Monday, August 31, 2009

Dueling Burgers

Recently I played third wheel with The Pope and Battle House Honey for lunch at Phil's Grill. This burger spot has some sentimental value for La Papa because last year he took his mother, Mary Magdalene, to Phil's for her birthday dinner. What a loving son.

Located in the former Old Henry's on Severn, Phil's has an identical feel to Chili's. The menu includes a list of original burger concoctions, but the hook here is the build-your-own-burger option. Inside the menu is a checklist whereby you choose your bun, meat, cheese, toppings, sauces and accompanying side. It's a good burger, but not something that I would drive across town for. Perhaps I am biased though, because hamburgers as a genre don't exactly do it for me.

At the end of a meal, do you ever go around the table and decide who ordered the best? Course by course, analyzing who emerged as the master of the menu on that particular occasion? I do it all the time. In my humble opinion, I possess a keen ability to peruse a menu and pinpoint what that restaurant does best. I could be full of sh*t though.

Anyway, The Pope and I were arguing over who built the better burger at Phil's, and we decided that the only fair way to determine a winner was to let the people vote. Here are the candidates.

The Pope - 100% black angus beef, cooked medium, on Texas toast. Toppings: sauteed onions, maple-peppercorn bacon, and cheddar cheese. Paired with thinly sliced onion rings (a la Charlie's Steakhouse).

The Peter - Phil's own hot sausage blend, cooked medium, on a jalapeno bun. Toppings: shredded lettuce, tomato, sauteed onions, monterey jack cheese and creole ailoli. Side of potato salad.

So, dear readers, the choice is yours as to who built the better burger. As a courtesy, you may vote none of the above.

Phil's Grill - Par.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Classic Combinations

Rum, Goldfish, and Peanuts

Peter's summer, summer, summertime nostalgia laced article got me thinking about summer. For me, there are few summers that can compete with the summer when I was twelve. Ok, I will grant you the first summer with a driver's license was pretty stout and summers in college weren't bad. But picture this.

You are twelve, too old for camp, but not old enough to work. You have a Dyno VFR BMX bike and an entire neighborhood to explore. You have approximately 1200 Time-Saver Free Icee coupons saved up from Halloween and your report cards. You have a best friend whose brother just got his license and a hand me down Suburban.

You wake up at 10 am, watch SportsCenter repeats until noon, then go swimming until baseball starts at 4 pm, then head back to the pool and swim under the night sky. By the time you get home, a quick game of Tecmo Bowl or Wednesday Night Baseball was enough to rock you to bed. Throw in a growing awareness that girl's most definitely do not have cooties, and that is a magical summer.

The place where my sisters, friends, and I would swim, always put out Goldfish and peanuts at around 5 pm. Our parents, and the parents of all the other pool rats, would show up, grab a cocktail, kibbitz, and watch us swim. In between trying to execute the Triple Lindy and playing Marco Polo, we would run over to the table dripping wet and grab handfuls of peanuts and goldfish, all the while inhaling the sweet smell of a rum and coke.

My dad has very few rules in life but one rule is this: in the summer you drink rum. Like white shoes and seersucker, rum was only drank between Easter and the first cold snap of fall. Light, dark, or aged, when the temperature rises ice, rum, coke, and lime mix together to produce the perfect afternoon cocktail.

With summer winding down, it is time for one last rum drink. Based slightly on the Dark & Stormy, this cocktail hypes up the subtle creamy, vanilla flavors of a well made rum. Hope you enjoy it.

Adult Cream Soda

Three Fingers Vanilla Dark Rum*
Two Fingers Ginger Ale
Twist of lemon rind

Serve over ice in a tall, cool glass with Goldfish and peanuts for maximum effect.

* If you can not find dark vanilla rum, make a simple syrup and add to it 1 scant splash of vanilla extract. Add a teaspoon of this to the drink. Or if you got the time, soak a few vanilla beans in dark rum for a week or two. You could try some hip designer, vanilla flavored, "light" rum. But then again you could jump off a bridge cause your friends are doing it or stick a fork in your eye. Either way friends.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


The summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school was one to remember. Armed with newly laminated drivers licenses, our "own" cars, and money from our first "real" jobs, we relished in an enormous sense of independence not yet seen before those times. But for me personally, those 3 months will forever be linked with the "Summer Slam."

