Not that one needs an excuse to visit a fine dining establishment, but it helps when you're in the company of fellow food bloggers, and when one of them is a regular and knows the chefs. Such was the stage, or rather, table, as I joined Epicuriosities, From Maggie's Farm, Girl Gone Grits and Tequila Tracker at The Carillon (at the AT+T Conference Center on the University of Texas campus) to celebrate the birthdays of two of our foodie crew.
Through September, the Carillon was offering a $29 three course prix fixe menu from 5:30 - 6:30 pm, and they are continuing it in October, with a different menu. We decided on a 6 pm reservation to take advantage of this special. And we would have been fine with this menu alone, but Patrick Jones, the Beverage Manager took good care of us. He selected a bottle of Domaine du Piaugier Gigondas 2009 from the southern Rhone Valley, a Grenache-based wine that complemented every dish extremely well.
The food started with an amuse bouche, a corn soup that was so smooth and buttery, we all wanted to stick our fingers inside the glasses to get to the bottom.
The first course was the seared scallop, with jazz apple, fennel jam, goat cheese. That's a fennel chip standing up in some goat cheese in the back. The sweetness from the sauteed fennel "jam" and the goat cheese were perfect with the large scallop, which was seared nicely, but not overdone, leaving the sweet ocean flavor intact.
The next course was a complete surprise -- a complimentary course from the kitchen! -- and one that we all swooned over: foie gras with whiskied cherries, mushrooms and toast points. Totally divine. A perfect size, perfectly seared, and sheer perfection with the sweet/tart of the cherries to cut the fat/creaminess. (The Carillon offers one of the best deals in town off their bar menu -- a hamburger with a nice piece of foie for $12 -- shhhhh, don't tell!)
The main was pork jowl croquettes with sauteed jazz apples, fried lobster mushrooms, and the little creamy dots are pawpaw pudding. What is a pawpaw?
It's a fruit native to the eastern US, including east Texas, with
flavors of mild banana and mango. It has an interesting flavor, not bad at all, though I don't
know if it lent a great deal to the dish.
The dessert on the prix fixe menu was a feta cheesecake. However, since we were celebrating birthdays, they switched it up. On the right is a pannacotta and on the left a browine/cake concoction with a fruit sauce with chipotles, I believe. Totally elegant.
It's always a trip going out to eat with fellow food bloggers, because we all sit there and photograph everything! I feel like I get better food shots because we're all doing the same thing; I am not rushing a photo because others are waiting on me to take my pics so they can eat! So with apologizes to my other friends, I need to be more patient like this for future endeavors, because I am happy with how all these photos came out. I don't think I will ever be one who carries a tripod or my own light source, but being able to shoot a few frames from different angles was really helpful. Otherwise, we had such a good time talking and eating that I have forgotten the details of what all was on the dessert plate!
Again, a wonderful evening, and thank you to Patrick and the chefs for serving up a delicious meal!