Friday, January 30, 2009

I'm Never Full

Leon casino,

That’s my moniker. I’ve been known to eat fried chicken at five restaurants and then go to a churrascaria for an AYCE-red-meat-on-a-stick dinner on the same day. I have plenty of witnesses if you don’t believe me.

My perfect date would start by having apps at one restaurant, entrees at another, and dessert/coffee at a third. To some, this kind of night might sound excruciating, but not to me. I have several reasons why: to prolong the dining experience - I love dining out and the initial excitement of walking into a restaurant is a kind of foreplay; to eat in different settings - every dining room has a different personality, vibe, and mood; and to eat with the right person can be an intimate, bonding experience leading into great conversation. If I don’t enjoy eating with someone, the relationship is doomed to fail before it ever really gets started.

Fact: I’m either a really cheap date or a really expensive one.

My food philosophy is the best meals in a city are found in the priciest/upscale digs and cheapest/modest hole-in-the-walls. High-end restos are usually sourcing local, artisanal, and seasonal ingredients from the best suppliers available and the tiny mom-and-pop’s are often hand-picking their groceries from the neighborhood Fiesta grocery or farmers market. I find the people behind these stoves are the most passionate. On one end, you find the classically-trained or professionally schooled chefs; and on the other, you find moms or pops fulfilling a lifelong dream of cooking the food they grew up eating and owning their own business. Mid-range restaurants – especially the highly detestable chains – use processed food from big food distribution companies, seem to be more concerned with volume and the bottom line than the art of cooking or the product itself, and are always the least interesting to visit and write about.

No worries. I’ll save the chi chi restaurant reviews for my blog or for write-ups I’m actually getting paid for. Here on Free Press Cuizine, I intend to share all my underground, off-the-beaten path discoveries and keep you clued into exciting foodie news and events. I’ve been promised that I can “blow off steam” and be brutally honest here. I can even cuss if I really want to for a glimpse into the really Jenny Wang. Let’s just see what happens.

I look forward to beginning this dialogue. Feel free to email me at [email protected] if you have questions, suggestions, restaurant news, or food-related events you’d like to share. And if you think I suck and want to diss my writing or my palate, send me hate mail! i’m a stress-eater!

In the meantime, between posts, follow me on Twitter and keep up with what I’m eating in real time. It’s fun. I promise.

Peas out…

-- Jenny Wang of

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Girl Who Will Lead Us to the Promised Meal

We'd like to introduce you to a real foodie, a no-dish-barred, all-you-can-eat-and-then some devotee of the cuisine realm, Ms. Jenny "I'm Never Full" Wang. She has agreed to enlighten us with her savory wisdom and help let our readers know more about her main domain: Food.

I first found her through the web when searching for food events in town and quickly learned that she is EVERYWHERE! She writes about food because that is what she loves. She blogs about it at, posts on twitter daily, and writes about the subject. I assume she dreams and talks about it too so it's easy to say that food is her life. She first wrote as a hobby and is now published by 002 Magazine and Citysearch. She is also the founder of the local foodie group Houston Chowhounds,, and she has organized such events as the recent Miracle Berry Flavor Tripping parties, the 'BBQ smackdown' to judge local BBQ joints, a 'fried-chicken crawl,' and the upcoming Taco Truck Crawl. A very busy lady indeed, but I thought surely she could squeeze in a little amuse bouche for us. It is our luck and the benefit of the whole food scene in Houston that she agreed.

When I asked her what her earliest memory of food was she said it had been experiencing chocolate for the first time, a carnal delight that had been withheld by dietarily doting parents. It was Almond Roca:

"My parents hosted a dinner party one night and a guest brought a large can of Almond Roca to the house. I must have been 3 or 4 years old and that pink canister dazzled me. I kept asking what was in it. Our guest asked my mother if he could give me a piece. I think she obliged because she didn't have much choice. (i've always been a pretty stubborn and insistent little f*ck.) After my first bite, i kept making "mmm, mmm" noises over and over again and the dinner guest thought I was a bit "off" until he was informed that I had never had candy before, or chocolate for that matter."

Later in life she would find success as a data management consultant where her best perk was not the satisfaction of success but the expense account and salary that allowed her to eat at the most renowned restaurants in the country, refining her palate on the choicest ingredients by star chefs to the point that when asked what cuisine she would choose if she had to eat it for the rest of her life she says:

"French. Indeniably. I'm sure I would weigh 200 pounds too. I love classic French cooking techniques and my four favorite food groups are butter, foie gras, truffles, and duck. The french have figured out how to get all 4 on one plate. I even carry truffle salt in my purse (makes great poor man's truffle fries). If I could carry the other 3 around, believe me, I would."

If Jenny's rich tastes throw off some of our 'poor man' readers, fret not. Just remember: Taco Truck Crawl

Her appetite precedes her and you can trust that your bellies and tastebuds are in good hands. And now I pass the plate to Jenny...

--Andrea Afra
[email protected]

photo credit: Aaron Werth