The Summer Slam was an ongoing card game among a few friends at the home of The Pope and his parents, Mary Magdalene and The Bald Eagle. The game of choice was Shanghai Gin, a multi-player, every-man-for-himself version of your grandmother's card game, except that this variation encouraged outward disdain and ruthlessness among the competitors. We played for money, of course, because as Mary Magdalene so eloquently put it: "If you don't play for money, then why play at all?" We even had a "Summer Slam Standings Board" which was posted every week in order to facilitate ridicule of the biggest loser. The Pope always won. Shocking.

These card games would sometimes go for 3 or 4 hours, so naturally the players got hungry. Eating during the Summer Slam was an event in and of itself. We were ravenous in our teenage years. Typical snacks included: ice cream with crused Oreos and Hershey's chocolate syrup, Fritos Scoops with french onion dip, Chips Ahoy Deluxe cookies, gigantic bags of Ruffles potato chips, and much, much more. To this day, MM loves to tell how her grocery bill during those months was pushing $500 per week. It was gluttony at it's worst. Mary Magdalene would go to Meme's and request special orders of Blue Bell from Carlo the manager because apparently Triple Chocolate is a tough flavor to find.

Every week or two when The Pope's parents were feeling generous, they would spring for a massive takeout order from Chinese Tea Garden on Filmore Ave. As long as someone would fly, then they would buy. But there was one very important prerequisite for picking up the food: one had to be skilled in negotiating with the cashier for containers of the special house hot mustard and sweet 'n sour sauce (as opposed to the little packets). This was a huge ordeal at Chinese Tea Garden; you might as well have been asking if you could use Tiananmen Square as the site for your next beer pong tournament.

There were other rules surrounding this Chinese Tea Garden ritual. All of the food was communal and everyone was required to share except for The Bald Eagle, who was allowed to dine on his beloved tong cho pork without any risk of interference by others. Once The Bald Eagle was finished, the leftovers were up for grabs; and when this happened we would be stabbing each other with plastic sporks to get to the few remaining morsels.

I loved tong cho pork. On the menu, it was listed as "P6," and friends of friends who would visit our little card games started calling me "P6 Petie." (Some of them still call me P6 to this day. When one couple was pregnant, they joked that the newborn would be called P3, i.e., half of a P6.)

What was so great about P6? Well, the base of the dish is battered and fried chunks of pork, so that's a good start. But then the crunchy nuggets are coated in a sweet and spicy sauce flavored with onions and green peppers. From what The Bald Eagle tells me, the tong cho sauce recipe was developed by the Wong brothers at Trey Yuen.

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago. On a lonely night with no craving in my belly and no companion to eat with, I decided that the time had come for my reunion with P6. So I phoned in my order to Chinese Tea Garden - which was reopened by the same family after Katrina - and drove down Filmore to pickup my order. I neglected to ask for the large containers of sauce. When I got home and plunged into that styrofoam container of sweet/spicy/crunchy porkiness, it tasted just like I remembered, and I was 16 again.

Unfortunately, this time there was no Triple Chocolate to be found in the freezer.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Taqueria Guerrero

Thanks to Top Chef Masters and Rick Bayless's near flawless performance, I have set out to discover and explore the Mexican (and to a larger extent Latin American) offerings in Nuevo Orleans. First stop: Taqueria Guerrero.

The Canal-Carrollton intersection is perhaps the most diverse restaurant scene in New Orleans. A few Vietnamese spots, some Italian favorites, couple Mexican joints, New Orleans seafood, and Japanese seafood. One can travel the culinary globe in less than four blocks. Situated in that block right next to the Red Door Bar is Taqueria Guerrero. Incidentally, the Red Door Bar is where you buy any beers or adult drinks you wish to consume next door.

The mole poblano platter comes with a half of chicken smothered in a cinnamon infected, gritty sauce, some rice, and refried beans. Normally just a cast off, the refried beans were creamy and delicious. The mole poblano, while difficult to eat, was equally good. At times sweet, other times savory, always satisfying, poblano is a dish I wish we would see more of in these here parts.

A football-sized chimichanga also came to the table. Stuffed to the max with shredded, slow cooked chicken, sour cream, beans, lettuce, cheese, a 1972 January Playboy, and three international calling cards, this fried burrito had it all. Simply outstanding and an amazing value at about $9. One could feed a soccer team with this baby.

