Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hee!

I just looked at my blog stats and was like, wow, I really hit my peak in July! And then I remembered that all I was doing that month was eating, drinking, napping, and blogging.

Good times, man. Good times.

(btw, will probably have one last Hansen's post before the season ends on Saturday. What shall I have for my last sno-bliz of the season??? satsuma/cream of nectar? coffee/chocolate/cardamom? limeade/ginger? pineapple/cherry? OMG.)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Long live the Deutsches Haus!

After some shenanigans last night involving Red Seal on cask at the Avenue Pub and then cocktails and snacks at Coquette, today we woke up and went on over to the Deutsches Haus in Mid City for the final day of their final Oktoberfest.

Got some beers! First I had the Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier Dunkel and Tom had the Paulaner Oktoberfest. Then Kostrirzer Schwarzbier for me and Spaten Oktoberfest for Tom. Next round was my turn for the Paulaner Oktoberfest and Tom had a Warsteiner Pilsner. Then Tom tried the Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier Dunkel.

Can't forget about that fine German Oktoberfest cuisine- stood in line and got me a plate with pork schnitzel, bratwurst, german potato salad, mashed potatoes and rye bread with butter. And, of course, strudel! Both cherry and apple.

We purchased an entirely silly plastic 22 oz. glass with the Deutsches Haus logo which lights up! Heh. Also purchased a bottle opener and beer cozy.

The oompah band was fun- very energetic with covers of "Beat It," "Come Together" that weird oompa-loompa song from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which was... weird and made me laugh out loud. Several enthusiastic renditions of the Chicken Dance, of course. I would be lying if I said there wasn't a guy dressed head to toe as a giant chicken wearing leiderhosen.

The Deutsches Haus is closing tonight at midnight to make way for the new LSU VA teaching hospital/health center that will be built in this area of Mid-City. The plans for the new hospital complex have been mired in controversy for several reasons. First of all, it's going in an area of town that is residential, so there are hundreds of people getting their land bought up by the state. Some of the historic homes are being moved into other areas of the city, but most properties are being razed. The new hospital will also fill the void that the closing of Charity Hospital created in 2005. Some think that it would make more sense for the state to renovate the existing structure instead of demolishing an entire neighborhood to make way for the footprint of the new hospital. Others think that the lower area of Mid-City it affects is a craphole and the hospital is much needed progress.

I don't know. If there was state land nearby that could ave been used, and even the site (if not the building) of Charity Hospital, I think it's unfortunate that the state is choosing to "reenergize" or "reform" or "rebuid" a Better New Orleans by razing properties where people live, where personal history resides, where people came together at places like the Deutsches Haus. That place has been around and served its community for almost 82 years. God knows I haven't been here long enough to know the many perspectives about New Orleans and Louisiana politics, but I do know that demolishing something that was standing and rebuilding something that wasn't there before costs a lot of money and in my experience with politics, when that much money is floating around, it's not the community that the politicians are thinking about.

I was glad to have been able to raise a glass to the Deutsches Haus today and the many people it has served over the years. Prost!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Frenchmen Street and the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival



The weather's been just glorious since late September. Clear, dry, sunny, nice breeze, in the 80s. Friday night was a wonderful night to go out and play. A friend from out of town was here and ready to party and my friend's son's band was playing (I'd previously seen them at Tipitina's and enjoyed them a lot.)

I met up with Tom and his co-workers at the Bridge Lounge, one of my favorite local places. Tom had a mojito and I had a mint julep. After chatting with his colleagues (including some seriously disturbing talk about someone's acquaintance's Craigslist personal ads) we wandered over to the Avenue Pub, where we enjoyed the last German Franconian farmhouse lager on cask. I also had a Unibroue Chambly Noir and an experiment that Tom suggested to the owner, Polly- she's been on a kick where she washes a glass out with bourbon and then serves Russian Imperial Stout in it, so Tom suggested that she serve the Sierra Nevada Tumbler Brown Ale in a glass with a Cointreau wash. He was mostly joking, but Polly gave it a try. The verdict was that it wasn't bad, but it wasn't quite right.

