Aimless Chef: Houston's Ultimate Top 3 - Pizza

Posted by The Aimless Chef | Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ranked listicles are to the blogosphere as SirRon is to Eating Our Words. (Second most "liked." Who would have guessed?) We looove lists here at The Ferm. We also eat pizza. You see what we're getting at?

To keep you away from that dreadful hot dog stuffed crust thing from Pizza Hut (j/k PH. Call me, boo), we proudly present to you...

Houston's Ultimate Top 3 - Pizza

If there is anything more widely debated than how to solve our nation’s health care problem, it is where to find the best pizza pie. How funny because -- well, we don’t want to spoil the fat joke by giving you the punch line. If we told you once, we told you in a tweet and in our last Top 3 listicle; Grimaldi’s in Sugar Land serves up the best pies in the Houston metro area. Despite being but a suburban franchised copy of the real Grimaldi’s (located under the Brooklyn Bridge), during your visit you will most likely forget you have those three kids, two dogs, and that Chinese dwarf hamster when you get a mouthful of sausage and roasted red pepper pie. But more seriously, if we didn’t have such a drinking problem, we’d only need one place on this list. Luckily, La Vista makes a great, relatively inexpensive pizza AND they are BYO. I’m just saying, when we B our O, we B the good stuff. Sometimes we stay at the "office" a "little late" though, and it is those days that we are glad someone invented fourth meal. Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza not only represents the only remnant of the glorious Taco Light shells, but they also probably started the fusion cuisine movement. Wikipedia will probably confirm.

As always, comments are appreciated. Ladies, please use my soft taco recipe post to leave your digits. Live Más.

EDITOR’S NOTE: WE AREN’T SURE VAUGHN IS TAKING HIS FOOD WRITING ASSIGNMENTS FOR THE BLOG SERIOUSLY. FOURTH MEAL!? WE ARE ALL IN THE SAME GANG AT THE FERM, SO last but not least, we can’t leave these joints out – we know three at least, we need to point out – we’re not trying to tell you what to do – but we care what you eat is not poo poo – first off, Bombay’s pie, my oh my, is can’t miss – the cilantro-mint chutney will grant bliss – (“oh I just can’t bear the smell of curry!”) – get your picky self to Pizaro’s, hurry – it’s BYO, and so is our last – this one you can eat on your grass – Totino’s, we keep a stock in our Subzero – take notes and you’ll be indeed...... a pizza hero. /mic drop

It's that time again, for the first time in two years, contributors to "The Ferm" and selected guests will participate in the "Anything" Mock Draught.  The traditional timing of the draft is to coincide with the NFL draft, since sports fans this time of year are inundated with 40 times, Wonderlic scores, vertical leaps, and draft day trade possibilities.  Well the same can be said for the anything mock draft, we've seen participants trade up, I guarantee you our panel of "experts" has been feverishly scouting everything for 24 months now.

A note on why there wasn't a 2011 "Anything" Mock Draught.  It was with heavy hearts that the decision was made that there was no way the spirit of the draught could be upheld in light of the NFL lockout.  So with unanimous consent, we stood arm in arm with the NFL Players Union and joined the fight for their right to buy sports cars, mansions, and go clubbing with heat without worrying about their bank accounts.

For our draft, we do our best to stay within our wheelhouse (that being the drinking universe) and to make it fun. The list of rules is small.
  1. The draft consists of three rounds (format is top to bottom, top to bottom -- not snake).
  2. The pick (or description) must be drinking related in some way.
  3. Picks from previous drafts are off the board.
 We are not an exclusive "league." Guest drafters are encouraged. Anyone wanting a pick can leave a comment on this post, drop us an email, or tweet at us and you'll be slotted in the draft. Over the next few days we will start an open thread, which will be used for announcements and comments on the current and previous draft.

