Friday, November 28, 2008

Who Works on the Friday After Thanksgiving?

Probably a lot of people. But not Rene, Legend, The Pope, or Doc - for today is the annual Galatoire's luncheon. So while some people (myself included) are busy toiling away at the daily grind, those four will be feasting on souffle potatoes, Lord knows how many pounds of crabmeat, and probably a cocktail or two.
It's OK to admit it if you're jealous. I am.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanks Gave In

Its here. America's greatest holiday. No worrying about whether or not to say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas, no standing in line at Toys R' You, and a successful Thanksgiving ends with a nap and a glass of wine toppling onto your sweater.

Joining Lindsay and I will be her family-dad, mom, and brother. So what is being served at the Louapre house of hilarity bar and grill? Nothing less than perfection.

Breads from La Boulangerie.

Creamy Garlic Soup from Susan Spicer's Crescent City Cooking topped with Garlic Chips from the The French Laundry Cookbook (in common terms, two stones, one bird).

Corn Goodness which is corn mixed with good things like onion, green pepper, jalapeno, and free money.

A green bean casserole complete with cream of mushroom soup and Durkee fried onions. This is my concession to what I term plebe food and Lindsay is making it. Part of this is because I have an unnatural reaction to casseroles involving cream of _____ soups. And Lindsay thinks it is funny to make crap like this. It is.

Mashed Potatoes. In the words of LC, "Obvi."

Turkey. Going away from the brined turkey this year, as it usually does get overly salty. And furthermore, a properly cooked turkey (to 165 degrees at the thigh) does not dry out. Lindsay made a lemon, garlic bay leaf compound salt (for lack of a better term) that we usually use on roast chicken. We also had to get a "fresh" turkey, which I am willing to try. If the turkey fails, I think we know who to blame. That's right, Native Americans.

Gravy. I made turkey stock last weekend. Stock happens.

Homemade cranberry sauce with Bourbon. Just in case the booze is slow.

A Pumpkin Pie from La Boulangerie with a homemade caramel and sea salt ice cream and house whipped cream. We go the extra mile for our guests, I guess we are just better people.

Wines, loads of it; moonshine, bathtubs full of da stuff, fresh squeezed satsuma juice, the remainder of that Lemon Grass Wheat Ale homebrew, and probably some water at some point.

And Legend returns. Tomorrow lunch at Galatoire's with the Pope, Legend, and Doc. In case you were wondering, Peter wussed out. Something about succeeding.

From all of us at Blackened Out Media Worldwide Conglomerate and Spa, Thank you for reading our petulant comments. We appreciate every last one of you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Food From/In Far Away Lands

The title refers to both the location and the cuisine:
  • Cuisine: Pupusas - These are thick corn tortillas stuffed with a variety of fillings. Their origin is El Salvador, which is somewhere in Central America.
  • Location: Kenner - Which some of you probably think is as far away as Central America. The Pontchartrain Center, Treasure Chest Casino, and Esplanade Mall are just a few of the attractions of "America's City." Kenner is also the home of one our faithful readers: the Coonhunter.

I often make the drive between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and use this journey as an excuse to eat at places I otherwise would not be willing to make the drive for. Last week on our drive to the airport, The Folk Singer and I stopped at Taqueria Sanchez. [I should note that according to Fr. Tom's Restaurant Index, there are two Taqueria Sanchezes on Williams Blvd. We went to the one at 920 Williams.]

As soon as we sat down, I knew that the food would be authentic for three reasons:

  1. We were two of only three gringos in the joint. The other 20 diners were Latin/Central American.
  2. There was a large flat screen TV displaying (in Spanish, of course) the Mexico vs. Honduras World Cup Qualifying match.
  3. Our server barely spoke any English.

The complimentary chips and salsa were different and delicious. The chips were thick and (at least tasted) freshly fried. The salsa was of an orange hue and served warm. Not too spicy, but not robust with tomatoes or sweetness. There is also a hotter green salsa in a squeeze bottle on every table.

