Saturday, August 30, 2008

I Will See Your Last Day on Earth, and Raise You a Heart Attack.

The Pope sent me this email on Friday afternoon, but I am just now getting around to posting what would be his last day of dining in NOLA. As of right now, we still don't know where Gustav will make landfall, but New Orleans will likely get heavy wind and rain no matter what. Who knows what will happen. I must admit that during times like these I question whether living in NOLA is worth all of this trouble. But then I read something like The Pope's below email, and I am quickly reminded of all the great times I've had and the great times that are still to come. The thing is, those memories can only be made in NOLA. Keep reading, and you will know what I mean:


You know that I am a horrible writer, and I am not very good at spelling. Please edit as much as you can. [Even The Pope is not perfect.]

I am not worried about what the hurricane will do to me (I am talking about the storm, but also the drink later on this evening - it is Friday after all). But if my friend up in the Big Blue Sky (or Gray Sky, if I wait any longer) tells me that it’s our time, then I want this to be my final day here on Earth. Although the wonderful creators of this website would go to the new exciting restaurants on their last days, I would much prefer the restaurants that made this city famous.

3:00am - After a long night at the Gold Mine, I travel on a crusade to the promised land, Bud’s Broiler: a DOUBLE MEAT #2 with sauce, mayo and cheese only, a #9 with onions and sauce, a large cheese fries, and a large coke. (I love their ice.)

3:30am - Sleep

8:30am - I would start off with a Pimm’s Cup from Napoleon House because I would need to nurse my hangover from the night before.

9:00am - I would then stumble down to the Court of Two Sisters to listen to some jazz and watch my good friend Peter try and eat a 6 helpings of Eggs Benedict with 8 servings of hollandaise. After all, he wouldn’t have to watch his weight because it’s his last day on Earth. Champagne of choice: Ruinart, which is the oldest Champagne house in the world. As for the food, I would take the same route that I have taken for many years: Everything, with a little extra whiskey sauce for the bread pudding - you can never have too much of that. After breakfast, we would stroll down Royal Street sipping on Woodford Reserve Mint Juleps (served over crushed ice - the only way to go).

Noon - Galatoire's. I am right there with Peter. Lunch at Galatoire's while drinking, of course, Woodford Mint Juleps. I would probably get my own order of Soufflé Potatoes followed by Crabmeat Maison, then Chicken Clemenceau for the entrée. Wine of choice: J Pinot Noir. I would have to wash it all down with a nice cordial glass of Grand Marnier 150yr. (Go big, or go home.)

2:45pm - We would stroll by Old Absinthe House where Legend and The Doc would be acting like Goose and Maverick in Top Gun. Drink of choice: either Woodford on the rocks or a Red Bull and Ketel One to give me a kick start. At this point I would probably turn to Peter and say, "Don’t they have popcorn here?” Then we would both look at Rene who has a big handful of the fresh popcorn.

3:30pm - I could go for a nap, but instead we make our way to the poker room at Harrah’s to play a little 10-20 Hold'em and some craps. Conveniently, the Lucky Dog stand is located right in the middle of both of these fine games. Tempting....

6:00pm - What else would a man want for his final meal? STEAK. Off to Ruth's Chris Steak House in the Harrah's Hotel (of course, I wish the one on Orleans and Broad was still open) where I would get the largest strip steak, cooked medium-rare, with a side of béarnaise. Wine of choice: I would defer my decision to Rene - he has a great palate - but I was thinking of a nice big cult wine from California. Last but not least, a classic crème brulée. Oh yeah, and some Holy Water (i.e., GM).

11:00pm – Leave the blackjack table ... I mean Ruth's Chris ... and head to Camellia Grill for late night breakfast and a chocolate freeze. It's like loving in your mouth.

11:45pm - I stroll into the Mecca (Red Eye) where everyone knows your name and where “you love to hate it and hate to love it.” I give the "Tini Bomb" sign at the bar, and the Red Bull and Jager start to flow.