Now, dear readers, where else should I go to enjoy the flavors of South of the Border? Leave your comments below. Whoever's suggestion reaps the best meal, wins a free meal there. Excluded from suggestion Taqueria Corona, Not So Superior Grill, and Sorryano's.

Taqueria Guerrero- Birdie.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We're #2, We're #2

Well the votes have been tallied in the Best of New Orleans 2009, and Blackened Out is now officially the Second Best Local Blog. Not food blog, but just straight up, local, hardcore thuggin' blog. The winner was Gambit's own We figure since we placed second to the blog that ran the contest, that is a win. Or at the very least remind everyone of that popular youth song, "First is the worst, second is the best, third is the turd."

Pick up a copy at your local bar, coffee house, po-boy shop, or Langenstein's. I have a feeling that the print edition will fetch a pretty penny on eBay sometime down the line since food blogger collectibles are now considered one of the safest long term investments.

Thanks to everyone who voted for us. We appreciate it.

This past Sunday, the weather was phenomenal. Sun, cool temps, wind, and not a drop of rain. To celebrate the weather and our victory, we grilled some chicken, scarfed down potato salad, and finished it all off with some Lazy Magnolia Indian Summer Spiced Ale.

You know how to make barbecue chicken so I will not bore with how I did it. But I do want to call your attention to a great tip I have used recently when cooking chicken. A "dry brine" accomplishes many of the same tasks as a traditional brine but a little quicker. Before you grill your chicken (or roast it, saute it, whatever), coat it in kosher salt. A lot of salt-a fistful will do. Let it sit for as long as you have, thirty minutes is great for chicken breasts, a little longer for a whole bird. Then rinse, dry, and season. Enjoy.

Potato Salad

2 pounds potatoes-fingerlings, small Yukons, or red potatoes work best, cook in heavily salted water until a knife easily pierces. Do not peel prior to cooking.

While potatoes are cooking make a dressing. Since serving this potato salad with chicken, I like to use tarragon vinegar. The anise undertones of the vinegar provide a nice balance to the tangy, juicy chicken. So, a 3 second glug of vinegar, a heaping spoonful of mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk, and while whisking stream in about a nine second pour of oil. Taste, adjust seasonings. Add to dressing some small diced celery, maybe some green onions or shallots, perhaps parsley if you have it.

While potatoes still warm, cube or slice and add to dressing. Stir, allow flavors to sit for a while, then serve. Summertime and the living's easy...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hong Kong Market

The New Orleans area has an embarrassingly rich number of Asian restaurants, markets, and bakeries. The Hong Kong Market on Martin Behrman on the West Bank is a great example of this richness. We go to the market occasionally to pick up essentials like these duck heads.

Every aisle, no matter what else is on it, has shrimp, fish, or clams in some form. The product lines range from shrimp paste to dried clam powder. But my favorite is the cuttlefish flavored cheesey poofs.
Super Wal-Marts for a while had McDonald's in the back. Hong Kong Market has a pho shop in front.
A large selection of produce lines the left wall. Tiny limes, coconuts, pungent herbs, lemongrass, various varieties of mushrooms, and other things which defy description from this uneducated clown, pave the road to an enormous bank of fish tanks. Housing live fish. You select your crab, catfish, or shark fin and they pull it for you.

Or as with the blue crab bin, you grab it yourself. Wusses need not apply.

Here is a bag of mushrooms that only Willie Nelson could tackle.

Then there is this. What it is, aint exactly clear.

Terms like "organic" and "free range" are touted by the Alice Waters, hippie foodie crowd. But only at Hong Kong Market can you find staunch support of religious, non-violent chickens who study under the Dalai Lama and Richard Gere.

Now for the best part, the banh mi/roasted meats section. Its been at least thirty minutes since your bowl of pho, so you are of course hungry. I would suggest a banh mi.

Then a roast duck or the pork ribs.

Then for dessert. Some children's heads that are filled with chocolate.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rick's Sporting Saloon

Warning: Today's post features graphic male centric-material and as such is not suited to anyone who did not have to be forced to watch Failure to Launch. Sorry, Legend, come back tomorrow.

A few weeks ago we got the blood in your veins pulsing with thoughts of cold weather, football, and pork. Well today lets see if we can up the ante by talking about football, beer, and babes.

We never set out to act like real journalists with this blog, but it seems that some people take us seriously. So a few months ago, on behalf of you, dear reader, I trudged over to Bourbon Street one Wednesday afternoon for a sneak peak at Rick's Sporting Saloon. Located where the legs used to sway (and will once again shortly), this is a new kind of sports bar. Finally a sports bar that says, "Yes men, you can have it all. Big screen TV's, comfortable chairs, bar food, cold draft beer, and naked women."

