Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rainy weather...

Sloppy seconds of Tropical Storm Alex has made it much rainier than usual yesterday and today (the weekend was glorious, though!) As I've mentioned before, there are almost always afternoon downpours, but they come through and leave very quickly. The stuff this week is really sticking around. Makes it hard to motivate to explore.

Yesterday, pretty much the only thing I did was make it to breakfast at Surrey's on Magazine Street.




Still scarred from my previous breakfast debacle, I didn't order too adventurously. Also, it was early-ish on a Monday morning and my stomach was still waking up. So instead of the hogshead cheese eggs benedict or enormous plate of eggs AND bacon AND sausage AND ham AND grits AND biscuits with sausage gravy, I just had the Surrey Special, which is your standard eggs (over easy), meat (maple cured sausage), biscuit and starch side (in my case, grits, of course.)

Surrey's is also a juice bar, so I had some of their fresh squeezed lemonade. When I ordered the lemonade, the waitress (who called me "hon") asked me if I wanted watermelon or strawberry juice added to it. Since I've been on a watermelon lemonade kick (and hope to make some in my own kitchen soon) I went with that.

It was a nice plate of food. The sausage wasn't in preformed patties, and was really tasty stuff. Eggs were cooked perfectly, the grits were nice and well seasoned, and the homemade biscuit was delicious. Yay! Now I know a place nearby that is mellow and has yummy breakfast food.

That was the highlight of the day, really- I was waiting on word of a job I'd applied for, and waited all day till 6pm, when I found out I didn't get it. So, waiting for that news and also getting it pretty much sucked. It's not that big a deal- I don't know that I'm ready to go back to work yet - but it still is no fun.

We ended up ordering from Reginelli's after Tom cheered me up with a delicious "Martinez" cocktail. The recipe I found closest to what he made, which was on the bottle of Old Tom gin we recently acquired, can be found here, but we did 1.5 oz each gin and sweet vermouth and used orange bitters instead of Angostura. It's funny how many variations there are on this classic cocktail, said to be the inspiration for the modern martini. I loved it! Although, I really love sweet vermouth. so that's no surprise.

We ate pizza and drank Martinezes and watched a few episodes of season 3 Ashes to Ashes before my head and stomach said, "enough!" and thus ended a kind of crappy day. Which wasn't actually so bad at all.

Today's weather is similar to yesterday's, but I was much more productive. I finished my grocery shopping for dinner tonight and tomorrow, picked up Tom's shirt that had been repaired, and worked out how to beat the outrageous prices of spices at Whole Foods. While a jar of cardamom seeds was $10.99 (!!!!!), they had it in their bulk spice jars and I got a couple teaspoons (all I needed) for 69 cents. Same for tumeric and garam masala. Whoo hoo!

I came home and chilled out for a while, listening to the rain, watching Law & Order repeats. I read on Chowhound that Cochon was open for lunch (it's open continuously from 11am to 10pm with the same menu all day,) which was news to me, and I was off! It was pouring, but whatever!

I ordered the Boss Hogg cocktail to start- watermelon juice (I know, I know...), cucumber vodka, and moonshine.



Yummy! I found out later that they make their own maraschino cherries and also infuse them into bourbon to make Cherry Bounce, which: jebus, I gotta get over there without my car soon.

I ordered their shrimp and deviled egg gumbo, which is just how it sounds: a deep dark shrimp and sausage gumbo with a deviled egg in the middle of it. I'd heard folks from around here say that it reminded them of family recipes that would include hard cooked eggs either in the gumbo or as a side.



It was really delicious, and unexpected, and wonderful. So much flavor.

I'd seen a couple oyster dishes on the menu- after hearing other sad tales of supply and pricing issues, I checked to see if they were still offering those oyster options. The bartender said they were getting their oysters for the time being from the west coast of the Gulf, from Texas, which was still uncontaminated. For now. I figured I should enjoy the oysters while I still could, and ordered the oyster and bacon sandwich:



Which was, as you can imagine, INSANELY AWESOME. The oysters were beautifully fried, the tomato was sweet and delicious, the remoulade sauce was tangy, creamy and sweet... it was like an oyster po'boy + BLT... ON CRACK. (also, a moment to celebrate the pickles they serve, the unsung heroes of sourness and vinergary heat.) They cure their bacon in house so you know everything on that sandwich (and in its immediate vicinity) was magically delicious.