11:59pm – On the phone with the Big Guy upstairs telling him, “ This can’t be my last night on Earth. I didn’t go to Martin’s Wine Cellar for brunch. I didn’t get to have lunch with The Deli King at the Rib Room, and Vincent’s for dinner. And I need to go by Mr. B's to see if Legend is passed out on the floor. I need at least one ... maybe four more days. Come on, Big Guy. I am The Pope, afterall. Throw me freaking bone here."

Here's to hoping that Gustav spares us the worst so that His Holiness will get to experience his final day of gluttony. And after checking with a registered dietitian at Lakeside Hospital, it has been confirmed that this would indeed be The Pope's last day of eating out.

Friday, August 29, 2008

An August Afternoon

Well, I took my advice. Lindsay and I went to lunch today. And did it big.

Restaurant August.

First an amuse. A replay of the seafood sabayon from the tasting adventure. Still really good.

Apps. Lindsay got the fried oysters on top of a blue cheese ranch dressing. This dish really balances salty and sweet with tangy and creamy. I got the silver queen corn agnolotti with bacon and a parmesan foam. One bite of the agnolotti proved how savory sweet corn can be. Skinned grape tomatoes provided acid, the fava bean puree an earthiness, and the bacon provided well, bacon.

Entrees: Lindsay got the braised rabbit in raviolo. The piquillo peppers provided a great sweetness which Lindsay really liked. Although there were a few bones which slightly tarnished the dish, the fava beans were perfectly cooked. "I love how every dish here is so well thought out. And then they go one extra step," Lindsay said. Couldn't agree more.

I got the tournedos over polenta with braised mushrooms. Sweet and sour were the predominate themese in this culinary symphony. The beef had a little tooth to it, but not in a bad way.

Delicious Nicaraguan coffee, a frozen creme fraiche souffle, with blackberry cabernet sorbet on top of braised peaches with a chiffonade of mint. A word about the mint. I thought it was basil, Lindsay was right. Good thing I didnt bet or I would have been waking up with Gus and Penny for a week.

As we left the restaurant, we bumped into a couple that also had spent a glorious afternoon in the embrace of August. They are from New York and said that August was one of the best meals they have had. Thanks for coming to New Orleans, enjoy your stay.

Does it have to be Monday...

Peter, that is a tougher act to follow than Obama's coronation speech last night. But here goes...

Breakfast: Morning Call, but since that would require driving instead I think I would go to Camelia Grill and start my day with a Cheeseburger with grilled onions, cheese fries, and a chocolate milkshake. Why? Because its my last fu*king day in New Orleans.

Lunch: Liuzza's. Fried Onion Rings. Fat Kid Special. 4-5 Schooners of beer. 2 Bushwackers and a United Cab, preferably with a cab account.

Snack: Mila. A Mint Julep from Chris McMillan and an order of sweetbreads with truffle grits.

Dinner: In between lunch and snack, I went home and braised some fatty short ribs in red wine and aromatics. Served on top of mashed potatoes loaded with as many Smith Dairy products I can get my hands on. Lindsay and I eat and drink a bottle of 2005 Chateau la Nerthe. I open a second bottle, pour Lindsay a glass I know she wont finish, and watch Nash Roberts tell me everything is going to be ok.

Late Night Snack: F&M's Cheese Fries.

If Tomorrow Never Comes

The Pope emailed me yesterday with this suggestion: "I think you and Rene should do a blog asking that if Monday was your last day on earth, where would you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and maybe a snack in between), and what would you have."

But with Gustav in the Gulf and today being the 3rd anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, I decided to take some literary license with this question. If today was your last day to eat out in New Orleans, where would you go? While we wait with baited breath for The Pope's final day of dining out, I will give you my list of last NOLA meals. Though I must say that if you asked me this question tomorrow, I might have completely different answers.

Breakfast - Cafe du Monde
Nothing like an order of beignets with a cup of coffee and chicory to start the day.

Lunch - Galatoire's
Why? Because nowhere else in the world can you have a remotely similar lunch experience. You can't go to Galatoire's for lunch and not have a great time.* Table of 8. Start with a Sazerac. Grand Goute, Oysters En Brochette, and Fried Eggplant & Pommes Soufflé Bearnaise to pass around with our cocktails. A nice piece of sauteed trout or redfish with either crawfish tails or crabmeat (whichever is in season). Dessert? How about a slice of chocolate pecan pie.

