The Best of Food in 2007

Best Bites of 2007

Sweet Bites:

Chocolate Peach Nectar Filled Chocolates Lecia Duke's melt-in-your-mouth delicacies were a real revelation – the perfect burst of Hill Country summer flavor on the tongue.

Homemade Butterfingers at Jasper's The pastry chef was generous enough to share the recipe after I raved about this candy in print. It could be dangerous now that I know how to make these crunchy peanut-butter nuggets enrobed in semisweet chocolate.

Caramel Semi-Freddo With Salted Almond Croquant & Blackberry Syrup at Asti Pastry chef Amanda Rockman created this distinctive dessert for Asti's early fall menu, offering a lovely balance of sweet, tart, and salty flavors with crisp and creamy textures. We will miss her work now that she's returned to Chicago in search of fine-dining fame.

Brazos Supreme Goat's Milk Coffee Ice Cream With Miles of Chocolate The folks at Wateroak Farm near Bryan make many wonderful flavors of ice cream with their superior goat's milk. Folding chunks of Miles of Choco­late into some of the flavors amounts to gilding the proverbial lily, but it sure tastes great!

Peppermint Gelato at Teo's Some time ago, I gave Matt Lee a few bags of the peppermint-stick candy we use to make my sister's favorite birthday ice cream, and this refreshingly subtle pink gelato was the ultimate result: in a word, marvelous.

Fresh Fruit Fried Pies With Ice Cream at Lamberts Downtown Barbecue The fresh-fruit fillings change with the seasons – blackberries, peaches, pears in vanilla syrup, apples, etc. – but these babies are always the perfect chaser for a plate of fancy barbecue.

Bombolini at Trattoria Lisina Delightfully decadent Italian cake doughnut holes dusted with cinnamon sugar are served warm with bowls of honey for dipping. Jerry Pizzitola has promised to teach me how to make these, and I can't wait.

Peanut Pay Bars at the Cookie Jar Judy Marts tops crisp shortbread with salted peanuts and rich, buttery caramel for an elegant version of a favorite childhood treat.

Dark Chocolate Chipotle Fritos From Tempt Chocolates Chocolatier Ginger Berry­hill drizzles high-quality dark chocolate over spicy, salty corn chips, with addictive results.

Strawberry Lemonade at Mighty Fine Burgers Freshly squeezed every day, this sweet/tart refresher is my favorite fruit beverage of the year. I'd like to have a gallon on hand at all times.

Savory Bites

Peach Slices Wrapped in Venison Prosciut­to With Hill Country Chèvre and Texas Chipot­le Honey From Hudson's on the Bend This was Jeff Blank's offering at the Save Our Springs benefit and provided the most definitive taste of the Texas Hill Country all year.

Shrimp & Grits at Jasper's Jasper's take on this Carolina Low Country classic is masterful: a perfectly grilled, gigantic, sweet Gulf shrimp sits atop a puddle of creamy, cheesy, stone-ground organic grits, surrounded by fresh corn kernels. Wow!

Lamb Delights I love lamb, and I found great examples of it everywhere I went this year – the Roaring Fork served superior Lollipop Lamb Chops at the SOS benefit; we reveled in great lamb ribs at the original Cooper's Pit Bar-B-Q in Mason; the Texas Hill Country Dorper Associa­tion presented marvelous lamb meatballs at the Fredericksburg Food & Wine Festival; and the strolling gauchos at Fogo de Chão serve up perfectly spiced lamb chops and leg of lamb.

Lobster Bisque at the Falls Bistro If the quality of this voluptuous soup is any indication, this new bistro and wine bar in Marble Falls will become an important dining destination in the coming year.

Parmesan Popovers at TRIO at the Four Seasons Baskets of these enormous, soufflélike wonders were a big hit at the hotel's holiday preview luncheon in August. I predict the popovers will become a TRIO trademark.

Zucca Chips at NoRth Restaurant These innovative bar snacks were the most creative appetizers I tasted all year – whisper-thin slices of zucchini squash are lightly battered and fried so as to just disappear in your mouth. Keep them coming.

Green Chile Truffle Mac & Cheese From Cafe Josie Chef/owner Charlie Mayes brought this rich, elegant example of comfort food to the Green Corn Project benefit, and it was a big hit – easy serving and great eating.

Roasted Salsa Ranch Dip This dip from HEB's Chef Prepared line of products is a tasty match for crisp, fresh veggies or salty tostada chips.

Schnitzel With Artichoke Hearts and Lemon Spaetzle at the Welfare Cafe Another ladies culinary road trip to this popular rural dining spot outside Boerne revealed a German-inspired menu with a bounty of choices.

Fantastic Sweet Corn on the Cob From Boggy Creek Farm While some folks swear by the Silver Queen variety, my personal favorite corn is the strain called Fantastic. I enjoyed as much of it as possible during its all-too-short early summer run at the farm.

READ MORE
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