Friday, January 30, 2009

Not So Fast

Looks like a few of the Galatoire's owners are not exactly amenable to the potential sale. I can't say that I blame them. Who would want to give up a piece of that pie?

Times Pic Steals Story

Mr. Anderson reports on the story we already broke.

And check out this email that fell into Peter's Inbox recently notice the name of who originally sent it.

From: al gooch
Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 2:37 PM
Subject: FW: Galatoire's Sale hits the Press - turned up in a Google search

Subject: Fw: Galatoire's Sale hits the Press - turned up in a Google search

----- Original Message -----

Subject: Galatoire's Sale hits the Press - turned up in a Google search

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Ownership at New Orleans Flagship

For many foodies around the country, Galatoire's is the one of the first restaurants which comes to mind when thinking of "New Orleans food." For over 100 years, the Galatoire-Gooch family has been at the helm of what is arguably the quintessential creole fine dining restaurant in New Orleans. Such might not be the case much longer. According to two sources within the staff of the restaurant (one from the front of the house, one from the back), an earthshaking deal has been struck in which a majority of the Galatoire-Gooch family shares will be sold.

"Deep Fried" - the more knowledgeable of our two sources - described the details of the sale as follows. Though he/she was hazy on the specifics, his/her information comes directly from one of the major players listed below.

  1. The ownership change affects both the original Galatoire's on Bourbon and Galatoire's Bistro in Baton Rouge. (Yes, we are aware that the ownership makeup is not exactly the same for both restaurants. However, there is no question that there is some shareholder overlap between the two locations).
  2. GM/COO Melvin Rodrigue will acquire a 12.5% ownership stake.
  3. Executive Chef Brian Landry will also acquire a 12.5% ownership stake. Chef Landry will be required to maintain his post as Executive Chef for a specified number of years.
  4. A quartet of "big money guys" will acquire 50% of the shares. Though we do not know the exact identities of these four individuals, we were told that one of them comes from the Bollinger Shipyards family.
  5. The remaining 25% of the shares will be retained by the Galatoire-Gooch family. We are told that a number of family members (upwards of 25 individuals) have an ownership stake in the restaurant. Which particular family members will retain ownership we do not know.
  6. There is talk of moving Galatoire's Bistro to another location - most likely closer to downtown Baton Rouge.
  7. The agreement provides for future ownership in future additional Galatoire's restaurants. (And we thought that hell froze over when they started serving Godchaux salads just down the road from Blue Bayou.)

Could this really be true? All signs point to yes. What else is there to say? Not much. That's what pictures are for.

Super Bowl Skinny Dipping

You need dippy things. This is not the time to try and recreate the amuse from August or the ham hock infected gumbo you had over Christmas. Focus on the simple: chips and salsa, french onion dip, hummus, and cheese dip. The last is probably the most important. Now of course you can get all these dipity do dahs from a can. But then again I can get a pretty good look at a butcher by sticking my head up a T-Bone's ass, but I would rather just take the cow's word for it.

Salsa comes from the Latin word meaning to salt. Or you could be really fancy and call it pico de gallo, which is the Spanish phrase for tiny of the horse. It's a tart and spicy combo of flavors, fruits, and veggies. Don't like to cut onions? Do they make you cry? Here order this you pansy. Finely mince an onion, dice 5 tomatoes, dice one jalapeno, maybe add some black beans if you are crazy, throw in some smooshed garlic, squeeze in one lime, some salt and pepper, some cilantro or parsley if you got it, and a healthy glug of olive oil. You are done, but you look like a tool in that Guy Fieri Junior Start Up Kit.

French Onion Dip comes in a can and to be fair, its f$cking tasty. But then you look down after your 400th Lay's with Ridges and you realize you just ate a tub of mayo. Look I am not judging, trust me, I have been there; but homemade french onion dip does not require that much effort. Put on your goggles and cut 3 onions into thin strips, the French call this julienne. Saute onions in some butter and olive oil over low heat until rich and dark; add salt and pepper and maybe some cayenne. I like to throw in a teaspoon of What's This Shire Sauce. Be careful not to burn. Then add onions into a food processor or just a bowl. Add 1 cup of mayo and 1 cup of sour cream. Mix, add salt and pepper to taste, maybe throw in some dice chives. Place in fridge for about an hour or so before serving.

Hummus-One can of chickpeas, drained, in a blender or food processor, one garlic clove, some tahini (or peanut butter), salt, pepper, and the juice of half a lemon. Puree, then with blender or processor running drizzle in 1/2 cup or so of olive oil. Taste, adjust seasonings, serve with pita chips or those carrots and celery from the wing platter.

Cheese Dip has revolutionized the snack industry. Not sense the Twinkie, the individual serving size of pudding, and Pixie Sticks has the snack world been so rocked by a product. However, that crap in a jar just does not cut it. In a heavy pot, combine 1/2 stick of butter with 1/4 cup of All-Puropse Flour. Make a beige roux. Add 2 cups of whole milk. Bring up to a light simmer. This is now a bechamel sauce.

Now we are going to make a Mornay sauce by adding some cheese. Use as much as you want, but a cup would be a good number to start with. If using something like a cheddar, gruyere, Swiss or Parmesan, I would grate the cheese. Feel free to combine different cheeses, its your party. If you are using a soft cheese, like blue cheese, just crumble the cheese into the mixture. Add some seasonings or a can of Rotel or some of your homemade salsa. Once cheese has melted and mixture has thickened, eat.

Or you could call Cochon Butcher at 588-PORK and order some party trays. They have more pork than Obama's stimulus package. Zinger!

