I'm sure you've all seen the show The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Network. You know, that one that airs late at night, when you're sitting on your couch, hungry but willing yourself not to eat? The one where Food Network stars talk about their favorite fare with such mouthwatering delivery that you practically have to handcuff yourself to said couch as to not raid your fridge for anything bacon? Yeah, that one.
Well it got me thinking. What are the best things I've ever eaten?
I can say with certainty the best vegetable-thing I have ever, ever eaten in Houston or elsewhere (and I've been around) is the vegetable medley at Ruggles. I pretty much order the Chihuahua Cheese Stuffed Chicken, delicious in its own right, just for its vegetable accompaniment. It's more like the chicken becomes the side and the sides become the meal. And the meal becomes two or three meals, because really, it's big enough. And you just have to save room for their royal bread pudding...as is tradition. South Park, anyone? No, just me? Okay.
The plate arrives looking like the most beautiful rainbow of vegetables I have ever seen -- it's so vivid, it's almost starting to look like a triple rainbow. It's impressive in both quality and quantity. For starters, there's the mashed butternut squash. It's creamy, buttery, and sweetened by what I presume to be the molasses-y goodness of brown sugar. My fiancé would swim in it if he could. Unfortunately, he can't swim. Plus, I don't think I could bring myself to recreate this for him at home, as I fear it has roughly a tub of butter in each bite; it's just too delicious not to.
After a few velvety mouthfuls, I move on to the next potato delight - because for some reason, this dish comes with three kinds of potatoes (not complaining). The Hanka Farm au gratin potatoes are equally as creamy and equally as delicious. With a hint of garlic, these potatoes are thinly sliced and layered with heavy cream and a blend of cheeses, delivering the perfect touch of salt to balance out its richness.
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The third potato (and I can't believe we're still talking about potatoes) is a slightly tamer, simply roasted Red Bliss - a nice change of pace from its decadent counterparts.
I don't know what to take a taste of next; it could be the perfectly crisp roasted asparagus or the sweet and savory, brightly flavored salad of yellow corn, tomatoes, and jalapeno (for that hint of heat). The single pieces of broccoli and cauliflower are light and lemony, bringing a wonderful freshness to the dish. Next, I take a bite of the juicy carrots, flawlessly moist but still with a nice hearty crunch. Finally, the buttery green beans round out the dish with a bold, peppery essence.
By the time I'm done tasting all the vegetables, I've almost forgotten about the "main" course. The chicken's sauce is packed with lemon and garlic, two of my favorite flavors - so it pairs well the exquisite array of veggies that I just attacked. I would go back again and again for these little guys, certainly the best vegetables I ever ate.
What do you think is the best vegetable dish you've ever eaten in Houston?