Pork Gyoza

Here we gyoz-again.

In our last post, while discussing the most rockin’ sushi rolls around Corpus Christi, we also mentioned our order of deep-fried pork gyoza. Curious about what goes into the Japanese dumpling-making process, we decided to do some research of our own and headed out to the store.

Making it happen

The Process

For the most part, we followed this recipe from Budget Bytes. The best way we can describe this process is not horribly complicated but not easy, either. The most difficult part is the wrapping, so don’t be deterred if it takes you a few tries before you get it right. Our biggest tip (or smallest, depending on how you look at it) is to put a very small amount of meat mixture into the center of the dumpling. This will make wrapping easier and also ensure that you can cook the meat all the way through in the pan without burning the outside shell of the gyoza.

Making the magic happen
More difficult than it looks!

The Results

While we can’t speak to authenticity and won’t pretend to, we will say that this was such a fun process and these gyoza turned out delicious. They had the prime level of crunch and it was so hard to not pop ten of these in our mouths at a time. The filling was tasty and it would be super easy to adjust to your specific tastes. These are, dare we say, better than those from Rock ‘n Roll? Get your favorite hoisin sauce, fish sauce, or soy sauce, and go to town!

The journey to the crunch

What Should You Know Before You Make Pork Gyoza?

  • Some of these ingredients may not be the easiest to find at typical grocery stores. We suggest going to an Asian supermarket for the best quality ingredients, primed and perfect for making gyoza.
  • A quick tip on the wrapping process before you get frustrated: YouTube! There are plenty of gyoza-wrapping videos, but this top result is easy to follow and also has text directions.
  • Pre-made gyoza wrappers are great for the novices like us, but if you’re already a gyoza-making pro, why not step it up a notch? Make your own wrappers with this recipe.
  • If you can’t find round wrappers specifically for making gyoza, don’t fret. The larger square ones will work just fine; all you need to do is use a biscuit cutter for the perfectly-sized circles.
A lineup we can get behind

When Should You Make Pork Gyoza?

We fully recommend making gyoza on a solo date night! Here’s what we mean by that. Gyoza are technically a “small bite,” so an appetizer or snack, and they do take up some pretty good time if you’re not accustomed to making them. Therefore, here’s our idea: treat yourself to some creative, culinary alone time and enjoy the slow, steady process of putting these gyoza together. Pour yourself a glass of Japanese plum wine, order an entree, and be rewarded with your creation.

Once you are accustomed to the process? Making these will fly by and be the perfect bite to take to parties. Skip the veggie tray and bring an entire tray of gyoza!

Rock on, gyoza lovers

The Tunes

Still going strong with f&f 2: sushi & gyoza. These soft rock tunes are the ideal pairing to your solo date. Stay tuned for our next playlist!

Rock & Rolls Sushi Lounge

These rolls really rock.

In case you couldn’t tell by our blog name, we love a good alliteration and a good ampersand. That’s not to even mention our love for a good theme, and Rock & Rolls Sushi Lounge has all three. A strong start to our review, to be sure.

Lounge is the perfect word for this restaurant. Rock & Rolls Sushi Lounge is small and dark, but also very cool. Classic rock music plays while an Elvis statue silently rocks on in the corner. The center of the establishment is the bar around which the rest of the restaurant is situated.

The whole shebang

The Fizz

The fizz options at Rock & Rolls really knock it out of the park. We tried two cocktails–the Bad Company Martini and the Purple Rain. The Bad Company consists of your choice of cucumber or watermelon juice, 1876 vodka, lemon juice, mint, and a chili salt rim. Even non-martini drinkers will die for this delicious cocktail. It’s refreshing and the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, not to mention SO photogenic. The Purple Rain is Empress 1908 Gin, Chase elderflower liqueur, lavender, simple syrup, lemon juice, and a splash of champagne. This is a unique and equally-delicious cocktail that’s heavy on the lavender. These cocktails really go well with any dish, which is why they pair so well with a sushi lounge of such unique offerings. 

Giddy for Gyoza

The Fork

Okay, let’s talk courses. This is a sushi lounge, but that isn’t to say that Rock and Rolls neglects their starters. This go-round, we ordered the spicy miso soup and the gyoza. The miso soup is a classic miso soup, plus. Plus sriracha, plus simbal, plus delicious hotness. When it comes to the gyoza, you will get a choice of fried or steamed. Note that the fry in this scenario isn’t just a pan fry as you might expect, it’s an actual deep fry. We learned this after ordering but were not disappointed in the least.

We also ordered a California roll, for comparison’s sake

Now, for what you’ve all been waiting for. The sushi. We’ve already mentioned balance in the fizz section, but want to reiterate that here. Rock & Rolls is great at balancing flavor profiles in one dish. We ordered three rolls–the Rhapsody of Bohemia, the Light My Fire, and the Californication. The Calfornication was different than expected but very good. The fried spicy jalapeño rings really add to this roll. The two others, however, were the star of this meal.The secret to the Rhapsody of Bohemia is a strawberry topping, which sounds strange but pairs excellently with the spice of the rest of the roll. Then, there was the Light My Fire, a goat cheese and jalapeño concoction. Let’s just say, we ate the entire meal and then ordered another Light My Fire roll. So. good.

