Friday, July 31, 2009

Classic Combinations

Spring and Rolls

I see you shrimp; your orange jersey gives you away. Trying to coyly hide under that paper thin wrapper. You are so silly. The rice noodles can't save you. Plus, the fresh mint just alerted me to your presence via Twitter. And it would not be very nice to that delicious peanut sauce if I just ignored you, now would it?

Don't worry you wont feel a thing.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dooky's, Sucre, and Something Sweet

Full Disclosure: Peter and I graduated with Dooky Chase from Jesuit. Still, if you have not gone to Dooky Chase's yet, please do.

Sucre the expansion.

Finally, an intriguing article on New Orleans.

Pick up a print copy, read some tangible this month.

That ought to keep ya busy for now.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Share Your Strength

Sunday lunch is one of the toughest things in New Orleans. Well, if you are looking for lunch this Sunday and want to make a difference how about this. Great group of foodies, good cause, and an answer to "whatcha wanna eat?"

Taste of the Nation New Orleans
August 2, 2009
Red Fish Grill
115 Bourbon Street
New Orleans, LA 70130

Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation New Orleans invites you to enjoy a delicious 4-course seated 'boy/girl' brunch with this year’s event honoree Gene Bourg. Fantastic specialty courses will be prepared by New Orleans’ top 'boy and girl chefs' including Frank Brigtsen, Gregg Collier, Susan Spicer, Haley Bitterman, Darin Nesbit, Leah Chase, Adolfo Garcia, Allison Vines-Rushing, Tobi Dotson, Chip Flanagan, Chris Montero, and Danielle & Richard Sutton.

The VIP reception, beginning at 11 AM, will feature passed hors d’oevres accompanied by champagne, wine, cocktails and Stella Artois. Your early admission will also offer a preview of the fantastic silent and live auctions, and an amuse bouche at your table.

VIP Admission $125
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM

General Admission $75
12:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lil Dizzy's in Treme

Blogger's Note: As Rene indicated on Friday, we will be on a much needed vacation for the next 2 weeks. My brain is absolutely fried, so I doubt that whatever I write right now would make any sense. So in lieu of our funny usual selves, we will be sporadically posting a few pictures to tide y'all over till we make our full return.

On a study break over 4th of July weekend, Triple B and I went to Lil' Dizzy's on Esplanade for the lunch buffet. Unfortunately, the lunch buffet only happens on Sundays, so we were restricted to a la carte. Triple B had the fried chicken, which she claims was better than Willie Mae's. Personally, I thought the chicken was a little dry, but the macaroni and cheese was great. No gruyere or shaved truffle in this dish - just straight up soul food.

I was pretty disappointed that the buffet was not available, so I decided to change directions entirely and go with a po-boy. Buried somewhere underneath that curtain of melted neon yellow cheese were several links of excellent hot sausage, which the waitress claimed were "made in-house." I think what she really meant was "made to our specifications by Vaucresson," but that's just splitting hairs.

While the food was good, there were a few things that bothered me about Dizzy's. The tables are cramped very tightly together, so much so that we were constantly being bumped into by either the wait staff or diners sitting next to us. This problem was magnified by the girth of the typical diner at Dizzy's, which (like me) is well above average in size. Also, while the buffet is not available, the buffet server is used by the wait staff to fill orders. Let me explain: the food is cooked in the kitchen and then brought dumped onto to the buffet server in the dining room, and the waitresses pull food directly from there to fill orders. So basically there is a pile of fried chicken and a pan full of mac and cheese sitting 2 feet from your table, but you still wait 20 minutes for the waitress to put it on a plate for you. Just a strange setup.

The entertainment value though was through the roof. Let me set the scene: 4th of July weekend in New Orleans (read: Essence Fest) and the Michael Jackson memorial service on every television. Let's just say that Triple B and I were completely out of our element, but we had a great time. The waitresses had us rolling laughing, complete with a reenactment of MJ's favorite pose - fedora and white latex glove included.

Lil Dizzy's in Treme - Par

Friday, July 24, 2009

Classic Combinations

The South, Fall, Football, Pork, Iced Tea and Bourbon

Face it sports fans, you are currently in the doldrums of sports purgatory. Baseball still has about 87,900 games left before the playoffs even start, training camp hasn't quite begun, and college athletes are still taking summer school. Christ, Brett Favre is still retired from retiring. But then into your in-box comes an email entitled "Fantasy Draft." And it starts.

Before you know it you are dreaming of a crisp, cool fall weekend with a full slate of SEC games on a Saturday, followed by 15 hours of NFL on a Sunday, and the agony of being a Saints fan on Monday. See you later salads and rose colored wines; this is the time for plump sausages and drinking bourbon out of a flask on a cold night in a parking lot. Betting on 18 year old rookie cornerbacks and parlaying the Colts at home with the Chargers on the road will replace staring at your Entergy bill and staying indoors. Yes, dear readers, fall is coming.

I had a thick, double cut pork chop in the fridge. Pork, especially barbecue, makes me think of sitting on a picnic table, gnawing on ribs, and chugging iced tea. Barbecuing ribs always reminds me of football season. When football season comes around, that means its time to drink bourbon again. Drinking bourbon while watching football makes me want Thanksgiving to be here. Thanksgiving smells like apples, sweet potatoes, hearty herbs, and green beans. And thus was born sweet tea brined double-cut pork chop with an apple-bourbon glaze, green beans with creole tomatoes, and rosemary roasted sweet potatoes.

Tea has loads of natural tannins so I figured it would be a good tenderizer. Add some salt and honey, and a brine was formed. So 3 cups of water, 1/4 cup of salt, 1 good amount of honey, some peppercorns, and bay leaf went into a pot. That boiled. Turned off the heat and added one Lipton Tea Bag. Let mixture steep for about 5 minutes, then remove bag and let cool. I made the brine the night before, the following morning I added the pork along with a few slices of orange, but lemon would work.

