Perfectly Paired

happy hours / hosting / friendship

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