Tuesday, November 3, 2015

New Website

Hello everyone! I suppose I should have done this a few months ago, but better late than never right? Right? Anyhow, please come visit me at my shmancy new WordPress website where I'm making a huge effort to post regularly -- sucktheheads.com. I've even recruited John to create a sleek new crawfish logo. What do you think?

Friday, September 18, 2015

It's ... it's ... an ice cream po-boy?

When it comes to ice cream sandwiches, nothing is finer (in this Bay Area girl's most humble opinion) than an It's It. These rather notorious cookie and ice cream sandwiches have been around since 1928 and, regrettably, I tend to judge all other similar confections by their standard.

Now admittedly, It's-It has gone somewhat downhill since I was a kid. The ice cream isn't as creamy and the cookies seemed to have shrunk, but I will never forget being a sweaty, hungry 10 year-old girl who was treated to pizza and It's-Its after a continuous stream of disappointing soft ball games. (*Our coach was flaky and cut out on the team right before our big game, taking all of the candy money we earned with her, but that's another story). Smooth, dense chocolate ice cream sandwiched by two, chewy oatmeal cookies and dipped in dark chocolate ... I can almost taste it.

Anyhow, recently I was cajoled into trying a new ice cream sandwich that New Orleans Ice Cream Co. just launched this June dubbed (as one might expect) the "Po'Boy." Similar in size to the It's It, the Po'Boys are made with the company's own Creole cream cheese or vanilla bean ice creams delicately squashed between two chocolate cookies and dipped in milk chocolate. The quality, flavor and texture of the ice cream was top notch, or "ultra-premium," as you might expect from New Orleans Ice Cream Co. and the cookies were chocolaty and crunchy, offering a pleasing juxtaposition to the creamy ice cream.

The Po'Boys were generally delicious and I look forward to possibly trying them in other flavors like the Coffee & Chicory or Ponchatoula Strawberry if they decide to expand the line. My only request would be to offer them with a dark chocolate coating too, because I just can't seem to shake the ache for an It's It. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Tuning out

I want to be her again. Blissfully unaware, biding my time, plotting my escape to a place that finally understood and accepted me, exactly as I was. This moment was only one year before I made the move. This moment was three years before the levees broke.

My heart is wrenched recalling this moment because it took too damn long to find my home. My heart is wrenched recalling this moment because it was pulled from my grasp after only two short years of euphoria

My heart is wrenched because this place, while it still somewhat resembles the paradise I lost, is rapidly becoming the place I ran away from ... and there's nothing I can do to stop it.

Should I run again? Or should I stay and find whatever solace I can among the remnants? Where would I run to? 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Breaking my fast at Biscuits & Buns on Banks

*Warning - Today I will be venturing into the realm of "too much information." If you can't hang with a bit of over sharing, I suggest you ramble on.

In a vain attempt to make a long story short, I suffer from recurrent UTI (a.k.a. urinary tract infection). Over the past several years, it's gotten so bad that I have developed allergies to all of the typical antibiotics that "cure" UTI. That's right, I break out into hives (or worse) when ingesting Cipro, Macrodantin, Bactrim (or any of the sulfa drugs), Doxycycline etc. I've tried many different remedies or forms of prevention, everything from non-sweetened cranberry juice and herbal extracts to D-Mannose, which, for those of you wondering, doesn't work.

Anyhow, around two years ago I decided to cut out breads and pastas thinking perhaps my frequent infections were due to a gluten sensitivity and at first it seemed to work. A magical combination of herbal tinctures and eliminating gluten from my diet afforded me 8 glorious months without even one UTI.

Then one day, for no reason, they came back.

Frustrated, but determined, I became more vigilant in my gluten-free quest, increasing my intake of preventative herbals and diet options like cranberries, blueberries and yogurt, but to no avail. At minimum, I still get UTIs once every two months.

Throwing up my hands, I decided finally to fuck the gluten-free approach. Here I was denying myself one of the greatest pleasures on this gorgeous, green earth and for what? I didn't lose any weight and my UTIs were back with a vengeance. What was the point?

So, when I say I was breaking my fast that morning several months ago when I first visited Biscuits and Buns on Banks, I'm being quite literal. Not only was I having breakfast, I was breaking a year-long, oh-so torturous fast from bread and let me tell you, I couldn't wait to have a biscuit.

When I sat down in the small, but colorful dining room in the back, all I could think about were biscuits and I was pretty sure I was in the right place to score some. I was about to place an order for a side of biscuits, butter and jam when the waitress comes to the table with a complimentary plate of mini-biscuits with Steen's-laced butter! With my goal in reach, I narrowly managed to restrain myself just long enough to place an order, after all, I couldn't just gorge myself on free mini-biscuits, right?

As the server walked away, I pretended to be focused on creaming and sugaring my coffee when in reality, I couldn't keep my eyes off of the biscuits. By the time the waitress returned with my entree, all three buttery biscuits had been demolished with only a few crumbs remaining in the aftermath.