Now lets say you made a blue cheese dipping sauce and dipped the wings from Wednesday into that blue cheese sauce and sucked down 5-15 Bloody Marys...well I would say you won the Lombardi trophy, Super Fan. Enjoy the last Super Bowl the Saints do not win. Next year the menu will be epic.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Super Bar

Unless you have a closet full of these (and I know that someone reading this actually does - and there's nothing wrong with that), you should probably think about what libations to serve your guests on Super Bowl Sunday. A good rule of thumb is to have a variety of booze, because odds are that you will have a variety of guests:
  • Beer - You need a lot of it because that is what most people will drink. Undoubtedly you will have quite a few "I'm just going to have a few beers because I have to go to work tomorrow" people there. In order to appease the beer snobs, best to buy 1/3 higher end hops (such as Lazy Magnolia or Abita), and 2/3 domestic.
  • Wine - Personally, I think that drinking wine during the Super Bowl should be punishable by death because they just don't mix. However, if you are serving foie gras au torchon and oysters en brochette, then by all means pour the Georges de Latour. Otherwise, they got Yellowtail, and they will like it.
  • Liquor - Some might say, "No one will be drinking hard liquor on a Sunday," and they'd be wrong. When the guy who lost his bet on the coin toss then loses his bet on the 1st quarter over/under, he is going to need a Woodford on the rocks and plenty of them. Stick with the basics: bourbon, vodka, rum, gin, and scotch.
  • Mixers - Coke, diet coke, sprite, tonic, soda, orange juice, and bloody mary mix. You should probably have a few lemons and limes too.

Done and done.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Super Bowl Recipes

Ahhh, the Super Bowl. Every year the titans of each football conference meet in a trendy city to battle out for the title of Champion. This year the NFL chose the Steelers of Pittsburgh to take on the Cardinals of Arizona in Tampa. Unfortunately the NFL once again overlooked the Los Santos of Nueva Orleanas. However Legend, who calls the Tampa/St. Petersburg area his "bachelor pad" has informed us that all precautions are in place. Whatever that means.

First off, sweet logo Tampa. Was the 4th grade class at Bayview Elementary in charge of designing this year's mark? Tecmo Bowl had better graphics than this piece of junk. And I really like how you tried to capitalize on the Obama 1.20.09 bumper stickers as well. Lucky for you the dates are markedly similar. So now I am not sure if you are pimping a football weekend or raising my taxes.

Tampa is only known for two things: jean shorts and Mons Venus. It is deplorable that neither image made it onto the logo. But I guess that is what happens when a 10 year-old runs your marketing department. Lord knows that explains Blackened Out's lack of a tv show/book deal/comic book.

For the remainder of this week, we will focus on the Super Bowl. Not the game but the booze and food. Football events are an opportunity for manly grub and gambling. Hopefully you can combine the two into a sort of food challenge (i.e. The Pizza Chug or the infamous, but deadly, How Many Wings Can Peter Eat in 20 Minutes Testimonial).

Well, let us focus on wings for today's lesson. Battered or naked? Blue Cheese or Ranch? Hot Sauce or Hottest Sauce ever? The question is yours, the answer ours.

Throughout my years of fatdom, I have experimented with many techniques for making wings. Battered wings are good but have a tendency to become incredibly soggy if not immediately scarfed down. Naked wings in the hands of an over eager fan lack a crunch and the sauce will sometimes not adhere properly. These are serious concerns.

So here is a technique for you to try. First fill a large pot with water and a good dollop of crab boil. Bring to a boil and add the wings in batches. Allow water to return to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove wings and let dry on a rack, plate, or paper towel. You may even want to do this ahead of time and place the wings in the fridge. The goal is to have a very dry, parboiled wing. This process will help remove some of the fat from the skin resulting in a very crispy exterior without breading, see also Peking Duck.

Now into a very hot oven or a frying vessel with oil at 350 degrees, fry or bake the wings (if frying, in batches please) for 4 minutes until the skin is crispy and the interior cooked through. You may want to check a few. As they come out of fryer or oven, place on rack or paper towel and salt them.

Now comes the fun part, saucing these wangs. You have a plethora of options here, but these are my favorite.

Asian Style- In a large bowl, combine 1/2 stick of softened butter, a 4 second squeeze of sriracha, and some soy sauce. Stir mixture. Place hot wings in sauce. Coat thoroughly and remove. Warning this is the culinary equivalent of napalm.

Buffalo Style- 1/2 stick softened butter and a significant amount of Crystal sauce. Add hot wings to mixture, coat thoroughly and remove. Anyone ever been to Buffalo? If so do Buffalonians just call them Wings?

Honey Mustard- 1/2 stick softened butter, 2 tablespoons of honey, a tablespoon of Coleman's Yellow Mustard Powder, and a splash of water. Whisk mixture together into a paste. Add hot wings, coat, and remove. This spice is very sneaky, but the honey will temper it.

Garlic Paste- First roast some garlic. There are many ways to do this, look it up. Or cut a garlic clove in half, place in foil, and roast at 425 for about 30 minutes. Remove roasted garlic and add to 1/2 stick of softened butter along with some oregano, red pepper flakes, and a splash of red wine vinegar. Fill in the blanks.

Or you could make all of these sauces or one or two, set them in a bowl and let people dip their way to neverending fun. Always put out celery and carrot sticks for any Vegans your loser roommate invited. As far as blue cheese or ranch why not combine the two. Buy a high quality ranch dressing, an oxymoron perhaps, and add to it some serious hunks of blue cheese. Allow it to sit in the fridge for 2 hours before serving.

Ohh and buy a bunch of those wet naps. Tomorrow Peter sets up your Super Bar.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Adventures in Economicalness: Orange Juice

Stop buying that sour plonk from your local supermarket. Don't you know convenience and taste meet amicably about as often as Hamas and Israel? And really who gives a darn about oranges from Florida? The only thing cool about Florida is the Flora-Bama, and half of that is because of Alabama.

