07/30/09 8:11pm

Sure, “immersive landscapes” — where visitors are supposed to feel like they’re just hanging out with the chimps and rhinos and giraffes in the wild — are the latest craze in zoo design. But what’s really the most innovative aspect of the new 13-acre African Forest the Houston Zoo is planning for its southernmost quadrant, at the intersection of North MacGregor and Golf Course Dr. in Hermann Park?

The project

. . . will feature closed-circuit TV connections with area hospitals, allowing patients to view animal keeper presentations or simply to watch animals in their near-natural habitats.

[Houston Zoo President Deborah] Cannon said the programs first will be made available to children’s hospitals, then expanded. Ultimately, they may be made available to local schools, she said.

At last, an effort to capture some of that technological synergy swirling around the Houston Zoo-Med Center nexus! Best of all is the Chronicle‘s own map identifying the project’s location, which is a gift to the city all by itself:


02/27/09 9:00am

Alison Cook previews the promised second location for Little Big’s — set to open “probably late spring” in Hermann Park. The home of tiny burgers will slide into a shack overlooking a new bridge on a portion of McGovern Lake, just north of the Zoo.

But chef Bryan Caswell’s attempt to operate food carts in the park have forced him to face a Houston food legend that dates from long before the age of the taco truck:

The promised Little Big’s cart service inside the park is turning out to be complicated, however. Houston health ordinances forbid the actual cooking of sliders on the carts, which means Caswell & company must come up with some new “park-themed” menu ideas. “The whole restricted versus non-restricted cart thing is amazing,” says Caswell.

The chef notes that during the research phase of the project, “we found some very interesting info on why Houston doesn’t have street food cart vendors like New York City or New Orleans. If I recall correctly, in the early 1900s, the original Market Square was littered with tamale carts. One busy hot summer day, a large group of people got sick and I think even a few died. The carts were all blamed and chased out of town. Ever since, the food cart has been a heavily restricted H-Town deal.”