PaperCity Magazine

September 2016 - Houston

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F or decades, Houston chef Monica Pope has been celebrated, credited with revolutionizing the local culinary scene by embracing the local food movement. She's competed on Top Chef Masters and received a James Beard Award nomination. Now she's ready to take on Round Top in a big way. Two years ago, she hosted her first pop-up al fresco supper in the country and was hooked. Since then, she has regularly hosted pop-up dinners at Matt White's The Round Top Ballroom and The Annex in Burton. This fall, she hosts pop-up dinners at Rancho Pillow, as well. "I cook differently out here. I embrace the smoker, the pit and the campfire — cowboy style," she says. (Small-town connection: One of her business partners at Beaver's in Houston is Round Top Inn proprietor Susanne Maida's brother Todd Johnson). SPARROW PROJECT W hat started as a family retreat turned into a recording studio and is now a fully operating artistic guest ranch — and Rancho Pillow owner Shield Youngblood isn't stopping there. This fall, the 20-acre fantasy compound will host nightly ticketed dinners paired with live music, dubbed Feasts in the Field, September 25 through October 1, with a culinary experience prepared by in-house chef Mike Rivera most nights and by special guest chef Monica Pope on September 27, 28, and 29. A three-day Rancho Mercado September 27 – 29, open from noon until dark, will host some of Youngblood's favorite artists, designers, and makers of vintage home goods, jewelry, and fashion from across the globe under tents and teepees. Food trucks will also be on site. In addition to Rancho Pillow's traditional lodging options, Youngblood now offers spots for glampers in luxury tents in the pasture. Feasts in the Field price TBA; gratis admission to Rancho Mercado; luxury tents $300, Alla en al RANCHO PILLOW Monica Pope 159 After her restaurant Sparrow Bar and Cookshop abruptly closed this April, Pope has turned her focus to a restorative new venture in Round Top: The Sparrow Project, a restaurant/boutique hotel. She's teamed with developer/Burton resident John Elford, who built the original Café Annie with Robert Del Grande, to purchase Leona Marburger's 100-year-old farmhouse in Round Top as the charming venue, and has tapped decorator Garrett Hunter to design the interiors and architect Michael Landrum to create eight to 10 clay cottages. Upon completion, The Sparrow Project will house The Nest (casual dining with bar menu open 52 weekends a year) and Farmhouse Table (its more formal sister, with two seatings on Friday and Saturday, 30 weekends a year). "I'm embracing what I've always loved about cooking at my pop-ups in Round Top," Pope says. "I'm approaching Farmhouse Table as though I were in a field. The food will be local, accessible, flavorful, and comfortable, with as open of a kitchen as possible." The venue will also have lodging and capability for catering and larger events on the property. Pope and Elford hope to be partially open for this month's fall antique shows. ROUND TOP OUR FAVORITE SMALL TOWN JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER, WITH SMART DEVELOPMENT AND ONGOING RESTORATION WORK BY BACKBONE LOCALS AND ADVENTUROUS OUT-OF-TOWNERS. ROUND TOP'S NEW RESTAURANTS, MARQUEE ART EXHIBITIONS, REVITALIZED TOWN SQUARES, AND THIS MONTH'S ROUND TOP FALL ANTIQUES FAIR UP THE ANTE FOR FINDING TREASURES — AND A HEALTHY DOSE OF CULTURE. By Anne Lee Phillips and Catherine D. Anspon. Photograph Jerry Herring. Shot in Fayette County. KNOXY KNOX The Tower House and TeePee at Rancho Pillow IN AROUND &

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