Wednesday, April 30, 2008

For Lunch Today...

But first, yesterday, perhaps because of the blog, hamburgers were the talk of the town. I am talking of course about Fr. Tom's afternoon radio show. The entire show seemed to focus on hamburgers. At one point Fr. Tom asked, "Why would anyone order a hamburger in a place like La Petite Grocery?" Well, I think there are a couple of reasons why.

First, burgers taste really good. That alone gives validation to ordering a cheeseburger in a white table cloth establishment. Second, you can tell a lot about a cook in how they prepare a hamburger. Certainly any person with a black Weber Grill, a bag of Match-Light, and some store brought pre-pattied pucks of meat can cook a hamburger. But, when you get a juicy, blushing burger that is cooked perfectly, you can be certain that cook can cook.

Third and most important, each of us remembers getting dragged at some point to some fussy, white table cloth restaurant when you were like seven years old and had a nose full of boogers. You desperately wanted a cheeseburger and french fries, but alas they did not serve that. So, to compensate now as an adult, you can order that delicious cheeseburger with crisp fries. That devilish diversion from dining decorum makes up for those years of punishment.

Last night at the Hornets game I watched in amazement as Mike McKenzie destroyed Hot Dogs like Koboyashi. So today, why not grab a Lucky Dog, head to Jackson Square, and get dem palms read. It will summon your inner Ignatius J. Reilly.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

For Lunch Today...

Thanks to the Chairman of the Bored for reminding me of this spot. Bud's Broiler offers a break from the boring, but make sure you cover your work attire with a poncho. The best order by far is the number 4 with hickory sauce, onions and mayo, with a side of French fries and a strawberry milkshake. You may disagree with that assessment, but you are completely wrong. The nearest location to downtown occupies the corner of Calhoun and Claiborne; but there is one on Causeway for Captain Corporate. Of course we are all eagerly awaiting the re-opening of the one across from Delgado.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lunch Today...and a great coffee

How bout dem Hornets? And the Saints draft lacked the depression we Who Dats have become accustomed to feeling following draft weekend. Sure, it rained on the first weekend of Jazz Fest but still a great weekend all around. Something about wrapping up a fun weekend makes me think about Za (Pizza, to the uninitiated). Reginelli's opened in 1996 on the corner of State and Magazine, that location is still there but you could also go to the location on Magazine near the Bulldog. Or for the LSU students, try the Reginelli's near the Chimes. And see if Emile is working.

You remember the 90's? Grunge, irrational fears of catching STDs from shaking hands, men wearing vests and not going after their hot female neighbors that lived across the hall for about 6 years, and Barbecue Chicken Pizza? Well, the Smokin Chicken combines caramelized onions,, pancetta, chicken, and green onions with a spicy red sauce to produce a more refined version of the ubiquitous 90's staple.

The El Fresco and Parthenon are variations on a classic white pizza and worth a shot. The Uptowner Sandwich long a favorite of well people from all over offers a guaranteed good order, if you are into that sort of competitive eating. Appetizers, soups, baked pastas round out the selections. Simple, modern decor and good service means you wont waste a lot of time. So you can get back to the office to spend more time on the internet.

Yesterday, went back to La Provence for brunch. Very good way to prepare for a Sunday nap. The coffee they served caught my attention: a Nicaraguan coffee that is very dark, incredibly rich, and with a great touch of bitterness. This coffee is produced by Octavio Mantilla's family and only for the Besh restaurants. Luckily for you, you can buy it at those restaurants. Use a French Press and start starting your days better.

Friday, April 25, 2008

La Boca Vida

Saturday Night Special (SNS) came in yesterday for the wedding this weekend and for various and assorted sundry chores. The long road home ended at around 5:45 for me, thanks to everyone lining I-10. SNS and I were having a few beers and talk naturally turned to food. SNS spent some time in Argentina and considers himself an expert on the art of Argentinian cuisine. Naturally, his ears perked up when I mentioned La Boca. So we would dine there.

