Thursday, July 31, 2008

What To Do

Its hot. The kind of heat that leaves one exhausted simply by waking up. Let's face it, the dog days of summer have arrived. If you want go to Saints Camp, but allow us to offer a better suggestion. The SOFAB Museum will host Leslie Henderson of Lazy Magnolia Brewery.

I have had the Pecan Nut Brown Ale from this outfit on occasion and I must be honest; that beer rocks. Sweet without cloying, with a good bitterness and smoothness. Henderson will talk about beer and pairing beer with food (which in this heat and the affinity of grilling, it makes more sense to drink beer with summer food than any non-white wine (this is a generalization)).

There will also be a tasting. This all goes down at 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Museum. The SOFAB Museum is located in the River Walk at the Julia Street Entrance (near the Food Court). To reserve your space (the cost is a measly $10) email Stephanie at Go, the museum is great, the beer delectable, and Air Conditioning.

I capitalize Air Conditioning because it is that God damn important.

For Lunch Today...

I lived in Austin for 4 years and was fortunate to experience a lot of great Tex Mex as well as some authentic Mexican cuisine (though not in the border towns we frequented every few months or so ... but that's another story for another time). So I'm spoiled, but that's not to say that we don't have some great places around town to indulge in tacos and enchiladas. Of course, most put a NOLA twist on the food, but who ever said there is anything wrong with that?

Which is why I like Juan's because it does not pretend to be something it's not. Is it authentic Mexican or even Tex Mex? No. But it's still good. I like the Juaha Roll of tarragon chicken salad, avocado, spinach, jack and cream cheese rolled in a tortilla and sliced sushi style. Anything remotely Mexican about that? Not really. But it's freaking delicious, and it's labeled as a "salad" on the menu (which usually makes me feel like I am making a health conscious choice at the table). The burritos are loaded with fillings, but they are pretty messy to eat. A friend of mine swears by The Luau quesadilla of shrimp, bacon, cheese, and pineapple salsa; and my Dad always orders the red fish tacos.

Juan's Flying Burrito. A creole taqueria? Only in NOLA.

Where Was This Job on Career Day?

So The Pope just got home from "training" in Orlando, and it makes me wonder how in the world people get paid to do what he does. On one night groups of "trainees" were assigned to dine at different restaurants and make observations as to the service. Each person was given a $100 budget for the meal, but needless to say The Pope blew that figure out of the water. When asked how he paid for the overages, La Papa unflinchingly stated, "I charged it to the game" - i.e., his corporate credit card.

Then during a morning seminar he was served Krispy Kreme French Toast with Grand Marnier Whipped Cream. Yes, I know Paula Dean has made Krispy Kreme bread pudding before, and we have all seen the Krispy Kreme wedding cake; but he was so excited about this breakfast treat that I thought it deserved mention. I know I was jealous.

Afternoon coffee? You would probably expect an assortment of cookies and petit fours, right? How about freshly made ice cream sandwiched between two oversized Oreo cookies with an array of candies for you to roll the sides of your ice cream cookie sandwich in?

They actually pay people for this. I know the restaurant industry is by no means an easy way to make a decent living, but God bless The Pope and his community of culinary saints. Those who make people happy at the table deserve to be happy themselves. And nothing brings a smile to La Papa's face like anything mixed with Grand Marnier.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

For Lunch Today...And an Announcement

How about Sucre? Sure, the pastel patisserie and gelateria on Magazine is more known for its desserts, but they also have a nice lunch selection. The poached chicken cashew salad with taragon aioli sounds pretty dynamite. Pair that with a cup of soup and a scoop of gelato (I like the mint chocolate chip) and I would say that would pretty much make your day.

Also, for fans of ours in the Central and South Florida region, the Pope is attending a training conference for his "job" in Orlando. He will be blackening out nightly until Thursday. Get a glimpse of him but remember only touch him if he touches you first.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Thanks to the Ultimate Law Clerk

Two Birds, One Recipe

The book has tempted me. Sitting on the shelf staring, daring, and challenging my inner soul. The French Laundry Cookbook: the Playboy of Food Porn, the Rosetta Stone of Risotto, and the Bible of Bordelaise. Over the last two days, I tackled a recipe. And in doing so, solved a problem.

