Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I don't speak Cajun!

Recently, I sent some gifts with a distinctly local flair to my 5-year-old niece and laughed uproariously when my brother-in-law called back screaming "How am I supposed to read this to her? I don't speak Cajun!"

I'm sure he'll figure it out. If not, I'm positive my incredibly intelligent niece Arissa will teach him:

"I don' know fo' sure if dat story is true,
But down where de Cajuns live on de bayou,
When dey tell dem stories, dey shore like to talk
About dat boy Jacques and his magic beanstalk."
    ~Jacques and de Beanstalk by Mike Artell

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Do you think I made too much fudge?

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Season's Greetings!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I need more Cowbell!

No, I'm not talking about Blue Oyster Cult, Christopher Walken or Saturday Night Live...I'm talking about Cowbell, the newest restaurant to hit the ever-growing dining community on Oak Street. Yesterday, John and I joined our friend Lorin and her son Remy for lunch at Chef Brack May's latest creation in the old Station 8801 building lying smack up against the train tracks. Though I gained a pound (gotta love the holidays!), there was no way I was going to miss my 66th cheat at Cowbell.

At just about noon, John and I left our apartment and walked the four short blocks down Oak Street to the newest burger joint in town. Only a few days before, we'd been returning home on River Road from a trip to Harahan when we noticed that the 8801 place had re-opened and I couldn't wait to try it.

After greetings and hugs, we all walked inside to a brightly-lit, clean interior with accents of corrugated tin, whitewashed doors serving as the tops of long tables and old mixer attachments transformed into light fixtures.  We chose a table near the back next to a sun-filled window and sat down to browse the menu and place our order.

It wasn't long before dishes began to arrive, the first being Lolo's Chili Cheese Fries and a bowl of Quahog Clam Chowder. The hand-cut fries were wonderfully crispy and topped with a delicious combination of well-seasoned chili made from organic beef and gooey, melted cheese. We easily could have polished off two orders considering how quickly it disappeared!

When I first saw the clam chowder on the menu, I knew I had to have it, seeing as I'm a huge fan and haven't had a bowl since leaving the Bay Area. Though I am accustomed to chowders that are super thick and creamy, I have to admit I loved Cowbell's interpretation. The broth, while not as creamy, was still rich and buttery, heavy with the flavor of chopped clam meat and bacon. The chowder reminded me of home while still retaining that New Orleans flair and it still disappeared almost as quickly as the fries...almost.

While slurping up the last drops, our entrees arrived. Remy, John and I all selected burgers and Lorin chose the Fish Tacos. Remy and John both got the Zinfandel, bacon and onion compote topping and John added blue cheese. I couldn't resist having the Applewood Smoked bacon and farm egg on mine... drooling as I broke the yolk and watched it ooze down the side of my perfectly medium-cooked burger.

All three of us were oohhing and aahhing over these wonderfully perfect creations (moaning with our mouth's full might be more accurate), the grass-fed beef so lean and tasty on a firm potato bun that held up to the juiciness and extra "Agogo" sauce heavy with mayo and horseradish. Lorin said she enjoyed her tacos, which were light and fresh tasting, but I didn't have a bite myself being so enamored and involved with my burger.

While wondering if I should use my last remaining fries to soak up some yolk that escaped, we all decided to order both available desserts; Chocolate City and Apple Pie. The Chocolate City was basically a flourless chocolate cake that was incredibly dense, creamy and rich, topped with a bright dollop of fresh whipped cream. The pie was actually more like a country tart with cinnamon and sugar spiced apples wrapped and baked in a buttery crust. Now, I know I am usually all about chocolate, but I have to say this time the winner was definitely the apple pie. But don't get me wrong, both were fantastic!

After a fabulous, yet simple meal like that, I'd say the world needs more Cowbell, but I prefer it remain in my neighborhood.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Deference to the divine: Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church

On the corner of Canal and North Lopez Streets lies a gorgeous Catholic church that is, unfortunately, no longer being utilized in favor of a smaller, more "modern" building down the street.

This classic beauty is the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The parish was founded in 1879 and the church was completed later in 1924.

There is so much intricate detail on the outside of this church that it makes me wonder how cool the inside might be...

and when the sun hits this wonderful stain glass, rosette medallion window - how the colors would flood the interior and make for a truly religious experience.

Unfortunately, all three, huge copper doors are closed until further notice.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Exceeding the hype: The Joint...always smokin'

Usually when restaurants receive a whole lotta hype, when everyone and their brother's second cousin are talking about it, I am hesitant to succumb to the trend. Why? Because almost every time I do, I am disappointed. I get my hopes up for something fabulous and it turns out to be mediocre, if not downright awful.

Ever since it opened back in 2004, I've been hearing about The Joint, a colorfully quirky Bywater spot on Poland Avenue, right across the street from Jack Dempsey's. It has been written up by almost every publication in town - Times Picayune, The Gambit, Offbeat Magazine and Where Y'at - not to mention a few national props from folks like and Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

With hype like that, I surprised myself (and John) by selecting The Joint for my 65th cheat. I am still hovering around that 77 pound mark, but I expect it will take another couple of weeks before I break this stalemate and start dropping again.

When we strolled into The Joint today, it was a packed house with folks jammed onto the wooden benches both inside and out. We placed our order at the counter and sat down at the only available table left inside. Since it was so busy, I was shocked to see our order come out so quickly, a whole rack of St. Louis cut, pork spareribs accompanied by two sides, mac & cheese and baked beans.

This is where I wax poetic about how each rib was thick with juicy meat that was literally sliding off the bone and sauce was an afterthought because the smoky, rich crust had more flavor than I've ever tasted in BBQ. I was completely blown away. Although John and I shared the rack, I am pretty sure I could have eaten a whole one all to myself without feeling an ounce of guilt.

