Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maternal Visit, Part 2

When last we saw our heroes, they had just gone for a Sunday afternoon nap.

Upon awakening, Tom and I went downstairs and started on dinner. This took a while, because we were making Donald Link's Fried Chicken and Andouille Gumbo from scratch. First, had to pan fry/brown the chicken pieces. Then, add the flour into the chicken frying oil and make a roux.

Which took over a half an hour. But once that was done, just needed to integrate it into the chicken broth, add the trinity and spices, and the chicken to cook for a few hours! Then add andouille... and then fry up and add okra.

I was told it was excellent and delicious, but, you know, my audience was my mom and my husband, so they might just be a little bit biased.

Monday:

Having learned my lesson from the previous day, when early rising and late(ish) brunching reduced Joan to eating the lemon wedges brought for her iced tea at Coquette while waiting for the bread basket, I ran out to Freret Street Po-boy and Donut Shop and picked up a selections of delicious housemade donuts (and an apple fritter). This was to tide us over until our much-anticipated lunch at Commander's Palace.

We got gussied up and presented ourselves at the Palace, and were seated in the main dining room. The service was wonderful, of course, and the food was amazing. Mom started with the seafood gumbo and then had the paneed chicken and crawfish. I had the shrimp remoulade salade and then the tasso henican. Tom had their "heart-healthy" Oschner meal, which just so happened to sound delicious and was quite good. The starter was a gazpacho, followed by a mushroom coated gulf fish with roasted vegetables, and finishing with a blood orange sorbet.

Mom and I split the bread pudding souffle of course.

And do not forget the 25-cent martinis! Mom had 2, I had 2.5, and Tom had .5 (he finished my gin martini.) Yum.

After lunch we headed downtown to find Tom a suitable hat for the summer. Tom had previously admired an acquaintance's hat and got the tip to check out Meyer the Hatter, located on St. Charles at Canal.

After trying on dozens of hats- the ones I liked, he hated, and the ones he liked, I hated - Mom spotted the perfect hat on a far up shelf in the back of the store. Tom tried it on, and it fit perfectly, and looked quite dashing! It's a relatively short brimmed hat, made of a hard-ish coconut material. Hard to describe but will post pictures in the near future. Definitely his hat, though.

After hat shopping (with a stop at the Cochon Butcher to pick up a copy of Donald Link's cookbook for a newly smitten Mom), we settled into our now-customary Monday afternoon nap. Woke up for cocktail hour and Scrabble playing, then headed over to Pascale's Manale for dinner.

Pascale's is an old school Creole-Italian joint that claims to have invented the BBQ Shrimp and takes pride in its oyster raw bar and traditionally prepared Oysters Rockefeller.
After we had a drink in the gorgeous old bar, we were seated and promptly taken under the wing of our fabulous waitress, Wendy. We decided to do a half and half dozen of the Oysters Bienville (with a crab and shrimp stuffing, I think) and the Oysters Rockefeller. Both quite delicious.

For our main dishes, Tom and Mom had fish, and I had the BBQ Shrimp, of course! They were big. They were messy. They were delicious. They came with a bib.


Mom didn't care for her fish, it was overcooked, so she sent it back and they took it off the check. Unfortunate, but handled well enough. We had key lime pie for dessert, which was creamy and delicious. Despite the few problems, it was a wonderful time.

Tuesday:

We dropped Tom off at work, and headed to the Quarter. I dropped Mom off to stand in line at the Cafe Du Monde while I parked the car, only to park and return to find that there was no line, and she had ordered and gotten the food in that time! Beignets and cafe au lait, yum.

Afterward, we strolled up the side of Jackson Square, where Mom stopped to buy some postcards and I took a few photos of the morning scene:



Afterward, we drove to North Peters to get some pralines (and other stuff) from Southern Candymakers. Mom ended up getting a variety pack of pralines, turtles, and toffee. Also some Crystal hot sauce (which they wrapped up awesomely to protect from breaking) and file powder.

Then we drove out over the Industrial Canal into the Lower Ninth, and went to the Village, where Mom met Mack and we both met the new Village dog. We chatted for a while and I showed Mom around before parting ways and heading back over the Canal to Canal Street, where I turned to bring Mom up to Mid-City. We went to my office and cruised through City Park, and then it was time to pick Tom up for lunch at J'Anita's.

