Saturday, July 31, 2010

Eating and Drinking... just another Friday in NOLA

Yesterday I decided it had been a while since I'd gone out for a fancy Friday lunch, so I went to Patois and had the duck. andouille, and greens gumbo, the skirt steak sandwich, and two cocktails: The Contessa, a champagne based drink with Regan's Orange Bitters, Cointreau, candied ginger, and a twist of lemon; and also the Eau de Melon, which was watermelon juice, lemon juice, muddled cucumbers, vodka, and limoncello.









It was pretty good- I loved the gumbo. The sandwich was OK- I liked the worcestshire aioli but not the cheddar - too much in the mix. There were some very delicious fries that accompanied it, too. The cocktails were very nice, especially on a hot day.

On the way back home, I noticed it was just a few minutes before 1pm, Hansen's opening time! I stopped by and got in and had myself a black cherry and vanilla bean (with condensed milk.)



After I picked up Tom, we went to the Avenue Pub- they are starting a new promotion to encourage beer geeks to drink up on the balcony- $1 off pints served on the Balcony if you open and close your tab upstairs. I had a Brooklyn EIPA and the North Coast Acme IPA, and a Brooklyn Blast (Double IPA). The Blast wasn't $1 off, because it's only served in 10.5 oz. glasses. We headed downstairs and Tom had Sierra Nevada's new seasonal, the Tumbler brown ale, which is slightly spiced (and apparently is replacing the Anniversary Ale this year!!) I had a small glass of the NOLA Brewing 7th Street Wheat.

We got home and didn't feel like cooking or doing anything else except drinking more beer. So we headed out to Parasol's, had roast beef po'boys and several beers. I was working the jukebox, to the delight of the crowd (which delighted me!) and made a few friends next to me at the bar. This led to a lemondrop shot, which was just, well, you know... straight vodka.

Then, home.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Boucherie

I tell you what, Boucherie is a class act. Last Thursday, we went to the Spirited Dinner at Boucherie- the menu sounded awesome, and there were terrific cocktails on deck (several tiki inspired ones, which is Tom's drink style of choice these days.)

However, Tom was still sick, I'd had a long day at Tales of the Cocktail, and was dehydrated, what I thought was heat exhaustion but turned out to be catching the bug that Tom still had. So we got there, trying to put on a brave face and power through the 4 (or 5?) course meal with accompanying cocktails. We got through the amuse and the first course before looking at each other miserably and leaving. I waited outside for a taxi while Tom settled up the bill- even though we hadn't eaten the whole thing, we understood we were on the hook for the meal. Had we cancelled, then there was a chance that our seats could have been sold, but we stupidly did not, and decided it would be better for us to pay $80 (each) for a meal that we did not eat in order to go home and go to bed, then to try to suffer through it to get our money's worth. Yeah, it sort of sucked, but it was our problem, and our decision.

Imagine my surprise when I got a call the following day from James Denio, the manager of Boucherie, earnestly asking if there was anything that Boucherie did wrong and wanting our feedback. At the end of the message, he extended an invitation for us to come back to the restaurant FOR A MEAL ON THEM.

This was entirely too nice. I sent an email thanking him for his thoughtfulness and explained what happened as being entirely our fault. I said we'd love to come back in, but didn't reference the obviously insane offer to have the meal on the house. Frankly, I felt a little funny about taking them up on the offer, and would likely have shied away from it, except he wrote back and explained that, in fact, after we left, a visiting couple from Boston (!!!) came in on the off chance that there might be a seat available, and there was! Ours! So they were totally psyched and James said that he wanted to make us as happy as we'd made them.

SO OK THEN! We went to Boucherie tonight, even though I'd even managed to screw up making a reservation correctly- ISTG, people, even though I'm not sick anymore, my brain has been underpowered for the past week or something. Thankfully, James graciously fixed that for me too.

We had a wonderful meal, enjoyed wonderful service, and had a really great time. I started off with one of their cocktails, the Fleur de Tease, which was a fig infused Bacardi rum mixed with Bombay Sapphire gin in a glass with a pernod absinthe rinse and lemon twist. Very forthright, but it definitely grew on me. Tom had a Brooklyn Weiss beer, which we suspected was left over from the Garrett Oliver beer dinner held here on Saturday (just 2 days after the TotC Spirited Dinner! No wonder these folks need a vacation.) Tom actually ended up tapping that keg, and he switched over to Anchor Steam, which was also on draft. I had an Austrian white (the online menu mentions a Gruner Veltiner, but I thought it was a Gewertztraminer, though I could be misremembering) to go with my entree course. This was a great recommendation from our server, Hope (who was awesome) who had suggestions for either red or white wine preferences for the duck. (A note on the wine list- the bottles are VERY reasonably priced. I got a glass, because that's all I was up for, but I think the highest priced bottle on their list was $38.)

