Friday, May 29, 2009

Trio Happy Hour

Trio Happy Hour with Fickle Foodie

Everytime Fickle Foodie and I make plans to visit Trio for its half-price happy hour treats, they always get thwarted by something unforeseen. We finally made it to celebrate my Lunar calendar birthday, which always happens on Duan Wu Jie (Dragon Boat Festival), the anniversary date of the suicide of a Chu kingdom official and poet, Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan opposed the Chu alliance with the rising Qin kingdom, and committed suicide when Qin turned against and conquered the Chu kingdom.

So what does this mean for Fickle Foodie and Food Dilettante? Time for us to visit Trio!

Happy Hour Menu (M-F 5PM-8PM half price)
In a perfect world, I would've ordered everything on the menu, but alas the purchasing power of a graduate student and a young career woman does not enable us to order as we please. We ordered happy hour dishes to fill up our bellies for dinner rather than treat them as a light happy hour hors d'oeuvres. We narrowed our choices down to the Smoked Shrimp Croquettes, Crispy Pork Belly, Lamb Sliders, Baked Gulf Oysters, and Crab Fondue. Then, because it's my Lunar birthday, we ordered desserts from the non-happy hour menu.

The Smoked Shrimp Croquettes were the night's stand out dish. When I popped the first one in my mouth and before I started chewing, a puff of the smoked shrimp aroma exuded from the pores of the croquette. I loved it before even biting into it.

Smoked Shrimp Croquettes

My next favorite was the Crispy Pork Belly. For some reason, the pork bellies I've had at every restaurant all have an Asian pallate of flavors, including this one. I found these on the salty side, but pork bellies tend to be served on the saltier side of the spectrum. The most famous and tastiest pork belly is Dongpo Rou (東坡肉), braised pork belly. Su Dongpo 蘇東坡 aka Su Shi 蘇軾 was a scholar-official and Renaissance man (Renaissance man is an ill-fitting term because Dongpo came way before the Italian China, literatus is the more appropriate term for learned men who paint, write poetry, calligraphy, historical essays, grand political strategies for the emperor, etc.) from the Song dynasty (960–1279). During one of his numerous exiles, Su Dongpo created recipes to deal with the limited edible resources available. His most famous recipe was for rotted pork meat, now made with FDA approved pork belly. Su Dongpo is fascinating, no? Back to Trio's pork belly. It tasted like a Japanese-Vietnamese take on pork belly with the pickled radishes and carrots. It felt like I was eating an extra salty baguette-less banh mi!

Crispy Pork Belly

The lamb sliders had a strong taste assisted by the generoud dollop of tzatziki. I would have liked it more if the oil from the lamb or butter on the bread and the tzatziki not have soaked through the bun. Perhaps if Trio served the tzatziki separately, they can avoid limp buns.

Lamb Sliders

I've managed to avoid consuming oysters for 25 years. On my 26th, I tried it for the first time with Trio's shrimp, bacon and shoestring potato topped gulf oysters. In my mind, I always thought oysters taste gross because of its slippery texture and weird innards. I'm glad I started with cooked oysters dressed in all sorts of goodies instead of raw with only horseradish and cocktail sauce. It's not bad...but it'll take a lot more oysters to ease them into my food consumption repertoire.

Baked Gulf Oysters
The crab fondue was a great disappointment. The toasts were so hard, I could barely bite down into them. The fondue lacked a kick. It was bland and boring. I appreciated the plentiful lumps of crab meat, but there's not enough to save this dish.
Crab Fondue

I knew I had to have the Blackberry Lemon Napoleon when I saw Boot's in the Oven's photo on flickr. I haven't had macarons since Paris 2006-2007. It's been 2 years. I lie. I had Fickle Foodie's delectable rose-lychee-raspberry macarons early 2008...but only a couple. I feel so deprived; it's near impossible to find macarons in Austin. Central Market sells teensy weensy ones for $1+ each. Yikes. No way would I shed that kind of money on normal chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry macarons. But a macaron Napoleon????? My prayers are answered! I gobbled up everything on the plate, and saved the little bitty blackberry macaron for my last bite. Poof! Light as air, and gone. The ephemeral quality of macarons makes my thirst for them ever more insatiable. I curse the day I laid eyes on them!

Fickle Foodie had the Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch, which she thoroughly enjoyed, but I will never stray from that Napoleon.
Blackberry Lemon Napoleon-sable breton, blackberry mousse, lemon vanilla cream, lemon frozen yogurt; Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch-peanut butter mousse, milk chocolate cremeux, grape fluid gel, milk shooter

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