Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Arny's Bakery

9601 S. Gessner @ Bissonnet

This little Filipino bakery has opened, tucked back behind other businesses at the corner of S. Gessner and Bissonnet.

I picked up, from the left, an ensaymada, bibingka, and mamon.

The bibingka is a super-moist, dense rice cake made with coconut milk, a cross in texture with a dense rice pudding and a cake, traditionally baked in a terra cotta pot, wrapped in banana leaves.

The ensaymada, culinary descendant of the ensaimada of Mallorca, is a bun topped with finely shredded cheese and sugar.  The Mallorcan pastry was made with saim, a type of pork lard, but the Filipino version is made with butter.

The mamon is a sponge cake, a Filipino version of Angel Food cake; the name comes from Spanish slang for breast.

Both the ensaymada and bibingka were about 5" across and the bibinka weighed just over half a pound.

Not all of the items pictured were available the day I visited and there was at least one pastry and one type of bread I saw not pictured. A sign in the window also advertises kolaches which would probably make Arny's the first ever Tex-Czech-Filipino bakery, but there weren't any on display the day I was there. I plan to go back to try the Pan de Ube (purple yam) and Hopia (mung bean paste, I think), which were not available.

There were beverages available from a cooler and a coffee maker on a counter top.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Taqueria Vega

7755 W. Bellfort, in the parking lot of Joe V's


I encountered this unit several years ago on Fondren when it was Taqueria Tzul-Vega but tried it only once.  I remembered the taquera apparently spoke only about 5 syllables of English and she found my Spanish just as lacking, but I couldn't remember the food nor why I never returned.  According to my notes, it was not because of the food but because the menu was so limited.  The majority of the items listed on the unit were not available, there was a handwritten menu taped to the window with only a few dishes.

There has apparently been a change of ownership.  The menu card in the window, which identifies the business as Taqueria Vega, lists just about everything named on the side of the unit plus a few other items and I had no trouble communicating.


I tried a couple of tacos, pastor on the left and chorizo on the right.  They came on handmade corn tortillas, a big plus, with roasted onions and mass quantities of cilantro, plus a surprisingly fiery salsa.  According to my notes, the fiery salsa was a feature of the old cart, too.  The pastor wasn't bad, not dried out like it often is and I got a couple of tidbits of pinapple, but the chorizo was much better.  I have also tried a barbacoa taco and, on a whim, a chorizo gordita.  These were served with a very mild salsa verde.  The gordita was almost as big as a torta and would have been better as one; the barbacoa is another good choice for meat along with the chorizo.

Tacos are $2 and apparently there's no upcharge for requesting flour tortillas.  There is an upcharge for requesting lengua or tripa.  The gordita was $3.50.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Frenchy's Gettin' Busy on the Southwest side...

...opening new locations, that is.

A new store at 7903 Beechnut, just off 59, has been open for several weeks now.  It's larger than the existing store four miles away at 59 and Wilcrest in a Valero station, with room for a few tables for dine-in instead of just a shelf around the window.  It's very convenient to HBU and Memorial Hermann SW and all the associated clinics and doctor's offices.

And then there's this, just one mile on my trusty odometer from the Wilcrest store, in a Shell station on the Beltway 8 frontage road at W. Bellfort.

Too soon to tell if there will be room for tables here but I'd guess so.

None of 'em, dang it, have drive-throughs for lazy bones like me.

I'm also keeping my eye on Arny's Bakery, 'Coming soon' to a strip center on S. Gessner at Bissonnet.  Hard to tell how much progress they're making since the windows are completely papered over but the business has gone up on the strip center signboard at the corner.

UPDATE:  Arny's is now open; it's a Filipino bakery offering pandesal, bibinka, mamon, ensaymada and more, not to mention kolaches.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Cuban Cafe

4232 Decker Drive (Loop 330 westbound frontage road at Baker Drive), Baytown

In a mostly abandoned big shopping center with a huge parking lot (maybe that's why they can hang the big banner saying 'Welcome 18 Wheelers'), this clean little shop is run by some very friendly and helpful people.

I had the Cuban Sandwich - pulled roast marinated pork, ham, a thin slice of Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickle on a very well toasted Cuban roll plus a Cafe con Leche.  The sandwich was hot and tasty.  They also have Cuban Pulled Pork sandwiches, mini Cubanos and a Breakfast Cuban sandwich on a rather small menu plus Cuban coffee, lattes and Americanos.

I have heard of the marinated roast pork (lechon asado?) and the addition of the salami before but I don't think I've ever encountered those variations in Houston.  The salami is typical of a Cubano in Tampa, reflecting the ethnic make-up of the city where Italian immigrants worked and lived alongside Cubans, and I thought it added a nice note to the sandwich but what I really liked was how the sandwich was pressed down so thinly and the toasted bread was so crispy.   Unless the sign on the wall is meant just for decoration, they get their bread from the famous La Segunda Bakery in Tampa (Ybor City).

After several days, I'm still thinking of this sandwich and wanting to get back over there soon to confirm my memories.

I'm in Baytown regularly to visit family and I'm glad to happen on this place.  If you're  searching for someplace to eat in Baytown and wanting to avoid the chains, this place is worth a try.