Wednesday, February 23, 2011

waiting for the weekend!

This weekend (which for me will start tomorrow after work) will be a fun one- my friend Berit will be coming to visit plus the first weekend of Mardi Gras parades.

Tonight, I'm resting up with Strawberry C juice and Tom's chicken noodle soup.

Tomorrow, I'll get Berit at the airport and drive to the Quarter and meet Tom at the Chart Room, then dinner at Iris.

Friday, out to see Mack at the Village, then lunch at August (in a study of polar opposites.) Then out to the Avenue Pub to watch the Oshun parade and then Lilette for dinner. Not been to Iris or Lilette yet, so I'm looking forward to both of them.

Saturday: crawfish boil, Avenue Pub for NOLA Brewing's Flambeau Red release, parades.

Sunday: brunch at Commander's Palace, parades, oysters. Maybe MVB for dinner.

Monday: drive Berit back to the airport, go to work, blog about the weekend's exploits, and get ready for Muses on Balcony at the Avenue on Thursday and the Zulu Ball (!!!!!!!!ELEVENTY!!!!!!) on Friday.

We shall see if things go according to plan. Very possible they won't. (except for Zulu! That will go according to plan, I decree it.)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sweet addiction

OK, I will soon stop enthusing about Pizza Delicious, but today is not that day.

I called in around 11:30 or so- the timing was slightly less precise than it was on Thursday, but that was fine. We arranged for a 6:30 pickup and we ordered: Greg & Mike's Homemade Meatball Pie, tomato and roast garlic w/ sauteed kale baked ziti (with pureed roasted garlic in tomato sauce and adding chopped up bits of spicy sauteed kale and then baking with lots of mozzarella.)




Also, the house salad, with the olives and the cheese and the tomatoes and the glavin.



And of course, king cake- they had 4 different flavors today and we availed ourselves of the apple & spice and the raspberry- both were so good!

Oh, we also ordered a cauliflower roll, which is, in their own words:
If you've never tried a roll, its our dough flattened out, layered with cheese and ...roasted cauliflower... and then rolled up and sliced and baked off until crispy. It's definitely a good time.


I kind of forgot about it because Tom and I tore into it after getting in the car and it was eaten within 3 blocks of the Pizza Delicious kitchen. Was definitely a good time.

In conclusion, the chefs at Pizza (Freakin') Delicious must put crack in their sauce because I have fallen deeply in lust with the food. And the fact that I can only get it twice a week only makes me want it more! Good thing I didn't try it when they were only serving once a week.

Damn, dudes. Now I have to do a Sophie's Choice every Sunday between my two favorite pop-ups, PD and MVB. I guess we'll do PD on Thursday and MVB on Sunday.

I think one of the reason I love both of these places so much is because the creators and chefs are New Orleanians who love food and want to add to the culinary tradition here- and they're doing it with their spare time! It's a labor of love, and I swear, you can taste the love at both these places as well as places like J'Anita's and Crescent City Pie and Sausage and Coquette and The Grocery. It's more addictive than the crack they all obviously add.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Addendum to Previous Post

All I have been doing is thinking about Pizza Delicious and I want to order from them again tomorrow. Man, that's some good pie.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Name Speaks for Itself

Tried out the debut Thursday Pizza Delicious production last night. We've been wanting to try it, but going out to the Bywater for to-go items has not been so appealing, especially since MVB is serving burgers right in our 'hood that same night.

We ordered their special pie: "MARINATED SPICY HOLLYGROVE BABY KALE pie on which you can add HOT SOPPRESSATA" which we, in fact did do.

We got the pizza, a salad, and 2 slices of king cake, which is made by one of the pizza stretchers there at PD.



It was really, really, really... excellent. Spicy from the soppressata and the kale, the crunchiness and earthiness of the kale, the crust, the sauce... simple and, dare I say, delicious. I actually don't love red sauce pizza so much (heresy, I know!) but I liked this a lot. The salad was also fantastic- baby greens, kalamata olives, roasted red pepper, yellow cherry tomatoes, pickled onions- perfect.



King cake was doughy and soft, which was a feature for me and a bug for Tom.

