Public News (Houston) - - FRONT PAGE - story and photos by Nick Rama

Authen­tic Texas Style BBQ has fi­nally come to Tom­ball, TX in one of the strangest places, a con­verted house turned into a spe­cialty choco­late shop called Tejas Choco­late Craftory. Lo­cated in Old Town Tom­ball (where this Foodie does most of his eat­ing when he’s in the area) on N Elm St by the rail­road tracks down the street from The De­pot. Owned by Michelle (Vice Pres­i­dent /Op­er­a­tions), Scott Moore Jr. (Pit­mas­ter & Cho­co­latier) and his brother Greg Moore (Chef/Pit­mas­ter). I no­ticed this place one day when I went down the street to Jane and John Dough Bak­ery for a quick lunch. I had al­ready heard about the won­der­ful hand-crafted choco­lates at Tejas Choco­late, and was in­trigued when I saw the three signs hang­ing from the front porch of this adorable old house that said “Beer” “Bar­be­cue” “Choco­lates.”

I went in for the first time on a Tues­day ready to try some BBQ; I walked up to the counter and Tricia, who also hap­pens to be the house Con­fec­tioner, in­formed me that BBQ was only served Wed thru Satur­day. She talked to me about the BBQ and con­vinced me that I had to come back to­mor­row be­cause it’s that good. I re­turned Wed­nes­day, walked in and placed my or­der at the front counter. If you have a sweet tooth as I do, and you look to the left while you are wait­ing to place your or­der, there is a lovely case of Tejas’ choco­lates and choco­late truf­fles so you can start think­ing about dessert. I or­dered a chopped beef sand­wich, with po­tato salad, and an ad­di­tional side that in­trigued me, corn­bread pud­ding. Tricia told me they would call my name when my or­der was ready and that they have a pickup win­dow around the cor­ner with their sauces and condi­ments. The place smelled amaz­ing while wait­ing for my food, which didn’t take long at all. I picked up my food, and stopped by the condi­ment bar to pick up some pick­les and a small plas­tic cup of their house BBQ sauce, in do­ing so, I dis­cov­ered that they have two ad­di­tional sauces avail­able, a green sauce and a mole. Odd right? I wanted to try their BBQ by it­self first and was un­sure why a BBQ place would have these other sauces avail­able.

Look­ing around the place, I thought it had a hill coun­try feel to it, which is a good thing be­cause, in my opinion, that’s where some of the best BBQ in Texas is from. I sat to­wards the back of the place where there is a small sec­tion that leads out to the pit room and a par­tially cov­ered pa­tio with pic­nic tables. The back sec­tion of the restau­rant has a cool win­dow look­ing into an­other room where you can see where and how they make the choco­lates. Now back to the task at hand - lunch! I looked at my chopped beef sand­wich and no­ticed that it was not served on an av­er­age ham­burger bun like so many other places, but rather a gourmet brioche bun. I grabbed a fork full of the meat, and I just had to smile, be­cause it was so good. I knew I

just found BBQ that was as good if not bet­ter than my two beloved places in Spring, TX - Corkscrew BBQ, and BBQ-God­fa­ther. The bun matched the qual­ity of the chopped beef, and both were great in ev­ery way. Ten­der beef with the per­fect amount of smoke and sea­son­ings. The corn­bread pud­ding was de­li­cious and made me think of a sa­vory bread pud­ding with corn, onions, and herbs. It has an al­most quiche-like texture. The po­tato salad was quite good, but I would have liked a lit­tle less may­on­naise in it and maybe a lit­tle more mus­tard. One thing for sure, I was com­ing back for more BBQ be­cause it was the best I have found for a very long time. I fin­ished my meal, and sine I couldn’t walk into a choco­late shop with get­ting some choco­late, I stopped for a milk choco­late truf­fle with 70% co­coa. One bite of this truf­fle and I knew ex­actly why the place was called Tejas Choco­late Craftory. The truf­fle was in­tensely cho­co­laty and rich and so much bet­ter than any­thing I could have got­ten at Go­diva. I also got to meet the pit­mas­ter and head cho­co­latier, Scott, that day be­cause he was walk­ing around check­ing on tables while tend­ing on the pit out­side. I told him how much I loved the BBQ and his place, and he was very ap­pre­cia­tive.

