This is the reason I love blogging – it brings people together who might never have met otherwise, all with similar interests but very different backgrounds. Last week I was lying on the couch scrolling through food porn on twitter, and to my surprise came across an email from someone I had never met before. Jeremy, the author at Do Bianchi, somehow found my blog and had invited me to a blogger dinner at Vallone’s restaurant in Houston. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t nervous… but I was WAY more excited. As soon as I checked out his blog I knew this was a guy I had to meet.
So, he gathered a group of talented and diverse food writers and bloggers to a seated dinner hosted by Vallone’s, the owner of which is a veteran in the Houston restaurant biz. Here was the menu (customized just for us, featuring new dishes on their menu this season):
HUGE thank you again to Vallone’s for hosting this fabulous dinner, and Jeremy for putting it all together! As soon as we sat down, every bit of nerves I had immediately melted away. We all knew we at least had one thing in common right? I loved listening to all the conversation about everyone’s current projects and what they were writing about. It was like sitting at a table of Htown food royalty (can you tell I live for this stuff?)!!! Now on to the food…. (Please excuse my terrible pictures on this post, the lighting was tough and my iPhone skills were compromised due to the very tasty wine we were served :).
The menu surprised me – everything had a modern twist on the classical dishes I know and love. The gumbo didn’t taste like gumbo I normally eat, it had a fish stock based roux which was so different and interesting. The perfectly buttery flounder was plated over what tasted like warm apple pie filling and root vegetables – and it worked beautifully. It was so light and refreshing, I would never have paired these things together but I loved it.
Then, they decided to really spoil us and throw in some tomahawk steaks… you should have seen the look on our faces, I think every one of us just wanted to pick them up and go to town. Alas, the nice servers cut them for us before the group of foodies turned caveman like. The steak was cooked to PERFECTION – medium rare, warm red center – thank goodness, I get unruly when my steaks aren’t cooked correctly :).
I have never been to Vallone’s before, although I have dined at Tony’s many times, an iconic fine dining Houston staple that is consistently great. From the perfectly vetted wine list, to the classic menu with a refreshingly modern twist, attentive servers that actually enjoy their job, Vallone’s does not disappoint. The atmosphere is romantic and beautiful, with a casual seating area towards the front, perfect for a pop in dinner if you don’t want to get too fancy. They are really going towards a friendly, neighborhood feel, but still refined and elegant.
Bloggers & Writers at the dinner
Jeremy Parzen – Food and wine writer, specifically Italian wine expert, rocker, father, blogger, in charge of Vallone’s restaurant media outreach, and author at Do Bianchi.
Christina Uticone – Editor at Edible Houston Magazine, a community based publication connecting local farmers, retailers, chefs, and food lovers. Super talented, beautiful woman who writes for several publications in Houston. She used to write a food blog with her husband where they would eat out and both write separate reviews… such an awesome idea!
Jack Tyler – Private Chef, writer at Culinary Houston, paella party guru.
Mike Riccetti – Food writer of Houston Cheap Eats for the Examiner.com, local Zagat editor, among many other seriously awesome articles and e-book.
Taste & See Life Blogger, Michelle – Michelle is the writer of Taste & See Life – a blog about faith, food, and travel, and ways to create new life experiences to awaken the spirit. A beautiful message!
Christie Sullivan – Marketing strategist, digital content chair of the Women’s Energy Network, and President of Uncork Marketing & Events in Houston. An incredibly smart, driven woman who works to recruit talent and brings a focus to the importance and value of women in the workforce.
Nath Pizzolatto – Food writer at Houston Press, whiskey lover and specialist, professional poker player, quirky and fun guy!
James Brock – Food writer at Mise en Place, a seriously gorgeous food blog, and has worked at newspapers all around the world.