I had the last 2 pieces of pizza warmed in the oven for lunch today, and it heated up wonderfully. This may be a new Thursday tradition!



Interestingly, they are super precise about when you pick up the pizza. We got there early at around 6:15 and I was told that our pizza wouldn't be ready till 6:24. I was told on the phone that it would be 6:27, so I guess someone cancelled an order or something? In New Orleans, it is rare to find exact timing like that, so it amused me and pleased my Virgo tendencies.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What's Your Hurry, Man?



When our friend Liza picked us up from the airport and drove us into downtown, she told us about an Austin-tatious bumper sticker which annoys one of her friends to no end: "What's Your Hurry, Man? You're already IN AUSTIN!" Having had the opportunity to lounge around Austin in a variety of locales, I can see the appeal of slowing down and sticking around once you find yourself there.

We hit the Texas Chili Parlor for breakfast/brunch. Liza and Tom both had the migas with chili on top: black bean and Elgin sausage chili for Liza and the house mild chili for Tom. I decided on enchiladas instead but still topped them with chili: the white chili with pork and hatch chilis. Mmmm, enchiladas. Mmmm, chili. Mmmm, Shiner Bock. Great first meal in Austin.



I played around with my new phone while in Austin and I "checked in" at a whole bunch of places on Facebook- and thank god, because since it's taken several days to start this entry, it helps me remember what was done where.

Man, the weather was just gorgeous.

OK. Then we drove around a bit and ended up parking on Sixth Street and walked down to Little Woodrow's for a couple beers. We shared a pitcher of Fireman's 4 from the Real Ale Brewing Company out of Blanco Texas and then I tried another local IPA which I cannot for the life of me remember the name of. Was good though.



Wandered to South Congress Street (SoCo). When I say wandered, I mean, hiked! We had quite a haul through downtown Austin on foot. But it was awesome. Had a margarita at Guero's Taco Bar, a chicken "cone" at The Mighty Cone, one of Austin's many food trucks, and a slice and a beer at HomeSlice Pizza.

After going back over the bridge back to the car, we had a bit of a siesta and then went out to dinner. We checked out The Good Knight but it was pretty crowded, so we went to The Brixton down the road for a pre-dinner drink. When we returned, we got seated and I had a couple of very nice cocktails: the eponymous drink, The Good Knight, which had rye, paula’s lemon, sweet vermouth, and bitters and then an Aviation (gin, lemon, crème de violette, luxardo maraschino). I also had an amazing curried lamb shepherd's pie. Everyone else at the table had the meatloaf.

The next day (after breakfast tacos at Torchy's) we went to the LBJ Museum- Liza works there so we got a bit of an insider tour. I really enjoyed the official and unofficial tour. Then we drove out to "Hill Country" which made it sound like we were gonna get attacked by trolls or whatever, but apparently where the best BBQ is. We drove out to Luling to go to City Market BBQ, but it was closed! We headed back to Lockhart to go to Black's, which is a family run institution around those parts. Some of the best BBQ I've ever had: sausage, brisket, ribs, chicken, tons of sides, jalapeño cornbread, sweet tea, and some old school live honkey tonk (???) for entertainment. An excellent Texas moment.







On the way back home we stopped at the Mexican flea market, and drank a few Tecates while wandering around admiring various stalls with used furniture, electronics, birds, illegal live fish, a chance to see the legendary chapacubra, vegetables, dried chilis, car floor mats, and the like. We picked up some Mexican sugar and candied pumpkin and sweet potato. Saw some small children with large turkey legs as well as spiced up corn on the cob. If I hadn't just eaten my body weight in BBQ I'd have been all over that.

For the evening's entertainment, we went to have burgers and beers at Casino El Camino and then ice cream at Austin's venerable ice cream chain, Amy's. (warning: wack Flash action).



This was a lot of info in one entry- it's a bit more travel-book style than I like. But I did want to commemorate my Austin trip, as short as it was, because it was a really fun place to be, with awesome food to eat and many many places one can get your Texas sized drink on. I recommend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tour Eiffel

So, we had a Living Social deal for the Eiffel Society which expires tomorrow, so we decided to hit it for an early dinner on Wednesday night. I'd heard it was sort of a trendy clubby thing, which is SO not our scene, so I figured early dinner during the week was the way to go.