And light my fire it did

We topped this absolute monstrosity of a meal with tempura ice cream. The batter could be thinner but the cake on the bottom of the ice cream was soft and tasty. We likely won’t be ordering this again, mostly because we would rather save the room for more sushi!

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • Parking: We’re going to be blunt about this. Parking sucks. It’s a tiny parking lot for a tiny shopping center with five other businesses in it. Try to carpool if going with a group or be prepared to park in the grass.
  • Reservations: We recommend making a reservation, especially for a busy night like Friday or Saturday. We called the morning of on a Saturday and were able to get one, albeit not at our perfect time, so the earlier the better.
  • Don’t knock it ‘till you try it. Rock & Rolls has several unique flavor combinations on their list. Ask your server for recommendations based on your palette.
  • Sharing is caring! Try the widest variation of sushi by sharing rolls with your companions. 
There’s a cake hidden under all that heaven

When Should You Make Your Own Trip to Rock & Rolls?

We think Rock ‘n Rolls makes a great date night spot, but an already-in-a-relationship date night, not first-date-never-met date night. While food and cocktails are exquisite, it can get loud which can put a damper on conversation. As we said, the space isn’t huge, so we would refrain from taking huge groups unless you plan ahead so they can set the space up. Considering Mindy did go there before senior year homecoming in high school, though, it’s certainly an option. 

The Tunes

Finally, we can release f&f2: sushi & gyoza to the world! These chill rock jams are the ideal pairing for a plate of sushi and a cocktail. You’ll also notice several live recordings on the list. Covid has taken its toll and we are READY for live music again. In the meantime, though, these live covers will do the trick! Enjoy.

Brunch Boards & a Bonus

Charcuterie, meet brunch.

Grown-up Lunchables. Let’s all face it, that’s all a charcuterie board is. That’s all it is and yet, and YET. We adore it. Charcuterie boards get the best of the whole universe because, by definition, they aren’t limited to one flavor palette. They are ideal for anyone who loves the concept of buffets but doesn’t actually love, y’know, buffets.

Now, what happens when the charcuterie board meets brunch? Magic, that’s what happens. Fizz & Fork magic. You read about our morning trip to the farmers’ market, and this gorgeous creation was the result.

The chocolate chips really add the it factor

The Process

You’ll notice in our charcuterie brunch board we have waffles, chocolate chips, syrup, Greek yogurt with honey, bananas, a berry trio, peaches, port and fig jam, brie, fresh-baked rosemary bread, and bacon. This can easily be adjusted based off availability and the flavor profile you are going for. We could even go so far as to envision a “meat-lovers” brunch board featuring every breakfast meat under the sun, if that’s more your speed. For this one, we started, as we recommended in our last post, at the market, looking for those signature flavors we felt would really make the board pop. This, for us, was the port & fig jam. From there, we went to our ever-favorite grocery store, H-E-B, to fill in the gaps. We tried to be intentional about choosing a balance of flavors, but within that constraint we really just went for whatever sounded good at the time. Have fun with it!

You can read more about our experience picking up jams at the farmers market here.

Try mixing up the fruit presentation. Leave some whole, some sliced, some halved, etc.

The Results

The key to any good charcuterie, breakfast-themed or not, is a good mix of textures, flavors, and food groups. While we might have gone a little heavy on the fruit, we otherwise think we achieved that here. The port & fig jam ended up being absolutely delectable when spread, alongside the brie, on top of the rosemary bread. The berries and bananas made for an excellent additional topping to the waffles, and the bacon was the perfect bit of crunch. It may not look like a huge board, but this will fill up way more people than you think it will!

What Should You Know Before You Make a Brunch Board?

  • Visit a farmers’ market for the highlight pieces of your board. They’re delicious, support a small business, and also make great talking points when you serve.
  • Mix up your regular pancake or waffle mix with a mix in, like pecans or blueberries. It will elevate the board without adding much time or difficulty.
  • Try to find some clear or antique serving dishes. They make a rough board elegant and are also so fun to look for at thrift stores!
  • Have leftovers? Consider making a couple prepacked “meal preps” out of the ingredients. Mix it up with different combos!
See how these clear dishes add an elegant touch?

When Should You Make a Brunch Board?

This would be a great meal to make when you want to have friends over for brunch and you want to impress them, but have minimal faith in your cooking skills. Boom, the brunch board is there to help. Pour a drop of orange juice into some bubble and you’re ready to go! This is also a great breakfast option for anyone who wants a hearty breakfast but isn’t a fan of eggs!

The Tunes & a Bonus

Our carefully curated playlist from the farmers market is still live and the perfect complement to a brunch board. We know we’ve been grooving to 75 and Sunny nonstop.