The pupusa was dynamite. For my fillings I chose the trifecta - beans, cheese, and chicarron (or pork skin). The tortilla was soft, and the flavor of the pork fat really penetrated through the corn meal. (Or was the tortilla made with pork fat? Not sure.) The fillings melted into a delectable and uniform mixture on the inside. The cup of slaw on the side was forgettable.

Also on the table was this torta, which for lack of a better description is a Mexican sandwich. The bread was yellow and slightly sweet and eggy, sort of like the bread used to make a Cuban media noche. The toppings are lettuce, tomato, avocado, and sour cream with your choice of meat. Mine was tongue (or "lengua"), and it was amazing.

P.S. - My trip to Napa was one for the record books. Expect a full report throughout next week. In fact, next week may be designated as "Napa Week." If Father Tom can make such proclamations, then I don't see why we can't.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

La Boulangerie

I love this place. On most Sunday mornings following a walk around the park with Penelope and Asparagus, you can find Lindsay and I waiting in line for a raspberry croissant(for me), a blueberry muffin or other pastry (for Lindsay), and a plain croissant (for the Hounds).

If you don't know how to bake, or don't have time, why not let La Boulangerie do it for you. You can pick up pies (apple, pumpkin), fruit tarts, breads (all different types), and other pastries. Make it easy on yourself. But call right now, as they are only taking orders up till today. The number is 269-3777.

And Gus, as he is known to his pals, would like a croissant or a baguette.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Po Boy Fest

The Po Boy Fest still has some kinks to iron out, but all in all this festival has a permanent place on my calendar. Lindsay and I headed over there yesterday around 2 and we were both astonished to see just how many people had turned out. All along Oak Street from Carrollton to Joliet the thoroughfare was crammed full of people, po boys, and parading.

The lines for each po boy purveyor were quite significant however they moved very rapidly. At times the street gets very crowded making movement in any direction almost impossible. However, these are only minor problems. We stated with a banh mi from banh mi sao. We chose the combo which included shredded beef and vietnamese style meatballs. This was topped with an assortment of fresh and pickeld veggies, a liberal dosing of spicy mayo, and some cilantro. Delicious, fresh, vibrant and light this po boy earned high marks.

Next, a hot sausage po boy and an italian sausage with peppers and onions from Sammie's in Gentilly. The former once again relied on a spiced up mayonnaise with astonishing results while the latter delivered what amounted to a large, savory mess wrapped up in flaky bread. Both sandwiches made me put Sammie's on my list of po boy shops to try. We also sampled a killer stuffed shrimp. I had one bite and really enjoyed it. I turned my back to grab a napkin and lindsay had devoured the rest of it. You snooze, you lose.

Then, a barbecue roast beef po boy and a roast beef po boy from Parkway. You know my feelings about Parkway's roast beef, well they were once again confirmed. Tender, rich strands of roast beef, impossibly light bread, and a thick gravy make for me at least the standard by which all other roast beef po boys are judged. The barbeucue roast beef was a little too sweet for me.

Twice while we were there a second line strolled down Oak St. Trailing behind the 8 piece brass band were legions of marching second liners. Only instead of waving handkerchiefs in the air, the paraders held aloft loaves of French Bread. Its times like this when living anywhere else beisdes New Orleans makes no sense to me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

There is a tarantula in my broccoli soup

Last Saturday at the Crescent City Farmer's Market, we got a soccer ball sized clump of broccoli. Enormous and leafy the head of the broccoli could have used the stalk as a baseball bat. Some of the broccoli ended up stir fried with some garlic, chilis, and meyer lemon juice. But the remainder of the orb stayed in the fridge until last night.

We had some leftover turkey meatloaf that I quickly browned in a saute pan. The broccoli needed to be used. As i began to cut the stalk away from the flowering buds of broc, a baby tarantula* emerged from the leaves as surprised to see me as I was to see him. He was detached down the drain with a calmness not often found in shrieking people.

