Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fiber Fete Day 2: Bandwidth to the Belly

The second day of Fiber Fete brought about even more innovation, enthusiasm, and general excitement to the gathering of technology leaders.  I once again found myself at the LITE Center in Lafayette, where on day one all of the participants were treated to a series of inspirational speakers followed by cocktails and fresh Louisiana cuisine.  I knew that the same agenda was in order for day two, so I prepared myself accordingly!

Fiber Fete at the LITE Center in Lafayette, Louisiana

It's a good thing that Fiber Fete revolved around a home-to-home fiber network connecting the citizens of Lafayette to high speed internet access rather than connecting fiber to one's diet.  Fortunately, they did manage to supply a little bit of fibrous food early in the day to help with our digestive future.  We began our post-breakfast feasting with a selection of vegetables such as carrots, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower with some spinach and cheese mini-quiches and breakfast pastries.  A little later on the conference goers were treated to some soft pretzels with mustards.  Not bad snacks for a technology conference, I must say!

Veggie Plate with Quiches and a Pastry, Salt-Covered Soft Preztels

Lunch brought us out of the LITE Center and to the Cajun Dome where we joined a business luncheon sponsored by The Independent Weekly, Lafayette's premier news, culture, and commentary publication.  The food clearly did not come from Prejean's and certainly lacked the Cajun pizazz that filled the rest of the Fiber Fete fare. By no means did I think it tasted bad, but it also did not showcase Louisiana's culinary superiority.  We started with a bisque of some sort.  It tasted like a tomato and crab bisque with a severe lack of seafood.  Perhaps they were going for just a tomato and basil soup, but it seemed to have other elements in there.  The soup had savory elements to it and all in all wasn't too shabby.

The main course featured a seafood topped fish filet with a rich cream sauce, jasmine rice, and a vegetable medley that pretty much featured nothing but green beans.   Everything on the plate tasted fine but didn't blow me, or anyone else I talked to, away.  The fish had a smooth texture but was too covered in sauce for me to tell what it was by taste.  The good news is that I like the sauce enough to eat it with the fish rice and veggies.  The meal did nothing more than me fill me up, ignite my sweet tooth and prepare it for carrot cake, and make me miss the Prejean's catering.  As for said carrot cake: sufficient, not spectacular.

Tomato Bisque, Lunch Plate, and Carrot Cake

After the letdown of a lunch (truly only because it didn't compare with the rest of the food from the event), we all made our way back to the LITE Center for the afternoon session of Fiber Fete.  The main theme of the afternoon asked now that we have the fiber network, what do we do with it?  The event proved to be informative and inspiring, and I'm glad that I was able to be a part of it.  Soon, the time came for the evening's reception complete with a limited supply of Gigabit IPA (for more on the Gigabit IPA check day 1 of Fiber Fete) and plenty of tasty treats!

Gigabit IPA and Carencro Shrimp

The Carencro Shrimp are a new appetizer that Prejean's has been playing around with and if they want my opinion, I'd say it's a winner!  The should without a doubt put these babies on the menu.  The Carencro (a town just North of Lafayette) Shrimp were lightly battered and fried then tossed in a Thai chili sauce that added a sensational blend of spicy sweetness.  Magnificent! 

Fried Green Tomatoes Topped With Crawfish Etouffee, Crawfish and Alligator Cheesecake

The next selection of appetizers came in the form of fried green tomatoes topped with crawfish etouffee and melted cheese followed by a crawfish and alligator cheesecake.  The fried green tomatoes were tender and succulent, and very unique when topped with a Cajun favorite like crawfish etouffee.  Similarly, the "cheesecake" also contained crawfish in a very unique setting.  The dish had a texture that reminded me more of a quiche than a cheesecake, but the flavor of the crawfish and alligator mixed with just he right portion of cream cheese turned out very nice.

Goat Cheese Crepes

Finally, still part of our pre-dinner cocktail party hors d'oeuvres, Prejean's put out several trays of absolutely delightful goat cheese crepes.  The sensational texture of the creamy cheese inside the soft and delicate crepe blew me way.  These were right up there with the shrimp as my favorite appetizers, any possibly even passed them up.  There is also something about the taste of goat cheese that wakes up the palate and excites the taste buds.  I'd gladly eat these crepes again, and again, and again!

Dinner Plate from Day Two of Fiber Fete

The tremendous catering staff knew how much I liked the Gigabit IPA and hid the last couple of bottles for me.  After consuming the final bottle of Gigabit, I switched to other cocktails, namely a little Tennessee Whiskey known as Jack Daniels.  Several stiff ones later it came time for dinner, so I helped myself to another plate of fantastic food.  Starting at the top right are some delicious green beans with bacon cooked right in.  Pretty much everything is better with bacon!  Next came a small filet mignon topped with an onion ring.  The seasoned beef steak had a beautiful dark pink center that left it wonderfully rare and delicious.  It is hard to get steak catered to the masses and still have cooked so well, so many compliments to the chef!  Next down the plate is a piece of alligator stuffed with crawfish etouffee.  Very delicious, but much like on day one, the etouffee theme got a little repetitive.  Finally there is a barbecued chicken leg and some bow-tie Parmesan pasta. The true highlight of the plate (right up there with the steak) actually came in a bowl.  The duck and andouille gumbo had a magnificently dark roux and proper spice to be a real Louisiana treat.  I'd go back this gumbo time and time again.  I previously have not been a fan of this dark of a roux, but after tasting this masterpiece of a gumbo, I may have changed my mind!  It is rare when a taste of something can change your mind about a certain ingredient or method.  I don't think I've been awoken to something so beautiful since the Brussels sprouts in San Francisco!  

White Chocolate Bread Pudding

The final dish of the evening came in the form of a superb white chocolate bread pudding.  The bread pudding itself was moist and buttery.  The white chocolate sauce accented the rich pudding with a mild sweetness and terrific flavor.  This is the best bread pudding I've had in a while, and I wasn't the only one who thought so.  Ryan Petticrew, our event coordinator and Lafayette native, claimed that "this bread pudding makes me not give a f&(k about anything else!"  Well said, Ryan, well said.

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