Instead do this. Get yourself a reamer, juicer, this bad ass machine, or just work your forearms like you are 15 years old again. Head to your local farmers market or grocery store and pick up an eight or twenty pound sack of Louisiana Navel Oranges, satsumas, or other citrus products. I particularly like the L'Hoste family and their citrus products. A twenty pound sack of oranges cost me $18 dollars and it comes with a fashionable beach bag. That supply of oranges is about 3 weeks worth of fresh squeezed OJ every morning(using 1 orange per morning), plus enough for Sunday Screwdrivers. Also, you will have plenty of leftovers for my Louisiana Dreamsicle Cocktail. Instructions below.

Compare this to even the best "Fresh Squeezed" Orange Juices on the market. First off, it is sitting on a grocery store so how fresh squeezed can it truly be. Second, the taste is always too acidic for me, especially if you just brushed your teeth. Thirdly, the price is cost prohibitive topping out at around $5-$6 dollars for at most a four day supply. If you have $10-$12 a week to spend on orange juice than how the hell did you find this blog? Who do you think you are, Kid Rockefeller?

The taste of Louisiana citrus products has no earthly comparison. Sweet and smooth; you, not some corporate bail out artist, controls the pulp content of your nectar. Plus you will save a lot of room in your ice box. And that likely means lower energy bills.

So you see it just makes sense to buy local and squeeze it yourself. In case you were wondering, this entire post/rant was inspired because I had an orange for breakfast in my office. The smell of orange fled upwards from my trashcan all day inciting a near fanatical obsession with oranges. If someone would be kind enough to throw a winning lotto ticket in my trashcan, these economical posts can stop.

Louisiana Dreamsicle Cocktail

2-3 Oranges, Tangerines, Satsumas, what have yous, freshly juiced.
One tall rocks glass filled with rocks
3 fingers Catdaddy Moonshine
2 fingers Juice
Top with Grand Marnier infused whipped cream
Kick ass
Take names

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Harbor

No, not Snug Harbor. I'm talking about Lakeview Harbor, which is usually referred to as the "Port of Call of the Lakefront" because of its emphasis on burgers and baked potatoes. I happen to think that the Harbor is better than Port of Call, but I try not to make that well known for fear of retribution from the diehards.

A few weeks ago I visited the Harbor with two of the Lakefront's finest citizens: Rough Country and Big Brutal Dave. Though we are friends from long long ago, both of these characters happen to be up-and-coming attorneys at different big shot firms in the city. Between listening to them talk about how many hours they billed last month, we managed to eat some pretty good food.

We started with an order of potato skins, which were a lesson in fried goodness. Some might wonder why we chose this as an appetizer considering that a baked potato comes with all of the sandwiches. But come on people. This ain't my first rodeo. Instead of the standard burger and baked potato, I usually go with...

A filet sandwich. It's back there buried underneath that mountain of sauteed mushrooms, grilled onions, and shredded cheddar. And an order of cheesetots. This plate is exactly the reason why I prefer Lakeview Harbor over Port of Call: variety - of which Port of Call offers none and Lakeview Harbor offers some.

As an aside, you may have noticed a few tots missing from the picture. (I apologize for the poor quality of the photo, but I have never claimed to be Robert Peyton.) Anyway, it so happens that when the food came, both Rough Country and I were away from the table. Seizing upon this opportunity, Big Brutal Dave decided to help himself to a few of my tots, but he was not fast enough and I caught him red handed (and red faced). After sitting back down I received a text message from a friend who had been watching the robbery from one table over. It said:

"What's interesting is that he didn't take a fry... it was all cheese... and he looked like a 5 year old on Xmas."

Friday, January 23, 2009


Like it. Love it. Live it. If you enjoy cheese as much as we do, we have two suggestions to satisfy your craving for fromage.

The first is a free cheese tasting tonight at St. James Cheese Company where you can indulge in two of the finest parmigiano reggiano and goudas from around the globe. No, we are not talking about that stuff in the can. If you're lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the St. James Girl, the winner of both the 5000th and 20,000th blog visitor sweepstakes. That's like hitting the Powerball... twice.

On the other end of the spectrum in the case you're more of a good ole shredded American kind of cheeselover, well then we've got you covered as well. Picture this: It's 4am. You have just finished imbibing your 8th Flaming Dr. Pepper at the Goldmine. You want Camellia Grill, but they're already closed. F&M's is too crowded to wait for cheese fries, and late night run through Taco Bell just won't cut it.

When it seems like all hope is lost, just stop and think: WWTPD? (What Would The Pope Do?)

Head on out to the 24hr Bud's Broiler on Clearview and get yourself some cheese fries... and a double meat #4 with sauce... and a #9... and a defibrillator.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Well it finally opened. The Butcher shop. As soon as it opened, I began receiving frantic emails and violent voice mails from some maniacal porkaholic. For a second I believed Hunter S. Thompson had returned from his Cadillac ride in the sky to haze me. Then I realized it was only the malcontent from who had somehow found a telephone. Here is an example of one of the voicemails:

"Louapre, you swine. Cochon Butcher is now open for business. The question is whether or not you can get your fat shoulder over there in the next fifteen minutes before I devour every last bit of nitrate cured, intestinal casing entrapped shred of pork, duck, and beef in the joint. Ohhh, and someone gave you a flat tire."

Feeling challenged, I sped over there. The scalawag, Dread Pirate Robert, who I understand was late for a Lactose Intolerance Support Group, had left. I walked into a white tiled sanctum of meat, preserves, wine, and sandwiches. Entering the door a shudder took hold of me, a deep sigh let out, and I remember crying, briefly, before saying out loud, "This is the finest sight these eyes have ever laid upon."

