there is something for everyone.

Whether you are heading to Colorado to ski, hike, shop, eat, drink, or just chill, there is something for you in Boulder. We couldn’t hit all the spots this trip, but we will for sure make a trip back- maybe in the summer time to explore another season! Let us know your favorite spots that we can’t miss when we return.

Peace and Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Harold’s Restaurant and Tap Room

Harold’s is a staple for us. It’s a place we can always count on and we’ve been there countless times over the past few years. On multiple occasions we all showed up for happy hour and ended up staying for dinner. The location is so easy for everyone to get to, right in the heart of the Heights.

First thing to take note of here is that there are two different menus, one for the Tap Room and one for the restaurant and terrace. Let’s start with the Tap Room. This is the long bar on the bottom floor, right when you walk in. Down here, they have pizzas and other fun bar bites. Our favorite snack down here is the artisanal pretzels and our fave drink…… the tie your knot sangria. It’s so so good. Don’t want to oversell it, but it might be the best Sangria in town. The pizzas are also something that are only offered downstairs. You can never go wrong with pizza. During Happy Hour, their cocktails are $6 (including the sangria), beers are $5, and glasses of wine are $5. They also have a selection of wine on tap and that’s what dreams are made of.

You can still get Happy Hour upstairs at the bar or on the terrace. The drinks are the same and the snacks are mostly the same, with the exception of the pretzels and the pizza. Here is where you used to be able to get the best appetizer that ever was. The fried mushrooms. I’m not even a big fan of mushrooms and these were so amazing. They came stacked high in a bowl full of cheese fondue!! LITERALLY AMAZING. If I’ve made you sad because you can’t have these anymore then I apologize. I do have good news though. They just changed what they deep fry and put in a bowl of cheese heaven. Now it’s the Chicken Fried Cauliflower on the menu. It’s $9 and a great addition to your order. The hush puppies and their honey butter have blessed our sweet little southern hearts with their presence and they should be a part of every order during rodeo season. The cheese board has a significant amount cheese and when we ran out of toast, our waitress gladly brought out more. For free. That’s a big deal. The service is also amazing. We were on the terrace on a cold night recently and they legitimately brought all the outdoor heaters and put them around our table. Kindness and good customer service go a long way and they’ve got it down.

We also recommend the restaurant because all the food is just comforting goodness with an upscale twist. If you’re looking for a fun little evening with your friends or significant other, I recommend walking in some of the antique shops and boutiques on W 19th before heading into Harold’s. Grabbing a glass of Sangria and an order of hush puppies, then heading into the restaurant for supper.

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Happy Valentines Day! Some of you may love this holiday and some of you may dread this day every year. To be honest, it isn’t my favorite holiday, but any day that involves candy, chocolate covered strawberries, flowers, and all things pink – I can get on board with. Valentines Day doesn’t have to be a super romantic holiday – it’s not all it is hyped up to be- just celebrate the people you love! I also love that there has been this burst of Galentine’s Day celebrations. What a fun excuse to get all your gal pals together for rosé and sweet treats. We love any reason to celebrate with friends so this new holiday is for sure a favorite of ours!

Another fun way to celebrate is going on a double date. The pals convinced our men that a trip to one of Houston’s staples, House of Pies, was a must for an early Valentine’s celebration! They both have a weakness for sweets, especially pie, so it wasn’t too hard to get them on board. It’s hard to believe that this was my first trip to House of Pies since it is such a Houston classic, but I definitely will be going more frequently now. If you haven’t been yet, trust us, it is a must visit! We just went to get dessert, but they have a full menu if you want to get a meal there as well. The name “House of Pies” really is so fitting because wow they have a TON of different options of pie, fruit pies, meringue pies, cream pies, seasonal pies, specialty pies, cheesecakes, cake cake, and other goodies! There are so many choices that you will have to make multiple trips because there is no way to try them all in one sitting. To make the most of our visit we all ordered something different, one Bayou Goo, one French Silk, one Chocolate Meringue, and of course someone had to be totally different and get cheesecake! We must have all had a craving for chocolate that night because all of our pies had chocolate as the main ingredient.

Everyone wiped their plates clean because we were so pleased with our choices. We had so much fun trying each of these delicious pies and would highly recommend all of them.