Snack - Drago's
Like a really need a mid-afternoon treat to hold me over. But if The Pope says that I can have one, I want it to be a dozen on the half shell.

Dinner - Stella!
Tasting menu, of course. With wine pairings. What would I get? Who knows. But if experience has taught me anything, Scott Boswell would not steer my wrong.

So there is my last day dining. Rene's and The Pope's are soon to come, but feel free to email us yours.

*Well, unless you are the judge's wife who was urinated on by some drunk college kid on Christmas Eve last year. But that's another story for another time.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Manifesto: Part 5

As you can probably tell from my recent posts, I have been eating a lot of sushi lately. One of my favorite intricacies about dining at a Japanese restaurant is eating at the sushi bar. I like to see what the chefs are making, ask them what is fresh, and work my way from there. My word in the Japanese language may be "omakase" - which roughly translates to "it's up to you" (or "feed me"). However, there are a few reasons why I absolutely hate eating at the sushi bar. Here are the cardinal sins of sushi bar etiquette.

It's close to 9:00 pm on a Wednesday night. The Folk Singer and I walk into Little Tokyo on N. Carrolton. Because we arrive so near to closing time, we decide to eat at the sushi bar. There are 11 seats at the bar - 6 on the left, a support column in between, and 5 on the right. On the left-hand side, there are 2 younger guys who have chosen to sit in the middle 2 seats (so that there are 2 empty seats on either side of them). On the right-hand side, an older woman has decided to plop herself right smack in the middle seat, so that she too has 2 empty seats on either side. Seriously, people. Why not sit closer to the end so as to leave some space? And I know that the 2 guys had just been seated (because they had not yet ordered), so an excuse of "there was nowhere else to sit" is not available.

So we decide to sit next to the guys (for a reason which will be discussed later). Do they decide to slide over? Nope. So there we sit. All 4 of us. On top of each other. We might as well have been dipping our fish in the same soy sauce. If you can give your neighbor some space at the sushi bar, by all means do. It's not like you are moving tables, thus taking tips away from a server. But if you do change seats, try to leave two empty seats if you can. There is nothing more frustrating than looking for two seats at the sushi bar and seeing only multiple singles.

Why did we choose to sit next to the 2 guys? Because the woman sitting alone was loudly chatting on her cell phone (and continued to do so during our entire meal). I don't want to hear about your sister's new boyfriend while I am eating my seaweed salad. Eavesdropping at the sushi bar is inevitable, but let's still try to use our "inside voices." And along those same lines, please don't discuss your failing marriage or your financial hardship at the sushi bar. I have an idea: wait for a table.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

For Lunch Today...

This week marks the end of the summer COOLinary specials, so get out there and take advantage of these deals.

The lunch menu at 7 on Fulton looks most appealing to me. Two ways you can go with this one: either start with the pear and watercress salad and then move on to the duck confit with stone ground grits, or begin with the cup of chilled gazpacho and then order the shrimp salad for your main course. Gazpacho (along with vichyssoise) are vastly underrated for our region. Nothing helps bring down the temperature like a flavorful cold soup.

If nothing on the COOLinary menu peaks your interests, might I suggest the “7” Burger with shitake mushrooms and gruyere french fries or the Fried Oyster & Andouille Po-Boy.

Happy Eating.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Possible TIVO Opportunity

I am the Chairman. I do backflips and bite into apples. If you do not heed my warnings, I will summon the wisdom of my uncle and make you kiss me. I call this face Sous Vide.

I went home for lunch today. Over the weekend much food was cooked. The highlight being Lindsay's Mac-n-Cheese. It did not come out of a blue box. Lindsay likes to use recipes and follow them religiously. This recipe came from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook. I am very glad she follows recipes the way she does, as it turned out great.

On Saturday we went to the Crescent City Farmer's Market where we picked up some Creoles, Chilton County Peaches, and catfish filets. I made some Peach-esque Ice Cream. I say peach-esque because while I was making my ice cream base I forgot not to forget to add vanilla extract to the base. So the resulting product turned out to be more vanilla peach, not bad but far from perfect.