A glass of sherry later, I was ordering the pork belly sandwich. This time instead of being served on brioche, the pork belly nestled between two layers of lard bread. Read that again. Bread from lard. Now, I am no theologian, but had Jesus used lard bread at the last supper, I am certain things would have turned out differently.

As we were leaving, we got a half pound of duck rillette - scooped carefully out from a long narrow terrine topped by a translucent glimmering layer of fat. And just for good measure a half pound of Kurobota bacon. That should last us the next two days. There is also an ever expanding selection of housemade pickles, relishes, hot sauces, and other condiments. Menu here.

The Butcher shop is located behind Cochon which is on Tchoupitoulas. Also opened recently is the private event space Calcasieu. Will Davis is the manager of Butcher now, having honed his chops (pun not unintended) at Herbsaint, and Melissa (also nee Herbsaint) is bartending - along with many of the loyal staff from the Link Restaurant Group. Next time you are looking for an after work drink, head to Butcher. But whatever you do, stay away from Dread Pirate Robert.

And one more pun. A great Link. It works on so many levels.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dong Phuong - A Journey to the Far East (New Orleans)

Get on Chef Menteur Highway and just start driving. Those are the best directions I can give to Dong Phuong, where a wondrous world of Vietnamese goodies awaits those who are willing to make the journey. This place is, in a word, simply amazing. But after my first trip, I decided that there is a bit of strategy involved in order to maximize the benefits of this bakery and restaurant.
First, I suggest cruising the bakery to assess the assortment of Vietnamese pastries. Stuffed with what seems like an endless number of combinations of pork, onion, jicama, and hard boiled eggs, your head will likely start spinning trying to decide. The steamed buns resting in the warmer are delicious as well. But be patient and observe your fellow shoppers. The regulars usually know when a fresh batch of goodies will arrive hot from the oven. And when they do, you will witness a display not unlike the No Reservations segment where Bourdain describes the French waiting in line at the boulangerie as crack addicts looking for a fix.

The coolest aspect of the bakery, in my opinion, is the banh mi station. It's like a freaking Subway for Vietnamese po-boys. Chinese rolled ham, chicken, liver sausage and fresh veggies stuffed inside baguettes pulled right from the oven. If there was a stool, I could have sat there for days.But The Folk Singer and I had already planned on eating in the restaurant, and I am glad that we did. Forgoing my usual bun cha (which I was OK with because TFS ordered it as her meal), I decided on a sticky rice plate of grilled beef, shredded pork, and a fried egg. The pork was strange - served cold and had an almost rubbery texture. I think that it may have been sliced pig ears. Not what I expected, but still tasty. The beef was tender and flavorful as are most Vietnamese chargrilled meats. I ask again: How do they do it?

Just go for it. Make the drive, and you will be handsomely rewarded. Trust me. Rumor has it that Dong Phuong makes a mean kingcake as well. Which reminds me - I almost forgot the best part:

Cream puff to go.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Charming Bistro

In The United States of Arugula, David Kamp spends a good portion of the book writing about Chez Panisse. In one passage he discusses the ideals behind the restaurant and a particular quote stuck with me. In it, Jeremiah Tower talks about what Alice Waters was really trying to do with Chez Panisse. Tower believes Waters was just trying to recreate a typical Parisian bistro. The kind of place were someone can go, chat up the bartender, have a bite to eat, and drink a glass of good, inexpensive wine.

New Orleans has many restaurants which fit this description. One that fulfills the Platonic ideal of a bistro for me is Vizard's. The ivy covered exterior of Vizard's creates a jewel box like setting for dining. The wall facing Magazine Street is entirely open with huge windows embellished with etched fleur de lis. Walking into the restaurant one is greeted by the hostess or if you are lucky the young, labor law violating host (who is Chef Vizard's son). You may feel as if you have entered a secret club, and you would be right.

The bar is on your right with maybe six or seven stools. A small dining room with no more than fifteen tables is off to the left. Every available inch of the room is used to store extra silverware or bottles from the interesting wine list. A lively atmosphere, helpful if sometimes reserved service, and the feeling of bonhomie (complete with a noise level suitable to a good party) round out a pleasant bistro experience.

The menu at Vizard's covers the basics of New Orleans dining while also incorporating some imaginative takes on bistro classics. Gumbo, crabmeat, red fish, bordelaise, frisee salads, hangar steak all make an appearance. This restaurant should satisfy anyone from an adventuresome diner to the meat and potatoes crowd. Besides what we tried this last visit, a daily gumbo, a crabmeat nelson, a seafood chop salad, the roast chicken, redfish, and Vizard's Cap (the cap end of the ribeye), all piqued our interest.

To begin our meal, the kitchen sent out a shot glass filled with a sublime puree of butternut squash. The soup coated the inside of your mouth at once luxurious and fleeting, leaving you wanting just one more sip. Steam laden bread, creamy butter flaked by pieces of pink Hawaiian salt, and a generous cocktail help you settle into the evening.

For apps, Lindsay got the scallop flan. We were informed that the flan needed a few more minutes to set-a good sign that the kitchen keeps the waiters informed. Soon the apps arrived. I did not get to taste Lindsay's flan as she devoured it and the crabmeat topping in record time.

For my appetizer I got the Greens, Egg, and Ham. Frisee and spinach topped by a paneed egg with bacon and a roasted shallot dressing with some rather bland slices of bread pretending to be croutons. What I really liked about this dish, besides everything, was that the dressing properly used a miser for the acid component instead of spendthrift.* The tendency to douse a salad in vinegar in order to cut the richness of the egg and bacon predominates in most restaurants these days. But I would rather fully enjoy the buttery explosion of cholesterol induced happiness and get the cut from a glass of wine or a vodka with a twist.