Whether you are celebrating Valentine’s Day with your husband, boyfriend, best gal pals, family, or roommates make your way over to House of Pies for a delicious sweet treat! They even have mini pies if you want to get multiple for your little get together! We hope you feel loved and special today – treat yourself to a glass of wine and your favorite sweets – because YOU DESERVE IT!

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Happy New Year Friends!!! We hope you all had a restful and fun holiday season!

We finally made it through January and we just wanted to start off being back with some life updates and everything you can hope to see from us in 2019!

We had a super exciting holiday season filled with weddings, time with family, and lots of laughter with our friends.

In case you are new around here let us tell you a little about ourselves.

Lauren: 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! Lauren married Austin in December at a beautiful winter wedding in Dallas. Austin 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 and the new house! The newlyweds can’t wait to host friends and family at their new home with all the wonderful cheese boards and wine glasses from the registry! A few of Lauren’s favorite things include: chocolate chip cookies, Dr. Pepper, quesadillas, and of course Taylor Swift (her recent concert may or may not be the best night of Lauren’s life besides her wedding day-which of course takes the cake). When it comes to wine and cheese, you can find her sipping on a classic Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Manchego cheese.

Julia: 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 post college (we’re still swooning!) and they are now living in the galleria area. Together, they have been already able to 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. From teaching to the non-profit realm her heart for serving others is prevalent even in her home-life. Coupled with her desire to host, 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.

This year we have a lot of new and exciting things in store for you all. We will be taking you on a food and drink adventure around Houston and some other exciting destinations. While wine and cheese will always be a staple, we are going to focus more on happy hours, hosting at home, and gathering community around the table. We are so excited to share more about ourselves and get to know you as we take this journey together!

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals


Location: Hosting your friends at your home

Recommended time: An evening a week or two before Christmas

The Perfect Pair: A pitcher of bourbon apple cider and a table full of snacks


For the past three years, I’ve thrown a Christmas party and invited quite a few of our friends. For us, hosting is a way where we can bring all the people we love together and spend quality time together. The holidays are a great time to do this, especially before everyone goes and spends time with family. Our friends are family and we love to celebrate our friendships with them this time of year. We also consider hosting to be the sweetest of Christmas gifts. As someone who loves to host, I definitely feel like I get better at the planning, cooking, and setting up every time I do something like this. That’s why we’re doing this today. We would like to give our tips and tricks and menu advice, so that it is easier for you to host a party of your own!

The first thing I do is send out the invites and start thinking of the menu. We like to use Paperless Post for the invite because online invitations are so easy and people are more likely to RSVP. You can totally use Evite or Facebook, or really anything you want. Paperless Post has just been my preference. As people RSVP, I’ll adjust the menu or even consider allergies and preferences for the food and drinks. I’m not saying go crazy, use discretion and maybe let what you know about people help guide what you were already going to provide anyways.

After I make the menu and do all the wonderful shopping, (does anyone love grocery shopping as much as us?!) I make a schedule for when the heck I am going to get it all done. As a Type A person in disguise, this is necessary. I figure out what prepwork I can do earlier in the week or even the day before. Anything to help lessen the the busyness of the day of. The day before, I lay out my table and serving dishes. That way the serving dishes that need it can be cleaned and I can make sure there is a place for everything. Once I have it like I like it, I add in little pieces of paper that say what will go in it. It helps keep me organized day of and not forget something in the fridge. It also makes it so easy if you have someone helping you put it all out.

I tend to go super overboard with food but, oh well! We can eat on the leftovers the next couple of days and I usually send the last people to leave home with a few things as well.


