PELI PELI AND IN PURSUIT OF BALANCE

Last week, my husband and I were invited to attend the soft opening of Peli Peli’s second restaurant, located inside the Galleria at 5085 Westheimer in the space formerly occupied by Gigi’s Asian Bistro.  Peli Peli’s popular original restaurant, located at 110 Vintage Park Blvd., is in the Tomball/Spring-Cypress area, and was always just a little too far for us, so we were excited to have one closer to home.

Peli Peli, which means bird’s-eye chili, is a spice that was discovered centuries ago in South Africa.  Per the restaurant’s website, “Peli Peli’s cuisine, known as South African Fusion, features authentic South African delicacies along with American steak, chicken and seafood favorites that are prepared in Chef Paul Friedman’s South African style. This style includes marinades, seasonings and spices used in South African cuisine with Dutch, Portuguese and Asian influences.”

The interior is striking:

The bar was packed:

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We chose a South African chardonnay to have with dinner:

IMG_6012We tried two different salads to start.  The Caesar Salad was a fairly traditional Caesar Salad, presented with a pretty little cheesecloth-wrapped lemon, and the Peli-Peli Salad was made up of fresh field greens and baby spinach, topped with red onion, shaved carrots, red cabbage, tomato, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and caramelized pecans, tossed in a strawberry balsamic vinaigrette.  Both were fresh and smartly dressed:

For our appetizer we had the Stuffed Mushrooms, meaty little morsels stuffed with “secret breading,” herbs, and spices, topped with a mild, creamy sauce:

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For our entrees, we sampled the Peli Peli Shrimp Scampi–shrimp sautéed in a spicy Peli-Peli butter sauce, served on a bed of rice pilaf:

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And the Chilean Sea Bass, pan-seared in a Peli-Peli butter sauce, served on a bed of sautéed spinach, topped with a lemon butter sauce, which was our favorite dish of the evening:

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We each had a choice of two sides, and chose (clockwise from upper left) Carrot Bredie, Sautéed Baby Spinach, Couscous Extravaganza, and Mango Coleslaw:

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For dessert we shared a delicious Sticky Toffee Pudding, a moist cake, smothered with homemade sticky toffee, and topped with vanilla ice cream (maybe they should call it Licky Toffee Pudding, because believe me, you’re gonna want to lick every last drop of that toffee sauce off the plate):

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We really enjoyed our meal, from the stunning décor, to the eager staff, to the well-executed food.  For April, the restaurant is by reservation only (tip:  make your graduation dinner reservations now!).

Last night we attended another special event — In Pursuit of Balance, or IPOB, which was held for the first time in Texas.  IPOB describes itself as “a non-profit organization founded in 2011 to promote dialogue around the meaning of balance in California pinot noir and chardonnay.”  Thirty-one of the thirty-three member IPOB wineries were present to share tastings of their pinot noirs and chardonnays.  I sampled a lot of great wines, and I’ll leave the descriptions of those wines to those more knowledgeable than myself.  But there were also some beautiful small plates from a variety of Texas restaurants, including:

Dry-aged strip loin with Peruvian purple mashed potatoes, wild mushrooms, and blackberry demi from Pappas Bros. Steakhouse:

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Korean Braised Goat and Dumplings from Underbelly:

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Cobia with Cedar and Oyster Mushrooms, from my favorite chefs at Pass & Provisions:

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Dill-Cured Atlantic Salmon with Avocado Mousse, Fennel, Seeded Cracker, Lime, Chile, and Herbs from Pax Americana:

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Lamb Tartare from laV in Austin (love the presentation):

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Savory Bread Pudding with Mascarpone, Spinach, Mushrooms, Pine Nuts, and Pork Debris from Backstreet Café:

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Comte Grilled Cheese with Mixed Seafood Salad and Watercress from Mark’s American Cuisine:

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And Country-Style Paté from FT33 in Dallas:

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On the way out, there were also beautiful chocolates from Cacao & Cardamom:

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This was a great event, especially for wine lovers, and it was pretty exciting to have it here in Houston.

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BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLES

You were going to do it, weren’t you?  You were going to let me be the only blogger that didn’t post a recipe for pickled something or other.  Nice.  Just for that, no twine around the jar for you.  And no stripey straws either.

Living in Houston, the only thing I’m growing this time of year is dried herbs.  So unlike those of you who have so many cucumbers, zucchini, and tomatoes overflowing from your garden that you don’t know what to do with them, I have to buy mine.  And when I see fat little Kirby cucumbers at the farmers market, I am compelled to pickle.  Did you know (or care) that “Kirby cucumber” is a generic term used to describe small (6-7 inches) cucumbers?  Once upon a time, however, there was such a thing as actual Kirby cucumbers, which were varieties developed by Norval E. Kirby in the 1920s.   Kirby cucumbers are unwaxed to prevent interference with pickling.  They tend to be crisper and have fewer seeds than other cucumbers, which also makes them good for pickling.

This recipe for Bread and Butter Pickles was passed on to me by my Dad, who said it came from the New York Times a few decades ago.  It’s easy to make, and the pickles are especially good on sandwiches.

BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLES
Print
Recipe type: Vegetable, Vegetarian
Author:
Ingredients
  • 6 medium Kirby cucumbers, sliced ¼" thick
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seed
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
Instructions
  1. Place cucumbers and onion in a large bowl and toss with salt. Add enough water to cover, and soak for 30 minutes. Drain, but do not rinse. Pack cucumbers and onions into a quart jar.
  2. Place sugar, vinegar, 3 tablespoons water, mustard seed, celery seed, and turmeric in a small saucepan over high heat, and heat until boiling. Carefully pour over cucumbers. Set jar aside to cool, then refrigerate.

IMG_5172Toss the cucumbers and onion with Kosher salt 

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Cover with water and let soak for a bit

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 Stuff them in a quart jar

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Pickles!