This year, leading up to our annual Menu of Menus issue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in town. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston foodscape. It's a list to drool over.
Festival food can be extremely hit-or-miss. Turkey legs can be hearty and juicy or dry and overcooked. Funnel cakes can be crisp or oily. Cotton candy is, well, sugar, so it's hard to mess that up.
At Tuesday's Free Press Houston New Year's Eve event, I was introduced to some fun and fanciful takes on fair or festival food from restaurants around Houston, including a few food trucks. One of those food trucks was Custom Confections, who decided to create a new, upscale version of the funnel cake by combining it with a dessert favorite -- bananas foster.
Bananas foster is usually made by sautéing sliced bananas in a mixture of sugar, butter, rum or banana liqueur and cinnamon until they're soft, then topping them with ice cream and the sauce from the pan. Custom Confections does it a little differently.
One of the owners, Kimberly Revis, explained that she doesn't usually like funnel cakes pumped out at the fair, but she likes the idea of them. So she decided that, rather than pan frying the bananas for bananas foster, she'd coat them in homemade funnel cake batter and deep fry them.
She and her husband and business partner, Tony, take whole bananas instead of just slices, so you get one big ol' fried banana on your plate. That's topped with a homemade butter, cinnamon and rum syrup, a few scoops of vanilla bean ice cream and some whipped cream, because why the hell not?
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The fried bananas foster was served to a panel of judges at the FPHNYE Gastrodome on New Year's Eve, and it was named the best re-imagined festival food at the event. It beat out offerings from Uchi, Nara, Boheme, Happy Endings, Radical Eats, Lowbrow, Prego, Fluff Bake Bar and El Big Bad to take home bragging rights on their dish.
What makes bananas foster so great is usually the way the sugar in the bananas caramelizes and gets a little crunchy. You don't get that with Custom Confections's version, but you do get funnel cake and a hot, melty banana enveloped inside it. Pretty great for something made out of a truck.
On a side note, Custom Confections has just launched a Kickstarter to raise money for a storefront. The campaign runs through January 23, so if you want a brick-and-mortar shop for fried bananas foster, donate now.
The list so far: No. 100: Bangkok Fries at Boheme No. 99: Almond Croissant at Phoenicia No. 98: Bulgogi Tacos with Kimchi at Chi'Lantro No. 97: Soft Pretzel from Mongoose Versus Cobra No. 96: Chicken and Waffles at Adair Kitchen No. 95: Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Brooklyn Athletic Club No. 94: Foie Gras Mac & Cheese at BRC Gastropub No. 93: Vuelve a la Vida Soup at Connie's Seafood No. 92: Homeroom at Bernie's Burger Bus No. 91: Lobster Cake Benedict at Sorrel Urban Bistro No. 90: Uncle Daryl's Cake at The Chocolate Bar No. 89: Porchetta e Fagioli at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino No. 88: Sesame Soft Balls at Golden Dim Sum No. 87: Crab Daddy Bao at Fat Bao No. 86: Ham, Egg & Cheese Crepe at Melange Creperie No. 85: Pork Tamales at Irma's No. 84: Greek Burger at Hubcap Grill No. 83: Lobster Roll at Maine-ly Sandwiches No. 82: Grilled Ahi Tuna at St. John's Fire No. 81: Catfish and Grits at The Breakfast Klub No. 80: The Marie Laveau Sandwich at Sandy Witch No. 79: Carnissima Pizza at Coppa Osteria No. 78: Mortadella Sandwich at 13 Celsius No. 77: Lamb Lollipops at Américas No. 76: The Heights Burger at Gratifi No. 75: 'Date With a Pig' at Sparrow Bar + Cookshop No. 74: Taco al Pastor at Taco Keto No. 73: Chili Cheese Mac from Jus' Mac No. 72: Chicken Pot Pie at Kenny & Ziggy's No. 71: Lazy Lane Frites at Brasserie 19 No 70: Banana Split at Cloud 10 Creamery No. 69: Dozen Raw Oysters at Pappas Seafood No. 68: Green "Hurry Curry" at Nit Noi No. 67: Bad Ass Hambur-Torta at Pistolero's No. 66: Enchiladas de Mole at La Guadalupana No. 65: Shorty Mac at H-Town StrEATS No. 64: Squirrel Master Burger at Cottonwood No. 63: Bánh Mì at Les Givral's Sandwich and Cafe No. 62: Korean Spiced Brisket Plate at Revival Market No. 61: Old Fashioned Frito Pie at Armadillo Palace No. 60: Patata e Funghi Pizza at Pizaro's No. 59: Baklava French Toast at Harry's Restaurant & Cafe No. 58: Grilled Cheese at The Golden Grill No. 57: Macarons at Ganache Dessert Bar No. 56: Eggplant Fries at Batanga No. 55: The Juicy Lucy Burger at Lowbrow No. 54: Kimchi Koagie at Koagie Hots No. 53: Bánh Canh Hue at Simply Pho