Monday, August 15, 2011

The Heat Is On

Look, I understand that we live in a man-made concrete jungle in the middle of a swamp, but the heat lately has just been ridiculous. I appreciate this morning's gift of a taste of fall, but unfortunately I realize that the previews start at least a month or two before the premiere.

I was at the farmers market on Saturday morning for a total of 15 seconds before my shirt looked like it had been sprayed down with a gardening hose. You take one step outside of your air conditioned comfort zone, and it's like your entire body is instantaneously covered in one of those hot towels that the server hands you when you sit down at a sushi restaurant. Living downtown and having the luxury of walking to work has been transformed to a game of cat and mouse between finding the shadiest route and timing your departure so as to avoid having to wait for the crosswalk signal.

The Folk Singer has resigned to driving to work. We live three blocks from her office.

This August has almost sucked all of the enjoyment out of eating. I was craving a po-boy over the weekend, but knocking out a hot sausage po-boy from Parkway I had to take an ice bath for 3 hours just to get my core body temperature back down to 98.6. Firing up the grill outside is like paying russian roulette unless you have grilling tongs which stretch from your kitchen window out to the old Weber. Turning the oven on just seems completely counter intuitive considering that your primary goal is to keep your house as cool as possible. It's too bad that braised dishes are out of the question because you could cook osso buco simply by throwing a few veal shanks, tomato, and wine in a dutch oven and leaving it on the front porch while you are at work.

But all hope is not lost for culinary delight in the land of the 110 heat index. Here is a list of my favorite foods that help stave off the summer:

  • Cold Soups - Gazpacho is the most well known (and rumor has it that Coquette's version is one of the best in town). At last week's Tuesday market at Tulane Square, I had an amazingly refreshing and flavorful vichychoisse served up by La Divina under the Green Plate Special tent. On the menu this week is a chilled cucumber soup with housemade creme fraiche and dill that sounds equally delightful.
  • Pate, Cheese, & Olives - And wine of course, and maybe a loaf of bread. St. James Cheese Company is an obvious choice, but don't forget about the affettati misti at Domenica or the long list of offerings at the Delachaise.  Or stop by Butcher and build your own.
  • Sushi - I won't open that can of worms again by telling you where to go, but let's just say that I have ejoyed a few strong meals at Horinoya over the past few weeks.
  • Cold Crabmeat & Shrimp - Nothing wrong with a generous portion of shrimp remoulade or crabmeat maison over mixed greens with maybe a few slices of avocado or hearts of palm. I'm partial to the chilled roasted beets topped with crabmeat in a horseradish emulsion at La Petite Grocery.
Or you copy my dinner from last night by skipping dinner and knocking out a pint of mascarpone and lemon zest ice cream from the Creole Creamery.

What are your favorite foods that help beat the heat?


Anonymous said...

Hands down: Seafood stuffed tomato salad at Sammy's on Elysian Fields. For around $11 you get a huge mound of shrimp & crabmeat salad (which I liken to the shrimp or crabmeat maison at Galtoire's complete with capers!!!) over a large tomato & mixed greens. I had leftovers! It was delicious. I highly recomend it.

RBPoBoy said...

Bowtie pasta sald with pesto, crumbled feta and cherry tomatoes. Pair with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

jshushan said...

That salad at Sammy's is really good. Downtown, I like the grilled Ahi Tuna Salad at Allegro Bistro. Beats the heat and tastes good. Caveat: My office is on 15 and they are friends.


Ned said...

I had an excellent bowl of Gazpacho at Bacchanal last night.

Sir Velvet said...

Ajo Blanco soup at Lola's. While you're there, have some of their simple yet delicious ceviche.

julia f said...

I can't believe nobody has mentioned a sno-ball, which makes an excellent dinner in August - I am partial to Pandora's with half black cherry, half tangerine.

Peter said...


I went to Sammy's once with the intention of ordering the seafood stuffed tomato, but while standing in line I saw someone carrying one to the table and the tomato looked mealy and past its prime so I opted out. I'll try it one day soon though.


That sounds like a perfect summer salad. We did a caprese quinoa last night (which I would consider in the same genre as your dish), and that was delicious.


If I have to go to Allegro's, I usually order the ahi tuna salad.


Good call with Bacchanal. I need to get back there once the weather cools off.

Sir Velvet,

I have never had to ajo blanco or the ceviche at Lola. I foresee sangria in my future.

Julia F,

Good call on the sno-ball. I like Pandora's, but Hansen's FTW.


thomas cook said...

Domenica's cold tomato soup with lump crabmeat. nice lemon vinegarette cuts the sweetness of the crab really well. a little drizzle of EVOO makes this dish a delight.