So them's the drinks. Here's the food:

For our first course, I was in the mood for something a little different, a little lighter, than a lot of the food I've had here in New Orleans. Boucherie has some wonderful southern and cajun style food- Tom actually started with the fried boudin balls, which you can see was so delicious, I barely was able to get a picture of it before it was completely eaten.



I had the hamachi sashimi with pickled vegetables. I was really in the mood for hamachi, and the mention of the pickled vegetables intrigued me. I wasn't quite sure what to expect- a kimchee type of thing? pickled onions? cucumbers? carrots? When my beautiful, gorgeous, tender, melt in your mouth delicious hamachi came out, it was accompanied by 3 different pickled vegetables, made in house of course. There was pickled dashi, pickled papaya, and wasabi pickled kohlrabi. AMAZING. Just the perfect contrast to the lusciousness of the raw fish, both texturally and in flavor. I loved this dish- it was so simple, but painstakingly prepared with the most amazing ingredients.



While we were enjoying our first course, James brought out an order of one of their small plate specials- a torchon of fois gras with a summer sprout salad with grated truffle and sliced black truffle. The torchon was nice, very unctuous and mild in flavor (but rich in fattiness), but the star was the salad- it was earthy, salty, crunchy, delicate, yet bursting with flavor. Again, an excellent counterpoint to the buttery and decadent foie gras.

For our entrees, I had the curry leaf marinated duck breast served over a dal type lentil dish with a cucumber and mint raita. Very clean and elegant flavors. The duck itself was cooked beautifully and I loved the lentils- a nice hit of cardamom in there as well.



Tom had the smoked scallops, which were beautifully cooked, though we didn't know that we got much hint of smoke. But the scallops were delicious, and came with a macque choux that had a flavor that was familiar but we couldn't quite place right away, till Tom guessed coconut milk, which seemed right to our palates. A very subtle but distinct Thai type influence (I bet if the chef reads this he will laugh and laugh at our pedestrian taste buds. NAMING INGREDIENTS: UR DOIN IT RONG.)



We ordered dessert, which had been listed on a chalkboard in my line of sight, taunting us throughout the meal. I had the fudge farm bacon brownie with chocolate lavender ice cream on top. I know that's a lot of strong flavors- I DON'T CARE, they were all delicious! (I ordered the ice cream on top specifically, it doesn't come with it automatically.) The brownie had the bacon essence but not TOO much- I actually thought it was just made with bacon fat but I did come across a small bit of bacon in there too. Mmmm, bacon. YOU know what I'm talkin' 'bout.



Tom had the Krispy Kreme donut bread pudding which was, well, dynamite. Oddly enough, the texture was so much lighter than traditional bread pudding, although the fact that it was made from fried doughnuts made it more intense in flavor!



We left a (hopefully appropriate) tip on the table and waddled on out of there, quite happy with our night. Having such a wonderful meal on the house was great, but even more than that was the generosity of spirit and thoughtfulness of the management. Because of that, what could have been unfortunate regret of an expensive meal we had to walk out of (and cringed at when the credit card billing cycle came to a close) will now be something that was turned into an amazing night at a time when we both could- and did- enjoy it.

Good customer service always makes me feel like I'm walking on air. I never expect it, and I've never been the recipient of it to this extent, but I'm just so surprised and pleased by it. Thanks, Boucherie!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

random

Looking at houses for sale in my neighborhood. How cute is this place??

I did not feel like shrimp wrassling today so I made pasta with the raw cherry tomatoes, raw garlic, EVOO from St. Helena, CA, fresh basil, and the lemon-dill goat cheese. mix all that together raw, add the hot pasta, and bam, deliciousness ensues.

Tom decided to make Nigella Lawson's Figs in Rum Syrup (found here, but you need to scroll down some) because these fresh Louisiana figs do not last long at all. I was given a stern talking to about protecting the figs after purchasing.

Tomorrow, shrimp. Thursday, we dine at Boucherie. Friday... we'll see. Depends if we go to the Avenue or not. But the quail will keep in the fridge a couple days, they were just killed yesterday.

Also tomorrow: volunteer conference call with everyone involved in the KaBOOM build, doctor's appointment, making peach buckle, and hopefully scheduling a second interview.

Farmers Market haul this week (plus, general reflections on food shopping)

Today, still feeling crappy (now... sore throat + cough + coughing up stuff + runny nose + full body aching sneezes??? UGH) I nonetheless went over to the farmers market because that keeps us from eating potato chips and ramen for dinner every night. (though last night I did make Link's chicken & dumplings again, which was awesome. Again.)

Lots of folks I was hoping to see - pasta guy, hippie dudes, pie lady - weren't there. Also, as I was assessing what WAS there, they sold out of catfish and arugula. Before 9:30! (it opens at 9.) craziness!

The vegetable stand that sells tomatoes, corn, basil, and peppers staffed by the super nice ladies that call everyone "hon" was still in business, as was the shrimp lady, and a couple other places so I was able to acquire:

creole tomatoes
pint of heirloom cherry tomatoes
Silver Queen corn on the cob
basil
shrimp
quail
cow cheddar cheese
lemon-dill goat chevre
fresh figs
"Fig Yum" from the fig stand- it's basically pureed figs with some sugar, pectin, and lemon
peaches
cilantro hummus

I wish I'd thought to get peppers- both sweet and spicy.