I peeled the peaches, cooked them in 1/2 cup of water with 2 tablespoons of honey. I was out of lemons so I added a touch of white vinegar. The I pureed the mixture, strained it, cooled it, and added the peach mixture to the base. The other benefit was having peach puree. We had champagne left over, so we had bellinis all weekend.

Ok, I am rambling. Here is the purpose of this post. I don't know really why I love food and cooking so much. But I do know when I first became cognizant of it. When I was in grammar school and throughout high school, there was a show on the Discovery Channel called Great Chefs. It involved one chef (usually a foreigner which required a narrator), one camera, and the set was in the kitchen of the chef's restaurant. The chef prepared from start to finish one dish. The show had three segments: an appetizer, entree, and dessert. Each segment featured a different chef. It was there I first saw foie gras sliced with a hot knife, and that is when the affair began.

I watched that show religiously when I would come home from school. Something was very soothing about the show, perhaps it was the narrator's voice which combined the soft voice of a grandmother with the smoothness of a radio announcer. Whatever it was, the show was the perfect cooking show: simple instructions coupled with the voyeurism of behind the scenes in a restaurant.

This afternoon while waiting to come back to the office I caught a show on NBC called RecipeTV. It followed a remarkably similar concept as Great Chefs. The segments were quick and the chef taught you the dish as if you were a new chef on his brigade. So, if you need to get away from 30 minute, Semi-Homemade Bar B Q Cookoff Diner Challenges, tivo this show.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mila Again, Great Again

Lindsay and I had a great meal last Thursday at Mila. I really like this place. I was going to blog about it, but Thor stole our thunder. Listen, I beat dead horses. Mila in my opinion is one of the city's best restaurants. Thats right, not best new, not best hotel restaurant, but best.

Quick Highlights:
Well made cocktails. Sweetbreads with truffled grits. A word about those. For anyone who is scared of or doesnt get either sweetbreads or truffles, try these. The aroma, taste, and texture would make even Hitler's heart melt. Get a side order of the grits. Tenderloin dishes (veal or pork). And the peanut butter cup dessert. The tasting menu (both at lunch and dinner) is a great option. Great service.

Just go already so I can shut up.

For Lunch Today...

No one reads the blog on Fridays. Its ok, most of the blog's friends dont really work on Fridays. Most of its readers aren't trying to procastinate, they are trying to sober up. They dont need us. The blog has some really crappy friends. This one time one of our friends stole the blog's last beer and replaced it with a wine cooler.

On Fridays when the blog is feeling lonely it finds a Stackpole and goes to Parasols. It orders 3-4 Guinnessi, a couple po-boys, 2 shots of Bushmills, and some onion rings. Then it washes it all done with a Irish Car Bomb, goes home, puts on Boondock Saints, and calls it a day.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

For Lunch Today...

It's hot and humid right now in The Big Easy, which is a great excuse to eat raw fish. One of the best sushi lunch specials in town is on St. Charles just a few blocks from Lee Circle at Sushi Brothers, where I can't say that I have ever had anything but the freshest fish.

The 4 Roll Special is a steal at $10.50 - 1/2 roll each of california, crunchy, dynamite, and fresh salmon rolls. If you favor nigiri over rolls, the Sushi Special offers seven pieces of assorted nigiri and a snowcrab roll for $11.50. Both of these lunch specials include a bowl of clear soup and a simple salad with ginger dressing to start.

But my favorite dish at Sushi Brothers is the FEMA Roll - fresh salmon, snow crab, asparagus, avocado, and tempura flakes wrapped in soy paper and then topped with spicy tuna and the house special mayo sauce.

Trust me: if you're working downtown and are hungry for sushi, Sushi Brothers is worth the drive to bypass Horinoya.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

On the Road - Austin

I crossed the border last week for a wedding in Austin and visited a few of my old haunts as well as a couple of new places that have received some recent buzz.

