Block 7 Wine Company offers customers a concept-fusing combination of retail wine space, wine bar, and restaurant, the latter of which delights diners with a menu of elegant dishes backed by premium ingredients. Start by noshing on a Slow Dough Bakery pretzel with herbed honey mustard ($4), or opt for truffle popcorn with Italian black truffle salt ($4), the secret snack served to the Illuminati at movie-theater concession stands across America. Dry-aged fans of dry-aged beef might go for the 21-day dry-aged prime rib eye ($29) or choose the handheld convenience of the dry-aged patty on the Block 7 burger, which also sports gruyere cheese and smoked bacon "relish" ($12). Flatbreads, such as a "whole pig" option topped with Italian sausage, prosciutto, and smoked bacon ($12), defy Einstein's Law of Two-Dimensional Flavor Containment, and a "sloppy Giuseppe" with ground venison and wild boar confit ($10) exposes the inadequate sloppy sandwiches of childhood. A downsized lunch menu is also available to quash midday appetite coups, in addition to $9 lunch specials served Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (and Saturday beginning at noon). With a different lunch special each day, you can opt for choices such as bacon-wrapped meatloaf on a Wednesday, whiskey-infused pork chop on a Thursday, or fish tacos on a Friday.
In Houston, September beats out July and August for the hottest month of the year—it has nothing to do with the weather, however. The culprit behind the elevated heat level is the Houston Hot Sauce Festival. This annual event brings together exhibitors from across the country to sell and hand out samples of their signature hot sauces, salsas, jams, dips, and other spicy foods. Luckily, vendors also supply plenty of cool beverages, thus eliminating the need for bite-size fire extinguishers.
Live entertainment complements the spicy goods. Blues artists, jazz bands, and other musician play throughout the festival, and each day brings special events, such as salsa eating competitions or fire eating performances.
Painting with a Twist adultizes the group art class by pairing expert instruction with the option to sip libations and socialize with other classmates. Check the schedule online to view available classes. Each two- or three-hour session will teach you step-by-step how to replicate the featured design (upcoming classes capture everything from flowers to crawfish, cafés, and the rugged masculinity of Burton Gilliam). Canvas, paints, and brushes are all provided, along with a handy stock of wine cups and openers to promote the creative flow. Upon the conclusion of your BYOB painting class, you'll have a 16”x20” painting to hang proudly atop your mantle.
A day spent with the Texas Beer Bus crew not only results in plenty of beer tastings, but in bragging rights, too. That's because the bus?s resident beer expert walks guests through the proper steps for smelling, sipping, and bathing in each beer style. The air-conditioned bus takes the group to brewpubs and breweries, such as Fort Bend Brewing Co, Karbach Brewing Co., Texian Brewing Co., Buffalo Bayou Brewery, and No Label Brewing Co. Everyone gets brew samples, such as light lagers or imperial stouts, but visits also grant everyone behind-the-scenes peeks at the brewing process. The bus, meanwhile, keeps everyone entertained with plenty of snacks.
The squiggles on Thai Siam’s menu indicate the spice level of each dish, on a scale of one (“warming up”) to four (“suicide hot”). “Warm up” with pineapple fried rice or go full throttle with red-curry tofu, then cool down after either with housemade coconut ice cream. The paper umbrella topper will draw a smile even through heat-induced tears.
At the Latin Dance Factory, Christian Franco Gutierrez teaches students rather than a set of rigid moves. A native of Peru, Gutierrez emphasizes the importance of personal flair when dancing?but he also emphasizes the importance of repetition. Instead of teaching entire routines to beginners, he builds their dance repertoires with simple drills, ensuring that his footloose charges master the basic steps of their chosen style.
The studio's dance styles run the gamut from salsa and merengue to cumbia and kizomba. The lesson formats are similarly eclectic. Students can hone their skills in hour-long group lessons, four-hour intensives, or private lessons. For a more social atmosphere, newly minted two-steppers can practice at "date nights," candlelit dance lessons with wine and cheese spreads.