I'd promised the chefs I'd bring Mom by, and we tucked into a hearty lunch- Mom with the Swamp Reuben, me with the Chicken & Tarragon Salad sandwich, and Tom with the special of the day: the Meatloaf Sandwich.

It was really, really good and I suffered from Sandwich Envy.

After the naps de rigeur, Mom asked if we could skip going out for dinner and have takeout at home. She was craving Indian, so that's what we did- stayed home with takeout from Nirvana. Then early to bed, because it was early to rise the next morning, to get Mom to the airport for her morning flight.

So that's about the gist of it! We had a great time with her, and she seemed to have a great time with us. I hope we showed her to wonderfulness of New Orleans and why we made the puzzling decision to pack up and move here. I invite all others who have the same puzzlement to come down for a visit and let the city answer your question.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Mom has landed!

We are having a wonderful time! Let me see if I can recreate the itinerary thus far:

Friday: picked Mom up from the airport and brought her to Brigsten's for dinner. She had the seafood platter and loved, loved, loved it.




(for the curious, that contains: Shrimp with jalepeno cole slaw; broiled oyster with crab and shrimp; pan seared drum with a crawfish-lime-butter sauce; crawfish cornbread with jalepeno butter; stuffed devilled crab; oyster with seafood stuffing.)

I had the crawfish shortcake (I have memories of last year's first visit to Brigsten's and the crawfish dishes I fell in love with back then.) Also had their gulf fish special, which was drum crusted with parmesan and crab (!!!!) with a lemon hollandaise. Tom had the duck with the pecan dressing. There were cocktails and a bottle of wine. There was no room for dessert (sadly.)

Saturday: we'd gone to bed early, so we were early to rise. Mom and I drove into the French Quarter to have a look around before it got crowded. Went into a couple antique shops, Mom mildly needled me about needing a larger place so I could buy antiques, and I laughed. Went to one of the Praline Company gift shops on Royal (? or Chartres) and Mom bought some gifts, etc. We did some driving around to Frenchmen and the Marigny and then drove through the residential area of the Quarter a little bit.

By the time we returned, it was time for our 11am reservation at Cafe Atchafalaya. I'd decided to bring Mom here as soon as I knew they had a make-your-own-bloody-mary bar. Because that is RIGHT up Mom's alley. And indeed, she was like a kid in a bloody mary store. She went up a few times for some virgin mary refills.



And the food was great, as usual- Mom had the Eggs Louisianne, which were poached eggs on Louisiana lump crabmeat crabcakes with a Creole hollandaise sauce (which she was still talking about today.) I had the duck hash, which was duck confit mixed with blueberries, mango, and homefries topped with poached eggs and hollandaise. Awesome. Tom had the bananas foster french toast, which he was very happy with.

We brought Mom home to recover, while Tom and I went shopping for our cocktail party, that we'd organized so that our neighbors in the Irish Channel, the folks who have done so much to make us feel at home here, could meet the legend, the mom, the Joan. Well, that was some fun times I tell you what. Some wine, some beers, some fancy cocktails we batched ahead of time and put together (we were actually able to have the soiree at our friend's amazing courtyard)- the Income Tax ('tis that time of year, after all) and the Derby.

Things get a little fuzzy for me around there, but I do know we ended up at Casamento's which was amazing.



Mom had a dozen oysters, and Tom and I split a dozen. Mom had the seafood gumbo and the small fried oyster plate, and I had a bowl of the oyster stew. Tom ordered the fried crab claws. It was all so damn good.

My suggestion for a nightcap at Ms. Mae's was roundly rejected- for the best, I truly believe. (now)

Sunday- brunch at Coquette, which was... OK. Service was all right, but not great, and the food was pretty good except one of mom's shrimps wasn't deveined, which, bleh. She loved the roasted oysters, though, and the beignets were great- the pot du creme was a mocha AND there was an additional dish of salted caramel.

Afterward, we took a little stroll and checked out some shops like Storyville and Fleurty Girl. I bought two new large brimmed hats for the season, hooray! I got this one and this one.

