In 2010, I had a grand ol' time scouring Houston for outstanding pumpkin dishes. One year later I'm older, definitely not wiser, and still in love with orange squash. So from now until Thanksgiving I've been counting down (again) 10 Pumpkin Dishes to Try in Houston. Forks at the ready!
#1 Pumpkin Trio at Ninfa's on Navigation
"THREE dishes share first place? That's a cop-out, O'Leary!" Well, yeah...and last year's top entry was the quintuple pumpkin dessert tasting at Mark's American Cuisine. Strength in numbers, my friends. Besides, where else in Houston can you feast on pumpkin cuisine with a spoon, fork, and a straw?
1st Course: the Pumpkin Margarita ($9.50). Ninfa's has offered a pumpkin cocktail the past few autumns, but this year the chef tweaked the recipe to give the drink a bolder, sweeter flavor. Add Patron Silver tequila to the squash base, plus some cinnamon and allspice, and you have an elegant and refreshing libation that trumps Harry Potter's pumpkin juice any day.
2nd Course: Pumpkin Soup ($7.95). If I'm furiously slurping a bowl of orange liquid at Ninfa's, more often than not it's the fabulous chili con queso. But on a particularly chilly evening I made an exception for the special pumpkin soup. Boasting a deeper, earthier pumpkin flavor than the margarita, the thick soup is one to sip and savor slowly. A generous toss of cotija cheese adds extra creaminess, while pumpkin seed garnishes provide a fun, salty crunch.
3rd Course: Pumpkin Flan ($7). While many flans suffer from wimpy consistencies and even lamer flavors, Ninfa's pumpkin flan possesses none of these deficiencies. The base is dense and sturdy, yet not tough, while the pumpkin taste is subtle but still a nice twist on the traditional sweet egg custard. Each monstrous portion rests in a shallow pool of caramel and is crowned with a brown sugar and caramel topping, whipped cream, and over-size pecans.
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Consume the trio in its entirety for dinner, and you just might turn into a pumpkin by midnight. So don't schedule any balls that night.
The Pumpkin Trio will be around through the first week of December, so there's no need to cancel that 12-hour trip to see the in-laws for Thanksgiving (I'm sure you're disappointed). You'll have plenty of time after Turkey Day to indulge.