I actually made a rage inducing trip to Whole Foods yesterday to get the fixins for the chicken & dumplings and got myself some sickie treats- chocolate mousse, guacamole, cookies. Mashed potato fixins. I've been a little weird about Rouses lately, because the last few times I've been there, the back area (meat and fish sections) have smelled FUNKY. Is unsettling. Hopefully that will get cleared up and I can get back to shopping there more regularly, because I really hate shopping at Whole Foods- it's stupid pricey, filled with annoying yuppies and hipsters (though thankfully the annoyance of hipsters and yuppies in New Orleans is many levels down from those in Cambridge), the parking scenario is horrible, and it's like Foodie Disneyland or something.

I have discovered I'm in love with their chocolate mousse though, which is most unfortunate.

Man, I think my sore throat is going to necessitate a trip to Hansen's this afternoon for a soothing, cold, delicious Sno-Bliz.

Some recipes I am considering to use up my farmers market ingredients:

Bacon Wrapped Quail stuffed with Goat Cheese
Quail Sauce for Fresh Pasta
Donald Link's Peach Buckle
Shrimp and Corn with Basil (maybe served over grits?)
Chorizo and Figs

I should check my cookbooks too...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tales of Tales of the Cocktail, part 2

So, Thursday morning I wake up with a surprising spring in my step, considering how many gin cocktails I'd had the night before. Well, I tried to keep eating through the night and was picked up by Tom at 10pm, so that must have helped.

Back to the Monteleone, early again. After my Kahlua Black Paloma brunch cocktail, I was told to go up to the VIP lounge on the secret 17th floor. However, they didn't need me, and I went back down to help out with the common folks. Was OK- much more interesting down there anyway. So, I was put to work helping with the Casa Noble tequila tasting. I helped set up, and then helped pass out the two tequila cocktails that were specially created for the Casa Noble tequilas. I liked them both, but especially the second one, that was created by a bartender from Brooklyn named Abigail Gullo- it was tequila, mango, lime, chili pepper... it was really good. Salty, sweet, spicy, fruity. She did a cinnamon chili salt rim as well. I know I had both recipes, but I can't find them with all my paperwork...it is HARD to stay organized during Tales.

OK, once this session was over, I tried to find lunch, but it was woefully late. I went back to the Bonnet Carre room to help set up with the Grand Marnier tasting. They were offering the 4 base cognacs that make up Grand Marnier as well as the three Grand Marnier products, which was fun to pour. I was finished with my shift right before it started, but I bailed out to attend the Absolut Brooklyn tasting room. They had a hot dog cart, 3 awesome cocktails, a great DJ and breakdancing. Also, SO MANY HIPSTERS.





The three Brooklyn Absolut cocktails were: "The Brooklyn Bee," "The Commute," and the "South Slope Sour." The Brooklyn Bee was my favorite: Brooklyn Absolut, honey, lemon, and some awesome "mole rojo" bitters by A.B. Smeby, sample bottles of which were available. (yum!) The Brooklyn Absolut is flavored with red apple and ginger, FYI and BTW.

After watching hipsters shake their thangs to 90s era DJ mixing, I decided to check out the bookstore- I found Dr. Cocktail (aka Ted Haigh) outside of the bookstore signing copies of his awesome book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. I already own this book- in fact, it was a huge kick forward for us in making awesome cocktails at home. I told him this, and the fact that it has survived several spill incidents. He asked how the book has held up in the face of such punishing use and abuse, and I reported that it was OK, but it would be better if he had waterproof/spillproof pages. He very seriously responded that he had tried to get that idea approved by his publisher, but no go. I don't know if he was messing with me or not though! I will keep an eye out for how his next book looks, though.

I went into the store and bought a book for Tom: And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails written and autographed by Wayne Curtis, noted rummy. I bought myself a book too, a Poppy Z. Brite novel set in New Orleans called Liquor. Brite is married to local chef, Chris DeBarr, who runs Green Goddess, a restaurant I have been to once and enjoyed, but I think that DeBarr runs dinner service and I was there for lunch. Hmm, according to Wikipedia, the book I got is the first in a trilogy, which bodes well for my future travel reading plans!

OK, after that, I needed to get out of the Monteleone. I headed outside and was handed some crazy St. Germaine based cocktail with carbonated sauvingnon blanc. I kind of wanted to go have a French 75 at Arnaud's French 75 cocktail bar, but I ended up instead at the Antoine's bar with a Negroni.




I ended up at a reception at the Cabildo, where they were mixing 4 cocktails for every decade in the 20th century. I only made it to the 40s when I decided it was time to call it a night. I grabbed a cab and went home.