As a kickoff to this years draught, I thought it appropriate to analyze the first two years draughts now that there's been opportunity for emotion to be removed, and real value assessed.  Specifically, we're going to look at each participants ability to fill the positions of food, beer, wine, spirits, and lagniappe (what extra things do your picks bring).  Analysis will also be done on the cohesiveness of the team (how elements can be combined).

And special guest Dr. Drew Pinsky will provide a psychoanalysis of each draughter in light of what their selection reveal about them.

Please use the following references if you want to see more specifics of the previous two draughts:

So without further ado, in no particular order whatsoever:
Draughter: Two Pints (@pig1ett2000)

Best Pick: Belgium (huge country that continues to deliver)

Worst Pick: Mini-cocktail umbrellas (all flash, no substance)

Sleeper Pick: Dallas (TV Series): Seriously good show, underrated

Food: B (Belgian Waffles, Dallas BBQ)

Beer: A (Belgian beer, Randall the Enamel Animal)

Wine: F (No real effort made here)

Spirits: C (Aforementioned umbrellas about it)

Lagniappe: B (That Sam Calagione is handsome)

Cohesiveness: B, Two Pints can elope with Sam to Belgium, spend a little time in the water while drinking either the Belgian beer or cocktails with umbrellas (4 of 6)

Dr. Drew Says: Two Pints has an affinity for travel and appreciates good quality beer and good quality TV.  A girl who knows what she wants and how to get it.  Like how to get Sam.  By drafting him.
Draughter: Mr. Smokeypants

Best Pick: Happy Hour (solid staple of all things The Ferm)

Worst Pick: Shenanigans (just hasn't been enough lately)

Sleeper Pick: Foam in the Dome (the memories just get better and better for that place) 

Food: B (Norris family can cook, happy hour has good food also)

Beer: B (Foam in the Dome, Mos Eisley Cantina, and Happy Hour)

Wine: D (Weak here, but you can get at Happy Hour)

Spirits: A (He drafted Whiskey, well done)

Lagniappe: B (Mos Eisley Cantina excels here)

Cohesiveness: A, Mr. Smokeypants stops by Mos Eisley Cantina at Happy Hour for some whiskey before heading to the Dome for some Foam (meeting the Norris Family there) after which, there will be shenanigans (6 for 6)

Dr. Drew Says: Mr. Smokeypants clearly likes to live life on the wild side, by acquiring Mos Eisley Cantina, drinking whiskey, and inducing Shenanigans.  Luckily he has the Norris family to keep him straight (or find him at the end of the day to make sure he gets home).
Draughter: K Dub (@K_Dub_02)

Best Pick: Belgo-American Style Beers (Outstanding quality and performance)

Worst Pick: Burping (It kinda just happens, no need to draught)

Sleeper Pick: SAVOR (Completely underrated event)

Food: B (SAVOR carries the day here)

Beer: A (Beers, a Brewing Company, Yeast, and Burping)

Wine: F (Again, not much effort for this category)

Spirits: B (Michael Jackson really bumps it up here)

Lagniappe: C (Another bump from MJ with his character, but the rest of the picks lack spice)

Cohesiveness: B, K Dub heads to Savor for some Belgo-American Style Beers as well as some from Upright Brewing Company, where yeast is prevalent among the products (4 of 6)

Dr. Drew Says: This man knows his good beer and he knows that yeast is the foundation.  A connoisseur of what he likes, having read the works of Michael Jackson, attended SAVOR etc.  The burping keeps him real.
Draughter: Leslie (@LesNor11)
Best Pick: Tailgating (Everyone at The Ferm had their eye on this)

Worst Pick: Lone Star Puzzle Caps (kinda blah performance)

Sleeper Pick: Gary Vaynerchuk (solid pick to dominate the wine category)

Food: B (Tailgating food is some of the best on earth)

Beer: B (Lone Star beer and tailgating, again solid)

Wine: A (Grabbed Gary Vaynerchuk to be strong in this category)

Spirits: C (Some spirits at tailgating, but that's about it)

Lagniappe: B (The puzzle caps are a good booster here)

Cohesiveness: B, Leslie heads to a tailgate where they watch Gary Vaynerchuk and pops her Lone Star long necks for the puzzles (3 for 3, Leslie passed her picks on the second draft).

