getting to know the "kween" of fluffy breakfast foods, erika kwee
As a Houston import, what exactly made you fall in love with the Houston food scene?
I think it might have been the pancake at Baby Barnaby's. One bite in, I was like I CAN NEVER LEAVE. In all seriousness, the diversity and quality and down-to-earth nature of Houston dining was probably what drew me in post-college...you never REALLY have to dress up to go out to dinner here, and there's always a new, exciting, delicious place to try.
What have been some of your favorite culinary experiences that you've taken back with you during your travels?
Oh man. Eating the BEST PANCAKE OF MY LIFE in Melbourne, Australia. Eating warm, fresh-from-the-oven baklava in Istanbul (literally almost missed my flight trying to procure a box to take back). Stuffing myself with perfectly al dente spaghetti cooked by an Italian housemouther in the Tuscan countryside. Tearing apart the flakiest, bronzed apple tart in Paris (and actually an even better croissant in Melbourne). All of this eating has helped me really appreciate how close Houston comes to replicating some of these insane international food experiences (holla at Phoenicia's baklava and Coltivare's pasta).
In a land of bbq, bbq, and more bbq, what are some of your favorite vegetarian hidden gems?
I don't know if these count as hidden gems, but some favorite dishes include: the garden sandwich at Local Foods, anything piled onto a vegetarian platter at Aladdin's, the salted, toasted tofu at Loving Hut, the cauliflower at Coltivare, the vegetable fajitas at Original Ninfa's...I feel like nearly every menu has amazing hidden gems! (BBQ places excepted.)
We already know how much of a whiz you are in the kitchen, but know that some times things can go awry. What's your favorite recipe flop that didn't make it to the blog?
Oh my GOD there are so so many. One that comes to mind is a vegan matcha ice cream that I tried to make...I added kale for color (and nutrition). Why did I think that was a good idea? It was DISGUSTING.
Okay, Pancake Princess, if your highness can grace us with the best tip you've ever received for maintaining a successful food blog/food writer career, we'd be forever grateful!
Hmm...probably to improve your food photography. Sometimes I feel like that's 70% of the battle and the writing is just icing. Which isn't always true of course, but I think the stronger your food photography is, the more doors will open for you in general, so that was great advice.
What's something that you could eat forever?
Cornbread. Tortilla chips (especially from Anejo). Fries (preferably the sweet potato fries from Ruggles Green or the regular fries from La Fendee). Cinnamon Life or Special K (actually any kind of cereal). Many things. All very healthy as you can see.
Current kitchen soundtrack?
So glad you asked! I finally figured out that watching TV while cooking takes me 800x longer to make anything, so I love listening to podcasts instead. My current favorite is Jessica Murnane's One Part Podcast, but I also love Dear Sugar for juicy relationship insight (an excellent pairing for when I'm baking with intent to ensnare my future husband [JKJK]). Or I tend to listen to whatever two songs I'm obsessed with at the moment on repeat (currently: Monaco by Audien and High You Are by What So Not).
Your food photography is always especially breathtaking. What is your favorite behind the scenes food photography trick?
You are too sweet! Well, you just can't fake good natural light so I guess my favorite trick is putting food on whatever piece of furniture is nearest to the window and taking pictures of it there. If I have to use my purse as a backdrop while taking pictures of food in the car next to the car window, so be it (because I think plain backdrops are also important when trying to feature food).
As a connoisseur of all things pancake, what is the most magical pancake that you've encountered in your culinary adventures?
I alluded to this in an earlier question, but it was this pancake in Melbourne that I didn't even order. My dining companion gave me some of hers and it was this enormous, CRAZY fluffy pancake studded with creamy pockets of ricotta and decorated with seeds and nuts (basically it was a a mini forest on top) and it was all just melt-in-your-mouth delicious. For a magical Houston pancake encounter, I would say the super simple but insanely delicious from-scratch pancakes at Triniti (closely followed by Baby Barnaby's and the hotcakes from Kraftsmen Baking).