Visit num­ber two: I am a lover of a good pulled pork, so a pulled pork sand­wich it had to be, along with a side of pinto beans. I asked Tricia what their best dessert was and she said that the choco­late crème brulee is amaz­ing and is one of her fa­vorites. Once again, it took one bite to fig­ure out that this pulled pork was ev­ery bit as good as their beef. The right amount of smoke and once again no sauce needed. I know a lot of peo­ple that love putting coleslaw on their pulled pork sand­wich, but so far it’s not one of their sides or op­tions. On their condi­ment bar they have the reg­u­lar pick­les, raw red onions, and Jalapeños. The great ad­di­tion to my pull pork is the op­tion of pick­led onions; I liked it bet­ter than coleslaw since the pick­led onions com­pli­mented the pulled pork. Such a sim­ple ad­di­tion to a condi­ment bar, and one that works well with the BBQ’s fla­vor pro­files.

I was hes­i­tant to or­der a choco­late crème brule be­cause orig­i­nal crème brule it is one of my all time fa­vorite desserts, but this choco­late crème brule is spec­tac­u­lar. The texture was a lit­tle heav­ier than a tra­di­tional brule, prob­a­bly be­cause of all the won­der­ful choco­lates that they packed into it. Oh yeah, cho­co­laty good­ness! This visit I was also met my fa­vorite BBQ connoisseur and well-sea­soned home bar­be­cue chef, Paul Van Deusen. He or­dered the brisket and pork ribs, and agreed with my as­sess­ment that this is the real deal authen­tic Texas Q! He was smil­ing with each bite.

Visit num­ber 3: I de­cided early on a Satur­day morn­ing to in­vite my Foodie friends and fam­ily to have a “Foodie Takeover” at Tejas Choco­late Craftory. We had quite a few peo­ple show up to meet and eat some re­ally good BBQ. Ev­ery­one agreed that the all the food and ser­vice was fan­tas­tic. (I have in­cluded a side­bar of some quotes from the peo­ple that showed up). Since we had fam­ily and friends, we or­dered ½ lb. of all the meats and four dif­fer­ent side dishes. The brisket was moist with a very nice smoke fla­vor, and a per­fect smoke ring. The sausage had a nice snap to the cas­ing and was nice and pep­pery. The ribs were fall off the bone ten­der, and the tur­key was pretty darn good too. I men­tioned two other sauces ear­lier and let me tell you that the green sauce and the house made mole are both very good on the tur­key. The green sauce re­minded me of In­dian co­conut chut­ney, and the mole is the best I have had any­where (which makes sense since mole has choco­late as one of the main in­gre­di­ents, and I was at a gourmet choco­late place). The most in­trigu­ing side and the most ad­dic­tive was the car­rot souf­flé. Think of the texture of a good sweet pota­toes pie, but in­stead it’s car­rot based. This is def­i­nitely an­other sig­na­ture dish from Chef Greg along with his corn­bread pud­ding. Green Beans and Po­tato Salad rounded out our meal.

We were all pretty darn full from lunch and al­most in a meat coma, but that didn’t stop us from tak­ing home a “Hi-Five”, which is any 5 of their house made choco­late truf­fles for 12 bucks. Beau­ti­ful and rich choco­late truf­fles like the Mar­garita truf­fle - 70% Mada­gas­car ca­cao with lime and salt, and an in­stant fa­vorite for me. Whiskey cof­fee latte, honey laven­der, dark choco­late & cof­fee, mole and co­conut cream, chili choco­late chipo­tle, sin­gle ori­gin Mada­gas­car and even a pra­line truf­fle.

I could go on and on about each of my pre­vi­ous vis­its, but I have to go into our visit with our fam­ily from Cal­i­for­nia. I walked in, and Scott said we have “your” sand­wich today. I asked Scott and Greg the week be­fore if the could do a stacked sand­wich with chopped beef and sliced sausage (one of my fa­vorite com­bi­na­tions). Well, they took it to an­other level and named a sand­wich af­ter me. The “Stack N’ Rama” (pulled pork, sliced brisket, and sausage on a brioche bun topped with an over easy egg). I have to say that this sand­wich was in­cred­i­bly great. The tex­tures were amaz­ing and the per­fectly fried Egg was like hav­ing the best Bar­be­cue turned into a break­fast/Brunch sand­wich. ½ lb. of meat on a de­li­cious bun may be as per­fect as it gets. I am very hon­ored that I have my very own menu item at my new fa­vorite find. As I was or­der­ing, I looked down at the cash regis­ter and on a piece of butcher pa­per writ­ten in sharpie was the words “Burnt Ends $5 served in a pa­per boat.” I love some good burnt ends, so along with my giant sand­wich, I had to or­der them. Talk about a per­fect char on lit­tle morsels of meat that packed so much de­li­cious smoky fla­vor of good­ness.