A sports bar to fill the void in those awkward pre-dusk hours during a bachelor party weekend in New Orleans. You know the ones when you wake up in the balcony suite at the Royal Sonesta and rifle through your pockets only to find 13 free admission cards from Barely Legal, a $134 bar tab from The Famous Door, and a hole where your cell phone was. So you spend the rest of the morning not making eye contact with your fellow partygoers. Finally the fat kid who was friends with the groom in high school asks, "Hey anyone wanna go watch the Georgia/Florida Game?" Only you are on Bourbon street and the only option is strip clubs or places with drinks named after weapons. Well, now you can go to Rick's Sporting Saloon, sling back a few Lazy Magnolia's, scarf down some wings, and pretend you are there just for college football.

A sports bar for your Fantasy Football league. The one that started out as so much fun - when you would get together, get drunk, bust chops, make dumb decisions like selecting Peyton Manning's backup in the 5th Round, and high technology was a bong and a dog-eared copy of Fantasy Football 2004. But now people show up with laptops, flow charts, and iPhones that Steve Jobs cant get. Well, this year schedule your draft party in one of the upstairs VIP rooms at Rick's. With their richly appointed leather chairs, selection of cigars and fine liqours, and gentleman's club atmosphere, those nerds you are friends with may just realize the true meaning of the word "fantasy. "
Walking around Rick's Sporting Saloon felt different than other strip clubs. For one, it is clean. Secondly, it isn't dark nor cramped. The place is handsome on the inside with brick walls, exposed wood beams, and a few trophy bucks mounted on the wall. Large, flat plasma screens display as many sports as you have time to watch. I can imagine the fun in there on a really big football weekend. Admit it, you want to check it out. So do so.

Back to non-gender specific writing tomorrow.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kitchen Confidential & Blackened Out Trivia

While on an extended drive, nothing helps pass the time faster than a book on tape. During last month's jaunt to Tennessee and North Carolina, The Folk Singer and I listened to the audio version of Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain's behind-the-scenes expose of the culinary world. The book had me concentrating on the storyline more than the road ahead of me - not necessarily a safe thing but it gives you an idea of how much I enjoyed it. Bourdain takes you through his youthful summers in France, culinary school at the CIA, and his seemingly never ending job postings in the kitchen. His personal anecdotes are humorous and entertaining, but he also offers insight into the nuts and bolts of working in a kitchen, as well as some practical advice for us wannabes.

And I almost forgot the best part: Bourdain himself narrates the book. Thus, the audio version takes on a more conversational feel than the print version; a touch which adds a certain something which draws the listener in even more.

Exactly how many times can you read/listen to the same book? Well, in this case for me it was twice in 8 days, but usually the answer is only once. So, our dear readers, we have decided to share the wealth and offer you a chance to listen to Bourdain tell tales of the underbelly of the food world. It's perfect for that upcoming Labor Day drive to the Flora-Bama. (NOTE: Bourdain loves dropping the f-bomb, and there are one or two sexually explicit tales, so this one might not be for the kiddies.)

In this inaugural edition of Blackened Out Trivia, the winner will receive the above slightly used audio copy of Kitchen Confidential which will then be autographed by The Pope. The first person to email the correct answers to all of the below questions will be the winner. If you have a pseudonym on this blog, then if you win, we will send the prize to a person of your choosing. OK, here we go:
  1. What libation is commonly referred to by The Pope as "holy water"?
  2. Its 4 am. The Pope has decided to go home from the Red Eye, but not before stopping where, for what?
  3. What menu did The Folk Singer order at The French Laundry?
  4. On the night that Blackened Out was born, in what restaurant did Legend knock over an entire tray of waters and affectionately pinch a waitress's derriere?
  5. What is the maximum number of Ojens a person should consume per 24 hour period?
  6. What local pie maker once chaperoned Legend on one fateful night during Spring Break?
  7. What is the Dread Pirate's favorite place to eat sushi?
There they are. 7 questions; 7 answers. Email your answers to blackenedout at gmail dot com. This is better than winning Powerball.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I was told yesterday's entry was rather mushy. So here is some snarky grumpiness.

