Continuing on my quest to celebrate every National Awesome Food Day, I'm pumped that more than one French restaurant around Houston is doing something special for National Escargot Day, which is May 24 — today.
Bistro Provence doesn't just have a new food truck devoted to escargot (called . . . L'es-Car-Go), it also has the widest array of Escargot Day options, including oven-roasted escargots en brochette, risotto d'escargots, roti de boeuf aux escargots et echalotes (garlic-studded beef filet with sauteed escargots and shallots) and even a snail pizza.
Although just about anything drenched in butter is tasty, Philippe managed to do more than the typical with these land snails.
Slightly closer to home, I checked out the special escargot options at Philippe Restaurant + Lounge. I was informed that our first dish, Napolean d'escargot, is a traditional way to prepare escargots, thought it was new to me since I’ve only ever had escargot swimming in garlic butter in those funny little indented pans.
This is the fancy French cousin of deviled eggs. Crispy on the outside and pillowy warm on the inside, a perfectly baked half mini-Yukon potato is filled with tomato confit and of course, the snails.
Our next dish was a small jar with fennel puree on the bottom, below layers of “tipsy” mushrooms, tomato confit and garlic-butter escargot served with strips of lightly toasted bread. At first glance, I thought the bottom layer was lard but was not disappointed when I tasted the fennel. It had a condensed texture and made a great spread with the minced mushrooms.
The tomato confit was a bit unnecessary, and although the escargots melted in my mouth, I could have eaten a whole jar of the fennel and mushrooms on its own. I can see myself slathering it on a thick piece of toast, topped with an oozy fried egg.
Offered just for the holiday, the last dish had a layer of puff pastry on the bottom with zucchini puree, garlic-confit puree, escargot and microgreens, surrounded by bright pink hibiscus vinaigrette. The acidity in the vinaigrette enhanced the finish of the paired wine, a minerally and unique Basque white called Txomin Etxaniz. As for the food, the puff pastry retained its crisp while the subtle flavor of zucchini mellowed out the garlic confit.
Like the other two dishes, the escargots were plentiful (not the measly six you get in other restaurants) and cooked just right: Soft with a bit of chew.
Although just about anything drenched in butter is tasty, Philippe managed to do more than the typical with these land snails. Available Thursday for both lunch and dinner, a glass of Txomin Etxaniz and Napolean d'escargot is only $20.
Now, if only I can find someone who will make escargot ice cream, Iron Chef style . . .