We also wanted to share with you a few “Watermelon Sugar” inspired shots. Like mentioned above, we went a little overboard with the fruit purchasing and wanted an artistic way to put them all to good use. We felt these photos accomplished that goal. Also, we got to go to the beach and it was fun! Have a great rest of your week!

Corpus Christi Southside Farmers’ Market + A Fun Playlist

Homegrown on the coast.

Today’s post is a little different than our usual restaurant/recipe succession, but we promise it’s for good reason! A few good reasons, actually. The first of those reasons is that the ingredients for the recipe we’ll be revealing next week, inspired by Muse Bistro (can you guess it?), was partially sourced from this trip we took to the farmers’ market in Southside Corpus Christi. Between that, the extra goodies we picked up along the way, and our general love for local sourcing and farm-to-table style dining, we decided to dedicate an entire post to the trip.

Now, for the next very good reason we’re breaking tradition a bit this week…to introduce a new concept we’ll be trying out! What sets the tone for a good meal better than the perfect tunes? What brings people together the same way a great meal does? Music–and anyone who knows us knows we absolutely love music. Besides trying out new restaurants, concerts are our favorite thing to do together. This is why we’ve teamed up with our music aficionado friend, Makaila, to bring you a mini playlist that will match the vibes of the recipe and restaurant set we post about! This week’s playlist? “f&f 1: farmers’ markets & brunch boards.” We hope you’re as excited as we are about this! 

Bloggers in the wild

The Sweet

What’s more classic than a lollipop? We picked up three of the cutest lollipops, all made by hand at a local farm and with visible inclusions of their respective flavors. For example, the rosemary mint flavor had a teensy sprig of rosemary visible through the candy. We also bought the honey lemon and the dill. The dill was our favorite, and tasted almost like pickle popcorn–sweet and salty, but not sour. There were other vendors peddling sweet treats like breads and pastries as well…we were sad to not be able to purchase the entire market.

That’s our jam!

The Savory

Technically we didn’t actually buy anything “savory,” but since we used what we bought to create a meal, we figured it was allowed. Also, it’s our blog. We make the rules. Lol. Yes, we’re talking more to ourselves than anyone else.

Ahem. Anyway. Let’s jam. Jams and jellies are what we walked away with. We fell for these 30+ jam varieties hard and walked away with Port Fig, Chocolate Raspberry, Mango Jalapeno, and Strawberry Basil flavors. Aside from the jams, there were vegetables, fruits, and meat available on the savory front.

Sherry is an incredible woman

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • A farmers’ market is not a substitute for your regular grocery trip. While they are wonderful, they are also limited in available products by season, region, etc. Our suggestion? Go with a recipe in mind and get what you can, but plan to fill in the gaps at the store on your way home.
  • Most vendors now take card payments, but it’s always good to plan ahead and pick up some cash just in case. You don’t want to lose your beloved veggies just because you forgot to stop by the bank!
  • Don’t be close-minded. Farmers’ markets offer a ton of unique flavors and twists on traditional products. They also often have great non-edible products, like jewelry, that make for great gifts!
Locally grown, just like Mindy

When Should You Make Your Own Trip to the Farmers’ Market?

The one we attended in Southside Corpus Christi is only open Saturday mornings. In Downtown Corpus Christi, there is another market that is every Wednesday evening,  and occasionally others will pop up. We suggest following various markets on social media to keep up with their plans as well as searching “farmers’ markets near me” regularly to find new events.

The Tunes

The playlist for the next two weeks, “f&f 1: farmers’ markets & brunch boards” is an eclectic mix of upbeat, indie tunes. This is the type of music that makes  you want to be in the open-air of a farmers’ market, strolling through the aisles with a wicker basket, daydreaming of the meal to come. Enjoy.

Muse Bistro

A brunch to inspire the artist in you.

It feels gooood to be back. Between both of us starting new jobs in the last few months, making some difficult personal decisions regarding the future, preparing for a big move, and Texas freezing over last month, things have been hectic in the Fizz & Fork universe, to say the least. We are finally back to regularly-scheduled programming, though, and nothing feels more normal and right than sitting down to write about a new restaurant for you to enjoy.

Sorry to get so meta on y’all there for a minute. We know why you’re here, so let’s dig right in.

Simple, but it stands out from the crowd

Muse Bistro is Corpus Christi’s newest and hottest spot for “brunch, bites, and booze on the Bay,” as their tagline puts it. The bistro just opened up back in December 2020 and is already making waves on the Corpus Christi dining scene. The restaurant is unassuming on the outside with a simple white storefront and black logo, but gorgeous on the inside. If we were to describe the decor, it would be French bohemian–lots of greenery, rattan, and marble countertops. Even more impressive than the decor? The food, which is mostly brunch with a Cajun twist.

Have you ever seen anyone happier to be holding a guava mimosa?