Lindsay and I had been on a pretty impressive Ted Williams-esque hot streak. Meals had been going very well and we got overconfident. This overconfidence led us to Transcontinental and West Esplanade for a disappointment of historic magnitude.

I had wanted to go to Laurentino's for years. My interest was further piqued by an article describing how the chef/owner Xavier Laurentino spent some time recently at a Ferran Adria boot camp of sorts. Finally last Friday we made it out there. Walking into Laurentino's really feels like stepping into a tiny tapas spot in San Sebastian. The vibe is cave cool and one is immediately amped for a good meal. Then the food arrives.

To be fair the salad was pretty good. Although the olives came straight from a jar of Lindsey's, the sun dried tomatoes and light dressing were refreshing and a good palate cleanser.
The garlic soup was a disaster. The soup lacked body and soul. Although the menu billed it as garlic and egg set inside a vegetable and chicken stock, the only discernible flavor was rotten shellfish.
Next up was a bowl of gruel in the form of an artichoke pesto. The first bite was flavorful, by the second an intense saltiness took hold. Luckily, the San Miguel beers were close at hand.
The some shrimp in garlic sauce. Look at those shrimp. If you look closely you can see what they ate before being caught. This is New Orleans. I can swing a cat and hit a roadside vendor selling fresh shrimp. These frozen poker chips of brine laden chemicals will not do.

The patatas ali i oli were not bad, but could have been a little crispier. Am I quibbling? Sure, but when each dish has flaws you begin noticing them more and more.
Hope sprang eternal for an order of pork loin on toast with Manchego and roasted pepper. It would have been significantly better with a roasted red pepper rather than a green one. But all in all, this was tasty and I would order it again.

Much of the food suffered from a similar fault: it lacked punch and diversity. The flavors, and colors of dishes, began to all blur together. A garlic sauce can only go so far to cover up inferior products. When that sauce is repeated again and again, its does a better job pointing out flaws rather than hiding them.

Service consisted of a waitress who had her back turned on the dining room for 90% of the time as she folded napkins. I will leave it at that.

Peering into the kitchen, I could see the Chef Laurentino was not in the kitchen. Now, I realize at some restaurants the chef is not in the kitchen. But chefs like Emeril have a highly trained squad to execute his ideas and more importantly develop their own ideas. Maybe chef was on vacation, but he needs to come back. An authentic, delicious Spanish restaurant would be most welcome, a destination disappointment is not.

Laurentino's-Bogey. Will revisit though, perhaps.

Peter on vacation. As if two months of studying for the bar weren't taxing enough, he is off to Portugal and Spain with the Pope and Woodpecker. So that means next Thursday, Guest Blogging Thursdays return for one last incarnation. Win prizes, impress your friends.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Restaurant Le Gaic

One of the number one indicators of a good food culture is whether or not friendly conversation turns to food. Be it in New Orleans, France, Napa or elsewhere if a stranger asks you "Where are you eating while here?", you have chosen a food friendly city. And thus it was with St. Barth's, wherever we went people asked us that question. When we answered "Le Gaic" we got the following response without fail: a rubbing of the belly and " gastronomique."

For our final meal in St. Barth's we chose Restaurant Le Gaic at the Hotel Toiny. The restaurant, like most St. Barth restaurants, is open to the elements. We were seated at the edge of the dining on the edge of an infinity pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The view would have impressed Ansel Adams.

First up was an elegant presentation of olives and gougeres. The green and black olives swam in a lemon infused olive oil. The result was an olive that was neither overtly briny nor acidic but an almost sweet, definitely subtle taste. Next to the olives, folded into billowing white pockets of napkin, were gorgeous little gougeres some filled with mozzarella and tomato others with fried pumpkin.

Settling into the plush, cushioned chairs we realized quickly a fabulous meal would soon come our way. First an amuse of smoked chicken and vegetable spring roll. So tiny and flavorful we wondered if there was a team of small handed chefs in the kitchen.
First course for me was foie gras. An enormous lobe of foie gras sat atop an orange and onion soubisse. Surrounding the delicate liver was a pool of tart demi glace, which contrasted nicely with the rich foie. Sitting atop all of this was a gingerbread tuile, providing a crackly contrast to the smooth star of the dish.
Lindsay's first course was a crispy scallop dish studded with truffles and surrounded by a salted lemon foam. The truffles in this dish were no afterthought. Large, almost pulsing truffles were tucked into the nooks and crannies. To find a truffle amongst the scallops was to unearth a treasure of the forest under the sea.
Next up for me (I had two additional courses than Lindsay did) was a crawfish ravioli with an almond foam. Delicious, huge crawfish perfectly poached, hide under impossibly thin sheets of pasta. This produced an altogether different sensation of eating crawfish than our typical and wonderful boiled crawfish.
One of the specials the night we were there was a truffled cream pasta course. Which sounds decadent in its own right, but the presentation was even more luxurius. A huge wheel of Parmesan was rolled over to the table, its inside hallowed out to create a bowl. The warm pasta was tossed in the pasta bowl while hot cream was ladled over it. Then, a truffle the size of a golf ball was shaved over the whole thing.