I wasn't feeling well the next day (part hangover and part coming down with whatever the hell cold/bug this is) but I went to my lunchtime shift at the Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse luncheon. After that I realized that this was actually not a hangover, and I ended up having to cancel my shifts on Saturday and Sunday, as well as the comp event I'd planned on taking Tom to on Saturday night. There was lots of cool stuff going on, not only with Tales- Garrett Oliver was in town at The Avenue Pub and there were several events around his visit that we'd both been looking forward to. Alas, it was not meant to be.

In conclusion: Breakdancing! video

Tales of Tales of the Cocktail

So, when I arrived at the Hotel Monteleone last Wednesday, I was greeted by the Kahlua girls in the lobby- they handed me a punch card that was to be stamped at every Kahlua product station in the morning bar.

Ah, the morning bar. Sponsored by Kaluha! I got an iced coffee and splooshed a little Kahlua in there, and then I had the brunch cocktail - Black Paloma - which had Kahlua, tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, bitters, and club soda. I liked it. The citrus juice really brightened the drink.

I checked in with the volunteer coordinator (I was an hour early) and wandered about for a little bit getting the lay of the land before putting together some swag for one of the tasting rooms before it opened. It was... the William Grant & Sons Mixability, which had Lillet, Solerno Blood Orange liquor, some sort of root liquor... Root...I was intrigued by the cocktail (The Appalachian Flip)mixed by that fellow... had some raw egg, topped with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale... sadly, it didn't really grab me as I wished it would have. I was also in a hurry, because I had to turn a room after a seminar.

So after doing that (clearing old glasses, sample pours, paperwork, etc. and then resetting) I wandered to the other tasting room happening, the Dos Maderos Rum room. Ooh, that was a good one. The PX was the aged sipping rum that I only intended to take one sip of, but it was so smooth and delicious I ended up polishing off the snifter (which was a small amount WITHIN the snifter). They also had a make your own mojito bar, some sample bottles of 5+3, and some much needed protein based snacks. They had another table with other cocktails that I did not partake in but heard one of the ingredients described as "cigar bitters" which... I am not too thrilled with this turn of ingredients. Muy macho! But that's just me.

After lunch provided by Jacque-Imo's in the staff/volunteer suite, I went to check out the tasting room downstairs for Wodka Polska vodka. Eh. I don't care so much for vodka, but the best part was the vodka popsicles made by Popstars Icicle Treats.



Then, my shift over, I decided to cab home to take a nap before heading over for my evening shift, the Welcome Reception sponsored by Beefeater, at the Contemporary Art Center on Camp Street. Mostly ran around doing prep work (unpacking and wiping down glasses) and then tried to keep things tidy throughout the party.

Very, very fun. There were great cocktails and great food, a great DJ, and and a photographer with an Alice in Wonderland theme. Everyone seemed to be having a super awesome time- I actually ran into one of the bartenders at Coquette, which was great.

Man, this was long. I'll catch up on Thursday's activities later...

caching up

Well last week I was at Tales of the Cocktail. And, well, what happens at TotC stays at the TotC. I worked pretty hard, met some cool people, sampled some cocktails, went to a couple parties... then came down sick with Tom's bug and had to cancel my shifts (and comp events) for Saturday and Sunday. Here's a picture from the Beefeater-sponsored Welcome Reception on Wednesday evening.



There was a crazy Alice in Wonderland-British acid trip theme going on. Tasty beverages though.

Anyway. this morning after dropping Tom off at the office, I went to the post office and the bank, and in between I stopped at Surrey's Cafe on Magazine for some breakfast. It was nice- I ordered the Boudin Breakfast Biscuit with grits and over easy eggs and watermelon lemonade. I also decided to splurge on some fresh squeezed grapefruit with a shot of ginger juice to help boost the ole fading immune system. All excellent- the Supremes were playing overhead, the service was friendly, the boudin was panfried up nice, and the biscuits were freshly made. The only downside is that I sat at the table that gets the A/C condensation drip. I won't sit there again.

Hopefully this mix of productivity and deliciousness will kick off the week in a healthy fashion!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

post interview nibbles

I had a job interview this morning. It was close to Brocato's so I stopped by and got a small cup with peach and blueberry ices. I ate it at the store as a family of four came in and a group of three 20-something tourists came through. I also ordered 2 cannolis to go, and dropped one off for Tom at his office (his empty office, everyone was out at Felipe's for lunch.)

The ices were so good! Very flavorful- the peach one was much smoother in texture but they both tasted like summer.

I had a yearning for some fried chicken so I went over to Emeril's for their chicken and waffles. Emeril's puts out some really good food, but I tend to get sketchy service while I'm there. Maybe because I'm not an obvious tourist? I sat at the chef's bar (overlooking the kitchen) and ordered the soup of the day, which I *thought* was a garlic soup with mushrooms, but ended up being a garlic-crab soup? Which was OK, I guess, but I wouldn't have ordered it had I known. And I wasted valuable stomach space on it! For, behold!



