Friday, March 30, 2012

ROOT Down

While posting about today's Awesome Friday Lunch, I suddenly remembered that I hadn't posted about last Friday's Awesome Lunch at newcomer in the CBD, Root. Root's a pretty hot and trendy place right now, the reviews have been coming through and have been quite positive. Chef Phillip Lopez focuses on an extensive in-house charcuterie selection as well as playful and innovative techniques to enjoy food with all the senses.

I got Tom to agree to lunch there because they have merguez, a spiced lamb sausage that is his passion. Imagine our dismay when we got there and they were out of it!  THE HORROR. Tom recovered quickly and ordered another sausage to start, the butifarra, a Spanish style garlic sausage. It came with a CRAZY amount of pickle-related accouterments:

Bread & butter cucumber pickles, pickled strawberries and pineapple, some crazy awesome relish, strawberry mustard, and much more...
Upon learning that all the sausage plates were served this way, Tom said he was OK not having the merguez, as his Platonic merguez ideal is hot sizzling sausage served in its own spicy oil with plenty of bread to sop it all up with. So it worked out pretty well.

My starter was something I could NOT resist-devilled eggs. I had no idea how this dish was going to be served based on the description ("Louisiana Pickled Shrimp Shrimp Stuffed Deviled Eggs") but this is what came to me:

Tic Tac Toe!
Anyway, both the shrimp and the eggs were delicious- briny shrimp, creamy egg filling, sharp contrasting crunch and punch of flavor from the raw fennel and jalapeno. I enjoyed it very much. A nice cool dish for a warm spring day.

Our second courses were both fun and delicious. Tom had the Smoked Cornmeal Encrusted Louisiana Oysters with Andouille Spoon Bread and Manchego Foam.


The oysters were served under a tiny cloche which, when lifted, released the smoke. The oysters and spoonbread were very good, and the foam was inoffensive (I didn't get a lot of flavor from it personally, but it was fine. Tom's only negative comment was that the smoke/cloche setup made the crispy coating on the oysters significantly less crispy. But it tasted great- excellent dish all around.

I was drawn to the Vietnamese “Po’ Boy” on their menu because it appeared to showcase a lot of the yummy looking charcuterie- Pâté de Campagne, Face Bacon, Truffle Scented Chicken Liver Parfait, Pickled Carrots, Kewpie Mayonnaise. They didn't have any Face Bacon (which I LOOOOOVE the name of:. In your FACE, BACON!) so they subbed in their Citrus Cured Lamb Pancetta, which: ::drool::


It was delicious, with a variety of meats, textures, preparations, all complementing each other, with the subtle sing and less subtle crunch of the carrots and the freshness of the cilantro. (I never did figure out WTH Kewpie Mayonnaise was, though.) The french fries came with an adorable tube of housemade ketchup (I love when condiments are miniaturized!) and that little cup held some siriacha, which I used sparingly.

I SO wanted to stay for dessert, but we needed to get back to the office.  Pout.

I definitely want to check this place out again for dinner- highly recommended for a nice CBD lunch.

Championship Tongue


So, today I got the chance to taste The Company Burger's Hogs For The Cause-award-winning offering, the corned pork tongue slider with swiss cheeses, a mustardy coleslaw/pickle thing, crisped up on the flattop and served on an amaaaaazing rye roll.


Hog Heaven on a Rye Roll. If you can, go get you some! It's so good.  The corned tongue is crisped up beautifully on the grill like corned beef hash should be at your favorite diner- crisp on the outside, soft and creamy underneath. The cheese adds a sharpness that contrasts with the rich decadent meat, and the mustard slaw also adds contrasting bite both in flavor and texture. And the damn rye roll is wonderful. It's made by The Company Burger's in-house baker who also bakes off their regular burger rolls fresh every day.

Onion rings were tasty, too-the first time I've gotten those. They use red onions, coat each batch to order and carefully drop and retrieve from the fryer (I was sitting at the bar watching the whole process in their very open kitchen so I saw my whole lunch come together.)