Then, Tom and I went shopping for my planned gumbo cooking for that evening, and when we returned, it was naptime. (so many excellent naps with Mom visiting!)

Stay tuned for...

... Sunday night gumbo tales!
... Monday breakfast from Freret Street Donut & Poboys, lunch at Commander's Palace (with 25-cent martinis), and dinner at Pascal's Manale!
... More hattery adventures!
... whatever the hell adventures Tuesday brings!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

WATS

Well, a few days of work certainly drained my Fun Levels back down to functional, which was good news, 'cause I was excited about Wednesday At the Square! Kermit Ruffins was playing, it was a beautiful April afternoon, and I had a date with my man to check out the scene.

First step: tickets. Second step: beer. Third step: food. Fourth step: repeat second step.

The Abita taps were flowing once again, and Tom and I enjoyed our usual Jockamo IPAs. The President of a local brewery, who shall remain nameless, actually ordered a Jockamo by telling the beer server the name of his brewery's IPA. The beer dude didn't even blink, he knew what was what.

Food acquired: brisket and creole rib tacos from the Rum House tent, pork tamales at Crescent City Pie & Sausage Co's tent (why don't they have those on their regular menu???) Also an oatmeal raisin cookie from Between the Bread.

Music time! Listened to Kermit do his thing, and danced. I must say, my husband never danced before moving here. Now he does it happily and naturally. This city is magic! I mean, it has actual magical powers!

We cut out a little bit early to head down the road to Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar for their Wednesday night crawfish boil. We saw several buckets of live ones, awaiting their fate.

We got there early enough to get a table right away and then set about the very important task of figuring out how many pounds of crawfish we would eat between the two of us. We've never ordered by the pound. We asked the waitress, and she recommended 3 pounds.

We now know that we should always order 5 pounds of crawfish between the two of us.

It was a good night. Really, really good.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

French Quarter Fest and Fun

I think it's my New England upbringing that causes me to have a particular Fun Maximum which causes me to want to crawl away and hide after too much fun has been had. Went out on Wednesday evening, had to work late Thursday, and then Friday we made our usual Avenue Pub pilgrimage to enjoy NOLA Blonde dryhopped with Simcoe hops on cask, also a couple La Chouffes - had a Houblon - as well as the Harvistoun Ola Dubh, which is their Old Engine Oil black scottish ale aged in 18yr old highland whiskey barrels.

After we ate and drank at the Avenue, we went home and I had the great idea to bike down to the Hi Ho Lounge on St. Claude in the Bywater. I hadn't had the opportunity to bike since the previous weekend, and I was really itching to. So bike I did! Almost four and a half miles. Met up with my pack at the All Ways across the street from the Hi Ho had a drink, and then went back across the street to hear Ashton Hines and the Big Easy.



Was a short set, so we decided to go to Frenchmen and listen to them again at the Maison where they were playing a midnight show.

Biked over to Frenchmen and locked up the bikes when went for a wander- it wasn't even 11 so it would be a while till the Brawlers were on (and at that point, we didn't even know the half of it!) Kara and I popped into a Japanese bar/restaurant that wasn't heaving, and ordered a couple of beers and watched the VERY VERY SERIOUS DJ at work. Then right outside, I saw Holly's Hot Tamale bike cart rolling and I grabbed her and got me a pork tamale. Kara had a vegan black bean and garlic tamale which looked and smelled delicious.

Went back to the Maison to see what was going on, and saw the members of the band sitting outside the bar on top of their amps somewhat dejectedly. The previous band (Brass A Holics) was running late and they couldn't get in there to set up till they were done.



So we caught the last hour and a half of the Brass A Holics show, and once the Brawlers were on, we stayed for one song for moral support and then left. Rode home as a pack in the slightly cool New Orleans night.

Saturday: FRENCH QUARTER FEST! Tom and I headed out at around noon and biked to the Quarter- pretty much a straight shot from Camp Street and then we turned up by Felipe's and parked the bike. Walked up Royal, people watching and stopping at the courtyard steps to listen to Lena Prima (Louis' daughter) who was singing one of my favorite Louis Prima songs, "Buona Sera." Kept heading over to Jackson Square where I was determined to get my hands on some quality French Quarter Fest eats.