My entree was the fried andouille hash cakes served with country-style potatoes and topped with two sunny-side-up eggs and a Creole cheese sauce.  Now, I am generally not a fan of cheese sauce unless it's smothering a paper tray full of tortilla chips sprinkled with jalapeno peppers, but surprisingly, I did enjoy this particular dish in spite of the sauce, Perhaps I was still giddy from the biscuits...

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Swooning at Shaya

While I realize that everyone and their brother's mother are waxing poetic about Shaya, I just can't help jumping on the bandwagon. After all, Alon Shaya was awarded the 2015 James Beard for Best Chef: South and he is the undeniably creative force behind one of Downtown New Orleans' most popular restaurants Domenica. So I'm getting on the praise train, not only for the above reasons, but also because Shaya is next in line on my (pitifully delayed) blogging schedule and because the restaurant is, without a doubt, fabulous.

Right after Shaya first opened in February, I pushed John out of his comfort zone (read: desk chair absorbed in a video game) and dragged him out to have lunch with me on Magazine Street. We arrived fairly early, but the restaurant was already packed. Since it was still rather cool, we opted to sit out in the courtyard which was empty when we were seated, but filled quickly as the afternoon progressed.

Though we wanted to order almost everything on the menu, we finally narrowed it down. Lunch began with a plate of warm, just-out-of-the-wood-fired-oven pita bread that was so delicious, it literally altered my definition. It was served with a small dish of olive oil, vinegar and sesame seeds, and though it was tasty, we had other plans for our bread.

In the "For the Table" section of the menu, we selected three different items that (I believe) were meant to accompany the fresh pita. We chose roasted beets (with cardamom I think), Ikra or paddlefish caviar atop a thick dollop of labneh, and another dish of the labneh with peppers and radishes. We also chose the Curried Fried Cauliflower Hummus with caramelized onion and cilantro. These dishes with the pita bread turned our little table party for two into a veritable feast! It was more than enough food for lunch, but because our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, we had also ordered a couple entrees.  

So, while we were ready to push the table back and pat our stomachs in commiseration, John's order of lamb kebabs arrived along with my Matzo Ball Soup. The lamb was delicious! Even full, we had no difficulty inhaling the tender kebabs that were juicy, well-seasoned and served with tzatziki and pine nuts. The Matzo Ball Soup made with slow-cooked duck (normally made with chicken) knocked my socks off, but after everything else we simply couldn't finish, although I must say we made a good dent.

Yes, we had eaten enough for four and yes, we were groaning, but you know I couldn't leave without dessert and we didn't regret that decision ... not one bit. We ordered the "Milk & Honey" which turned out to be a labneh cheesecake served with burnt honey ice cream and granola. Cool, creamy, soothing and sweet, this dessert blew us away and even after I put down my spoon, John happily inhaled what was left. I can't wait to go back...

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Monday, July 13, 2015

House of the week: Greek Revival on Philip St.

It seems I will continue to torment myself by searching through long listings of elegant New Orleans-style homes until either I win the lottery, write a best-selling novel or some philanthropic soul becomes empathetic to my misery and gifts me my dream house. What? It could happen!

During my latest tour of self-imposed dolor, I discovered this little beauty on Phillip Street. Naturally, all of the features you know I adore were present and accounted for including the ubiquitous hardwood floors and high ceilings, transoms, ceiling medallions, floor-to-ceiling windows, sliding pocket doors, exposed brick fireplaces and a freaking guest house out back past the courtyard.

Perks include being located within the luxurious Garden District, only four blocks away from St. Charles Avenue and less than one block from Magazine Street. Right around the corner we'd have Stein's Market & Deli and District Donuts Sliders Brew. Plus, I would be in short walking distance of Juan's Flying Burrito, Maya's and more ... not to mention the literal butt-ton of shopping available in that short, one-block stretch.

Perhaps if I wish upon a star, drop coins in a well or place my hopes on thousands of fluffy dandelion seeds blown into the wind, the $739,900 required to purchase this house will magically appear in my bank account, but until then, the dreams must go on.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Craving CIBO

Although during hot, summer days like today I tend to hide in the air-conditioned comfort of my apartment, I can't help but hanker for something to eat that unfortunately, does not reside in my fridge. Since well past the lunch hour, I've been craving a good deli sandwich and the closest option in my neck of the woods is the Carrollton neighborhood newcomer dubbed CIBO.

This quaint, Italian-style deli opened up not too long ago in a space that has seen a long train of fairly unsuccessful ventures. For a long time, this little house-turned-restaurant on Carrollton Avenue was the home of Maurice French Pastries, but after they moved out, nothing has really stuck, until now (I hope).

John and I first visited CIBO way back in February, not long after it first opened. Though I am a po-boy fan through and through, I sometimes miss a well-made deli sandwich and for a long time, it seemed like the only worthy option was Stein's Deli in the LGD, which can be a bit of a trek. So I was pretty excited to try CIBO, if only for a nearby source for quality cold cuts. 

We opted to sit at one of the few tables inside, even though they have lots of tables out front if you're looking to lunch al fresco. After much deliberation, we placed our order at the counter and sat down to await our sandwiches. 