La Boca, the second restaurant of Nicolas Bazan and Adolpho Garcia, occupies a dark, intimate, brick walled wedge next door to the River entrance of The Red Eye on Fulton St. Very romantic, the perfect place for SNS and I to have an awkward man date (I should add that Lady planned on joining us, but duty called). We began with Pisco Sours. Pisco (a type of Peruvian Brandy), simple sugar, an egg white, and lime juice, mixed frothy like the waves of the sea and then topped with cinnamon. Tart and sweet; this is what margaritas hope to be when they grow up.

Our waiter, Victor, then presented us with bread and a variety of chimichurri sauces. First, one was traditional, herbaceous and garlic notes with a vinegar finish. Then, a horseradish based sauce and a roasted red pepper chimichurri; of all of these, my favorite was the last.

Next, an order of Provoleta. This dish shows up in different cuisines and is essentially a hard cheese cooked to soften it and topped with olive oil and herbs. You spoon it onto bread and try and hold back the sensation to order another one.

SNS picked a Malbec that he drank in his Gaucho days saying, "This is what you drink to get hammered." Lucky for us, Victor suggested something a bit better. Malbec's with their heavy tannin overload and tobacco notes would work for this steak dinner; but for me it has never risen to the level of a sipping wine.

We each ordered the Vacio. 14 ounces of tender, meltingly good flank steak. Cooked simply, sliced against the grain, and presented on a plate. No garnish, no mashed potatoes, no port reduction demi glace. Just beef; it was what was for dinner. Words fail me in describing how good this steak was. The meat melted away like one of those fresh breath tabs. All that was left was the flavor of beef. Which for many of us we have not tasted in a while, with all the gussying up steaks get at restaurants. The sauces provided an interesting flavor note to the meat without changing the overall flavor: meat.

We did order some french fries which were thin, house made, crunchy and lord were they good. A glass of Grand Marnier a piece and a delightful chat with the Maitre d' and we were out of there. By far the best value steak dinner in town and perhaps the best steak dinner bar none. Total bill was about $130. Not a bad price to pay to catch up with a friend and here him say, "If I lived here, this would be dangerous. Seriously, I'd come here everynight."

La Boca.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Presidential Luncheon

W ate lunch at Galatoire’s yesterday with Nagin, Fielkow, and a few others. Blondie's inside sources tell us that the White House contacted Executive Chef Brian Landry on Sunday to inform him that the President would be coming for lunch. Unfortunately for George, he did not dispatch Dick Cheney to wait in line for a downstairs table, so his group had to eat in a private upstairs dining room. Word is that W did not ask for a menu - trusting Chef Landry to serve whatever he thought what was the freshest seafood of the day. So the group dined on lemonfish (DISCLAIMER - Blondie is not 100% certain that lemonfish was the choice) as an entree and hopefully started with pommes souflee, crabmeat maison, and oysters en brochette or rockefeller.

Oh yeah, and I am sure that they talked about some other stuff other than the food...

Lunch Today...

Earlier today Bride-To-Be told me one of her incoming wedding guests wanted to go to Acme tonight. That got me thinking about oysters and for lunch today, you should go to Drago's at the Hilton Riverside. Of course you will start with the Charbroiled Oysters. That garlicky, Parmesan encrusted jewel of a dish will whet your appetite for a second order so you may as well order twice the first go round. And that is probably enough for lunch today, remember the motto of the Pope, "All things in moderation, except for things you really like."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Alton Brown Book Signing

Alton Brown of the Food Network's Good Eats and the Feasting on Asphalt series, will be at Octavia Books to sign copies of the book he compiled while Filming Feasting on Asphalt: The River Run. That series featured many New Orleans and Louisiana restaurants and food stuffs. The book signing begins at 5 p.m. Octavia Books is at 513 Octavia. Someone take a copy of the blog for him to sign.

Lunch Today....

This restaurant's location may test the 8 minute rule. The St. James Cheese Company, located on Robert and Prytania, brings the devotion to cheese that Martin brought to wine. With cheeses from over 15 countries and Louisiana, you will find a cheese to your liking. Better yet, you can grab a bottle of wine from the Wine Seller next door and Richard and his staff will match up a cheese to go with your wine. If the place is not incredibly busy (unlikely), ask Richard for the story as to why he and his wife decided to open a Cheese Shop in New Orleans. The story will raise your own spirits as to why you decided to return to New Orleans.