This year I made:

  • A cheese and charcuterie board- a must have for sure!
  • Bacon blue cheese puffs
  • Buffalo chicken sliders
  • A green chile cheese ball
  • A veggie tray and humus
  • Carmelized onion brie phyllo cups
  • Bruschetta
  • Spicy Chipotle Honey Meatballs
  • Dark chocolate cupcakes with peppermint cream cheese frosting
    Peanut butter blossom cookies
  • Dark chocolate cupcakes with peppermint cream cheese frosting
  • Peanut butter blossom cookies


As for drinks we usually have beer, wine, sangria, and a fun cocktail (this year we had two cocktails because we couldn’t decide). As for the beer selection, this year we went Shiner and Miller Light. Shiner because ‘Texas forever’ and it is always good to have a dark and a light beer. If we would have bought more, we would have gone with something Christmasy like St. Arnold’s Christmas Ale. We always make a holiday sangria because it is fun and festive and the fruit always looks so beautiful. As for the wine selection, I buy more red wine than white wine. We typically go with these varieties: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec. There are obviously a million options on what to serve, but those are all of our friends’ favorites, so those are what work for us. If you’re buying multiple bottles of one type, it is totally not necessary to buy different bottles. Find what you like and stick with it. Cocktails. Yummy. We like to pre mix cocktails before the party in pretty pitchers, that way we know exactly how much liquor is going into it. Also we don’t make too much to start, because unlike beer and wine, you’re stuck with what you make and you can always make more. This year we made two bourbon drinks, a bourbon apple cider sour and a whiskey sour with cranberry. We also jazzed up our ice cubes because it makes it look a little nicer.

As far as activities, we always have a white elephant at the end of the night. Completely optional, but always a blast. We do a max of $10 for gifts and people are so creative. It gets a little intense when the stealing is in full force. Also, my perfectly paired pal surprised us with a snapchat filter for the party! It was so exciting to see!

Can’t wait to see all of the wonderful parties y’all host for your friends this holiday season or what tips or ideas you use to help you host a shower or housewarming. The opportunities for hosting are limitless. We’ll be hosting any chance we get and building community one cheese board at a time.

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Location: St. Arnold Beer Garden and Restaurant

Preferred time: Saturday afternoons

The Perfect pair: Mucho Meatcho Pizza and a Christmas Ale (because it’s practically Christmas)

The weather has been Auuuhhh-mazing lately and every Saturday has us looking for a place to spend all day outside. The past few weekends that we’re not outside on our patios drinking wine, going on walks, or playing Spikeball, we’re at Saint Arnold’s Beer Garden and Restaurant drinking beer and watching football with friends.  If you haven’t been there since they recently opened the new outdoor beer garden portion, you are missing out. It really is an amazing setup and the view of downtown Houston is STUNNING. They have long tables, small tables, beer barrels to stand around and honestly little places to post up all over the place. There is also plenty of parking, which is a plus. They’ve even got lawn games like cornhole and Bocce ball, which are so fun when your with a group of friends, or if you want to make some new friends.

One con is that they don’t have tv’s all over the place to watch multiple games at the same time. But we feel this could also be a pro. There are not tv’s all over the place crowding or clouding the incredible view of downtown. Also, it helps you really enjoy your time there with friends, catering your time together to great conversation. There is one massive screen though towards the far side of the space. They always have the biggest game for Houstonians on and we’ve found it so fun to be watching the same game as everyone else there creating a great atmosphere.  

Now for the good stuff. Food and Drink. We honestly love all of Saint Arnold’s beers. Right now, the favorite is the Christmas Ale because it is seasonal and wonderful. Some classics are the Fancy Lawnmower and Santo and are worth a try if you haven’t yet. We also just found out (probably late to the news because…wine is our thang) but Weedwacker has been packaged for the last time. Get it while you can if you can find some still in stores! We ordered pizza because it is the greatest (because cheese), filling shareable and it was so good! We chose the Mucho Meatcho and the Flanders. Both so yum. Would recommend. We also ordered the queso and some good ole french fries and they were great as well. You can walk up to the bar to order, or wait for a waiter or waitress to come to your table. Tabs are on the mobiles they carry around and it is so easy to close out. They also send your order as soon as you place it and it comes to the table way faster than you would expect for the crowd that is there. Makes a huge place like this way less stressful.

If you’re looking for a place to spend a wonderful afternoon one day during your upcoming time off, then this is the place. Have family coming into town and want a place to watch a bowl game and play some lawn games with a beer in your hand while showing off your beautiful city? Also a great place for that. You’ll have a blast.

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

The Perfect Pair

Location: BCK Kitchen & Cocktail Adventures

Recommended Time: Happy Hour!

