Friday, November 21, 2014

PoBoy Festival: Breaking the curse

Something, or someone, doesn't want me to go to the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival. It seems that over the past several years, fate has conspired to make me miss one of the most popular festivals of the year and it's literally, right around the corner. Severe illness, atrocious hangovers, unexpected family get-togethers, heinous women's issues and an overwhelming distaste for being packed in, teeth-by-jowl, like Bourbon Street on Mardi Gras Day, have come in between me and several hours of pure po-boy bliss. Not this year, I say (perhaps with too much confidence). This year, I have a plan.

After perusing the offerings at this year's fest, I have devised a strategy that will allow me to hit the highlights within a short period of time and make it back to my apartment to share my spoils with John who (surprise, surprise) has caught the flu. Now keep in mind, I love all of the vendors and music that will be rockin' Oak Street this year, but in the interest of sanity, I've had to keep the list short, avoiding experiences I could have any other day of the year. Additionally, I need to get back home to tend to John, after all, he would do it for me.

The Po-Boy Plan:

  • I figure I can start out closer to River Road and work my way back up. If I leave my house at 9:30 AM, I can easily make it to #31 on the map, Bratz Y'all, which is just a block short of Cowbell. Why am I trekking such lengths? Well, among their many offerings, Bratz Y'all is kicking down "The NOLA Schnitzel Po-Boy with breaded and fried pork loin topped with a crawfish remoulade slaw. Any more questions?
  • From there, I can make my way up and over to the corner of Leonidas and Plum Street at #26 for a Mexican Cheesesteak Po-Boy from VFW- NOLA Veterans of Foreign Wars. I don't know about you, but slow-braised beef and poblanos smothered in chihuahua cheese sauce sounds like a killer second course.
  • I'll just keep heading up Plum Street after VFW and make the block, coming around to Mahony's Po-Boy Shop vending at #19 on Joliet and Oak. Here, I'm either going to have to choose or simply buy both the Abita-Braised Short-Rib Po Boy with garlic mayo and fried onion rings; and the Grilled Shrimp & Avocado Po-Boy with a green-onion vinaigrette.
  • By this time, I'll only have to trudge through the rapidly-growing crowds a few steps to reach #16, where Wayfare is kicking down, among other items, some Boudin Meat Pies. As you know, I've already tried their meat pies before and the crust is to-die-for delicious. I'm curious to taste one loaded with pork shoulder, liver, local long-grain rice and Creole honey mustard.
  • Finally, I simply can't resist pushing my way through almost three blocks of insanity to reach #4 and what I think just might be the "pièce de résistance" this fest. One of the bend's best, Boucherie is offering a Corned Pork Belly Reuben Po-Boy with sesame sauerkraut, duck liver mousse and roasted red pepper dressing. Knowing me, I'll likely order some cracklins too. 
  • PBFPPS (Po-Boy Fest Plan Post Script) - IF I am not tearing my hair out and the crowds are lenient, I wouldn't mind heading back to #9 on the corner of Dante for a "Black & Gold" - Nutella & Banana Crepe - from Crepes a la Cart.    
Stuffed and loaded with spares for John, I'll likely find the quickest route back to Zimpel and head home. Will I make it this year? We shall certainly see ... that is, if I don't catch John's flu.

Monday, November 10, 2014

House of the week: Double shotgun on Royal Street

In my seemingly never-ending quest for a house, one specific consideration I have not mentioned a whole lot is a decent backyard. Not only do I want to plant herbs and vegetables in a small garden of my very own, I have a dog. He is an extremely cute and fuzzy dog named Pippin who is quite mischievous, playful and wholly deserving of an outside space where he can run around, bark at elusive kitties and sniff out all the wonders a proper backyard can contain.

While browsing this morning, I came across this cute double located in Bywater, right on the edge of the Marigny. The house itself offers two bedrooms and one bath on each side in the traditional shotgun layout, floor-to-ceiling windows, fireplace mantles, super-high ceilings and hardwood floors. It's located less than two blocks from the new and improved Crescent Park, nine blocks from Frenchmen Street, eleven blocks from the Quarter, two blocks from Pizza Delicious, and five blocks from Elizabeth's.