Let pork sit in brine for about 10 hours. Remove, rinse, and salt and pepper both sides. Heat grill. While grill is heating up, make the glaze by combining some Maker's Mark and apple jelly. Heat glaze, stir, and allow to reduce until thick. Cook pork on grill and baste with glaze.
Blanch green beans and tomatoes and let dry. Cook some shallots with olive oil and salt and pepper. Add green beans to shallot mix and toss in a little red wine vinegar. Cube sweet potatoes, toss with salt, pepper, rosemary, and olive oil and roast at 375 degrees until crispy. Allow pork to rest, then plate.
The tea flavoring came through with a slight, but noticeable twang. Tender and juicy, I could almost imagine the pork thanking me for cooking it this way. Because global warming seems to have decided to take the summer off, this dish was not overly oppressive in July. But it would kick pork butt in October. Eating pork prepared this way got me ready for football season. I hope it does the same for you.

Blog is going to be sporadically on vacation for the next two weeks. Peter needs a chance to get his head right and I got some vacation time to use. Besides, its too damn hot to be reading about food. Maybe a post here and there, but we will resume your regularly scheduled broadcast on August 10.

Catch you on the flip side, dear readers. Always remember, if it was not for you, many meals would go uneaten. Take it easy.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Guest Blogger: The Parisian Princess

Ladies, Gentlemen, and The Pope. This is our last entree in the 2009 BOGBTCPIBTTBESC. Peter has been furiously taking the La. Bar Exam this week, and except for an "episode" wherein he misplaced his lucky skinny jeans, he is surviving and likely will return to sanity soon. For our final entree, The Parisian Princess reviews a Fat City Gem.


For over two years, I have heard my friend, who I will call ESPNola, rant and rave about the best sushi in New Orleans. Naturally, my thoughts were this place must be Uptown or in Midcity. But alas, I was mistaken. Not only was this “best sushi restaurant” located in Metairie, but it was also close to a series of convenience stores, dry cleaners, and strip clubs. It wasn’t exactly your ideal location for a good meal.

Nevertheless I was intrigued and decided to take my friend up on his invitation for dinner. The restaurant was small with a few guests scattered around two tables and the bar. Right off the bat, I noticed the chef, affectionately known as Elvis, who was chatting with customers and immediately asked ESPNola where his Mother was for the evening. One thing was clear: this place was for locals.

So, I sat down and looked at the specials. Names like the South Beach Roll and Elvis Roll peaked my interest. But in the end I decided to play it safe and order a special Lobster Roll and an old faithful, the Dragon Roll. The Lobster Roll came out first and immediately I was hooked. It was brimming with huge chunk of lobster resting on a roll of snowcrab and avocado. To top it off, it was drenched in eel sauce and a succulent cream sauce also known as “fantasy sauce”. I woofed down each grain of rice and speckle of sauce on the plate wishing the “fantasy” would never end.
My next order, the Dragon roll was good but pretty standard. Everything was “on point”: the eel sauce was sweet, the avocado was creamy, and the crab was firm.
However, it paled in comparison to ESPNola’s Godzilla Roll, pieces of tempura shrimp, snowcrab, and spicy tuna wrapped in rice paper with a heavy dose of fantasy sauce and a sprinkling of rice flakes. After only one bite, I knew that I would have to thank myself for my morning run and order another half order of Godzilla rolls.
To round out the evening, the waiter came by with pieces of chocolate that were sweet and creamy. It was the perfect ending to a great meal.
So the question remains, Is Kanno really the best sushi in New Orleans? The debate is still up in my book. But I wouldn’t mind crossing by signs for g-string divas and cheap beers again to eat some more of that fantasy sauce.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Winesday and a Drink Special

"Hey, listen I realize you are busy but I have to go taste some Robert Kacher wines. Going to go to Herbsaint, you in?" asked Bloggle.

I'll let you guess how I answered. Buying wine from foreigners can be very tricky what with all the funny names and dates. One of the most effective ways of buying wines that require a passport is to familiarize yourself with a few reputable importers. On the back of any bottle of wine from outside of America will be a seal of an importer. Some good ones to look for are Robert Kacher, Rosenthal Merchants, and Kermit Lynch.

Robert Kacher's portfolio has a stunning array of breadth and depth. Everything from a quaffable white Bordeaux to stunning Argentinian reds is in his list. Bloggle, who is a good friend to have, has a huge crush on Robert Kacher (pronounced like Carlton Fisk's position) and Cork & Bottle is full of them.

So into the backroom at Herbsaint went twelve of us, including Dread Pirate Robert and Ian McNulty. The latter welcome, the former not. Thirteen wines awaited and a whole mess of food. Foodwise here is a quick recap: guinea hen croquettes (eagle), frog legs (birdie), mushroom ravioli (birdie), spaghetti with fried poached egg and guanciale (what do you think?), veal stuffed with fontina cheese and ham with fried sage (par), cheese plate (killer epoisses), and a bite of McNulty's peanut butter mousse with salted whipped cream (eagle).

I loved the first white with its austerity, citrus notes, and a hint of melon. The culprit: a Joel Delaunay, Le Bois Martin made up of 100% Sauvignon Blanc. My notes say it was silver tinged, but this wine has gold medal written all over it. Drink it with pate or boiled shrimp on a hot summer day. Price? $13.99.

Other whites I particuliarly enjoyed were the Domaine du Tariquet from Bordeaux and the Quinto do Alqueve. The Bordeaux is fitty-fitty Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc that smells of fresh hay. A truly delicious, rustic white wine, I would love to drink this with a white bean soup on a cold evening after a long day.