St. James sells sandwiches, salads, charcuterie boards, and other arrangements of meat and cheese. The mozzarella sandwich combines mozzarella, pesto, and salami on ciabatta. The resulting sandwich comes off a hot griddle and oozes deliciousness. The taste is not unlike a great piece of pizza, with the pesto soaking into the bread, the cheese relaxing into an almost molten texture, and the salami providing the salty bite.

The Charcuterie Board offers a tempting option for those in the mood to graze. 3-4 meats, 1 or 2 cheeses, and a couple of pates are presented to the diner(s), along with peasant bread, cornichons, and whole grain mustard. This allows you into build multiple sandwiches and try things you normally would not. The pates are made from local chefs, including the crew from Cochon and Peter Vazquez.

Great outdoor seating in nice weather. French lemonades, designer teas, and some unique cheese related cooking gear round out the selections.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Cocktails, cocktails everywhere and more than a drop to drink

But first lunch at Cochon. Arrived around noon to a still barren dining room. By 12:15 the place was slammed. We decided to eat light. Started with a Hen and Andouille Gumbo. Dark, earthy, gelatinous and once again lives up to Link's status as the greatest gumbo assemblymen in New Orleans. Then a wedge salad with ranch, bacon, radishes, and croûtons. I know what you are thinking, "Wow, salad, what a waste." And I agree with you in general; however, not here. This salad was the perfect way to wade into a meal. Plus, we needed something green.

Next, an order of rabbit livers on toast with pepper jelly. I am not crazy about rabbit livers (totally a textual issue) but Lady loved them. Also, an order of Fried Boudin Balls with house cured jalepenos and stone ground mustard. The pig gets no higher than right here. Crunchy exterior gives way to a rice filled bonanza of spices. If Link and Stryjewski opened a movie theater, this dish would be their popcorn.

Then an order of pork cheeks over a corn cake. One can not help but notice the genealogy of this dish and its roots to the Bayona shrimp over coriander black bean cake. The pork cheeks are slow cooked, then molded into a hockey puck and sauteed with a mustard based sauce that could use a little more acidity. Finally, a simple order of hot sausage and peppers on top of creole cream cheese grits. For me this is the dish that represents Cochon. Soulful, simple, hearty fare with a light handed touch of upscale dining. Get this dish if you go; but good luck getting a reservation. I called for a Saturday night reservation recently (for about 3 weeks from now), the hostess informed me, "We can seat you at 5:30 or 11:45 p.m.

A great Spanish red and near excellent service rounded out the meal. Lady went back to work, I grabbed some dog food and went by Fed Ex. No time for Bed, Bath, Beyond.

"Are you sure we have to go?" asked Lady. It was 6 p.m. on Friday and bot of us were feeling the effects of a long week.

"Come on we will go for one maybe two drinks and if it is lame, we are out of there," I responded.

By the end of the night we would both be glad we went. The Japanese Room at Antoine's that evening has a capacity crowd of over 200 people who were in the mood to try as many cocktails as possible, pop an Oysters Foch or two, and raise money for a good cause. You have been to Antoine's, let us focus on the libations.

Republic Beverage sponsored the party and provided the booze and the bartenders. Along each side of the Japanese Room were tables set up with 2 cocktails apiece. I began with a Sazerac. I have no idea where my desire for anise flavors came from, but I am happy to oblige its tempestuous tug. Then, a French 75, Lady's favorite cocktail, for now. Cognac, Lemon Juice, Champagne, simple syrup, and a lemon peel. The glasses the cocktail was poured into were still hot from the dishwasher, turning the drink into a tepid mess, not dissimilar from drinking lemon scented bathwater. You are very welcome for that mental image.

A Manhattan, a Screwdriver, an Absinthe Frappe (again with the Anise) and a Vieux Carre Cocktail grabbed our attention at various moments. Then, Lady stumbled across the Pretty Baby and immediately had a new cocktail. Similar to a White Russian, this cocktail combined vodka (Stilleto brand), Creme de Cacao, milk, and grenadine. The Pretty Baby looks like Pepto-Bismol and tastes like a strawberry milkshake. A grasshopper finished up the dessert course.

