LOCAL Houston | The City Guide November 2016 - Page 19

FOOD | ARTS | COMMUNITY | STYLE+LEISURE Paella Pastilla au Chocolat Noir As far as resourcing products, he looks at what is on the local market, but his purchasing decisions are reactive. “If it looks good to us, I get it. If not, I look somewhere else. I don’t want to be in a box.” The succulent rib eyes come from the 1855 Farm in Nebraska. The shrimp, in the wide-rimmed bowl of seafood risotto snapped to attention with a sprinkling of spicy espelette, are resourced from the Gulf. And the source of his truffles he refuses to reveal. “I give a lot of trust to my truffle purveyor – especially with the white truffles. They need to be very, very good and their truffles must be very, very fresh.” The menu reflects the seasons. As the cooler weather approaches, he adds le lapin (rabbit) to the menu. Succulent, tender, mild-flavored, cooked sous vide, the thigh and leg are stuffed with a forcemeat of mushrooms, pimiento, carrots and herbs, all atop a butternut squash mousseline. And a cassoulet will find its way onto the menu. The Raviolis aux Champignons with its buttery, foamy, cloud-like sauce never leaves the menu. One of the most missed summer dishes will be the Tarte aux Figues et Jamon Serrano, a crisp puff pastry rectangle topped with salty, thin-sliced, dried ham; sweet, fresh regional figs; creamy ricotta; spicy arugula and a drizzle of sweet/tart port wine reduction. Everything is made in-house. Wines and stocks slowly reduced to sauces, bread rolls kneaded and proofed, desserts marvelously concocted including the Pastilla au Chocolat Noir. The whisper of a crisp crust encircling a pool of warm dark chocolate (phyllo dough is the secret) – surely the most delicate of lava cakes. Autumn Spritz Verpiand does not bemoan the long hours, the seven-day weeks, the constant rhythm of lunch and dinner service. Nor does he fear the upcoming doubling of his workload. He does a little shrug of his shoulder, a slight dismissive turn of his hands. And with intensity, he says, “Do you know about our monthly charity?” Throughout every month, Etoile offers an off-the-menu prix fixe meal and dedicates a certain dollar amount of the meal purchase to a small local charity. “I don’t do it for the publicity,” says Verpiand. “I do it for my soul.” ETOILE CUISINE ET BAR 1101–11 Uptown Park Blvd | Houston, TX 77056 | 832.668.5808| www.etoilecuisine.com LUNCH: Mon-Sun, 11am–3pm | DINNER: Mon–Thu, 5 –10pm; Fri & Sat, 5 –10:30pm; Sun, 5 –9pm november 16 | L O C A L 19