I began by steaming the broccoli, but soon realized this would be boring. I had about a cup of chicken stock, so I brought that to a boil. After the broccoli finished steaming, I put in a blender with a teaspoon of red pepper flakes (which proved to be too much), a tug of butter, and some salt. Add the chicken stock and pulse 3 times; then puree for about a minute longer than you think you need. The soup should be creamy with texture, but not gritty. You could strain it, but only if it is a first date.

What results is the creamiest, most soul satisfying broccoli soup you will ever eat. There are easier ways to do this as well. Just blanch broccoli in heavily salted water and add a small amount of the water to the blender. I know it sounds weird, but you dont need much else to make a luxurious broccoli soup.

But I did add a little shaved Parmesan and a drop of olive oil to make a "broccoli and cheese soup." And putting things in quotations is hip.

* No confirmation on the actual species is available at this time. But it was black and hairy and tarantula-esque.

***********************************UPDATE FROM PETER**************************
I have received the following updates from Peter via a cellular phenomenon known as text messaging.

Yesterday 3:19 CST "A light snack just now you know that the Pope never skips a meal. Headed to Opus in 2 hours for the first tasting . Kind of overcast today. But you know it never rains in Tiger Stadium or the French Laundry."

Last night 9:53 pm CST "I might never come home."

In case you are wondering what they ate last night
. And I am pretty certain, they did not pass on the foie gras course.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Day Has Finally Come

I have been counting down the days till today since September 20. For it was on that fateful Saturday that I made reservations at The French Laundry. Two months ago to the calendar date (which is the earliest possible day reservations can be made), The Pope and I conducted a coordinated telephone assault at exactly 10:00am PST (which is the precise time when TFL's reservations hotline is turned on). As luck would have it, we were both able to make reservations. And so today is the day. My fellow diners: The Folk Singer, The Pope, Battle House Honey, and The Deli King & Queen.

Rumor has it that tables at TFL are easier to come by these days because of the current recession and the prospect of higher taxes for those individuals with enough disposable income to be able to afford to dine at TFL. But unlike some people, for me dining at TFL is about the food as opposed to securing bragging rights. Also, let it be known that I cannot, in any remote sense of the word, "afford" dinner at The French Laundry. This is just one of those opportunities which I would forever regret passing up.

A part of me wonders if I'm ready. Will I be able to fully appreciate the vision and techniques of Thomas Keller and his proteges? And at the other end of the spectrum, I wonder if I have set my expectations so high that nothing on the plate will be able to satisfy them. Most likely, my mindset (and the outcome) lies somewhere in the middle.

Two years ago, I was fortunate enough to dine at Paul Bocuse's eponymous restaurant outside Lyon - my first (and till today, my lone) Michelin 3 Star dining experience. Not only the food but also the service was something that I had never had the opportunity to enjoy before. I still vividly remember every detail of that dinner, and one day I will have to write about it. But looking back, I think that I fully appreciated that meal because the cooking methods, ingredients, and flavors were not completely foreign to me. Whatever I ate, it seemed as though I had experienced that flavor and texture before - except that everything which came from Bocuse's kitchen tasted 1000x better.

In short, that dinner at Bocuse was the finest meal of my life. Tomorrow (or more likely Monday), I will let you know if that is still the case.

But today is not only about me. Today, the third Thursday in November, is Beajolais Nouveau Day. Traditionally, today is the day that the first wines of this years vintage are released to the public. In fact, speaking of Lyon, Beaujolais Nouveau was historically first released to the Lyonnaise bistros by shipping the bottles down the River Saône.

