Remembering Katrina and Supporting New Orleans Restaurants

August 30, 2006

The Internet is abuzz today with many blogs posting about their remembrances of the tragic events that unfolded a year ago today, and with their messages of support for the City of New Orleans and the Mississippi gulf region.

For the past several years, Rachel and I have been visiting the City of New Orleans, because we love the food and have such a strong emotional attachment to the city. We visited the city in 2003, we had a a trip in 2005 (just 2 months prior to Katrina devastating the city) and most recently a trip in April of 2006.

I think that while it is extremely important that we remember those lost to Katrina and the devastating effect it has has on the city of New Orleans, that we also rejoice in that New Orleans is rebuilding, and that New Orleans is still a great place to visit in terms of gastrotourism and that the food is still fantastic, and that you really should all be going down and spending your vacations and money there to help bring the city back.

To whet your appetite in the hopes of getting you down there, here is the list of Off The Broiler threads and Podcasts celebrating the City of New Orleans that we’ve posted over the last six months:

Off The Broiler Posts:

It’s Satsuma Time Again!

Remembering Austin Leslie

A Tradition Begins: The First Ever “Katrina Dinner”

Friday Night at Casamento’s

Breakfast at Mother’s

Middle Class Devastation

Attack Of The Killer Cuculoupes

Cinco de Mayo Isn’t Just About The Coronas

Drago’s

Dessert with Dickie Brennan

Hubig Pies / Bywater / Elizabeth’s

A Tale of Two Seafood Restaurants

Crabby Jack’s

In a Disaster Area, Barbecue Heals

St. Bernard Parish and Chalmette

Jacques-Imos

Bon Ton Cafe

Herbsaint

Vietnamese Food in Gretna

The Very Fine Upperline

A Jaunt Thru the French Quarter

ACME Oyster House

K-Paul’s


Podcasts:

Podcast #13: Simon Hubig Gets Whacked

Podcast #11: Dessert with Dickie Brennan

Podcast #10: Seder Plates in New Orleans, Part 2

Podcast #9: Herbsaint and COCHON

Podcast #8: John Besh, Restaurant August

Podcast #7: Mountain Sprout

Podcast #6: K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen

Podcast #5: The Upperline

Podcast #4: “Hey, Doesn’t That Waiter Look Like Ray Nagin?”

Podcast #3: Breakfast at Mother’s

Podcast #2: Oyster Loaves and Leah Chase

Podcast #1: Seder Plates in New Orleans, Part 1


A Tradition Begins: The First Ever “Katrina Dinner”

August 28, 2006

Katrina and New Orleans food photos by Jason Perlow, 2005-2006.

This is one great idea and it seems to work on so many different levels:

despite our varying individual circumstances, I believe that most of us yearn for wholeness. For reunion. A few months ago, the idea of a ritual came to me. How powerful would it be if every New Orleanian currently living in Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, and every other town across the country, sat down at the same time to recognize the losses of the last year and to reaffirm their connection to the city? And how great would it be if this ritual centered around the favorite activity of every homegrown New Orleanian, eating? The entire New Orleans diaspora could sit down simultaneously, fork in hand, to tell the world that this was a special place, a special community, one worth fighting to restore.

And so, with that in mind, I humbly offer a basic outline of the first ever “Katrina Dinner” to be held on the one year anniversary of this momentous event. The outline does not have to be acted out literally, although you’re certainly welcome to follow it word for word. My hope is that it will be fun and delicious with only a smidgen of hokiness. Like everything in New Orleans, feel free to improvise. Make up your own blessings, your own questions, your own ritual food plate. Invent your own way of celebrating the city that connects us all. This August 29th, 2006, only a portion of the city will be where it’s supposed to be: HOME. But we can still eat together.

http://www.katrinadinner2006.com/

I am impressed with the creativity that went into this idea … needless to add, this is yet another version of the Seder at Passover … marking the beginning of the Exodus from Egypt …

Melissa Goodman reporting …

More news on the Katrina Dinner from Urban Conservancy (click)

... And From NOLA.com (click)


New Orleans Dining: Middendorf’s

August 30, 2012

8-30-2012 I’ve brought this old 2007 post up to the top because apparently the restaurant is now flooded with at least 4 to 5 feet of water from Hurricane Isaac, and for historical preservation purposes, I have added some newer photos from our 2010 trip to New Orleans that had not been posted before.

Needless to say we’re devastated, and our heart goes out to the people of Louisiana and other affected areas of the Gulf states that are enduring a “version 2.0” of Hurricane Katrina, which happened exactly seven years ago — Jason

Middendorf’s
Route 51, Manchac LA
(985)386-6666

On the way back from LaPlace and our visit to Wayne Jacob’s, we were still a little hungry, so we decided to head down Route 51 towards Middendorf’s, a restaurant located in Manchac, a “Fish Camp”. Manchac isn’t as much a town but a stop on the highway where you can buy seafood, alligator meat, grab some soda pop and beer, and eat at Middendorf’s. It’s about as isolated an area in the middle of nowhere as you can get. It’s so out of the way that Middendorf’s and Manchac doesn’t even have a GPS entry in our Garmin.