Tejas re­cently in­tro­duced a new Beef Rib and If the BBQ world had a BBQ Walk of Fame, this new 1/2 LB An­cho Co­coa Cof­fee Rubbed Beef Rib would have its own star. In­cred­i­ble fla­vor pro­file, per­fect crusty bark, rubbed with Scott and Greg’s new out­stand­ing rub, this is one of the best pieces of beef I have ever had. Their plan is to have Beef Ribs only on Satur­days, so get to Tejas early if you want one of these mas­ter­pieces.

My fam­ily from Cal­i­for­nia loved ev­ery­thing they tried and wished they had BBQ this good back home in or around Visalia. They thought the dif­fer­ent sauces were a ge­nius idea. I thought Un­cle Brian was go­ing to take shots of the green co­conut sauce and the mole. They sam­pled the brisket, ribs, tur­key, pulled pork and burnt ends and they were highly im­pressed that one BBQ joint can do all of these so well. On the same visit, we ran into a Tom­ball Foodie, Chris Cle­ments. He or­dered some food and posted such a great re­view di­rectly af­ter­wards on the “North­side Eater­ies” Face­book page, I in­clude it here.

“I’m not even sure where to start! Other than I’m not sure why I’m writ­ing this re­view, as I’d like this place to be a se­cret. Serv­ing some re­ally amaz­ing bbq Wed­nes­day through Satur­day and sides that are, from what I sam­pled today, just as good, which to me is an od­dity wor­thy of no­ta­tion. Pic­tured is moist, suc­cu­lent brisket, well ren­dered and not overly smoky, pretty much melted in my mouth! Pork spare ribs that are done ex­actly how I like them rub not too sweet or over­bear­ing, so the porky fla­vor can still be de­tected and not over cooked, the meat pulled off the bone just the way it should! The tur­key... just amaz­ing! The rub on that, what­ever it is, is per­fectly bal­anced, and the salt is per­fect and shines through the su­per moist­ness and ten­der flesh! Burnt ends are spec­tac­u­lar. The good kind of charred carameliza­tion with a deep yet once again mild smoke pen­e­tra­tion and a ten­der al­most gelati­nous in­te­rior that will make your eye­balls roll back into your head! Now the two sides I or­dered, and let it be known that I usu­ally hate sides at BBQ joints, but that just changed! While the po­tato salad isn’t my all time fav, it’s a close sec­ond. It wasn’t mashed po­tato salad. The pota­toes were cooked per­fectly with just a lit­tle bite to them and good texture. Mostly a mayo based dress­ing but re­ally good fla­vor, de­scribed by Michelle, one of the own­ers as Louisiana style po­tato salad... wher­ever it’s from, it’s good eat­ing ex­cel­lently pre­pared! On to the best side I’ve ever put into my mouth ever in a bbq restau­rant! This car­rot souf­flé. Just OMG! Where has this been my whole drab and dreary life? It was rain­ing out­side, and I’m pretty sure the clouds parted and shone down upon me as this mas­ter­piece hit my tongue! It was ev­ery­thing I could do to stop eat­ing it at the half­way point, so my wife could taste this manna af­ter she got off work! I men­tioned to Scott, an­other of the own­ers, that a lit­tle crème anglaise would have just made it amaz­ing, but it was still pretty much per­fect! Ser­vice here was great. Both Scott and Michelle are very per­son­able, su­per nice and ob­vi­ously ded­i­cated to putting out high-qual­ity food! I’ll not only be re­turn­ing for more; I may just ac­tu­ally buy some choco­late too! That’s right they make choco­lates... all I saw looked great, but I did not get to sam­ple any on this visit as all I had eyes for was some as­tound­ing Q! Give em

a try, it’s worth the trip, you’ll be glad you did!”