The Folk Singer is a big fan of the Food Network, so her one request on this trip was that we eat at Flip Happy Crepes, where Bobby Flay once battled in one of his "Throwdowns." I am a huge fan of crepes, so I was happy to oblige ... and I am glad I did. We tried the shredded pork with cheddar cheese, pickles, & Tabasco (which was the savory crepe which was made for the "Throwdown"), and the roasted chicken with mushrooms, gruyere, & carmelized onions. Both crepes were very rich, but what I found most appealing was how the ingredients melted together so that you could taste each flavor in every bite. We finished it off with two sweet crepes: lemon curd with blueberry dressing (pictured right), and one with generous smear of Nutella, which may be my favorite dessert in the world.

Friday night we dined at Lambert's, an "upscale" BBQ joint co-owned by a friend of mine named Larry. My plan of just ordering a few small plates was quickly tossed out once we heard the special: a 40oz. porterhouse covered in an ancho chile rub and paired with four-cheese flautas. The steak was overcooked past medium-rare, but the flavor was spot-on. An appetizer of fried green tomatoes topped with crabmeat made for a nice starter. I wish I would have been hungrier though because the side dishes sounded amazing - green chile cheese grits and four-cheese macaroni just to name a few.

Finally, on Saturday we went to what in my opinion is the best place in Austin to mitigate the effects of your morning-after hangover: Maudie's. It's not the best Tex-Mex in the world, but it's one of my favorites. I could not decide whether to order the chicken enchiladas with the verde sauce or the vegetarian cheese enchiladas with the roja sauce. I thought: "WWTPD?" or "What Would The Pope Do?" So, of course, I ordered both. I tried to stop eating with just a few bites left, but our waiter implored me to keep going. When I finally finished, I asked TFS if she was proud of me. The waiter chimed in: "Dude, I don't even know you, and I am proud of you."

For Lunch Today...

There is a game Chefs (especially Bourdain) like to play where they ask each other what meal would they choose for their last meal. In fact there is a terrific coffee table book on the subject; your scribe has a birthday coming up. Hint.

Well, in thinking about the subject its really a no brainer for me. And so this is what you should have for lunch today. Go by St. James and pick up a few thick slices of Cochon's bacon. Fry it till it is extra crispy. Mayo coats the inside of two slices of white Bunny bread.

Pair the above with a a 2005 Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Local Dialect

Something familiar about this place. Mirrors on the walls, elegant yet casual, good food, attentive service; can't quite put my finger on it.

Last Saturday Lindsay (Lady tired of "such a lame nickname") and I dined at Patois. Patois, on the corner of Laurel and Webster, is a French word denoting a local dialect. That certainly is apparent in both the food and the restaurant itself.

The interior evokes memories of a Caribbean house with neutral colors, high ceilings, and large windows. A bar area leads to a raised dining room which gives ample opportunity to people watch.

We began with some cocktails, and why not? Lindsay had The Contessa which combined candied ginger and champagne. I had the White Lily which blended together egg white, gin, muddled cucumber, and sugar. What resulted was both creamy and refreshing. The sea cap white froth with traces of almost cerulean undertones provided visual stimuli to match the palate pleasing perfection of this drink.

The menu focuses mostly on interpretations (but not deviations) of French bistro fare. To begin a Lyon salad. Frisee, a fried egg (fried perfectly), a few chunks of Benton's bacon, and a light vinagrette. Pierce the egg and listen for the songs of angels. Then a take on spaghetti carbonara; nuggets of gnocchi tossed in a black pepper cream sauce, parmesan cheese, and pork belly. Dear God, what have I done to deserve such earthly delights?

I spied via the mirrors our waitress walking from the bar area with a sheepish expression. I had a feeling of what that countenance meant. Sure enough, the wine we ordered was not available. Luckily, she suggested another wine to go with our entrees (and truth be told probably a better wine). 2005 Domaine Ligneres a wonderful, full bodied but not heavy red.

I got the duck. It rocked. Set atop a bacon, apple, and potato hash and some brussel sprouts (what a great idea), was a perfectly seared breast of duck. The dish evoked memories of Thanksgiving and Fall, football and sweaters which helped considering it was August.

Lindsay got the hangar steak with a mushroom and marrow demi glace. The dish was good but over time the salt began to dominate almost rendering the dish inedible. I add here that I am a salt fiend. A slight misstep.