Finally we each grabbed a twist on the classic Mint Julep. This version muddled together fresh Ponchatoula strawberries, mint, and sugar. Then, topped the mixture with ice and a generous pour of New Orleans Dark Rum. I think I have a new drink for Derby Day.

While this drink was being poured, I grabbed a hold of Fr. Tom and asked him for a tour of Antoine's. Earlier in the day, I heard him say, "If you see me tonight, ask me for a favorite thing to do is give tours of Antoine's." What a great way to spend an evening. His stories, coupled with the restaurant's many varied rooms, created a memory for a lifetime. Fr. Tom should give this tour to tourists and charge $35 a head, easily worth it. Following the tour, we bid adieu. At around 9:15 Antoine's was still fairly crowded with laughter and good cheer spilling from the storied restaurant. Ohh yeah, and we supported a good cause. What did you do on Friday to help humanity?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Lunch Today...

With so much going on this weekend. Hornets playoff game, weddings of all sorts and sizes, final weekend of Jazz Fest Training Camp, etc...Today presents a tough choice for where to eat. However one contender emerged from the pack based on 2 unrelated inquiries and 1 fortunate occurrence.

This week two people contacted me about Cochon and what to eat. That got my mind turning about all the good food that awaited me. The exile ended last night around 11:30 and thus, Lady and I are heading to Cochon for lunch. Since we are going to the Cocktail Soiree at Antoine's tonight, I think we will just graze on a few small plates. Or I will eat 7/9ths of a Pig and wash it down with copious amounts of Abita and perhaps a Bayou Beer. You should do the same.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

First Ever Name This Story Contest

In case any NFL teams were looking for Ricky Williams

Winning headline for the above story gets a free trip to the Saints Game in London. *

*So long as the gang from Who Dat Say agrees.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Great Program

If you have Tivo or DVR, I highly recommend setting it to record America The Wright Way: New Orleans. I caught this show tonight, and quite simply, finally this show gets New Orleans. The food, music, art, culture, and livelihood of the Crescent City is explored with the you know what lurking the background. But rather than focus on pity and play blame games, Mr. Wright puts the focus on the recovery and the hopeful, never say die attitude of New Orleanians. The quote of the evening comes from local artist Lionel Milton, "It was a tough pill to swallow, but it didn't change who we are."

One of the best segments of the show shows the interplay between Leah Chase and Mr. Wright. Chef Chase shows her bite, her passion, and her true desire to just feed people. Chef Chase is probably the strongest and most beautiful woman in the world.

The only thing to complain about is the ubiquitous (and they must be mandated) segment(s) on Voodoo. At first I wanted to change the channel, but then I remembered that Voodoo is essentially pervasive in whatever religion you choose to practice in New Orleans, okay maybe just Catholics. Making the sign of the cross when you see a hearse, praying to St. Anthony when you lose something, St. Joseph's altars, etc...In a way each of those rituals has some connection to the Voodoo we so easily deride.

Mr. Wright hits the high spots, as if you were taking your friend from college around town. You will immediately be struck with how much Mr. Wright is enjoying himself. This is not a Chamber of Commerce forced smile at a chili dog contest, Mr. Wright truly enjoys himself and you will enjoy watching this program. Program airs on the Travel Channel. I am sure it will be on replay at some point.

All of this for me, you shouldn't have

Your humble scribe begins his return from exile on the isle of St. Louis, this weekend. Much like the heralded Napoleon House was devised for Napoleon, Antoine's (one of the oldest continually run restaurants in America) has decided to throw a massive celebration to welcome me back into the bosom of New Orleans's motherly embrace.

In reality, the event is to celebrate the cocktails and appetizers of Antoine's and to raise money for a good cause. You can find the information here. $45 for a night of food and drinks, kind of a steal according to the Exchequer. For those of us who were left out in the cold for the Cocktail themed movie nights a few weeks ago, this would be a great opportunity to make up for that. Hope you can join us.

Also, you may want to check Fr. Tom's site for more information.