While Tom stood in line for Abita Jockamo IPAs, I headed over to the Muriel's booth to get some goat cheese and crawfish crepes. The crepes were filled with goat cheese and had a creamy sauce with crawfish tails spooned over it. Very delicious. Then we hit Broussards who had a puff pastry with crawfish sauce which was also tasty.



We found a shady spot to hang out and manage our cups and plates and forks and all that. Well satiated, we made our way around to the other side of Jackson Square and saw some seriously retro music stylings by the Victory Bells with the Victory Six- a WWII type of thing- Boogie Woogie Boys of Company B, Andrew Sisters, etc. It was all very wholesome. Less wholesome was the Hurricane I acquired from the Pat O'Brien's tent. My first Pat O'Brien's Hurricane. It was OK. Pretty boozy, sweet, and tasted like red. But cold and fruity on a hot sunny day.

I wanted to head over to Voluptuous Vixen (where I got my Zulu Ball gown) to check out their sidewalk sale- I acquired a couple of cool things- a knee length cocktail dress and a pair of capri pants which will be good for work in the warm weather. It took a while to get into a dressing room, but in the meantime we were plied with champagne and we used the complimentary hot pink cardboard fans to cool off. It was fun. Love those Voluptuous Vixens.

Heading back out into the frenzy, I wanted to pick up my WWOZ Brass Pass for Jazz Fest. We found their table near the French Market, and I got my beautiful, actual brass, brass pass.



Then we went to the Gazebo Cafe for ice cream pina coladas. Cold, boozy, tropical, and delicious!

I knew the Rouses' hot crawfish boil was at the Old U.S. Mint, so we headed over there. However, since we still had our outside beverages, we wandered some of the French Market stalls while finishing up our pina coladas. We purchased some handmade soap from Kettle Moraine Soap Company and some cool stone coasters from Milk Studios. Got this one, can't find the others we bought. But they are very cool.

Got to the Old U.S. Mint, and caught the end of the Kora Konnection on the Latin/World Stage as we chowed down on Rouses' crawfish boil & fixins - potatoes, corn, and sausage (enjoyed with an Abita, of course).



Damn good crawfish- best I've had since the boil at the Lower Ninth Ward Village a few weeks ago. The U.S. Mint has real bathrooms so we each took advantage of that and then wandered to the other side of the Mint and caught Ingrid Lucia.

After that, we went back to Voluptuous Vixen to pick up my clothes and have another large belt of champagne. Tried a few more things on from the sale racks, but no luck. Found ourselves at Pravda, where a couple of cool cocktails for me (Hendricks Gin, St. Germaine, and soda on the rocks) and a beer for Tom provided a nice respite from the sun and crowds.



Headed back to Jackson Square, where we were able to get our hands on one more goat cheese and crawfish crepe each before the square closed for the evening. Well done, Muriel's!



We were starting to flag from much boozing and eating and walking and sun, so we made our way back to the bikes and more or less steadily made our way back to the Lower Garden District, and stopped for a beer at the Avenue Pub.

Today, I was in my pajamas until 4pm. Back to FQF? Nope. Go out to the Northshore for the Strawberry Festival? Oh hell no. We *did* leave the house to bike up to MVB at Slim Goodies for an amazing dinner- their Bun Mi burger (a burger with housemade pork pate, mint, basil, shallot relish, thin sliced cukes, and chili paste infused mayo.) GOOD GOD THAT WAS AWESOME. Also, their special gelato shake- a coconut mango thing with some passionfruit action and a fortune cookie on top.

In conclusion: Fun was had, until too much fun was had. Then lounging around in pajamas occurred. Hope everyone reached your own personal Fun Maximums!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Just another Wednesday in New Orleans

Excellent day! Sure, it involved being in the office for a good portion of it but even that didn't dampen the rest of the day.

First of all, the gorgeous weather continues. April in New Orleans is MADE OF AWESOME. (weather-wise) Today it was sunny, dry, and a little breezy. Highs in the 70s-low 80s. 'Course, in a month, it'll be humid to the max plus the addition of swarming termites and stinging caterpillars! But no matter.