For our mains, Lindsay got the duck with sweet potatoes and greens. Crispy skin, although a few more minutes on a lower temperature would have resulted in a deeper crust. The potatoes were simply roasted and the greens expertly wilted.

I got the veal hanger with pommes frites and bordelaise. WOW. And as Jon Smith would say, "let me say that backwards, WOW." Hangar is restaurant speak for hip these days, but I had not yet seen a veal hangar.

Sometimes dishes defy an exact description. When they do, as this did, I find that they usually evoke memories most often associated with generalities. You take a bite, oohh and ahh, and just say "Damn this is good." Nothing more need be said. For this dish that general feeling was that this meat evoked all the characteristics that carnivores hold dear: juicy, flavorful, gushing on the inside, and kissed by flame. A connection with meat eaters past and future took place in that little room on Magazine and boy was I glad to be there.

The wine list has some home runs on it: a Caymus Conundrum, a few selections from the Medlock Ames winery, and some Old World selections. However for us, we went with a 2006 David Arthur Chardonnay from Napa. Just a stunner of a chardonnay. If you are one of those people who don't like chardonnay, congrats on taking your wine cues from Sideways and Sex and the City. Before you trash this noble grape to the next Dink at your pilates class, perhaps you should read this article. This wine drank more like a fine scotch with wisps of smoky peat and an interlude of salted nuts. For a wine to stand up to the myriad of dishes we ordered, all the while remaining truly unique, says a lot about Chardonnay's value.

Dessert was a lemon cheesecake with a glass of Nocello for Lindsay and Grand Marnier for myself. Service also has some connection to a Lyonnaise bouchon or Parisian bistro-meaning at times it may seem they are ignoring you. But in reality the service staff just wants you to enjoy the meal without unnecessary intervention. If you are in a hurry, I would go elsewhere. But if you are in a hurry, why are you going out to eat?

To sit, to talk, to drink nice wine, and to eat well this is something we should all do at least once a week. It can not take place every week at Vizard's, but I wish it would.


*From the Spanish Proverb- Four persons are wanted to make a good salad, a spendthrift for oil, a miser for vinegar, a counselor for salt, and a mad med to stir it all up. Now, anyone want to translate that into spanish?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Roland & Ora's

But most of you probably know it as R & O's. This Bucktown joint is very nostalgic for me, because my parents (who rarely ate/eat out) would take us kids to here as a treat. I remember loading that Pac Man arcade full of quarters while we waited for a table. As a comparison for those of you who did not grow up or do not live near the Lakefront, R & O's was our Rendon Inn. (Man, I now have a huge craving for a Horse Burger or a Gotti.)
Though it started as a pizza place, most of us connote R & O's with fried seafood or "red gravy" laden dishes. However, in my opinion, the sandwiches are the best way to go. If you aspire to follow the path of Legend (and who doesn't), then go with the Italian Special: thinly sliced meatballs and italian sausage with red gravy and mozzarella on their signature seeded italian bread. The roast beef is unorthodox - with almost the texture of chipped beef - but it makes a good sandwich and an even better accompaniment to a heaping pile of cheese fries.

The pizzas are still a sleeper though. The freshly hand tossed crust makes such a huge difference.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Steak and Collards

The Crescent City Farmer's Market sports an incredible bounty. From fresh seafood and citrus to vegetables and dairy, the market has the food you want to cook. Recently we picked up some rib eye steaks, collard greens, feta and garlic chevre, and a loaf of olive and sweet pepper focaccia.

The bread was consumed rapidly as good, fresh bread does not stand a chance in our house. The steak and collards were the focus of a recent dinner. The collards were rinsed and dried, then added to a dutch oven loaded with diced bacon, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, a bay leaf and some duck stock. The simmered on low heat, partially covered or partially uncovered depending on your view of life for around 6 hours while I took a nap. Here are the collards pre-saute.

The rib eyes were pretty big so Lindsay suggested only cooking one. That was a great idea. I made a dry rub of salt, pepper, and brown sugar and let the meat soak this up for about an afternoon. Then grilled the steak on a hot grill for 4 minutes each side (rotating the steak 90 degrees after two minutes to get those pro looking marks). Let the steak rest then slice across the grain.
Those collards put off an enticing aroma. Their flavor is nearly indescribable-hearty, wet, smoky, spicy, and slightly bitter. Perfect with a dash of hot sauce or vinegar.
We drank this with a 2006 Nieto Special Reserve Bonarda which was a great match to both the greens and the beef. Then we watched Carolina get smoked by the Cardinals and that made us both very happy.

The collards cost $1. The steaks were a little bit more expensive at $24, but it is grass fed local beef. And we still have one other steak. We don't count wine as an expense in the 2009 Economical Challenge.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Kim Son

If a restaurant's quality is measured by its popularity, then Kim Son is the probably the best Vietnamese restaurant in the city. During a recent lunch there with Triple B (the blog character formerly known as the Palm Room Hostess), not an empty table could be found upon our arrival. However, if a restaurant's quality is measured by the number of patrons looking for a taste of home, then Kim Son might be one of the worst Vietnamese restaurants in the city. Unlike some of the other local pho joints, Kim Son is usually filled with customers ordering "the #7" as opposed to "Tôm Càng Kho Tàu ."
OK, so how about I just shut up now and talk about the food?
We started with an order of springrolls (no surprise there) and a mile-high pile of fried wontons. The latter appetizer is nothing special, but they were delicious - thick and freshly fried.

Triple B had never before eaten Vietnamese, so I suggested she dip her toe in the water with an order of bun cha. There is nothing to it: chargrilled pork, julienned carrots, and bean sprouts over vermicelli, sprinkled with crushed peanuts. But the Vietnamese must have made a deal with a devil, because no one cooks pork the way they do.