The herb garden was a great idea; but now the basil is taking over. We get a lot of queries from readers, such as McCall and Go Bama, about what to do with the pounds of basil growing in their garden. Here is what you do.

From the French Laundry Cookbook.

Take 3 Cups (tightly packed, like a cooler on a boat) of Basil. Bring to a stunning boil 2 quarts of water and 1/2 cup of salt. Toss Basil in water for 15 seconds.
Remove and throw into an ice bath. Drain basil (it will look like frozen spinach) on paper towels until dry. Seperate basil into two portions of half each.
Cut with scissors one half of the basil clump and place in blender.
Add 3/4 cup of oil to blender. Blend on low for 1 minute. Then high for 2.
Add half the remaining basil (cut as well), blend on high for another two minutes. Open pourer hole on lid of blender. The oil will get hot; this is ok. Its called friction, it happens.
Add remaining herbs (also cut), blend on high for 1 minute.
Place oil mixture in fridge for one day.
Strain over a fine mesh or cheesecloth into a container or squeeze bottle. I buy squeeze bottles in packs, they are inexpensive and very useful.
Do not push the mixture through or the oil will cloud.
Use oil.

Sure, not really a recipe or anything close to this gal. But the longest journey over the shortest pier, begins with the smallest step.

This morning I drizzled the basil oil over an omelet. The oil is pretty good; a lot of work. But then again, what else are you doing on a Wednesday night?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

For Lunch Today...

Tried to go to Korea House yesterday. However, I soon learned Korea House does not open on Wednesday's. Pho Tau Bay is closed on Thursdays. Why is it that Asian restaurants are closed on random days and open at all other times. Like this one time on Christmas the dogs ate the Turkey and the only restaurant open in town was an Asian spot. So we went there and sang Cantonese Christmas Carols.

For lunch today, Korea House (since I was denied yesterday). Go with a bunch of people from work, the neighborhood, your Atari Club. Order a bunch of food, or better yet let them bring you food. Definitely get the Korean Bar B Q pork and the spicy beef soup. Wash it down with some Hite beer.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Most Spirited Dinner

Last Thursday our rowdy crew of Turks descended upon Stella! for the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Dinner. Stella! is an absolutely beautiful restaurant with brick and linen walls, exposed wood, candlelit, and my favorite breath mints in the bathroom. However the food has a definite modern twist and technique.

Peter and I arrived and began sampling the cocktails. The first drink was by far the gem of the evening. A St. Germain Redux combined Beefeater Gin, St. Germain Elderflower, Club Soda, and Champagne with a twist of grapefruit. Delightfully dry, and refreshing; causing more than one guest to remark, "This is like an upscale Gin Bucket."

A shrimp and veal gyoza dumpling with a jalepeno emulsion and coconut curry. It was very good. The heat of the jalepeno and the coolness of the coconut curry combined to enhance the shrimp in the dumpling. While none of us got much of a veal flavor, this amuse was certainly delicious.

First Course Cocktail arrived, groans came next. The Fresa Brava combined Jalepeno infused Tequila, Yellow Chartreuse, lemon juice, simple syrup, and strawberry. Tasted on its own, this drink was barely palatable. The jalepeno had to much force, leaving one with a tingly feeling reminscent of a Night Spent in Paris.

The First Course was Peanut Butter and Jelly Fish with a Summer Melon Kimchee. The heat advertised on the menu was absent, however that was a smart decision considering the drink more than adequately "brought the heat". Jellyfish if you are wondering, when battered in tempura and deep fried, tastes like deep fried tempura.

Second course cocktail was the "Ewwwwww Ewwwwwww Gypsy Woman": Tequila, Vermouth, Green Chartreuse, and Celery Bitters. Ehhh, good; but really anything was an upgrade over the Fresa Brava.