Emeril's chicken and waffles! That's a LOT of chicken and a LOT of waffles. Here's the description: "Darian’s Chicken & Waffles: Fried Organic Chicken, Sweet Corn-Belgian Waffle, Watermelon Slaw and Crystal Hot Sauce Syrup."

Was delicious- I ended up boxing most of it and bringing it home for dinner tonight. THE CHICKEN AND WAFFLES HAZ BESTED ME OH NOES!

Note: I will be volunteering for the Tales of the Cocktail event from Wednesday through Sunday. See you on the flip side!

Monday, July 19, 2010

A quick shout-out to Coulis



I checked out Coulis for breakfast this morning. Thumbs up! Strong coffee, really nice interior (but comfy), relatively devoid of hipsters, good service, plenty of free periodicals to read whilst dining solo, and of course, their eggs benedict:



Ladies and gentlemen, the obvious GENIUSES at Coulis have kept the awesomest parts of eggs benedict (perfectly poached eggs and hollendaise sauce) and replaced the more boring parts- instead of canadian bacon, we have pulled pork debris. Instead of english muffin, we have jalepeno cornbread!

I don't think I need to tell you that I loved it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Awesomeness of The Avenue

So, tonight was the Beer Advocate beer swap/tasting at the Avenue Pub. Basically, everyone put in $5 and brought hard to find (preferably something that can't be bought in Louisiana) beer and everyone shared what they brought.

We brought Consecration brewed by Russian River Brewing (we bought it when we were in California last fall) and the Trader Joe's Holiday vintage ale, which was brewed by Unibroue in Quebec. They were really well received by the New Orleans beer geeks, causing me to be the belle of the ball! Folks REALLY loved the Consecration.

We tasted a bunch of really awesome beers and had a great time. I was so happy that I shared the Consecration with folks who loved it so much- folks who had tasted it and loved it, and folks who hadn't tried it were amazed by it.

I am really enjoying the Beer Advocate folks that we've met since moving here.

In conclusion: Beer, YAY!

RUM HOUSE!

So today I cruised a few blocks of Magazine Street, talking up local shopkeepers and dropping off volunteer flyers for the KaBOOM playground build at Burke Park. After I did as much as I could do before heat related meltage, we finally got ourselves to the Rum House at Magazine and Ninth.

Totally hit the spot! It bills itself as a Caribbean taqueria and there's nothing about that that doesn't sound awesome after wandering around in 101 degree heat index. Since Tom is a rummy and a girl drink drunk, he ordered the Pina Colada and I got a Caribbean mint julep, which was made with rum instead of bourbon and included mango in the mint muddle. Also, two ENORMOUS glasses of water.

We both ordered tacos- I had the Taco Trifecta with the brisket taco (Slow roasted beef brisket with chimichurri, drizzle of bbq sauce and topped with cilantro and fried shallots), the Cuban pork taco (Shredded pork with slaw and a black bean salsa), and the Calypso beef taco (Calypso marinated steak, guacamole, and avocado lime cream.) The trifecta also came with choice of side, and I chose the smothered greens. Tom had eaten a bowl of cereal before we left the house so he was slightly less hungry than me, so he had the jerk chicken taco (Chopped jerk chicken with habenero mango salsa_ and the flaked fish taco (Flaked charbroiled black drum, asparagus and creole tomato chutney, greens, dill tarter sauce.)

We both really enjoyed the tacos and the beverages- we'd been wanting to check out the place pretty much since we moved here, and it got the coveted grade of "Met Expectations." We'll be back.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

this and that

have been keeping busy with a neighborhood volunteer project - the KaBOOM! Playground Build at Burke Park in the Irish Channel and I've been trying to keep up with my ambitious cooking projects from Donald Link's book. I made the shrimp, tomato, and fresh corn stew, the creamed corn, the buttermilk ice cream (2 different mix-ins- Luxuardo cherries with candied ginger, Carpano Antica, and spiced rum and also the fresh figs purchased at the farmers market.) Today, I'm just finishing up making his Chicken & Dumplings. It was quite time consuming! I don't think I'll be able to cook the way I've been cooking in the next couple weeks what with the Burke Playground work and the Tales of the Cocktail volunteering I'll be doing next week.

I have a very promising job interview next week too! Busy, busy, busy!

Random note: I remembered, today while going to Tom's office to pick him up, that the day of the week I see the most airport shuttles bustling around town. It makes me happy, to think of all the visitors coming in to enjoy their weekends in New Orleans. Have fun, y'all!

Second random note: I picked up Tom and drove straight to Coquette for their Thursday $5 cocktails. Tom had The Drake- Jamaican rum, Cherry Heering, lemon, blueberries. I had the Zapada- mexcal, muscat, chocolate bitters, and huckleberry shrub. Very smooth but smoky and flavorful.

Then we came home, and as I finished up my cooking, Tom mixed up a couple Jack Rose cocktails (Applejack. grenadine, and lime juice.)

