Friday, August 13, 2010

We Live to Eat Finals

After weeks of grueling competition, voting machine problems, and scandals, the 2010 We Live To Eat Contest comes down to this. You, ladies and gentlemen of the jury hold the fate of New Orleans in your hand. For it is your votes that will decide who gains fame, notoriety, and some pretty sweet gift certificates. As always vote with your heart. Today, Wild Bert enjoys a Pimmuffuletta, McLovin invites us to "rage" with him, Stephen Agans lives it up golden style, Double chin doubles his fun, Seersucker and Sazeracs cruises the highways and byways, and Capn P plunders Magazine St.

Wild Bert (Only Sandwiches)

You are awoken by sunlight streaming in through the only gap in the curtains…so much for sleeping in after last night’s bender. Your rumbling stomach motivates you out of bed. After ten minutes and a cold shower, you’re ravenous. Driving past a McDonald’s, you are tempted to duck in for a McRib and sate the childish beast inside, but you have bigger plans for the day. You head to the Ruby Slipper and try their classic breakfast sandwich on for size. Juicy Creole country sausage links, eggs poached to perfection, and cheddar, Swiss, and provolone top this morning gem. The best sourdough bread you’ve had since San Fran caps this baby off. A few taps of Tabasco, a mimosa, and you’re off…egg yolk dripping down your chin.

You receive a frantic call from The Beggar asking for a ride home from the East. Not one to pry about others’ after hours activities, you head over, no questions asked, with the understanding that a trip to Dong Phuong will be the payment for transit. You pick her up, sporting God knows whose T-shirt from Newman ’09 (is that even legal?), and head to “The Dong”. Inundated with the aroma of French bread fresh from the oven, your banh mi awaits. Crisp, pickled vegetables perfectly complement the hot, chewy bread, the smooth, unctuous pâté and other delicious pig parts. You wash it all down with a mango boba tea, which, unfortunately for The Beggar, cannot wash away the shame of yet another bad decision.

Since your dining companion was too cheap to buy her own pistolette full of blessed Vietnamese pork, you realize you still have “room for one more”. Capitalizing on your current location, you head to Walker’s for a cochon de lait poboy. Wanda greets you with a smile and a sandwich overflowing with creamy slaw and slow-cooked pig…thank you for your sacrifice, “Porky”.

After dropping off your companion for a desperately needed shower, you decide to head to the Quarter and abandon sobriety. A stop at Napoleon House provides the familiarity of ancient surroundings, a surly bartender, and a refreshing Pimm’s Cup. Not one to upset the herd, you order a ¼ muffuletta to ensure that you retain your comfortable spot at the bar. The cool, clean flavors of your expertly made cocktail effortlessly balance with the rich, melted cheeses, briny olive salad, and abundant cross section of Italian meats.

A few (or ten) cold Abitas at The Chart Room later, and you’re back off the wagon. You’re too late for the PB&J Duck at Bayona and as tempting as that Luke Burger is, you opt for a classic New Orleans indulgence…the Ferdi’s Special. Filled with all of the greatest hits: house-baked ham, tender roast beef, and delicious bits of debris; each one graces this epic feast of a sandwich.

You know that tomorrow, you’ll pay, but you’ll also want to do it all over again. Maybe a late night Fat Kid Special will help you reconsider…

McLovin (Friday in Lent)

When I’m home for spring break, Fridays in Lent are always fun because I get to eat all of the seafood that is not as abundant way up in Killadelphia. Since I am repenting for disorderly conduct on Mardi Gras and my abstinence from alcohol is not enough, I start the day off at St. Francis Xavier where I partake of the Body and Blood of Christ (no longer wine).

Then I mozy on over to Camellia Grill to meet a friend that used to walk there and went to school with me at Stuart Hall. Since the key to eating during lent is to pack all you can in one meal (isn’t there a no eating between meals ban?) I order one of their huge omelets with cheese, green onions, and mushrooms along with French fries and a Vanilla freeze because I’m the weird kid who likes Vanilla more than Chocolate.

Then another friend comes over bearing gifts: a billion pounds of boiled crawfish from Deanie's. While he relives our highschool Lenten Fridays of eating crawfish and stealing our parents’ beer, I drink a nice Abita Root Beer because man cannot live on Abita Amber alone. After eating enough crawfish, corn, and red potatoes to feed a third world country, he leaves and I catch up on all the trashy daytime television that I don’t have time to watch up at school.

