Monday, October 29, 2012

Feelin' shiny at Gracious Bakery

Yes, I am a dork. I'm obsessed with things like WoW (World of Warcraft for all you n00bs), LOTR (don't tell me you don't know), and WoT (just click the link). My favorite movies include The Last Unicorn and Neverending Story and I've seen every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, all 178, at least a dozen times. So when using the dork vernacular, fellow Firefly fans (Joss Wheadon's depressingly short-lived space-western series about the renegade crew of Serenity) know precisely what I mean when I say "shiny," and my experience at Gracious Bakery was exactly that.

A couple of weeks ago, John and I visited the bakery on South Jeff Davis, located on the ground floor of the Woodward Design Construction Company's stunning new office building. On the inside, Gracious Bakery features the same, clean lines and bright whites as the outside of the building, a simple counter top with an iPad register and sparkling glass display cases showing off delectable breads and pastries.

Two super-friendly and enthusiastic ladies took our sandwich orders at the counter and then we took our number and headed for a seat near the huge, front windows. John got a Coke that was offered in their latest, fashionable 8.5 fl.oz. bottles. At $2 each, the Coke seemed a steep indulgence and for the same price, I received a large "New Orleans-style" iced coffee.

It was not long before our sandwiches arrived, John ordered soppresata and coppa that was thinly sliced with provolone, arugula and green olive relish on freshly baked ciabatta that came with plain kettle chips. The bread was easily the star of the show, so thick and chewy. I got their roasted in house, rosemary-crusted roast beef sandwich with tomato and horseradish cream cheese, arugula and caramelized onion on a soft kaiser roll. John and I traded bites often and couldn't decide whose sandwich was better.

With all of the delicate pastries just staring at me during lunch, I returned to the counter and brought back not one, but two treats for John and I to share, the Tiramasu and a Black Forest Cake. We inhaled the light, creamy Tiramasu while there and saved the cake for later. While both were wonderful, I wish we would have tasted the Black Forest Cake before we left the shop, that way I could have purchased two more! The cake was so thick and rich, creamy all throughout with a perfect disc of cherry bliss inside...just outstanding, easily one of the best desserts I've had in a long time.

Everything's shiny for sure...

Gracious Bakery & Café  on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 25, 2012

House of the week: Shotgun on France Street

Even though the area is a tad sketchy and it's located WAY out in Bywater, almost to the canal, I can't help oohing and ahhing over this adorable little shotgun. It has original pine wood floors, high ceilings, exposed brick fireplace and a cute backyard perfect for barbecuing and boils.

Although it is rather close to St. Claude, it's also just a few blocks to The Joint, Vaughan's, Jack Dempsey's and Bacchanal. This precious little gem is listed at $220,000, which I think is a bit high considering it only has two bedrooms and is a tad over 1,100 square feet of living space.'s still a delightfully charming abode nonetheless!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Smilin' at Satsuma

Last week, my friend Dani and I were about to embark upon a day filled with running some necessary-but-evil errands, but I thought it would be good to start out on a high note with breakfast at Satsuma Cafe. Ever since the Bywater eatery opened its second location on Maple Street, I'd been dying to give it a go, and thank goodness, there were no regrets.

We floated in around 10:30 am and the place was still bustling. The owners took full advantage of the high-ceilings and large floor space, creating a bright, cheery atmosphere, complete with an open kitchen in the back. We placed our order at the counter and chose a table near one of the floor-to-ceiling windows to watch the world pass by.

The first to arrive were two frothy cappuccinos, brewed from a Coffee Roasters of New Orleans blend. Before we slurped up half the cup, our breakfast arrived.

Dani ordered the Satsuma Breakfast Plate that was a simple dish of scrambled eggs, three slices of thick bacon, wheat toast, fresh fruit (apple slices, grapes and blueberries) and a small cup of tasty black beans. I couldn't resist trying their Bagel Plate that came with an "everything" bagel, herbed shmear, house-cured lox, capers, thinly-sliced red onions, a thick slice of tomato, fresh sprouts and sliced cucumber. Light, satisfying and delicious, Dani and I had no difficulties scarfing every crumb.

I want to add here a little about the service. Although we ordered at the counter, the folks in Satsuma were so nice and so incredibly helpful, I just couldn't stop smiling. At one point, when Dani and I got up to check out the pastry, we thought we'd be polite and bring our plates up to the counter. All of a sudden, there were three people around us, taking our plates, insisting that busing our own table was out of the question! It was almost comical, but wonderful nonetheless.

We couldn't leave without a little something sweet, so we went back up to the counter and selected two, ginormous, vegan chocolate chip cookies. Dani got another cappuccino, but I was already bouncing off the walls, so I opted for a Watermelon Lemonade that turned out to be heavy with the flavor of cucumber. The cookies tasted strongly of peanut butter, which was used in place of butter to make it vegan, I imagine, but they were still quite moist and delectable.

Satsuma is a most welcome addition to my incredible neighborhood.

Satsuma Café on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ignatius' house

“I am at the moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century. When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip.”                                                                     
-John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces

A few weeks ago, John and I were strolling around our neighborhood on Hampson Street when we came upon this house. Much to our surprise, this was the residence of John Kennedy Toole, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Confederacy of Dunces, possibly  one of the best works of modern literature ever published in the South.

Published eleven years after Toole committed suicide, the late recognition and appreciation of this most excellent novel is a sad, sad story. Toole suffered many of the same delusions and paranoid ravings that were so exquisitely colored into his main character, Ignatius J. Reilly. I believe it's a great pity that this incredibly brilliant author was not recognized for his genius while he still lived, or perhaps we would have many more extraordinary novels crafted by his hand.

At any rate, here we were, rambling through the Carrollton neighborhood when we happened upon the last house John Kennedy Toole lived in. It's a beautiful "raised centerhall" with floor-to-ceiling windows and a gorgeous garden out front with a wrought-iron fence surrounding the property. Next to the front gate, there is a plaque that informs visitors that the house was built in 1885 by John Paul Hecker and is still owned by his descendants.