The Fizz

We started off brunch in the usual way–with mimosas! Muse has carafes of mimosas featuring cranberry, grapefruit, or orange juice. While those are relatively standard, what is not is their standalone guava mimosa,  which, of course, is what we ordered. This drink was heavy on the guava flavor so if that’s your thing, you’ll absolutely love it. It’s a very unique twist on the mimosa. Besides mimosas, Muse has a few other signature cocktails, like “The Bayside” and “The Muse,” which we look forward to trying on our next trip!

Itty bitty waffles

The Fork

The menu at Muse is not expansive, but in our estimation that is because the limited things they do, they do right. We ordered the Papas Bravas, Southwest Avocado Toast, French Toast, and Mini Chicken and Waffle Kebab. Let’s start with our “tapa,” the Papas Bravas. We had something similar to this when we went to MAD that spurred on this choice, and we weren’t disappointed. The sauce is incredible, with plenty of creamy cheese and a dash of spice. The avocado toast was served on very crispy bread and among the toppings were grilled shrimp and an unexpected jalapeño slaw that added a great texture and spice. This dish was filling without being heavy.

Jalapeño slaw. Don’t knock it ’till you try it.

Now, onto the sweet side of things! The French Toast was a classic French Toast. What we found to be the most unique about it was the maple syrup, which tasted like it was mixed with honey. Yum. Then, the pièce de résistance of the whole experience, and what Muse Bistro has come to be known for so far–the Mini Chicken and Waffle Kebab. This dish is not only adorable, but it tastes amazing. The tiny waffles are crunchy and precious, with the same honeyed maple syrup as the french toast. The real star of the show, though, is the fried chicken. These small chicken bites are fried with Cajun spices that are unreal and so flavorful. Definitely recommend! Next on our list? Trying the mini Fruity Pebbles waffles.

Can’t go wrong with a classic French toast.

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • Because Muse’s focus is on brunch and bites, they are open a limited number of days and hours of the week. Brunch is from 11:00 a.m. through 3 p.m. and evening tapas are served from 5 p.m. to close on every day they are open, which is Thursday–Sunday.
  • Parking: Muse is located on Starr street in downtown Corpus, which is, *ahem* annoying to park in. However, you should be able to find a metered spot close to the restaurant or a free spot just a couple short blocks away.
  • This restaurant is not set up with a typical wait staff ordering situation. Instead, customers walk up to the main bar to order their food and drinks, then take a number and wait there for their food to be brought out. 
Crispy and creamy

When Should You Make Your Own Trip to Muse Bistro?

During normal times, Muse would be a great place for a brunch with the gals, or if you’re free on a Thursday or Friday morning, even better, as there’s less of a wait. Upon further research, however, it seems that Muse Bistro is temporarily closed, as all the restaurants on the Coastal Bend are dealing with a severe staff shortage problem. They will certainly be reopened before their Derby event next month on May 1st, but stay tuned to their website and social media for updates.

We hope you can enjoy brunch on the Bayside soon, and we’ll see you back here next week!

Shrimp & Lobster Ravioli

You’ll fall in love with this easy Valentine’s Day dinner idea

Valentine’s Day is coming in HOT, with only four days left to finish planning for the big day. If you’re still scrambling to decide what you and your sweetie should do to celebrate your love, especially in the middle of a pandemic, don’t you worry, we’ve got you! 

Last week, we suggested Café Poêtes as the perfect place to take your girls for Valentine’s Day, and that would definitely be a great option for a date night as well. But if you’re more the “I haven’t left the couch in three days and I don’t plan on changing that anytime soon” type, you’ll find no judgement here. This post is for you. Picking a gift is hard enough, why not keep the celebration part sweet and simple with this easy-to-follow dinner recipe?

The Process

This recipe is one we cooked up, literally and figuratively, ourselves. So today you get the recipe directly from us:


  • Shrimp (However much you want)
  • 1 pack of pre-packaged lobster ravioli from Costco
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. If the shrimp are frozen, start off by defrosting them. Place them in a bowl of warm water and they should be ready to go in about 10 minutes. After they are thawed, drain the water from the bowl and pat the shrimp dry. 
  2. Next, finely chop 1/2 onion. Yellow is preferred, but we used a red one here and it turned out lovely as well. (We personally like to julienne our onions, but that’s mostly because it makes us feel fancy.) While you’re here at the chopping board, go ahead and mince the garlic.
  3. Heat 2 tbsps of olive oil in the pan, along with 1 clove of garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until fragrant, then add the onion. Cook until tender and caramelized. Next, add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper (here is where you add the optional red pepper flakes for a bit of kick). Cook until the shrimp isn’t translucent and has a pink coloring. Transfer to a plate!
  4. Fill up a pot of water and heavily salt it. Bring it to a boil.
  5. While you are heating the water up, start on the sauce. In the same pan you cooked the shrimp and onion in, add 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp of unsalted butter, and 2 cloves of garlic to the pan. Cook until the garlic is nice and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  6. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add 1/4 cup of white wine, cooking until halfway reduced. Then add in 3/4 cup of heavy cream. Mix together and bring to a simmer. 
  7. By now, your water should be boiling. Add in the lobster ravioli and cook on high for 4 minutes. 
  8. Return to the sauce and add in however much Parmesan makes you happy–I’d say about 1/2 cup. Take a whisk and mix it all together, working out the clumps and making it smooth and creamy. Add in 1 tsp of basil or any other herb of choice at this time. 
  9. Drain the pasta, then add both that and the shrimp into the saucepan. Mix and cook for about 3 minutes, just long enough to heat the shrimp back up. 