Went to lunch at Rue 127 today, was craving some roast chicken. And it's so close! I had a leisurely 2 course meal and actually finished my lunch hour in an hour! Anyway, I started with the iceberg wedge salad with bacon lardons, tomato concase, Roaring 40s bleu cheese, croutons, parsley, and herbed buttermilk dressing. Fantastic. Crisp, flavorful, really delicious.

Then I had their crazy excellent roast chicken - half a roasted chicken AND a little casserole of mac & cheese AND roasted brussel sprouts. And, apparently, a rosemary dijon jus. So so good. The chicken was cooked beautifully, the skin was crisp, the brussel sprouts balanced the richness of the chicken and the jus... and the mac & cheese was really good, but it was so hot when it was served, that it took me a while to be able to actually eat it, and by the time I did I was already pretty full. As it was, I had to skip dessert, and I really wanted to try their chocolate caramel tart. Good job again, Rue 127!

After work, I zipped downtown to see the Wednesday At The Square concert series in Lafayette Square/Park on St. Charles. Parked the car at Tom's office, and walked down Girod till I heard the music. Bought some food/drink tickets, got a beer, got some shrimp & grits (from Achafalaya), got a crawfish enchilada (from Lucy's Retired Surfer Bar), and another beer. For the record, both beers were Abita Jockamo IPA.

By the time I had my second beer in hand, Trombone Shorty was starting to heat things up, and I was able to snake back nearer to the stage to get a far view but in recommended speaker range all the better to enjoy the show. Took a picture:



(You are just going to have to trust me that it's Trombone Shorty up on stage there) It was great- the entire band was really awesome.

Tom get held up at work, but he was able to catch a few songs at the end of the set. I'd saved him tickets for a beer, and we listened to the music and danced together a little bit and perhaps smooched a little bit too. Then we went home. Oh, we saw Kermit Ruffins and Lenny Kravitz on the way out!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fetes and Bikes and Jedis, Oh My!

It's been a weekend of much fun and awesomeness. So much so that I'm almost too wiped out to recount it. But it was some good times so I'll attempt to stave off my nap in order to being everyone up to speed. YAY.

It was just a beautiful afternoon, perfect temperature, warm and sunny all weekend. Friday night: met up with Tom at the Avenue Pub, of course. After a couple of beers, we headed over to the Rendon Inn to get some of Kimmie's crawfish lasagna... but sadly, it was sold out! Sigh. We comforted ourselves with Kimmie's tarragon chicken salad and a Manhattan (for me) and the Best Fish Sammich Ever and a couple beers (for Tom.) After dinner and a quick stop home, we headed out to Tipitina's. There was a brass band showdown happening on both Friday and Saturday nights, but Tom actually wanted to check out the opening act, The Local Skank, a mostly all-lady ska with brass band band.



Did I mention Tom was at Tipitina's? A club? Willingly? So awesome. He even danced! Truly a magical night. We left after the band finished, too tired to stay for the main attraction (also, brass band music is not to Tom's tastes) and came across a dude selling jambalaya outside the club! Had to buy some, of course. Really worked up an appetite with all the skanking and dancing.

Next morning, we got up and decided to walk down to the Fête Française NOLA, an annual fundraiser for the Ecole Bilingue de la Nouvelle-Orléans, a local school. We shared moules frites and an apple tart, and drank the event's signature cocktail, the Joie de Vivre, which was Lillete (rouge or blanc), champagne, and orange juice. Also water and iced tea, 'cause it was super sunny and there wasn't much by way of shade. We wandered the silent auction area and I put a couple bids on things, but it was real early in the bidding so I didn't end up with anything. (I wasn't very invested.)

We decided to walk up a couple more blocks to a local bicycle store, Mike's Bikes. And we bought 2 bikes! So exciting. They're cruisers and I love, love, love them. I do not have any pictures but they are both Sun Revolution Cruisers, 3 speed, pedal back brakes. Mine is brown and blue, and Tom's is orange. Biking around the city is so easy and awesome, and also kind of addictive.