Accompanying the gypsies, tramps and thieves was a beautiful pink lobster roe agnolotti with edamame puree, crabmeat, and a cognac-soy creme. Boy was that good. An interesting note on this dish. To prepare the pasta dough, Chef Boswell uses raw lobster roe which is green. And as the pasta cook the pasta turns that rich pink/red that cooked lobster has. I thought this was cool. Of course I also loved Winds of Change by the Scorpions.

Next cocktail, The Chaplin, really hit a comfort zone. Combining Bourbon, Dry Sherry, Amaro, Cointreau, and Orange Bitters, this dish stood up to and complimented the accompanying course. The dish reminded one of those cold weather bourbon drinks (Old Fashioned's, Sazerac's, etc...) while also tasting totally distinctive.

Last savory course was a Surf and Turf. Tender filet topped with grilled shrimp, Sake glazed sweet potato, and Kabayaki butter. Kabayaki is a paste made of soy, sake, and carrots. It added a good amount of sweetness to the dish, which by the end came slightly overwheleming. All in all this dish had it all. The beef was incredible tender, the shrimp provided the grilled flavor and texture, the sweet potato and butter the sweetness, and the fried brocolli rabe the bitter.

Dessert cocktail was strong. And by strong I mean seeing stars, hair on chest, moonshine blindness strong. Cognac and Ginger Liqueur swirled with a cinnamon stick. Great drink , if it had been 20 degrees outside.

Dessert was interesting. A green tea ice cream with a forzen ginger and Grand Marnier Creme Brulee. Frozen Creme Brulee to me is not much different than ice cream, so I didnt quite get it (texturally). However, the flavors were interesting and the presentation very well thought out.

Finally a dessert amuse: homemade marshmallows and cinnamon meringues. I love that little touch. Peter, Pope, Lady and I are contemplating tackling the tasting menu at Stella!; anyone interested may join.

We had a wonderful evening. I have one observation though. If I told you you could go to a dinner with wine snobs or a dinner for cocktail afficionados, you would most likely opine that the cocktail dinner would be more fun. I suggest this is because wine seems so serious and and require special waiters with french titles, decanters, and special phrases; whereas cocktails are how you unwind at the end of a long day.

However, wine people are more fun. There is an inherent academic aspect to cocktail folks. They discuss the origins of a bitter just as serious as a wine maker talks about the varietal. Yet, somehow those discussions are more snobbish when concerning cocktails then wine. I am not sure why this is and perhaps I am wrong. But the difference can be summed up thusly. At the NOWFE Dinner, there was an aspect of group sharing and discovery of the wines that we all found enjoyable. At the Spirited Dinner, it was almost as if we were lucky to be let in on the secret of why this cocktail was over our heads.

But our thanks to the staff at Stella!, the Bar Chefs, and all who made this a great evening. See you next year.

TV Guide (Blackened Out Edition)

If you are like me, then you are "over" the Food Network. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy a few of their shows (Good Eats, Boy Meets Grill, and old reruns of Cook's Tour), but I really am not a fan of watching cooking challenges, which seems to be the majority of their productions these days. Seriously, how many more "Tours of American Diners, Cookouts, and Roadside Confectioner Castle Contests" do we need?

But I still love food and watching television about food. I have seen every episode of No Reservations (multiple times), and if ever the day comes that Bourdain is no longer able to endure eating another bowl of pho from a street vendor in Vietnam, then, Lord willing, Rene and I will assume his responsibilities as US food ambassadors to the world.

In the meantime, I have discovered my new favorite food show: After Hours. The concept is so simple - Chef Daniel Boulod (a native of our second favorite city in the world, Lyon) travels to different restaurants and hosts an "after hours" dinner party with other local chefs and celebrities. Boulod and his sous cook a few courses, and the resident chef whips up a few of his restaurants signature dishes. Add wine and good company and you have one hell of a meal and one hell of a show.

