After discovering Revival Market in Houston, we now look for reasons to head east as often as we can, ice chest ready to be filled with custom cuts of pastured meats, house-cured charcuterie, hard-to-find heirloom pantry items, store-made sauces and condiments, and prepared specialty items. The Heights is an historic neighborhood north of Houston’s sprawling downtown; with shady streets emanating from a grand boulevard and blocks of charming craftsman homes, it’s ground zero in Houston’s burgeoning local food scene. Revival Market is its beating heart, a true neighborhood market, butcher shop, café and coffee bar. Heritage hog farmer Morgan Weber and chef Ryan Pera dreamed up the original concept several years back, and recently opened Coltivare, a new neighborhood joint just down the street from Revival.
We caught up with Morgan as he dashed between restaurant and grocery to get the inside scoop on the partners' favorite picks from store shelves. Following their lead, we grabbed a bottle of small-batch sorghum syrup and headed home to whip up some fluffy buttermilk biscuits worthy of slathering.
Tell us about Revival Market:
It’s our interpretation of a 21st Century Texas butcher shop. I grew up in rural South Texas where every small town had their “City Meat Market”—usually a shotgun-style space with a meat counter on one side, produce on the other, groceries in the middle and some sort of café in the back.
Our thought with Revival Market was to transplant that idea to the Houston Heights Neighborhood, update it, and make it relevant to our guests. This meant responsibly sourcing food and providing a highly edited selection of groceries that supported small companies in Texas and across the country that were striving to do the “right” thing.
Your earliest cooking or food memory:
Saturday mornings at my grandmother’s house. She was Czech and baked kolaches and cinnamon rolls every weekend. It was the only breakfast of the week at which I was allowed to eat sweets. My ass was outta bed before anyone wanted it to be, and I was on the road to her house—walking… she lived right next door.
Favorite food and drink pairing:
It may seem cliché, but I’m a simple person. I love red zinfandel wine. I don’t feel like it gets it’s fair shake because of the perception that bad White Zin has, by name association, given it. Pair it with a good stinky Epoisses cheese. I can call it a day on that.
What’s the one cooking tool you can’t live without?
Good, sharp knives.
What does the table look like when you host a dinner party?
Lots of family-style food. I like to BBQ, so definitely something “smoked.”
Favorite quickly assembled appetizer:
For parties, I like to keep things simple. Pre-assemble a charcuterie and meat tray before your guests get there. Do it right. Make it thoughtful. Interesting cheeses and interesting meats, put some good olives on it, dried fruit. Varying textures is the best, some sliced, cured, whole muscles like coppa or prosciuttio—better yet, country ham. Get some pate, some terrines. Soft cheeses, semi-soft cheeses, and hard cheeses. Get one weird funky cheese that might make people uncomfortable.
And there can never be enough pickles.
What you’re cooking this week:
It’s officially fall, and I’ve been wanting some risotto. That’s probably going to happen this week. I like to use Anson Mills’s Carolina Gold Rice for my risotto — can’t beat it.
Your favorite cookbook?
This is a tough one, I have a lot. Probably my favorite is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Meat Book – not because I cook out of it frequently, because that is rarely the case, but because it went a long way in forming my opinions about food and how it is sourced and grown.
I think one of the best cookbooks out there for home cooks is Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home. Great principles for people who are new to cooking.
A meal you will never forget:
A few years ago, my business partner, Ryan Pera and I, along with a couple of other chef-friends from Houston had the opportunity to snag a back-of- house tour of the Stone Barn Center for Food & Agriculture in Westchester County, New York, followed by a meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns.
The attention to detail and soul with which our meal was prepared and the subsequent stories that accompanied the food, paired with the fact that a majority of the ingredients were grown within a few hundred feet from our dining room table, set the meal apart from all other experiences that I have ever had in a restaurant setting.
Your favorite comfort food:
Flaky buttermilk biscuits and sorghum syrup. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs. baking powder
1-4 Tbs. sugar
4-6 Tbs. butter
1 c. buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425. Mix together the dry ingredients. With two knives or a pastry cutter, cut the butter in until the mixture looks like dry breadcrumbs.
Add the buttermilk, all at once, mixing quickly and gently for about 20 seconds until you have a soft dough. Knead the dough gently a few turns and pat or roll to a square about ¾ inch thick. Cut into circles with a round cutter or small glass dipped in flour. Butter a small cast iron skillet or square baking pan and place the biscuits with their sides touching. Top each with a tiny pat of butter. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Serve with your favorite jam, preserves or sorghum syrup and plenty of butter.