We stayed two nights at La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa, a AAA four-diamond lake resort just an hour outside the city limits of Houston. It's nestled on the 22,000 acre lake and has everything a Texas couple like us would need: pools, hot tubs, on-site restaurants, jet ski rentals, a beautiful spa and beauty salon, 20 floors of suite rooms with marina or pool-view balconies, tennis courts, putt putt and more. There's so much to do, it can be hard to decide where to start, but for me it always begins with food.
Our first meal was at the Yoi Sushi Bar. We arrived early enough for a cocktail in the adjoining Sonata Piano Bar first, then moved to our patio table outside for some delicious Japanese sushi. With a view of the quiet nighttime pool area and the tinkling ivories wafting outside the patio doors, it was pretty easy to relax. Even the husband, who is not much of a sushi fan, ate up everything the chef served that night. He had taken the liberty of choosing some excellent starters for us, including a crab cake salad with crispy eel topping and a mixture of rolls, like their signature crab-loaded roll, a spicy tuna and a dynamite version with spicy eel on top. We ate and ate and ate, and then we had dessert! I loved the green tea crème brûlée and my Tuscany martini (Tuaca, lemon juice and soda water). And to tease you more, you better believe I took photos of all that gorgeous food!
Dark drapes sure can con you into thinking it's only 4am, when it's really 10. We hopped out of bed just in time to catch the breakfast buffet before making our way down to the pool for some serious lounging. It was our first pool experience this year and we got our first sunburn for 2011! Make fun of me all you want, but nothing gets us more excited than laying by the water knowing that summer is just around the corner. There was even a "lazy river" and inner tubes so you could float along in leisure, piña colada in hand. Add to that a sunny day and my coconut-smelling tanning oil, and we're as happy as clams in the sand.
Next up were our afternoon visits to two local wineries. We started off at Bernhardt winery, a small operation with a single bed & breakfast room that is owned by Jerry and Jerri Bernhardt in Plantersville, Texas. After a tasting and a tour, we paused for a couple photos and purchased two bottles of their Aggie Blush wine, a red and white wine blend that can be poured over ice and fresh oranges for a sangria-like summer drink. After reading my aforementioned proclamation about our love of summertime, it shouldn't be surprising that this sounded like a superb concoction to us.
Back to the small town of Montgomery, we popped in at Cork This!, a boutique winery specializing in custom made wines. You can purchase from their selection of fun labels like "One Night Stand" cabernet sauvignon or "Boot Leg Red" pinot noir, or mix up your own variety. They showed us a couple books of custom labels they can make as well. In between glasses of vino we browsed the boutique and watched the ongoing painting class behind the bar, where guests stroked away while sipping on wine. (Owner Karla Nash was a gem and was busy painting herself.) I loved the red umbrella patio tables outside, we people watched from there awhile, too, before heading back to our hotel.
While sitting at the bar, I discovered the most awesome wine glass idea - chalkboard painted wine glass stems! They had a piece of chalk tied to them so you can write your name on the glass. It's like a modern day version of wine charms, except this way you don't have to remember who had which charm... you just have to read the name! Expect a DIY post on that soon, I can't wait to try it.
We cleaned up for dinner at Chez Roux, the resort's first-class restaurant. It's the only American eatery for Chef Albert Roux, acclaimed for his masterful French cooking. Both of us ordered the juicy ribeye for our main course, before moving to the Chef's Table in the kitchen for an array of amazing desserts. The husband and I each picked our favorites, I got the dessert sampler and he dove into a bowl of sorbet, but the pastry chef surprised us with two more treats, including a tray of fudge, macaroons and other delicacies and a mini-sized ginger crumble with white chocolate mousse. In between bites, we struck up a conversation with the Executive Chef Matthew Gray, who we discovered was from Scotland. For many years, Gray was the exec chef at Inverlochy Castle in Fort William, where the husband and I passed through during a road trip across Scotland. We chatted on and on about our experience while living there and listed to the chef's take on Texas. He's the only chef in the Lone Star State, as a matter of fact, to earn a Michelin star.
Our last day, Sunday, we joined the breakfast crowd for fresh fruit and pancakes before the husband went back to the room for a nap and I headed over to the spa for a massage. My allergies have been so bad and I had to blow my nose twice during the whole thing! A couple minutes in the hamman steam room and a hot shower later, and I was right as rain. On the way home, we stopped by Chicken Express for a
healthy heart-attack lunch of biscuits, chicken tenders, mashed potatoes, gravy and corn nuggets. We always reserve it for South Texas road trips, and it made the perfect conclusion to a weekend by the lake.
Disclaimer: This weekend getaway was a press trip hosted by La Torretta for a story I'm writing for my publication, Dallas Brides. I was in no way compensated to feature our stay on my blog and all thoughts, comments and photographs about the resort are my own.