Well Dined

20Jan/151

San Antonio Country Club Chef’s Table

Well Dined | SACC Chef's Table

While we were in San Antonio for Christmas, my father (from whom I inherited my love of food) set up a special dinner in the kitchen of the San Antonio Country Club with Chef Nelson Millán, a Puerto Rican native who has been working at SACC since 2010.  Chef Millán specializes in Latin flavors, but is versed in a variety of cuisines; so when I told my father that I'm not a huge fan of Latin cuisine in general he was able to put together a menu combining two of my favorite cuisines - Asian and French (or Frasian, they joked).  My parents, my brother and his fiance, my sister, my husband, and I were set up at a big metal table inside the kitchen with a close up view of the action and a very dedicated server who made sure our glasses were never empty.  Let's begin our Frasian adventure!

Well Dined | SACC Chef's Table

First up was a White Bouillabaisse with Clam, Mussel, Lobster, White Fish (I can't recall what kind), Prawn, Potato Puree, and Roasted Fennel with a Togarashi Rouille.  This was accompanied by a 15 yr Oloroso Sherry.  Beautiful.  Each piece of seafood was perfectly cooked and the broth was packed with flavor.  I liked the modern way the chef incorporated the traditional potato and fennel into the dish, and the togarashi (Japanese condiment with chili, citrus, ginger, seaweed, and sesame) in the rouille (sauce of olive oil, breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron, and chili traditionally served with bouillabaisse) was a fun way to bring in Asian flavors.

Well Dined | SACC Chef's Table

Here we see Chef Millán arranging the seafood over the potato puree before pouring in the broth.  I should add that we also had all kinds of bread to munch on, my favorites being the sweet potato biscuits and the cornbread drops that I loved as a kid.

Well Dined | SACC Chef's Table

Next up was a Nicoise Salad with Seared Tuna, Edamame, Soft Quail Egg, Crispy Wontons, and Hong Kong Vinaigrette.  The sauce and the sprinkle of togarashi made this a little on the spicy side for me, but the mix of textures was really fun and the colors were beautiful.

Well Dined | SACC Chef's Table

Chef Millán cooked the quail eggs in a sous vide, which was really cool.  Here he is opening the shells with a paring knife.

Well Dined | SACC Chef's Table

Next we had Jasper's favorite course - Seared Steel Head Salmon with Pomegranate Hoisin Glaze and Foie Gras Brulee.  This was a big experiment and it didn't turn out exactly the way the chef wanted, which was a contrast of cold and hot, but none of us cared.  The foie gras custard was luxurious and creamy and the crunchy sugar was a nice counterpoint to the fattiness.  The oil did start to separate a bit, though, as you can see in the photo.  I think this stems from it taking too long with the torch to brulee the sugar, which warmed up the custard too much.  I'm sure if they try this again, and they should, that it would be fixed.  I really liked the pomegranate hoisin glaze on the salmon, I might try to replicate that with pomegranate molasses and hoisin sometime.  This was accompanied by a Clos du Val Pinot Noir, which was a really smart choice for what could have been a difficult pairing.

Well Dined | SACC Chef's Table

The main course was my favorite course - Seared Sirloin with Bernaise, Pommes Anna, Nuoc Cham Eggplants, Carrots, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Chili Sauce, and Pork Bottarga.  Oh my gosh - this had so much going on!  Savory, salty, sweet - it was everything!  I just loved it.  This was accompanied by a Chateau Meyne Bordeaux.

Well Dined | SACC Chef's Table

The best part was the bottarga, which is normally fish roe that is salted and cured until it is hard and dry and is grated over various dishes.  But this was made from pork and the sediment remnants from the bottom of whiskey barrels and tasted like a cross between bottarga and foie gras torchon.  Some guy who works at a distillery makes it for himself, and you can't even buy it in stores - which is a travesty, because it is so delicious!

Well Dined | SACC Chef's Table

As a palate cleanser, we had the most delicious Rosemary Zinfandel Sorbet with a Champagne Float.  I seriously wanted to buy a tub of that sorbet.

Well Dined | SACC Chef's Table

Then on to dessert proper with a Chocolate Ginger Souffle with Praline Pecan Liqueur Caramel accompanied by Sauternes.  I thought the ginger and chocolate paired nicely, and the candied ginger was helpful as a digestif.  Now I really want to find that Praline Liqueur and play around with it!

Well Dined | SACC Chef's Table

Lastly we had a Cheese Plate with Poached Pears, Blue Cheese and Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, and a Cheddar Cracker accompanied by Port.  I was so full at this point, but that panna cotta was out of this world.  I never would have paired blue cheese and vanilla, but it totally worked.

The whole experience was just so much fun - getting to talk with the chef about how he came up with the dishes and the different techniques involved, and getting to watch everything be put together.  It was just really special.  Plus the food was great and the wine was flowing and the service was stellar.  It was just great.  Many thanks to Dad and Chef Millán for putting that together.

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  1. I am dying for that nicoise salad and the chocolate ginger souffle! This looks like such a fun experience!


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