Friday, December 19, 2014

Toast: Breakfast will never be the same again ...

Everyone has heard me rave in many different mediums about the wonders to be had at Tartine run by chef/owner Cara Benson. Well, this magical, magnanimous, Mom and baker extraordinaire has done it again with Toast, a mouth-watering breakfast experience she opened about six months ago.

To be perfectly fair, I've already raved about Toast, too ... just not here on my lil old blog. Now seems the optimal time to rectify that. I've been to Toast on many occasions since the first, an experience I'm about to relate, but just know, there is nothing on this menu that won't make you swoon, and if it doesn't well ... more for me!

About a month after it opened in June 2014, John and I headed Uptown to Laurel Street to have a meal that was so delightful, Toast has become the stuff of dreams to us, a place we think of every time we think of breakfast.

Though it was still dreadfully hot, we opted to sit outside since it seemed the only way we'd be sure to get a table. We both ordered a cup of coffee (yes it was French Truck, thank you very much) and tried hard not to order everything on the menu.

John chose one of the "toasts," with cream cheese, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and capers atop a thick, toasted slice of Benson's brilliant, house-baked brioche. What can I say? It was astoundingly simple, yet exquisitely delicious. Everything was just right, from the amount of cream cheese to the fluffy scrambled eggs.

While I loved John's toast, we both couldn't help oohing and aahing over my dish, a huge slice of ham and Gruyere quiche. Cross my heart and hope to die, this was the best quiche I ever had the pleasure of inhaling. Easily three inches high, it had a gorgeous golden crust and the filling was so light and creamy, it was almost like delving into a delicate souffle. Don't doubt that I've enjoyed her daily quiches many times since.

John and I also shared a side of thick-sliced bacon and, something I never thought to see on a breakfast menu, a plate of ratatouille -- a mouth-watering, stewed vegetable dish that only added to the meal's overall wonder. I can't wait to go back again ... and again ... and again ...

Toast on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Product Review: iCoffee

In general, I am not a fan of the single-serve, Keurig-type coffee makers. I had a lot of experience using one when I used to schlep it out in a more corporate environment and I discovered that I would likely never purchase one for myself. 

That being said, when a representative at iCoffee contacted me, asking if I'd be willing to try out their version, I felt the need to give it a go. Usually, I buy concentrate from New Orleans Cool Brew, but from time to time, I will spoil myself with a fresh pound of French Truck. Only problem was that my French press shattered in a million pieces after a devastating drying incident (I so LOVED my French press!) and my last coffee maker recently kicked the bucket.  

To get on with it, I have to say that overall, iCoffee is pretty damn cool, especially in comparison to other Keurig-type coffee makers. Here is a list of pros and cons so that you can make your own decision about the iCoffee, starting with cons because everyone likes a happy ending! Don't you?

Cons:

1. It's humongous! Living in a tiny, one bedroom apartment in New Orleans means I do NOT have a ton of counter space and this puppy is a foot deep and almost a foot wide. If you have a lot of space, then by all means, use it! But for me, the iCoffee's home is currently in my parlor because I have no room for it in the kitchen.

2. The cord is too short. I might have been able to fit this monster next to my microwave if the cord would have reached, but no go. It's approximately 28 inches long, but unfortunately, that was still not enough.

Pros:

1. You can use your own coffee! With their reusable iCup, you can grind your own coffee for this machine, a feature I didn't see available on the first wave of Keurig machines several years ago.

2. You can select how big (or small) you want your cup of coffee to be. iCoffee has this "Dial-A-Brew" feature that allows you to choose from 4 to 12 ounces. Since I like to drink a big cup of cafe au lait (made with CDM, of course), I'll bust out my 12 ounce mug, fill half with hot, whole milk and set the iCoffee for 6.5 ounces and voila! This feature really impressed my boyfriend who deals with a not-so-versatile Keurig machine at work.

All in all, I think if I had a normal kitchen, I wouldn't have the above two "cons" to contend with. Plus, at anywhere from $20 to $60 less than a Keurig at Bed, Bath & Beyond, it seems well worth it. 


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

MMMeat! McClure's Barbecue


This is not a blog where I describe several courses, going into great detail on each morsel that entered my mouth, well, at least not exactly. This is a blog where I tell you how you should go to McClure's Barbecue on the corner of Magazine Street and Bordeaux with a friend and order "All Meat & All Sides" and be sure you are hungry .... very hungry.

With your stomachs grumbling audibly, Owner Neil McClure, or one of his attentive employees, will set before you a virtual trough of goodies which will most likely include juicy pork ribs almost falling off the bone, a heavenly-smoked portion of chicken (breast and thigh), pulled pork, crispy brisket and a plump sausage. This carnivore's heaven isn't quite complete if you don't try one (or five) of over 15 different kinds of BBQ sauce that are lined up against the wall like spice-laden sentinels.

As if that were not enough, you'll also get Pork & Pork & Beans, a creamy scoop of Four-Cheese Mac, a pile of BBQ Jambalaya, Creole Potato Salad, Molasses-Stewed Collard Greens and a large hunk of Roasted Corn & Jalapeno Cornbread.

John and I enjoyed this feast with relish and, believe it or not, managed to polish off every single bite. We will most assuredly be back...

McClure's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

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.