Ahhh...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Farmers Market haul

I got to the market right after dropping Tom off at work- probably about 20 minutes after it opened. Packed already, and I got the second to last basket of chanterelle mushrooms. Also got:

Okra
Cherry tomatoes
fresh figs
2 kinds of pesto
oregano pappedelle
ravioli
2 lbs. shrimp
half pound black drum
whole fresh chicken
2 tarts- one blueberry/peach and one sweet potato
4 beautiful red juicy creole tomatoes
4 ears of sweet corn
a bunch of basil
skim and whole milk
a slice of unsalted butter
butter lettuce

Tonight I will be making shrimp, corn, and tomato stew from Donald Link's cookbook, which someone seems to have posted here without crediting him. On the side, either creamed corn or tomato cucumber salad.

Tomorrow I'll make Link's Chicken & Dumplings with the chantarelles and chicken. And whatever side I don't make tonight. I think the creamed corn tonight and the salad tomorrow.

Man, just typing this has made me hungry!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pastries in the French Quarter and BBQ in the Bywater

Today I struggled with important issues. Such as, where shall I eat breakfast? And later on- where shall I eat lunch?

I drove into the French Quarter- I like going there in the morning, after the locals have gone to work and the tourists are still sleeping. Parked the car across from Irene's Cuisine (an old school and venerated Creole Italian place) on St. Phillip Street and wandered a block over to Croissant d'Or, an excellent patisserie on Ursalines.



I highly recommend this place. I came here on the last day of my last visit to New Orleans and fell in love with it then. It's pretty basic- non-hipster, just awesome croissants and other pastries. Looks like they make cakes and fancier dessert style pastries as well, but as the name suggests, when I come here, it's all about the croissant.



I got exactly what I got last time- a ham & cheese breakfast croissant and a chocolate croissant. Don't judge me! Also, iced coffee- nice strong stuff.

Since it wasn't overly hot or humid at this point in the day, I took my croissants and coffee out to the courtyard and enjoyed the quiet, the only noise being the fountain streaming water.




I can't say enough good things about these croissants. They are everything a croissant should be in my opinion.

After breakfast, I had a little bit of time left on my meter, so I took a little walk around the block. I like that area of the Quarter- much more low key than up by Canal, especially Royal Street, which is classy almost the entire run of the Quarter.




Passed by the shuttered Verti Marte- they had a fire a couple months ago, and sadly they had to close. But they say they are rebuilding, so I'm looking forward to that.

After I got home and did some chores, later in the day, Tom pinged me to see if I had any lunch plans- he didn't bring his lunch and the team at work weren't organizing anything for once. So I drove on into the CBD, picked up my man, and we headed to the Cake Cafe in the Marigny. Alas, they were closed! Took all last week off and half of this week- will be reopening on Wednesday the 14th.

We kept driving down Chartres- Elizabeth's was also closed (as it is on Monday and Tuesday) and kept driving till we had to turn up Poland and behold, The Joint BBQ was open! We'd been denied their ribs when we were there before, so I'd been itching to go back with Tom to right that travesty. Tom had the rib plate (4 ribs) with 2 sides (cole slaw and baked beans) and I had the combo plate with beef brisket and 2 ribs, and one side (potato salad.) Really good- worth the wait. Beautifully smoked. I love the staff at The Joint as well as the general vibe.




We got temporarily thwarted by some train shenanigans as we were cruising back down St. Claude Street to get Tom back to the office in a timely manner, but I was able to eventually figure out how to get around all that. Going to the Bywater always carries that risk of train delay!

Then I came home and took and posted pictures of my cat, because although this is a food/booze/NOLA blog, it is still a blog on the internet and therefore will always revert to cats. I will try to keep it to a minimum though.

And I shall call him... Ginja!

While I have already showcased my extremely fluffy napping partner in crime, Taz, a few times in thsi blog, I feel it only fair to mention Marley, the Ginger Ninja!

Behold:





Marley the Ginger Ninja is pretty talkative for a ninja cat, has already broken our blinds, and loves being brushed lots and lots. He is always in search for sunbeams here.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cooking and Cookbook

Today, for dinner I made this pork belly recipe from Jamie Oliver- it was delicious and real easy to make- score the skin, rub it with kosher salt, cook at high heat for a half hour, turn it down for an hour, throw some veg in there and cook the belly on top of the veg for another hour. Then make a simple jus gravy. I served it with mashed potatoes and raw carrot and celery - if I had lettuce, I'd done that, but I didn't so I went to cut the richness and fattiness with what I had in the fridge.

I am trying to use some awesome cookbooks I have on hand- recently acquired and never used as of yet.

The first one is Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller. I got it as a late Christmas gift from my father in law. I was still making my way through The French Laundry cookbook when it arrived, and I ended up packing it for the move before I had a chance to read it. It's supposed to be food that is easier for the home cook to achieve (as opposed to the TFL recipes) and I'm looking forward to inspiration from it.

The second book is Real Cajun by Donald Link, a New Orleans chef I know I've mentioned on this blog several times already. I love his food. I just got it from Amazon last week and I've taken a quick look through it and have fallen in love already.