There was also an incredibly clean and acidic white from Quinto do Alqueve which had underlying notes of star anise, dried flowers, and guava. The wine is made from 92% Fernao Pires, an ancient Mediterranean grape, and 8 % Chardonnay. At around $10 a bottle I could afford to drink this while watching the Charm School 3 Marathon.

Going darker to the world of reds, we find a 2008 Cote Jardin Rouge from Vignobles Boudinaud made up 55% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 15 % Mourvedre taken from vines older than me, but younger than Bloggle. This wine had a very focused nose offering hints of fruit preserves with a little inflection of sawdust. My notes say "This wine is such a killer it needs three names." Lucky for you, that was the high water mark of my cleverness that night.

A 2007 Syrah/Grenache blend from Mas des Bressades presented with cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cedar, and violets. Would love to drink this with a braised lamb shank in early spring. At less than $12 a bottle, if you give this to me as a gift, I would not be offended at your cheap ass.

Finally, there was a 2006 Chateauneuf du Pape from Les Cailloux. Such a great wine, to bad the only thing I could write down next to it was "A little rooster from Islamabad called he has your pocketbook."

Anyone know what that means?

Finally, I ran into Tom Wolfe, the chef, not the author recently. He told me they are running a special every Wednesday evening with mojitos and margaritas for $4 from 4:30 til along with other specials like fish tacos. Well made cocktails, good bar food, and no snootiness. Sounds like a good way to get over the hump to me.

Wolfe's on Rampart
1041 Dumaine Street

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Cookbook You Should Own

Many restaurant chefs attempt to write a cookbook filled to the brim with authentic recipes from the kitchen of __________. Most of the times these books fail. This is due to a variety of factors. First, they have skills that pay bills. Second, they have kitchens the size of your house. Third, they have a team of assistants and chefs who ply them with things like lobster stock and hen of the woods mushrooms caked in mud.

Susan Spicer, along with Paula Disbrowe, has pulled off the impossible in Crescent City Cooking. Together they have crafted a cookbook which not only makes you want to go to Bayona, but also to cook her food at home. And for the most part, the brilliance of her cooking translates into dishes you can actually make And without needing a flock of sous chefs or immersion circulators.

Chef Spicer's Garlic Soup has been a mainstay on our table at Thanksgiving for the last two years. Here is the essence of the recipe: low heat, loads of garlic and onions, let them turn mahogany as the bird in the oven, add stock, chunks of day old french bread, blend. That didn't hurt one bit, did it?

Over July 4th, the blog tested her jalepeno roast pork. Again here is the jist: take jalepeno, garlic, olive oil, mash em together, and coat pork butt, roast low and slow and covered, for four hours. The meat shreds into a succulent, earthy expression of X Rated Pork. You can feed an army with this recipe for about $10. The following day the remainder of the pork went into a pot with some tomato sauce, cumin, and beer to create a delicious taco filing.

Jalepeno roasted pork with queso fresco, hot sauce and parsley

Crabmeat is da bomb dot com blackslash your mom (trying to avoid spam mail) right now. I am not a fan of hot crabmeat, to me it always seems a poor use of a brilliant ingredient. Chef Spicer's cold crabmeat salad is tart and tangy, a delightful foil for the buttery rich crabmeat blessing our markets right now. While it may seem a little unnecessary to blanch diced carrots, if that is "hard", take a week and try to make Keller's salmon cornets.

Cookbooks, for me, are often just a great insight into the mind of a cook and a place to learn new flavor combinations and techniques. But somehow through a combination of charm, sincerity, and toughness, I find myself not only following Chef Spicer's recipes to the T, but also wanting to experiment with her ideas (see tacos). That's a good book in mine.

FYI: Ms. Disbrowe also co-wrote Donald Link's cookbook which I have merely glanced at, but I hear it is just as good.

Crescent City Cooking-Eagle.

Chef Spicer's Pickled Shrimp Boil

Monday, July 20, 2009

Best Fine Dining Lunch Deals in CBD

We here at the Blackened Out School of Economics and Ponzi Schemes are acutely aware that dining out is getting harder and harder to do. This is mostly because of global fluctuations in the drachma and a strong desire by everyone save the guvuhment to save, save, save. So maybe you can not order that second bottle of Yellow Tail, but you can still enjoy some great dining for little more than it costs you to go to Subway twice.

Here is our take on the best fine dining in the CBD.

MiLa has to be the best lunch special in the city. This is based on a variety of factors. First, the husband and wife team of Slade Rushing and Allison Vines-Rushing have a Ph.D in cooking. Secondly, MiLa relies on using farm fresh ingredients to such an extent they actually have a farmer who grows crops for them. Thirdly, and most importantly the building in which MiLa is located was formerly the situs of the original Jesuit High School. For $20, here is what I ate recently: a butternut squash soup with chopped scallops, a seared flat iron steak with long beans and a red wine demi glace, and homemade bannana ice cream with cookies. Perfect lunch, it has to be the spirit of the Jesuits.

is the perfect nooner of the lunchroom. It seduces you with .25 cent martinis, delivers you 3 courses of inventive and delicious food, and then sends you back to the office with a smile and no guilt. Recently I had the misfortune to dine there with the Dread Pirate and although he tried his best to ruin my meal, the pork belly with a sweet glaze and heat-driven slaw was magnifcient. Speaking of martinis, I would like to pass on a great quote about drinking during work hours: "Always order gin martinis, that way when you return to the office, everyone will know you are drunk and not stupid."