The Beaujolais which you are most likely to drink is that of winemaker George Duboeuf. Beaujolais, while shunned by some oenophiles as too young, is a very drinkable wine which should be uncorked immediately. And it's CHEAP. The first cases were shipped off at 12:01am (Paris time), so lookout for these festive bottles this weekend.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Po-Boy Fest

As has been mentioned before from September of 2007 until April of 2008 your faithful scribe was exiled from the city of New Orleans. St. Louis is a wonderful town don't get me wrong, but they did not have a Po Boy Fest.

Unfortunately, I could not make the fest last year. Tears flowed, sobs were exchanged, and I spent three days wondering around grocery stores looking for Leidenheimer Bread, Blue Plate Mayo and those slimy pickles. When the cops finally found me, I had a Chisesi ham under my coat.

But I am back, and on Sunday I will be inhaling Po Boys faster than The Pope downs chargrilled oysters. The forecast is beautiful and there is no Saints game. Plus, if we don't eat things like Po Boys, Red Beans, and gumbo, then we become St. Louis. And it is cold in St. Louis.

Ohh, and listen it is Po Boy. I dont care what Father Tom claims nor whatever menus he consults. Languages and pronunciations are constantly evolving and the word is now Po Boy. Besides this is a guy who claims to be a Jesuit Alum yet he graduated from Rummel.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Even Better Than 50 Cent Night ( A Production of After Work Today...)

In high school, Peter went to .50 cent night at The Boot with a devotion seen more commonly with tweens and Hannah Montana than mature 17 year olds and fiscal responsibility. In fact Peter was known far and wide for the Golden Roll. Every Tuesday, Peter would slide "The Golden Roll"-a pack of quarters-across the bar and in turn he would receive 10 Jack and Cokes.

Well, as you probably have figured out, Blackened Out has a huge crush on Cork & Bottle. Cork & Bottle has just opened a wine bar called Clever, adjacent to their Mid City store. Every Tuesday at Clever is "Free Tuesdays at Clever." Tasting sized samples of wine will be poured gratis. If you like the wine, you can pay for either a glass (at retail pricing which equals retail price divided by 4) or buy a whole bottle.

I checked out Clever with some colleagues (an adult way of saying friends) last week. The space is very comfortable, the wine list filled with winners, and the staff could not be nicer. The surroundings are loaded with comfy couches and areas to arrange your own seating. Clever feels more like a coffee shop than the snooty, sleek wine bars that have popped up all over the country in the last few years.

These tastings will be devoid of pretension. Also, this will give you some new vague terms to throw around at Uncle Al's Thanksgiving Hooch Fest. Each week will feature a different theme. This is a great opportunity to combine education of new wines and happy hour. Quite frankly it is very clever. Here is the schedule for the next few weeks:

Nov. 18th - Lisa Tull-Johnson, Champagne Specialist for Republic/National pours through a world of things that go bubble in the night.

Nov. 25th - Jon Smith pours out a selection of turkey's best friend: Pinot Noir

Dec. 2nd - Grand Opening with Neil Gernon who will unveil a month of Neat Wines by pouring through eight (yes, 8) "under the radar" Napa Valley gems.

I will see you there. This is really going to cut into my workout routine.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Durian Experiment

On Friday I had to venture out to unknown parts of Baton Rouge to pick up my computer from a Vietnamese electronics repair shop. The shop is located in a strip mall which also houses a Vietnamese tattoo shop, a Vietnamese billiards hall, a Vietnamese restaurant (Dang Family Restaurant - not as good as Little Saigon), and a Vietnamese grocery - Vinh Phat Market.

Vinh Phat is awesome. It's full of numerous foods from all over Asia - many of which have only two English words on the label describing what they are. While exploring the store I noticed an older woman who appeared to know what she was doing. But when I approached her and asked what I should get, she humbly laughed and said, "I have no idea. This is my first time here."

Thankfully, the owners of the store assisted me with my purchases. I had the idea of making bun cha (chargrilled pork over vermicelli noodles), so the nice man escorted me around the store as I gathered my ingredients. I also grabbed some amazing looking pork belly from the butcher case, where all of the meats had been cut and packaged that same day. Some coconut milk, curry powder, and lemongrass also made their way into my basket with the hopes of tom kha (or a variation thereof).

