Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Back to the to-do list - Maurepas

Back when I was visiting New Orleans and not living here, I would make lists in Google Docs of places I wanted to go eat.  I'd categorize them by meal, by price range, by type of cuisine.  I'd obsess. Then I'd go to New Orleans, knock a few places off the list but end up with twice as many new places I wanted to go.

I think that was a major reason for moving here.  That list!  IT MUST BE TAMED! The list continued the first summer we lived here- I wasn't employed yet and was doing lots of exploring. I finally made some progress on my list and eventually stopped consulting it.

However, recently I realized that there were all these new places and also places still on my old list that I needed to pay attention to! So I made a new combined list:

La Petite Grocery
Magasin Vietnamese Cafe
Sweet Olive
Three Muses
NOLA Smokehouse
Tamarind (Hotel Modern)
La Boca
Rio Mar
Ciro's Cote Sud
Bon Ton Cafe
Milk Bar
Crabby Jack's

Some of those I don't remember why they are on there- I'm looking at you, Ciro's Cote Sud and Sara's! Some other places are spots that have been around forever/are classics, but I just haven't gotten there yet. Others are new. 

I made a reservation for La Petite Grocery for tomorrow night, and decided to leave our cozy enclave to go to Maurepas this past Sunday for late lunch/early dinner. Maurepas is a new place in the Bywater which has been so relentlessly cheerful and friendly and warm and inviting on social media that it actually got me off my ass to go check it out.

I liked it! Well worth the drive from da Channel. Friendly service and overall vibe, tasty plates at reasonable prices. We sat at the bar, as is our wont. 

Also, the chef came out to get some gin for a steak and oyster special he was working on

Bottles of their homemade syrups, and in front of that is one of their cocktails,
"The Hobbler" with brandy, orange, cherry, sugar & spice (their spiced simple syrup) and bubbles

The menu had many interesting looking items, both for food and booze:

We each had a vegetable-esque starter. I had the brussell sprouts (that had just as much bacon as sprout, I tell you what) and Tom ordered the small pickle plate which included 5 different pickle preparations and arranged beautifully on the plate.

I liked the mushrooms the best on his plate, and I think Tom was partial to the okra/green bean pickle. The other ones were also good- they were just all so different! A great showcase of vegetables and the artistry of pickling (which, if you watch Top Chef this season, seems to be a trendy thing, yes?) My sprouts weren't as purdy, but they were hearty and bacon-y and delicious. There were a lot of them, though!

For our second plates, I had the chicken leg over greens with grits and a slow-poached yard egg. It just had pretty much all my favorite ingredients in one dish, so I had to try it.  Tom had their interpretation of "fish & chips" which was a grilled escolar and lyonnaise potatoes. We were both very pleased with our second courses. Man, I love a chicken leg.

Man, I wish it were easier to get a decent consistency of egg whites to go with the lovely runny yolks.

I had heard they had some kick ass desserts, so I made sure to get in on that action. They'd just started a new dessert special, strawberry shortcake, which I was drawn to. The biscuit for the shortcake was delicious- buttery, soft, warm, slightly sweetened. The strawberries were fresh and local, the cream was whipped up by hand, and it was a simple but excellent dessert. I paired it with a second cocktail, the "Millionaire's Milk" which seemed to be their version of brandy milk punch. Again, not too heavy or cloyingly sweet, just a nice glass of something boozy that seemed appropriate to close out a lazy late lunch on a cloudy, chilly, rainy Sunday afternoon/early evening. Tom had the blood orange custard with Italian meringue. Right up his alley.  He ate it up quick and started stealing bites of my shortcake which I was TRYING TO SAVOR, OMG!

I was super intrigued by that sweet potato and root beer ice cream that went with the pecan pie...

...but not enough to forsake this gorgeous strawberry shortcake.
(Note the Millionaire's Milk in the background)

The bartender was super knowledgeable and friendly and we enjoyed talking to her about the food and cocktails.  All in all a very nice time- good food at reasonable prices, not pretentious but definitely having fun with tweaking the classics, and a very comfortable place to enjoy the deliciousness. Would definitely come back and it might become a regular stop for those days we don't feel like cooking- just drive over after collecting Tom in the CBD. I can definitely see that.

Tomorrow- La Petite Grocery! It is CRAZY that we haven't been there. CRAZY. After that, I just need to get on top of getting to these places and checking more places off... The List.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

That's Entertainment

It's been a bit of a crazy couple of weeks.  After our triumphant Endymeow experience, the parade season began officially on February 4 with Krewe du Vieux and kicked in even more this past Friday with a weekend full of parades on Friday night, Saturday day and night, and Sunday afternoon.

This year, I got the Mardi Gras ick early, just before Krewe du Vieux. Screwed up my plan to celebrate the release of Flambeau Red and then see the parade while reveling on Frenchman Street. I mean, that's serious fun times! Sadly, I was feeling under the weather and had additional plans to go to the Jonathan Coulton/They Might Be Giants show at Tipitina's later that night, which we had purchased tickets for. I'm glad we did, otherwise I may have punked out and it was a great show.

I was trying to stay healthy because there was a film crew coming out from Austin that was planning to film me and my life here. Kinda based on this blog, a little bit? Talking about what brought me to New Orleans, and filming places and aspects of the city that are close to my heart. Did some interviews with my NPN co-workers, went out to see Mack at the Lower 9th Ward Village, spent some time at NOLA Brewing and on the parade route and in a couple restaurants and pop-ups.  So it was an exciting weekend! The plan is to try to sell the show to a cable network as a documentary/travel guide/insight into New Orleans type of thing. Kind of funny that I was chosen, given my new-ness. But hopefully I know enough natives (and transplants) who can tell their stories as well. Everyone has a story to tell.

Also, check out my beer related post from the weekend for more info on NOLA Brewing's collaboration ale with Stone Brewery over here.

Here are some pictures from the weekend:

Crawfish boil at NOLA Brewing

Justin (director of the as of yet untitled show about me) shooting the crawfish boil

Streats McGee's menu for Sunday, 2/14/12

The dudes from Saveur Seeking doing an interview with Streats himself!

Justin, fearless filmmaker, videographer, and director

Awesome food from Streats McGee. Chicken bahn mi, pierogi, brisket pita, curried broccoli, carrot ginger soup

Neil (from Saveur Seeking) and Justin at Stein's Deli for Chef Pete's popup

Tapas from Chef Pete: shrimp in green mayonnaise, chili shrimp, spanish potato salad,
tortilla espanola, and some crazy ass confit country ham dish with dates

So we'll see how this all works out.  There are many steps between this weekend's shoot and any final product that actually gets on the air.  In the meantime, check out Saveur Seeking- host Neil was in town shooting for a New Orleans special in tangent with our shoot (which is not finished yet,) but there's lots of other cool Austin stuff to watch there! Check him out and tell him I sent you!

I'll have an abbreviated second weekend of Mardi Gras due to travelling to CT on Friday. I will be here for the two lady krewes rolling, Nyx and Muses and then I'll miss Friday-Tuesday parades. But I've just not been able to shake whatever it is I have, so it's probably for the best.

Happy Mardi Gras, everyone! Be safe and have fun!

PS- I finally bought the domain to this (and my other) blog.  So no more "blogspot" in the URL, just norainnola.com!