In the miserable pouring cold rain of the night, I was pretty happy about the complementary valet parking they offer. Sadly because of the awfulness of the weather, we did not ascend the crazy grand bridge-like entrance, but were instead escorted with umbrella by our valet to right underneath the entrance bridge, and we were able to walk to the lower entrance protected from the rain. There's an elevator there and when the doors opened, I caught a glimpse of flickering lights and had a millisecond of panic before I looked at the lights and realized that the flickering lights were actually ART. Many old fashioned lightbulbs flickering in a random pattern. It was weird, but I kind of loved it.

(My phone was misbehaving so I didn't get pictures of all the weirdness- so sad!)

The elevator doors open right in front of the maitre'd which was a little unnerving, but he introduced himself and showed us to our table. It was still early- only a couple other tables were occupied, one by an older couple that made me feel a little bit like I was early-birding it.

Our server showed up, a very pleasant fellow (who later got totally swamped due to soeone calling out sick, but still was pretty on the ball despite all of that) and we gave him our cocktail orders. I had the Laugh Track, which was Mount Gay white rum, a lime-tarragon liquor, topped off with brut champagne. My first sip was a bit overwhelming- so much going on with the punch of the carbonation, the acidity of the lime and the herbal spiciness of the tarragon. But I adjusted quickly (what I do for hooch, I tell ya) and enjoyed the crazy cocktail quite a lot. Maybe too much? It went quick.

Tom had the Gin & Juice, which was Brokers London Dry Gin, pineapple ice, and "The Juice" which was billed as a "Super Secret Fresh Mix." Man, Tom LOVED it. It definitely was an homage to the Tiki cocktail, and the pineapple ice (a giant disc of frozen pineapple juice) kept him happy for pretty much the entire meal. After we put in our orders, I finished my first cocktail and finally was able to flag down our server to get my hands on a Dixie Down, made with McAfee's Benchmark Bourbon, Creole-spiced Acadian Honey, and lemon juice on the rocks. Ooh, that's a tasty cocktail. All bourboney and spicy and sweet and sour.

Food- overall impression was good, but could use more seasoning on 3 of the 5 dishes we had. I take this opportunity to refer you to an excellent rant on one of my biggest restaurant pet peeves by Peter of Blackened Out: more and more restaurants don't put out salt and pepper on the table! You have to ask for it like some sort of cretinous rube or something.

So, the beet salad, the empanadas, and the plantain tostones with smoked pork pickled onions and queso fresco were impeccably prepared, but fell flat due to underseasoning. Such potential! Ah well.

The standouts were Tom's Winter Greens Salad, which had kale, chard, choi, mustard greens with a Steen's vinegarette and pumpkin seeds. Excellent flavors and deceptively simple preparation. Mmm, beta-carotine. The other well seasoned (and also simply yet well prepared) dish was my hangar steak with herbed butter and frites. Hangar steak is such a great flavorful cut of meat - it was cooked perfectly and the fries were perfect.

In the midst of all this, we discovered that Wednesday nights are Salsa nights at the Eiffel Society. Which seems a little incongruous with the whole hip Dharma Initiative vibe they seem to be going for, but the salsa lessons that started the night off made for excellent if odd dining entertainment. Hey, I don't judge! Well, maybe I judged a little bit.

After dinner, and before the salsa dancing began in earnest (they were still working on teaching turns as we left), we made our way down the crazy lightbulb blinky elevator and out to the valet stand. It was a fun and weird night- I definitely want to go back and try my hand at some salsa dancing!

To read about our post-dinner adventures on just another rainy Wednesday night in New Orleans, go here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Feast Day of St. Amand

February 6 is not only my dad's birthday (hi, Dad!) but it is also St. Amand's Day. Who is St. Amand, you might ask, and for good reason, because I never heard of him before J'Anita's and the Rendon Inn decided to throw a shindig celebrating him (and, er, the Superbowl.)

According to Wikipedia, St. Amand is the patron saint of "all who produce beer: brewers, innkeepers and bartenders (and presumably also hopgrowers)." Fitting also that Tom bottled his inaugural New Orleans homebrew on Sunday as well.