In one of the great misopportunities of my life, we skipped this dish. Earlier in the week Lindsay had eaten "the single greatest thing ever". A ravioli with ricotta, truffle, and cream. She feared ruining the memory of such an exquisite dish. Sometimes it is about what you dont eat.

Then before the main courses, we were served a lime sorbet. A perfect palate cleanser, as beautiful to look at as it was to eat. Yes, this one also had a foam.

Lindsay's main course was a grouper stuffed with lobster and another light foam along with some perfectly cooked asparagus spears.
I had the duck with tiny baby vegetables and a cherry coffee stick. The cherry coffee stick provided the sweetness so often served with duck, but in a wholly new light.

Dessert for me was a false Cannoli of chocolate mousse, marinated strawberries, and basil foam wrapped in a nougat shell. The dish was stunning. The grassiness of the basil foam gave way to the acidic sweetness of the strawberries which then birthed the dark, rich chocolate mousse.
Lindsay opted for a Grasshopper cocktail served with a spun globe of dark chocolate.

The wines were nothing to sneeze at either. A 2007 White Burgundy took us up to the Duck Course, while this herbaceous, cherry driven Gevrey-Chambertin with its delicate tannins saw us through dessert.

Finally some mignardiase including the smallest palmiers I have ever seen. Writing this article, I struggled to come up with a great closing line. Some Bourdain like summation that was both philosophical and paradoxical. But no such line came. Instead I realized that sometimes sharing an amazing meal with someone you love deeply is meaning enough.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Reviving the Whole Loaf in Lakeview

Some of you Lakeview lifers might remember Charlie's Delicatessen on Harrison Ave, which was the home of The Moon - ham, turkey, hot roast beef and gravy, cheese, and cole slaw piled on muffuletta bread... it was unreal. But for me, Charlie's always stood out for selling their sandwiches by the whole loaf. I remember going to my buddy's house after baseball practice and thinking that I had found heaven when his mom walked in with both a loaf of roast beef and an oyster loaf.

Charlie's aint dere no more, but you can still get a whole loaf in that very same building thanks to the recent opening of Koz's. The second location of the reincarnation of The Bakery in Gentilly (whose old sign has found a new home inside the Lakeview shop), Koz's is every bit a neighborhood joint. The food is good, but both The Pope and I agreed that Koz's #1 selling point is its value. This place is cheap.

How cheap? Well, if I were one of those people who bought into stereotypes, then I would tell you that Koz's is so cheap that there were 9 police officers eating at various tables when we walked in. But I don't believe in pigeon-holing any particular group of people, so I will just have to quote prices instead.

Here we have the Monday and Saturday special of fried chicken. $7.50 will get you 2 pieces, 2 sides, and french bread, but the best part is that this chicken was fried to order.

Who doesn't love a hot sausage po-boy? Who doesn't love a 12" hot sausage po-boy for $8. And there were 3 full patties of spicy pork goodness on this bad boy.

I was disappointed in myself for not getting the whole loaf, but with bathing suit season in full bloom I thought it would be in my best interest to show some self control. Next time though I'm getting the BBQ ham, which was a specialty at The Bakery and something I have not eaten in probably 10 years.

Koz's in Lakeview - Par.

Edit - We regret forgetting to mention that Koz's other location is in Harahan - hometown of one of our favorite blog characters, Big Brutal Dave, who scrupulously noted our omission in the comments. Even though BBD has moved up in the world by becoming a homeowner in the 70124, the man has not forgotten where he came from.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Classic Combinations

Peanut Butter and Jelly

True story. Every single day in pre-K through my two years of kindergarten, I ate exactly the same thing: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. One day the schoolmarm said to me, "Rene, if you bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich tomorrow, I am going to replace it with a sandwich of my choosing."