My out of town friend met us at the Avenue, and off we went to Frenchmen Street, which was already hopping at 8pm. We wandered down Frenchmen and Decatur, stopping at Three Muses to see if we could get a bite to eat- it was mobbed, though, so we ended up going to Thirteen (aka 13 Monaghan, it seems) for some sandwiches, beer, and tater tot nachos. Then, cocktails at Pravda on Decatur. They have an extensive absinthe selection but I stuck to a Sazerac.

Then, time to hit Maison to see the Big Easy Brawlers. My friend K (also the guitarist's aunt) brought several friends and we all danced to the brass/band/rock/funk music till I just about fell down (my knee was killing me yesterday, adding on to the general hangover.)

Yesterday was pretty much a lost day, due to recovering from the night before. I did make it out to get a burrito at Felipe's though. Also made some chicken noodle soup and watched a lot of Law & Order and Futurama.

This morning, got up, got dressed, and got going to the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival. We parked at Tom's work garage and walked to Lafayette Square (there was plenty of parking closer, but we were in the mood for a little walk.) When we got there, Mem Shannon was playing, then we heard Shannon McNally & Hot Sauce, and then a little bit of The Joe Krown Trio featuring Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Russel Batiste. We ate pork and shrimp spring rolls from Ba Mien Vietnamese Restaurant, pork taco and lamb ribs from Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar, jerk chicken plate (came with greens, rice & beans, and plantains) from Boswell’s Jamaican Grill, and pralines and sweet potato pie from Loretta’s Authentic Pralines.



While enjoying a couple Abita Fall Fest beers, we wandered around checking out the various craft vendors- lots of art, jewelry, some beautiful handcrafted furniture, instruments, and gorgeous feather masks.

Good food, good music, good weather, good company- is what New Orleans is all about. Also, Saints won!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bahn Mi and Boucherie

A friend from out of town, who's spent a good amount of time in New Orleans, came to visit and I thought the best place to go would be Boucherie up in Carrollton. It's such a cozy, intimate space with great seasonal food with a Southern/New Orleans twist, it's a fun place to take someone who has mostly hung out in the Quarter and Faubourg Marigny. Plus, it's super reasonable for such high quality and thoughtful food! As is their wine by the glass and beer.

Tom and I started with the Mai Tai, made with New Orleans Cajun Rum, Macambo 20 year old barrel aged rum, Trader Tiki's orgeat (the secret to any great mai tai), fresh lime juice, and muddled brandied cherries and orange. Our out of town visitor enjoyed a delicious caipirinha, made with leblon cachaca, fresh lime, and sugar on the rocks. I ended up having two mai tais. And a glass of pinot gris. Well, we had a bit of a wait for our food- apparently our ticket fell so we had both an embarrassed server and shamefaced front of house manager explaining this to us. But we got free dessert out of it! It didn't matter much, we weren't in a rush and we were enjoying our conversation.

When our food did arrive, it was freaking delicious. I was drawn to the small plates and ended up getting two of them: I started with the Farmers Market Pumpkin Stew with rashers and creme fraiche and then had the Dopplebock Braised Pork Belly with Pumpernickel Crouton and Juniper Berry Pickled Radishes. It was all really, really awesome. One of the best pork belly preparations I've had, and I know I've gushed about Boucherie's in house pickles before. Lawd. The pumpkin stew was excellent as well, and the rashers were beautifully meaty, a great contrast to the velvety mouthfeel of the stew which was replete with soft lumps of pumpkin.

Tom had the Collard Greens and Grit Fries, which was excellent, and the large plate of Apple Smoked Scallops with Roaster Beet Salad and Dill Sour Cream. Tom thought the scallops were perhaps a bit aggressively seasoned, but enjoyed the Beet Salad and really was impressed by the Collard Greens and Grit Fries. Our friend (a vegetarian) had the baby greens salad with creole tomatoes and then the Potato Pierogi with Local Greens and a Caramelized Onion and Caraway Dressing. She was quite pleased with it!

For dessert we shared an order of the Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding which is just made of awesome. And donuts. So, you know, there is no bad here. Their decaf coffee was also pretty decent, which is always a nice surprise.