The Blessed Curse of New Orleans Cuisine

Recently Captain Corporate and I shared emails throughout the day discussing restaurants and dishes which typified New Orleans. That conversation and the results of last week's poll led me to the following consensus: The notion of "New Orleans Cuisine" is a myth. Allow that last sentence to sink in for a moment. This does not mean that New Orleans lacks great restaurants or incredible dishes; rather, defining what is the quintessential New Orleans restaurant experience can not be done.

Think about it. Ask 10 people you know to name their ten favorite restaurants and five favorite dishes. Chances are you will get about 60-70 different restaurants and 40-50 different dishes. I leave the description of this problem to Martha Stewart, "its a good thing."

Nationally, New Orleans cuisine has the at times the ball and chain distinction of being labeled as "Creole or Cajun." Thus, visitors to New Orleans arrive with the expectation of having a culinary experiences which will cause their taste buds to explode and cause capsaicin induced hallucinations. Then they arrive and go to Antoine's. And what is this, simple trout with crabmeat and brown butter? This menu is in French. My travel agent and the Food Network lied to me, again.

Sure, the old line French-Creole spots typify what many New Orleanians think of as representative cuisine. But what about the Vietnamese Shrimper from Arabi? The Italian welder from Kenner? Or the Polish physician? Bayona's website says it all, "Our restaurant gives you New Orleans, our menu gives you the world."

Each person and family in New Orleans has their spots. A spot to celebrate, a spot when Mom does not feel like cooking, a spot for after funerals, a spot to take out of town guests, a spot to take out of town family, a spot that reminds Dad of his Dad.

New Orleans has the blessed curse of being a destination spot for food lovers around the globe. They come expecting something different and they get it, but not exactly what they thought they were going to get. A roast beef po' boy may be the best example of this. Debris, scraps, crusty french bread, arterial ailing gravy, and dressing; yet, that simple sandwich is just as representative of New Orleans as the Bread Pudding Souffle from Commander's Palace.

What a fabulous burden. When those taste seeking travelers from Tampa come to visit, they learn about Cafe Minh, Nor-Joe's, and Upperline. Tulane students and alums single handedly keep Jacque-Imo's open.

This blessed curse of ours comes with a duty to keep supporting the variety of restaurants we call our own. Think about this. According to Fr. Tom, there are 909 restaurants in the greater New Orleans area. That means you could eat out every night for almost 3 years without ever going to the same restaurant twice. Go eat out, its your civic duty.

Maybe Top Chef New Orleans?

What a great opportunity for a young New Orleans Chef to get noticed. Of course, they would probably get hosed on some rinky dink challenge in episode 1 which requires the Chefs to cook blindfolded. But still if you figure, San Fran, LA, Miami, and now Chicago have been the site of Top Chef, that really only leaves New York and New Orleans as cities that could host a Top Chef. One only hopes this franchise does not go the route of Real World and start going to cities like Austin and Peoria.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Lunch Today....

Today feels like a good day to play hookie. I would hop on the Street Car towards Uptown and stop at the first place that looks appealing. First on that list for me would be Zea. The Zea restaurants are owned and operated by the same crew that started Semolina's. I was never a big fan of Semolina's as to me it always reeked of some girl's birthday party that you did not really want to go to, but your high school girlfriend dragged you to. Zea on the other hand offers an exceptional variety of choices for an amazing value. Everyday they have a different rotisserie special served with two sides. Forget choosing the sides get a double order of corn grits. Those morsels smother you with creaminess and pop with crunch.

Or stay on the streetcar ride it to Napoleon, walk down to Casamento's, get the fried oyster sandwich, and then go into Ms. Mae's. If Casamento's is slammed, head into Ignatius Grocery. I recommend the Gumbo and an Abita Strawberry Ale.