Tejas also has some great sand­wiches, happy hour gourmet BBQ bites, sev­eral va­ri­eties and meth­ods of cof­fee also and, of course, two of my fa­vorite things all in one place, BBQ, and Choco­late… doesn’t get much bet­ter than that. I got to sit down and chat with Michelle, Greg and Scott and pick their brains for a Q&A ses­sion, here is what they had to say about all things re­lated to Tejas Choco­late Craftory cur­rent and fu­ture.

Nick Rama: Michelle, how long has Tejas Choco­late been in busi­ness?

Michelle: Tejas was founded in 2011.

Nick Rama: I no­ticed your web­site just says Tejas Choco­late, but your sign and the Face­book page says Tejas Choco­late Craftory, so which one are you go­ing with?

Michelle: Our do­main is te­jaschoco­, but I think we’ll up­date it to add The Craftory which is what the new lo­ca­tion is called. Nick Rama: Scott, how did you get into mak­ing choco­late?

Scott: Watch­ing TV one rainy Satur­day and came across a show about “bean to bar” choco­late. It was in­ter­est­ing to learn about the craft meth­ods and from that came re­search. The re­search and dis­cov­ery of great choco­late led me to want to be the neigh­bor­hood choco­late maker. Turned out the neigh­bor­hood was Texas and Tejas was the first.

Nick Rama: What is drink­ing choco­late? Scott: Drink­ing choco­late is a rich and in­tensely co­coa hot drink. It is pure choco­late in a cup. There can be many variations in spice and co­coa in­ten­sity.

Nick Rama: Choco­lates and bar­be­cue is ei­ther an odd com­bi­na­tion or mar­riage made in heaven. Which is it and what made you de­cide to add BBQ to the mix?

Scott: A to­tal mar­riage made in heaven. Many old Latin Amer­i­can vil­lages roast ca­cao over an open flame. It’s sort of like bar­be­cue in that sense. Two of the old­est foods on the earth. The fla­vors are big and pair so well to­gether. The two foods pair per­fectly in our house mole sauce which nat­u­rally has our choco­late in it.

Nick Rama: Where did you learn the art of “Authen­tic Texas Style BBQ”?

Scott: I’ve been a back­yard week­end bar­be­cue war­rior my whole life. I’ve been play­ing with fire since I was a kid. Ha ha. In Texas, Chef Greg and I have spent hours upon hours dis­cussing the places we like that we’ve vis­ited and dis­sect­ing what might make Texas Q so great. The fun­da­men­tals of cook­ing meat and spe­cific cuts are there if you’re log­i­cal. It’s all about the proper ap­pli­ca­tion of tem­per­a­ture and time.

Nick Rama: Scott, tell us more about the meats you serve on a daily ba­sis and I heard you even named your Pit?

Scott: Greg named the pit The Black Oc­to­ber as we all love the movie The Red Oc­to­ber and our pit looks like a bal­lis­tic mis­sile sub­ma­rine. Nick Rama: Greg, what is your culi­nary back­ground?

Greg: I started in Tom­ball as a kitchen helper at a place called La Tavala where present day Cis­cos is lo­cated. I was for­tu­nate that I got to work with Chef John, a clas­si­cally trained Ital­ian chef. We worked a few places to­gether as he got me ready for my own chef gig. I’ve done sev­eral dif­fer­ent cuisines around town. Last stop was back to Ital­ian at Man­cusso’s Ta­ble in Tan­gle­wood.

Nick Rama: Greg, I see you are mak­ing some of your BBQ into gourmet sand­wiches and sal­ads. What are some of your most pop­u­lar dishes?

Greg: Brisket and Blues have been a big hit. The great clas­sic com­bi­na­tion of blue cheese on beef is amped up with the meat be­ing a 16-hour smoked brisket. This com­bi­na­tion of fla­vors in our sand­wich or salad is very pop­u­lar. Same holds true for our great smoked tur­key that we pair with av­o­cado, ba­con, and house cilantro but­ter­milk dress­ing.

Nick Rama: Michelle, Tejas Choco­late has be­come well known for their dif­fer­ent cof­fees and even dif­fer­ent brew­ing meth­ods. What are some of those?

Michelle: We use lo­cal cof­fee roast­ers ex­clu­sively. Dis­trict Roast­ers in Tom­ball is our pri­mary cof­fee sup­plier. We also use Orazure Hand Roasted Cof­fee, a small ar­ti­san roaster out of The Wood­lands. We take these great beans and

brew them us­ing craft meth­ods like Aero Press, Siphon, and pour overs. These meth­ods bring out the best fla­vors in cof­fee.