Cheese plate for Lindsay. Three exceptional cheeses from St. James. I had the berry sorbet which was even better than I thought it would be. The sorbet was luxurious and thick, sweet but not cloying, and had a hint of tartness. Perfect palate cleanser so I could steal some cheese.

One can tell a lot about restaurants with how they do the little things. Coffee service sets good restaurants apart from great ones. The coffee used at Patois is from the Coffee Roasters of New Orleans. These almost mythical bean roasters remain elusive to my attempts to get some French roast, but I will find them. I feel very confident in saying that this is the best cup of coffee in New Orleans.

Service is efficient, friendly, and clumsily elegant at times. A spill of wine on the table cloth was met with a c'est la vie attitude. Not bad at all, rather it shows that this restaurant wants to be serious about food but also willing to have fun.

As we were getting ready to leave I saw an interesting sight. A maitre'd from Galatoire's (who I believe is also a Gooch) waiting patiently for a table. And then it hit me. The maitre'd at Patois (and an owner along with his father Leon and Chef Aaron Burgau) is Pierre Touzet. Pierre's grandfather, Leon, is from the same town in France that Jean Galatoire is from. Leon worked at Galatoire's. Pierre and Brian Landry grew up together and graduated from Jesuit the same year. The mirrors, a special with "crab butter," the service, the elegant, bistro food...Patois uses a similar gameplan to produce equally wonderful results.

Patois is a restaurant with its own distinct identity. However it uses, and I should add to its advantages, references to the familiarity and the memories of New Orleans diners to trigger Proustian reactions. All of it, the surroundings, the service, the food, the memories leave one happy and well fed. They could not have picked a better name for their version of a standard.

Birdie, with an eagle lurking.

Note: Patois will be closed for two weeks at the end of August. This is normal. But I suggest you be in line when they reopen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Charlie's Steakhouse

Has quietly reopened and is slated to open Thursday, August 14, according to Fr. Tom's Radio Show and a caller.

My friends call me T-Bone.

For Lunch Today...

I'm craving Vietnamese and that only means one thing: get out your $1 bills, we are headed to the Westbank. I can't wait to go to Nine Roses and get the pork meatballs and char-grilled pork and the infamous #9.... Wait.... Why are the no cars in the Nine Roses parking lot?

F*ck. Today is Wednesday. Nine Roses is closed on Wednesday. M*ther f*cker.

But there is always the old reliable Pho Tau Bay. Had the Mid City location reopened after Katrina, I would be eating Pho Tau Bay a lot more often than I do now. Pre-K, I would make weekly trips for those delectable banh mi and spring rolls. The banh mi - commonly known as "Vietnamese style po-boys" - start with a magnificent specimen of french bread, which is not surprising considering that Vietnamese bakers were taught by their former colonial rulers from France. (Go back to your 8th grade history course: Vietnam used to be French Indochina.) These crusty rolls are then filled with your choice of a wondrous array of meats: slices of char-grilled pork, stir-fried chicken, homemade rolled ham, or the special chicken liver sausage. Throw on some julienne vegetables, add some hot peppers, and then slather the bread with homemade mayo. Damn, that's a good sandwich.

Oh, did I mention that most of the banh mi cost under $5? At that price, you can afford two. Some might call that "gluttonous." At Blackened Out, we call that "fiscal responsibility."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Look Ahead to the Weekend

Are you going to be in New Orleans this weekend? Maybe for a wedding? Looking for something to do to pass the time? Want to get a jump on your Christmas shopping? Well, you could go to SOFAB on Saturday at 11 am to hear Susan Spicer of Bayona talk about her runaway best seller "Crescent City Cooking."

Spicer's tome chronicles not only her style of cooking, but New Orleans cuisine as well, and not just the French elements. Rather Spicer explores the varied and complex food traditions and influences that shape her cooking view and ultimately New Orleans cuisine. Following a presentation, Chef Spicer will sign copies of her book.

If you are a museum member, the cost is free. If not admission to the museum is $10 and the seminar is free.

Plus, you can take a look at the mess on the river.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday is the New Friday

I know that you have heard this song and dance before, but half-priced wines at Vega on Monday is a steal. Here are a few pictures from my last dinner there.