I also like to drink, but not nearly as much as this guy Zane Lamprey who plays a sort of "Bourdain of Booze" role on Three Sheets. Basically he travels all over the world with this stuffed monkey and drinks. A lot. I mean, this guy likes to get f*cked up. And that's what the show is all about: one man and his quest for intoxication. (I think they are in negotiations with Legend to host the next season).

So check out After Hours and Three Sheets on MOJOHD (Channel 751 in NOLA). I can almost guarantee two things:

  1. You will enjoy both shows
  2. You will burn with envy as to how these people are traveling all over the world to eat and drink ... and getting paid for it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Manifesto: Part 4

Ever walk into a restaurant and stand around? All the other diners look at you and snicker constantly. You think maybe my fly is down, did I forget a belt again, is Lady's slip showing? 1 minute feels like an eternity. You are tempted to run out screaming and crying, only finally someone shows up to either ask "what are you doing here" or tells you "sit where you like."

I absolutely hate standing around like an idiot. It happens enough when I am not dining out. Give me a hostess stand please or at least a sign. Tell me what to do, where to sit, and reassure me that "my waiter will be right right with me."

Is that really too much to ask? If you own a restaurant where food is not ordered and delivered over a counter, then you must have a host/hostess. Simple as that.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tell Her What She's Won...

Let no one ever say that the "young Turks" of Blackened Out are not men of our word. In celebration of our 5000th visitor, we (actually it was Rene, without my knowledge or consent, mind you) offered to take the lucky winner to lunch. Who would have thought our winner would have actually taken us up on our offer? (Not us.) But we are glad she did.

So off we went to MiLa for a late lunch with our winner St. James Girl (SJG) and her main squeeze Mike. We had toyed with the idea of going to Nine Roses or some other hidden gem off the beaten path; but we thought that if we told her to meet us under the interstate on the Westbank, then she would probably come down with a sudden case of the flu and we would likely be facing an attempted kidnapping charge.

SJG is a serious foodie - so much so that I would have to say that she is much more knowledgeable about food than myself and could probably give Rene a run for his money. So we ate, and drank, and talked about food, and laughed about food, and generally entertained SJG and Mike with tales of our past shenanigans. They both seemed to have enjoyed themselves.

The food was awesome. After we finished, I was amazed as to why the dining room had been half empty when we arrived. The 3 course lunch prix fix is an absolute steal of a deal at $20, though I admit that the portions are small. Of course we ordered 3 additional appetizers and 2 bottles of wine, but if you exercise self control, you can enjoy one hell of a meal for less than $30 inclusive.

Before the prix fix began, we decided to start with a few passed appetizers. The terrine of pork was some of the best charcouterie that I have had, but the homemade pickles and mustard might have been even better than the head cheese itself. Next, we sampled the tian of crab which was a simple dish of jumbo lump crabmeat topped with a slightly acidic tomato concassee - basically a saute of finely chopped tomato. Then we asked our waiter if we could order the pan roasted sweetbreads with black truffle grits and bacon jus (which is only on the dinner menu), and the chef kindly obliged. All I can really say about that dish is it was so fantastic that SJG scraped the bowl of the last bit of grits and made no qualms about it.

On to the prix fix. The first course was a choice between a curried squash soup with lobster knuckles or a summer squash salad. The soup was smooth and rich, flavored with saffron and just a hint of spice from the curry. The salad had thinly sliced squash with some sort of vinaigrette. Winner: the soup.

The entree choices were phyllo crusted redfish or a filet with pureed fingerling potatoes. The quality of the fish was a testament to MiLa's focus on finding the freshest seafood. But the filet was hands-down the best dish of the meal. The beef was incredibly tender, yet flavorful (which is usually the knock on filet) and sauced with a serious demi glace. I was really pissed off that I had not ordered the filet, but c'est la vie.

I finished with rice pudding and strawberries, and the others had sorbet of a flavor which I cannot recall. Simple, nothing exciting, yet delicious.

The only "problem" that I have with MiLa is the white bean (or lima bean) puree that is served with the cornbread. Every time I try it, I wonder why I did because I never like it. Next time (and there will most certainly be a next time) I eat at MiLa, I will just ask for more butter instead. Not sure if that should even be considered a "flaw," but I wonder if I'm the only one who does not care for that stuff.

