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In an age when too many bloggers — especially food bloggers — are relentlessly positive, Nurick isn't afraid to speak his mind (although he has plenty good to say, too). "If I don't like something, I will absolutely say it," he says. "I think you have to. It's much more helpful to hear about something that's not good as opposed to something that is good. I won't go out of my way to find some tiny place no one's heard about and just trash them. But especially if some sacred cow is getting a lot of press and traffic and it's not very good, it's an important service to say that it's not as good as people are saying."

Although Nurick, who works in Web development, has written about food here and there for many years, H-Town Chow Down is about a year old. The blog is a good source for Houston restaurant news and opinion. Nurick visits all types of eateries, but since he lives in The Woodlands, there's a lot of coverage of places there, and there's an emphasis on comfort food like burgers.

Nurick is a good example of a blogger who takes advantage of social media. He got on Twitter at the same time he started the blog, and Twitter seemed silly at first. But, he says, "I completely understand the value of it now." Following the major players in the Houston food scene gives Nurick ideas for his blog. He learned about well-known local chef Randy Rucker's new project, Bootsie's, that way, and he may have been the first to cover it.

Nurick's background in food? "I started eating at a very early age, and I've kept it up almost every day," he says dryly, adding, "I love food. I am fascinated by it." Just don't expect to see any recipes on H-Town Chow Down. "I don't cook," says Nurick. "I'm very challenged in the kitchen."
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BLUE JEAN GOURMET
Nishta Mehra

Nishta Mehra was having a difficult time. She and her partner, Jill Carroll, had finally put down their treasured pet, Lucky Dog. She was an old dog, and it was time. But that didn't make the experience any easier. "Our whole family life revolved around that dog — coming home to let her out, feeding her, changing her diapers, baking her dog bones, rubbing her belly," Mehra wrote on her blog, Blue Jean Gourmet. "She was my first pet, Jill's faithful hunting partner and a source of much joy and comfort to both of us."

To make matters worse, Lucky Dog died the day before Mehra and Carroll were supposed to give a party for the Hindu Festival of Lights, Diwali. They thought about canceling, but then decided, "What better time to have a houseful of people we love? Not to mention, what on EARTH would we have done with all of the food I had already made?"

Mehra, who teaches English, went on to describe a killer party and, of course, the bounty of dishes she served at her feast — Indian fruit salad, grilled Halloumi cheese, lamb koftas, saag paneer, channa masala (North Indian chickpea stew) and many more ­delicious-sounding courses. It was all paired with the bright, vibrant photos that make her blog look so good, taken by her collaborating photographer, Sonya Cuellar. The story ended with Mehra's recipe for guava cocktails — which she christened "Lucky Dogs."

That entry is typical of Mehra's style. She says she wants to "bring you into the kitchen, and cook you a meal, and sit you down and tell you a story." It's a storytelling blog and a recipe blog, all rolled into one. And although Mehra started Blue Jean Gourmet a little less than a year ago, she has quickly gained a following.

Mehra puts a lot of time and thought into the recipes she shares. Some recipes are original; for others, she'll decide she wants to make something, find multiple recipes on it, test it, tweak it and share her own version. She learned some of the recipes from her mother. "I grew up watching her in the kitchen," says Mehra. "She's one of those mothers who doesn't measure anything and tells you, 'Oh, a handful.' Lately, I just follow her around with a notebook and make her do them four or five times, then she makes me do them."

There's plenty of Indian recipes on her blog, but Mehra writes about all kinds of cuisines. And she has a promise for readers. All her recipes are "no fail," she says. "I've done them over and over again."

catherine.matusow@houstonpress.com

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