Everyday Luke runs a different plat du jour. For $15 you get a soup and a hearty plate of food. The lamb ragu, has unfortunately been replaced, but the lamb neck ravioli is just as good and filing as its older more successful brother. Be forewarned that after you eat at Luke for lunch, that TPS report is likely to be put off until the following morning.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Classic Combinations

Friday Lunch & Galatoire's

It is no secret that we love Galatoire's (a/k/a The Old Green Lady). But for many people the Old Green Lady is just a boring anachronism of another era. Sure, sometimes the food is less than stellar, but as far as ambiance and cocktails it can not be beat. So if you have never darkened the door or its been a while, here is our guide to eating at and appreciating the Old Green Lady.
  1. On your first time, avoid Friday lunch. Until you get your souffle potatoes merit badge, I would stay away on Friday. Go on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday or go for dinner. The pace will be slower, and you will have a chance to actually talk to your waiter. Friday is for regulars and ladies with funny hats. It is no place for a beginner.
  2. Get a waiter and stick with him. It does not matter who it is. Getting a lunch gig at Galatoire's does not happen by chance. These guys and gals are pros. Just ask the maitre'd to give you someone who is not too busy. If you like the guy, remember his name and get him every time. Each time you return the food and service will continue to improve.
  3. Go at 2 pm. Here is why: You get to watch the turn to the evening. As early bird lunchers leave their stoops to return to offices, carpool, or Old Absinthe House, choice tables become available. The kitchen is not as backed up, and your waiter has more time. Plus, as the afternoon light grows and fades, the tiled mirrored room takes on the vibe of a well-attended cocktail party complete with table hopping and story swapping. This is the magic hour.
  4. Order a cocktail as soon as you sit down. Bloody Mary, a Sazerac, the Brandy Milk Punch, or a martini will do. Devour the hot loaves of french bread. Settle down.
  5. Here come the cocktails. Do not order yet and do not take the menu. Sit, tell your waiter to give you a little bit of time, enjoy your drink.
  6. Always order a second drink before you order any food. And when you order food, only order one course at a time. Tell your guy what you like to eat and ask this simple question, "What's good today?"
  7. First round: souffle potatoes and fried eggplant. The eggplant sticks will come with powdered sugar. Add some Tabasco to the sugar and make a paste. Dip eggplant in there and be amazed at the transformation of simple ingredients into a delicious snack. Souffle potatoes - add salt, dip into bearnaise. If you know anyone named Bernie, thank him later for his contribution to cuisine.
  8. At this point in your meal, when seafood is really great (as it is now), get a Grand Goute for the table. Crabmeat maison, shrimp remoulade, and oysters en brochette. Another drink.
  9. Turtle soup, gumbo, maybe Oysters Rock, salade verte? Your call.
  10. While the din of conversation around you rises and falls as orders to sing birthday tunes are delivered, remember that in the rest of the world people are working right now.
  11. Peruse the wine list. It is one of the most extensive in the city. There is a good bottle for your budget and meal on there, I guarantee it.
  12. Entrees. Here is a secret: The filet at Old Green Lady is one of the best in town. Amazing char on it and a silken interior. Plus ole bearnaise and his buddy marchand du vin are options if you go this route. Other gems include fresh fish, lightly cooked with maybe a little brown butter or a little crabmeat on top. At this point, just let the Old Lady's stewards to have their way with you. Give in. Other sleepers are the eggs benedict and eggs sardou.
  13. Dessert is for people celebrating birthdays. Get a nice port, sit back, and take the scene in.

Now, if you try that, and still hate the place, ain't nuthin I can do to help you.

Going to the LRA Food Expo this weekend? Want to hear my take on Social Media and Food? No? Didn't think so. Well, if you do, join Marie Breaux, Leon Bechet and I at 3 pm on Sunday as we talk about Country of Origin Labeling and Social Media.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Who Says NOLA Is Not a BBQ Town?

Don't you dare tell that to the fine folks at Walker's. If you think that their cochon de lait po-boys at Jazz Fest are to die for, then just wait till you sink your teeth into one of their ribs. I lived in Austin for four years and sampled BBQ from Llano to Lockhart, but I can honestly say that Walker's can mess with Texas if it wanted to.

Stop, salivate, and then read our review in this month's issue of offBEAT. I would cross oceans just to gnaw on one of those rib bones. A trip out to New Orleans East is nothing.

Walker's Southern Style BBQ - Double Eagle

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Is New Orleans Cuisine a Myth?

"Hey, we are coming in town and need a totally authentic New Orleans restaurant recommendation." I often ask the people what they want to eat and inevitably get one of two responses, "Cajun/Creole/something spicy and alligatory" or "a place that screams New Orleans."

Well, the former response is frustrating because a) Cajun food is not New Orleans food b)the term Creole comes from the Ancient Greek word meaning "no one quite knows what this word means" c) Dear Lord. The latter is infuriating because to me screaming New Orleans seems like something that requires effort. And if there is anything that screams New Orleans it is blissful laziness.

The word Creole is likely the word that is used most to describe New Orleans cuisine. A survey of three to four people revealed a similar consensus over the term Creole which roughly translates to a "blending." Well, if America is the great melting pot, wouldn't all American food be Creole? So it has to be something more than that.

Is it flavors of home with local ingredients? Would the muffaletta be Creole? Likely not, its almost all imported meats and cheeses. The muff was invented to give Italians a taste of Italy, not to develop a fondness for New Orleans. How about red beans and rice? Well, loads of cuisines have a rice and beans dish, so it can't be that unique.

