Well enough about Spain. For now. You will of course hear more about Spain after my Spain party next month. But for now lets get local.
The lovely ladies and I went out to a new place. New to me, that is, since the last time I lived in Houston this place did not exist. Its interesting how the midtown Houston area has incubated the mainstream deflecting indie crowd in all facets. I'm finding not only is the art in this area unique and thought-provoking, so is the food.
New place is called T'Afia. T'Afia is the realization of talent from chef Monica Pope. Chef Monica was actually cooking that night so it was a special treat. I learned that Chef Monica is part of the gay community, loves Houston and insists that all of her ingredients are local to the area. She also loves to push flavors into collaboration which do not at all seem intuitive. Or at times even appetizing. But I have to say, she's got a gift and everything works well together. Surprisingly well and in a completely unclassifiable way.
Things to try here.
Ratafias. A ratafia is a fortified wine infused with seasonal produce. I had a white wine infused with strawberry (hint of basil) and a red wine infused with grapefruit. Both were amazing.
Red potatoes, bacon, maple & nutmeg. You know how pancakes taste when you get a bit of bacon and a bit of maple syrup on them? Well this is the same thing. Unbelievable. I would have never thought of creating a maple-based sauce for my red potatoes, but you better believe I will be trying this at home.
Chermoula scallops, red quinoa, buerre blanc. Chermoula is a Moroccan inspired seasoning which seems to take on a peppery paprika flavor. This blended extremely well with the earthy nuttiness of quinoa, one of the best-for-you grains around. Of course everything tastes just a bit better with a buttery beurre blanc sauce on it. Texture, flavor, discovery and wonder - this dish has it all.
Caramel semifreddo, crunchy sesame. I'm not much on dessert but the table ordered this one so I was "forced" into trying it. Semifreddo has the consistency of ice cream blended with marshmallow creme, quite airy despite its heavy caloric punch. What was interesting were the candied sesame seed clusters and the very unconventional addition of a sauce based on a balsamic reduction. I know, it sounds odd but I bet you will not be able to stop.
So far, T'Afia has kicked the other Houston restaurants' collective culinary butt. You know where I will take you should you decide to visit.