Perfect Pair: Dr. Feelgood and Mac N’ Cheez It®

Happy Hour is one of our favorite times of the week, but this place really out did themselves. BCK’s whole goal is to make you remember your childhood, whether it is from the menu items that make you feel a little nostalgic or the old movies they have playing in the background. We absolutely loved going to happy hour here! Not only did we leave thinking we needed to come back to try everything on the menu, but it was so fun! The nostalgic menu choices brought about great conversation about our childhood, and let us get to know each other even better than we already did. The servers were also super friendly and had great recommendations on what to order for our first visit. We took all of his suggestions and boy were we satisfied! Our strategy for Happy Hour this week was to order drinks and food that were included in the happy hour specials and then move on to those that weren’t included when happy hour ended. This seems to be a super logical strategy, but this might have been the first time that we really planned this out before ordering.

Happy Hour Drinks!

So let’s get down to what even is on the menu. We ordered the Sweet n’ Sour Meatballs and the Street Corn from the starters during happy hour. The tastes were super different, but oh so good. I’m not usually a huge fan of meatballs, but the sweet and sour sauce on them made them extra tasty. The street corn was absolutely to die for, great flavors of corn and cheese and whatever cream they put on top. When happy hour ended (at 6pm), we switched to items that were not included in the happy hour specials. We ordered what quickly became our favorite side, the Mac N’ Cheez It. It was so good we ordered 2 of them. Think your favorite creamy, cheesy macaroni and cheese topped with a classic childhood snack of Cheez It’s®. We also ordered the burger to round out our “super healthy” meal. It was a good old fashioned burger, nothing too fancy about it, but you don’t need to mess with a classic burger. We were too full to try anything else, but there was so much more we wanted to try – especially some of the desserts.

The Dr. Feelgood!

Now onto the drinks, even these bring back your childhood! My favorite soda still to this day is Dr. Pepper, so when we saw a cocktail that had DP in it and came in a DP can – we could not resist. Sadly, the Dr. Feelgood, as BCK has cleverly named it, is not on the happy hour menu. We ordered things from the HH menu first, but then moved on to the fun twist on a Dr. Pepper. The happy hour menu includes classic cocktails like the Moscow Mule, Sazerac, Negroni, Old Fashioned, and some other staples. We went for the Mule and Negroni and enjoyed them a lot. For other drinks that are not included in Happy Hour, they throw it back to your childhood with an adult twist. One of these cocktails has Orange Crush, one with Captain Crunch Milk, and of course our favorite Dr. Pepper.

Cheers!

We absolutely loved BCK and can’t wait to go back. From the delicious menu items, friendly and helpful staff, and the atmosphere perfect for reminiscing on the good old days, this new Heights hot spot is for sure going to make the regular rotation.

Where are you going for happy hour this week?!

Peace and Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Location: Home Sweet Home!

Perfect Pair: Friends, Wine, and Sweet Potato Casserole

The best holiday of the year is finally here, and we refuse to skip over it like some people are starting to do. Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday for gathering around the table, having great conversation, and just spending time with friends and family! We love Thanksgiving because there isn’t the pressure of what gifts to buy or the perfect wrapping, but rather a time for good food and good wine. We also love the new trend of Friendsgiving. Another reason to celebrate this fun holiday, and this time with friends.

We have been doing Friendsgiving with our friends for the past three years and think we have it down to a science. Here’s how to throw the PERFECT Friendsgiving:

First, find a place to host. It can be just about anywhere – apartments, homes, backyards, or even the park. You don’t even have to have a table to sit around – sometimes sitting on the floor in a circle eating off paper plates can be even better than nice plates at a table. Last year we even pulled up 20 chairs around a ping pong table!

Don’t Forget the Wine!

Next, invite your friends and come up with a list of the things you want people to bring. We have found that the best way to organize this and avoid having 10 green bean casseroles is to have a Google Doc. We like to put a list of items including, turkey, sides, salad, rolls, desserts, etc. then let everyone sign up for what they would like to bring. We have also found that it is helpful to be specific with which sides we are bringing, but we are always sure to include the classics. Our friends are known to go all out for this kind of thing and we will get quite the variety of sides and family recipes. It is so fun to be able to try everyone’s favorite dish from growing up. It also is a great way to get to know about each person’s family traditions and the way they celebrated this special holiday. Of course, any gathering would not be complete without wine. This year everyone brought their favorite wine, a great way to try new things!