In conclusion: YAY BOUCHERIE! (again)

The following day I figured out that the Mid-City branch of our local bank was right next to the Eat Well Food Mart, which I'd been intrigued by for some time. My predecessor at my job had recommended it, and I'd heard it was a good place to get a bahn mi without going to New Orleans East. I got one (affirmed that I wanted it spicy when asked by the order taker) as well as a "homemade" egg roll. It's funny, the list of egg rolls is as follows: pork, shrimp, and homemade. The homemade one is pretty obviously made in house (lacks the uniformity of the mass produced type) and has pork AND shrimp AND is delicious.

I paid my $4.99 for my bahn mi (which included a can of soda) and left the store. I wasn't sure where to eat it, but figured that I could drive back to my office and eat by the Katrina Memorial or in one of the nearby cemeteries. Once I got back and parked my car, I realized that eating in my car would actually be a nice option. I was in the shade, next to a cemetery and it was very peaceful and a beautiful day. On to the bahn mi! It appeared to be comprised of pork, more pork, pickles, cilantro, and spicy pork. OH YEAH. The bread/roll/bun was AWESOME- I think it must have come from the famous Dong Phuong bakery. (Man, I gotta get there) The rich pork and the crispy cool pickles and the NOM NOM NOM. So, yeah, that was some good stuff.

Made dinner last night and tonight. Last night was Chicken Fricassee from the new issue of Cooks Illustrated, which was delicious and overly complicated as all CI recipes tend to be. (PS, their definition of "quick" is very different than mine.) Tonight was a *much* simpler but equally delicious Fettucini Carbonara. I was actually originally double booked for tonight- a work event and a neighborhood association meeting - and then when those fell through I though I might have a night on the town with our out of town visitor in the French Quarter, but in the end, I put on my pajamas and made pasta with bacon & eggs. Then finished up the apple crumble Tom made the other night. Then a Tunnock's bar (which was found at the World Market in Harvey, which was just about the best discovery this week besides my bahn mi.)

Tomorrow: Frenchmen Street? Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday in New Orleans...

it involved Saints football, a second line parade by the Prince of Wales Social Aid and Pleasure Club, beer, friends, and general awesomeness.

The Saints lost, but it was still a beautiful day and I followed the second line for like 6 blocks before I realized that I had left Tom and all my friends back at Sixth Street. Whee!



Really, just an absolutely beautiful day.

Not just lazy... cat-level lazy

This weekend we are trying to take a cue from our cats and just chilling out. It's been a rather tough week at work, so after quitting time on Friday, we drove straight over to The Avenue Pub with our Mug Club mugs and immediately ordered the Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Wet Hop Harvest Ale downstairs. We wandered up to the balcony, settled into a couple bar seats, and enjoyed a couple cask German/Franconian beers- a lager and a marzen. They just got a dedicated Unibroue draft tower put in, and I ordered a Maudite and also had a sample of the Trois Pistoles in a bourbon washed glass. Man, those Canadians can brew some beer!

Of course, we needed a little something to sop up all this delicious beer, so I had the cheeseburger (as I usually do) and Tom had one of the Oktoberfest food specials - Hassenpfeffer, which was braised rabbit in a red wine/brandy sauce. Came with German potato salad. We also caught up with a few folks we hadn't seen for a while. An excellent Friday night.

Yesterday, we went to the Marigny Brasserie to use our Living Social coupon for breakfast there. Eh. This was the second time we'd been there together on the weekend, and the second time it was pretty average/mediocre. Probably won't make an effort to go back. They had some sort of big wedding brunch going on as well, which certainly impacted the service, and our food came out cold.

Did some chores and cooked dinner in (flatiron steak from Rare Cuts cooked with Crystal hot sauce, lime juice, and Tony Chachere's seasoning- yum!) yesterday.

Today so far has been pretty great. We got up early (we went to bed crazy early last night) and went to Surrey's for breakfast, which was very nice, and a far cry from our disappointing breakfast yesterday. We got there right before the rush, and we were able to get seated right away. Tom had the Bananas Foster Stuffed French Toast, and I had the Migas with chorizo and their juice specialty, orange-pineapple-mango. Yum! My migas (basically a tex-mex style scramble) came with grits and one of their awesome fresh baked biscuits.