MiLa - Eagle

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Manifesto: Part 3

Restaurant Impotence.

The menu, setting, service produce great expectations and then the meal (or overall experience) falls flat. Usually this restaurant whiskey dick occurs later in the evening. The cooks are hot and tired, the servers aching, and quite franky, the diner is fatigued. What results is an experience that failed to satisfy.

I usually tell myself after experiences with edible disfunction "don't worry it happens to everyone."

NOTE: Recap of last evening's Spirited Dinner at Stella (overall birdie range) and our lunch with the 5000th visitor coming soon.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Now if you will excuse me...

I'm going to go on an overnight drunk, and in 10 days I'm going to set out to find the shark that ate my friend and destroy it. Anyone who wants to tag along is more than welcome.

-Steve Zissou

Stella, prepare to be boarded.

Do not expect genius tomorrow, for you have already received your fair share. If you are lucky, we may have some incoherent ramblings, more so than usual.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Manifesto: Part 2

I love the taste of New Orleans tap water. Sure that may sound insane, but in reality if you drink bottled water you are killing polar bears. I can't stand this query from a waiter (or some variation of it), "Would you like sparkling or still water?"

Listen, restaurant, I am well aware that you probably have bottled water available for purchase. Quite frankly I did not come here to get my recommended daily allotment of hydro. I came here to eat and drink. Just bring me some tap water, on ice. If there is an overwhelming desire for bottled water by either myself or someone at the table, we will let you know.

Even better are idiots who request bottled water and a glass of ice. Usually there rationale is they "cant stand the taste of tap water/tap water is gross/look how sophisticated I am with Evian." Remember Evian spelled backwards is Naive.*

*I heard this one time from a comedian. Or maybe it was nothing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Manifesto: Part 1

We all have things that turn us off about restaurants. Clues, tells, slights that despite our best attempts to move on, sorrow the enjoyment of dining out. For the next few days/weeks, Blackened Out will present its pet peeves with restaurants. Rather than one long complaining diatribe, we will break up the complaints. If you have a suggestion, please email us.

Number 1: Concept Restaurants
If your menu has an opening paragraph discussing how the owners hatched the "concept" for this restaurant while white water rafting through the Costa Rican rainforest and snacking on granola and river trout, you just might be a concept restaurant. I am all for restaurants having an identity, a soul; what I can not stand is something that is so obviously geared to a specific market oriented audience.

You want to make the best wings around? Great! You want to devliver them to the table by a bio-fueled robot who dispenses dipping sauces based on the type of music on the diner's ipod? Try again.

Japanese Fusion mixed with Creole ingredients has about as much appeal as a proctology appointment. Another Spanish Tapas/Vodka Bar, that is about as welcome as a fart in a sauna.

Luckily, New Orleans is spared this non-consensual assault on good taste. But the rest of America is under attack from these conceptual connundrums.

I got a good concept restaurant idea. Excellent food, efficient, friendly service, and comfortable surroundings; lets perfect that concept first.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Par for the course

Reservations were for 8:30. Later than we would have liked to eat, but take what you can get. Lady and I arrived at Upperline at precisely 8:30; and we waited around. and we waited some more in the dining room/bar area/kitchen entrance. I would not normally mind that except we were made to feel like we were in the way.

Repeatedly we were told, "Robert will be right with you." But no one would seat us. Very frustrating beginning. Finally, Robert came over to seat us, but before that a party of four walked in, asked if they could have a table, and Robert shifted his attention to them.

"Would you please seat us first, we have been waiting over 10 minutes," I asked. With a jackass smile, we were seated.

Let me interrupt myself for a moment. Lady and I have talked much about our recent dinner at Upperline. The main consensus we came to is this. Upperline is an institution, however it does not yet have the years to become a classic spot (i.e. Galatoire's). While the menu may seem stuck in the eighties, thats can be excused in a classic spot. However, Upperline is not quite there. A restaurant that invents things like shrimp remoulade and fried green tomatoes, can't be expected to change those items. But would it be too much to ask them to refine them, or at the least be exciting about them?

