Category Archives: Food

Leung Tasting Video

And because I was off tonight…



Chris Leung Dessert Tasting 11/20/11

Another successful private dinner at 1834 Westheimer.  This time with Houston Pastry Chef Chris Leung.  Chris has been in our kitchen before, but this was the first time for him to run the show.  And this time Rucker was the helping hand.  I believe the conat crew has great comradery.  Its fun to watch them work together.  They’ve been through a lot together, and they’re stronger for it.

Chris sent out 5 gorgeous dessert tastings, Rucker added 2 delicious savory vegetable courses.  The Paulie’s Barista crew paired coffee beverages, beer and Italian sodas for the guests.  That crew consisting of Marshall Guthrie, Josh Busby, and Dean Tryst.

These dinners are always fun, and important for culinary growth in our city.  Without a venue to perform, young chefs cant fine tune their skills.  Nor will patrons have the opportunity to experience their skills.  Im proud to have hosted all of the talent I have over the past 3 years:  Randy Rucker, Seth Siegel-Gardner, Justin Yu, Michael Gaspard, Amanda McGraw, Mark Clayton, Chris Leung, David Buehrer, Aaron Lara, Jon Hone, Julio Hernandez and several other young talented industry folk.  Paulie’s parking lot has also hosted a few Food Truck events, including a couple of Modular’s first outings.

From an industry insider to you, let me tell you how special 2012 is going to be for Houston.  I can never say enough about this generation’s Food & Beverage professionals.  This city is changing, but not without hard work and persistence.  2012 is the year of Houston.  Promise you that.

Coming Christmas Eve will be Ned Elliott from Foreign & Domestic in Austin.  Ned will be offering the Feast of Seven Fishes.  Click link for more info, dont miss this one!



And now visual enjoyment…


Try off the beaten path for Thanksgiving!

We have selected a number of small, artisinal producers from Italy to pair with traditional American Thanksgiving fare. Crazy, right? Crazy like a fox! All of these carefully crafted wines will change everything you think about Thanksgiving wine pairing. The quality that comes from small family wineries where they own their land, grow their grapes themselves and make their wines painstakingly by hand is unmatched. The only thing better than these wines will be the Football on TV.

2008 Montepeloso “Eneo” (Tuscany)

A wine that will make you stop, look at your fellow guests and say: “Whoa”. Staggering complexity with an array of red fruit, floral notes and that gorgeous aroma of Tuscan countryside. (Trust me, smell the wine. You will get what I mean.)

For those that are into ratings…

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (Antonio Galloni) : “The 2008 Eneo literally sparkles on the palate with vibrant red fruit, freshly cut flowers and spices. It shows remarkable tension and delineation all the way through to the resonant finish. This is a striking wine in every way. Floral notes reappear on the finish, along with iron, smoke and ferrous notes, all of which add considerable complexity. This is a dazzling effort from proprietor Fabio Chiarellotto. It is composed of 40% Montepulciano, 35% Sangiovese, 15% Marselan and 10% Alicante Bouschet. 93pts.”

2008 Foradori Teroldego Rotaliano (Trentino)

I am going to simply say this: Take a sip of this wine. Have a bite of your turkey. Enjoy a life changing Experience. You are welcome.

For those that are into ratings…

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (Antonio Galloni) : “The 2008 Teroldego Rotaliano shows terrific purity and focus. The 2008 is a more cool, reserved vintage of this wine, with less exuberance, but plenty of drive and length. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2014.

Elisabetta Foradori continues to set a very high bar in Trentino and the rest of Italy, for that matter. 89pts.”

The Pinot Noir you will be talking about at every holiday party you attend. Graceful, subtle and stylish, who knew that the Dolomites would be producing Pinot Noir like this? Simply exquisite.

2008 Damilano Nebbiolo d’Alba (Piedmont)

With Thanksgiving you need a wine that is strong enough to stand up to the richness of gravy, have good acid to cut through the sweetness of sweet potato and cranberry and subtle tannin to pair with the Turkey. This super-flexible wine prooves yet again why Nebbiolo just might be the best all around red wine for food.

Flour + Water meets MJ

In case you missed this last week from my recent trip to San Fran.

Mama se mama sa mama cu sa

Day (and a half) Tripping to San Francisco

Sometimes when I need to clear the head and re-charge, I just take off.  Leaving my home, my job and my city most of the time puts things back into perspective.  Late Friday night after a tremendous service, I speed over to House of Blues to meet old friends for one of our fave performers, Warren Haynes.  I was hoping this would re-charge me so I wouldnt have to pony up for hotel and flights.  Nope.

Soon after I arrived home in the wee hours of the AM,  I sent out a Twitter message asking which domestic city would most people choose if only for a weekend.  I received Chicago, San Francisco, Kansas City, Portland, Louisville, Memphis, Seattle, NYC and a few other randoms.  I did a quick search for flights, considering times available and price, and arrived at San Francisco.  Booked.  I was leaving in 6 hours.  Shit, need to get to bed.