The Results

Once the dish is complete, you are certainly more than able to serve. If you want to add some pizzazz, though, while also getting in your greens, we suggest roasting some asparagus to serve as a bed for the pasta dish. This can easily be done in the oven on a roasting rack while you work on the pasta. Once everything is complete, throw some additional parmesan on top, ladle onto a plate, and pour a glass of wine. The final step? A toast–to love and Costco ravioli!

What should you know before you make this Shrimp & Lobster Ravioli dish?

  • The amount of shrimp required for this recipe is variable depending on how much you enjoy shrimp, but an easy rule of thumb is to have about ¼ pound per person eating.
  • The Costco lobster ravioli is divine. It just is. But this recipe would work with any pre-assembled lobster ravioli you can find…probably.
  • We suggest buying frozen shrimp that’s already peeled and de-veined. It significantly speeds up the process and keeps you from getting too messy.
  • Make sure the parmesan cheese you buy is finely shredded and not the shaky stuff! It a.) won’t have the same taste and b.) won’t melt correctly.
Is this what love feels like?

When should you make shrimp and lobster ravioli?

Valentine’s Day, duh. That’s why we’re here, isn’t it? But honestly, this seafood dish would be perfect for anytime you want to make your dinner just a little bit ✨special✨ even if it’s just for you!

For dessert, might we suggest olive oil cake or donuts?

What team are you–Valentine’s at home or Galentine’s out on the town? Let us know in the comments!

Vanilla Cake Donuts with Maple Glaze

We trust Joanna Gaines with our life…and our donuts

Who’s ready for #DemoDay? Demo Day=Best Day.

Wait…something here isn’t right. Oh, yeah. We momentarily forgot we’re a food blog, not home renovation experts. We did get the right family at least. Chip and Joanna Gaines might have gotten their start on the hit HGTV show Fixer Upper, but since then they’ve expanded tenfold into all manner of homemaking products, from decor to what we’ll be talking about today–cookbooks!

Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering is a collection of Joanna Gaines’ favorite recipes from her home and restaurant, divided into six categories: breakfast, lunch, dinner, small plates, snacks, and desserts. After perusing the book and trying out several of the recipes, we’ve determined there’s one thing that won’t ever need fixing up, and that’s Joanna Gaines’ taste. Specifically, her recipe for Vanilla Cake Donuts with Maple Glaze.

Last week, we took you to Gates Donuts for some of the most incredible cake donuts we’ve ever had, so this recipe was the perfect opportunity for us to try our hand at it ourselves. Here’s how it went:

fizz & fork’s first deep fry

The Process

The dough for these donuts was pretty easy to make, just your classic mixing and kneading. The one relatively-unique step was the vanilla bean pod scraping. For that step, it’s easiest to lay the pod flat on a cutting board and use the edge of a paring knife to scrape as many seeds as possible from the walls of the pod. 

Now, full disclosure, we had never deep fried anything before this. We can go ham with an air fryer or sizzle things up on a stovetop any day, but this was a whole new ball game. A ball game, which, as it turns out, was pretty easy. The trickiest part of this was getting the temperature right, but once we got it heated up, the actual frying was simple, and Joanna’s instructions are easy to follow. After letting them cool a bit, we whipped together the simple maple glaze and dipped them in to complete the donut!

The Results

We didn’t even wait for these to cool before chomping down. Joanna Gaines never disappoints. Most of them were thick and moist with a gorgeous golden crunch on the outsides. A few of our donuts, however, were still doughy in the center, so we recommend that you leave your thicker ones in the oil for another minute or so longer than it says. Ensuring that your temperature doesn’t get too high will make it so that you can leave them in longer without burning the outside. The aftereffect of this experience? Nothing can stop us now that we can make our own donuts. Nothing.

The maple glaze makes all the difference

What should you know before you make Vanilla Cake Donuts with Maple Glaze?

  • Don’t substitute regular flour for cake flour! However, if you can’t find cake flour at your local grocery store, you can actually make it yourself. Measure out one cup of all-purpose flour, then remove two tablespoons and replace it with corn starch, and there you have it–a quick and easy cake flour substitute.
  • You are going to need a lot of vegetable oil. We are deep frying, after all, so make sure you get plenty of oil to fill your cast iron. It would be awful to mold a bunch of perfect donut dough only to be short on oil and not able to fry them up.
  • The thermometer is crucial for this recipe! You’ll have to adjust the oven settings as you go as the oil changes in temperature, so it’s imperative to have a good thermometer that you use frequently to make sure the donuts can get to that perfect golden color.
Brb going to fry up some oil for the next batch

When should you make Vanilla Cake Donuts with Maple Glaze?