John chose the "Imports Combo" with  prosciutto, sopressata, capocolla, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, balsamic and extra virgin olive oil on Italian bread. This, my friends, was a magnificent sandwich with a beautiful balance between sweet, salty and tangy that really set my taste buds in a whirl. My only complaint? I would have loved more ... more delicate deli meat, more cheese, more red peppers ... especially for an $11 hoagie. Am I a little piggy? Perhaps, but I still maintain that twice the ingredients would have made the sandwich far more satiating than it was. 

I chose the Slow-Roasted Italian Pork Sandwich with caciocavallo cheese fondue and sauteed broccoli rabe served atop an Italian sub roll (of course). John was a bit jealous because my sandwich certainly had a lot more heft to it and it was both delicious and satisfying. Both sandwiches also came with a small cup of pasta salad, which while tasty, was nothing to write home (or a blog) about. 

Since that day, we've been back to CIBO many times and the food is consistent every time we go. I've also purchased some Italian bread and a pound of good mortadella from CIBO to make my own sandwiches at home. Another point of awesomeness would have to be their "filled-to-order" cannoli which, I'm pleased to say, give the ones at Angelo Brocato's a serious run for their money. I might even go so far as to say they're superior, but I fear repercussion from Brocato's diehards. 

Anyone want to join me for a late lunch?

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Melting for Brown Butter Southern Kitchen & Bar

Several months ago, my friend Lorin and I met for lunch at Brown Butter Southern Kitchen & Bar. Located in Mid-City, Brown Butter opened up inside a strip mall early this year and seems to have made quite an impression in the six months following.

The restaurant was already jumping when we arrived, even though it was a bit late in the lunch hour. After saying hello to several people (including food writer Todd Price whom I finally met in person) we sat down and placed our order.

Because I simply couldn't resist, I ordered their house made cream soda which turned out to be pretty much perfect, and surprisingly, not too sweet. We began our lunch with warm pork rinds, still crackling from the fryer, served in a brown paper bag (replete with grease marks) and served with a smoked-corn buttermilk dressing for dipping. As we munched, our entrees arrived ... all three of them!

Lorin chose the steamed mussels with French fries, while I opted for a truffled egg salad sandwich on a split croissant with a side of fried Brussels sprouts. Because it sounded so fantastic, we also ordered their special, vinegar-braised beef short ribs served over creamy, stone-ground grits with a boiled peanut salad.  Yes, we were stuffed and yes it was a lot of food, but everything was just wonderful, particularly the short ribs, a dish we suggested should remain on the menu permanently ... and it did!

Naturally, I couldn't leave without dessert and Lorin indulged me. We ordered a rice pudding that was not so great, but then again, I am not a huge fan of rice pudding. But, we also ordered a crème brûlée that was better than great, it knocked our freaking socks off! Now I have to ask, are you melting for Brown Butter, too?

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Burned again...

While staring at the cursor, flashing in its own mind-numbing way, I tried most strenuously to write about what I enjoy writing (and raving) about, New Orleans' food. But it wouldn't come out. The cursor kept right on blinking while my mind kept right on churning about a recent scrape.

Y'all don't know how difficult it is for me to write right now. My brain is playing this horrid game of back-and-forth between "Kim, just get it out, you'll feel better" and "Don't be such a Debbie-downer. No one wants to read that shit!" While I desperately want to talk about a great local restaurant, I'm so incredibly bummed that I let myself get crapped on ... yet again ... that I'm really not in that warm fuzzy-kind of mood. So here it is:

For free, I submitted 12- 100 word write-ups to a company once called Chowzter (now FoodieHub) on different dishes I thought people visiting New Orleans ought to try. The pitch to me was that they had designed an app and that once they stopped giving it away for free, I would receive 50% of the apps sold in New Orleans. My expectations were not high, but I thought it was a small price to pay to be included in this vast community of exuberant food lovers from all over the globe. Honestly, a lot of the people I've met through Chowzter are amazing photographers, writers and epic gourmands who have educated me on the cuisine of places I've never visited, and if my luck keeps running this way, likely never will. 

In order to establish presence in different countries, Chowzter held frequent awards ceremonies in cities like London and New York ... they even came to New Orleans and feasted at places like Parkway Bakery, Brennan's, Commander's Palace and more, exploring what our city had to offer. It pleased me to to see them revel in my home and grant awards to not only the city, but to Coquette in particular for their Smoked Pork Gumbo, which I nominated for consideration in "The Tastiest Feasts of North America." I also wrote a few articles for their newsletter (for which I was paid, thank goodness) on po-boys, Creole vs. Cajun cuisine and our killer Carnival confection, king cake. 

Just recently, I was going through my emails to discover that there was another awards ceremony, the "FoodieHub Global Awards" for which Willie Mae's Scotch House won "The Tastiest Fried Chicken in the World" on my nomination. What's so disturbing about this news was that I never submitted a nomination for anything. Additionally, I didn't submit the photograph they used on the FoodieHub website, although it most definitely is mine.