Is Creole food timeless or classic cuisine? It can't be. There is a philosophical statement that says you can never cross the same stream twice. That either you or the stream will have changed the second time you cross. Over the last thirty to forty years the Spanish, Italian, and French immigrants have been replaced by Vietnamese, Indian, and Hispanic immigrants. Therefore it would seem that our Creole cuisine is constantly evolving to include the contributions from emerging ethnic groups. As it should. Perhaps Galatoire's is the embodiment of Creole cuisine to an Uptowner, but ask someone from Metairie and it could be Fury's.

I think we have a fear. Like all fears it is based on an irrational response to the unknown. New Orleans is frightened of becoming like everywhere else. A senseless amalgamation of strip malls, concept restaurants, and mediocrity. So even though we may love a little Vietnamese place on the Westbank, when out of town guests come in we still trudge on down to Mr. B's for an average, but "authentic" New Orleans restaurant experience.This behavior is the equivalent of New Yorkers taking out-of-towners to dine solely at hot dog carts.

So everyone say it with me: "We are a world class restaurant city. Some of these restaurants arent necessarily reflective of New Orleans cuisine. We can take our visitors to Lilette, Korea House, or Lebanon's Cafe and that will be ok."

Besides some of the best restaurants in the city are re-branding Creole cooking to their specifics. Take a recent dinner at Patois, here was a duck breast seared and served with sweet corn and duck debris. No one element screamed New Orleans, but the entirety of the dish felt like it belonged no where else than New Orleans. And to me that about sums up New Orleans cuisine.

Editor's Note:
This article is a rambling mess and my point is lost somewhere between the title and the ending. I realize that and blame the heat. The heat makes writing difficult. As such the blog will take a two week vacation beginning the week of July 27th. Please place Post-it-notes on your screen begging us to return a la Camellia Grill. We will catch you on the flip side.

Also, only a few more weeks to get your guest blogs in for consideration. Free lunch, right now TFS is in the lead. Get em in here!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hansen's Sno-Bliz

Damn, it's hot outside. What better way to cool off than a snowball?

To our out-of-town readers, the answer is no. A snowball is NOT the same as a sno-cone or Hawaiian shaved ice. Allow me to explain the difference. New Orleans style snowballs are set apart from all others because the ice is much, much finer. So fine in fact that the best snowball makers must alternate between pouring syrups and packing on more ice, because if they just poured the syrup on the top then the elixirs would not penetrate the ice near the bottom. Try one and you are sure to notice the difference. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, ask for a generous pour of condensed milk on top of your snowball. The extra insulin shot will be worth it.

We all have our favorite snowball stands, but in my opinion none come close to Hansen's Sno-Bliz. Their ice is shaved so fine that you might as well be eating clouds. For the magic behind the sno-bliz, I direct you to Todd Price's May article in the Times Picayune. (It must also be noted that Hansen's makes their own syrups - a feat which not many other snowballers can lay claim to.)

Even though Hansen's stands alone at the top, there are still many other snowball stands vying for second place. In a recent conversation I had with The Coonhunter, he made an astute observation that which snowball stand you prefer directly correlates to where you grew up. His contention is based on the strong ties between the stands and their neighborhoods. So I guess today's poll could be more of a demographic analysis of our readers as opposed to a means to end the snowball debate. Either way, we'd like to hear your opinion. (Write-in votes are welcome in the comments.)

Last but not least, no matter what your vote, let us never forget that when it comes to snowballs:

I'll take a large limeade please.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Blogger's Note: We have been getting a lot of complaints lately that my ethnic food fetish has taken over the blog. Such sly comments as "Is Peter a Vietkong sympathizer?" and "Seriously, do you eat anything beside sushi?" have caused me to reevaluate. We've decided to only discuss "New Orleans food" this week.* So here's a start to getting back to what has made us famous.

The summer Sunday Special Po-Boy at Parkway Bakery: "One-Handed" Softshell Crab with lettuce, tomato, and remoulade. OK, first thing's first. It's expensive. This small po-boy will run you a hefty $10.95. But I swear on everything deep fried and holy, that this is flat-out the absolute best fry job on a softshell that I have ever had. The coating was very light, not in the least bit greasy, and did not slide off of the crab as I ate. Seriously, the fry cook should teach clinics, and the world would be a happier place.

And I mean look at the thing. It's almost too beautiful to eat.... Almost.

Then again, in some cases looks just don't matter. Parkway's roast beef is still one of the best in the city.

Parkway Bakery - Eagle.

* This statement is intended to goad Rene on giving his diatribe on how "New Orleans food" is a myth. Lookout for it later this week.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Classic Combinations

Pizza and Beer

90% of the meals I ate in college involved one of those two food groups. With that in mind, here is a recipe for how to make homemade za. College credit is available.

Pizza Recipe

Before you do anything go to Home Depot and get an unglazed Ceramic tile. This will cost you about $1.99. Place it on the bottom of your oven and let er rip. Mine goes to 11 (550 degrees), but 500 works well. Just leave it in there at all times.

In a Kitchen-Aid Mixer (or just a large bowl) combine one packet of yeast, a lil bit of honey or sugar, and a 1/4 cup of warm water. Let this sit while you listen to Freebird in its entirety. The whole thing.

Now with the paddle attachment on low speed slowly add 3.5 cups of flour in half cup increments. Depending on the humidity, you may need more flour, more water, or more cowbell. Throw in a healthy handful of salt and a few good glugs of olive oil. Allow mixer to chug along, slowly blending the elements into a compound. When the dough begins to come together, remove from bowl, knead on a floured surface, and form into a ball. I like to knead for about 10 minutes, so I can tell my doc that I exercise.

Place ball into a oiled bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel, place in a warm area, and fuhgedaboutit for 3 hours.
While this is going on, you can make a pizza sauce. Saute onions, garlic, chili flake, some oregano. Add 1 can whole tomatoes that you pop by squeezing in between your grubby hands, a bay leaf, some red wine, and a good amount of tomato paste. Slowly simmer this. Salt, pepper to taste. At the end tear in some fresh basil.