Now I realize there are dozens of establishments that I would love to try, but I only have one day.  And its raining balls.  Ive heard a lot of good things about Flour + Water.  Mostly that they make all their own pasta dough, and it comes out pretty good.  Thats right up my alley.  Im a little different when it comes to choosing a restaurant.  I usually stray from the obvious.  Although Id like a good meal, I dont need the stuffiness.  Plus I can take away many other things from a restaurant than just the food.  Location, entrance door, lighting, smells, music, servers, tables, chairs, floors, kitchen view, flatware, I could go on…glassware, buzz, name, logo, I mean I could do this all day…ceiling fans, busy table, color coordination, menu material, cleanliness, soap in bathroom, Its a sickness really.

Flour + Water was Italian, artisan and well designed.  I waited for close to an hour for a seat at the bar that looked straight through to the kitchen.











Well worth the wait.  I had the pasta tasting with All Italian wine pairings.  Perfect.  Cant wait to go back.


Directly before, I made a point to trek through the rain to get a coffee at Four Barrel.  Another gorgeous establishment doing fine work.












Did I come back with a clear head?  Dont think so, but it sure was fun!  Trying to kill hours at the airport and on planes, I had the opportunity to finish Grant Achatz book, Life, On the Line.  It was a perfect birthday gift.  Pretty inspiring in itself.  Must read for any chef and/or restaurateur.  Real shit.

I also realized I am now the guy in the restaurant with a huge camera.  What is happening to me?  I can attest, it was work related.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for

Sunday Wine Dinner with Michael Gaspard & Julio Hernandez

Welcome back everyone to Sunday Dinner at Paulie’s.  This time we are inviting Michael Gaspard into the house to do his thing, along side his old buddy and our new Wine Director, Julio Hernandez.

The theme will be Italian, as expected.  Italian flavors with Italian wines.

I am excited to have Gaspard back in the house.  Last time we worked together was for Linda’s Block Party several months ago, where he stole the show of course.

This time around we are just having fun!

Hope to see as many of you as possible!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Paulie’s Restaurant – 1834 Westheimer Rd.


Cost will be $100, this INCLUDES Julio’s brilliant wine pairings.  You may BYOB if you wish, but everyone will be receiving a pairing regardless.

We would like to limit seating to 25.

Proposed menu:



 fennel sformato, fall tomato, parmigiano



onion, crispy tripe, soft herbs


 raviolo, veal cheek, mushrooms, rapini agro-dolce


 slow braised pork, local polenta, caramelized whey


 Urban Harvest Market Fruit, Texas Madeira Zabaglione


Post Sunday Dinner with Mark Clayton

Going into this, I knew Mark was a workhorse.  I’ve had the luxury to get to know him through industry events and dinners such as last Sunday.  I had always heard he would work 14 hour days, never stopping to sit and enjoy a meal himself.  This work ethic instantly gets my respect, mostly because it reminds me of myself.  Its refreshing to see young cooks who embrace the demand of the game.

But what I hadn’t realized before last Sunday was that Mark has serious skills.  And has skills in an art that is near and dear to my heart, homemade pasta.  This isn’t easy and demands time and patience.  Patience was something else I noticed about Mark in the kitchen.  It is very easy for cooks to lose focus and get flustered as crunch time nears.  Mark never lost his cool. Chris Leung made an equally chill sous.  Great qualities all around.  Going to be a big player at restaurant conat.

Also want to thank Julio Hernandez for the gorgeous Italian wine pairings.  We have some great stuff in house right now through his recommendations.

Also want to thank the dynamic Barista couple Patrick and Candace for the refreshing iced coffee beverage.


Sunday’s Menu can be found on previous blog post.


Below are a few images from Sunday’s dinner courtesy of food lover and buddy, Randy Ho.

Sunday Dinner with Mark Clayton

Wine pairings are posted below for those joining us on Sunday for Mark’s hand-made pastas.

Wine pairing option will be $50.

We will also have several Italian selections by the bottle a la carte.

Sunday Dinner

September 18, 2011



puffed pasta

marinara, buttermilk ricotta, capers & basil

NV BISOL “Jeio” Cuvée Rosé (Veneto)


pasta salad

buckwheat, pickled cabbage stems, mushroom, apple, cilantro & chile

2010 CANTINA DEL TABURNO Greco (Campania)


tortellini “en brodo”

sweet potato, ham, pickled collards & toasted walnut

2010 CANTINA DEL TABURNO Greco (Campania)


”medieval lasagna”

fermented wheat, anchovy, onion & thyme

2009 SCARPETTA Barbera del Monferrato (Piedmont)



lasagne verdi al forno (lasagna of Emilia-Romagna)

ragu alla bolognese, bechamel, parmesan & balsamic vinegar

CLETO CHIARLI Lambrusco Enrico Cialdini Secco (Emilia-Romagna)


spaghetti ai frutti di mare

spaghetti, gulf seafood, charred tomato, garlic & herbs

2008 SUAVIA Soave Classico “Monte Carbonare” (Veneto)


parisian style gnocchi

japanese squash, maple, apple cider vinegar & cardamom

2010 SARACCO Moscato D’Asti (Piedmont)