Hello Fellow Travelers:
Welcome to our world of business information, museums, adventure, birding, botanical gardens, good eating and fine wines. This newsletter provides you with “The Welge Report for Houston.
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Recognition: We extend special thanks to the people who manage and/or own the institutions, museums and restaurants featured in our guides. In some instances we have relied on their descriptions and photos.
Birding Opps: Info for our birding friends visiting Houston. Here you will see: Black-bellied Whistling Ducl, Common Loon, Ovenbird, Philadelphia Vireo, Northern Flicker, Black-necked Stilt and the Marbled Godwit.
At Houston Audubon (houstonaudubon.org/) you will find birding classes, surveys, reports and field trips.
The Houston Chronical (chron.com/life/travel/article/12-prime-places-to-see-birds-1746791.php) tells us 12 prime places to see birds.
Here’s where to find your Birding Pal (birdingpal.org/tx.htm) for Houston.
Shopping: Everywhere you go in Houston there are shops, boutiques, stores and galleries to tempt your indulgence.
Transportation: (You need a car for this trip)
Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) – Your connection to more than 500 stations in 46 states. For online information and train schedules visit www.amtrak.com or call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245)
Day One: Check out the Menil Collection – W-Su: 11-7, 1533 Sul Ross St, 713-525-9400
The Menil Museum was the first American commission for the Italian architect Renzo Piano. It opened in 1987.
The collection includes 16,000 paintings, sculptures, decorative objects, prints, drawings, photographs, and rare books.
A core strength of the collection is European art: surrealist works by Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Man Ray, and Yves Tanguy, as well as Cubist and School of Paris paintings by Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso are here.
The collection also includes works from classical Mediterranean civilizations and the Byzantine Empire, as well as an array of objects from Africa, the Pacific Islands, and the Pacific Northwest.
Close by is the Rothko Chapel – Daily: 10-6, 3900 Yupon St, 713-524-9839
The Rothko Chapel is a sacred place open to all people, every day. The Chapel has two vocations: contemplation and action.
It is a place alive with religious ceremonies of all faiths, and where the experience and understanding of all traditions are encouraged and made available.
Action takes the form of supporting human rights, and thus the Chapel has become a rallying place for all people concerned with peace, freedom, and social justice throughout the world.
Situated on the plaza is Barnett Newman’s majestic sculpture, Broken Obelisk, in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lunch is at Gatlin’s BBQ – L & D: Tu-Sa, 1221 W 19th St, 713-869-4227
What do you order at the best BBQ joint in Houston? A sandwich or a plate with 2 sides?
Your choices are: brisket, baby back ribs, spicy sausage, pulled pork and chicken. Sides include beans, potato salad, cole slaw and dirty rice.
Top it off with peach cobbler or bread pudding, and wash it all down with lemonade or iced tea.
Next let’s visit the Museum of Fine Arts – Tu-Sa: 10-5, Th: till 9, F,Sa: till 7, Su: 12:15-7, 5601 Main St, 713-639-7550
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, houses more than 65,000 works of art created by cultures across the globe from ancient times to today. Their collections cover world cultures dating from antiquity to the present.
They include holdings of American art, European paintings, pre-Columbian and African gold, decorative arts and design, photography, prints and drawings, modern and contemporary painting, sculpture and Latin American art.
While you are in this area check out The Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens – Tu-Sa: 9-5, Su: 1-5, 6003 Memorial Dr, 713-639-7750
Bayou Bend is the MFAH house museum for American decorative arts and paintings.
Displayed in the former home of Houston civic leader and philanthropist Ima Hogg, the collection is one of the finest showcases of American furnishings, silver, ceramics, and paintings in the world.
The house is situated on 14 acres of organically maintained gardens in Houston’s historic River Oaks neighborhood.
Dinner is at Oxheart – D: Th-M, 1302 Nance Street, 832.830.8592
Oxheart offers a choice of three menus nightly and the menus change often. A current four course menu offers the following:
• layered beets with ‘meyer’ lemon blossom vinegar, quinoa, and almonds
• ‘warsaw’ grouper roasted over pecan wood, spring onion escabeche, three egg sauce, caviar
• guinea hen: poached white meat, braised dark meat, with summer squash, soured cream, and oregano
• caramelized chocolate cake with cane syrup and green tomato jam
A nice wine to accompany this or a similar menu is the ’11 The Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Blanc.
Day Two: The Breakfast Klub – M-F: 7-2, Sa,Su: 8-2, 3711 Travis St, 713-528-8561 will start your day.
There aren’t easy choices on this menu but we suggest either the seasoned katfish fillet and grits with 2 eggs, potatoes and toast or the Belgian waffle surrounded by 6 wings and topped with powered sugar.