Dr. Drew Says: Leslie's affinity to take Gary Vaynerchuk first speaks a lot to her oenophiliatic tendency while her love of the puzzle caps shows her playful, fun side.  Seems like she'd be a great guest at any party, particularly tailgates.
Draughter: J.R. Ewing (@longhorndave)

Best Pick: Oktoberfest (Worldwide popular event that was sure to be snapped up quickly)

Worst Pick: Body Shots (those girls in the photo left when the booze ran out)

Sleeper Pick: Tedeschi Vineyards (the real estate alone is worth this pick)

Food: C (Some brats at Oktoberfest is about it)

Beer: A (Got a brewery, the Fox, and Oktoberfest)

Wine: A (Drafted a winery, the only taken)

Spirits: B (Body shots addresses this category, but could be stronger)

Lagniappe: A (Body shot girls and the Fox add value here)

Cohesiveness: C, Two factions of a team, either Ewing goes to Maui to visit Tedeschi Vineyards with the Body Shot girls during Oktober or hangs out with Hank Hill in his Alley drinking St. Arnold with the Fox (3 of 6).

Dr. Drew Says: Ewing can't decide which direction he wants to go, either hang out with younger girls doing shots, or older guys drinking beer (in the Fox's case, very very fast).  He's still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up.
Draughter: SirRon (@sirrong)

Best Pick: Rob and Amy Cartwright (Delivering on quality and quantity)

Worst Pick: B Vitamins (a reach with a #2 pick)

Sleeper Pick: Food Pairings (huge upside, this niche is growing)

Food: A (Food pairings and a Kitchen Stadium = home run)

Beer: A (Got the Cartwrights, More Beer, and Charlie Papazian, another winning combo).

Wine: F (Like many other participants, no real effort here)

Spirits: C (Drinking game included as well as B Vitamins)

Lagniappe: B (Kitchen Stadium carries this, as does some creativity of picks)

Cohesiveness: B, SirRon uses equipment from MoreBeer and Charlie Papazian's tips to brew some beer with Rob and Amy that pairs well with food.  By the end of the day, B Vitamins prevent a hangover from the affair (5 of 6)

Dr. Drew Says: SirRon really likes brewing and food, as his picks reflect.  Seems like he's the kind of guy everyone wants to know, you'll eat well and drink well and not have a hangover!
Draughter: Other (DosBeerigos, Alexander, Crawford and Dr. Analytics)

Best Pick: American Craft Beer Week (huge event that continues to perform)

Worst Pick: Nick Nolte's Mug Shot (performance is waning)

Sleeper Pick: Meritage (big upside on the California wine front)

Food: A (Taco Bell and Kolache Factory.  Enough Said)

Beer: A (ACBW and a Brewing Company, another big score)

Wine: A (Meritage a solid performer here)

Spirits: C (Maybe Nick Nolte had some before that mug shot)

Lagniappe: C (The mugshot adds here, but overall blah)

Cohesiveness: B, During ACBW, surely some Cigar City is drank, with a late night trip to Taco Bell, and Kolache's in the morning (4 of 6)

Dr. Drew Says: These picks seem to be all over the place, probably because four people contributed.  But it comes together nicely to represent what Americans, fast food, and Kolaches.

