Yet some of the best food you’ll ever see on this site happened last night in Central Texas, at the SxSW launch party of this site in leafy Travis Heights in Austin.
Chef Paul Hargrove. Remember that name: the man is handsome, genial and ridiculously fluent with food. He has already worked at some of the biggest restaurants (Daniel in NYC, for starters). And someday—soon, we imagine—he will have a show, he will be a star, and you will have read about him here first.
Let’s get to the dishes, which Paul came up with to reflect some of our favorite destinations.
North Africa Pigeon Bisteeya with sauce muhammara. His take on a Moroccan classic—homemade forcemeat squab sausage wrapped in phyllo. This is crisped, then sliced and topped with harissa, a little bit of cilantro, and dusted with powdered sugar. And thus, you get every bit of that amazing North African balance of sweet spicy salty. All in one bite.
Spain Pimientos del Piquillo con bacalao. This was a puree of bacalao rolled in breadcrumbs, fried till crisp, topped with small slivers of Spanish red piquillo peppers. As Matt, who lives in Spain and knows something about these things, put it: “Fucking delicious”
Peru Peruvian Ceviche mixto. Ceviche of scallops, snapper and Gulf shrimp, lightly poached in a court-bouillon. The seafood is combined with sweet potato, pineapple, onion, garlic, cilantro, and bathed, mostly in lime juice with a touch of grapefruit and orange to smooth out the acidity. Finished with a drop of olive oil. Our next trip is to Peru, at the end of the month. And I challenge that country to offer up a ceviche that hits like this one.
Southeast Asia Open-faced bánh mì. With a homemade lemongrass duck sausage served on a sliced baguette, topped with a sriracha aoili, pickled carrots, onion, cilantro and sliced raw jalapeño. Our friends and colleagues, including folks from Chow and Eater and other places that know their food, really gravitated to this dish. Just astonishing flavors, really, with that jalapeño lurking to kick it all together.