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.