After a few hours of watching the real housewives of whatever city is currently playing, I have to go run all the errands that I have to do while still in town. Overheated and thirsty, I stop in at Plum Street for an afternoon pick-me up. I get an Ice Cream snowball. I figure it’s not breaking the no eating between meals rule because it’s not really food, just pure deliciousness on ice.

Then the rest of the afternoon is spent deciding where I will force my parents take me to dinner. It is the age-old question: with limited time in town, do I go to an old favorite or one of the new restaurants everyone raves about? I decide upon Brennan’s where I partake of their turtle soup (turtle is a sea creature and here is a place where you can be sure they don’t substitute other things), shrimp Sardou, and Crepes Fitzgerald. Fully satisfied, I head home and fall into a deep sleep.

Sleeping beauty is awakened three hours later by friends who want to rage. Feeling like Mary Magdalene must have felt after meeting Jesus, I pass and check off another day on the countdown to Easter.

P.S. My friend just was like "do yall read this blog blackenedout? I read it every morning". She was excited when she found out I knew you and wants you to rage with us tonight.

Stephen Agans (Can't Leave the Quarter)

My friends from Oakland, aka the Hipster and the Amazon Queen, were visiting from Oakland, so we had a lot of eating to do. First stop...

Crescent D’Or
The line into the patisserie winds out the door, and as we slowly shuffle towards the register we eye the gorgeous fruit tarts. The Queen needs the mocha torte and she lucks out and gets it lovingly placed in a bag next to the sausage and almond pastries while I grab the coffees to go. Hoping I got everyone’s order correct, We get back, wake up the Hipster and shove the coffee into his face. Smiling and happy, he grabs his cup of joe and we all devour our breakfast. Perfect flaky layers upon layers dissolve on in our mouths as the coffee slowly kicks in. The almond paste is just perfect, not too sweet or cloying while the pastry provides just the right amount of decadence for the morning. After reminiscing about the glory days of school, we start talking about lunch pretty soon, and we all decide that we are in need of...

It is already getting crowded and we scarcely secure some bar stools while we glance up at the wall- I promise myself to NOT get the same pasta dish, the Rosa, that I always get while the other two talk about who is going to get the steak and the jambalaya. I summon enough willpower to get the opelusus, chuck full of green beans and chicken in a gorgeous cream sauce while the Hipster dives into the rabbit filled rice in front if him. While we devour our food, The Queen gracefully dines on her steak, just the right shade of pink and drenched in a lovely sauce. One of our school friends showed up and wonders out loud if its too early or too late for a bloody mary. The Hipster and I, swigging from our Abita Abbey Ale, assure her that as long as it have the green beans anytime is the right time. As we polish off our beers, we decide to kill the afternoon with some rock band until...

I get a text message from my girlfriend. She is already sipping on some white wine at Irene’s. We, on the other had, are still playing rock band. As we frantically dress and I try to explain why exactly we are late, the girlfriend laughs and says I owe her at least one air guitar. We arrive and find her in the corner casually sipping on a sauv blanc. We order some grappa all around and before the escargot and crab gratin come out, all creamy and perfect over their crusty bread. Then my bouillabaisse came out, with saffron and hunks of snapper while duck, veal and shrimp were being passed around the table. We could not pass up the mocha cake and some coffee, and then we amble outward, ready to have a few drinks in the sweltering heat.

Double Chin (All Ethnic)

The true beauty about being assigned to eat Mexican, Italian, Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese foods in one day is twofold: First, I’m fat. Second, if I were to come up with an ideal day of eating on my own, these cuisines would each be part of the plan. One of the best things about New Orleans is that you can dine all around the globe, without ever leaving the confines of Orleans Parish.

Breakfast: To begin my gluttonous dream day of stomach stuffing, I’d start with a little breakfast at Taqueria Corona. “But T.C. isn’t open for breakfast you tourist!”, you might say. Guess what? This is my fantasy eating day and I can pretend like it’s open early in the a.m. if I want. Deal with it. It’s only fair to send my system into utter shock by starting with a big bowl of queso fundido and some cebollitas, followed by chorizo and ribeye tacos, before finishing with perhaps their best dish; the beef Mexican pizza. I strongly considered contacting Doc Brown to see if the Back to the Future DeLorean time machine was available to take me back to the uptown Cucos, circa 1992, but we probably couldn’t her get up to 88 mph on Carrollton Avenue.

