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A Fire at the Broken Spoke

Roy de la Garza on what's next.

On getting your own crew together:

Starting a tailgate group in Houston is easy because the Texans very much encourage tailgating. In some cities, there are very few spots around stadiums, and some teams ban real tailgating. For the Texans, you need at least one parking pass, or, as my tailgate calls it, a lone spot. You can make your tailgate as basic or as elaborate as you want. I've done it both ways and have learned that tailgating is much more about the company than it is the setup.

The Texans have their tailgating guidelines on their Web site, and they are among the most friendly ones in the NFL. The Texans have been ranked as some of the best tailgating in the league.

Soup and sandwich combo at Jade Stone Cafe.
Christina Uticone
Soup and sandwich combo at Jade Stone Cafe.
The bar at Cuchara, with a cocktail program from Chris Frankel and Alex Gregg, was already busy on a Tuesday night.
Katharine Shilcutt
The bar at Cuchara, with a cocktail program from Chris Frankel and Alex Gregg, was already busy on a Tuesday night.

On thinking ahead when naming your lots as a sports team:

The Texans started the Platinum Lot as a reserved lot in front of the Blue Lot. (Originally it was going to be called Silver, but Blue next to Silver was way too Cowboy-ish.)

On the importance of planning and packing essentials:

Typically, before game day, we send out e-mails to the main people in our group figuring out what the menu is going to be and who is going to bring what. Sometimes we have theme menus, like fried turkey before a Thanksgiving game or gumbo before a Saints game. We show up early, set up the pop-up tents (essential for Texas blacktop tailgating), grill, trash bags, chairs and music and just have a party. The guys that bring the big items actually put together a spreadsheet checklist of the things they need to pack each game.

On beer for breakfast, Johnny Cash-style:

I've found that with all the Texans noon starts, you get pretty accustomed to early morning beer and BBQ.

On being a "tailgate nomad" and how to make friends on game days:

A lot of folks don't have a tailgate. I started out not having a home one. Usually, if you are decked out in a Texans jersey and bring your own beverages, there's plenty of welcoming public tailgates near the front of lots. Texans tailgating tends to be fairly neighborly. A good place to find particularly welcoming tailgates near your particular lot is to go to the TexansTalk.com Tailgating sub-forum. (It's also a good place to go if you want to meet up with Texans fans going to road games.)

On making the kind of guacamole that's so good, it'll elicit a Pavlovian response:

This is Josh Hudson's Guacamole Recipe. It's a total dude recipe. He always brings it to the tailgate, and now I associate home games with fresh guac:

Ingredients:

• 2 small vine-ripened tomatoes — diced and drained

• 1 small red onion — diced

• 1 bunch cilantro — diced

• 1 fresh jalapeño — seeded and diced

• 2 ripe large Haas avocados

• 1 packet extra-spicy guacamole mix

• 1 lime

Make pico de gallo by combining diced tomatoes, onion, cilantro and jalapeño and set aside. Cut avocados in half, remove pit and fruit and place into a medium-size mixing bowl. Squeeze juice of lime, just enough to prevent browning. Mash avocados with a large fork or potato-mashing utensil. Stir in guacamole mix. Mix in pico de gallo with a ratio of 3 to 2 avocado to pico. Stir well to combine into a smooth consistency. Add additional lime juice to taste and for additional preservation. Katharine Shilcutt
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Fast Times

A Sparkling Gem
Asia Society Texas Center's Jade Stone Cafe.

As far as food is concerned, things really are looking up in the Museum District. Since I moved here in 2009, we've seen the Fine Art + Food Trucks exhibit open at MFAH, giving Museum District workers and employees a daily food-truck option; Green Seed Vegan opened its doors just down the road at Almeda and Wheeler; the Pinewood Cafe opened in Hermann Park, delivering fresh wraps and decadent grilled cheese sandwiches. I'm pleased to add another delicious, if offbeat, suggestion to the list of dining spots in the Museum District: the Jade Stone Cafe at the Asia Society Texas Center.

I knew it had a small cafe and, needing a quiet place to read, thought I would finally check it out. The building is absolutely gorgeous from the outside, and I couldn't wait to get a peek at the interior.

When I walked inside, I was greeted by almost complete silence, but it was peaceful and relaxing rather than unwelcoming and cold. After a brief visit to the front desk to pick up information on the museum and its exhibits, I went right over to the cafe — which is just inside the entrance — to grab lunch and work on finishing At Home by Bill Bryson. (I'm a fast reader, but I always seem to have 30 pages to go, no matter how much more I read.)

The menu is simple: soups, sandwiches, salads, and some cookies and cakes to satisfy your sweet tooth. The dining area is similarly streamlined, with just ten four-tops (but with white tablecloths, a nice touch) and a single person manning the counter. I chose a soup-and-sandwich combo: half a veggie sandwich on wheat with lemon artichoke soup. I sat down at a table, and my meal arrived in less than five minutes.

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