Having eaten at both these chefs' restaurants, I know how profoundly different their styles and influences are. But I love the food they both put out so much - mostly because you can taste the love and care they put into their cooking, the deep respect they have for their personal histories and traditions of food and cooking and family.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to playing around in their worlds a little bit in the future.

Satsuma

We headed over to the Bywater for breakfast at Satsuma Cafe, a new-ish place that has the excellent idea to post their specialties on Facebook. This morning I turned on my netbook and saw this on my FB feed: "Sunday specials: Alabama peach pancakes; chanterelle scramble with spinach and goat cheese; quiche with arugula pesto, red peppers and Swiss; Italian grilled cheese with prosciutto, mozzarella, red peppers and roasted garlic; heirloom tomato caprese salad with fresh mozzarella and vidalia onion."

So that sounded pretty good, and off we went.

Parked the car, got inside to wait in line to place an order- many painfully hip hipsters were loitering over coffee and laptops and newspapers so we didn't know if we'd be able to even get a table. There's a courtyard as well, but it started raining while we were still waiting in line. We ended up grabbing a wholly impractical table for eating (no space for plates) but were able to move in on someone leaving before we actually got our food. I tell you what, I wish that Yasser from Soundbites was around to kick some hipster ass, keep those tables turning over!

Anyway, Tom had the peach pancake and I had the chanterelle scramble. I thought the scramble was nice- good flavor, fresh ingredients, filling but not too much so. Tom liked his pancakes ok, but he said that the batter was weird in places. Iced coffee was good and strong, and on the way out we grabbed a pineapple ginger limeade to go, which was really good.

All in all, we probably wouldn't make the trek back for breakfast- the vibe was so hipster and the food wasn't good enough to make up for it. But if you find yourself there, you'll likely have a nice meal and something yummy to drink.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Posting about drinking while drunk.

First of all, I LOVE YOU MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Second, Tom and I headed out after dinner to meet up with friends at the local awesome bar, Pete's, which I have discussed before:



I was drinking (well) gin & tonics and Tom was drinking Miller Lites and every round came to $5. FIVE DOLLARS PEOPLE. This is where we make our money back.

Anyway, we hung out with our friend Kara (I LOVE YOU MAN!!!) and talked about what seemed to be everything under the sun, met some new people, and saw the new Hooters Queen be crowned on Spike TV. Seriously, fun times for sure.

I love this neighborhood and I love this city and I am so happy to be here.

(Disclaimer: Nora may or may not indeed "love you, man!!!")

Liuzza's By the Track

This morning was pretty lazy, Tom played some LEGO Rock Band on the Wii (which... adorable!) and I got up and went back to bed a couple times.



Eventually we decided to head over to Liuzza's by the Track in Mid City for some lunch. We'd gotten a Living Social coupon for the place a couple weeks back, and I was excited to try it- I'd heard some really good things about the place and their specialties. Liuzza BTT is a sort of hole in the wall type restaurant- no frills, just some tables, a bar, awesome food, and schooners of Abita Amber on draught. What's not to love?

So, we get there, I order a bloody mary (still one of my favorite things in New Orleans, the pickled green beans and other goodies in one's bloody mary), Tom ordered a small beer (he is suspicious of beverage served in containers named after ships) and we both ordered a cup of the creole gumbo, which was simply excellent. They cook the shrimp to order for each cup or bowl of gumbo, so the shrimp are perfectly cooked, not overcooked at all. The gumbo also had sausage and chicken in it. Spicy and delicious.

Tom ordered the Garlic Oyster Po'boy which he enjoyed. I ordered the specialty of the house, the BBQ Shrimp Po'boy. Believe me when I tell you this was possibly one of the best things I have eaten in New Orleans. BBQ shrimp (for those not from these parts) are not in what you would think of as traditional BBQ sauce. The sauce is butter and black pepper based and it is pretty incomparable to anything else ever.



So, it was a LOT of shrimp. Delicious, delicious shrimp. I was determined to finish it. Which, I didn't quite do- I left maybe 3 or 4 on the plate and Tom ate about a half dozen or so. The bread and the shrimp and the sauce...



In conclusion, Meal Enjoyed By All!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Avenue, Anniversaries, sushi, and KABOOM!

A most excellent day- I accomplished a wide variety of things and am very pleased with my place in the world. That place being New Orleans.

After dropping Tom off at work, I came right back home so I could get myself some breakfast before my 10am conference call with the KABOOM coordinators and volunteers. This is a project that I've volunteered for, chairing the Recruitment and Registration Committee. Basically, we in the Irish Channel are partnering up with KABOOM! and Marriott to rebuild a neighborhood playground here.

We're currently trying to raise $7,500 toward the project, so if you are interested, check out the link here. No amount is too small! And it will really benefit the kids and the community! (I'll likely be blogging this in greater detail in the future.)

So, I spent time on a couple conference calls, worked with the president of the Irish Channel Neighborhood Associations to run some errands for the cause, and stopped at Sake Cafe on Magazine with her for a quick sushi lunch.