But when I finally made it to the checkout counter, the man's wife questioned me as to the final destination for my purchases. Next thing you know, I am making several trips back through the store. "Do you like sambal [no garlic] or chili garlic sauce?" No idea. I'll just get both. Vietnamese fish sauce is apparently another necessity.

And then I spotted it. Durian. That southeast Asian fruit which we all have seen Bourdain (at 5:50) and Zimmer tackle on the Travel Channel. I couldn't resist. I made sure to ask the proprietor whether the aroma of this notoriously foul smelling fruit would take over my fridge. She politely replied, "Not if you keep it cold, and it doesn't smell bad if you like the taste."

My tutor gave me a few tips as to how to properly open the durian, but the only one that I could understand was that you are supposed to let the fruit sit out and rise to room temperature before dissecting. I decided that it would be wise to cut it open outside in case the scent was unpleasant and overwhelming.

Which turned out not to be the case at all - at least in my opinion. The aroma is similar to a pineapple, and the taste mirrors the flavor. The texture of the edible part of the flesh (which surrounds the large seeds) is really strange - the best description being that of creole cream cheese with bits of string mixed in. The Folk Singer had this to say: "The texture is strange, the flavor is good, but the aftertaste is like garbage."

One of the best eating experiences of all time? No.

Worth the $8.99 to try it just once? Absolutely.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Birthday Dinner and After Work Today...

One week from today, next Friday, November 21st, Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse will turn 10 years old. Although the restaurant is not old enough to legally drink, you can celebrate with $10 bottles of DB Cabernet. Also, the restaurant is running a Blackened (out?) Prime Rib Dinner for $19.98. So if you wanted to go out to lunch/dinner, but lost your shirt, pants, tie, socks, and shoes in the market, go to Dickie Brennan's and eat like a king for a pauper's ransom.

But get a reservation. To do so, call 522-2467.

This deal will be available all day long. I may go for lunch, if you would like to join shoot me an email. Dinner is out of the question, as the Chairman of the Bored has decided to get married that night. His fiancee refused to move the wedding for this event, what a brat.

Photo courtesy of the internet and google.

Ok, so it is a Friday Night and you just found your Montell Jordan CD. Now often when we speak of wine and food pairings, the food comes first. Usually you order a dish or decide what you are going to cook and then decide on a wine. Well, tonight, why dont you do this. Go to one of the many wine shops in the city: Martin's, The Wine Seller, Dorignacs, the Co Nah Store, it doesnt matter. And pick out something to drink. It does not have to be wine, it could be beer or booze.

Usually on Friday afternoon, any self-respecting wine shop will have a free tasting. I know The Wine Seller is having a tasting of Punt Road wines from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Find something new and then cook around it. Shrimp is plentiful right now should you go the white route. Or if you choose a red, a grilled steak will always help you kick off the weekend.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


The other night Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz of Alinea (who trained under Keller at TFL) prepared a 20-course meal, with each chef getting 10 dishes. The cost was $1500 a piece. There will be two more of these dinners (one each at Alinea and TFL). This dinner was held at. Chef Keller's per se in New York.

Partly this series of dinners is to promote both chefs new cookbooks. Achatz released "Alinea" a month or so ago and Keller will release "Under Pressure" soon. One of these days we will cover an event like this. Until then we bring you live reporting from the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival.

Here is a link to the menu.

Peter's review of TFL will arrive shortly after his visit there later this month. All I can say to Peter is that I hate him and his stupid reservations.

Top Chef

A full wrap up of the first episode, along with gambling lines, will arrive shortly. Until then enjoy this.

And this from Ben Jamon.