Lunch: Raw Fish!!! I am absolutely obsessed with sushi. I’d eat the stuff everyday if I could afford it and if my internal mercury level wasn’t already approaching toxic heights. Since New Orleans is blessed with 123,456,789 great sushi bars, I can’t bring myself to choose only one place on this day of days. Instead, I’ll do what I do almost every Sunday…take out sushi. However, this time I’ll be ordering my favorite rolls from three of my preferred spots. The order looks a little something like this:
  1. Sushi Brothers: Crunchy Dynamite Roll, Metairie Roll, Fema Roll (add cream cheese), Black/Gold Roll.
  2. Kyoto: Sushi Taco Salad (extra points for combining two foreign cuisines into one dish), Sara Roll, Funky Margarita Roll, Crunchy Roll.
  3. Mikimoto: Spicy Salmon Roll, Mango Roll, Salmon Twist Roll.
FYI, I have actually done this fat man move before, as evidenced in the picture below. Don’t judge me.

Afternoon Snack: A quick trip to Nola east leads me to Dong Phuong Oriental Bakery, where some of the most authentic Vietnamese treats can be found. This “snack” includes pork/shrimp eggrolls, Pho with assorted beef and finally, chargrilled pork Banh Mi for the ride back.

Dinner: A garlic/olive oil party at Vincent’s. I’d start with lots of breadsticks dumped in a tub of garlic/green onion butter, corn/crab bisque in a bread bowl, fried artichokes with crabmeat/shrimp and then finish with veal parmesan, angel hair bordelaise, lots of vino and a quick heart attack.

After being resuscitated, I’d head home and raid the fridge for leftover Five Happiness Kung Pao Chicken from the night before.

Think I can’t eat all of this in one day? They didn’t call me “Wings by the Pound Browne” during my competitive eating stint in ’06 for nothing.

Seersuckers and Sazeracs (Can't Enter Orleans Parish)

"O'Dark Thirty"
Where am I? Clearly I am not safely tucked in, under the covers in my warm bed just off of St. Charles Avenue. I'm cold, and my face feels like it has been pressed against my keyboard. I must have fallen asleep working late in my office on Causeway. I stumble out and down to the corner to Morning Call. I order some beignets, but no coffee. Morning Call makes the better beignets, but I choose to grab a Frozen Cafe Au Lait from Cafe Du Monde on Vets. I'm running early for an "appointment," so I kill time by stopping at Tastee on Clearview and getting a McKenzie's Buttermilk Drop.

"Is Thin Fried the opposite of Deep Fried?"
I find myself underneath I-55 at the turnaround in Ruddock, LA. It isn't even light out yet. I'm handing him a wad of cash, and in return I am getting an overly nondescript brown paper bag. Nothing I've ever done has felt more like a drug deal. It is an overly nondescript brown paper bag full of fresh quail and trout filets. While I'm out here, I swing by for a very early lunch at Middendorf's. I plan on having the "thick" catfish, because the thin fried catfish are just too thin, and the "thick" here is still thinner than the catfish at most other places. This is my plan, but whole stuffed flounder tempts to derail my plan. I get both. I leave with leftovers.

"Operation Delicious Drop"
My parents know I am bringing this quail over to there house. (I'm having my mom make Gumbo out of it), so they call and ask me to pick up lunch. I offer them leftover flounder and catfish, but they want po-boys. I stop by Shortstop and order a king sized roast beef, dressed for everyone to split. It is dripping with gravy and delicious. I leave my parents with these massive amounts of food as I head out to find a drink.

"It's Beer O'Clock, and I'm Buying"
I find that although I have been at Lagers only a short while, I've had enough Abita to drown an elephant. I've mostly been sticking to Jockamo and S.O.S., but I think I squeezed a Turbodog or something in there. I leave this fine establishment when my ride arrives, and off to dinner we go.