Either way you are guaranteed a great lunch.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Boss Lunch

Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House will host Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley of Buffalo Trace for a Bourbon Lunch on April 18th at noon. If I was a betting man, I'd say that if you go to this lunch you are probably not going back to work. Here is the information:

Friday, April 18, Noon
Bourbon House
144 Bourbon Street

$45 all inclusive

504.274.1831 or
for reservations

Passed Hors d'oeuvres
Cornmeal Crusted Fried Squash Blossom
stuffed with Creole cream cheese "boursin"
served with Bourbon tartar sauce

Smoked Bourbon Molasses Shrimp
on a pecan cracker with orange marmalade

Complemented by the following cocktails:
The classic Sazerac & Eagle Rare Blue Grass Sunset

First Course
Sweet Potato Soup
with duck confit-goat cheese cake, maple crème fraiche
& toasted pumpkin seeds
-with Buffalo Trace-

Second Course
Pecan "Planked" Prosciutto Wrapped Salmon
Salmon tournedos served with roasted corn succotash & shallot confit
-with George T. Stagg-

Chocolate Pecan Tart
with vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce
-with Pappy Van Winkle 20yr-

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

For Lunch Today...And a great beer

This one will surprise you with its simplicity. Hop on I-10 get off at S. Carrollton and pull into Five Happiness. Five Happiness has probably one of the best lunch specials in town. So for all you who are balancing some wedding/engagement/honeymoon excuses or you are just waiting for your Calcutta check to clear, this is the spot for you. For under $10 you can get a cup of soup (I like the egg drop others enjoy hot and sour or wanton), and a lunch plate.

The General Tso's chicken is the best bet, but others have lauded the praises of Mongolian Beef or Pork in Hot Garlic Sauce. Along with this comes an order of shrimp fried lice and a fried wanton. Many people choose to trade out the wanton for an egg loll and that certainly should gain your attention. And at the end a fortune cookie.

Many people have suggested a beer to me in the last few months and tonight I finally tried it. Estrella de Galicia is a remarkable beer from Spain. A smooth, easy drinking beer with a great bitter finish. I highly recommend it for crawfish boils or just spring time sipping. I hear it is available at Martins and Dorignacs. And please if this was your "special" microbrew you used to impress your friends and I just ruined your cool and tough image, go cry to the kid from college who was first to wear New Balances and a Kavu Visor and listened to a "small, unknown band from Athens, Ga."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Trip Report - Taste of the Town

"OH. MY. GOD." That is the only thing that I could text Rene on Friday night when he asked me how everything was going at Taste of the Town. Quite honestly, I did not want to waste precious time. There was just too much to eat and drink. Words cannot describe the amount of food and booze that was there for the taking. But I'll try...

I mean, you have to love The Pope. His Holiness was able to secure an additional two free tickets, so we invited our lifelong friend Blondie to join us. But while most of you are thinking, "Oh, that is so nice of them to ask their old friend to come along," we really just knew that we would need a babysitter for the night. And let's face it: she has put up with us since we were like 7, so who better to (at least try to) keep us in line.

Due to the prospect of rain, the event had to be moved to the parking garage of East Jefferson General Hospital. No big deal to me, but there were a lot of people in attendance and not much airflow. So needless to say, it was a tad humid and warm. OK, really I was sweating like a whore in church, but so was everyone else.

