Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thanksgiving + Texas = food overload

This year, I spent Thanksgiving in the Houston area. Thanksgiving being the eating holiday, and Texas being known for its steak and BBQ, of course I spent most of the weekend eating.

For dinner on Thursday, in addition to the regular Thanksgiving food (including two turkeys; one deep-fried and one baked in soy sauce), we had battered fried fresh shrimp, bacon-wrapped sea scallops (also very fresh and very delicious), broccoli salad with olives, ham, and cheese (I'll be trying to duplicate this sometime soon), you2 fan4 (literally "oily rice"), wakame salad, edamame, homemade pot stickers, and homemade pork meatballs. For dessert, there was homemade pumpkin pie topped with chopped pecans (awesome idea, which I am looking forward to stealing), homemade Mexican tea cakes, and coffee-chocolate ice cream cake. Luckily, I had gone directly to dinner from a 4-hour plane ride and 4 hours in waiting and ground transit time (don't ask), having eaten nothing all day but two fan4 tuan2 (rice rolls), so I was able to try practically every dish over the course of the evening.

The next day, we had a late lunch at Ichibon, a Benihana-style sushi/teppanyaki restaurant owned by a friend. The sushi was fine, but was overshadowed by the fried ice cream and fried bananas that we had for dessert. The bananas in particular were decadent and amazing; they were the perfect texture; soft but not gooey, with a crispy but not oily crust, with a scoop of red bean ice cream (one of my favorites, and surprisingly hard to find). It was nearly 4pm when we finished lunch, so dinner was light; clam chowder with leftover scallop and shrimp, served with pumpernickel bread.

Saturday was dedicated to Texas cuisine; fajitas at Pappasito's for lunch, and pork ribs and beef brisket at Pappas BBQ for dinner. (Yes, they are owned by the same company, hence the similar names.) After watching the Rockets demolish the Nuggets at the Toyota Center, we had a midnight snack at Sinh Sinh on Bellaire; some people had congee and/or noodle soup, but I decided to order two desserts, which turned out excellently. The first was an "Almond Crust Pastry" which turned out to be a cup of hot sweetened almond soup with some kind of bean in it, topped with a freshly baked puff pastry. The second was a "3-color icy", which was less creative but still yummy; the crushed ice came with red and green bean pastes, coconut milk, and Chinese green jelly.

For lunch on Sunday, a friend asked me to pick a restaurant in Galveston, where we had decided to meet up. Not knowing anything about the area, I turned to Yelp for help, and we ended up at the strangely named but very good Mosquito Cafe. I liked my appetizer best; listed as a "Walnut Crusted Baked Brie with Jalapeno Chutney and Toast Points", it was well executed, with just the right proportions of cheese and walnuts, and a generous serving of fresh grapes on the side, to balance the softness of the baked cheese. Yum.

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