"Is it Charlie's or Charles?"
It is Charlie's by the way. The sign read "Charles" as a Typo, but those old neon signs weren't cheap, so they went with it. I frequented charlie's Seafood on Jefferson Highway often before the storm, but since Frank [Brigsten] took over, I've been a regular. And because I am a regular I need not even order; my regular waitress knows that I have a craving for the un-fried seafood platter. mmmmm... Baked Oysters. mmmm... Stuffed crab. But most of all, I love that Grilled Black Drum, covered in shrimp, crabmeat, and butter. Lots of Butter.

"Home is Where the Heart is"
I may have chosen to live my adult life as a resident of the City of New Orleans, but I grew up in the River Ridge/Harrahan area, there is nothing that makes one feel more at home than those comforts of one's childhood. That is why I choose to end the evening with a Nectar snoball from Ro-Bears (also on jeff Highway) and a bowl of my mom's gumbo. Good Night.

Capn P (Must Eat on Magazine Only)

Outside of the French Quarter, there’s no area that is more unique than Magazine Street. A quick six mile stretch of mainly locally owned shops, restaurants, galleries and homes; Magazine exemplifies the New Orleans spirit.

I start my day pondering what direction I want to go for breakfast, super greasy food at Slim Goodies that may put me back in bed, or slightly lighter fare with equally delicious options at Surreys. I do a quick drive by and much to my dismay there are lines outside of both. Since this is my dream day I refuse to wait at either and head over to the brand spanking new Surrey’s uptown location (formerly Fuel Coffee House) next to Le Bon Temps. Fortunately since it is so new, there is no line and we sit right down. I cannot make up my mind on just one item, so I decide to try two. The boudin breakfast sandwich on a homemade biscuit with a fried egg on top screams out at me, as does the bananas foster french toast. The boudin breakfast sandwich is perfect. Two patties of boudin cooked crispy on the outside but nice and tender on the inside, covered with a big sunny side up egg, on a delicious fluffy homemade biscuit that reminds me of the Popeye’s buttermilk biscuits…but better. It’s accompanied by a side of grits, to which I add cheese. The bananas foster French toast is equally as amazing. Actual french bread stuffed with bananas and cream cheese, topped with a bananas foster rum sauce. Initially I planned to eat only pieces of both, but I end of devouring both servings.

After breakfast I stroll down Magazine to work the food through my system. I pass on the many great poboy shops for lunch, because I am looking for something a little lighter. I end up at Stein’s Deli on the uptown corner of Jackson…one of the few true NYC delis in NOLA, and in my eyes the best. I go with the classic Reuben on rye. After perusing the local papers they call my name and I’m greeted with a monster corned beef sandwich topped with Russian dressing, fresh sauerkraut, and a heap of melted swiss cheese. This sandwich is accompanied by a bottled Barqs and a side of Zapps salt and vinegar chips.

Lunch was light and leaves me with plenty of room to support the many Magazine watering holes. After an afternoon of drinking on the Bulldog patio I take a half mile stroll to Lilette, arguably one of NOLAs best restaurants. The atmosphere is perfect, and a hefty scotch gets me ready to eat. First course is grilled beets with goat cheese and walnuts. Followed up with the summer special, creamy chilled sweet corn broth soup with crabmeat and avocado. My entrée is the signature hangar steak with bordelaise, and homemade fries on the side…paired nicely with a glass of Bichot, Bourgogne. Dinner is a home run!

My post dinner routine leads me back to the Sucre block, but this time I opt for the lighter gelato shop next door. The best part of La Divina gelateria, aside from the gelato, is the friendly staff. They encourage that I try every flavor and I decide on a small serving of the pineapple mint sorbet. This light but flavorful serving cleanses the palate, and provides me with enough sugar to fuel my next trip to the bars...

It’s days like this that I sit back and think, there’s no better city in the world. There’s no place like NOLA.


Anonymous said...

The fact that you're willing to cross the industrial canal in search of great food legitimizes you, in my opinion. too many uptown bloggers think restaurants start at ninja and end at julie's little india kitchen.

-bob (originally from no east, but i fell for an uptown girl)

(also, I love vietnamese food)

Anonymous said...

The fact that a few of these submissions are in exactly the same format as the blogger tells me that a few of these folks are "in the know." I wouldn't be surprised if they're all friends, with grand plans of increasing blog traffic while retaining the prizes for themselves..

Anonymous said...

Annoyance said.. Mclovin, if you think the best brunch in town is at Brennan's then you clearly do Not live in this city!!!