Now, when you attend one of these functions with The Pope, you have to play by his rules for at least the first hour or until a member of the group drinks enough so that playing by said rules is no longer feasible. One of the Pope's cardinal rules of grazing is start at one end or the other and work your way around - none of this jumping from side to side, people. There is a proper method to his madness. Unfortunately, I was too busy holding my drink in one hand and eating with the other, so notes from the event are, shall we say, nonexistent. But the between the 3 of us we came up with a rather complete recollection of the night's delicacies.
  1. Ruth's Chris - Ravioli filled with what I think was minced duck meat and mushrooms. I would have preferred the filet sandwiches that they serve at some of the other large events.
  2. Arnaud's, Galatoire's, La Petite Grocery - Shrimp remoulade. Yes, all of them. Don't get me wrong, I love shrimp remoulade, but come on. Blondie spoke with one of the higher ups from the back of the house at Galatoire's and asked why they did not serve crabmeat maison. His simple answers: "It is out of season right now, and we could not afford to serve that anyway." Can't say that I blame him.
  3. Muriel's - Voted the best dish of the night by my triumvirate. Goat cheese crepes topped with crawfish cream sauce. Absolutely incredible.
  4. Wolfe's in the Warehouse - Voted winner for best presentation. Duck breast over asian slaw on top of a crostini. Inside sources tell me that the duck breast had been brined and pastrami cured, then smoked, and then either deep fried or seared. Very tasty.
  5. Zea - Crispy Asian oysters - deep fried oysters topped with a sweet and spicy sauce.
  6. Acme - Huge (and I mean huge) raw oysters on the half shell. Oysters this time of year are not as salty, and hence not as tasty, but that fact made these oysters easier to eat. The Pope knocked out a dozen (on 2 separate stops) in about 4 minutes.
  7. Drago's - We spent a lot of time camped out in front of their booth in the corner just waiting for new batches of charbroiled oysters to come out. Once again, these bivalves were gigantic, liberally covered in garlic butter and Parmesan cheese, and served with a piece of french bread for sopping up the delicious sauce.
  8. Besh Steakhouse - BBQ Shrimp. These shrimp had to be U-12 (that would be an average of 12 shrimp per pound), but they were overcooked - an unavoidable problem of preparing and serving upwards of 1500 people in such a short period of time. The sauce was as good as it always is though.
  9. Vincent's - Extremely rich veal and cheese cannelloni. One was more than enough, so I of course had two.
  10. Chops Bistro - Grilled skewers of beef, cherry tomatoes, and oysters. The inclusion of the oyster kind of through me off, but the beef was tender and succulent.
  11. Sucre - Tri-layer of banana custard, vanilla custard, and a lemon gelee of some sort. Refreshing and delicious.
  12. Lagniappe Luncheonette - Bite-sized peanut butter pies. It was a chocolate cookie topped with peanut butter whipped with condensed milk and powdered sugar and then a dollop of whipped cream. Best dessert of the night.

The following stations I decided to skip for the reasons in "quotes."

  1. Court of Two Sisters - Seafood Louise - "I need another mojito."
  2. Mr. B's - Gumbo - "Too freaking hot."
  3. NOLA - Ribs - "How am I supposed to eat this thing while still holding onto my Gentleman Jack & 7?"
  4. Brennan's - Bananas Foster - "I want to try that new plum vodka that we saw."
  5. Antoine's - Baked Alaska - "Did you know that they are serving Jagerbombs?"

OK, I realize that I skipped a lot of the booths, but it was sensory overload in that place. I remember that there was a BBQ Tasso Sandwich (Corky's, possibly) that was better in concept than it actually tasted. Besides that, Blondie and I watched The Pope talk shop with other restaurant big wigs such as Tom Wolfe, Melvin Rodrigue, and LRA CEO Jim Funk. Other highlights include numerous cougar sightings and The Pope complaining to one of his liquor reps for not bringing the 150 year old Grand Marnier that he oh so loves.

Overall, the night was undoubtedly a success. I was glad to see the Commodore Couple in attendance. We all did what we came to do, which was to eat and drink till we could eat and drink no more. Well...actually...The Pope and I must have had some room left in our tanks because we met up with a group of friends and ended up making it to both The Goldmine and The Red Eye later on in the night. But that is another story for another time.

I guess Richman missed these places.

Thanks to the Coon Hunter, a great story that if after you read it, you don't find yourself craving a delicious po' boy, muff, or burger than you are either a vegetarian or dead. In either case, my sympathies go out to you.

NOLA has gone from Chocolate City, to Sandwich City.

Also, stay tuned for Peter's run down from Taste of the Town. Ohh yeah, we cover big time events now, bras and dahlins.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Lunch Today....

How about some French brasserie food? Go down Tchoupitoulas towards uptown till you see Lucy's. Turn left and head into La Cote Brasserie. The space is big and airy with huge windows to let in the sun. I am certain there is a prix fixe menu which most likely changes daily. The menu at La Cote Brasserie brings world flavors to classic brasserie fare. Take for example the Paned Veal over beet goat cheese risotto topped with basil pesto. That sounds really rich and complex; a neat take on Wiener Schnitzel.