In added value news, the 2 sliders, the rings, and my iced tea came to $10!  ($13 with tax & tip.) Man, $10 for food of this quality and caliber. Awesome.

Open wide!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Orleans' Own Hogstock

Although the mud was plentiful and the music excellent, I imagine the food today at Hogs For the Cause was better than Woodstock as well as the weather. I was bestowed a Media Pass (thanks again, Rene!) and I did my very best to live up to that responsibility and bring a story about this annual porktastic fundraiser to my... dozens.... of readers.


We ate and drank quite well for the cause. First thing was the porkgasm Vietnamese bahn mi with pulled pork, pork belly (which I liked for once!!!) and some sort of loose boudin pate awesomeness. Very rich, but went nice with a couple of NOLA brews. Also acquired: smoked pork tacos. pork, sauce, cole slaw. Really good.







Once sated with an initial dose of beer and pork, I made my way around the grounds and enjoyed the displays that the teams put together. The signs and the decor and the folks staffing it... you could tell everyone was having fun.






The guy on the left was heckling me every time I passed by to try their sandwich. 










This booth BREATHED FIRE. Or smoke, whatevs. Still cool.






Look at all the muddy people!


Topical!


last year's winner
shiny!

Next up on the agenda: some water, ribs, and pork skins. Passed by the stage where the Stooges Brass Band was playing.

Stooges Brass Band
Chicharrones!


Pig skin before and after. IT'S LIKE MAGIC I SWEAR.

I alluded to it above with my clever comparison to Woodstock, but even though the weather today was deeee-lightful, it has been pouring rain for the previous three days. Therefore:




My feet were filthy and my shoes may not recover- I was prepared for this possibility, but still... the sheer amount of mud was crazy! Don't think it stopped folks from having a great time though.

Stopped by McClure's tent and took a look at the pig he had on the smoker. Neil told me proudly it was the biggest pig in the park.



Next up: the pulled pork sandwich with the Benton bacon bun that I'd been heckled about while passing by their booth:





And mac & cheese with pulled pork!



The musical act after the Stooges Brass Band was Marcia Ball, who was great. We really enjoyed listening to her set while chilling in the shade with caterpillars dropping on us. Ah, nature.


I decided to see what kind of pull my media pass would grant me and went to check out the Boss Hogg area where the judging was taking place. There I witnessed several teams dropping off boxes of their pork and judges working hard.







Drunk with power (or, NOLA beer), I left the Boss Hogg tent without ravaging the open bar, but I did ravage Kirk Coco a little bit before leaving. Good to see ya, Kirk!

Returned to our shady oasis by the bayou and discovered that Tom was getting annoyed with the many caterpillars that seemed to love him so very much. Therefore, we packed up and took a final circle around the grounds for dessert and to prove to Tom that I was not exaggerating about the mud.

Pork dessert time!!


Bread pudding with candied bacon on the left side

The geniuses who brought us... bacon baclava

Bacon baclava- maybe the best thing ever.


We left after sucking down a couple of Flambeaux Reds, Sucre strawberry lemonades, and getting a "Jamon For the Cause" sandwich from the St. James Cheese Company to go. Had that as a snack after getting home, washing off feet and shoes, taking a shower, discovering the patchy job I did with applying sunscreen (**shakes fist at stupid day star**), and taking a nap.  What?!?! Having that much fun really took it out of me.

I got such a kick having the press pass. I talked to other media people, joked about it with some of the teams, and it made me really try to do a good job of writing this up. Sorry that effort ended up as, well, this! Here, have some crowd shots...





We left before the judging results were announced, but I heard on the Twitter that The Company Burger won the Grand Prize. They had pork tongue sliders that I sadly did not get to try. Maybe they will be on their menu next week... mmm.

In conclusion, I can't wait to hear: a) how much money was raised and b) when next year's Hogs For the Cause will be! Seriously, this is the second time I've been and it's always a stupid awesome amount of fun. And for a good cause! Win-win-win-win.