So here's what happened. Because I never responded to the nomination request for the "FoodieHub Global Awards" (emails I discovered in my junk box after-the-fact), someone over there at FoodieHub decided to take a photograph from my blog and nominate Willie Mae's for me. So kind of them, don't you think? Not only that ... they took the articles that I wrote on po-boys, etc. and re-purposed the images and words into 100-word clips for the app.

When I finally worked up the nerve to call them out on this egregious error a few days later, I got nothing but push back -- "But we sent you the nominations email and you never responded" and "here are the emails we sent" -- all of which had no bearing on the fact that they essentially stole from me, used my name without my permission and thought it was okay.  

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad Willie Mae's won, that the restaurant and our city got a little extra global recognition, but I really wish someone would have asked me first.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Guess that restaurant! Round 2

It's that time again, time to play "Guess that restaurant!" I made it way too easy last time for all you seasoned, New Orleans foodies out there, so not hint this time! Go on, guess!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

House of the week: Historic home on Atlantic Ave.

If I had lots of extra cash and experience restoring homes, I would love to buy this house on Atlantic Avenue in Algiers and bring it back to its former glory. Not only is it on a lot twice as large as the properties that surround it, it has all the classic details that cause me to swoon.

Just check out that huge front porch, floor-to-ceiling windows, original hardwood floors, the unique architectural accents around the windows and doors, wainscoting, fireplace ... I wish there were more pictures. The shot I have here was taken from the Google Maps Street View and offers a bit more than the pictures alone. Fortunately, someone has already put a bid on this house that's listed for a mere $150,000. I sure hope they don't ruin it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Po-Boys to suffer for at Avery's on Tulane

Ever since I got arrested on Lundi Gras oh-so many years ago, I sort of dread being anywhere near the ominous courthouse at the Broad and Tulane intersection. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) it seems that I need to get over that particular bad taste in my mouth, because there are too many good tastes to be had (and many more to come) in this growing corridor. A little while back, I sucked it up and took John to lunch at Avery's on Tulane, a po-boy spot that I discovered from a visitor to our fair city who regaled a tale about an incredible roast beef. I simply had to go find out for myself, after all -- what would a tourist know about roast beef po-boys? Apparently, he knew a lot...

Located less than two blocks from the dreaded courthouse and prison, Avery's has been open for three years now and I feel like a failed foodie for not knowing about their deliciousness earlier. John and I stumbled in, incredibly hungry, and grabbed an open table. Avery's is super casual, a low-key po-boy joint with local art on the walls and a gator mural beneath the counter. After seriously debating our choices, we finally ordered lunch and sat back to wait.

Though it may be odd to order an appetizer at a po-boy shop, we simply had to try their Fried Potato Salad. A large, ball-shaped scoop of a basic potato salad (with bacon!) was breaded with Leidenheimer po-boy bread crumbs and deep fried. We gobbled it all too quickly, which shows how tasty that particular experiment turned out to be.

Then, with a wailing fanfare that was heard only in my head, our po-boys arrived. John kept it simple with a half and half, that is half fried oysters and half fried shrimp, fully dressed of course. The shrimp were delicious, breaded in seasoned flour and the cornmeal-breaded oysters were equally pleasurable, plump and juicy, right out of the fryer.

I went a little different and tried one of their special po-boys called the "Sandbag." Hot roast beef is topped with fried pickles and provolone cheese to create a po-boy only my wildest dreams could replicate. I'm salivating as I write this, remembering the tangy, crunch of the fried pickles and the heady flavor of the roast beef. Seriously, this is one hell of a sandwich.

John and I both ordered the large (a.k.a. 12 inch) version of our po-boys, but we quickly discovered that there was no way on this green earth we'd be able to finish more than half! So, we boxed up what was left and proceeded to order dessert. John was groaning at me out of over-satiation, but I insisted we at least try something sweet before we left. As it turned out, Avery's home made bread pudding was just as good as everything else they put out, though it was nothing fancy, just a simple, well-made bread pudding sopping in an added caramel sauce. Were we incredibly full? Yes. Did we inhale every last bite? You bet!

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Guess that restaurant!

Needless to say, John and I go out to eat a lot. While I am completely focused on the food that's about to arrive, John often takes the camera and shoots random pictures of the restaurant or the scene outside the window and I don't even realize the proliferation of these candid shots until I get home and download the images to my computer.

The other day, I was going through my many, many photos, saw all of the "atmosphere" pictures and thought perhaps there was something interesting I could do with them. So, here's my first tester. Let's play "Guess that restaurant!" Maybe at some point I'll be able to offer a prize to the winner, but for now, just show everyone how observant you are ... you special person you.

Where is this? I think it's only fair to give a hint ... this particular restaurant is in Mid-City.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Sticking to the pie at Pizza Domenica

Several months back, my singular dining companion Anne and I hit up Pizza Domenica for the first time. I'd been to Domenica quite a few times and I was curious if the Uptown pizza outpost held up the same commitment and quality as the CBD original, only because in my general experience, sequels tend to disappoint.