The dough by this point will have risen. When it has, punch it down and re-knead for about 2 minutes. Cut dough into 4 pieces. On your counter, set up a well-floured area and a floured pizza peel or the bottom of a sheet pan.
Shape out pizza dough, either with a rolling pin, your fingers, a wine bottle, or by tossing it in the air(easier than you think). Place on peel or baking sheet. Top with a small amount of pizza sauce.
Add cheese of your choice and whatever toppings you want. Basil will do you just fine.
Slide za onto a smoking hot stone. Monitor and remove when dough and cheesy are bubbly and brown. It won't take long.
Here is one with mushrooms and olives.
And, of course, the beer. Recently emerging from brewery located in the Blackened Out Cellar is this Miami Weiss (say it out loud, hint: the W is more like a V). This perfect summer beer matches an almost creamy hefeweissen with orange peel. Delicious. Plus it looks damn sexy in a glass from NOLA Brewing.

Have a good weekend, readers.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Guest Blogger: The Man in the Mirror

Blogger's Note: Unfortunately, we had no submissions for this week's Guest Blogger Thursday. But instead of Rene or I filling in, we decided to make each of you this week's guest blogger whether you like it or not. So allow yourselves to introduce... yourselves.

Do you want to make a change for once in your life? Come on. It's going to feel real good. It's going to make a difference. Make it right.

The polls have opened for Gambit's annual Best of New Orleans survey, and it is time for your voice to be heard so that any injustice may be corrected. Check out last year's list and tell me that you do not disagree with a few of the winners. Harrah's has the best buffet in the city? I think that I just threw up in my mouth. Bluebird Cafe is gone, so there will be a new best breakfast spot. Superior Grill wins best Mexican food and the best place to get salsa? Dong Phuong not one of the top 3 bakeries in the city? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

Of course there are other non-food related categories - for example, best local blog (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). But we would never pretend to be experts on the best place to buy lamps/lighting or know who the best real estate agent is.

So get voting. Make sure everyone knows where is the best place to buy a mattress. You must vote in at least 75 categories for your ballot to be valid.

It's up to you to make a difference. Start with the man in the mirror. Just remember: If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

French Flashback

Blogger's Note: Today's post could alternatively be entitled "Things I Would Rather Be Doing Instead of ____." I would fill in the blank with "studying for the Louisiana Bar Exam," while I would guess that most of you would scribble down "sitting in my office/house reading Blackened Out." Regardless, today being Hump Day, I figured we could all use a virtual vacation to a better time and place. Without further ado, welcome to Lyon.

Because Rene's snippet of his summer in France garnered so much praise last week, I decided to tell a tale of my own adventures in Lyon. (If you are wondering, we both were lucky enough to study in Lyon for 6 weeks during law school, only 2 years apart.) I spent close to 8 weeks in Europe in the summer of 2007, visiting such cities as Brussels, Barcelona, and Prague among others. But perhaps my most cherished memory from that summer was a meal at Paul Bocuse's eponymous restaurant in Collonges, just north of Lyon.
My traveling companion that summer, who shall be known as Femme Fairhope (FF), and I spent a lot of time wandering the markets and eating our way through every city we traveled to. But in my opinion the finest foods were found in our home city of Lyon, which is not surprising considering the city's reputation as the French capital of gastronomy. From my first meal in Lyon (pictured above - andouillete with mustard sauce and gratin dauphinoisse) to the last slice of pizza I had before boarding a plane for Prague, the food was just incredible. Sometimes I wake up in the morning still longing for a crusty baguette like the ones I used to eat during my weekday walks to class.

But undoubtedly, the highlight of my European culinary experience that summer was dinner at Restaurant Bocuse. FF and I were the only students that year who dined at the flagship, but many others ate at one of the Bocuse Brasseries. (We made it to 3 of the 5 brasseries. I would have to say that Le Sud was the best, followed closely by Le Nord, with a disappointing performance by L'Est. Funny sidenote, L'Est was the only one to earn a Michelin star that year, so it shows how much I know.... Or does it?)

Our reservation at Bocuse was on a Sunday night after a 5am return flight from a weekend in Barcelona. Not exactly an ideal situation to prepare for such a fine meal, but we were lucky enough to score a reservation at all. After a 30 minute cab ride north, we arrived at perhaps the most beautiful restaurant I have ever seen. The dining room was 10x more ornate than Commander's - so much so that I was hesitant to even pick up the silverware.

Bocuse offers three menus. To this day I still regret not going for the gold and ordering the Menu Grande Tradition Classique, which included the famous 80 euro truffle soup and the bresse chicken mele fillioux (i.e., cooked inside a pig's bladder with truffles - just like you saw on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate"). But at 210 euros per person, I decided against the whole shebang and instead ordered the Menu Bourgeois, which was perfectly fine with me as it included both seared foie gras AND sweetbreads.
The meal was flawless from beginning to end. The captain sensed our nervousness and was quick to settle us down with a few jokes. But honestly, after we noticed an Asian tourist in jeans and a polo shirt sitting at a table across from us, we relaxed because we knew that we were no longer the most out of place guests. Courses came went - foie gras, lobster casserole, red mullet crusted with scalloped potatoes, and a palate-cleansing beajolais sherbet.
After each course, our place settings were changed. Once the silverware was set out for out our entrees, FF said, "Peter, they did not give me a steak knife." Thankfully our mild case of hysteria over this perceived error was quickly dismissed as she cut into her filet Rossini. The filet was so tender, you could almost not differentiate when moving the fork between the generous slab of seared foie gras on top and the beef underneath. The greatest steak I have ever eaten, and I did not even order it. I just sat next to her enjoying my sweetbreads while fighting a serious case of entree envy.