Last, ENJOY! This is such a fun day and should be a relaxed way to celebrate the holiday. Don’t worry about the perfect outfit, the fancy decorations, or any other little details. The important thing about this celebration is that you are with friends. The food will be great, the wine should be flowing, and the laughs will follow close behind.

A very happy plate!

We wish you the Happiest Thanksgiving filled with full stomachs, full plates, laughs, and great memories!

Let us know what your favorite things are about the holiday and any tips and tricks for hosting a Friendsgiving!

Peace and Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Location: The Classic All Day

Preferred time: A late happy hour that turns into dinner

The Perfect Pair: Black and White Hummus and a bottle of the Colomé Malbec

File_001The Classic All Day is a relatively new eatery in town located right on Washington Ave. It replaced Benjy’s, (don’t worry the Benjy’s in Rice Village is still open) as a new concept from the restaurateur Benjy Levit. He is also behind Local Foods, a lunch and dinner staple for us. Each place reminiscent of the other, but with different vibes. The Classic has a retro feel. The best way for us to put it into words is that we felt we needed a special occasion to go to Benjy’s for dinner, which is part of the reason we always just went there for happy hour, but Classic feels like it could be for a special occasion dinner OR a wonderful place to casually show up if you didn’t feel like cooking. The dishes at The Classic, although they have flavors from all over the world, feel homey and comfortable. You can order anything from a classic burger to Mushroom Casarecci to Steak Frites.

File_006

The Pals went to the Classic for a happy hour that turned into staying for dinner… classic. For starters, we ordered the Black and White Hummus and the Crispy Brussel Sprouts. The hummus was wonderful! The pickled veggies on top really brightened it up and made it feel like a full fledged snack. The pita bread that it came with was also sooooo good. It also seems to have come with enough Pita. We hate when the ratio is off and it seems that it always is! Does anyone else hate it when there aren’t enough crackers, chips, or bread pieces to even finish the dip!?! It’s the worst and we’re so glad it didn’t happen here. Plenty of pita for all the yummy goodness. The brussels sprouts were fantastic. We know not everyone is a fan of brussels sprouts and until about 2 years ago we pretty much were stubbornly avoiding them at all costs. Now, we are obsessed and have them any chance we get. Bonus: ordering them at a restaurant is great because your house won’t smell from you cooking them! Okay, so back to their brussels sprouts. They are covered in yummy goodies like honey-balsamic, gruyere cheese, and pomegranate seeds. They are a little sweeter than anticipated, but we recommend you order them because they rock.

File_007Drinks. Of course we are going to talk about drinks. They have tasty cocktails that range from $9-$12, beer, and wine by the glass, 2 glass bottle, or bottle. Happy hour runs from 4-7pm.  The variety of drinks on their happy hour is great. They have glasses of wine, bottles of wine, beer, and cocktails all at reduced prices. We did end up ordering our bottle of wine off of the wine list and not the happy hour due to the two bottles on happy hour not fitting what we were looking for taste wise and we did want the full bottle. We will have to go back and order the Gin and Juice on the happy hour though, we are so intrigued!

For dinner, we split the classic burger.It was delicious and perfect for us to split after the shareables for the table. Delicious. It hit the spot for sure. We are big fans of a classic burger and this fit the bill.

File_009

Peace & Pinot,

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Location: King’s BierHausIMG-0175

Recommended Time: Happy Hour of course!

Perfect Pair: Charcuterie Board and Frosé

 

This week we are taking you on a trip to Germany, and by Germany we mean a very German bar in the Heights. This place is authentic as it gets: the staff wear lederhosen, the owner is from Germany and has the coolest accent you’ve ever heard, and there are so many choices of beer you could stay there all night. And to make things even better, they have an awesome beer garden!

 

IMG-0177
This is the perfect place for large groups because the tables both inside and outside are large picnic tables that are great for any size group. And hey, if your group is small then you can make some new friends at the other end of the table!