I've been to Sake a couple times now, and it's a nice straightforward sushi place. Today I had a "mangotini" and to eat, the tuna and avocado maki and the smoked salmon and avocado roll. Tasty! Just the thing on a hot and sunny New Orleans afternoon.

When I came home, I resisted the urge to follow up on my tasty mango and rum cocktail with more daytime drinking and instead got a peach cobbler in the oven instead. This recipe was super easy, and very delicious.

After waiting patiently for Tom to finish at work (he had to work late) I picked him up and we drove to The Avenue Pub on St. Charles. We like to go there on Friday nights- there's a group of beer loving folks that we've become friendly with there, they have awesome food (the Duck Sammich With No Name for me again tonight and of course the Best Fish Sammich Ever for Tom, as always), and awesome beer.

Tonight was the second anniversary of my friend Jeremy's Beer Buddha blog (you can always find his blog on the list of links on the left hand side of this page) and he celebrated in grand style on the Balcony level of the Avenue Pub. They had 2 special Brooklyn Brewing beers on tap: Brooklyn Blast (a Double IPA) and the Brooklyn Buzz Bomb (a braggot style ale, part mead and part beer, with honey and spices) as well as Red Seal Ale (from North Coast brewing hailing from the fleshpots of Fort Bragg, CA) ON CASK, the brand new NOLA Brewing Seventh Street Wheat, as well as their regular assortment of awesome beers.

I love hanging out with The Avenue Pub beer crowd. They are so friendly and awesome.

So a long day of doing lots of stuff- I think I'll sleep well tonight.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

daily report

Today I was pretty low energy, but I did end up doing a couple interesting things. One of those things was NOT yoga, sigh. My bad. However, I did the following:

1. Went to Slim Goodies, as described in my previous entry.

2. Picked up Tom, then went to PetCo for cat food and then Hansen's for a sno-bliz before they closed at 7pm. I had pineapple and ginger, Tom had cardamom and cream of almond.

3. Went to the Maple Leaf Cafe for the NOLA new beer launch- it was their new seasonal, a lemon basil wheat. The Maple Leaf is a pretty famous music club, and I was definitely interested in checking it out. We didn't stay for the band, but we did enjoy some beer before heading home.

4. Cooked a farmers market dinner- the fresh oregano pappedelle, the citrus basil pesto, and the turkish heirloom tomatoes.

In somewhat excellent news, I finally got my copy of Real Cajun by Donald Link- looking forward to using it soon with delicious results.

breakfast links

I had breakfast at Slim Goody's on Magazine Street. I was a bit overwhelmed by the menu, so I went for the standard combo and I kind of wish I'd gotten something a little more exciting. It was fine. The grits and eggs (over easy) were pretty bland but, whatever. The waiter was very chatty and familiar, kinda touchy feely. He seemed a little weird once I mentioned having a husband, but that might just have been because I was on the way out, and he was off to other customers and whatnot.

I'll go back and check out one of their slams or scrambles or omelettes.

New Orleans links!

New Farmers Market, Fridays, in Armstrong Park

Um, ok, just the one link.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

breakfast & Brocato's



Today I ventured to Mid-City to have breakfast at Huevos, someplace I've been itching to check out for a while.

I was greeted by the music of Bob Marley's "Rebel Music" album and studied the menu:



Also a pitcher of freshly squeezed blueberry lemonade, which I ordered along with Huevos Con Tamal, 3 pork tamales with 2 poached eggs and salsa verde.




I love tamales, I love pork, I love runny poached eggs- so I was in heaven. The blueberry lemonade was also delicious. They advertised coconut iced coffee, which was somewhat intriguing, but untried as of yet.



After breakfast, I made my way over to Angelo Brocato's for their justly acclaimed lemon ice and an espresso. DAMN. Both were excellent. Simple products, made well.



The lemon ice was so smooth and tart and sweet and silky and flavorful. Mmm, I want to go back every day to try a new ice or sorbet!



The espresso was wonderful. The espresso maker is a beautiful copper antique behind the counter and it turns out a damn fine espresso.

I got two freshly filled cannolis to go- I cannot wait to try it! (the second one is for Tom)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hat trick blog post

So, for my third blog post of the day, I wish to report that this recipe for Corn and Crab Bisque was excellent! I followed the recipe except for adding a half teaspoon of Old Bay, swapping out the half and half for heavy cream, and sprinkling chopped parsley and green onion on top after serving it up.

It is on the spicy side, a little bit-one should perhaps adjust the amount of cayenne if spice-sensitive. It went GREAT with a cold beer.

In other cooking news, Tom made a Rum Manhattan (with Old New Orleans Amber Rum) and we split the sweet potato hand pie (procured from the farmers market) for dessert.

Hansen's update



I have committed Sno-Bliz once again. Today I had black cherry and cream of peach. Behold!



Since I was camera happy during my wait in line this time, I took some shots of the various signs: