Tuesday, May 04, 2010

New Orleans :: Days 3-4

breakfast ::
still full from the night before.
fruit and a coffee suffices

lunch ::

This might be my restaurant heaven. I suppose there's no such thing as a perfect restaurant, but all around this was a fabulous place. I adored the ambiance in this out of the way gem. A subdued jazz guitar strummed in the background, gentle lighting, friendly staff, idyllic menu graced our Sunday brunch. It was certainly a far cry from the chaos of the Jazz Fest. We might have been the only tourists in the place. It's on Laurel Street, out past the Garden district, almost bordered by the Audobon Park, & close to Tulane.

P&J oyster salad with frisee and lardons

mussels swimming in a tomato wine broth topped with duck fat fries and Crystal aoli
With these as apps, we didn't really need entrees but hey, that's what vacation is for.

house cured pork belly, fried tomato, poached egg, cheddar on brioche

pulled pork, on a southern biscuit, topped with poached egg and crystal hollandaise. Served with the best collards I've had in a long time. Think there might have been some bacon in there.

dinner ::
Still full from lunch (at home we would have skipped dinner), but pushing forward...
This was all great, but coming from Patois I was not over-whelmed.
  • bacon salad. hah. three slices of emeril's bacon. sitting on top of pickled cabbage, topped with radish and daikon
  • barbeque shrimp with a rosemary biscuit
  • ribeye topped with cherry tomatoes and maytag blue, accompanied by three stellar onion rings
  • ** banana cream pie and chocolate peanut butter mousse pie - best desserts we had in town.
cafe beignet
cafe au lait and (lesser, but not bad) beignet

Deanie's (sent here by recommendation from my dear old dad)
barbequed shrimp sauced and crawfish po'boy

A non-eating food experience that is a don't miss ::
The Southern Food and Beverage Museum.
This is a phenomenal collection of narratives, photos, collectibles, and food/cocktail related antiques. The curator told me that after Katrina they took the abandoned Limited storefront at the end of the Riverwalk mall and converted it into this museum. After being on our feet all day, walking the city, hopelessly trying to walk some of our food into digestion, we were tired after being in this museum for an hour. But the information in here was very interesting, and I would definitely suggest starting out a day of sightseeing when they open one day. Don't miss the Spoiled exhibit by Tom Varisco about post-Katrina refrigerators left on the curb.

dinner ::
**best dinner by far
Chef Donald Link has won awards for his creole restaurant Herbsaint, a few blocks from Cochon. In the introduction of his cookbook, Real Cajun, (that won the James Beard award last night for an American Cooking category, btw) he speaks to opening Cochon as an outlet to make and sell the real food that he grew up with. And this is what he has successfully done, present a menu full of creative versions of southern comfort food.

  • fried alligator tossed in a spicy garlic aoili with mint leaves. an awesome combination. you'd think the mint would be weird, but it wasn't. it was perfect.
  • fried cauliflower with spicy vinegar. never have to sell me on cauliflower, but if you are not a fan, this is the way to go.
  • appetizer order of spicy grilled pork ribs with a watermelon pickle (*amazing**)
  • smoked beef brisket with horseradish potato salad (perfectly seasoned with a strong creole mustard kick)
After being so impressed by the sauces of Donald Link , I was looking for a way to bring some of him home with me. I noticed that his shop, Butcher, was still open around the corner. Actually we were informed when we entered that they had just closed, but I begged them to sell me four different sauces that they had in the shop, BBQ, creole mustard, housemade hot sauce, and grapefruit marmalade. I was happy that they agreed, not properly thinking ahead to my airport trip the next day. It did cross my mind this morning, as a matter of reducing carry-on weight, to put the jars in the suitcase, but I had brought some pretty fabulous dresses for the evenings out and was visualizing BBQ sauce down the front. So I opted to carry the suckers on, until later, when my dream was crushed by the surly TSA agent who informed me that the rule of no liquids also applied to me. Honestly I thought of opening them and offering her a taste, in order that she would let me through, but then I really didn't want to see handcuffs in my future. So valuable were these sauces, way more than their monetary value, that I decided to go back out of security, purchase a check-able suitcase, and a fleece blanket to absorb the bumps at 30,000 ft. I waited in the bag check line, AGAIN, and through security AGAIN, both which had lines 5 times longer and slower than the first time through. This says a lot if you know how much I detest the entire airport process. Honestly I just barely made it in time. With my kids along, I would have thrown them away. I've thrown other forgotten liquids before, but these I was not willing to part with. It is a modern spice trade tale, not too unlike the drama of Ferdinand Magellan, just wanting to bring flavor back home with him.

I think it goes without saying that this will be a week of salads and fruit and grapefruit juice and yogurt, except for Thursday's perpetual 29th birthday. I'll break the fast for that.

Wished I had a chance to taste Boucherie, Green Goddess and Crescent Pie and Sausage Co., but they'll remain an excuse for another visit to the Big Easy.

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