 


Happy Hour lasts from 3pm to 6pm Monday thru Friday, and offers some great deals for you to enjoy. $5 Specialty Bites, $6 Beers, and $7 Cocktails. You can’t get much better than that. The Pals always order the Giant Bier Pretzel, but this time we tried something new but not all that surprising for us – the charcuterie board. This charcuterie board is not your average board, it is served on the giant bier pretzel! How cool is that!? The cheeses IMG-0178were all delicious, and while the meats were not our absolute favorites, the ratio was perfect. They also include their famous spread that is to die for. The charcuterie board is not a part of happy hour but at $18 it is a pretty good deal for the amount of food you get. This week we also ordered the fried mac and cheese balls. You can never have too much cheese, and these were absolutely worth any extra carbs with the perfect ratio of mac to cheese. Since we are typically wine girls, we started with the Frosé, which is a staple in our rotation, and then moved to trying things off the vast list of beer options. They have options that most everyone would like, even those of you who don’t like beer at all. And back to how authentic King’s is, here is a pic of one of the pals enjoying the same beer in Germany at
Hofbräu.

IMG_1728

King’s also has themed trivia nights which are so much fun! Last fall, we went for Harry Potter trivia night and loved every minute of it. People were so into it with costumes, all while drinking their authentic butter beer While we thought we were Harry Potter experts, we quickly learned that there were a lot of things that we didn’t know and that there were a lot of other people that did. This didn’t stop us from having a great time. Check King’s calendar to find out when the next trivia night is!

 

We hope you have a great week and spend some time outside in the beautiful weather!

 

Peace and Pinot,

 

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Location: The Kitchen at The Dunlavy

Recommended time: Brunch (but early brunch– some might say breakfast)

The Perfect Pair: Suroeste Bowl and a Mimosa

 
dunlavy

Eating a wonderful meal in a glass room filled with countless sparkly chandeliers surrounded by lush trees sounds like it couldn’t be anything but a dream. It’s not a dream though. It’s here in Houston. It also doesn’t cost a million dollars to eat there. The Kitchen at the Dunlavy is open from 7am-2pm with lunch starting at 11. We recommend you go for an early brunch, or just breakfast when going on the weekend because boy, it fills up fast. The line to give your order at the counter can get pretty long if you come after about 9:45. However, take a seat and your food will be there shortly. The tables are huge, so feel free to make new friends and share with another group.

 

dunlavytable

Now for what to order. The food is just a pretty as the venue. We are obsessed with the Suroeste Bowl. It has cilantro rice, beans, skillet potatoes, elote, avocado, cotija, pico, and a fried egg– Everything us Texas gals love. Another item that is a MUST HAVE is the rosemary goat cheese biscuit with honey butter. This is up in the window at the counter and last time we went was our first time to order it. I’ll be honest, the only reason it was added to the order was because the lady behind us in line told us right before we ordered that if we didn’t order that biscuit we would regret it forever because it is the best thing that ever was. At the time we thought she was being dramatic. She wasn’t. It is a must order!. Also pictured is the Autumn Warm Grain Bowl. It was yummy and filling with the right amount of sweet from the honey and bee pollen and tart from the pears. This trendy and picturesque spot for millennials wouldn’t be complete without Avocado Toast and it does not disappoint. Listed as the Avocado Tartine, this fun take on the typical toast will make all your avocado and runny egg dreams come true.

 

 

Don’t worry, we weren’t going to forget about the mimosas! They’ve got your favorite breakfast cocktail on lock and they are on point. Order by the glass or by the carafe to share! They also have a full bar, so feel free to order whatever your heart desires. Mine usually wants a spicy Bloody Mary. 🙂 This past trip we just ordered coffee. It’s great coffee and you can refill your mug over and over again. As part Gilmore girl, a full cup of coffee is something that I always support.

girlsdunlavy

 

This post is all about breakfast and brunch, but there is something that we have to mention. The Kitchen at The Dunlavy closes at 2 everyday because it is available to book for special events. This swoon-worthy event space could be all yours for whatever party or event you want to host. **Cue “What Dreams Are Made Of”- Hilary Duff** Sometimes when there are no events going on, they do pop up happy hours. The drink prices are not necessarily what we would call “happy hour” prices, but with the setting, delicious drinks, and tasty light bites it’s a great spot. Be sure to keep up to date with their schedule online so you don’t miss one!