Anne and I arrived post-lunch rush so only about a quarter of the tables were filled. We ordered at the counter, as you're supposed to, and sat down to await our bounty. We began with a few appetizers, the first being beef meatballs atop creamy polenta in an arrabbiata (garlic, tomatoes and chili peppers) sauce. As excited I was to sink my teeth in, the flavor of the meatball itself was somewhat bland, but I did enjoy the polenta and the spicy arrabbiata sauce.

The next two apps came together, a tuna crudo with avocado and Mandarin oranges and a shaved Brussels sprouts salad with toasted almonds, golden raisins and Creole mustard vinaigrette. The crudo was somewhat lackluster in presentation and the Mandarins, while an interesting addition, tended to make the whole dish too sweet for my taste. On the other hand, the salad was delicious and we scarfed it up, my only dismay happening in the second-to-last bite that oddly contained a piece of clear plastic. Strange, no?

Because the meal seemed a disappointment so far, especially when compared to the excellence at Domenica, I felt ready to give up before the main course. Before I could make up my mind to tell Anne I was pretty much done, our pizza arrived. Anne and I agreed on the Smoked Pork pie with mozzarella, red onion, Anaheim chiles and salsa verde. Thankfully, the pizza was absolutely divine and well-worth waiting for! The crust was thin and crisp and we had no difficulty gobbling the whole pie even after all the appetizers. All in all, I'm hoping I just went on a bad day, but the pizza was certainly worth a return trip.

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Sunday, May 31, 2015

5 New Orleans Homes I'd Buy If I Were Filthy Rich

Wallowing in my poverty-stricken misery, I thought a listicle of homes I could never-ever attain would serve as appropriate torture for committing a few oh-so deadly sins; specifically lust, greed and envy. Though I cannot fathom how it would feel to be filthy, stinking rich, I sure know what I would do with all that excess...

1. Victorian on Esplanade Avenue

Over 4,000 square feet of magnificent hardwood floors, elaborate moulding, transoms, floor-to-ceiling windows, wrought-iron balconies, high ceilings and much more. This quaint beauty also comes with a guest cottage replete with a full kitchen and it's right on the corner of Esplanade and Royal on the edge of the French Quarter and shaded by gorgeous oak trees. It'd be a drop in the bucket to a billionaire like me listed at $2,375,000.

2. Sidehall on Dauphine

Located in the Marigny Triangle, this 1890's Victorian Sidehall is stunning with hardwood floors and heavy wooden mouldings, double parlor, built-in bookcases, wood-beamed ceiling, impeccable architectural details both inside and out, and, to top it all off, an in-ground swimming pool out back. Compared to the first house, this one is being sold for chump change at a mere $1,250,000

3. Greek Revival Mansion on Esplanade

This particular property really makes me drool with incredible architectural details like high, curved ceilings, sliding pocket doors, double parlor, wainscoting, bead board ceilings, wrought-iron balconies, transoms, floor-to-ceiling windows, claw foot tubs, and I believe there's also a guest room next to the garage in back. This house is on the Esplanade Ridge just on the other side of I-10 which drops the price down a smidgen to a piddly $1,097,000.

4. Queen Anne on Josephine 

This one kind of blows my mind considering it's questionable location in Central City, but what do I care? I'm loaded, right? I can hire 24-hour security if I'm that paranoid. Located approximately two blocks from St. Charles Avenue, this awesome house has a huge front porch, high ceilings, hardwood floors, a truly incredible wooden staircase, rich wood-paneled wainscoting and trim, tall windows and doorways with transoms, several fireplaces, French doors, bead board ceilings and a magnificent renovated attic. With almost 5,000 square feet of living space, this house is steal at $899,000.

5. Creole Townhouse on Burgundy

Saving one of the best for last, this three story, historical head-turner offers it all... plus a little lagniappe. The transoms are more elaborate and artistic, all of the rooms seem to be decked out with chandeliers and towering ceilings, French doors abound from room to room and letting out onto the balconies -- this place is a freaking dream. Built in the early 1800s, this home offers all of the historic detail I crave while allowing elements that are modern, yet elegant. Located in the French Quarter, this divine diva would only set me back a paltry $2,950,000 and it would be worth every penny.

*Just in case you were wondering, the answer is yes. If I was a mega-billionaire, it's likely I would buy ALL of these houses, not just one. Otherwise, what's the point of being filthy rich?

**Please also note that these homes are all on the market right now. If had my choice of ANY house in New Orleans, this list would be quite different!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Breakfast at Blue Line Sandwich Co.

While I don't often journey into Metairie, when I heard (quite a few months ago) that Chef Brad McGehee had opened up his own breakfast spot after leaving Ye Olde College Inn, I simply had to go check it out. Though it is tough to convince John to leave the house on Saturday mornings, I managed to drag him out for breakfast at the Blue Line Sandwich Co. on Metairie Road.

When we walked in, there was a lull at the counter so we were able to order quickly, get our giant mugs of French Truck Coffee and grab a table before the rush. While we waited for our food to arrive, we watched traffic roll by outside the window and commented to each other on the sparse, but appropriate blue decor.