Its the end of the week, cut us some slack. You see all those photos we have posted?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sukho Thai

Located in the Marigny just four blocks from our publisher's home office, Sukho Thai is a relatively well kept secret for local Thai fanatics. No one is more addicted to curry than I am, but when at Sukho Thai I usually branch out beyond the typical pad thai and curry menu items. If I am downtown and in the mood for some spice during lunch, I go the extra step and drive out to Sukho Thai rather than settle for Singha Thai on Carondelet.

There. I said it. Singha Thai is not good. It's really not. If you don't feel like driving, fine. I understand. Walk over to Panasia in the bottom of the Place St. Charles Hotel. But why so many people go to Singha Thai, I will never understand.

Anyway, here a few photos from Sukho Thai, courtesy of The Folk Singer.

I almost always start a Thai meal with the spicy chicken and coconut milk soup that is Tom Kha. Sukho Thai's version has a more pronounced lemongrass flavor than others.

This is the Appetizer Sampler (from top to bottom): the signature "Shrimp in a Pouch" with plum dipping sauce, deep fried vegetable spring rolls, and the (not-so-Thai) Ahi Katsu Roll - sushi grade tuna coated in bread crumbs and flash fried. The Katsu Roll is innovative for a Thai restaurant, but something seems wrong with deep frying such high quality tuna. On the other hand, I could eat about a dozen of those pouches.

Waterfall Beef is probably the second most popular item on the menu. It's a cold dish of seared beef flavored with the tartness lime juice and the sweetness of Thai basil.

One more thing you should know: Sukho Thai is BYOB. So don't forget to bring along a bottle of wine or an ice chest full of Singha beer. We won't judge.

Finally, don't forget that the New York Season of Top Chef premieres tonight.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

St. James Dinner with Ashbell McElveen

Last Thursday, Lindsay and I attended a dinner at St. James guest chefed by Ashbell McElveen. Chef McElveen's cuisine is his interpretation of African, Caribbean, French, and Southern cuisine all rolled into one. Which when you think about it, sounds exactly like a description of New Orleans.

The food was largely cooked on an outdoor grill and a dual burner propane rig. Despite that, Chef McElveen and his team sent out a wonderful array of appetizing plates. I really hope he gets his own place up and running soon, as I would love to see what he can accomplish with a full arsenal.

First course was a homemade bacon wrapped gulf shrimp with a salad and three cheese croutons. Very good. the bacon was thinner than commercial bacon; it almost crossed into prosciutto land. Could have used a spike more dressing, but as always I would rather a salad be nude as opposed to overly adorned.

These dinners at St. James are BYOB. We started out with a 2005 Justin Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is fast becoming one of my favorite white wines for pairing with food. We also had a 2005 Andre Brunel Cote du Rhone Villages Cuvee Sabrine, which is pictured in the photo. Both wines are available at Cork and Bottle. The latter is poured by the glass at Clever.

A plate of grilled vegetables. Quite simply the best dish of the night. I love food like this. Each vegetables was expertly introduced to the flames, charred, and dressed simply with olive oil, salt, vinegar, and pepper. I love how a grill can make a vegetable (ok its not really a vegetable, but you know what I mean) like mushrooms smoky and meaty while at the same time sweetening an onion to unfathomable heights.

Also, served was a curried crab over fried plantains. While the plantains were either undercooked or under ripe or both, the curried crab exploded with rich flavors of cumin and allspice. This dish would have been absolutely a stunner if served over some fluffy white rice as without rice the dish seemed a little thin. A little more retooling of this dish and it could rightly sit beside shrimp creole, gumbo, and trout amandine.

Next, a cheese plate. A tomme crayeuse, a munster, and a laguiole. Served alongside this wonderful selection of cheeses, was a candied apple and these dynamite homemade lemon scented biscuits. The biscuits had more in common with a cookie, but this makes sense, as Chef McElveen previously worked in London where apartments are called flats and cookies are biscuits. The biscuits were the perfect foil for the rich cheeses.
Next a dessert of caramelized peaches over a light and airy cake. Pretty good finish and not overly sweet. Although my favorite part of this dessert was that it came with goat cheese with fresh cracked black pepper, which rounded out a classic pairing of flavors and textures.
Once Chef McElveen gets his place, you can be sure I will be in that number sampling his take on New Orleans cuisine.

