Thinking of Louisiana and the Gulf in the path of Gustav

August 31, 2008

Brown Rice Jambo with Chicken Andouille and Shrimp by you.

Brown Rice Jamabalaya with Shrimp and Chicken Andouille. Click on the photo to enlarge.

We had been craving making a Jambalaya over the last few months, lamenting not being able to return to our favorite city and its wonderful local cuisine due to our healthier lifestyle. So over the last few days we decided to make an updated version with brown rice, Chicken Andouille (Purchased from COSTCO) and jumbo shrimp, with a higher vegetable and protein to carb ratio than a typical Jambalaya. The results are in the photo above. It was crazy good.

It seems inappropriate to me to sit home and make a staple New Orleans dish in a time of such worry. But we have to remember that no matter what, the people of that city are survivors, and they know how to have a good time. And they are our friends.

Tonight, Rachel and I stand in solidarity with our friends in Louisiana and the Gulf states, hoping that Gustav, while now a weakened Category 3 storm, will pass through with minimal damage and minimal loss of life. And we stand with them, prepared for whatever may come.


New Orleans Dining: Lüke

April 24, 2008

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Luke Restaurant
333 Saint Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA
(504) 378-2840

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

I noticed that fellow Fat Packer Ed Levine is in New Orleans this week and is lamenting about how his current diet is being affected by the local cuisine. This made me laugh, because I completely feel for what he is going through. I’ve probably put more pounds on in the last year eating in New Orleans restaurants than in anywhere in the US — the city is known for its excess, and boy did I indulge in it on my last trip there, back in August of 2007. But if I had a milestone weight loss that I wanted to celebrate, and say “to hell with it” for a day, and if I had to make a Sophie’s Choice of what one restaurant in New Orleans I should make that cheat at, John Besh’s Lüke would probably be very high on the list of candidates.

Be it as it may, It recently occurred to me that I had completely forgotten to post about my August 2007 experiences at the restaurant. Ed’s current trip to the city during the 2008 IACP conference gave me the impetus to drag out my photos (and I shamefully apologize to Chef Besh who had Todd Price, Rachel and myself as his guests at this meal that was never chronicled) which have been collecting virtual dust on Flickr until now. Fortunately, the menu has stayed effectively the same, so contextually, the food should be nearly identical to what the restaurant serves now.

I hope this post serves to motivate the IACPers and other travelers who are heading to the city this spring to try this wonderful restaurant, because God knows I won’t be eating there again or eating like this for a while.

Ready for a trip back in time to OTB Classic? Click on “Read the rest of this entry” link below for some artery clogging Beshy hofbrau goodness.

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OTB Classic: For the Love of the Muffuletta

January 27, 2008

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Central Grocery
923 Decatur Street, New Orleans
(504)523-1620

Nor-Joe Importing Co.
505 Frisco Ave
Metairie, LA 70005-4215
(504) 833-9240

The Muffuletta from Central Grocery in New Orleans, the sandwich of love.

What could be better than expressing your love for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day than by making them a giant, meat and cheese stuffed Italian cold-cut sandwich? And as far as I am concerned, nobody does it better than the city of New Orleans, with its “other” signature sandwich — the Muffuletta. Certainly, if someone were to drop one of these babies on my doorstep, even in my current health-freak and weight loss inspired state, they’d be my sweetheart for life.

One such sweetheart is author Sara Roahen, who has a love affair with the city of New Orleans. Her new book, “Gumbo Tales“, which is being released on February 5, 2008, talks about the Muffaletta in some detail:

Central Grocery on Decatur Street in New Orleans’s French Quarter.

“I admit to having favored other muffulettas in the past — the bigger ones at Nor-Joe Importing in Old Metairie, the cheaper grab-and-go ones at Zara’s Supermarket in Uptown, the ones with more olive salad at Dimartino’s across the river. But there’s no stand-in for a muffuletta from Central Grocery, because there’s no stand-in for Central Grocery. Dried fava beans in burlap sacks, fig cookies in cellophane bags, salt cod in wooden slide boxes, olive oil in gallon tins, sherry vinegar on unreachable shelves, tomatoes from San Marzano, truffle oil from Umbria, anchovies in jars, halva in cans, vacuum-packed semolina, marinated octopus, white cheeses, hanging salamis, green coffee beans…some of the grocery‘s products are so unfamiliar that walking among them transports you to a foreign place, and some of their labels are so dusty and faded the goods appear to be relics stocked by Salvatore Lupo himself.”

Do you want to make your sweetheart a Muffuletta for Valentine’s Day? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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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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Inside The Upperline

October 6, 2007

Upperline Restaurant
1413 Upperline St, New Orleans, LA
(504) 891-9822

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

Related Podcast: The Upperline

Related Post: The Very Fine Upperline

Related Video: Kenneth Smith and Jason Perlow make Gumbo

Every time Rachel and I return to New Orleans, its obligatory to visit The Upperline, which is our favorite restaurant in the entire city. It’s hard to say if its the hospitality of its staff, the incredible food prepared by Chef Kenneth Smith, or the diverse collection of native New Orleans artwork collected by the restaurant’s generous owner, Jo-Ann Clevenger, that makes it one of the best dining experiences in the Crescent City.

We’ve covered The Upperline a great deal in the past, including a podcast with Chef Ken and Jo-Ann. This time, I wanted to show all of you how a real New Orleans kitchen runs, and I couldn’t think of a better one to show you than The Upperline’s. Upperline is not a “showcase” kitchen like some of the other notable restaurants, such as Commander’s Palace (which you will see shortly). It’s got a beat-up Garland stove and it looks like its been through the wars, and is a very tight and awkward space to be in especially if you are big guy like Ken Smith or myself. But the quality of food that is produced out of it easily matches the big and recognized names in New Orleans.

The Upperline Restaurant, on the corner of Upperline and Prytania Street.

Want to see how a real New Orleans restaurant kitchen is run? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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New Orleans Dining: Domilise’s

September 29, 2007

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DOMILISE’S PO-BOYS
5240 Annunciation St.
New Orleans, LA
(504) 899-9126

I think if you want to see the real New Orleans, you have to go and eat the the blue collar type places. And there’s nothing more New Orleans and blue collar than a Po’Boy shop.

Food writer Sara Roahen in her upcoming February 2008 book Gumbo Tales talks about a specific Po’Boy that has gone extinct, the Pepper Weiner at Domilise’s. Apparently it was some type of special sausage or hot dog that was dressed in a special way, and it was beloved by many. In any case, the Schott’s Meat company in New Orleans that manufactured the Pepper Weiner has since gone out of business, and thus it now Rests in Peace.

Domilise’s, located in the Uptown section of the city near the Prytania/Upperline area off of Tchoupitoulas street, however, is still going strong, and it has been for many decades. Regarded as one of the best sandwich shops in the city, It is a true Po’Boy shop in every respect, and makes them in a very traditional fashion, using real New Orleans French bread.

Domilise’s as you can see is very much a locals hangout.

The Carte de Po’Boys.

There’s nothing more honest and satisfying than a New Orleans Po Boy. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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