Featured photo: Chef Anthony Felan’s chicken-fried rabbit porchetta, featured as part of the “Louisiana Lone Star Restaurant Night” in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, Oct. 13.
On Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, Louisiana Culinary Trails – a program administered by the Louisiana Office of Tourism – hosted nine Louisiana chefs in nine restaurants in Austin, Texas. Referred to as the “Louisiana Lone Star Restaurant Night,” this program was designed to give Austin-based members of the food media, as well as food-loving Austinites in general, an opportunity to experience the best of Louisiana cuisine in their own back yard.
Chef Anthony Felan, of Wine Country Bistro and Bottle Shop in Shreveport, was one of the nine chefs selected to represent Louisiana in Austin. Felan prepared a three-course tasting menu for the event, which 20×49 featured in this previous blog post. That three-course tasting menu will be served at Wine Country Bistro, Thursday, Oct. 15 through Saturday, Oct. 17, as a $40, fixed-price meal.
Felan’s “Louisiana Lone Star” menu is one of the most creative dining experiences I’ve had in years. The first course, an appetizer of cold-smoked Gulf yellowtail, includes some huge, bold flavors (pickled scuppernong grapes, for example) teetering atop a foundation of mellow flavors (avocado mousse, charred sweet corn purée) in a plate that I found to be somehow both wildly busy with big tastes but also completely in order. Popped sorghum and pickled grapes? Sure, as it turns out, that works.
The entrée, which seems more decadent than graceful on paper, is a bacon-wrapped, chicken-fried rabbit porchetta that is served over a substantial serving of red bean cassoulet topped with pickled shaved root vegetables. A real grab bag of international cooking techniques (the cassoulet from France, the porchetta from Italy, the “chicken fried” from Texas), to me, this dish was way more sophisticated than anything that’s been wrapped in bacon and fried has any right to be. It was outstanding.
For dessert, a velvety panna cotta with fresh basil-infused whipped cream, bourbon gastrique and carbonated sugar (or “pop rocks,” to use a more familiar term) was delicious and humorous. Several tables at the Austin event delighted in holding the panna cotta up to their ears, listening to the dish, before eating it. All in all, I found the meal to be an impressive and insightful glimpse into the creative mind of a chef who clearly wants to make beautiful food but also isn’t above, you know, serving pop rocks.
For more information on great things to eat and drink in Shreveport-Bossier, download our new brochure Eat Here: A Food Lover’s Guide to Shreveport-Bossier.