After we bought the bikes and various bike accessories, we rode home, yippee! We had idly thought of going to the Freret Street Festival, but we were pretty wiped out and wanted to get ready for the Drink For Japan Fundraiser at the Avenue Pub. After a debate on driving v. biking to the pub, we ended up driving over there, and sampled the Abita Black IPA cask and the Hitachino Classic Ale, which seemed to have been labeled as an IPA but it was a little dark and malty to be considered such, by my personal standard. Still very tasty.

We made our way home by way of Stein's where we picked up some beers and sandwiches to sustain us before going over to our friend's house (on our bikes, whee!) for a double feature of Star Wars and SpaceBalls. It was a very fun time. There were about 10 of us there, there was a drinking game in play that involved drinking whenever the Force was mentioned, there was mocking and geeking out and general fun times had by all. After we left, we joined Kara for a last beer (for us... don't know how many beers she had) at Pete's where we ran into some folks I hadn't seen for a while and also met some new people. We biked home sleepy and happy (not too sleepy though!)

Today was pretty errand-oriented. We used a Living Social coupon for Langenstein's Grocery Store, a quite old fashioned market (with ribeyes on sale for $9.99/lb!), also went to Rouses, the comic book store, and the most exciting errand, getting seedlings to plant and accessories to plant them in and with! We went to The Freret Garden Center and Green Parrot Nursery for plants, and Home Depot and finally Wal-Mart for containers. Surprisingly difficult to find plain plastic containers/pots. None of the garden centers had them (just terra cotta, if anything) and neither did Home Depot. But we were finally able to find what we needed at Wal-Mart.

After that, we didn't do much of anything except laundry and stuff till it was time to pick up our white pie (sauteed spinach folded into ricotta spread about the pie, a little mozzarella and cherry tomatoes) from Pizza Delicious.

Hope everyone else had great weekends... Next weekend brings French Quarter Fest and the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival!

There's never enough time to do everything here, even for residents. Things I wanted to go to but couldn't get to: Freret Street Festival, Big Easy Brawlers show at the Dragon's Den, and Cole's Birthday (observed) at Twelve Mile Limit. Sadface! But I will persevere...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Twelve Mile Limit

Yesterday afternoon, due to some car repair shenanigans, I found myself on foot waiting for Tom to be done with work. I decided to hoof it over to Twelve Mile Limit, about a 20 minute walk from my office.

When I got there, I was the first customer to arrive and I ordered their Drink With No Name, which is still the Jamaican rum, Catdaddy moonshine, Fernet, and Carpano Antica vermouth. Lord, that's one tasty unnamed beverage. Cash Cab was on and we were all playing along. (Every weekday 12ML has a gameshow happy hour which take $1 off all house cocktails and draft beers during Cash Cab, Jeopardy, and Wheel of Fortune.)

It was a gorgeous day and the front door was propped open while I had a Great Idea, which is vodka, zwack, ginger beer, and... something. It's served in a highball and is nice and fizzy from the ginger beer so it was a great summery drink.

Tom showed up when I was working on my Twelve Mile Limit cocktail. He ordered the Great Idea (on my recommendation) and we decided to order a little food. I've been wanting to try to BBQ here since I started patronizing the place, but it just hasn't worked out. (BBQ is from Shorty's Texas Catering) We ended up trying both the pulled pork (with slaw) and brisket sliders, the "rockets" (jalepenos stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon, and smoked, and a side of mac & cheese. Mmmmm. It was all really great, I especially liked the pulled pork sliders with the cole slaw and the rockets.

Twelve Mile Limit also carries "Debbie Does Doberge" doberge-style cupcakes and "dobites" (mini-cupcakes.) We decided to try a couple dobites- apparently the cupcakes were enormous and we were pretty full from the BBQ. Dobite flavor was red velvet- SO GOOD.

As we were eating and trying to figure out the new rules of Wheel of Fortune, Tom ordered a Unibroue Ephemere, while I had another Drink With No Name. Then the Simpsons came on! It was the Listen Lady/Mr. Sparkle episode. Everyone at the bar was watching and laughing which made it even better. I asked Cole to make me a Manhattan - sometimes the classics are just so perfect. Tom had a Brooklyn Lager.

We left during the Frank Grimes episode, on the "leave the party while you're still having fun" (especially on a Wednesday) theory. But it was really excellent drinking, eating, and socializing. Kicking back at the neighborhood bar at its finest.