Yet with all of these fabulous features, what is most stunning about this particular house is the gargantuan back yard. I mean, the house is approximately 1,600 square feet and the lot is 2,300 square feet leaving about 700 square feet just for the backyard, which includes a sprawling oak tree. Though it's about $60,000 out of my price range, I wish I had the means to buy this awesome house listed for $249,900. I'm sure Pippin would love it!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mission at Del Fuego Taqueria

I'm ecstatic that New Orleans has finally upped its game when it comes to Mexican cuisine. If anyone asked me what I missed most about living in California, other than the fact that my whole family lives there, I would have to say two things: 1) the Pacific Ocean and 2) Mission burritos. Thankfully, a man after my own stomach, owner David Wright, opened Del Fuego Taqueria early this summer bringing the Mission burrito to the Crescent City.

A few months back, John and I visited Del Fuego Taqueria for the first time and in case you were wondering, I've been back many times since.  Located on Magazine Street just a hop from Napoleon Avenue, Del Fuego offers both indoor and outdoor seating and, on this particular occasion, John and I opted to sit outside. We kicked off our dinner with a couple of perfectly delicious, house Margaritas made with Souza Blue Silver and house made triple sec and fresh "limonada" or lemonade decorated with a heavy, salt rim. 

First out was their "loaded" guacamole that was like a cornucopia of all the good stuff you can put in guac ... plus a little bit more. After feasting on crispy, fresh tostada pieces weighed down with fresh avocado, chicharrones (Spanish for "cracklins"), tomato, onion, cotija, roasted poblanos, pumpkin seeds, bacon and pomegranate seeds (yes, I said pomegranate seeds), we were actually quite full. Nonetheless, we were still determined to try at least a bite or two of our entrees before we asked them to box it all up.

John got the "Cochinita Pibil de Costenos" which translated to mean a half-rack of St. Louis ribs that were slow-cooked in banana leaves with an achiote-spice rub and served with a side of black beans and pickled onions. The ribs were wonderfully heavy with heady spice and practically falling off the bone. 

Seeing as I've raved about them in the past and missed them oh-so dearly, I simply had to have a Mission burrito. I chose the carnitas filling (slow-cooked and fried pork) that was also accompanied by the traditional Mission-style ingredients which include pinto beans, rice, queso, crema (or sour cream), salsa fresca, avocado, onions and cilantro. Let me tell you, it was like taking a bite of home. If my dish had a few whole, pickled jalapenos, sliced onions and carrots, all I would have had to do was close my eyes and I'd feel like I was sitting in front of La Cumbre. Thank you Mr. Wright, you have no idea how happy you've made me...  


Del Fuego Taqueria on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 17, 2014

House of the week: Cottage on Chestnut Street

Throughout my torture sessions over the past few years, there's a trend I'm noticing that causes my heart to shudder. While I understand the desire for a new-built home, it makes me crazy when people buy an old house and renovate it so drastically, that they kill all its precious character. I mean, why live in a classic New Orleans house and then take all the New Orleans out of it?

For example, here is this incredibly expensive, one bedroom/one bath cottage on Chestnut Street. Notice the floor-to-ceiling windows and the lovely, columned porch that runs all the way to the front door. Well, that's where the character ends. Inside there's a sprawling kitchen and living room, replete with shining hardwood floors and glistening granite counters, but it looks nothing like a Nola abode anymore. No exposed brick, free-standing fireplace, intricate mouldings or ceiling medallions. The bathroom is shiny and new without a claw foot tub, wainscoting or intricate tiling that runs halfway up the walls.

It's Crescent City character has been almost completely wiped out, yet because of these modifications and it's excellent location Uptown, this 1,200 square foot house (with only one bedroom, mind!) is listed at $439,000! No way Mr. Man! Even if I did have the ducats, I ain't buyin' it!