Admission to Statehood: December 28, 1846
Population: ~3.1M (30/50)
Capital: Des Moines
Largest City:
Des Moines
State Dance:Iowa does not have a state dance! Squares.
Well Known For: Corn, John Wayne, The Bridges of Madison County, Field of Dreams, and being the only state name that starts with two vowels

Brewery Representative: Millstream Brewing Company (Amana, Iowa)

USBP Score: 174

Established: 1985
Flagship Beer: Schild Brau
Comments: One of the joys of assembling brewery representatives for each of the fifty states is running across award winning beers of which I have no familiarity. Millstream is one of these breweries. Founded in 1985 by locals, this brewery is now owned by three employees who purchased it in 2001. Cool. Millstream’s most decorated beer and one of the brewery’s original offerings, Schild Brau, consistently medals at the Great American Beer Festival and the North American Brewers Association competitions. That's pretty good. In 2010, Schild Brau Amber earned a gold medal at the World Beer Cup in the Vienna-Style Lager category. That is really good. But does anyone know if Schild Brau translates to “Shield Beer”? 

If learning a brewery’s story is one of the joys of this USBP, then it is filling the blank space underneath the USBP score that puts this series in the doldrums. To counteract, let’s talk about something brilliant -- like beer can chicken! The first rule of beer can chicken is to get a roaster with a stainless steel canister. This type of roaster will allow for unbounded options to shove up that bird’s hole. Next you'll need to choose a beer to go up there. A Vienna Lager --
like say -- a Schild Brau would be a solid selection. A word to the wise, as a general rule I would stay away from hoppy beers. When cooked, that hoppy bitterness becomes even more concentrated and intense. Save IPAs for drinking while you cook. Now that you've taken care of the basics of beer can chicken, you'll need some direction on how to prep and cook the bird. I recommend checking out Billy Broas’ blog ( for a great post on beer can chicken. There you'll find basic directions and an adaptation of a recipe from Guy Fieri.... And you can drive that bus to Flavor Town, baby!

Runner Up: Court Avenue Brewing Co (154)

I live in Texas dammit

Posted by J.R. Ewing | Monday, April 02, 2012

So I'm reheating an oh so good leftover steak fajita enchilada (with a few spoonfuls of refried beans and guacamole on the side) and life is good.  Good, until that is, when I go to make a small bowl of chips and salsa.  Chips...check.  Salsa in fridge...almost out, that's okay just go the pantry.  Wait, where's the next jar of salsa.  Seriously, it's gotta be here.  It's salsa.  And I live in Texas, dammit.

No salsa.  Not behind the pasta sauce, not behind the soup, not behind the cereal, not behind whatever those flys are swarming around.  Screwed.

Has anyone seen me???

What happened.  I briefly considered that one of the following scenarios:
1) Wife hid salsa as a prank.  Viable b/c she was frustrated at nearly running out of syrup for her frozen waffles (note, I am the pantry stock manager).
2) Someone broke into my house and stole the jar of salsa (but nothing else).
3) Zombies

Another viable solution is that the last time I moved salsa from the pantry to the fridge, I somehow convinced myself that it was too soon to buy more salsa and I should wait.  This is dismissed as salsa does not last that long.

Some sort of failed ops plan at the grocery store is a more likely scenario.  It was on the list and missed?  My handwriting is bad.  One time I came home with Cheer detergent instead of cheese.  I remember thinking "I've never bought Cheer before, but it's on the list, so I must have been thinking I need it" (in the cart it goes).

Then I think, I live in Texas dammit, maybe there are "salsa trucks" that drive the neighborhoods for just this situation.  After waiting a few minutes, this doesn't seem to be the case.  However, the light bulb goes on.  WHY DOESN'T ANYONE DO THIS!!!!!

So here's the business model, you can take it and run with it, but it can't miss.  Salsa/Tortilla truck.  Drive the neighborhoods with a full stock of salsa and fresh tortillas.  Seriously, we have stopped into Taco Cabana before just to buy tortillas.  Usually when HEB runs out (or the machine is broke, like last week).  This is opportunity knocking.

I realize that Taco trucks are on the path of this, but they usually aren't mobile.  At least down my street.

Book it, the future of Texas cuisine.  Salsa/Tortilla trucks.  You've been told!  I live in Texas Dammit!