Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hogs For The Cause 2013

It's bigger than ever! No, not just the waistline of the stretchy pants I will need to wear in order to gorge myself at Hogs For The Cause this year, but the entire event!

I was invited to the HftC press conference, held in one of my favorite places on EARTH, the NOLA Brewing brewery. When I got there about a quarter after 4, the unveiling of the musical lineup had already occurred, but there were still plenty of people to chat with and plenty of pork to eat.

Here were the two dishes served:

BBQ Cupcake - a cornbread-cheese muffin, stuffed with pulled pork, and topped with candied jalapenos.

So many meat muffins, so little time...

Last year's Grand Champions made a pulled pork slider with an amazing slaw. The pork and bread were great, too.

Mmm... sliders
Wash that down with fresh NOLA beer, and you've got yourself a nice little Friday afternoon.

The musical lineup was announced:

Here are the bands, in the order listed on their website (a great resource to learn more about the bands and also listen to samples of their music, BTW.)
Lee Fields and the Expressions
Robert Randolph and The Family Band featuring Anders Osborne
Rebirth Brass Band
The Apache Relay
Eric Lindell
The Revivalists
Mississippi Rail Company
Lost Bayou Ramblers

I got a chance to talk to Hogs co-founder Rene Loupre, who filled me in on the format of the second day of HftC. There are two events on Friday night (March 23), and the "Friday Night Tailgate Experience" will be at the same City Park location as the following day's usual all-day celebration, tasting and judging, but will be a more laid back opportunity to meet the contenders, eat, drink NOLA beer, and listen to music. It's a $5 charge for entry, and all food and drink is for sale. Starts at 4:30pm, you can check out more specific info here

There's also a fancy option happening for $300, which is called the "Southern Asado Gala Dinner" coordinated by Chefs Stephen Stryjewski and Ryan Prewitt of the Link Restaurant Group. This "Whole Animal Feast" inspired by Argentinian meat throwdowns, looks AMAZING. The menu and more info for purchasing tickets can be found here.. (Definitely pricier, it's $300 per ticket.)

And on Saturday, March 24, will be the fifth year of the main Hogs For the Cause event, the Ben Sarrat, Jr. "High on the Hog" Cookoff. The location will still be in City Park, but will be bigger, with more parking, and more shade! Eighty teams will be competing for the Grand Prize, and it's the attendees who are the real winners here. Mark your calendars!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

F is for Falafel, G is for Gracious

Two excellent discoveries made this week (described in alphabetical order):

First, I finally discovered the Fat Falafel food truck at the OCH Market yesterday!

The truck with its menu

The chef working hard

The falafel platter, which included hummus, falafel, eggplant, root vegetable slaw, and cucumber salad

French fries cooked in duck fat with aioli 
It was freaking amazing. Loved everything! Will start stalking this truck, I suggest you do too: visit their website or follow them on Twitter: @fatfalafel.

For good measure, I'd also like to give a well deserved shoutout to Tsai's grapefruit tea cake, which was DELICIOUS.

Speaking of cake, I discovered that one of my go-to lunch spots and favorite places to get a sandwich, Gracious Bakery, has started baking chocolate filled king cakes! You can also get them by the slice, which is what I've done. For two days in a row.

Also, Gracious has started making soup, which is always tasty and satisfying, and I think their chicken salad sandwich is out of this world.

Cheddar, corn, and potato soup

Chicken salad sandwich (with pickled onions!) served with a side salad with their creamy herb dressing.

Their bakery case. Everything looks so good it makes me want to cry.
I hope the first week of Carnival was good to all of you- now let's get through this week!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Carnival Season Kickoff!

Happy Twelfth Night, everyone! For those who don't live in New Orleans, today (January 6) aka Three Kings Day, is the start of Carnival season which will end on Mardi Gras (which is on February 12 this year.)

To celebrate, we acquired a new-to-us king cake from La Divinia Gelateria. They have 2 individual flavors, plain and nutella-filled.

The one that looks like an everything bagel is the nutella-filled one
What a delicious season.

Speaking of delicious, we've gone to Pizza Delicious a couple times these past few weeks (finally!) Most of their special pizzas are like old friends from their popup menu, but the pastas and special salads are much expanded now and are real pleasures to eat. I've had an amazing carbonara as well as my lunch today of housemade fettucine with pork belly confit, braised pork cheeks, and arugula. The salads have been amazing too- today's was comprised of local lettuce and roasted beets, thinly sliced radishes, and a roasted carrot vinaigrette. It also comes with bleu cheese, but we asked for that not to be included, since Tom doesn't like it. Even without cheese, it was awesome.

Pizza Delicious also has great beer on tap. We've enjoyed Brooklyn Brewery's "There Will Be Black," Brooklyn Winter, Sierra Nevada Celebration, and Fuller's ESB.


The ordering area

Donors to the Kickstarter project

Check it out!
Yesterday, we made a point to attend Ancora's last lunch service. Chef Jeff wants to spend more time with his family, and ending the lunch service seems to be the least impactful way to do so. I understand his reasons, but I am sad at the end of lunch. Their egg sandwiches (usually with bacon, but yesterday with pancetta) with arugula on Chef's amazing bread was soul-restoring. And Tom loves their meatball sandwiches.

World's best bacon and egg sammich

Divine meatball sandwich

They also have an awesome beer list. It's small, only 6 taps, but they consistently serve delicious craft beer that's hard to find anywhere else in New Orleans besides the Avenue Pub. We went for dinner as well last week, and if you are able to try their gnocchi, DEFINITELY do so. They were incredible. So light and delicious and delicate.

Both Pizza Delicious and Ancora just make me happy. I'm happy thinking about eating there, I'm happy when I'm there, I'm happy in the afterglow of amazing, unpretentious, simple, excellently prepared food.

Oh, another chef that makes me happy- Chef Rob Buchold from NOLA Smokehouse will be popping up at the Erin Rose tomorrow (Monday, January 7) in the French Quarter, taking over Killer Poboy's kitchen space. Noon till sold out. Click here for the menu- I can't say enough good things about that BBQ baklava. And I reallllllly want those smoked shrimp beignets!

My god, this is a magnificent town, and Carnival season increases its magnificence by a factor of 10.  Check this out for info on 2 parades tonight- the Phunny Phorty Phellows and Jeanne d'Arc. Krewe du Vieux is in TWELVE DAYS! Buckle up, y'all.