Perhaps the fault with Upperline lies with us; not the grand dame of Uptown dining. Maybe we expect carefully composed plates and distinct flavors due to our increased exposure to food via the internet, dining experiences, books, or tv in the days since Upperline opened. When you eat at a classic spot like Antoine's; sure the food is not spectaculiar (and has not changed since Taft's presidency) but the experience is. At Upperline, neither the food nor the experience fit the billing.

Drinks arrived. Lady's Grey Goose and Tonic had morphed into a Beefeater on the rocks. The mistake was fixed. Lady chose the Garlic Festival 3 course dinner. She began with Oysters St. Claude (which the menu was quick to point out was USA Today's Top dish of 2007). Lemon zest, garlic (raw and a tad too much), and parsley are placed atop fried oysters. The oysters were fried perfectly, but something about the toppping did not work.

I had the Fried Green Tomatoes. I will not accuse the Upperline of using non-Louisiana Shrimp in this dish, but I would not be surprised. The two disks of tomato were topped with a watery remoulade and five shrimp (each the size of a quarter). Ok, you invented the dish, it is your calling card; but come on you can do better than this.

A half bottle of Sancerre arrived. Very refreshing, right temperature, and very good match.

Lady got the Cane River Shrimp and Grits. What arrived was beautiful and hearty. Big plump shrimp, delicious grits, and a wonderful sauce. Great dish.

I got the roasted half-duck with the Garlic Port Sauce, pecans, and mashed sweet potatoes. Duck was a tad overcooked for my taste. But again is this because in a more modern version of this dish, the duck breast would only be served? And that breast would be medium rare and fanned out with pretty garnish? Perhaps, but I would have loved to seen the elements not just plopped on the plate. But it tasted great, and that is what counts.

Service was uncomfortably fast and I will leave that be. We each finished with a plate of Stilton. Again, sloppy presentation, but the cheese was ripe. The bread that arrived with it, however, was stale. I had a glass of Vintage Port and Lady had a mixture of coffee and about 15 liquors. Her response to her drink "its overly sweet."

My response to that, "duh."

In my opinion it appeared all the food was merely delivered, not presented. Maybe everyone needed a vacation, maybe its time for the fun to come back, I am not sure. I have eaten at Upperline many times in the past, and it does not appear this place is living up to its potential.

As we were leaving (not really unhappy, more disappointed like a parent with a 17 year old) Lady summed it up thusly, "If I never came back here, I would not be upset. If I did come back, I would not be mad."

Sounds like the definition of a par in my book.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

This has been a bad 24 hours...

Not to sound to melodramatic, but dammit. Wish him all the best, I hope it is just as simple as Chef wanted to be on his own again. I cant imagine it was because La Provence was struggling or any other issue.

EDIT: This describes my emotions while reading the above article: Depression followed by the realization that no longer would one have to drive to Lacombe for Chef Bajeux's cuisine and then stoked.

Another miss

Maybe its me, do I smell bad? Went last night to Rock-n-Sake. Will not go back. Still fuming. End of post.

More detail to come in a follow up post to be entitled, tentatively, 10 things I hate about eating out.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Late Night Eats with The Pope

On Monday night I decided to stay downtown after work to unwind with some friends. As the night wore on, we made our way to Masquerade inside Harrah's (a move which is usually a recipe for disaster). Lo and behold, La Papa also happened to be in the building. I found His Holiness stacking a mountain of red chips at a poker table, with a huge smile on his face and a graveyard of empty Miller Lite bottles on his drink cart. It was clear that for a brief moment in time, The Pope had put aside concerns relating to lawsuits, loss of interest in the spread of Catholicism, eliminating abortion, genocide, and tyranny; instead he was only worried about drawing a flush on the river.