By the time we were almost finished with our first cuppa Joe, our food came flying out of the kitchen all in a rush. We decided to share a plate of biscuits and gravy, and while the biscuits were buttery and fluffy, the gravy was a lot thinner in consistency then I had hoped, even though the flavors were all present and accounted for. A minor glitch, perhaps?

For entrees, John ordered the Cochon de Lait Biscuit and I got the Broken Yolk Sandwich. John's slow-cooked pork with grilled tomatoes and red-eye gravy certainly looked "to die for," but the flavor was somewhat blander than he had imagined. On the other hand, my sandwich made with house-corned beef, Swiss cheese, grilled onions and a fried egg on seven grain toast was spot on. My only complaint was a devout wish for more corned beef because it was, put quite simply, off the friggin hook.

All in all, I chalked any oddities up to being a newly opened restaurant that was still working out the kinks, but the beautiful biscuits and my Broken Yolk Sandwich are more than enough reason to seek a return trip.

Blue Line Sandwich Co. on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fat Falafel plus at 1000 Figs

While I realize I constantly tout the awesomeness of my Oak Street neighborhood, there are areas all over the city of which I would love to be a part. One such neighborhood is the Esplanade Ridge, especially that area right next to the Bayou St. John. The trees and houses are stunning; you're right near the bayou, City Park and the fairgrounds; and you have "around-the-corner" access to restaurants like Cafe Degas, Liuzza's by the Track and, a new addition, 1000 Figs.

Opened a little over 6 months ago, the folks from one of the city's favorite food trucks, The Fat Falafel, have planted their specialties into a brick and mortar along with a few other tasty tidbits. About a month after it opened, Lorin and I visited 100 Figs and enjoyed a fabulous sit-down lunch which always tops standing on the sidewalk, shoveling goodies in my face with a plastic fork. Does that make me a snob? Maybe. But I'm also a gimp with back problems who enjoys a comfortable seat and real silverware...so sue me.

The restaurant was smaller than I expected, but offered gorgeous, wood benches and tables, plus a high counter along the front window where guests can perch, savor lunch and watch the world go by. I wanted to try one of everything, but to start we ordered some crispy, flash-fried Brussels sprouts with red cabbage and salad greens drizzled with fresh lemon. We also scored a big bowl of hand-cut French fries served with a thick, creamy labneh or yogurt for dipping. I couldn't stop munching on the fries and long after we "finished" and were paying the check, I couldn't help sneaking forkfuls of the crispy sprouts.

For her entree, Lorin ordered a ginormous squid salad and I opted for their signature falafel in platter form. I got a taste of Lorin's calamari which was nice, but I was far more focused on the light, crunchy falafel that was served with a creamy hummus, salad greens and wedges of pita. Overall, it was a lovely lunch and while I realize French fries and falafel are ... well ... fried, I felt like I had enjoyed a healthy meal because it didn't weigh me down or make me groan from being over-sated. If you're looking for a delicious, "light" lunch, I highly recommend it. Oh, and don't forget to get a big glass of their Hibiscus Iced Tea!  

1000 Figs on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

House of the week: Shotgun on Flood Street

Depression has set in and I can't avoid it. Unless I suddenly write a bestselling novel, win the lotto or have a rich relative die and leave me a fat inheritance, there is no way in hell I'll ever be able to afford a house in New Orleans.

Regardless of this fact, I still have this awful habit of continued self-flagellation, scanning the real estate listings only to watch another dream house go to someone who (I imagine) will appreciate it far less that I would. Jerks. During my latest bout of torment, I happened upon another awesome house that will likely be sold to some cretin who will use it as a vacation home or some such nonsense. Gee, do I sound bitter?

While the irony of fawning over a house on Flood Street in the Holy Cross (Lower 9th Ward) is not lost on me, it still fails to dampen my ardor (har-har). Here we have a two bedroom, two bathroom single shotgun house replete with original hardwood floors, towering bead board ceilings, transoms, fireplace mantles, claw foot tub and a nice front porch that faces the levee. Bye, bye beauty! You're bound to disappear within days of my post, especially since you're listed at the low, low price of only $200,000. Unfortunately, it's still not low enough for me.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lunch at The Munch Factory

Several months back when I was still entertaining the idea of actually purchasing a house in Gentilly, I met my realtor (and awesome new friend!) Zuheily for lunch at The Munch Factory. Cruising around the area, it seems to me that Gentilly still has a long way to go before it competes (in a culinary capacity) with other New Orleans neighborhoods, but there are certainly a few gems worth visiting.

Located on Elysian Fields Avenue, less than two blocks from the University of New Orleans campus, The Munch Factory is a fairly new eatery (opened in 2011) headed up by talented chef Jordan Ruiz. When Zuheily and I walked in for an early lunch that day back in November, I was expecting Creole comfort food with a twist and that's exactly what we got.

We started with Shrimp Remoulade served atop several slices of fried green tomato. The dish was as delicious as any "fine dining" plate of remoulade I've ever tasted. The shrimp popped and the tomatoes were crisp, tart and not the slightest bit greasy. I also had to sample a bowl of their soup of the day, which turned out to be a creamy potato leek topped with a little shredded cheddar and a few croutons.