We had tried to get out to Middendorf’s on previous trips, only to have not had the time or some confluence of events prevented us from getting there. We had heard of their deep fried, corn meal breaded thin and crispy catfish fillets, but it was only the stuff of legend to us. Imagine our horror that when we actually arrived, it was on the wrong day.

Hey, we finally made it! Oh crap. It’s closed!

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New Orleans Dining: Parasol’s (2.0)

May 2, 2012

For those of you attending Jazz Fest this week, I wanted to highlight a great Po’Boy shop that we visited during Christmas of last year but had forgotten to post about. By all means… GO!

Parasol’s
2533 Constance St, New Orleans LA
(504) 302-1543

Web Site: http://www.parasolsbarandrestaurant.com

Back in early September of 2007, I visited New Orleans to see how the city was doing two years after Hurricane Katrina. One of the restaurants I visited was Parasol’s, an old Irish bar known for a legendary Roast Beef Po’Boy sandwich.

I’m not going to mince words here — the old Parasol’s was a dump. If you look at the original writeup of the place I did in 2007, you’d have to agree. It looked plain… scary to walk into. But you had to take a leap of faith because of the food that was inside.

What has happened to Parasol’s since it was sold in 2010 to Johnny and Thea Hogan has been nothing short of miraculous. I loved this place so much on my last trip I actually went there twice.

Parasol’s is now a totally un-scary restaurant to walk into. And the Po’Boys are divine. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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New Orleans Dining: Crabby Jack’s

December 1, 2011

Note: While reading Brett Anderson’s quest for the perfect Roast Beef Po’ Boy series in the New Orleans Times Picayune, I realized that I had some un-published photos from a March 2010 trip to New Orleans which might be of interest. As I am going to be in New Orleans during Christmas week this year, I figured this would be a good a time as any to bring this to the top.

Crabby Jack’s
428 Jefferson Hwy, Jefferson, LA 70121
(504) 833-2722

Crabby Jack’s is Jacques-Imo’s little sister in Jefferson, specializing in Po Boys and fried seafood platters. It’s a little lunch-only place situated right next to the Louisiana Seafood Exchange, so you can be assured that the oysters and shrimp and crawfish you are getting are as fresh as can be.

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Owner Jack Leonardi manning the fort. Since Katrina, he’s been a bit short on help, and he’s quite obviously a few crawfish short of a boil.

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This big pile of crawfish is left out for customers to pick on. Samples!

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New Orleans Dining: Dooky Chase’s

January 2, 2010

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
2301 Orleans Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70119
(504) 821-0535

Leah Chase and her 69 year old restaurant, Dooky Chase’s, was the inspiration for Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. Here you’ll find some of the best Soul Food and Creole Cuisine in the entire city.

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Club OTB

December 8, 2007

It’s now early December and the freezing weather has finally hit New Jersey, and that’s made the prospect of outdoor exercise now within the domain of the hardcore weather lovers or what I like to call “Crazy People”. Personally, I prefer to do my exercise in moderate temperature environments, and I like having the convenience of being able to do it all in my home without having to join health clubs.

For the last nine months or so, my basement — which includes the two offices that Rachel and I use for work — has been completely unusable. During the heavy rains of the April 2007 “Once in a hundred years” Nor’easter storm, the basement was flooded with six inches of water. Certainly, as damage goes, its nothing when compared with entire houses that were destroyed by Katrina, or the other houses in nearby towns that got several feet of raw sewage overflow, but it did suck big time. Our insurance didn’t cover it and we found ourselves having to take out a decent size loan and have a very expensive waterproofing system installed, and then having the basement refinished again. Its only been in the last week or so that we’ve had our washers and dryer back online, and that we’ve been able to move things back into our offices.

I had originally planned to put a nice home theater system down in the basement after it had been fixed, but plans change — I decided to turn it into a gym instead. A very close friend of mine wanted to offload several thousand dollars worth of health-club quality equipment that he had bought two years before sit and collect dust — a Parabody GS6 system with optional leg press and extra accessories, plus a dumbbell rack with a full set of weights. I was very happy to take it off his hands, for less than half the price he paid for it.

Here is the basement space, with plastic vapor barrier material that we bought from Home Depot being put into place, which sits between the concrete floor and interlocking padded flooring material which we bought on sale at Amazon. The padded floor will be a base for the gym set — and provides impact cushioning when walking and doing exercises on the floor.

Here’s the equipment all set up, with the padded interlocking flooring material in place, although we haven’t cut the material that will flush with the wall yet. I’m planning on mounting a LCD flat panel TV set on the back wall, so we can watch it when we are using the treadmill (which up to now has been collecting dust for about 12 years).


