A Houston Chef Wants to Enhance the City’s Creole Cuisine
Viola and Agnes' Neo Soul Cafe is a melting pot of culinary influences
Visits to Houston, where I’m from, always lead to long overdue dinner dates with old friends. During the winter, one such dinner was with good friends whom I used to babysit for: Timothy and James, partners in life with roots in Louisiana, understand my predilection for the flavors across I-10 east. Creole seasoning, Tony Chachere's, and the holy trinity of onion, celery, and bell pepper speak to me — as if it’s a language only I and others straddling the border between Texas and Louisiana understand.
One evening, we decided to speak this language at one of the couple’s favorite restaurants. Here, they said, I would experience Creole and Cajun flavors reminiscent of the neighboring state, blended by a chef who understood spice, flavor, and timing. We ordered plates and bowls to share – an amalgam of bread, stews, and veggies. One was a bowl of gumbo, rich with the briny flavor of the crab leg, thick with the smokiness from the chicken. What confounded me, however, was the boiled egg, an ingredient I’d never seen in gumbo, but certainly has a place within Louisiana foodways.