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When spending a few days in Houston with a fellow wine lover and wine writer friend, what else would we do but drink wine. Houston is a pretty happening scene and its food scene has been steadily getting buzz. And the wine scene is also pretty exciting. After spending a day heading from one wine bar to the next, drinking wine in Houston is the Please The Palate pick of the week. Light Years Wine Bar (1304 W. Alabama Street, Houston, TX 77006) Located in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston, Light Years Wine Bar and Shop focuses on natural wines. While I am a fan of minimal-intervention wines, natural wines is not a term that resonates with me. But, I loved Light Years Wine Bar. Located in a charming stand-alone building that looks like an old house, Light Years has a long wine bar, as well as tables and chairs inside, and a patio outside. There are more than 200 bottles of wine on the wine shelves available for purchase. And at the bar, there are close to 40 bottles available to order by the glass. This list is not printed out and changes daily. The staff is friendly and after asking us what we were in the mood for, offered a few wines to taste to see what we preferred.
A work trip took me back to Austin, Texas. I knew that there is an exciting food scene in Austin and I hoped to find some time to try a few new places. Time was limited as I only had two nights but we managed to find two cool spots that both happen to be located in historic landmarks. Freedmen's Bar 2402 San Gabriel St Austin, TX 78705 Freedmen's We arrived into Austin on a Sunday evening and I was with a group of Australians. So the top of the list was to eat Texas barbecue. Our options were limited based on the time and day but it was recommended that we head to Freedmen's Bar. Located near the University of Texas, Freedmen's is a popular spot among college students.
For all the travel I do and all the places I have been, I had never been to Austin, Texas. When work took me there for an event, I made sure to arrive early enough the day prior so that I could explore the city - through food and drink, of course. First Stop: Second Bar + Kitchen (200 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701) Second Bar & Kitchen Second Bar + Kitchen is Chef David Bull's casual, urban restaurant that sits next to his upscale restaurant Congress. I entered in the early evening and took a seat at the bar. I was tempted by the great wine list that offers 25 wines by the glass, but it was the artisan cocktails that grabbed my attention, especially the Gin + Jam. Made with Viennese Gin, the jam is made regularly with ingredients from the kitchen. I got the house-made mixed berry and fennel jam. The presentation is so simple - the jam is served on a spoon over the glass of gin. It's up to you if you want to stir it all in. The gin is still the dominant flavor of this drink but the jam added subtle flavor. 
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