What a nice segue from my last post about getting invited to blogger events! A few weeks ago, I attended a pop up event at Flora Culture for ChopnBlok. I had the privilege of being a friend’s plus one (one of my tips) AND Houston Insider partnered to host the event (a second tip). Honestly, I did not care HOW I got in the building. I was just glad to be present for the ChopnBlok experience!
ChopnBlok hosts dining experiences which aim to expose the Houston community to Western African cuisine and culture. With “fusion” being the hottest thing around the Houston food scene, they not only pay tribute to African cuisine, but they also fuse it with dishes and concepts that are familiar to Americans.
Their pop up series is called Chopd + Stewd clearly playing homage to the Houston music scene. Guests who attend these pops will of course dine on great food and good cocktails. There was also live music by Lolade and even a dance demonstration towards the end of the night. The bonus here though is the knowledge the owners impart about West African culture that goes beyond the narrative that colonization has painted for the Western world. Our host began by explaining that West African cuisine has not made it to the main stream in the way that Mexican or Asian cuisine has. Their goal is to share their rich culture with others.
ChopnBlok is not a brick and mortar… yet. As such, they are popping up for events in cool creative spaces. For this event, they took over Flora Culture, a flower shop in the Galleria area off of Chimney Rock. Walking in, I felt like I was a cool hipster space in Los Angeles NOT in Houston. The shop has beautiful pastel furniture and of course plants everywhere. I am sure Houston influencers will be lining up for photoshoots there soon. For the flower lovers though, I think it is a space that you will enjoy. I even went home with a cute little succulent.
The Food and Drinks
Our dinner included several courses with cocktail pairings. Some of the cocktails were made with the Sanger Rum a product made in Libera. For starters we had a plantains, beef stew and collards. The stew and collards worked like a dip that we devoured. Up next we had a Pottage Bisque with yams. Now, everyone knows I love sweet potatoes. I know that yams from Africa are a bit different, but I went in with high hopes. I thought this dish was excellent cleaned that bowl.
For our main dish, we had two options. I ordered the Trad Bowl a dish that included the traditional jollof rice with other hearty items. Again, a great dish that left me stuffed. Finally, we had a Agege Bread Pudding. The team explained that desserts are not as popular in West Africa as they are in America. To make this work, they used agege bread from the Agege region in Lagos to create a bread pudding. It was SO good. Leave it to me, to walk away loving the dessert the most.
I really enjoyed this popup and cannot wait to see what is in store for the ChopnBlok team! I recently talked about ChopnBlok on a local podcast (you can listen here) in highlighting how well they do West African cuisine. Another topic on this podcast was how the Houston food scene has received a lot of national attention as of late, yet black restaurants are left our of the conversation. As one of the largest minority groups in town this often feels like a slight. Well, Marcus Samuelsson of the PBS show No Passport Required came to Houston and did a whole episode on the West African restaurants in Houston. ChopnBlok was featured on the episode so be sure to check it out!