My mom flew in from NC to visit for Annelise's birthday this past weekend. (Dedicated bday post coming!) But first, some Houstonian highlights we shared...
We went straight from the airport to Pondicheri, one of the top-rated restaurants in Houston! It's Indian fusion...and I won't lie, Indian scares me; but Trader Joe's has actually helped me give it a chance. I do not like strong curry or cumin, but I've discovered I can happily handle butter chicken (it's at the ultimate top of my spice threshold) and I LOVE chicken tikka masala & paneer tikka masala! I ordered the Butter Chicken Salad: local greens tossed with crisp lentils, blueberries, chevre, & radishes on top of butter chicken = divine! Check out the lunch + dinner menu: http://www.pondichericafe.com/menu [I have a thing for menus. I find them fascinating! I never want to hand back my menu, even after I order. :-P] No, I don't know what 50% of the stuff on there is, but yes, I'm excited for next time! :-D
Now, what REALLY got us to go there, aside from the top rating, is Pondicheri's Bake Lab. It's getting more national buzz than the restaurant, and their baked goods are AMAZING! I first learned about them via their Chai Pie being featured on a Food Network show & went with my friend, Jen; this time, my mom & I dove into EVERYTHING: chocolate chili cookies, chocolate hazelnut cookies, ginger cloud cookies, lemon square cookies, chocolate rice pudding, crackballs, and now I'm officially obsessed with the Pondi Bars, made from housemade chevda (an Indian trail mix of rice crisps, peanuts, raisins and pumpkin seeds) and held together by gooey marshmallows. Yes:
My other biggest joyful recommendation is Triple Tree Center. It's a "reflexology center" (read: massage place!) in Chinatown (Bellaire & Wilcrest). If you know anything about Houston's Chinatown, you know there is a foot massage joint (or 3 or 4) on literally EVERY SINGLE block. For several miles. No lie. And most of them look...sketchy. How did I find/choose TTC? To be honest, a sweet & über-preppy friend was taken by one of her native Asian friends, and she raved! I knew if it was deemed clean & acceptable to her, we'd be safe! :-P Sealing the deal? $30 for a 60-minute massage. YES:
a 180° reclining sofa chair. You begin with your feet soaking in warm water while your therapist spends 15 minutes massaging your head, ears, neck, arms, & hands. All of this happens in total silence - there's NO TALKING, which honestly is a godsend for me: I'm such an extrovert, I feel very uncomfortable *not* talking to someone when it's an option, and I can't tell you how many massages, manis, & pedis I've "wasted" b/c I can't shut up & relax. (I am getting much better at this in general, though; thank you, Yin yoga.) Because I also love following rules, I get great pleasure from not being allowed to converse here; the pressure is off, and I actually let go. Next, they spend 30 full minutes on your feet and legs, before you flip over for the last 15 minutes of shoulders, back, & lower back. Just...heaven. You leave quietly with a bottle of water...and probably drive in silent bliss back to your home area. ;-)
Any friends who want to come visit, these can sooo be on our agenda. :-D Just give the word...
Stay tuned for the ranch birthday party & our Sunday trip to Austin!