My 27th Birthday rolled in and took me by surprise. Late, late twenties...wow. My wonderful newly married friends Bradley & Lindsay offered to throw a crawfish boil for my bday, and a newly graduated friend with her MBA! It was absolutely perfect, especially since all I really wanted for my bday was to eat, all weekend. We gathered at their adorable abode and the festivities began. Bradley, master chef/boiler rallied up his new pot, crawfish from Quality Seafood, and let the good times roll. While he was cooking away, we snacked upon my fabulous friend Laura's homemade crab cakes. Uh, ah-mazing! It was her first attempt, and may I say they were a home run to the max. The perfect amount of crab, seasoning, and bite. I could have eaten them all day, but they were gone in about 2.5 seconds. Lindsay busted out some fantastic Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese frosting for the occastion as well. Delish! We drank our cervezas and Bradley's killer margaritas (we'll call them tequilla with a little lime and ice) and enjoyed the sunny May day. I couldn't imagine a better way to start a new year of mi vida, and celebrate such a major accomplishment as getting an MBA. It was fabulous. The next day, I awoke with an oh so friendly hangover, but ready to jump on the food trail again. My mom, brother and I started with appetizers at Jack Allen's Kitchen in South Austin. The restaurant was opened by Jack Gilmore and Tom Kamm. Jack was the founding chef at Z'Tejas in Austin. Not knowing what to expect, I went in wide eyed and hungry. We sat outside on the fantastic patio and were served a complimentary plate of the House made Pimento Cheese with flatbread. Delicious and creamy. After scarfing that down, we decided on the Bacon Wrapped Texas Quail (Jalepeno jam, peach jam, and micro green fig salad), as well as the Smoked Beef Rib Quesadilla (Pepper Jack, cotija cheese, and Jack's Slaw). They were both like a birthday present to our mouths. The quail was tender, juicy and soaked up every bit of its bacon wrapped flavor. The jellies and fig were outstanding with the meat. I could have licked the plate clean. The quesadillas were filled with moist beef rib in a sauce that was finger licking good. I could have stayed all day and eaten everything else on the menu. Jack's prides themselves on using local farm foods, and it definitely shows. The chefs put everything into each dish, and it makes you stop and appreciate their efforts. As if that little meal weren't enough, I was craving seafood for the big bday dinner. The three of us headed to Perla's on South Congress for the feast. The weather was perfection, so we sat at one of the picnic tables on the front patio. The trees, sunset, and strings of lights were like eating in a friend's backyard. So wonderful. I had been craving the restaurant's Crab Louie (Lump Crab with Cornmeal Fried Green Tomatoes, and Russian Dressing) for weeks, and immediately ordered it with a glass of Pinot Grigio. For our entrees, I ordered the Maine Sea Scallops a la Plancha with poached garlic drawn butter, Mom and brother both got the Oak Grilled Trout (one with Salsa Verde and the other with poached garlic drawn butter), and to top it off we got a side of Shells & Cheese. I have to say my scallops were the most perfectly cooked scallops I've ever had. They were large and in charge, perfectly tender and succulent. The fish was fresh and excellent. The Shells & cheese, heaven with a kick of jalapeno. We finished the happy birthday to me celebrations with an order of the Strawberry Rhubarb Tart, and the Banana Split. The tart was a blissful marriage of tart and sweet with a flaky crust to bind it together. The banana split was kick ass. The BEST chocolate ice cream I've ever tasted, which is handmade at the restaurant in an old fashioned ice cream maker. Rich, creamy, and the most pristine chocolate flavor, ever. It was one fantastic birthday and I loved every minute during every meal. Grateful for another year, and grateful for many more meals to come. Cheers!
Jack Allen's Kitchen
Perla's Seafood & Oyster Bar