New Orleans Dining: Commander’s Palace

October 21, 2007

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Commander’s Palace
1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA
(504) 899-8221

Web Site: http://www.commanderspalace.com

New Orleans is a restaurant and tourism city that is by all accounts undergoing a slow and painful recovery since the tragic events of August and September 2005. Still, there have been some amazing examples of businesses on the rebound, culturally significant restaurants such as Willie Mae’s, Dooky Chase, Mandina’s, Angelo Brocato’s and Camelia Grill, that were damaged so severely from the levee flooding that many thought they would never return, but eventually did.

But perhaps the most significant of all has been the return of Commander’s Palace, the legendary flagship restaurant of the Brennan family, the most prominent restaurant family in the entire city. Commander’s is an extremely important institution in the restaurant culture of New Orleans, and has launched the careers of both Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse, the two most visible practitioners of Cajun and Creole cuisine in the United States.

When Katrina hit, Commander’s was severely damaged by hurricane winds and flooding. After renovations taking over a year, the restaurant re-opened on October 1st, 2006.

Highlights from Commander’s Palace, as it appeared in our previous visit in November of 2003. It was and shall remain one of the most enjoyable dining experiences we have ever had in New Orleans.

Commander’s Palace as it appears today, post-renovation. The outside appears just as it was prior to Katrina, but the inside has undergone an incredible transformation.

Commander’s is still a favorite among the city’s elite and high society. This is a classic late 1970’s Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow sedan belonging to a well-known Jazz trumpet player.

This rule is actually very strictly enforced. I had the misfortune of being dressed in long shorts when I walked in for our dinner reservation. I was told very nicely to go back to my hotel and put some pants on, which I did graciously.

The historical plaque next to the front door.

Commander’s Palace rises from the flood waters, and is even more grand and over-the-top than ever before. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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New Orleans Dining: Angelo Brocato

October 10, 2007

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Angelo Brocato Ice Cream
214 N. Carrolton Ave.
New Orleans, LA
504-486-0078

Web Site: http://www.angelobrocatoicecream.com

Angelo Brocato looks like it would be completely at home in Boston’s North End, Manhattan’s Little Italy or on Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx. But it’s not — it’s on one of the busiest streets in New Orleans’ Mid-city district. The famous ice cream parlor opened in 1905 in The French Quarter, where Croissant D’Or Patisserie resides now. It moved to its current location in the 1970’s.

Shortly after the shop celebrated its 100th birthday, fate intervened. On August 29th, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the city and the rest, of course, is history. Sadly, Angelo Brocato was one of the worst hit businesses when the levees broke — over four feet of water poured into the shop and destroyed absolutely everything. Many thought that the place would never be rebuilt, but optimism was high in the Brocato family and announcements were made that the legendary gelato/pastry store and cafe would again re-open.

The trademark neon sign on North Carrolton Avenue.

The Angelo Brocato store, as it was, in June of 2005, just two months prior to its destruction. During that particular visit we went to Brocato’s two times. During the evenings the store was packed, even late at night, and it’s not unusual to have to wait on line even past 10PM.

A selection of gelato treats from the pre-Katrina store.

Did New Orleans get its Gelato back? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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New Orleans Dining: Willie Mae’s Scotch House

September 25, 2007

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Willie Mae’s Scotch House
2401 Saint Ann St, New Orleans, LA

(504) 822-9503

Many restaurants in New Orleans can legitimately call themselves cultural landmarks. And yet, when Hurricane Katrina came, the levees broke and the city flooded, there was a very short list of foodie destinations in the affected areas where I thought it would be a monumental tragedy if they never returned to business again. Magnificent restaurants like Commander’s Palace. Neighborhood hangouts like Angelo Brocato’s. And little holes in the wall like Willie Mae’s Scotch House, which is arguably the fried chicken Mecca of the United States and has huge historical value to the civil rights movement, much like the original Paschal’s in Atlanta.

It was a huge, Herculean task to bring Willie Mae’s Scotch House back from the dead. The water line from the flooding was several feet high, and the entire restaurant had to be gutted to the studs. A huge volunteer reconstruction project started in January of 2006 funded by over $200,000 in donations solicited by the Southern Foodways Alliance eventually resulted in the re-opening of the restaurant in May of 2007 (A short SFA film directed by filmmaker Joe York, “Saving Willie Mae’s Scotch House” chronicled the project.)

Upon re-opening of the restaurant, Ms Seaton, age 90, relinquished her place as head cook to her great granddaughter, Kerry Blackmon. However, despite organizational changes, the Fried Chicken is as great as ever.

Willie Mae’s Scotch House on Saint Ann Street in New Orleans, August 29 2007, two years to the day that Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city.

It was fitting that we got to eat at Willie Mae’s on August 29. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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