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Mayhaw Jelly, the Orange Show, and Brits in Calvert, Texas

July 11, 2009

Well, as I’m sitting here on a Saturday, enjoying my lovely breakfast of English muffin, mayhaw jelly, and coffee:

Breakfast

Breakfast

I finally I have time to reflect on my most recent trip home to the Great State (Texas). The jelly pictured above was handcrafted and canned by my paternal grandmother, and it is made from mayhaw. What, precisely, is mayhaw, you ask? Well it’s a good thing you did, because other than a delicious jelly with a taste somewhere between honey and red plum preserves, I had no clue. According to this website, Mayhaw is the berry of a Hawthorne tree, which fruits in May (thus May-haw). It has pretty pictures on their website, so take a look-see.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First up on my trip home was a visit to the Woodlands cinema with my parents and my cousin Patrick and his wife Emily. For those of you who don’t know, my younger brother passed away (at the age of 11) due to cancer in January of 1998. Every year, for my brother’s birthday (which is July 1st) my family (including Patrick, and now Emily) go see a movie that my brother John would have enjoyed. These are typically action movies, like Die Hard, Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers, etc.

As he would have been turning 23 this year, we decided it was time for a movie of a more adult nature, so this year’s pick, featuring my favorite actor Johnny Depp AND the most phenomenal French actress I’ve seen in recent years (Marion Cotillard – she starred in the biographical drama La Vie En Rose, about the life of singer Edith Piaf) was Public Enemies. The movie was so-so (love you Johnny, but there was a lot of blood) but it was the first time in a couple years that I was actually able to see John’s movie with my family all in one place, so it was really nice, and as always, was a great way to remember my little brother. We love and miss you, J.P.!

After our first night of fun in Tejas, I woke up early, had breakfast with my folks, and then drove in to Houston to see the Orange Show with my friend Geoff. What, you may ask, is the Orange Show? Well, it’s basically a quirky museum in Houston that this guy started as an homage to The Orange, a delicious fruit that is, according to this guy, a source of vitality to all. It’s a really bizarre experience, and felt very much like a drugs vision (or what I imagine a drugs vision to be like). I can’t really do it justice, but here’s their website, and a few pictures.

The Front of the Orange Show

The Front of the Orange Show

You can see, it's a massive collection of randomness.

You can see, it's a massive collection of randomness.

He also liked clowns...and they never lie.

He also liked clowns...and they never lie.

The guy was crazy, but his museum was fun. After that, Geoff and I went downtown to the Tunnel system – we’d never gone before, so it was fun to pretend to be tourists in our own town. We even ran into Merideth’s dad! He took us out to a very delicious sushi lunch at Banzai (the new Sake Lounge). Afterwards we grabbed some Blue Bell, then I met up with my grandpa Smith, then went to Baytown and had dinner with the Moorman grandparents (where I picked up the jelly) and then finally ended back up in Conroe, for some sleep.

The next morning, my family and I left Conroe for Dallas (see the next posting for why) by way of College Station, where my parents board their puppy (he’s full grown, but he’ll always be a puppy to us) when they’re out of town. On Highway 6, north of College Station, you come to a place called Calvert, Texas. Calvert is relatively small (read: very small), and not known for much besides being on the road to Fort Worth from College Station. Well, boy howdy, did my mother ever find a REASON to stop in Calvert! That reason is this: Cocoamoda. So this posting’s Tip of the Day is, if you’re ever taking the route to Fort Worth from College Station, by way of Calvert, time your day so that you have some extra time to spend hanging out at Cocoamoda.

Truffles, all trussed up.

Truffles, all trussed up.

Cocoamoda is a delectable truffle shop, run by a salty Brit (with salty language to boot!) who has invested his time and effort into converting an old warehouse into a chocolate factory, and taking an old section of antique building on the corner and turning it into a restaurant and storefront. The menu for the restaurant is geared more (in my mind) towards a nice afternoon tea. My parents both had croque-monsieurs (hot French grilled cheese with ham, basically) which were fairly heavy (and not open-faced – I wouldn’t recommend them), while I had the cassoulet (a French stew, sortof like gumbo without the seafood, topped with breadcrumbs and cheese).

My cassoulet.

My cassoulet.

The cassoulet was tasty, but quite rich. I would say that the restaurant needs a few more months to really get squared away (spotty presentation – my dish was gorgeous, but the croque-monsieurs were presented rather poorly), but the real focus of the enterprise is their truffles.

Tons and TONS of Truffles!

Tons and TONS of Truffles!

Their truffles are, quite literally, a daily delicacy. We spoke with the owner, pictured below (sortof ghosty) and another chocolatier who works with him, and the story for that day was “Well, we haven’t decided if we’re going to be enrobing in white chocolate or dark chocolate yet, so we’ll just see how we feel later.” You know you’re chocolates are fresh when…

British owner and chocolates!

British owner and chocolates!

We had a cute little box of 12, with a variety of choices, including Cornish Ice Cream (enrobed in white chocolate), hazelnut (enrobed in milk chocolate, with a toasted hazelnut on top), coconut (enrobed in white chocolate), raspberry (enrobed in white chocolate – particularly fantastic, though I usually despise* raspberry flavored treats), among many others. The chocolates were perfect – tender outer shells, softhearted centers that melted on your tongue, and you could really taste the freshness of the ingredients. The staff was extremely friendly, and freehanded with the samples (and at $3 a pop, that’s saying something – Mom, Dad and I each had a free one)Β  so I can safely say we’re customers for life, at least while we’re traveling that road. From talking with the owner, it looks like they’ll be working in a new shop closer in to Houston, so keep your eyes peeled!

(Continued in the next posting)

*Thanks, Victoria!

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. anthony permalink
    July 11, 2009 6:18 pm

    Speaking of truffles, there’s a good truffle place in Dallas called chocolate secrets. you should check it out sometime if you’re ever in the hood.

    • lisam permalink
      July 12, 2009 7:10 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation, Anthony! I’ll definitely put it on my list.

  2. Victoria permalink
    July 12, 2009 3:10 pm

    very sweet about your brother. i didn’t realize he would be 23. practically my same age!

    as for the truffle place, i’m jealous that you got to go AND that it was in the Great State. very jealous.

    p.s. despies \= (that’s a not equal sign) despise. close, and i wish not liking something did have something to do with pies!!

    • lisam permalink
      July 12, 2009 7:10 pm

      He WOULD be close to your age! I bet he’d have a major crush on you. πŸ™‚

      And thanks for the catch – I’ll make the correction.

  3. Douglas Naaden permalink
    July 12, 2009 4:01 pm

    I found Cocoamoda online and was wondering about it. Thanks for the write-up.

    That’s a very sweet tradition that you keep for your brother, J.P. May perpetual light shine upon him.

    • lisam permalink
      July 12, 2009 7:10 pm

      Thanks, Douglas. πŸ™‚

  4. July 13, 2009 11:51 pm

    We’ll have to stop at Cocoamoda next time we head to Dallas to visit my folks.

    I had no idea that you lost a brother. I’m very sorry to hear it, but love the way that your family commemorates him. I’m proud that Samuel Isaac shares his birthday. May his memory be eternal!

    • lisam permalink
      July 14, 2009 7:34 am

      Aw, thanks Jon! And to be honest, what with flying to Texas that day and the time-delay-ed nature of Facebook, I didn’t put two and two together that Samuel’s birthday (duh) was the first! May God bless his life, and yours. Thanks for the sweet note. πŸ™‚

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