I had the "salt baked" fish, a description which left me wondering how they exactly cooked the fish. The crunchy exterior had the texture of deep frying, but absolutely zero trace of oil. Neither the fish nor the coating was spiced, but the addition of a heavy hand of cracked black pepper and the sweetness of thinly sliced sauteed onions provided all of the flavor which was needed. Great dish. Nothing like I had ever tasted before.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ben Sarrat Jr Dinner

A very artful shot of the menu with a glass of wine. Readers we know how much you love photos, so enjoy this photographic essay. But before we go on, lecture time.

Listen, Blackened Out does not ask much from you. We try and give you something fun to read every day and we don't charge a penny. But we are going to ask you a favor. Ben Sarrat is the Executive Sous Chef at La Cote Brasserie. His son, Lil Ben, has inoperable brain cancer and his family could use all the support you can muster. So as your yearly "subscription fee" please consider sending a check to La Cote Brasserie Attn: Chuck Subra at 700 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130.

Make check payable to the Ben Sarrat Jr. Benefit Fund. Any donation, even just $5, will help. Thank you in advance.

The dinner began with some passed Chandon Sparkling Wine, chargrilled oysters, fried alligator in a General Tso's flavored sauce (a great combination), and crawfish remoulade on fried green tomatoes. Well dat aint too bad.

First course was a terrine of Alabama Pig and Foie Gras and a salad of pickled baby veggies provided by Slade Rushing and Allison Vines-Rushing and their crew at Mila. Pigs + Foie is an unbeatable combination.
The second dish was our favorite of the evening. A seared scallop with a drizzle of caviar and a corn and mushroom ragout. A wonderful combination of flavors and textures. The silken and sweet scallop, chunky and earthy ragout, and round and salty caviar all worked together nicely as we should expect from our elected leaders. This dish came from Tom Wolfe and his squad at Wolfe's in the Warehouse (formerly the Pope's employer of sorts).
Lobster bisque from Lou Sander of Shula's Steakhouse. Just an absolutely perfect example of a classic bisque, which to me means no beads of butter floating on top. Nice chunks of lobster floated on top provided a little textural contrast.
Cedar plank roasted red fish with crawfish spoonbread and a housemade chow chow with basil oil from Chuck Subra and La Cote Brasserie. This dish was extremely fragrant from the cedar plank to the basil oil.
The greatest lamb dish ever. Grilled lamb with truffled fingerling potatoes and asparagus. Explosive flavors, tender lamb, and just a very complete encapsulation of the glories of lamb. Chef Mark Quitney from 5 Fifty 5 prepared this excellent dish.
Dessert was a flourless chocolate cake with spun sugar and a brandy tuile from Matt Murphy and Melange at the Ritz Carlton. I did not get to eat this as I was too busy chatting with the chefs in the kitchen, but Lindsay said it was great. And by chatting, I mean scaring the crap out of them.

The wines were outstanding, especially a Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc which had an aroma of wet slate and finished with stone fruit. Paired very nicely with the pig terrine. Thanks to everyone who made this night possible.

A wonderful night for a very important cause; please help in whatever way you can.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Adventures in Economicalness

This year I hope to be more economical. Not cheap, thrifty, or frugal nor miserly. But economical. Which for me means being smarter with how I cook things. I got the ball rolling by ordering a copy of Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. Also for Christmas, Lindsay got me this bad ass meat grinder and sausage stuffer which pairs nicely with this book. I purchased two whole ducks from Whole Foods and had them break the ducks down for me. The bounty from this would provide me with enough legs, breasts, carcasses and fat to do all sorts of learning. Some of which is pictured below.

I reserved one whole breast for later that night to cook. The other breast went into a pyrex with some kosher salt. More kosher salt on top, and into the fridge over night.
I roasted the two duck carcasses and wings for about an hour and added it to some onion, carrot, celery, black peppercorns, leeks, parsley, and a bay leaf to make a duck stock. This simmered on the stove at a low temperatrue for around 3 hours. Strain, cool, and refrigerate.

The duck legs seasoned with koser salt, garlic, black peppercorns, cloves and bay leafs await their sleepover in the fridge.
The next morning I removed the duck breasts from their kosher salt coffin, rinsed them, patted them dry, wrapped them in cheesecloth. Here they are hanging in my basement. Gus and Penny have spent the last few days trying to jump up and eat my duck prosciutto. So far they have been unsuccessful.
After a night in the fridge, the duck legs were also rinsed and placed in a casserole dish. Then one pours enough rendered duck fat to cover them. The duck legs cooked for ten hours in a 180 degree oven until the fat was clear. They then cooled in this container and voila, duck confit.
One night I broiled the duck confit until the skin got very crispy. Placed on top of an arugula salad dressed lightly with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon, the ducks fattiness was matched by the acidic peppery bite of the salad. Plus, shaved parmesan never hurts.
A few nights later, I cooked the remaining two confited duck legs. This time however, I blanched some cubed potatoes and then fried them in the duck fat. They tasted like perfection. Here are the potatoes in the world's most perfect hot tub.
And here is the finished dish. Duck Confit with a pepper jelly butter emulsion over duck fat fried brabant potatoes with garlic and parsley. Could have used a little aioli for the potatoes, but other than that. Very good.

The duck cost me $28.56 at Whole Foods. Plus another $12 for some duck fat from Langensteins. With the salt and other ingredients lets call it $60. From this I got 10 cups of duck stock (I used some of that stock to make collards recently), two whole meals from the confit, another meal from the reserved breasts, two duck prosciuttos, a quart or so of duck fat (which I am still frying in) and a weekend well-spent.

