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Written by Lori Moffatt

Sylvia-by-A-Tony-Bullard

In our third installment of Cuisine Confidential, Lori Moffatt visits with Houston’s “Enchilada Queen,” restaurateur Sylvia Casares, about the importance of fat and salt, the benefits of a good billboard, lemon-based margaritas, and where to get great enchiladas in Brownsville.

MarshallSparklesOn the Northeast Texas town of Marshall—where I’m closer to the borders of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma than the state capital of Austin—strangers call me “darlin’” and “honey,” and sometimes even “sugar.” And I like it.

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After a couple of terrific meals at Laredo’s El Capataz, Lori Moffatt visits with chef and owner Roberto Gonzalez to learn about his influences, his challenges, why he left a renowned Manhattan restaurant to return to the border, and what he likes to do for fun when he’s not making culinary waves in his hometown city of Laredo.

Kevin Floyd (Photo © Julie Soefer)

To kick off Texas Highways Senior Editor Lori Moffatt’s new Cuisine Confidential series, she sat down with with beer aficionado and longtime restaurateur Kevin Floyd, who—after opening more than 25 restaurants throughout the Midwest–came back to his hometown of Houston in 2009 to open a trendsetting beer-and-cocktail bar called Anvil Bar & Refuge with his new business partner Bobby Heugel.

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Hikers, bikers, dog-walkers, and sightseers! The City of Austin and The Trail Foundation announce the grand opening of the long-awaited Boardwalk extension of Austin’s hike-and-bike trail. 

I’ll be headed to The Woodlands next weekend to help judge the final event of 10th annual Houston Wine & Food Week (June 2-8 )—the elaborate Chef’s Showcase—where dozens of chefs compete for a $5,000 cash prize, Waterford crystal, and bragging rights.  Not only does this event offer participants the opportunity to learn about wine-and-food pairings and get to know some of the state’s most influential chefs, but an associated auction has funneled more than  $675,00 to local charities.

On May 5 at the Koch Theater in New York City, Food Network star Ted Allen presided over a black-tie-clad crowd of chefs, bartenders, food writers, and culinary superstars to announce the winners of the 2014 James Beard Awards for excellence in cuisine, culinary writing, and education in the United States. 

Louise Rowe - 1954

I was struggling to surmount a Friday-afternoon energy slump a few weeks ago when I received a phone call that perked me up better than a cup of coffee ever could. “My name is Louise Rowe,” she told me, “and I think you might be interested in my story.” 

A few years ago, I had the good fortune to attend one of the inaugural “Where the Chefs Eat” culinary tours of Houston (www.houstonculinarytours.com) , which introduced participants to a bevy of eateries that aren’t on the radar of most visitors.  We ate cabrito accompanied by live mariachi at El Hidalguense, an unassuming restaurant on Long Point Road; compared barbecue at three sites known for their different styles; explored the foods of Thailand and India until we thought we might burst; then wrapped up with an exploration of the vast ethnic-food aisles at 99 Ranch Market—all accompanied by such nationally regarded chefs  as Monica Pope, Hugo Ortega, Randy Evans, and Chris Shepherd, who observed, “I think a lot of people are afraid to get out of their comfort zones. When they do, though, it becomes more than just going out to eat; it becomes an education into another culture.” bvYUagfuro0EDtGtvoaCEkl2b6ZVGwx0djukTVgTFc4

Last year around this time, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch in New Braunfels celebrated the birth of twin reticulated giraffes, the first successful twins in the United States. The park named the giraffes Nakato and Wasswa, and they’re still thriving, and growing, and revealing their personalities as the ranch itself celebrates its 30th anniversary this spring.

With spring officially here and summer around the corner, lots of folks are making vacation (and staycation) plans.  Museums, since they are usually gloriously climate-controlled and require no slathering of sunscreen to enjoy, make great escapes when the mercury rises, and their offerings are more diverse than you might imagine.  For example, most museums these days complement exhibits—whether they present art, history, science, or other disciplines—with film screenings, lectures, art demonstrations, kids’ activities like storytimes and DIY crafts, and even themed dance parties. Not only does this expanded focus bring the museums new audiences, but it also helps make the collections more relevant and accessible to visitors who may have previously thought they weren’t “museum types.” 

When you get down with your funky self amid a collection of modern sculptures, or meditate in a gallery filled with Japanese antiquities, it’s easier to find a visceral, lasting connection with the museum-going experience.

Amid the hundreds of documentaries, dramas, comedies, and experimental films available for screening during South by Southwest’s film offerings this year, I chanced into a screening of YAKONA, an important and unusual film addressing one of Texas’ most imperiled resources: Water. 

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