Rising Stars Tasting Gala

When The Hubby and I were at Franklin BBQ, I picked up a little postcard advertising a tasting gala held by StarChefs featuring the Austin-San Antonio area's "brightest culinary talent." It was open to the public and as soon as we saw that not only Aaron Franklin but Paul Qui from "Top Chef: Texas" was also going to be there, we knew it was something we were willing to splurge on. 

We have been trying to live in the moment and enjoy our lives a little more, even if it means I'll have to work a few more full day shifts at work to make up for it. When would we ever have the chance to do something like this again?

After work on a Tuesday evening we drove down to Austin and walked into the beautiful Driskill Hotel. We then proceeded to eat gourmet food until we were so full that we could eat no more. Each dish was also expertly paired with wine. However, that was wasted on us since I cannot handle my alcohol and The Hubby had to drive back home that evening. 

1) Heartbrand Beef Wagyu Flank Steak, Fermented Red Pepper Sauce, Mint, Fried Orzo, Soft Poached Egg on a Bed of Bacon, Sea Salt, Fava Beans, Togarashi, and Allan Benton Ham Broth 
2) Pan-roasted Sea Scallop, Jicama-Mint Salad, Coconut Cream, Cocoa Nib, and Chocolate Mint
3) Peanut Butter Semifreddo, Miso-Apple Sorbet, Peanut Brittle, Micro Wasabi, Rehydrated Raisins, and Golden Raisin Puree

4) Smoked Local Cabrito Ribs, Polenta, and Natural Jus
5)  Tacos Arrabicos: Seared Cervena Venison, Pickled Cucumber, Chipotle Harissa, Fennel Pollen Yogurt, and Bacon Fat Tortilla
6) Cauliflower Gratin, Currants, Capers, Almonds, Garlic Cream, Parmesan, and Balsamic Reduction

7) Herb-crusted Australian Lamb Lollipop with Spicy Apple Kimchee
8) Grapefruit Sorbet, Campari Pop Rocks, and Angostura Bitters Ice Cream
9) Reuben Sandwich with Organic Australian Brisket

Paul actually handed us our soups while we were in line and we were a little star-struck. All I could babble was a quick thank you and I'm pretty sure I accidentally scratched his hand while grabbing my bowl from him. The Hubby thinks I need baby mittens because I scratch him all the time. He really is as nice as "Top Chef" portrays him to be.

10) Cured Niragi, Beet Ceviche, Laura Chenel Goat Cheese, and Citrus Vinaigrette
11) Sunchoke-Dashi Soup, Uni Botarga, Baby Carrots, and Zucchini Blossoms

My absolute favorite dish of the night was this sandwich from Noble Pig. We'll definitely have to make another trip to Austin for it! What was slightly revolting was the amount of dirty plates and utensils people left on the cocktail tables when there were plenty of trash cans around. By the end of the night, there were no clean tables to eat on. 

12) Sweet Italian Sausage Sandwich, Roasted Red Onions, Roasted Tomatoes, Provolone, Basil Pesto Aioli, and Jalapeño Slaw

You can find better pictures of the dishes here. The lighting was terrible so all of my shots are a little blurry.

Overall, we really enjoyed most of the plates and had a wonderful experience. Many of the items were so delicious that we would shout to each other, "Are you kidding me?! What is this?!"Our only major disappointment was that Aaron Franklin never showed up so we will have to wait some more time to taste his barbecue again.