After breakfast, I thought it would be fun to stop by the Avenue Pub at 9:15 in the morning. I mean, why not? It's open 24 hours, may as well take advantage, right? Specifically, I wanted to try the newly tapped (at 12:01AM that morning) Stone Vertical Epic. Every year, they release a special beer- they started in 2002 with a 02-02-2002 release, and have done a similar thing every year. Obviously, this year is 10-10-10. So we stopped in to the surprise of the usual morning patrons, and enjoyed a glass of it. Then back home to lounge with the cats.

Later today: Saints game and perhaps a neighborhood second line encounter? Enjoy the rest of your weekends, everyone!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Anniversary

So, today is Tom's and my wedding anniversary. We eloped 6 years ago in Chester, Vermont, married by an octogenarian retired academic economist with our innkeepers and photographer as our witnesses. It was an awesome day, starting with a day at the spa, then marrying my best friend and favorite person on the planet, and then having a giggling, tipsy, so-happy-it-was-practically-nauseating dinner at the hotel next door to our inn. I remember walking back to our room in my stocking feet that night, with my too-high heels in my hand, arm in arm with my new husband.

Last year, for our fifth anniversary, we went on vacation to San Francisco and Northern CA (Napa Valley, Anderson Valley, Mendocino). On the 5th last year, we ate dinner at super swanky Gary Danko which was really amazing, but kinda over the top (not as OTT as some of our meals would be later in that trip, though.)

This year, we LIVE in NEW ORLEANS, which is so awesome that I just can't stand it. Especially now, when the weather is just straight up gorgeous and clear and crisp but still sunny and gently warm. But I digress. For dinner this year, we went to Cuvee, and had a really great meal and a wonderful time. I'd been curious about the place for a while now, and when Groupon offered a deal a few weeks ago, I snapped it up.

We drove in and miraculously found a place to park on the same block of Magazine as the restaurant (between Poydras and Girod). We each started with a Sazerac- it had been a while, actually, since I'd had one, and this one was EXCELLENT- very smooth but flavorful. Dangerously delicious!

We had an amuse bouche of duck liver and goat cheese on a toast point with a sour orange marmalade. The marmalade was such a decisive counterpoint to the unctuousness of the duck liver, which had been already lightened up by the tangy goat cheese. It was subtle, but appreciated.

I had the diver scallops appetizer special- it was served over a golden beet puree with thin slices of red beet on top, accompanied by fennel. Really excellent- the textures were very complimentary to each other, and the different types of sweetness of the scallops, the beets, and even the fennel was really a joy to experience. Tom started with their soup special, a duck and sausage gumbo. Amazing roux and hits of spice, as well as quality meat ingredients.
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Our two entrees were polar opposites of each other. Tom had the "lemon fish" with grapefruit as the accompanying acid as well as a complex but simply flavored pilaf with various vergetables. I had the duck. Rare smoked breast slices, an entire confit leg, butternut squash risotto, and a small piece of beautifully seared fois gras. It couldn't have been richer or more different than the clean, bright flavors of Tom's fish. It was no joke of a dish, and I enjoyed it a LOT. (though I did think at one point it was trying to kill me with a coronary or the gout.)

Cuvee also had a pretty reasonable list of wines by the glass; I cannot even pretend like I can remember the names of the wines, but I had a French Sauvignon Blanc with my scallops and a French Pinot Noir with my duck. I thought I chose pretty well, but what the hell do I know? I did enjoy my pairings though.

For dessert we shared the special they had- roasted pineapple sorbet with a bruleed pineapple ring (which was just so genius I can't believe this is the first time I've ever come across it) and some shortbread. Very simple but incredibly flavorful- the perfect way to end a delicious meal by not overdoing it or by being disappointed at the last course. One thing that I wasn't wild about: we ordered a decaf cappuccino, but they were out of decaf espresso coffee, so we accepted our server's suggestion for a cafe au lait made with decaf coffee. Eh... there's a reason I don't tend to drink brewed decaf coffee- wasn't very good. But other than that, a really great experience.

Service was excellent, attentive without hovering. We sat between two large-ish (5 or 6) parties of dudes. One party was a younger group, ordering Jack & Cokes, and enjoying the food and some good conversation. The other party was like a business dinner and they were real annoying. First of all, one guy kept taking calls on his cell and they just didn't seem to be having much fun or enjoying the food, which I hate to see. But not obnoxious, really, except for the cell phone shenanigans.

Yay, Cuvee! Yay, Tom! Yay, October 5! Yay.