As I finished up, the bartender brought by the dessert menu. I eyed the blueberry cobbler with creole cream cheese ice cream and thought about how nice it might be to savor that with a cherry bounce cordial. But I could see there was a break in the rain, and it was coming up on my time at the parking meter, so I passed and left quite satisfied.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

foods &tc

So, yesterday we did get to the farmers market before our Mid City adventures- got: corn, tomatoes, mushrooms, watermelon, blueberries, shrimp, whole flounder, lamb shoulder roast, sweet banana peppers, cucumbers, and milk. Oh! And we FINALLY remembered to bring our knives in for sharpening!

My farmers market purchases are generally my jumping off points for menu planning.

So, tonight, I was craving my shrimp and grits, so I made that along with some maque choux, which used up the corn and a couple of the peppers.

Tomorrow I want to make this recipe for the flounder: Sauteed Flounder with Tomatoes and Olives (thanks, Emeril! I tell you, I have a lot more respect for Emeril since I've actually eaten at his restaurant.) Maybe I'll cook up the mushrooms as well?

Wednesday night I hope to make a lamb curry with my shoulder roast. Possibly a korma, because it's my favorite.

I also plan on making watermelon lemonade (got the idea from the guy from Satsuma we met last night- he gave some advice. I bought my lemonade, but I'll liquefy my watermelon in the blender, strain, and mix equal parts with lemonade. OMG YUM.

Last but not least, I plan to make blueberry buckle with our blueberries.

Man, this is the life! Cooking and eating and exploring in New Orleans.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Jack & Jake's fundraiser

So, Tom and I went to this lamely-named but well-intentioned fundraiser:



It was a benefit to support Gulf fishermen. It was in the space where Jack & Jake's Market will eventually be, any time between mid August and late October. Ate some pretty good food there- there was a pulled pork with cucumber and squash salad/relish and a chilled tomato soup with crab salad from the Donald Link folks, a shrimp and corn salad from Patois, sausage from Crescent Pie & Sausage, local blueberries with creole cream cheese, jambalaya, popsicles and watermelon lemonade from Satsuma, gelato from La Divinia, and other stuff. Also local beer (Bayou Teche, HeinerBrau, Southern Magnolia, NOLA Brewing) and wine (uh, not local.)

There was a band and very nice people. I wore my new chapeau! (here it is, in a picture taken a couple days ago)



we stayed for about an hour or so, grazed, and left to head home and watch the season finale of Dr. Who. An excellent Saturday night indeed.

Well, except for the enormous bug in our apartment that Taz pointed out and Tom had to kill, which traumatized him for hours. (To, not Taz. Taz took it all in stride and was pretty pleased with himself.) It wasn't a roach, just your garden variety enormous freaking bug. Ah, the joys of New Orleans living.

lunch and stuff



Today Tom and I ventured out to Mid-City to eat po'boys at Parkway Bakery and Tavern. I had the roast beef, and Tom had the fried shrimp. You gotta get your po'boys "dressed" - with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo - even if you get a roast beef po'boy which is served hot and with gravy. It might sound sick and wrong to the uninitiated, but it is really very tasty.

We were able to score a bar table, had our sandwiches, an order of sweet potato fries (which were excellent) and a couple ice cold Abita Wheat beers to wash it down with.




Today is another hot day, so after we spent our $50 Living Social coupon at Cork & Bottle (also in Mid-City) on a couple beers, a bottle of wine, and a bottle of Old Tom gin, we made our way back to our side of town and I introduced Tom to the unfettered joy of a Hansen's Sno-Bliz. Today I had half cream of nectar and half (tart) satsuma, with a dollop of condensed milk. Tom had a killer combo- gingersnap (basically, just straight up ginger syrup) and cream of coconut. Also with the condensed milk of course. Hansen's has made me a believer in the awesomeness of sweetened condensed milk!

While waiting in line for a while (we were not the only people to have this brilliant idea on a hot sunny Saturday afternoon), we read the decades of articles and letters, and looked at the many many pictures taken through the years. The signs proclaiming the flavors and prices are hand lettered and quite dated looking- it all adds to the feeling that you've stepped back in time, to the sweltering summer heat of New Orleans before air conditioning.

After we ordered, to the approval of the 2 ladies behind the counter (one of whom is Ashley Hanson, daughter of the original owners, who re-opened the store post-Katrina after her parents died), we watched Ashley pour syrup on three layers of shaved ice to our specifications. It's a time honored process done with such pride and love. Clutching our newly minted ice creations, we made our way outside and sat quietly on the bench in the shade of the side of the store and ate our ice. We didn't talk much, just periodically exclaimed how great our sno-blizzes were.

Ah, summer.

Friday, June 25, 2010

TGIF

Today was a chores and cooking day- ran around doing all the stuff my hungover self should have done yesterday and then made these muffins to use up the peaches we bought last week. They're very yummy, but we are having issues getting them out of the muffin pan. I think I need to get some of those little muffin/cupcake paper cups.

YES MY DAY TODAY WAS JUST THAT FASCINATING!

ANYway, I got fixins for skirt steak tacos, pickled some onions, made some guacamole. Tasty dinner.

There's a ruckus outside, like people hanging out having fun which makes me feel terribly lame for being inside on a Friday night watching the Ashes to Ashes series 2 finale. Except that it (Ashes to Ashes) was awesome (YOU'RE NICKED!) and I do my partying during the week! That's what unemployment is all about, right?

When I picked Tom up from work we went to the Bridge Lounge for some mojitos, because I was craving one of theirs since I'd first tried one the other day. Just the thing on a hot day, I tell you what.

Was very hot and sunny today- not real humid as usual. I don't think it rained at all today! Craziness.

First tropical depression of the season developing- fingers crossed it doesn't pick up enough steam to be officially named (I believe Alex is the proposed name for the first tropical storm.)

Oh, and a very happy first birthday to my sweet beautiful nephew Ryan! The world is a better place with you in it, my young friend.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Green Fairy



So this evening we went to a mixology seminar at the Windsor Court Hotel on Absinthe. It was led by Ted Breaux, the dude who took the whole absinthe mythology to task and worked to get it legalized in both the United States and France. He's a chemist and distiller and makes Lucid absinthe.



We started with a cocktail that Breaux had invented, called the "St. Germaniac," which was St. Germaine, Angustura bitters, and absinthe, topped with ginger ale. We then moved to the classic Absinthe Frappe, which seemed to be absinthe and gum syrup shaken till very, very cold. That was quite intense.

Then we delved into pre-Prohibition cocktails that Breaux has been collecting from various antique cocktail books. The first was the "Beginner" which was taken from The Flowing Bowl, by William Schmidt in 1892.

Beginner:
2 dashes gum syrup
2 dashes orange bitters
1 dash absinthe
equal parts French/dry vermouth and Russian Kümmel

Next was the Absinthe (Special) Cocktail:
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters
2/3 absinthe
1/6 gin
1/6 gum syrup
From The Savoy Cocktail Book, by Harry Craddock in 1930

This one was pretty hardcore. Breaux called it "the one that does it," an apt description. It was primarily absinthe.

After that, the Brazil cocktail, also from the Savoy Cocktail Book. Breaux wanted to do a cocktail with sherry, and this is the one he chose.
1 dash absinthe
1 dash angostura bitters
equal parts French/dry vermouth and Sherry

Then Breaux wanted to finish with a cocktail that had maraschino liqueur- which I support, especially when he decided on trying the L'Aurore, because that also included Italian/sweet vermouth and I noticed that he was using my favorite sweet vermouth, Carpano Antica, which is just incredibly wonderful. This was my favorite cocktail of the night:

1 dash gum syrup
2 dashes orange bitters
1 dash maraschino
1 dash absinthe
equal parts Old Tom Gin and sweet (Italian) vermouth

Tom did some cocktail shaking:



I sat next to a local cocktail writer/and scenester, Margarita Bergen. She writes a local column,"A Toast To New Orleans" and apparently owns hundreds of hats. She was a RIOT.

To quote my new friend Margarita, DARLINGS!

Wednesday night out


So, last night we went out to Bacchanal in the Bywater. Bacchanal is a wine store/deli/restaurant/jazz club with a courtyard and a cat:



Basically you drive out to the Bywater on St. Claude, take a right before the bridge, drive all the way to the end of the road, and there's Bacchanal on the right hand side of the street on the corner.

How it works at Bacchanal is that you buy a bottle of wine (they also sell by the glass, but it makes more sense to buy the bottle at retail-as opposed to restaurant markup- prices) or beer or soda (they had a nice variety of Grown Up Soda.) They have a variety of cheeses in the cooler as well, if you pick that out, they'll arrange it for you with crackers and whatnot. OR you can order one of the deli sandwiches. OR, in the courtyard, you can pay cash to the chef for some AWESOME food. That's what we did, after buying a lovely bottle of rose.



We started by sharing the artichoke confit crostini with arugula, preserved lemon, shaved onion, and truffle oil. Then I had the grilled skirt steak with chimichurri, duck fat fingerling potatoes, asparagus, and mache:



Tom has the braised pork shoulder with golden raisins, grape tomatoes, and creme fraiche:



We also had the cheesecake with bing cherries, mint, and Kentucky Vintage Bourbon, which disappeared before I could take a picture:



Then the band started:



The band playing was The Jazz Lab with Jesse Morrow featuring Johnny Vidocovitch on drums, which was sort of a jam jazz band type of thing, very enjoyable to watch and listen to.

At the band break, we decided to take off, which we did after the long slow moving train passed by (we were totally cut off between the 2 sides of water and the train track cutting through the neighborhood). I wanted to try a local place I had passed by dozens of times and only noticed this past week, the Bridge Lounge.

I was intrigued by the mojito menu and ordered the white-peach mango mojito. I didn't get a lot of mango in it, but it was really excellent and refreshing- fresh mint and lime muddled up. Nom! We only stayed for one drink- Tom had the Sierra Nevada Summertime that was on draft. They also had 3 NOLA Brewing beers on tap, as well as a french lager and a fancy Quebecois wheat beer. Also other yummy looking cocktails.



Finally, to Tom's relief, we went home.

Ugh.

This was a place I was really looking forward to trying- Catch, a seafood pub. It's closing down because of the oil spill.

Also, I'm hearing that the rest of the country is shying away from Louisiana/Gulf seafood, which is just horrible. PLEASE, everyone, support the seafood that is coming from the Gulf! They wouldn't be catching and selling it if it weren't safe to eat. I'm eating Gulf shrimp several times a week and try to eat as much local seafood as possible.

There's still excellent food coming from the Gulf- don't let the perception and bad press scare you away.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Simple pleasures

I have been laying low since the weekend. Did a bunch of chores on Monday and Tuesday, been doing some yoga, cooking at home, and had a job interview yesterday. Should hear back about that at the end of the week...

Today, my day was wide open so I decided to attack my list of Places To Go and Things to Eat a little bit.



I went to Willie Mae's Scotch House, a James Beard award winning southern restaurant in the Fauberg Treme, for a fried chicken lunch. I got there just after it opened at 11am- the place is small and popular, with the fried chicken cooked to order, so it's worth it to beat the crowd.



So anyway: YUM. Ordered the plate of chicken with a side of butter beans. I'd heard that they will take white or dark meat requests, but I didn't request my beloved dark meat. I assumed I'd get a breast, a wing, and a leg or thigh. I ended up getting a breast and 2 wings. Initially, I was disappointed, but seriously, that chicken was awesome. The crust was amazing- not super crunchy, but almost tempura like with a little spice to it. The white meat was surprisingly moist and beautifully cooked, and I enjoyed it quite a lot.



The butter beans were OK- nicely cooked but surprisingly kind of bland. I didn't finish it because I filled up on the superior fried chicken.

I really liked the food as well as the lemonade they make (really excellent!) There's some controversy about this place, because it gets a lot of hype and is very popular, so there's often a long wait for both seating and eating. I ended up getting a takeout order to bring to Tom at the office- I requested the dark meat and got a leg, a thigh, and a wing. Scored major points there- he loved it.

So, after delivering chicken to my man, I went home to digest my fried food and watch Top Chef reruns. I wanted to go get a Sno-Ball at Hansen's Sno-Blitz, but had to wait out a thunderstorm first.

Hansen's is a New Orleans institution- has been around since 1938:





I'd agonized over what flavor to have before I went there. Everything sounded so good! Cream of Nectar? Satsuma? Sno-Blitz? Wild Cherry? Cardamom? I decided on a combination of Cardamom and Cream of Coffee, with condensed milk on top. The lady there asked me if I'd ever tried Cardamom and Cream of Coconut, which- DAMN LADY, don't make this harder than it already is!



It was quiet there, because the weather wasn't great - on the real hot days in the evenings and weekends the line can be pretty long. The ice is shaved to order and the sno-balls are made carefully and with much love, so it's not a super quick process. I was chatting with the lady making my sno-ball and she mentioned that she had just developed a gingersnap syrup which- OMG, must bring Tom there immediately.



My cardamom/cream of coffee with condensed milk was AWESOME. You get a spoon and a straw. I scooped up the ice and ate it-ooh, cold and icy, but so smooth. Then it got melty and I sipped it up through the straw. Man, that was good. Refreshing, sweet, but not too sweet. Not too rich, and extremely easy to eat on a hot sticky day. There's a sign inside that says that the Sno-Blitz "air-conditions your tummy" which so quite correct!

I highly recommend both Willie Mae's and Hansen's and look forward to visiting them both many times in the future. Are they transcendent tourist destinations that will change your life? I don't know about that, but I do know I'm REALLY happy that I live here and can go to these places whenever I want. Except when Hansens is closed in the winter, of course.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Brunch

Happy Father's Day to any dads reading this blog! In your honor, Tom and I went out to brunch at Dante's, in the Uptown/Riverbend neighborhood. You follow St. Charles Street till it ends, turn onto Leake Ave/River Road and another right onto Dante Street. We got there and saw many folks milling about the sidewalk and street, which made us think that we would be in for a wait - indeed, when we went inside to put our names in we were informed it would be an hour and a half wait. I suspected (and was correct) that it would not be that long.

During our 40 minute wait, we were able to start with cocktails outside. I had a bloody mary and then we both had blueberry mojitos. It was hot, but not so humid, and we had a spot in the shade to wait.







Finally, we were seated in the front room near the bar:




We ordered a couple breakfast starters: homemade biscuits with housemade jams and butter:



They also offered brioche french toast as a started with blueberry syrup and whipped cream, which we also shared.

For our mains, we were seduced by the specials. I had the grits and beef grillades (with 2 poached eggs) and Tom had a grilled amberjack served over a vegetable hash with ham, also with 2 poached eggs and hollendaise.

The good: the starters, the cocktails, the atmosphere. The grits and grillades were pretty good too.

The middling: the service. It was very busy, but it took a loooooong time for our starters to come out, I even asked the waitress about it (which I never do) when she dropped off my 3rd blueberry mojito- just asked if she knew when they'd be out, much to Tom's consternation. They came out shortly thereafter

The bad: Tom's amberjack with vegetable/ham hash. First of all, they called it a hash "cake" which it most certainly was not. Second, the hash was unbelievably salty. Third, the amberjack (which seemed to be related to the tuna) was grilled and charred beyond recognition and dried right out. Perhaps it was the leftovers of Saturday night's dinner service dressed up and recycled.

This bummed me out because I hate hate hate it when Tom's food isn't up to par- he hates spending money to go out so when I finally drag him out somewhere there's a lot of self-inflicted pressure for wherever we go to be awesome. Especially when we have to wait for a table.

We'll go back though, most definitely for dinner. And if we go back for brunch, we'll avoid the specials.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday night!

Never let it be said that Tom and I don't know how to have fun on a Saturday night. I had some vague thoughts about going to Parasol's for a couple beers, but after we finished cooking dinner, I went on a cleaning spree (after being completely lax about doing any housework all week) and wore myself right out.

Dinner: Shrimp with green sauce- an Iberian/Portuguese recipe. Also sautéed okra with tomato and corn. Both recipes were really easy and very tasty. Very fresh tasting, and a wonderful use of our farmers market bounty.

With a couple of Bayou Teche LA 31 to wash down dinner, and even though it's a quiet night at home, we're having a good time.

Saturday in New Orleans

Got up early as planned, went to the Farmers Market. Sadly, the sweet potato pie guy wasn't there today! Ah well. We got: okra, Silver Queen corn on the cob, cherry creole tomatoes, peaches, goat chevre, goat milk yogurt, cow milk cheddar, duck eggs, pork chops, chaurice sausage, shrimp, black drum, some baked goods, tamales, arugula pesto, milk, butter. I have some plans to make shrimp with green sauce, okra with tomatoes and corn, upside down peach cakes, and something that Mark Bittman calls "deviled" pork chops. Probably some goat cheese grits.

Man, it was hot, even at 8am.

In the afternoon, we went to the Old New Orleans Rum distillery for their tour. We started out with a lovely cocktail of their spiced rum mixed with sweet tea and toured the place, learning step by step the magical journey that molasses takes to become delicious, delicious rum.






Now, y'all might not know this about Tom, but he is quite the rum connoisseur. So I volunteered to be the designated driver so that he could enjoy the samples of the 4 kinds of rum- crystal, amber, cajun spiced, and 10 year old. We ended up getting a bottle of each of the 4- we had a groupon that entitled us to 15% off our purchases, so we decided to go for it. The 10 year old rum is only sold (I believe) at the distillery.

Tom has just mixed up a cocktail recipe that was procured from the tour- the "St. Claude"- spiced rum, maraschino liqueur, and lemon juice. Refreshing!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ah, The Avenue!

So every Friday night, a bunch of beer geeks (from Beer Advocate and others) congregate at the Balcony at the Avenue Pub on St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District. The always wonderful Eileen presides over the bar upstairs and occasionally folks will bring special beers to share. It's a nice and relaxing way to unwind at the end of the week. Good beers, good folks, nice environment.

The Avenue Pub is pretty much the best beer bar in the city. The Bulldog on Magazine has a nice variety as well, but the Avenue is much more oriented toward the beer connoisseur. But without being snotty about it, you know?

The Avenue's kitchen is run by J'Anita's, who I guess used to be where Jackson Bistro is now. Tom loves their Best Fish Sammich Ever with a side of black bean and mango salsa, and I jump around between various sandwiches and sides. Tonight I had their special chicken salad sandwich. I think it had tarragon and apples in it and was served with bacon and tomato. Tasty. Exactly what I was in the mood for. In the past I have had their duck sandwich with horseradish aioli and cheese- how much do I love being able to order an amazing duck sandwich at the best beer bar in town?!

We'll go to bed early tonight so that we can get up early to hit the Farmers Market right when it opens at 8am- that way we can be sure to get the sweet potato pies, duck eggs, and other popular items that tend to be sold out by the time we roll up at 10:30. I have a yoga class at 9:30, so that will (hopefully) help keep us on schedule.

Later in the afternoon, we are planning on taking the tour of the Old New Orleans Rum Distillery, so stay tuned!

Disappointment and Redemption

YOU GUYS.

I had the single worst meal I have ever had in New Orleans, and probably one of the top 5 overall horrible meals of my life this morning!

It was a standard breakfast plate: 3 eggs, cooked to order as requested, bacon or sausage, butter grits or cheesy grits, and toast. OMG YOU GUYS. I ordered the eggs over easy, the bacon, and the cheesy grits. The eggs were HORRIBLE. brown and rubbery on the outside, and somehow raw white and overcooked yolk on the inside! How is that possible???!?! Bacon was sorta flabby and cold, and the toast and grits were OK I guess.

Now, this is a BRAND NEW place in the hood, and it's been open 3 days and I think one of the owners said I was their first customer??? (I don't know if I was the first customer ever in those 3 days or just for that morning.) And the owners were so nice and sweet and it was so empty, and I felt so bad for them... so I ate my horrible breakfast out of pity and didn't send it back or say anything. Maybe I should have!

When I was leaving, I thanked the owner/cook for breakfast and she said, "thanks for eating it" (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!ELEVENTY!!!!!!!!!!!)

I am not going to name this place because I am hoping it shakes all the kinks out during its soft opening. I am not sure how to shake out the kinks of NOT KNOWING HOW TO COOK EGGS, but here's hoping. Hint to aspiring cafe owners: if you don't know how to cook eggs, THEN DON'T PUT THEM ON YOUR MENU.

Sigh.

So I was feeling a little blecchy for the rest of the morning and then after today's crazy rains subsided, I decided to try to balance out the universe by going to a place I'd heard great things about, MiLa, which is a well regarded farm-to-table restaurant downtown run by a husband and wife team. They do a 3-course lunch prix fixe for $20. Also, my unsweetened iced tea was complementary!

The bread basket contained sweet potato rolls and cornbread with bittersweet plantation butter (with sea salt on top) and a lima bean puree. I started with a curried squash soup with creme fraiche and some sort of subtle sweet pickle and something a little salty and crispy in the middle. It was very nice. Second course was a flatiron steak served over a potato puree and a red wine sauce with broccolini and tiny pearl onions. YUM. Very satisfying. Dessert was a vanilla bean rice pudding with rum soaked raisins. By the time I finished the last spoonful of the pudding, my horrible breakfast was a faded memory.

Until I started this blog post. The things I do for you guys.

Thursday night in the Bywater

So last night we went to a BBQ place called The Joint and then went to see Kermit Ruffins at Vaughn's. He's been playing there every Thursday for the past 17 years- it's like a New Orleans institution.



First, dinner at The Joint. We'd been wanting to check this place out for a while. New Orleans is not known for its BBQ in general, regardless of its Southern location, but that doesn't mean it can't be obtained with delicious results! They had just run out of ribs when we got there, sadly, although that means we have a good excuse to return. They looked gooooood. In lieu of the ribs, Tom had a pulled pork sandwich with a mac & cheese side and I had a quarter chicken (dark meat) and their house smoked chaurice sausage with a side of potato salad. With a couple cold Abita beers in hand we sat outside in the courtyard on a steamy night, next to the house smoker.





Our food was delivered to our table and we dug in- poured the BBQ sauce over the pork and the chicken with gusto, scooped up pieces of potato, pasta, and egg from our side dishes, swished the sausage in the creole mustard, ate up the sour pickles, and washed it down with beer and iced tea in the sticky summer night.

After we patted our bellies and wiped off our hands and mouths, we strolled down the block to Vaughn's Lounge, paid our cover and made our way up to the bar. The place was packed with white kids and the spot in front of the band was mobbed, bur we snaked our way in the middle of the throng. The band started.

(apologize for the crap quality of the photo)

"All Aboard!" Kermit bellowed before launching into his set. I danced along to "Ain't Misbehaving," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," and other songs I didn't know. Tom mostly let me lean up against him and would put his arms around me.

Almost immediately upon arriving at Vaughn's (hell, at The Joint) sweat was pouring out of every single pore of my body. But it wasn't like an oppressive thing, like those humid nights are in New England. It was more like the heat and humidity was hugging my body and I reveled in it.



We wandered to the back room and watched a few minutes of Game 7 and then outside where folks were catching a breath of fresh humid air and chatting and laughing. You can hear the music no matter where you are, it follows you everywhere.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Adventures in Treme, Marigny, and French Quarter

Because it is important to me to keep YOU, my blog audience of MULTITUDES entertained, I decided today to do a little recon in Treme- located Lil' Dizzy's, Dooky Chase, and Willie Mae's Scotch House while driving. I am starting to get the hang of the basics of this side of town. Mid-city is my next challenge. It's like a whole other world out there!

So, all that driving around worked up an appetite and I stopped at the Cake Cafe in the Marigny. I knew I was gonna have an early-ish lunch so I wanted to keep it light. Um. I ended up with the biscuits and sausage gravy with grilled andouille on top. Freshly baked biscuits- good. Sausage gravy- good (not too thick or congealed). Andouille- GOOD! Yum.



The Cake Cafe is a pretty low key place where you place your order at the counter and then wait for it to come out. The goodies behind the glass looked most delicious. There was a "healthy grits" special that was topped with grilled veggies and goat cheese. Will keep that in mind for the future.

I toddled back to my car and made my way back to the French Quarter, parked the car on Royal Street, and started to wander around. I considered a stop at Leah's Pralines, but decided that I didn't want to carry them around. (Now that I'm home, that decision makes me sad.) After a bathroom break at the Hotel Monteleone, I meandered over to the Green Goddess on Exchange Place for lunch.





I hit it just as it opened at 11- I had read that the place is tiny so I wanted to get there before the lunch rush. I sat at the bar and ordered a cocktail- the "See Rock City" Mint Julep, which was not bourbon based, but rather Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine. It also had muddled mint, ginger syrup, and lychee juice. So refreshing and delicious. The ginger and mint stimulated my appetite and helped me shake off the sweaty humid day outside.



I decided to order the crawfish cake special- two crawfish cakes with wasabi caviar, collard greens, and macque choux over grits. The wasabi caviar was amazing, and an excellent counterpart to the rich decadent crawfish cakes. Also, proceeds of that special would be donated to the Gulf fishers and families.



I resisted dessert, though I was super tempted by the "Chocolate Biscuit Heaven" that I now wish I'd had with a glass of their Vietnamese style iced coffee with condensed milk because I'm hungry again!

It started pouring while I was eating and let up as I finished (that was a big reason I didn't stick around for dessert) so I bolted back to the car before the rumbling thunder opened up the skies once again. I barely made it back to the car when the rain started up again.