Interwoven with the Texan staple Mexicans, grills, and seafood, the Houston culinary scene is exploding with delightful ethnic, yes, fusion dishes.
During too short a five day trip, a combination of fabulous food and friends provided the best of this foodie area. Yes, the fourth largest city has come a long way in terms of cuisine.
While waiting for lunch at Helen Greek Food and Wine in Houston’s Rice University Village, I checked out the wine racks and cookbook shelves. Yes, I’m always looking for new and different cookbooks and I’ve found a treat.
“Houston Cooks” by Francine Spiering is a cookbook reader and cookbook. It has 40 top restaurants and their chefs, all as varied and interesting as their city. In Houston, too, female cooks are on the rise. One of these chefs, Monica Pope, has been around since the 1990s. What she does with vegetables will be a taste sensation. She owns the Sparrow Cookshop, where she teaches classes and hosts special events and monthly Sunday meals.
Yes, William Wright, Head Chef at Helen Greek, is one of the chefs. I had lamb gyros and lamb and beef gyros but never Black Hill Ranch pork which was full of flavor and hummus with unusual spices and cilantro. His beet salad with avocado yogurt dressing consists of citrus fruits, marinated olives, roasted beets, beet puree, charred spring onions, and sesame spices. My picky granddaughter cleaned her plate of hummus and wanted more.
Along with the new one, Houston’s second district also has the original Ninfa’s on Navigation, but Chef Alex Padilla takes Tex-Mex to a new level. His queso asado is like a cheese and vegetable sausage with charred panela cheese, curtido made from herbs, vinegar and oil as well as vegetables and fruits, tomatillo salsa, pickled red onions, sliced avocados and jalapenos.
Ninfa’s, the old and the new, is a special place where I’ve eaten many times. His ninfaritas can’t be beat, always the best.
New chefs and kitchens are bringing out delightful creations, but Houston hasn’t forgotten about the old staples, which I think is a good thing. Barbecue, Tex-Mex, Asians, vegetarians from the Middle East and vegetarians give the sprawling city its claim as a full-blown gourmet city.
Author Spiering, a food writer, blogger, and editor of Edible Houston has captured the feel of the city and certainly what these new chefs have to offer.
In the late 1980s, Ann Criswell, grocery editor for the Houston Chronicle, wrote “Fine Dining in Houston” with some of the best in Houston. Ninfa’s was also included in this one. Houston Cooks has 232 pages of food ideology and recipes. It’s a hardcover with color photos and retails for $ 32.99 plus free shipping on www.bn.com/ and www.amazon.com/ for $ 28.38 with free shipping for Prime members.
“Houston Cooks” is one of a series of 13 “Cooks” books including “Calgary Cooks”, “Montreal Cooks”, “Seattle Cooks”, “East Bay Cooks” to name a few. Published by Figure 1 Publishing Inc., Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Andrea Yeager is a freelance writer based in Gulfport.