We started with a cheese board which included that awesome fig mustard. Then we moved onto the Ensalata de Vaca - seared beef, shaved red onion, gorgonzola, grapes and baby greens tossed in peppercorn dressing
For all of the vegetarians out there, these next two dishes are for you. First, the Eggplant Napoleon - thick slices of eggplant layered with fresh mozzarella, arugula and oven-dried tomatoes, drizzled with duo of sun-dried tomato and basil pestoes. Next, grilled artichokes basted with lemon, butter, and olive oil, and topped with crumbled feta. (Don't let the picture fool you: the artichokes come 3 to an order, but The Folk Singer could not control herself.) I guess you could leave out the mozzarella and feta if you are a vegan, but let's not get too crazy.

We finished with Moroccan spiced pork ribs, which I know our formidable adversary is a big fan of, but I must say that I respectfully disagree with him on this one. The ribs were cooked perfectly, but the spice combination was not for me. To each his own.

Friday, August 8, 2008

For Lunch Today...And a Piece of Gossip

Ok so you have been dealing with clerks, interns, jerks, and dweebs all summer long. Maybe today is their last day, maybe it was last week, regardless you owe yourself a treat. So how about Restaurant August. Why that is too expensive, you say. Well define expensive. And then take a look at the lunch menu. I think you will find the prices quite reasonable. Menu is subject to change as Chef Besh and staff only use what is fresh and as a result the menu is constantly evolving.

I think I would start with either the Buster Crabs or the oysters. Of course if you are dining with Peter, he will look at the waiter with those puppy dog eyes of his and ask for the Foi Gras Trio. If so, good choice for dining with Peter.

Then either the rabbit roulade or the veal, although one can never go wrong with fish. Maybe a little cheese selection and an espresso. Then back to the office to get some real work done.

Happy Saints Post-First Preaseason victory of the year!

Also, I heard it from a little birdie the other day that Donald Link is working on a cookbook which will explore and celebrate the cooking of his grandfathers. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

And I'm Hungry Like the Woooooooolfe

This past Saturday was White Linen Night in the Warehouse District, which I attended with The Folk Singer, the Legal Eagles, and the recently returned Parisian Princess who is making a brief stop in NOLA before moving to NYC for graduate school at Sotheby's (rough life, huh?). I usually enjoy walking through galleries (especially with a mojito in hand) even though I really am not sure what I am looking at or why I like it, but normally the galleries are filled with air condition. As most of you know, it is always unbearably hot and humid on White Linen Night, and this year was no different. But we still had a great time, the highlights of which were the sketches from the original Edwin Edwards trial and Mrs. Legal Eagle being asked to participate in a photo spread for the Times Picayune.

Then we decided to eat dinner at Wolfe's in the Warehouse, and the rest was gastronomical bliss. No one ever talks about this place. Why? Because they don't have a website? Because it is hidden away on Fulton Street? Because it's a hotel restaurant? Probably all of the above. I had never eaten there before, and you probably have not either. But after my meal I am sad to say that I have waited this long to go.

The space is huge (probably 150 seats), and the tables are spread out - which are two great characteristics if the restaurant is crowded but probably a deterrence to prospective diners on slower nights. One of the unique touches is the inclusion of a few recessed tables which can be curtained off for an intimate dining experience. The service was well polished, especially our waiter Roy who was the consummate professional.

I must confess that The Pope is somewhat a celebrity at Wolfe's, so we had a few special treats throughout the meal. First was an amuse bouche of bruschetta with cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Unfortunately there were only two servings left, so TFS and PP got the nod. (Why them and not me? I don't know. Something to do with chivalry, but I was so pissed that I did not get my own that I stopped listening to whatever Roy was saying.) TFS gave me a bite of hers though out of pity, and I must say that it was deliciously salty - just how I like it.

Next we had the regular amuse of truffled potato chips with a potato leek cream for dipping. Wow. The chips were light and crisp and topped with a bit of shaved white truffle, but the cream was so good that it made an encore appearance during the main course.

