Saturday, April 9, 2011

Memorable Meals On The Road

One of the most fun things about going on tour is finding culinary inspiration from new sources. Though I don't have kitchen access while on the road, I am definitely taking notes and gathering ideas for when I can play in my own kitchen again. Our touring schedule has been rather compressed as we’re traveling a lot and performing in new towns practically every day, but I have made a concerted effort to carve out a little time for myself, if only to find a fun place for lunch. My solo dining experiences are more enjoyable knowing that I can at least share some of these meals with appreciative friends in photo form, if nothing else.

It was not a promising start as the Winstar Casino in Thackerville, OK left a lot to be desired in the culinary department, as I mentioned in the previous post. However, the next day I had a few hours in Austin which more than made up for it. This roasted poblano and cheese tamale at La Condessa was one of the best tamales I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. It was steamed to tender perfection and enhanced only by the avocado crema and kicky salsa, and I savored every bite.

I was tempted to order a second tamale, but I’m happy that I saved room for dessert instead. I’ve never tasted anything quite like this goat cheesecake with roasted pineapple cubes and graham cracker shortbread crumbles, and it was accompanied by a saffron crème anglaise that truly made my head spin.

I had the good fortune to be steered in the direction of Cochon in New Orleans, a delightful restaurant in the Warehouse District recommended by friends who live in town as well as by HCJ himself. Lunch began with a fricassee of roasted wild mushrooms served over a cheese grits cake and topped with a perfectly poached egg. I’m a total sucker for anything with a poached egg on it.

As if that soul-satisfying dish weren’t enough to brighten my day, how could I possibly resist a fried oyster and bacon sandwich with herb mayo?! Oh my…

My meal at Cochon skyrocketed up to a whole new level of ridiculous with these gorgeous apple fritters with pecan ale sorbet. I wished that everyone I love could have been at the table with me, for it almost felt wrong not to share them with friends. Almost.

Thanks to Open Table and Urban Spoon, I’ve been able to scout out good places when I haven’t had personal recommendations from friends. I’m really glad that I stumbled upon this pulled pork tostada at Kool Beanz Café in Tallahassee.

These lovely cupcakes came from Lucy & Leo's, a homegrown cupcakery baking up scrumptious little cakes that blew most popular Manhattan cupcakes out of the water. I brought back a dozen to the tour production office and they were devoured in no time.

With the aid of my new little Droid phone with its navigation apps, I’ve been well equipped to find my way around any town. Derek’s Culinary Casual was a great find in Sarasota, especially for these crostini topped with seared scallops, minted pea puree and watercress. Talk about beautiful spring bites.

Most of you know how much I love a poached pear. Imagine my delight when Derek’s dessert menu boasted a lavender honey poached pear with a tangy goat cheese ice cream and a black pepper caramel.

We have a few more days left in this southeast leg of the tour, though I have a feeling I might be spending my few free hours enjoying the Florida beaches while eating rather lightly. But as I’m soaking up the Florida sunshine, I know I’ll be planning some menus for once I’m home in my kitchen again. And I’m already scheming, trying to figure out how to recreate that crazy-good goat cheesecake with the roasted pineapple for all of us…


Cheeko-san said...

I'm ashamed to admit I haven't been to Derek's - will put that on my "to do" list for next week

Anonymous said...

Hey who knew the HC tour would also be the.culinary delight tour??
Great post and photos!