It also quickly became quite obvious to me that The Pontiff, shall we say, had indulged in a bit too much of the sacrament. Being the good friend that I am, I offered The Pope a ride home, and he gladly accepted. Ready to call it a night and head straight home, I waited while The Pontiff racked up his winnings. But alas, La Papa had a detour in mind: "I'm starving. Let's go to the 24 hour Bud's Broiler on Clearview." Though I was not hungry in the least, we all know that The Pope does what The Pope wants to do. So off we went with yours truly at the helm of The Pope Mobile.

I can eat. A lot. Sometimes I think that I may be able to give Kobayashi a run for his money. But when La Papa's appetite is fueled by holy water, the man is on an entire other level. His order at midnight on a Monday: a DOUBLE MEAT #2, a #9 with onions, and a large cheese fries. When he unpacked his to-go bag, I witnessed a glorious display of greasy goodness.

The service at Bud's was unexpectedly fast for the day and time, but the food was freshly prepared as usual. I have reserved a place in my heart (and belly) for Bud's ever since the first time I dined as a youngin' at the original Bud's located on that triangular plot of land on City Park Avenue. If there is any food worth driving out to Clearview for, it is most certainly a charcoal broiled burger slathered in Bud's signature hickory smoked sauce.

Bud's Broiler - Birdie during the day. Eagle anytime after midnight.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

This Little Piggy Went to Cochon...

On a recent firm field trip, I along with several others dined at Cochon. Beside free lunch on the firm, another lagniappe on this outing was the inclusion of Section 123 Saints Fan ("SSF") in our little group, which in the end proved to pay dividends well beyond the enjoyment of his trademark wit and appreciation for his use of the Blackenedout rating system.

Our first dilemma manifested when it came time for ordering appetizers. There were 9 in our group, but a total of 12 starters on the menu (6 small plates and 6 boucherie). Despite suggestions to limit the number of appetizers to the number of diners, SSF took control of the situation and ordered all 12. Well done, sir. Well done.

Once the array of small plates arrived, we were treated to a magnificent display of all things porcine. I think one of our fellow diners put it best: "I think that if we put together all of our appetizers, we could probably reconstruct an entire pig." My favorites were the spicy grilled pork ribs (with the meat nearly falling off the bone), the fried pig ears (yeah, you read that right), and the fried alligator (bite sized morsels tossed in chili garlic aioli - delicious). The oyster roast and hot sausage never made it down to my end of the table (freaking vultures), but I was not too upset because I had already tasted both of those on prior occasions.

Why, oh why, did I not order the cochon for my entree? I honestly don't know. But something came over me when the waiter asked for my entree, and I decided on the smoked brisket. It was awesome. The beef was meltingly tender, served in a pool of au jus, and accompanied by a sharp horseradish potato salad. SSF got the cochon, but he was envious of Da Bruce's rabbit and dumplings. So he took a bite... and then proceeded to scald 90% of the taste buds on his tongue.*

Everyone was too full for dessert. I probably could have taken down a slice of pineapple upside down cake were it not for the half dozen rolls I ate, but I like to at least give off the impression that I have self control. The lukewarm reception to someone's suggestion of a round of moonshine as a digestif meant that it was time to head back to the office. I guess that (contrary to popular belief) these lunches really don't pay for themselves after all....

Cochon - Eagle on a relatively short par 5, but with the opportunity for a double eagle if you "go for the green in 2" by ordering all 12 appetizers.

*Rule #76 when dining out: If your food is served steaming in a cast iron skillet, probably a good idea to let it cool for a few minutes before tasting it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

For Lunch Today...

In the spirit of the season, I have been on a huge barbecue kick. So for those of you who did not get your fill of smoked meats over this past 4th of July weekend, this one goes out to you.

Last week I was for fortunate that Big Brutal Dave decided to take some time out of his busy bar review schedule to squeeze in lunch with me. There was no question as to where we would be eating: BBD loves, and I mean loves Ugly Dog.* In fact, just a few months ago I ran into BBD enjoying his birthday dinner there before a Hornets playoff game. He is a man of humble means, ladies and gentlemen, what else can I say...