 

Lauren and Julia

 

This place is just fantastic for birthdays or celebrations of any sort and a great place to take out of town guests to get a feel for Houston with the Bayou in sight. We hope to see you there and order us a rosemary biscuit! 🙂

 

Peace and Pinot,

 

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Location: Calle OnzeIMG-0004

Recommended Time: Happy Hour!

Perfect Pair: House Margarita and Guacamole

 

Tried a new hot spot this week and we were not disappointed! While we didn’t have wine or cheese at happy hour this week, we enjoyed our time outside on the most perfect outdoor patio. Some things never change. The temps are FINALLY cooling down here in Houston, and we couldn’t be happier. As you know we LOVE sitting outside, so this spot is perfect for us! If you like places with a trendy vibe and great cocktails then you have to go to Calle Onze!

 

IMG-0003Happy Hour lasts from 4-6 every day and there are some great deals you won’t want to miss. The basic cocktails are only $6 during happy hour. These include the House
Margarita, Frozen Margarita, Mexican Mule, Mojito, Paloma, Sangria, and a Calle Onze specialty. We tried the margaritas and palomas; and boy were we pleased. Based on these two drinks we don’t think you can go wrong with any of their cocktails. Next time we want to for sure try the Sangria.

 

While the food is not on special during Happy Hour, it is a must to have something to IMG-0008snack on while having a delicious drink. Calle Onze does a great job making sure all their food pairs well with the plethora of drink options. We ordered a few different things that were all crowd pleasers. First we ordered the guacamole, because come on it seems wrong to have a margarita without some guac. Even with a smaller group, we finished it off in what seemed like 30 seconds. If it doesn’t last longer than 1 minute on the table, that’s when you know it’s good. Next we ordered the quesadillas. Fun fact about me, my absolute favorite food is quesadillas. I could eat them every meal for the rest of my life. So for that reason, I feel I am a bit of a snob when it comes to my favorite food. These were really good! The portion is a little small so you may be best to have it as an app and not your whole meal, but if you weren’t starving it would be enough for a light dinner! The last thing we ordered was the oysters. We know not everyone is a fan of oysters, or you have a particular way that you like them cooked, and oysters can be very expensive. We found these to be reasonably priced and quite delicious. There were lots of other things in the dinner menu we want to go back and try!

IMG-0011

If you’re looking for a great outdoor patio for the beautiful fall weather that will eventually make its way to Houston, check out Calle Onze. This is different than our normal spot, but just may have earned a place in the happy hour rotation.

 

Where are you going to Happy Hour this week? We are always looking for new places to try!

 

Peace & Pinot,

 

The Perfectly Paired Pals

Location: Sonoma Wine Bar

Recommended time: Happy Hour

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

 

sonoma menu

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.

 

 

 

sonomapizza

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.

 
sonomacheese

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

IMG-0023

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!

IMG-0043

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

seasonal sips

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.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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.

sangriapour

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!

 

brie

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.
pic 6

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

 

IMG-0221

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.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

 

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.

 

IMG-0213

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.

 

IMG-0190

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.

IMG-0199

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.

img_0176.jpg

 

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.

img_0146-1.jpg IMG-1959 IMG_0021

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.

IMG-1961

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!

IMG_0371

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.

 

 

img-1951.jpg

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!

 
Processed with VSCO with a2 presetSpeak the Cheese Language

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.

 

Processed with VSCO with a2 preset

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!

 

Processed with VSCO with a8 preset

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

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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

 

backstreet sangria.png

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.

Backstreet apps

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.

backstreet-fig-galette.png

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!

Rose Blog 3

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!

Rose Blog 1

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!

Rose Blog 2

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!

Rose Blog 5

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!

Rose Blog 4

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.

 

WineMFAH

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.

 

MFAHBambu

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

 

heightscheeese

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.

heightsLandJ

“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

 

Processed with VSCO with a8 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

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.

So, Why Tiny Boxwoods?                                                              Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

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.

Crisp breat

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.

crisp cheese

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

 

Crisp card

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

TJintro

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.

 

TJpastrybites
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.

 

TJflowers

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.

TJfinal

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.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

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.

IMG-0739

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