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Voting begins for My Table awards

The annual My Table award nominees have been announced and voting begins this week.

I can’t bring myself to care about things like the bar service or best tablecloths, nor do I necessarily agree with all of the nominees, but there are a couple of categories worth a consideration.

Without a doubt, the Pastry Chef category belongs to Plinio Sandalio, currently with America’s in The Woodlands. You can get a good slice of cake almost anywhere in the city, but no one treats desserts as culinary creations quite like Plinio.

IMG_1173    IMG_1180 

lemon curd, sour cream cookie, blackberry confiture & lime pop rocks
from a recent tenacity dinner

It’s getting increasingly difficult to capture in words the interplay between flavors and textures in some of Plinio’s dishes (I have tried, here and here), but just try to imagine what happens when you combine a smooth, intensely flavored ball curd, a shard of a cookie and squirt of blackberry “sauce”, then finish with line flavored pop rocks. This is seriously cool stuff.

Chef of the Year is probably a toss up between Bryan Caswell and Chris Shepherd (more about him here).

I wish the menu changed more often at Reef and some of the food could use a touch of technical complexity just to make things interesting, but if this category is going to be decided on one dish and one dish only, the beet ravioli at Reef should put Bryan Caswell in the running. It’s one of the most interesting dishes I have come across all year with an absolutely brilliant contrast in flavors.


beet ravioli at reef

I have been seeing beets on menus everywhere this year and order them almost every time I can, but this preparation at Reef and a completely different take on beets at Voice have been two of the best. What really stands out with this dish is how well the intensely acidic streaks of sauce and slightly bitter greens  work with the natural sweetness of roasted beets. The ravioli themselves are stuffed with beet tops, which might be the first time I have come across someone actually using those in cooking. 

The online menu (from February?!) on the Reef site does not list the beet ravioli, but according to Bryan you can still try it for another month or two, as long as he can get his hands on good product.

Cast your vote here.

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