These donuts, because of the maple and vanilla flavor profile, make a wonderful fall or winter breakfast. Served warm with a mug of hot apple cider? We can’t think of anything more cozy and comforting. Another option is to make these on a birthday morning! Add some colorful sprinkles and they’re perfectly festive to celebrate another trip around the sun. 

Everyone have a great week and we’ll see you back here next Wednesday! In the meantime, we’ll be busy channeling our inner Joanna Gaines by completely redecorating our homes and ordering Magnolia Table Volume 2.

Gates Donut Shop

Welcome to Corpus Christi’s favorite donut.

Open the gates, everybody! It’s time to visit Gates Donut Shop in Mindy’s hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas. We’re taking a bit of a detour today by not covering a full-service restaurant, but we felt the best way to introduce our first coverage of the Corpus Christi area was to show something iconic, and Gates Donuts certainly fits the bill. The simple storefront is a Corpus landmark, and tourists and locals alike flock to the block-letter sign.

The spread (what we didn’t devour on the way home)

The Donuts

The donuts at Gates fall under three umbrella categories–cake, glazed, filled, and specialty. From the cake section, we ordered chocolate and classic, but the option list goes on and on, from blueberry to cinnamon sugar. In our opinion, the best way to judge a donut place is by their take on the classic cake, and Gates Donuts did not disappoint. Their cake donuts are thick, sugary, and not one crumb could be called dry. They’re truly *chef’s kiss.*

The ever-important ooze of the chocolate-filled donut

From the filled collection, we ordered chocolate and apple. We were sorely tempted by the raspberry as well, but a line must be drawn somewhere! The apple-filled donut was more akin to a very puffy apple turnover. As for the chocolate, well, if you can see the delightful ooze in the photo above, you can probably guess how that went. 

Tragically, we arrived too late for them to still have our prime choice of glazed, the buttermilks, but we were able to  pick up some traditional glazed donuts. While happy with what we did get, we beg of you to learn from our dire mistakes and Get. There. Early. We’re probably cheating a bit by saying this but we actually *have* been to Gates before and, all bias aside, their buttermilk donuts alone are worth the trip. Buttermilk disappointment aside, we were able to get two of the Gates Donut pièce de résistance–the maple bacon bar. This house special is a flaky maple Long John topped with a full slab of thick-sliced bacon, and it is a salty-sweet paradise. Bacon lovers rejoice for this one. Our general consensus of the entire smorgasbord is that 82 years of business is a pretty good indicator you’re not going to get a bad donut.

The “More”

We couldn’t exactly do “fizz” this week since this hometown joint is not exactly the type of place to serve trendy cocktails or artisan sodas. What they do have, however, are items that are not donuts. We ordered a plain sausage kolache and a jalapeno and cheese kolache. These kolaches were good, but we wouldn’t go farther than that. They’re not going to knock your socks off, but still–a solid kolache that will make for a solid, satisfying breakfast.

Then come their fried (!)  cinnamon rolls, available with or without a pecan topping. Those things are monstrous but even so, you may not want to share. To quench your thirst in the most breakfast-friendly way, they also have coffee, cappuccinos, and a variety of milk. Aside from these highlights, Gates Donuts also has the most adorable iced cookies to match every holiday, including Texas-shaped ones, and have the option for custom orders for parties or events!

Spot the tiny chef’s hat!

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • Some donuts, including the fan favorite buttermilks, are only available on weekends.
  • Plan to take your goodies elsewhere. Gates Donut Shop is drive-thru only and there’s no outdoor seating available.
  • Favorites sell out quick! Gates donuts are made each day, which means that they’re always fresh and moist, but also that there’s only a limited number of each flavor available. If you’re after a specific type, go early.
The iconic Gates sign

When Should You Make Your Own Trip to Gates Donut Shop?

Early weekend mornings! If you’re in Corpus, that means you’re in easy driving distance of the beach, so our suggestion would be to go right when Gates opens (6 am), pick up a batch of your favorite donuts and a coffee or two, and head on out to the beach to enjoy the sunrise. It may be early, but those views and those flavors can’t be beat.

Are you from Corpus or a frequent beach-loving visitor? Comment your favorite restaurants in the Sparkling City by the Bay so we don’t miss a thing!

Strawberry Basil Mules

From Moscow to Texas, this fruity mule is a winner.

Remember how we said we were mesmerized by the basil-infused ice cube in our Fresa Gin Tonic from MAD Houston? We weren’t joking. That one seaweed-colored cube, arguably one of the least-significant aspects of the evening we spent at MAD, was the spark for this week’s cocktail recipe. The Fresa Gin Tonic was a delicious complement to our meal, and we loved the idea of having herbs in a cocktail, so we decided to take the key ingredients–strawberries and basil–and book them a first-class ticket to Russia.