We decided to share a first course, but then another starter unexpectedly arrived courtesy of La Papa: seared foie gras on top of duck sausage. Wow. The sausage was a course grind, formed into a patty, and then breaded and fried. The smooth texture of the foie gras contrasted well with the crunchy exterior of the sausage. I could go on, but a picture is worth a thousand words. Our intended appetizer was beef satay, but honestly, I was too involved with the foie gras to remember much about that dish.

For the salad course, the ladies had the petit chopped salad - mixed greens, tomato, and avocado topped with crabmeat. This dish is not currently on the menu, but La Papa gave us the inside tip. However, I was the hands down winner with the duck confit salad - warm, shredded confit of duck and Maytag blue cheese served atop bitter greens which were drizzled with a black cherry demi and sprinkled with candied pecans. I made the mistake of offering PP a taste ... she never switched back with me.

As if that wasn't enough, we still had our main courses to come. TFS had the filet, PP had the scallops, and I had a ribeye which appeared to be 28oz yet it was not bone-in. The filet was cooked perfectly, but the ribeye was had been undercooked from the requested temperature of medium rare. Nothing a few more seconds on the grill could not fix, and I would much rather have my steak under as opposed to overcooked. Oh yeah, and we requested that potato leek cream as a sauce.

Altogether, the meal was fantastic. My only regret was that we were too full for dessert, but we had the next day's Louisiana Food Expo on our minds ....

Wolfe's in the Warehouse - Birdie.

* Coincidentally, shortly after my meal at Wolfe's I learned that Chef Tom Wolfe's restaurant Peristyle would be closing its doors this weekend. Another classic French restaurant is lost, but I hope the squab and white chocolate butter bars find their way onto the menu at Wolfe's

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lazy Magnolia, Blossoms Bloomin

This weekend Le Bucket and I had the pleasure of learning all about the Lazy Magnolia brewery at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. Lazy Magnolia brewery began, as all true passions in life, as a hobby for husband and wife Mark and Leslie Henderson. Both of them are engineers and one year for Christmas Leslie gave Mark a brew kit. Four years later they were brewing beer as a business.

The operation is based out of Kiln, Mississippi. That is the same home town as Brett Favre. Brett Favre does not drink beer anymore. Lazy Magnolia's most famous brew is the delightful Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale. The Henderson's kindly brought along some bottles for everyone to try. The pecan flavor asserts itself in a subtle manner about 2/3rds of the way through the brick. One of the more interesting uses of this beer, that they recommended, layers the Pecan Ale and Guinness for Pralines and Cream dessert beer. That sounds good enough to be a main course.

The beer selection from Lazy Magnolia is heavily linked to food and brewed with the South's climate in mind. The Sweet Potato Cream Stout uses the starchiness of sweet potatoes to mimic the taste of Oatmeal Stouts. "I want drinking beer to be equivalent to a good meal. A barbecue, grilled chicken, pizza, sushi...each of these meals has a specific flavor profile and experience. That is what we shoot for in crafting our beers," Mr. Henderson added.

Lazy Magnolia's varietals currently are not sold in Louisiana. However, they hope to expand into the market very soon. It will not be soon enough. For you readers in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, congrats on scoring such a fine product.

And please, go to check out SOFAB. It really is a great museum and the staff does a wonderful job or putting on presentations like this weekly.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Huge Weekend

Beer tasting at SOFAB, the LRA Expo, the Great American Seafood Cookoff, and a bunch of other events. Will rap them all up throughout the week. Stay tuned.

For now know this. The same guy who invented AK-47s; now makes Vodka. And it is the greatest vodka I have ever tasted. Forget the goose, Mr. Belvedere, or Skol; Kalashnikov Vodka, when it hits the market, will make your head spin. They also have a bottle of the stuff and the bottle mimics the deadly weapon.

Friday, August 1, 2008

For Lunch Today...

Fat. Kid. Special.


Panneed chicken (oh yeah, it's under there) with roast beef and gravy on top. I like to add mozzarella to mine. Wash it down with an Abita Amber in a frozen mug.

Make sure to order it by name. The waiter will have no idea what you are talking about, so then you must explain and watch as he gives you a look which says: "You are ridiculous."

Get it while you can, because this kind of sandwich will be illegal if Obama gets elected.