Ugly Dog is just off Tchoupitoulas on Andrew Higgins. The problem is that, eventhough it is still located just outside the CBD in the Warehouse District, its too freaking hot outside to walk to during the summer months. Thus, the necessity of driving may deter some from choosing Ugly Dog for a quick lunch. But they are the ones who are missing out. Regardless, it serves quite a sizable lunch crowd during the week but slows down significantly during dinner.**

BBD recommends the pulled pork, and I would have to agree with him. Add on a loaded baked potato plus a side of that tangy coleslaw, and you have a hefty and tasty lunch for around $10. On my last visit I tried the burger - it's OK, but not the best this place has to offer. The chicken sandwich looked about the same. The brisket is pretty solid, and the pork spare ribs are a decent stand in for the ones you never have the time (nor the patience) to cook at home.

But I must say, the coleslaw alone is worth coming here for. Dressed with a combination of mayo, molasses, and soy sauce, I could probably eat an entire bucket of this stuff. Most of you should have already seen this next tip coming: put the coleslaw ON TOP of the pulled pork sandwich. Straight $.

Ugly Dog Saloon - Par on a par 3 with difficult pin placement.

* "Dude, they put f*cking molasses on the coleslaw. F*cking molasses. Gives it that tang. F*cking awesome."

** Blackenedout Exclusive Tip: After 5pm the Ugly Dog offers potatoes au gratin as a side dish.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

For Lunch Today...

A long time ago on this date Americans were still British. So to celebrate the last day of Allegiance to the King of England, how about some British food. When I think of British heritage in New Orleans a couple of things come to mind. First the Bombay Club; however they are not open for lunch. Second the Garden District. Third, whooping their ass in Chalmette.

So today for lunch I would like to offer you two choices. The first is to go to Commander's Palace, drink tea with your pinky extended, and watch the markets develop. The second is to drive down to Chalmette, stop at Rocky and Carlos's, and pig out. Your choice. Because if we should take anything away from celebrating our nation's independence it is this: Tyrants honk, and democracy rules.

This would also be a good time to mention plans are in the works for a Who Dat Say/Blackened Out Bollocks Party for the Saints Chargers game. Buy a scarf, shave your head, and learn how to drink bitter beer; its time to become a hooligan.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

History was made today

Today at 1o:22 am Blackened Out recorded its 5000th visit ever. Now while 4300 (approximate) of those visits have been from Peter and I checking the blog, the other 700 were bonafide fans, we hope.

So to whomever visits our blog routinely from the server of the Historic New Orleans Collection, Peter and I would like to tell you congratulations. You have won an all expenses paid lunch with Peter and I. Please claim your prize by emailing us with the following:

1) Your name, address, and business relationship with the Historic New Orleans Collection
2) A copy of your driver's license, social security card, and birth certificate
3) A list of all aliases
4) The last time you re-discovered the stars
5) Bank account info

In all seriousness, this began as a hobby, creative outlet and way to right off spending time with Legend. We realize 5,000 hits is what important and respected bloggers get in an hour or so, but it means a lot to us that you still care.

To paraphrase Susan Lucci, "You like us, you really like us." We think.

Tales of the Cocktail is (or is it are?) around the corner. Go to at least one event, preferably the Blackened Out State Dinner, The Remix.

For Lunch Today...

Yes, we have been slacking. There are individuals out there who have not eaten in days, due to our lack of proficiency. However, we refuse to make excuses as our belief here is the following: "We don't make excuses, our friends don't need them and our enemies won't believe 'em."

This weekend, I rediscovered an old haunt and found it to still please. Lee's Hamburgers (on Vets and Metairie Road) is worth the trip. You can watch as your order is relayed to the grill man, who then scoops out our ground beef, places it on the grill, and then smothers it in onions. A sloppy burger leads to a happy eater. Fries or onion rings (the crusty Liuzza's style) completes the order.

If you are going to eat a burger, why not spend $2-4 more dollars, support a local institution, and eat a better burger?