We’re both big fans of the Moscow Mule, even if technically it originated far from Moscow…in a British pub…in Los Angeles. Regardless, it’s a quick, easy cocktail that always feels just a little bit extra with its spice and its shiny copper mug. It was the perfect palate base for adding our ingredients. We loosely based our version off this recipe from The Home Cook’s Kitchen, with a few significant differences. Namely, the aforementioned basil ice cube.

Tito’s vodka because we’re loyal Texans!

The Process

First things first, the ice cube! To make these, we cut basil leaves into thin strips and then muddled them in a shallow bowl. We spread approximately ten basil leaves across an ice cube tray of twelve, then filled the rest with water. It’s truly up to you how little or much you add, entirely dependent on your level of love for basil. For the actual cocktail, you simply add the strawberries to your mug and muddle away. Then, add the basil leaves and muddle those a bit as well to release and combine the flavors. If you want even more juices, you can give the basil a rough chop before you muddle it, but that’s not a requirement by any means. After that, all you do is pour in the lime juice, ginger beer, and vodka, and stir well.

The Results

Just like the Fresa Gin Tonic before it, this cocktail exceeded expectations. It’s fruity, but the basil and lime ensure that this drink is not overly sweet. The “fizz” half of us also really loved the fizzy, spicy carbonation of the ginger beer. We personally prefer our drinks stronger than average (no judgment!), so we ended up adding an extra pour of vodka. The ice cubes were a hit, as expected, and the slow release of flavor was perfect for sipping and talking. We will say, our ice cubes were pretty heavy on the basil, so if you’re less of a fan, you can either put less basil in the cubes or skip adding the leaves to the main cocktail altogether. Overall? We can’t wait for this pandemic to be over so we can serve this at a party with all our friends!

The copper makes everything better, no?

What should you know before you make Strawberry Basil Mules?

  • Copper mugs are necessary! This drink may have a different flavor profile than a classic mule, but the ginger beer still begs for the temperature control and crisp mouthfeel of the copper. Besides, it’s tradition. If you need some, we found our mugs at Target, but any local Total Wines or liquor store should have them as well. We even spotted a couple giant ones for making a big batch. 
  • Don’t have a bar set? Don’t worry too much. Having a muddler is nice, but in a pinch the back of a wooden spoon will do just fine. This recipe is also simple enough that a shaker isn’t really necessary as long as you stir well enough, and a shot of vodka is somewhere around a three second pour from a bottle. 
  • The basil ice cubes will take a few hours, so if you plan to make this cocktail for an event, we suggest making them and putting a couple trays in the freezer the morning of the party. 
  • Garnish, garnish, garnish. A sliced strawberry, an extra basil leaf, or a wedge of lime are all festive, colorful options!
We were so proud of these ice cubes.

When should you make Strawberry Basil Mules?

Sweet summertime! You can obviously enjoy this cocktail whenever you please–we made it during the wintertime, as you can see by our photo setup. We also live in South Texas, though, so it’s not like there’s a huge seasonal difference. All of that being said, summer is ideal in our opinion because this is a fruity twist on the classic, and both basil and strawberries thrive during the summertime. You’ll likely get more robust flavors if you serve this cocktail then, when the basil leaves are giant and the strawberries are in-season-juicy. The combo is refreshing that it would pair perfectly with a hot summer pool day!

MAD Houston

We went mad for MAD.

Welcome back, fizzies! (Can we call you that? It felt better than forkies or forkers, but to each their own.) We are so grateful for the time we got to spend soaking in the holidays with our loved ones and eating our favorite recipes (link), but also so excited to get right back to trying and sharing new foods in the new year. 2021 has taken long enough to get here, and we are so grateful to finally be ringing it in tomorrow!

This week we’re going to take you back to the night of one of our favorite experiences of 2020, although it certainly didn’t start out like that. After an almost-missed reservation and a truly harrowing Uber ride we won’t go into here, we arrived at MAD Houston feeling exactly that…mad. We stepped through the neon doors and into the front vestibule with a flurry of apologies and what just happeneds. To be honest, we knew MAD was an upscale restaurant, and we half expected a snobby reception. We were late, after all, and wearing monochrome wig/outfit ensembles (Sometimes girls just wanna have fun!). We’re pleased to report that we could not have been more wrong. Our hosts were overly gracious, assuring us that there was nothing to worry about and that we were finally free to relax. 

The bathroom in question.

This was the start we had been hoping for, and we continued to be pleasantly surprised as we walked through the restaurant to our table. We have to pause for a quick second here to discuss the inside of this place. The decor skirts just perfectly south of “too much,” and if the food wasn’t so mind-blowing, we might say that taking the atmosphere in is the real treat. Everywhere you look is another neon sign, oversized chandelier, or unique Spanish art piece to stare at. If it tells you anything about the level of grandeur, the most ‘grammed spot of the whole place is in the literal bathroom.

Okay, enough about the bathroom. On to the food!