For our entrees, Zuheily and I shared out an Ultimate Grilled Cheese and a Hot Sausage Patty Melt. Both sandwiches were pressed on Cuban bread, both were oozing cheese and both were served with their signature "Elysian Peels" which are essentially well-seasoned, baked potato skins. Though we gobbled as much as we could, we still ended up taking some home because the portions were incredibly generous.

Dessert is almost always a given on my lunch outings, so naturally, Zuheily and I shared a slice of Tres Leches cake. Though the flavor was nice, it was much drier than I expected which kind of bummed me out, but the rest of our lunch more than merited a return visit. Especially since I've heard so much about the herb chicken he serves at dinner ...

Munch Factory on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

House of the week: Condo on Napoleon Avenue

My boyfriend John won't even entertain the idea of buying a condo. When I find a cute half double or a cool apartment in an old home spilling over with character and history, John will completely write it off if there's a mere mention of the "c" word. But, I do believe that if this particular condo was anywhere near our price range, he'd swiftly change his mind.

Located inside a stunning building that long ago served as St. Elizabeth's, an orphanage in the 1860's (previously owned by famous author Anne Rice), this particular unit appears to be centered in what was, at one point, a chapel. We're talking 24-ft ceilings, awe-inspiring stained glass windows, 3 bedroom, 5 bathroom, 5,000 square feet of reverent wonder. I mean, just look at this place! There's a freaking theater upstairs! For the first time on this fantasy house-hunt of mine, I am at a loss for words. 

Who lives in places like this? Listed at a paltry $4,950,000, I'm sure it will never be me. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

25 Scrumptious Things to Eat In New Orleans That Aren't Po-Boys

I'm not on a mission to offend fellow writers or popular publications, but I have a problem with "listicles." Instead of well-crafted, thought-provoking articles, it seems theses days, most of what people read are just lists. No one cares how long it takes to construct the perfect sentence or pull together a piece that both educates and entertains. Very few people even take the time to read at all, let alone a full, 1000-word piece on the value of honey. There's just too much information out there, too much to absorb and too little time. Listicles tend to be what my boyfriend calls "click bait" whose sole purpose is to get more clicks, which in turn translates to more page views, which in turn translates to more advertising dollars.

Also, it seems to be what "readers" these days want and who am I to argue?

In an effort to pull my nose out of the clouds and get with the program, I've decided to try my own "listicle." Let me know what you think ...

In an unabashed imitation of a Buzzfeed article I saw the other day, here are my "25 Scrumptious Things To Eat In New Orleans That Aren't Po-Boys."

1. Cake Donuts from Blue Dot Donuts

With shops in both Mid-City and Uptown, this retired-police-officer-owned donut shop doesn't mess around. Although some might be all about their specialty donuts (Boston Cream Pie, Red Velvet etc.) their blueberry glazed cake donuts rock my world.

2. All Meat & All Sides from McClure's Barbecue

New Orleans, for a long time, was not a great town for BBQ, but in the years since the levee failure, 'cue restaurants have been popping up all over town, including McClure's on Magazine Street where you  and a friend can feast on ribs, pulled pork, sausages, smoked chicken and delicious sides for $32.

3. Vermicelli Bowl from Ba Chi Canteen

Loaded with BBQ roast pork, egg rolls, fresh veggies and rice noodles, you could do a whole lot worse for lunch! Plus, Ba Chi's crispy pork egg rolls are second to none.

4. Steak Tartare from La Petite Grocery

I can almost hear people turning up their nose and scoffing at this particular dish. Hey, you know what? If you've never tried steak tartare, you don't know what you're missing. If you have, and enjoy it, you shouldn't miss this particular version.

5. Truffled Manchengo Cheese Grits from Green Goddess

Buttery, cheesy deliciousness for a mere $5. Need I say more/

6.  House Ramen Bowl from Noodle & Pie 

Shoyu chicken broth, slow cooked pork shoulder, soft egg, greens, mushrooms and shredded nori make up this big bowl of comfort, but don't forget ... there's also great pie.

7. Whole Grilled Fish from Peche

Although the type of fish and added ingredients vary from season to season, you can't go wrong with this whole grilled fish from Peche. Yes, it can be pricey, but believe you me, there'll be nothing left but bones because you'll want to inhale every last bit.

8. Mississippi Lamb Meat Pies from Oak

This swanky, Uptown wine bar offers a great wine list, creative cocktails, live music and some incredibly tasty vittles like these Mississippi Lamb Meat Pies that they serve with Crystal Hot Sauce yogurt for dipping.

9. Ham & Gruyere Quiche from Toast 

Never in my life have I experienced a creamier, fluffier or more flavorful quiche (and I have been known to make quite a few of my own). Chef Cara Benson is a freaking magician.