All photographs by Lindsay. Usually taken about 3 bites into each dish when we said "Shoot we forgot to take a photograph. Gee Willickers." Thus, the rustic nature of the photos.
Also, seen at this dinner was the St. James Girl, A.K.A. the 5000th Visitor to El Blogo.

Monday, November 10, 2008


I can cook, somewhat. However, gardening still presents an immense challenge to my green thumbs and two left feet.

Scattered throughout the neighborhoods of New Orleans, abandoned homes and empty lots sit like missing teeth in an otherwise brilliant smile. After reading the link on this post, I began thinking of how the concept of a Victory Garden could help reduce some of the visual distress of New Orleans.

So I welcome your thoughts on this. What if neighborhoods could negotiate with the landowners of these properties for a usufruct over some of the empty lots on a street or in a neighborhood. Then the neighborhood could use these lots to grow plants, herbs, fruits, vegetables, or just keep the space pretty.

I see two benefits here. First, it would continue to strengthen the bonds of neighborhoods. Secondly, it would provide those that participate with a source of fresh, seasonal produce.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Reveillon Returns

One of the best restaurant deals in town returns starting after Thanksgiving. I know what you are thinking that is really far away. But you know how hard it is to get a group of people together to celebrate over the holidays? With office parties, shopping days, and religious rituals, time is at a premium. I am not talking about spending time with family; I am talking about spending time with people you actually like.

The Reveillon Dinners harken back to a tradition when people would go over to other people's houses for grand feasts during the holidays. In today's world a good thing to do is to gather some of your friend(s), head to one of the restaurants, let someone else cook and clean, and have a good time. The participating restaurants offer a set menu with usually 2-3 choices per course at a low fee (average is $50 a head).

Menus and information available here. If there is interest perhaps a State Dinner?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dear Mimi, Please Pass the Salt

A few weeks ago The Folk Singer and I decided to headed to Mimi's in the Marigny to satisfy our late night hunger. I know what you're thinking, "Tapas? Again? When will it ever end?" In a word: NEVER.

Actually, I am sure that the tapas craze will probably subside like other food trends that have come and gone before it. But I must say that I for one enjoy and sometimes prefer dining on three (... or four ... or five) appetizers in lieu of a main dish. And I am not the only one. How many times have you read this in one of Fr. Tom's reviews: "The appetizers are so delicious that one could make a meal out of those alone"?

The only problem (for me at least) is that I am not big on sharing my small plates for two reasons: 1) usually the portions are too small to split among more than two people, and 2) sometimes I feel that half (or less) of an appetizer is not enough to fully appreciate a dish. I guess you could say that this is one instance in which "sharing is caring" is an addage which need not be followed.

But I digress.

Mimi's was good, and you (sadly) can't find a better option for late night food in the city. But one recurring theme in every dish we ordered was a lack of seasoning. Now I have been told many a time that I over salt my food, but this was one instance when TFS backed me up. As Ruhlman more eloquently put it, salt can be a good thing. Salt enhances the flavors of foods during the cooking process. Maybe my trip was an isolated incident, but if there was one suggestion I could make to the chef it would be this: Do everything the same, except increase the salt and pepper during preparation.

Here are two snapshots of the dishes we tried:

This is the tomato and avocado bruschette.

The mushroom manchego cheese toast was the second best dish on the table: mushrooms in a cream sauce ladled over manchego and crusty bread.

Other dishes included the pork cannoli (shredded pork in a rolled pastry crust that was then deep fried and served with a sweet n' spicy BBQ sauce), an overly acidic and chewy ceviche, and patatas bravas. But the overall winner was the dish that ended up being dessert: freshly fried goat cheese croquetas drizzled with honey. Outstanding.