Left to right: Ay Güey, Qué Guay, Fresa Gin Tonic, Rosé

The Fizz

We definitely needed a drink or two after our struggle getting to the restaurant, so we started right off with the fizz–three in total. While expensive, the drinks are also sizable, so don’t feel like you’re not getting your money’s worth. The first drink we ordered was a rosé off the wine menu, the “Bodegas Muga ‘Rosado’ 2018.” It was a dry rosé from Spain that is definitely not for a sweet wine lover, but which we think would pair well with any of the meat dishes on the menu. 

We then moved on to cocktails, which we would say to order before your meal so as not to be too distracted by other flavors. At the tippy-top-of-the-menu was the “Ay Güey, Qué Guay.” This was a tequila-based drink that was a little smoky and a little sweet. The toppers were a spicy foam and a grilled pineapple chunk that lends a zing. We ended with the winner of the group, so good we had to order two–the “Fresa Gin Tonic.” The alcohols at the base of the tonic are a gin and a flavored brandy. Building from there is an explosion of fruity fresh flavors. Strawberry and basil win out for most apparent, but mint and lemon lurk below the surface too. Additionally, we would be remiss not to mention how absolutely mesmerized we were by the basil-infused ice cube that came in this drink. Instead of being watered down, the flavors just got more pronounced as time went on. Incredible.

The Fork

We started off with tapas: the “Bravas Tomás,” the “Serranito,” and the “Empanadillas de Cochinillo.” The Bravas Tomás looked essentially like a plate of cheese fries got taken on a vacation to Spain. But oh boy, did they taste like so much more. The potatoes were soft on the inside but the skins were crisped to perfection, and the sauce draped on top was thick and creamy, akin in consistency but not flavor with a hollandaise sauce. Next up on the tapas was the Serranito. This was “glass bread” topped with the “secret” Spanish cut of pork and a variety of vegetables and spices. Glass bread is called so because of how crunchy and delicate the outer skin is, while staying soft on the inside. The dish sounds complicated, but it was almost like a Philly cheesesteak went on vacation…to Spain. We admit we’re being a bit ridiculous with the Spanish vacation jokes, but it’s our way of trying to relate these foods to more familiar ingredients and make the ordering process a bit less intimidating. Hopefully it’s helpful. Last on the tapas list were the Empanadillas, aptly named because they were teeny-tiny and adorable, approximately the size of a typical Japanese gyoza. They were crunchy and flaky with a mango-apricot chutney that really upped the ante.

Not your average cheesy potatoes

For a full entreé, split between three people from the wood fired rice section, we ordered the “Fideuá de Cochinillo.” Tip: if you want to order any of the wood fired rice options, make sure you do so as soon as you arrive, because they take a good 40 minutes to be prepared. The full cast iron is brought to your table by the chef, who then serves a portion to each diner and is more than happy to answer any questions. We were apparently really feeling the suckling pig this night, because it was a prominent feature of both the Empanadillas and this dish as well, and wow. It did not disappoint–we all agreed it is rare to find meat that tender. The base of the dish is roasted angel hair pasta, topped by the suckling pig and mixed with onions and porcini mushrooms. This dinner was truly in our top five meals of 2020, and that’s saying a lot considering we started this entire blog about food this year. 

This cast iron was huge!

Things to Know Before You Go “MAD:”

  • Reservations: Make a reservation. We cannot stress this enough. They are incredibly strict (reservations last exactly two hours) and not making one will cause a lot of heartbreak, hanger, and pain, especially if you’re wearing heels. Additionally, don’t be late to your reservation. Any more than fifteen minutes late and you’ll lose your spot.
  • Parking: You’ve got options when it comes to parking. There is complimentary valet available at the front, although make sure you have cash to tip if you go that route. There is also free self-parking in a nearby garage, or there is metered parking lining the street leading up to the restaurant entrance.
  • The menu: MAD’s menu is extensive and can be a bit confusing, especially considering half of it is in Spanish and that there are a lot of unfamiliar ingredients used in their dishes. We recommend looking over it before you get there, although the waitstaff is incredibly helpful in walking through the menu with you.
  • Portions: Another important thing to note about the menu is the portion sizes. Most of their dishes are traditionally tapas, so you’ll want to order a few to get a good variety and enough food. On the other hand, some of their dishes, like the “Wood Roasted Rice” or “Over the Open Fire Pit” dishes are huge and designed for multiple people to eat them. Be aware of this, and if you’re not sure, always ask your waiter!
We weren’t kidding about the wigs.

So When Should You Make Your Own Trip to MAD?

MAD is definitely not a restaurant you decide to go to on a whim when you don’t feel like making dinner. MAD is an experience fit for an occasion, like a birthday or anniversary dinner. It’s very expensive, we won’t lie, but it’s worth it. Not only is the food a unique and delightful fusion of Spanish foods, but the atmosphere will make you stare in wonderment the entire time you’re there. We hear they’re also having a killer New Year’s Eve dinner, but reservations are tight so check for yours, like, yesterday, and try not to go mad in the process 😉

That’s it for this week! We’ll see you next year, fizzies, with a recipe inspired by the cocktails of MAD (Really enjoying that. Probably won’t be stopping anytime soon). Happy New Year’s!