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.
I've been smitten with Cloud 10 Creamery since the brick-and-mortar shop first opened back in September. I was expecting good ice cream from the place, but I wasn't expecting the ice cream to taste so much like what it's supposed to.
I know that sounds funny. Why wouldn't, say, birthday cake ice cream taste like a birthday cake? The fact is, most grocery store ice cream flavors beyond chocolate and vanilla are unfaithful representations of what they should be. At Cloud 10 Creamery, though, the pumpkin and cranberry ice cream really tastes like pumpkin, the peanut butter and jelly actually tastes like the sandwich (bread and all), and the poached-pear sorbet tastes like a fresh pear that's been simmered in wine and sugar.
Chef Chris Leung is a master dessert maker, and he proves that he deserves our title of Best Pastry Chef 2013 every day with the unique tarts, cakes and ice creams he creates at Cloud 10 Creamery. Perhaps his best invention, though, is the banana split.
Like everything Cloud 10 Creamery does, the banana split is truly a marvel. This ain't your grandma's soda fountain banana split with overly sweet maraschino cherries and fake whipped cream from a can. It's three types of ice cream, three types of sauce, bananas, nuts and Nutella powder. Yes, you read that right: Nutella powder.
How exactly Leung and his crew turn everyone's favorite chocolate hazelnut spread into a powder, I have no idea. I did watch the banana split being made last time I ordered it, though, so I can speak on that.
First, you get three scoops of different ice cream: chocolate, vanilla and Nutella with marshmallows. Next, three types of sauce are carefully squeezed on top of the little balls of ice cream -- a dark-maroon berry jam, a milk chocolate shell that hardens when it touches the cold ice cream, and the richest, most flavorful fudge sauce I've ever had the pleasure to eat entirely too much of. After that, banana slices are sprinkled with a little sugar and then caramelized with a torch. Finally, the bananas are added to the ice cream, along with candied pecans, whipped cream and that impossibly cool Nutella powder.
And voilà! A banana split the likes of which you've never seen before.
One of the great things about it is that in spite of the fancy sauces and the chemistry no doubt involved in the production of the Nutella powder and the light-as-air candied pecans, the banana split still tastes how you would expect a banana split to taste. It's sweet, creamy and oh-so decadent.
At the risk of stating the obvious, it puts me on cloud 10, every time.
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