100 Favorite Dishes 2013: No. 70, Banana Split at Cloud 10 Creamery
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.
Photo from Cloud 10 Creamery This is the full-sized banana split. Below I describe the half size, which is really all you need.
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.
Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg For a half-size split, this is still decadent and super-filling.
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