Nick Rama: Michelle, why Tom­ball, TX to start this awe­some ven­ture and who was the one who came up with the dé­cor?

Michelle: Tom­ball is awe­some, and that’s why. It’s a small town in a big city with peo­ple who are very com­mu­nity driven. We came across the build­ing on Elm Street while look­ing for a place in Tom­ball where there is a great col­lec­tion of in­de­pen­dent busi­ness own­ers. In Old Town, you won’t find the big chains like you see in ev­ery other re­gional shop­ping area.

Nick Rama: Scott, I know choco­late mak­ing from the co­coa bean to the ac­tual choco­late that peo­ple can come in to buy is a very com­plex process. Give us a short ex­pla­na­tion of the process of mak­ing a bar of Tejas Choco­late?

Scott: Premium co­coa beans are hand sorted, roasted in a brick oven, win­nowed to re­move the shell, stone ground for days, the choco­late is rested for weeks, then tem­pered and molded. The process takes on av­er­age about 30 days. It’s a truly hand­crafted man­u­fac­tur­ing process.

Nick Rama: Michelle, Where do the names for your choco­late bars come from?

Michelle: We name our sin­gle ori­gin bars af­ter sev­eral of the old Span­ish mis­sions that are so well pre­served around the state. Sin­gle ori­gin choco­late and the ori­gins of Texas was the idea. Then for other bars it just sort of evolves. Our dark choco­late bar with black lava sea salt and black pep­per is a good ex­am­ple. Dark choco­late, black salt, and black pep­per be­came “Dark Mat­ter”.

Nick Rama: Each of you de­scribes to me your per­fect Tejas Choco­late Craftory meal from start to fin­ish, of course in­clud­ing dessert or choco­late:

Michelle: Love a good salad, so I’m go­ing with our Bird and Ba­con Salad, Glass of Sauvi­gnon Blanc, and fin­ish up with a bite or two of our honey laven­der truf­fle.

Greg: Brisket and Blues Salad. Smokey brisket, big blue cheese, and ro­maine wedge to get my veg­eta­bles. I’ll wash it down with a beer like Love Street by Kar­bach and then end with our choco­late bread pud­ding. I love mak­ing bread pud­ding, and our choco­late ver­sion with the house ca­jeta caramel is sub­tle in its sweet­ness and choco­late fla­vor.

Scott: Ribs. I love pork ribs and a side of po­tato salad. Put that with a good beer like Saint Arnold’s Santo and it’s a good day. I’ll end with Greg’s panna cotta. It’s choco­late pud­ding on steroids.

Nick Rama: Scott, what is the crowd fa­vorite of all the bbq you do?

Scott: The brisket is the pop­u­lar choice. A great brisket is hard to make but easy to love. I like to tell peo­ple we make choco­late be­cause we needed some­thing to do while wait­ing for the briskets to cook.

Nick Rama: Scott, what makes Satur­day’s at Tejas Choco­late Craftory so spe­cial?

Scott: We are now do­ing Break­fast Tacos and Micheladas start­ing at 8:30am, so far they have been a hit. Start­ing at 11am we have our 1/2 LB An­cho Co­coa Cof­fee Rubbed Beef Rib, we are very proud of the way it came out.

Nick Rama: Michelle, what is the crowd fa­vorite choco­late bar and truf­fle?

Michelle: Dark Mat­ter for bars is the leader and its hard to say on truf­fles. Prob­a­bly our Good Life truf­fle. It’s so rich and deca­dent.

Nick Rama: Michelle, do you all cater and/or do pri­vate par­ties?

Michelle: In a very lim­ited way for now. We will work to­wards de­vel­op­ing a staff for this even­tu­ally.

Nick Rama: Which one of you writes the Blog on your web­site and tell us more about it?

Michelle: Scott does this. Usu­ally on a Sun­day now af­ter he is done yelling at The Tex­ans and needs to calm down.

Nick Rama: Tell me five words to de­scribe Tejas Choco­late Craftory.

Scott: Great choco­late and bet­ter bar­be­cue The Tejas Choco­late Craftory is lo­cated at 200 N. Elm Street in Tom­ball, Texas. They are open at 11am till 7pm and can be reached by phone at 832-761-0670. They are also on­line at www.te­jaschoco­

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