Recognizing at a young age that once you walk away from your principles and act like a punk, you lose all credibility, the next day I brought a PB&J. Sure enough at lunch my beloved sandwich was replaced by a foul, sulfur smelling egg salad sandwich.

I can still remember the stench, sight and taste of that bright yellow, likely salmonella riddled, sandwich as I tried to force it down. After finishing that torture chamber of cuisine, I puked all over that broad and the school. The next day I brought another PB&J. This time I was able to enjoy it in peace and quiet. To this day an egg salad sandwich has never darkened these lips.

Sure you can play with different ingredients to get the flavor combination. You could make peanut butter ice cream with a jelly gastric, if you were so inclined. Hell, Susan Spicer makes a ridiculously good duck PB&J. But for me nothing beats the classic. Bunny bread, JIF creamy, and Welch's Grape Jelly, cut into four squares, slightly warmed from sitting inside a plastic Ziploc baggie and smelling faintly of the Oreos, banana, and Gushers which it cozied up next to in a Mr. T lunch box. Serve it with well-chilled chocolate milk for maximum results.

So here is to you, PB&J, the most noble of all sandwiches, a flavor combination for the ages, builder of character, and my first food love.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lovely Places To Eat When You Are Stranded in St. Barth's

Part II

St. Barth's is a Caribbean Island with one toe in the Atlantic. The island began 50 million years ago when God used his mulligan after Tijuana, Cozumel, and Panama City. So he created a French and Swedish colonial island where truffles grow on foie gras trees and fish ferry fresh fruits from Neptune's treasure chest. Needless to say, it is a horrific place to visit if you don't like wonderful food, unspoiled beaches, and the smell of the ocean.

So if you happen to find yourself stranded in St. Barth's, here are some places you should eat, if you must.

Every morning we headed to La Petite Colombe Boulangerie for croissants, fresh squeezed orange juice, and cafe creme. I am not making that name up, for you insiders of the blog. Any time your day begins by dodging shrapnel from a near perfect croissant and tearing ends off of a baguette, I would say your day can only go up. Grab a sandwich on your way to the beach. We grew partial to the Curry Chicken Salad.
K'Fe Massai was a charming African attired, world flavored, French bistro. To start Lindsay got a duo of raw beef: carpaccio and tartare. I jumped on the foie gras torchon with fig mostarda with such gusto the waiter shuddered. For my main I had an ethereal pork dish (which did not photo well) with perfectly cooked vegetables and caramelized rice with a soy sauce glaze. Lindsay head butted this seafood risotto, with chunks of lobsters, shrimp, scallops, and mahi mahi. Her main complaint? She wanted more.

For dessert, Lindsay chose an apple tart tatin with cinnamon ice cream. It came with a crown of sesame.
I had the Ti Punch barely understanding what that was. What arrived was a glass of vanilla rum and a Liuzza's style schooner of lemon sorbet. The sorbet had chunks of lemon confit which created a dynamic textural balance to the tart and smooth sorbet. You poured the rum over the sorbet, swirled it around, and watched your troubles fall to the wayside. At least that is how I did it.
Probably one of my favorite meals of the trip was at this little spot called Andy's The Hideaway. At lunchtime, it became the hub of the island with the gendarme, city clerks, and workmen sharing bottles of cold, vin ordinaire rouge as they tucked into the plat du jour. We opted for more Carpaccio. The Carpaccio came awash in a less formal version of pesto. Lemon, basil, and olive oil, lightly pureed and painted over thin slices of beef tenderloin. This Carpaccio was so good it made you wonder why man discovered fire.

Then some pizzas. A Neapolitan for Lindsay with extra anchovies and one with Bayonne ham for me. I am sure you are saying, "Pizzas, cheesburgers, you tourists." Shut up, we were on vacation and the smells from the oven could not be ignored. Plus they were studies in why a pizza made with a thin-crust and judicious use of toppings is just damn good.
Guess which pizza had ham on it? After Lindsay downed her Planter's Punch we ordered a Carafe of the aforementioned wine. The afternoon's appointments were seriously in jeopardy.
Dessert of course was more ice cream with liquor on the top. Here, they chose strawberry and lemoncello. A call was placed, all appointments for the afternoon were canceled in favor of a nap by the pool.
More on St. Barth's next week, including our run in with high gastronomy, foams, and wheels of parmesan.