So anyway, the folks at J'Anita's (Craig and Kimmie) and the Rendon Inn (Marc), never ones to pass up a good old fashioned feast day with feasting, decided to create a special three course menu celebrating the beers of the only New Orleans brewery (so far), NOLA Brewing.

First course: NOLA Brown Ale battered deep fried green beans.


They were excellent! Not too heavy and seasoned perfectly. We burned our mouths eating the first few, but it was worth it.

Next up was roasted garlic/ house smoked cheddar/Hopitoulas soup served with NOLA Brown Ale-braised roast beef and root vegetables.

Note my Hopitoulas Ale in the background.

The soup was amazingly cheesy and flavorful- very rich and delicious. It reminded me of the cheese soup we'd enjoyed at Simon Pearce in Vermont during our honeymoon, and made me very happy indeed. The pot roast was tender and tasty, just total comfort food. It was a good contrast to the rich, sharp soup, as it was much more mildly flavored, just hearty braised good old fashioned pot roast.

And for dessert... Dark Chocolate Irish Channel Stout Cupcakes w/ an Irish Channel Stout/Chocolate/Cinnamon/Espresso drizzle.

droooool... let's see it paired with an Irish Channel Stout, shall we?


That was... damned good. Anyway, it was the best St. Amand Day I ever had! All this (plus our first NOLA Brewing beer) was $14. Dang, y'all, that's some serious value.

I hope you also enjoyed your St. Amand Day, taking the time to honor the brewers, innkeepers and bartenders (and presumably also hopgrowers) in your life! Because, let's face it, life would seriously suck without them.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cochon Butcher

Have been intrigued this week by word of the Cochon Butcher's mini-king cakes. Since we don't do king cakes in my office, my king cake exposure is fairly limited. Sure, I can buy one from Haydel's or Sucre, or Rouses, but there's no way we can eat an entire full sized one.

Enter Cochon Butcher- their mini king cakes are perfect for 2 people! Also, instead of a plastic baby to put in, they provide a wee rubber piggy! Aw, it's cute.


(photo courtesy of NOLA.com)

There's actually a whole mini king cake trend happening this year, apparently. I still gotta get my hands on the Hubig king cake.

So last night I stopped by to investigate the king cake situation there, and ended up buying 2, because I was hungry and indecisive. Got the cinnamon (which is the most traditional, no filling kind) and the chocolate filled one. I needed to kill some time before picking Tom up from work, so I sat at the bar and had a Miss Piggy Does Bourbon Street cocktail- their homemade cherry lemonade with their own cherry bounce. Dang, it's so good that I had two. Not a bad night, start the evening with a couple cherry bounce lemonades and end it in jammies eating 2 different kinds of king cake.

Because I love chocolate, I really liked the chocolate filled one- it was basically high quality chocolate melted and poured into the center and hardened up. Nom. Didn't overwhelm the flavor of the cake itself. I kinda ate up most of the chocolate one and didn't have a lot of room left for the cinnamon one- but it was good. Spicy, yeasty, delicious.

Tonight, we weren't in the mood to cook or shop or go to a fancy place, so we stopped at the Butcher again, this time for dinner. I, of course, had a couple of the Miss Piggy Cocktails. Tom got the pastrami sandwich grilled up nice with sauerkraut and cheese. He enjoyed it, especially the bits of the meat and cheese that got a little crunchy from the grilling.

I had 2 small plates- their mac & cheese with pancetta, a dish I have had and loved before, as well as a special I snagged before it got 86'd- their duck & dumplings. Like chicken & dumplings but with duck. And DAMN THAT IS GOOD STUFF. If you ever see it on their specials, jump on board!

Got the last strawberry cream filled king cake to take home with us. I just had a piece and will have another as soon as I am finished with this blog entry- the strawberry filling is really good- it actually tastes like strawberries, but doesn't overwhelm the classic king cake flavor.

The only flavor I have left at Cochon Butcher is the praline, and I'm sure we'll get to that before the week is out.

Rest assured, I am doing all I can to sample as much king cake I can for your edification this Carnival season.