Read the above again, none of this was hard, little to no special tools or mastery of French is required. Sure it took a while to do all this, but one day every few weeks to spend in your kitchen is a small price to pay for good food. I would say so far being economical tastes delicious.

Friday, January 9, 2009

On The Line and Some Porkographic Announcements

Santa brought your bloggist in residence a bunch of food related goodies. But not On the Line, by Eric Ripert and Christine Muhlke; that one Old St. Visa had to drop down the chimney. This kitchen table book* chronicles the day to day challenges faced by a restaurant with 3 Michelin Stars, 4 Stars from the New York Time, and likely an Eagle from this outfit should we ever review them.

Le Bernardin began when Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze decided to open a version of their highly successful Parisian prandial palace in New York. Eric Ripert came on board in 1991 and since then Eric and Miss Le Coze (Gilbert passed away in the mid 90s) have made Le Bernardin an icon. Le Bernardin has had a two plus decade adventure as one of the finest restaurants in New York, if not America, if not the entire wormhole that is the Milky Way Galaxy.

After reading this book, it becomes clear that running such a successful restaurant requires a level of organization, training, cooking, and (truth be told) mind reading that the average restaurateur lacks. To anticipate the requests of a diner before he makes them, to pull out a lady's chair before she gets up, to keep an eye on the temperature outside as an indicator of what to serve, etc... That is talent.

The thing I found to be most interesting were the lists and "By the Numbers" sections which chronicle everything from the amount of tuna prepared weekly to the monthly florist bill. Also, did you know that of the four Captains at Le Bernardin, two began their careers as dish washers? I did after reading this book.

Beautiful photos abound in this easy to read tome. Quotes, stories, and anecdotes pepper the pages and keep the story moving. Plus, a section of recipes you will never try. One memorable bit discusses how for several months a regular patron came in 4 times a week with a party of ten and requested a completely different tasting menu each meal. That my friends is L-I-V-I-N-G.

If you like behind the scenes chronicles of restaurant life, or really behind the scenes chronicles of anything, this would be a good book to purchase and add to your repertoire. Plus, if you have ever heard Eric Ripert talk, you can read the whole book in his unique brand of Franglish.**

Pork is proof that there is a God. As proof of this proof, Cochon Butcher and Boucherie will battle it out for new restaurant/foodie palace of the year for 2009. I have it on very good authority that Cochon Butcher will hopefully open on January 20th. And Boucherie will begin dinner service on January 13th. You should go to both.

*I just invented this term. Its mine, you cant have it.
** This one also.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pho Bang

I have been on a Vietnamese rampage lately. My search for the finest pho, banh mi, and bun cha has taken me to Kenner, the Westbank and New Orleans East. So in addition to an array of flavorful foods, I have racked up enough frequent flyer miles to earn myself a roundtrip ticket to any city in the 48 states that Folk Singer Airlines travels to. I'm thinking a Saturday lunch at Rocky & Carlo's followed by a Flour Power sugar induced coma.

Speaking of Folk Singer Airlines, we stopped at Pho Bang for a pre-flight meal before her trip home for the holidays. Just another example of how to utilize those pesky airport runs to broaden your dining horizons.I almost always start a Vietnamese meal with an order of spring rolls. These were "summer rolls" stuffed with shrimp and pork. Par on the taste scale, but I really liked the peanut sauce because it had more of a heat kick than most.

What do you do when you can't decide which cut of meat you want in your pho? Ask yourself this: What would The Pope do ("WWTPD")? Answer: Get ALL of the cuts of meat in your soup. - raw eye of round, cooked eye of round, navel, tendon, and omosa (tripe). I thought that the tendon had the best texture - the chewiness of the fat on a steak but with none of the guilt. The broth was a little gritty, but the accompanying plate of herbs were fresh and flavorful.

The Folk Singer had the #31: grilled sesame beef over rice with tomatoes and cucumber. The beef was not as tender as I would have liked, but the marinade was good. I thought that the sliced tomatoes were a strange addition as well.

This was my first trip to Pho Bang, and I was surprised to learn that they have 13 other locations around the country. Decent meal overall. Worth the drive to Kennya? Only if you are making an airport run.


Let's get one thing straight. It was not an easy decision by Peter and I to write this piece. We went to Stanley recently with the intention of writing about it for OffBeat. However after our meal at Stanley, Scott Boswell's tribute to the American diner/lunch counter, we were left with more questions than answers. Stella! certainly deserves that exclamation point, but Stanley is just a conundrum. So here goes our attempt at some constructive criticism.

To start the space is beautiful. Exposed wood beams, white walls, marble table tops, a white tiled soda counter blocking an exposed kitchen all make for a pleasant environment. Plus, it is right on Jackson Square which heightens the ability to people watch and gaze.

