Tasting 2002

The year in food

V.B.W.'s Top 10 Sweet Bites

1. Pomegranate Sorbet at Demi Epicurious: Absolute puckery perfection; thinking about it still makes my mouth water.

2. Miles of Chocolate: A friend showed up on my porch one day with a chunk of Miles Compton's decadent chocolate treat that's a cross between a brownie and a truffle. I'm not even a chocoholic, but it was love at first bite.

3. Peach Cider at Burg's Corners: Torrential summer rains all but ruined the Gillespie County peach crop, so the members of the county fruit cooperative made peach cider instead. It was like drinking liquid sunshine.

4. Xanath Cream de Vainilla Liqueur: For a vanilla lover like myself, this handmade vanilla liqueur from the rainforests of Mexico was a wonderful discovery at the San Antonio New World Wine & Food Festival this fall. Great in coffee, over ice cream, as well as with chocolates.

5. Brunch Pastries at Emilia's: Though pastry chef Elise Feinberg has long since returned to San Francisco, the excellent array of brunch pastries she prepared for Emilia's special Mother's Day brunch are not something I'm likely to forget -- the tiny muffins, tea breads, scones, and cookies were warm, delightful, and perfectly baked.

6. Afogato at Asti: Who could have guessed a scoop of gelato drenched in a cup of espresso with a side of cookies would be so wonderful? The good citizens of Genoa, Italy, evidently, where this dish is said to have originated.

7. Spumoni at Ciola's: According to the menu, the Ciola's version of this traditional multilayered, creamy confection is made from a family heirloom recipe. It was worth a drive to the lake all by itself.

8. Chocolate Chunk Gelato With Balsamic Syrup at Asti: Pastry chef Suzann Garde's personal creation offered the most unique dessert flavor combination of the whole year.

9. Owen's Eggnog: Not for the faint of heart or the heart healthy, this truly voluptuous concoction of eggs, heavy cream, powdered sugar, brandy, and bourbon kicked all other dessert offerings to the curb after Thanksgiving dinner. A wee dram would do you.

10. Cannoli From Vespaio: Guests at our Eat, Drink, Watch Movies screening of The Godfather were more than happy to "leave the gun, take the cannolis," considering how delicious Vespaio's renditions were: delicate pastry tubes filled with sweetened mascarpone, chocolate, and pistachios.

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