I wish I had taken more pictures, but I feel that the one we did take pretty much sums up the meal. After the entrees, the above cheese course arrived, and by "arrived" I mean was wheeled over by two huge rolling tables. No offense to St. James, but this spread was in another league. The waiter rattled off the cheeses from memory ("this one is cow's milk, goat's milk, sheep's milk ..."), but I was too overwhelmed to pay attention. My favorite was the roquefort in the right background which was sliced with what I could only describe as a guillotine de fromage.

After the cheese course, Paul Bocuse himself came out to greet us. It was so bizarre - not only because I was in shock having perhaps the greatest chef in the world greet me at my table, but also because of the man's demeanor. It was like he had been kept cryogenically stored in the freezer, and the front of the house brought him back to life and wheeled him out to give a customary "bonsoir" and "bon appetit" to every diner. He stood for a picture with us, and then made his way to the next table.

We finished with a selection of dessert similar to the cheese course. Two huge rolling tables were presented, and we were free to choose from macaroons, baba au rum, fresh fruits, chocolate cake, creme brulee, fresh ice cream, and much more. When the captain asked FF if she wanted ice cream on her cake and she told him no, his reaction was the same as if she had just ran over his dog. Needless to say, she succumbed to the pressure.

Even though that meal at Bocuse has since been surpassed, it will forever hold a special place in my heart - not only as a memory of that final carefree summer in Europe, but also as a reminder as to why I love to eat and write about food. Plus, whenever I think of Paul Bocuse, I am reminded of this quote: "Next to Parisians, the people of New Orleans have the most refined taste for food of any city in the world...."

I feel that it is our duty to prove him right.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mat & Naddie's

Ever been to Bayona? Bayona has made its mark and thrived by using local ingredients and spicing them up with techniques and flavors from other cultures. Well, imagine Bayona had a brother who spent a few more years tooling around in the Caribbean, France, and Asia. This brother came back and found the quarter a tad crazy so he settled down in a small cottage near the River and just opened his house to his friends. Well, if you can imagine that and it sounds delightful, then you will love Mat & Naddie's.

The menu at Mat & Naddie's literally spans the globe. Mediterranean style starters like olives and antipasto mingle with oysters and bacon. Settling on one dish would be difficult, so just throw a dart at the menu. The results will work. The night we dined our server brought out the bread course with the night's special butter - lime, jalapeno, carrot, and habanero. That butter was like a piece of china in a bull shop: it never stood a chance. We quickly devoured it while mulling over our options and sipping on a Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

To start we had a pate plate. Classic French technique here with the pork stung by a liberal and welcome dose of brandy and a texture as fine as any other in town, and the classic accompaniments fit the bill. A pate plate proved to be the perfect appetizer on a warm summer evening.Lindsay got the vegetarian dish of the night, a Smoked Shitake Mushrooms and Brown Jasmine-Black Sesame Lunar Rice Cakes in a Thai Red Curry Stew. The curry was redolent with lemongrass and pungent spices.
I thoroughly enjoyed the jerk pork tenderloin which was cooked until just blushing and served with intensely spicy collards, rice and beans, and a cooling crema. Just a delicious dish all the way around.
We skipped dessert and opted for a Nocello (Lindsay) and a rare dessert wine (me).

Mat & Naddie's has the genuine feel of a New Orleans joint without the manufactured faux funkiness others employ. The service is warm and relaxed, the floorboards worn, the vibe Caribbean calm, and the food dynamite.

Mat & Naddie's - Birdie.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Mouth

Today we are going to play the guessing game. Here's the scenario:

It's Friday night, and you are part of a group of 10 people going out for dinner. What to eat? Guy 1 says it's too hot for Italian, Girl 2 doesn't eat sushi, Guy 3 wants something more than po-boys, etc. Finally, 9 of the people decide on steak, with a promise to the vegetarian in the group that there will be something on the menu for her to eat. Now, where to go? The alpha male takes charge and nominates La Boca as the venue for the carnivorous feast. Upon your arrival, the waiter tells you that they offer a special group menu for parties of 8 or more. He rattles off the details, and before you know it the parade of dishes described below are arriving at your table.

Question: How much does the group menu cost per person?

Although the above pisco sour is not included in the group menu, the picture helps you envision the setting.

The feast starts with a bruschetta of smoked trout with sweet onion marmalade.

Onto the Provoleta - Argentinian cheese melted over olive oil in a cast iron skillet and flavored with a generous sprinkling of oregano. (One skillet for every four people in your group.) Perfect to be scooped onto to the complimentary bread and then spiced up with one of the three housemade chimichurris - classic, red pepper, and creole mustard.

Then the Gaucho Plate of grilled sweetbreads, chorizo, beek skewers, and empanadas. (As with the Provoleta above, each Gaucho Plate is to be shared among 4 people.) Never had grilled sweetbreads before? You will love them, trust me. The grilling creates a crusty exterior while leaving the inside still creamy.

Next, how about a small pasta course? Usually you will get the gnocchi in a cream sauce with pancetta and peas, or in the winter you may get parpadelle with sweet potato and mushrooms. Above is the fettucini with eggplant, tomatoes, and olives, which (if you ask nicely) can be substituted in lieu of a steak.

Following the pasta is a little hearts of palm salad with avocado. Nothing wrong with vegetables.

Finally, we get to the beef. Each diner gets to choose his cut (and his knife). Strip, flank, hanger, or lastly (for a small upcharge) a filet. In our opinion, the hanger is the best choice.

But Peter, what about side dishes? OK. What would you say to grilled asparagus, mashed potatoes, corn pudding, and french fries "La Boca" tossed in garlic and parsley?