If you started with either the Charbroiled Oysters or the French Onion Soup good luck will follow you around the rest of the day. For a main course, Chicken Paillard would work on this early spring day. Tender chicken breast pounded incredibly thin, topped with a tangy salad and caramelized onions. Of course you can't go wrong with an order of mussels served with a convenient dip stick order of pommes frites.

The walk to and fro should encourage you to order dessert. Profiteroles would be classic, but the Root Beer float would probably remind you of childhood and get you ready for summer. Ohh yeah, you work you don't get summers off.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

All Toque, No Chef

A few thoughts on last night's episode of Top Chef:

1) Last night once again proved the sneakiness of the Top Chef producers. And by that I mean, where the hell did that Lisa girl come from? Every season around episode 4 or 5, all of a sudden its like a new contestant appears from thin air.

2) Has anyone noticed how amazing this Dale cat is? That headband he wears with his Chef's jacket makes him look like the really jacked up Asian dude at the gym. You know the one. The guy, who is always offering to help spot you or in pick-up basketball games is constantly trying to set picks. Then, in his interview sessions he wears that Old School Grey Members Only Jacket (zipped up completely) which makes him look like every police sketch of a Chinatown thief. That being said he certainly appears to have the technical and culinary skills to make it pretty far.

3) Richard's use of that bong like smoking device is slowly reminding me of Marcel and his foams; and that is not a good thing. And his voice is beginning to remind me of Jim Breuer, which coupled with his bong, is making me really hungry.

4) Jennifer keep up the good work especially homering for Zoi; but if you could please stop looking eerily similar to Richard. Last night, I spent a good 15 minutes trying to determine if it was you or Richard on screen. Work it out amongst yourselves. And tell Zoi to stop crying, America is rooting against her.

5) Manuel you really appeared to be the Vegas favorite, your resume was incredibly impressive, and you seemed level headed (in the style of Harold). However, deer in headlights have a better of idea of what they are going to do than you did last night.

6) Great choice for the elimination challenge. However, the chefs (save Lisa) missed a key principle (which maybe they had no clue of). You were cooking for Aisha Tyler who is a comedian, so use a funny movie and prepare a classical dish properly and there is no way you go home. No need to reinvent the wheel every challenge. That being said here are some ideas I couldn't help but develop.

When Harry Met Sally---Dessert so amazing and sinful it makes the person next to you say, "I'll have what she is having." Of course sets you up for a monumental disappointment if the dish falls flaccid.

Blazing Saddles--The Fireside Baked Beans Scene steals the show in that movie so make a Cassoulet (although time wise probably difficult) or any dish with beans.

Deliverance--Squeal Like a Pig Pork Chop. See this is not hard.

Now dear readers, what would you have done? Legend, the floor is yours.

P.S. Daniel Boulud is always great on TV. In fact, possibly one of the top culinary shows on TV is After Hours with Daniel. It shows on Mojo, but it should replace Don't Forget the Lyrics.

Edit, from the Dona (who is to shy to post): Dirty Dancing-- Nobody puts baby in the Corn Pudding.

Reminder - Taste of the Town Tomorrow

Taste of the Town is tomorrow at Lafreniere park from 7-11. Buy your tickets online today for $75 or pay $100 at the door tomorrow. Food from 67 restaurants and all the free booze that you can drink for 4 hours? Well worth the price.

The Pope will be in attendance for what he calls "work." But we all know that he will spend most of his time handing out business cards, big leaguing those of us who were friends with him before his cholesterol was 270, and taking down charbroiled oysters as if they were M&Ms. If you happen to see The Pope, say hello. But do not make any sudden movements around him and do not touch him unless he touches you first.

Done and Dine.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wednesday's at the Square

This afternoon begins the annual Wednesday's at the Square. This event is put on by the Young Leadership Council and celebrates the food, music, and culture of New Orleans in an outdoor setting. Admission is free, but go and buy a few drinks and some food from the vendors. Head on over to Lafayette Square when you get off work and enjoy music from Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk. Come on what else are you going to do tonight?

On a side note, Dumpstaphunk's guitarist Ian Neville is a fellow Blue Jay from the class of 2000. He loved Red Beans and Rice.