Your first big excursion today is a trip to the Johnson Space Center – Daily: 10-7, 1601 NASA Pkwy, 281-244-2100
Experience the history of space exploration. Discover how NASA pushes the boundaries today.
You could easily spend a day here. The NASA Tram Tour is a must-do for any visit to Space Center Houston.
This is your chance to go on the grounds in the Johnson Space Center, and get an up-close look at impossible as it’s happening.
You might see astronauts training for the next trip to the International Space Station. You’ll see Historic Mission Control where we monitored space programs until 1992.
This tour also takes you through the awesome Building 9 where astronauts train on their next mission. Plus, there’s the new Saturn V Complex at Rocket Park. This is one attraction you won’t want to miss.
Lunch is at Truluck’s Seafood – L & D: Daily, 5350 Westheimer, 713-783-7270
You can start with the stone crab claws or the jumbo lump crab cake before you move on to the crispy fish tacos with avocado-poblano salsa and cole slaw or the Maine lobster roll.
Wash it down with a ’11 Ponzi, Tavola chardonnay.
You can’t go to Houston without a visit to Hermann Park – Daily: 6 AM-11PM, 6201-A Hermann Park Drive, 713-524-5876
You have lots of activities to choose from at Hermann Park: there is the ever-popular Hermann Park Railroad that has been entertaining visitors for over 50 years, and the Japanese Garden – with its waterfalls, bridges, and stone paths that wander among crepe myrtles, azaleas, Japanese maples, dogwoods and cherry trees.
The Japanese Garden is a peaceful hideaway in the Park. The Lake Plaza is very popular and it’s where you can rent the Paddle Boats.
The Houston Zoo – is here set in a 55-acre lush tropical landscape. The Houston Zoo is home to more than 4,500 exotic animals representing more than 800 species.
Tonight’s dinner is a Houston favorite at Underbelly – L: M-F, D: M-Sa, 1100 Westheimer Road, 713-528-9800
Chef Sheppard doesn’t believe in appetizers so you can share your entrees. Try the seared Grouper with corn, cumin and wheat berry or the Cochinita Pibil with pickled onions, tortillas and roasted salsa or the seared duck breast with dirty rice and figs.
Try a local wine with these dishes – a 2005 Dickson Troubadour, Texas Hill Country. For dessert it’s the caramel popcorn pot de creme, fried pretzel and vanilla ice cream.
Day Three – Breakfast is at the Down House – Daily: 9-12, 1801 Yale St, 713-864-3696
Here our Cousin Lou suggests the buttermilk biscuits with herbed sausage gravy and 1 egg sunnyside up or the greek yogurt, fruit jam and pistachio granola.
Today you’ll journey to the Galleria Area and Uptown District – it is located in the western part of the city, about six miles west of downtown Houston and just outside of the 610 Loop.
The borders of this area are fairly well established (the West Loop on the east, Woodway to the north, Interstate 59 to the south and Yorktown Street to the west).
The Galleria has 2.5 million square feet of retail featuring every major store and brand you have ever heard of and some you haven’t.
You still have time for one more cultural experience and that is the Asia Society – Tu-Sa: 11-6, 1370 Southmore Blvd, 713-496-9901
Former First Lady Barbara Bush and former Ambassador Roy M. Huffington established the Asia Society Texas Center in 1979.
Sharing the vision of John D. Rockefeller 3rd, who founded the Asia Society in New York in 1956, they recognized the need to educate Americans about Asia and to forge closer ties between Houston and the peoples and institutions of Asia.
The board selected Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi, best-known in this country for his renovation and expansion of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, to design the building located in Houston’s Museum District.
Permanent and current exhibitions tend to be modern in scope.
Today’s meal is at Latin Bites – L & D: Tu-Su, 5709 Woodway Dr, 713-229-8369
This is a Peruvian menu inspired by the Inca culture. Our cousin suggests starting with a quinoa salad that is an Andean lettuce wrap composed of crispy quinoa, caramelized cashews, arugula, choclo, fava beans, avocados, tomato confit and passion fruit dressing.
Next you should have a part of Peru’s national heritage – Cebiche de Mercado featuring white fish and octopus freshly marinated in a creamy rocoto leche de tigre served with sweet potato puree, crispy calamari and yucca.
Then you can choose between the duck confit over cilantro-infused rice cooked with chicha de jora, choclo, green peas and bell peppers or the slow-cooked lamb cilantro stew served with tacu tacu, yuca sticks and salsa criolla.
For dessert go for the special Dulce de Leche mousee with Italian meringue. Your beverage choice could be their pisco sour, a mojito or a margarita.
Until next time, best wishes and safe travels,
Dick & Dee Welge
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