10. "Loaded" Guacamole from Del Fuego Taqueria

As if fresh, bright guacamole wasn't enough, the folks at Del Fuego have taken it upon themselves to stuff you silly with the addition of chicharrones (a.k.a. cracklins), tomatoes, pickled onion, queso cotija, roasted poblanos, pumpkin seeds, bacon (because the cracklins weren't enough pork) and pickled jalapeno.

11. Cheeseburger from trūburger

A Chef Aaron Burgau creation, trūburger on Oak Street offers 100% Creekstone Angus Beef burgers, ground in-house and grilled to order. They also make swoon-worthy, hand-dipped corn dogs using Zweigle's franks. 

12. Double-Cut Pork Chop from Toups' Meatery

Not only is this pork chop perfectly cooked and drizzled with a cane syrup gastrique, it's served with the best dirty rice in New Orleans. Chef Isaac Toups is the meat "master" and his super-sweet wife Amanda makes everyone feel like they're family.

13. Mechada from Mais Arepas

Although there's lots of great dishes on the menu at Mais Arepas, a Latin-American restaurant in Central City, I can't help but order the Mechada almost exclusively. Slow cooked skirt steak, sofrito, maduros (fried plantains) and melted mozzarella are stuffed into a thick arepas (corn tortilla) and served with crispy plantain chips. Every time I think about this dish, I have an irresistible urge to return.

14. Crispy Chicken Wings from MoPho

They're just wings, no big deal ... right? Wrong! It's all about the spicy/sweet sauce with accents of lemongrass and ginger. It's "mopho-ing" awesome.

15. Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake with Peanut Brittle Ice Cream from Herbsaint 

It's hard to pick just one dish from Donald Link's flagship restaurant Herbsaint, but this one never fails to impress, especially when the warm pudding oozes out after your first forkful. 

16. Shrimp BLT Wrap from GG's Dine-O-Rama

Whether the name is GG's Dine-O-Rama or Gott Gourmet, this particular eatery has an abundance of great food. One of my favorites is the Shrimp BLT Wrap with sauteed gulf shrimp, fresh mozzarella, Nueske’s apple smoked bacon, roasted red peppers, avocado, roasted tomatoes, chili mayo and chipotle cream cheese. 

17. Mazorca from Baru Bistro & Tapas

An excellent spot to dine al fresco, Baru offers an array of Latin and Caribbean cuisine. One of the local favorites (and a dish they simply can't erase from the menu) is the Mazorca with roasted corn, salao cheese, "pink sauce," and crispy potato sticks. It's hard not to shovel this in your mouth at one go.

18. Gulf Fish Almondine from Patois

Every dish is wondrous at Patois, one of my all-time favorite restaurants, but this one certainly stands out and seeing it hasn't changed a whole lot since it first appeared on the menu years ago, it seems I'm not the only one who's in love. Using whatever is fresh (and appropriate) from the Gulf, this fish is breaded, pan-fried and served with roasted potato gallettes, buttered green beans and drizzled with a citrus meuniere. 

19. Raisin Cinnamon Bun from Gracious Bakery

Baker and co-owner Megan Foreman will blow you away with her amazing pastries and breads, made from only the finest ingredients. Anyone would be the envy of the workplace if they walked in one morning munching on this gorgeous cinnamon bun and sipping on French Truck Coffee

20. Bacon-Wrapped Prawns from Salu

Mammoth Gulf shrimp wrapped in bacon and served in a garlic beurre monté (emulsified butter) ... there's just something wrong with you if the mere idea of this dish doesn't make you salivate. Go see a doctor or just go to Salu.

21. Kurobuta Pork Belly from Three Muses 

Since it's inception, Three Muses (and Chef Daniel Esses) have been serving this dish and it is still one of their most popular items. Sit back, enjoy the music and dive into beer-braised pork belly served on scallion pancakes and topped with apple chutney. 

22. Crispy Hen from Mint Modern Bistro & Bar

Spicy, sweet and just downright delicious, the crispy hen at Mint is worthy of a return visit. Not to mention that you get the hen (and everything else pictured) for a mere $8.50. It's lunchtime!

23. Blackened Shrimp & Grit Cake from Boucherie

In a twist on the traditional Southern dish of shrimp and grits, Chef Nathaniel Zimet offers this stunning dish of blackened shrimp and blackened grit cakes in a warm, house-cured bacon vinaigrette.

24.  Tacos Al Pastor from Cowbell 

Chef Brack May not only offers a fabulous, grass-fed beef burger at Cowbell, he never fails to show off his native-Californian love for Mexican cuisine. Case in point, his sinful Tacos Al Pastor with achiote-rubbed pork, queso fresco, arroz verde, black beans, charred pineapple salsa and corn tortillas.

25. Blueberry Muffin from Maple Street Patisserie

Pastry chef and co-owner Ziggy Cichowski never fails to dazzle, showing off his extensive skill in bread-making and pastry crafting at Maple Street Patisserie. I mean, just look at this blueberry muffin! It's almost as big as my head, but certainly not bigger than my stomach!

*P.S. This list barely scratches the surface of the incredible food to be had in our beloved Crescent City.

*P.S.S. I was going to do 35 dishes (like the Buzzfeed article), but I got lazy.