Phew, that was a lot of food. Oh wait, I forgot about dessert. How about a Dulce de Leche Crepe, Amaretto and Coconut Ice Cream Cake, and a slice of an incredibly dense chocolate torte?

OK, that's it, I swear. Now, how much per person?*

La Boca Group Menu - Double Eagle

*The Group Menu at La Boca is $50 per person with a $5 upcharge for a filet mignon. Contender for best steak in the city, and winner of best value in the city.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Guest Blogger: The Folk Singer

Blogger's Note - The Folk Singer has decided to throw her hat in the ring in this summer's guest blogger challenge. In order to rise to the top, she will need a strong performance after last week's post by Real Big Tally stirred up so much controversy. So she decided to bring out the big guns and address a topic which most of us (unfortunately) have too much experience with. We're talking hangover helpers, people.

As a girl who hails from the same hometown as Krystal , I have been skeptical of this so-called "Kastleburger" ever since the re-opening of Tastee/McKenzie's in Lakeview. Krystal burgers are the go-to fourth meal in Chattanooga, and in my mind, there is no substitute.

When I woke up last Saturday morning with a headache that could only be attributed to one too many glasses of champagne at a Friday night wedding, Peter's promise of buttermilk drops sounded less than appealing. So, in the interest of curing my hangover writing a review for Blackened Out, I asked Peter to pick me up a Kastleburger (or three) and a side of fries.

Some people might prefer the hair of the dog as their morning after cure, but I have always been partial to something with a bit more sustenance. There is something ever-so comforting about those greasy little two-bite burgers and the simplicity of steamed onions, mustard and pickle. The Kastleburger almost lived up to its hype. I like my square-mini burgers with cheese, but I want to taste the cheese if it's there. The french fries were perfect, and after I'd finished my breakfast, suddenly Peter's leftover buttermilk drops weren't looking so bad after all. So I ate those too, decided that a three hour nap was in order, and went happily back to bed.

Bottom line: They may have been my first three Kastleburgers, but unless I can convince Peter to make a run to Krystal on Bourbon Street on Saturday morning, they definitely won't be my last.

It's no Krystal, but...

And that's worth more than a few points in this Tennessee girl's book.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Chateau La Nerthe

When Lindsay and I first began dating we were lucky enough to spend seven weeks in Europe. This was in the middle of that initial rush of a relationship. When every moment and emotion is spent thinking or being with that person. Thus every summer, we always look at each other and say, "Lets go back to Europe." Unfortunately, we have yet to return. Thanks, failing economy.

When we were there, we traveled throughout Europe with a rowdy clan. Every Thursday afternoon, once classes for the week finished, we would rush to the train station in Lyon and in a mangled garble of French, Spanish, English, and arm motions find a train to take us somewhere - Interlaken, Munich, Nice.

One weekend our group rented a 4 door hatchback with standard transmission Peugot and drove towards the Mediterranean following the winding Rhone and into the heart of wine country. We stayed the first night in Orange and in the morning headed a few more miles south to the town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. To my palate, the hearty reds from this region are simply the greatest wines in the world. Of course, we were just morons bouncing from one winery to another. Tasting legendary vintages as if they were beer and purchasing bottles to drink which could have kept resting another ten to fifteen years.

Traveling with us was a dear friend, Ryan LoProto. Now Ryan had a tendency to speak loudly and attract attention. One of the wineries we stopped at was Chateau La Nerthe, a charming property situated about five minutes from the center of the city. We wandered the vineyards walking through rows of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. As the afternoon wore on, the oppressive heat of the afternoon subsided under the canopy of trees surrounding the property. We decided to go on in and nose around.

Entering the cellars of this property, we found no one to greet us. So we just wandered around the cavernous interior of this chiseled hillside. Here were some of the great chefs of France (Alain Ducasse, Paul Bocuse, etc.) with their own mini-cellar of bottles covered in dust, cobwebs, and just sleeping in this catacomb of wine. As we marveled at the enormity of this cellar, Ryan let out a loud scream for one reason or another. Likely he was quoting Family Guy.

This scream shattered the stillness of the damp cellar and alerted the proprietress of the property to our presence. She quickly scolded us and escorted us out of the cellar and into the tasting room. Feeling the need to recompense for our transgressions and trespass, we promptly bought five or six bottles of 2002 Chateau La Nerthe, including a vanilla laced, gravelly white.

Who knows the true value of those wines today or if they were even ready for drinking, but we had the matron open them for us, we sat on the hillside adjacent to the building, and drank every last drop of those bottles before moving on to other things. Tragically, less than a week later, Ryan died in Pamplona, Spain. This event forever flavors our memories of Europe, but I always think of Ryan around this time of the year. Sitting on that hillside, drinking great wine directly out of the bottle, and talking of the future.

Flash forward to last week. I had been looking all over for La Nerthe in the city. One can find it on restaurant wine lists - Juban's in BR has a great selection of the stuff. Finally, I found it sitting on a rack at Elio's. Almost neglected and covered in dust, this wine was just waiting to be discovered. As Lindsay and I are getting married soon, I decided to buy a bottle and give it to her as a gift. When I gave it to her, it was at the end of a long and frustrating day for the both of us. But the revelation of the gift and the memories of that bottle, softened both of our moods. As the car stopped in the driveway, I grabbed the paper bag from the floor. Swinging to my left, I opened the door. The bottle continued its motion forward while a piece of the bag stayed in my hand. There broken and spilling onto the driveway was that bottle of beautiful, deep, red wine flowing towards the drain and away from our house.

"Don't worry, I am sure you can get another one," Lindsay reassured me.

Some things though you can't replace.