From left to right a Pomegranate, Blood Orange, and Blackberry Italian Sodas. They tasted like a melted snowball, which was passable for the citrusy blood orange and the tart pomegranate, but cloying for the blackberry. A little less syrup and a bit more of the soda could turn this into quite a refreshing drink, especially come summertime.
A kitchen sink gumbo with andouille, shrimp, and oysters. Believe it or not, you can make a roux too dark. And the oyster and shrimp both suffered the same fate as the roux. Gumbo served in such a beautiful location by this talented of a kitchen staff should not suffer from these errors. Addition by subtraction here: less time cooking the roux and ditch the seafood unless you can add the oysters mere seconds before the dish is served.
An Eggs Benedict Poboy. This dish tasted fine, it tasted great actually. And the concept sounds Einstein-esque in theory. But then you realize you can't eat a po-boy with a poached egg on top of slippery ham lubed up with hollandaise. So you are forced to eat it with a knife and fork. The top of the bread becomes useless and you are left wondering, "Why make it into a po-boy? This would be better served as Eggs Benedict on Rounds of French Bread rather than an English Muffin..."Which brings us to our next dish.
The Breaux Bridge Eggs Benedict. French bread rounds topped with boudin, a poached egg, and hollandaise. A very rich dish, but if I was hungover this would hit the spot. Good level of spice offset some of the heaviness of the (over) poached egg and the hollandaise. We liked this.
This is almost a travesty. A $17 Korean Bar B Q Beef Po Boy with Housemade Kimchi. The beef is just more scared by the flame than cooked by the heat. Also, there is more meat on a supermodel than on this sandwich. The kimchi is spicy and flavorful, but paying $17 for preserved cabbage on a piece of French bread seems well, silly.
Delicious. An old fashioned, perfectly made, thick as thieves strawberry milkshake. And I think this is where Stanley's market should be. As we ate we saw a few burgers and reubens pass by the table. They looked delicious and well made. We also ordered some fries-albeit frozen-and onion rings that were very good, if not addictive. A remark about the fries. Herbsaint, Luke, La Boca, Boucherie, etc... all make house cut fries. We, as diners, have been spoiled. Stanley should offer house cut fries.

Service is not very fine tuned, but it is the first month. However, if you are going to have an ambitious menu the service needs to be better prepared to deal with customer questions. Also, it should not take fifteen minutes to get a credit card slip returned.

We really hope Stanley takes off. But there is no need to reinvent the American Diner. Serve those seemingly delicious burgers and fries, some patty melts, and cheese fries. Keep the egg dishes, but don't feel the need to add po-boy to the end of them to make them authentic New Orleans. If you want a beef po boy, than give my old friend Roast a call. Make this place seem like a French Quarter version of Camelia Grill. You do that and a customer base will never be a problem.

Let's face it, this spot is a perfect location for both locals and tourist alike. If you can offer a few solid classic New Orleans dishes for the ambitious traveler or devoted local and a good burger for the boring conventioneer from Beaumont and the picky kid, how do you lose?

Or just ignore everything we have said as at the end what the eff do we know?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Worthy Cause

On January 9th at 6:30 p.m., a benefit wine dinner will take place at La Cote Brasserie to help raise funds for a local 5 year old, Ben Sarrat, Jr., who is battling brain cancer. A team of chefs from New Orleans restaurants, including the Rushing/Vines-Rushings from Mila and Chuck Subra from La Cote Brasserie, will offer a six course dinner all paired with wines and hors d'oeuvres. The cost is $100 all inclusive. All proceeds benefit Ben Jr. and to paraphrase Judge Smails, "the remaining chefs are no slouches either."

I realize the holidays just stole your wallet, turned your liver into a homicidal maniac, and caused you to make a bunch of resolutions you have no intention of honoring, but this should be a great dinner. It is the second Friday in January, so you should not be busy. Please consider going or making a donation.

Here is the Menu and list of Chefs

Master Ben Sarrat Jr.
Wine - Dinner Fundraiser

6:30pm Hors d’ oeuvres
Crawfish Remoulade Fried Green Tomato
Alligator Beignets, Tabasco Sweet Heat Charbroiled Oysters

~~~Six Course Dinner~~~
Ter rine of Alabama Pig and Foie Gras
Pickled Winter Vegetable Salad
Chefs Allison & Slade Rushing - “Mila”

Pan Roasted Scallop
Wild Mushroom Sweet Corn Ragout
Chef Tom Wolfe -“Wolfe’s”

Shula’s Lobs te r Bisque
Chef Lou Sander - “Shula’s Steak House”

Cedar Smoked Red Fish
Crawfish Tasso Spoon Bread Green Tomato Chow Chow
Chef Chuck Subra - “La Cote Brasserie”

Silverado Rack of Lamb Chop
Wood Grilled, Truffle Fingerling Potatoes
Chef Mark Quitney - “5 Fifty 5”

Flourles s Black Forest Cake
Cherry Cream, Brandy Tuiles
Chef Matt Murphy &
Pastry Chef Simone Fleming - “Melange”

If you go, you will most certainly feel better about that resolution to help others more in 2009. Lindsay and I will be there which means there is a 99% chance you will have a good time. The other 1% is a decent time.

Contact 613-2350 for reservations or for more information. Shoot us an email if you plan on going, we will make it a quasi-State Dinner.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A New Year

No one, and I mean NO ONE (ourselves included), thought that Rene and I could sustain this blog for more than 2 or 3 days. Let's face it: Rene started writing this whole thing out of sheer boredom. But here we are. Ten months after the fact, and still going strong. Here is a quick recap of our past hijinks and a brief look at what's to come.

The First Annual "Dude, You Were So Blackened Out Last Year" Awards
  • Restaurant of the Year: Cochon - How could we not select a restaurant devoted to all things pork?
  • Food Event of the Year: Taste of the Town - The NOWFE Vintner Dinner and the LRA Expo both deserve honorable mentions.
  • Blog Character Least Likely to Succeed: Legend - If only we had a video camera rolling that night.

New Year's Resolutions

  • Peter: Upon Rene's suggestion, I am going to attempt what has been dubbed "The Challenge" - No repeating eating in any restaurant for the entire year. So many times we talk about restaurants and say, "Oh, I have never been there." Hopefully this will give me a reason to try new places. I'll try to figure out a way to post a running tally of all of the places that I have eaten. Second, I am going to try to take more (and better pictures) in my quest to become more like Robert Peyton.
  • Rene: Though I personally can't speak for my partner-in-crime, I can tell you this: the guy can cook... and brew beer... and make satsuma limoncello ... and cure meats. He has been documenting his latest experiments in the kitchen, so I don't want to spoil it for you.

Thanks for taking the ride with us so far. As long as you keep reading, we'll keep eating.