Mimi's in the Marigny - Par.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Go Get Wicked Smart

A press release from Mrs. McCall...

The Young Leadership Council and the Literary Alliance of Greater New Orleans are hosting a special panel discussion on Wednesday, November 5th in conjunction with the YLC's One Book One New Orleans project. This year's novel is City of Refuge by Tom Piazza.

The book tells the story of two very different New Orleans families and their struggles during and after Katrina. The panel discussion will highlight one strong theme throughout the novel – New Orleans' identity through its unique food and beverage. Panel members include Ralph Brennan, Jim Monaghan, Jr. of Molly's at the Market, and Sara Roahen.

The discussion is from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. You do not have to be a member of the YLC or Literary Alliance to attend. Actually, you don't have to have read the novel to enjoy the panel (but it wouldn't hurt). But, space is limited…

For more information visit our website at

Look, you are just getting stupider every day that you waste reading this blog. So if you have time tonight, go to SOFAB, listen to real writers, get some knowledge, and then start your own blog.

And another good link from Ben Jamon. I know Peter is very stoked to see the French Laundry on that list.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

After Work Today...

Every four years the citizens of America rally around the local ballot box to cast their vote for the next president. And legend has it that if the president-elect sees his shadow, we get four more years of late night comedy.

We here at Blackened Out feel it is below us to pollute such a noble website with discussions about politics. And we dont want to ostracize half of our viewers by endorsing one candidate or another. Plus our mothers always told us to not talk about religion or politics at the dinner table.

But we have a feeling tonight Americans will be either really happy, very relieved, depressed, or furious by the end of tonight. But mostly citizens will be drunk. So tonight head on out to the Bombay Club and watch the election results. The Bombay Club has the type of atmosphere to make any Republican feel elitist and any Democrat guilty about the sorry state of the hoi polloi. A large selection of martinis will help you either drown sorrows or celebrate victory. Good food as well. And private booths in case Mary Matalin and James Carville decide to reach across the aisle in a display of bipartisan affection. Gross.

Let's face it the Presidential Election is important, but not as important to New Orleanians as the DA's race or the Congressional election in which Dollar Bill seeks to cement his position as the least effective member of Congress. When the FBI raided the freezers of the Blackened Out office they found 3 snickers bars, a bottle of vodka, and some frozen fish.

How both Presidential candidates have been able to run for office without barely mentioning New Orleans, hurricane protection, or Katrina is beyond us; but maybe that is for the best. Leave us alone and drinking.

No matter the outcome of any and all elections tomorrow Blackened Out Media will begin selling the following bumper sticker, "Don't blame me, I voted for The Pope."


Monday, November 3, 2008

Truffled Grits

The last few mornings have been very cold at the house. Not colder than St. Louis in February, but it still being early fall in New Orleans, one does not expect temperatures below 70. Ok let's be honest, temperatures below 80 at this time of year are strange. Well the Hounds of Bassetville wake up at 5:45 a.m. each morning and they expect a walk. So, like the good slaves we are, we oblige them.

The last few mornings, returning to the golden glowing house, I have made grits. But not just any grits, truffle grits, and non-instant, non-magic grits at that. Towards the end of cooking, I wisk in a beaten egg, a large pat of butter, and some truffled sea salt. Start to finish, 15 minutes.

The result is a freaking taste explosion: earthy, musty, sensous, creamy, and rich. With a few pieces of buttered and charred whole grain bread, the cold shakes off and is replaced by warmth. The hassles of the coming day momentarily forgotten, even the dogs seem to calm down.

This truffle salt is expensive make no mistake about it, however, a little goes a very long way. But over the last few months we have sprinkled it over all sorts of dishes with fascinating results. And all you need is a pinch, if that to really transform something simple, into something great. Another great use is over popcorn.

Get some, impress your neighbors, make new friends, and stop being boring.