Reluctant to taste the sides after such a fabulous beginning, I scooped up a mouthful of their baked beans only to experience heaven all over again. A perfect measure of sweet and salty balanced on my tongue and I'm willing to bet the mouthwatering bacon was also lovingly smoked and crafted in house, just like everything else we ate...including the thick and creamy home style mac & cheese.

We gobbled everything up, gnawing every last bit of meat from the bones and practically licked the Styrofoam container which held the baked beans. The whole time we were munching away, my eyes strayed to a luscious looking pecan pie sitting under glass on the counter top, knowing that's what we were having for dessert.

I dumped out our trash and hurried to the counter to order a piece of pie, a treat that the cashier informed me was also house made and I almost clapped my hands in glee as he set the sticky, pecan-filled slice before us. Finally! A house made pecan pie that was thick with large pieces of pecans, plus sticky and gooey like it should be. Even John, who is not a big on desserts, fought me for every last bite.

At establishment that had met (and exceeded) the hype! I couldn't have been more pleased with my cheat and I can't wait to return and try their pulled pork and brisket. Thank you Pete and Jenny Breen for a BBQ dream come true...thank you...thank you...and thank you once again.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Itching for a cocktail...

"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake."  -W. C. Fields

Last night on the way to a Christmas party, I kept thinking how the first thing I wanted to order was a drink. Although, I've been known to party a little too heartily from time to time, I'm really not a big drinker, but something about the cold weather has me constantly craving a cocktail. Not only do I get to try yet another tasty liquid concoction, but after one or two (or even three), I'll feel warm and cozy inside and out, let the chill winds come as they please. So to keep away the cold and as a tribute to that favorite New Orleans pastime, here are a few of the delicious cocktails I've had this year.

Although I sipped this beauty at the Bridge Lounge in the springtime, I could still go for one during the winter months...

It's called a "Porch Swing" with muddled cucumber, Pims, lemonade, Hendrix Gin and ginger ale. I can just feel that spring heat now, sitting outside and watching the rain coming down.

This next drink is one of my all-time favorites, a classic Mojito from the Victorian Lounge at the Columns Hotel.

Who can resist the lure of rum mixed with muddled fresh mint and sugar? Certainly not I! A "nouveaux" classic cocktail at a truly classy bar.

I can almost feel the droplets of sweat running down my face when remembering the day I enjoyed this particular beauty during a hot August luncheon at The Green Goddess...

Called "Solidarity Sunshine",this is a cocktail the restaurant tagged as "an adult lemonade" with Sparkling Meyer Lemon Juice, Sobieski Vodka and fresh basil. Oh how I want the sunshine to return!

Since I can enjoy ice cream anytime of the year, it only seems appropriate to mention this next creamy, sweet deliciousness I acquired from Sucre on a very moody 39th birthday...

It's a Big Kid Shake called  "A Bunch of Nuts" starring Brown Putter Pecan Gelato, Frangelico and Praline Liquor.

Speaking of sweetness, this jazzed up martini from the Monkey Hill Bar was as fine as any dessert I've ever enjoyed.

This "Double Espresso Martini" features Van Gogh Espresso vodka, Starbucks espresso liqueur and dark Creme de Cacao garnished with crunchy espresso beans and Hershey's chocolate syrup.

Last, bust certainly not least, I have to give some love to a treat I had during Thanksgiving at Café Adelaide, it tasted like Christmas in a glass...

This excellent cocktail created by one of the Swizzle Stick's talented bartenders, Shawn Phipps and called the "Santeria," was lovingly made with Stoli Vanil Vodka, Nocello, Licor 43, allspice and a cinnamon-sugared rim.

*Note - Although I highly suggest trying all of these magnificent cocktails, it might not be wise to do it all at the same time...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Maybe next time? Tomasito's Mexican Cuisine

The spicy lure of Mexican food had been swirling through my brain all week long, so it was no surprise when I decided to visit a new spot downtown in the Warehouse District, Tomasito's Mexican Cuisine. They have only been open a few months, but I was sure that would be plenty of time to work out any kinks with such a simple, straight-forward menu I'd already browsed online.

This is my 64th cheat and I am standing still at a loss of 77 pounds. In case you were wondering, I've been keeping up with my new pilates regime...but other than noticing a slightly flatter tummy along with increasing irritation at Mari Winsor's unshakable cheer, the pounds have stopped coming off.  Yes, I am frustrated and annoyed, but I have been through setbacks like this before and I am still determined to trudge on.

After fighting with a parking meter that wouldn't accept either of our cards, we salvaged enough change from the floor of the car to allow us a one hour lunch slot at Tomasito's, a new Mexican restaurant on the corner of Tchoupitoulas and Julia Streets. We arrived at an off-hour (almost 2:00 p.m.), so it was not a shock to see only one other diner in the darkened restaurant. Dark, heavy wooden tables and chairs were nicely spaced around the terracotta-colored room accented with several sombreros on the wall among other "Mexican" decor.

You simply can't eat fresh, salted tortilla chips and salsa (which were immediately brought to the table) without a drink, so I ordered their "Senorita" special, a blended Pomegranate Margarita for only $2 while John opted for the regular concoction over ice. Both drinks were tasty, I loved the fresh lime juice in John's, but were sadly lacking in punch. Perhaps I have become too accustomed to the wicked bombs they serve at Superior Grill Uptown or Lucy's just down the street.

We began our fiesta lunch with two appetizers, the Spicy Queso Dip and Yucatan-Style Fried Seafood. Sadly, both were a disappointment. The queso was grainy in texture and despite the menu's description of "authentic Mexican cheeses," it tasted like smoked Gouda or cheddar was added to the mix. We barely touched it.

The fried seafood dish was to include "adobo-dusted" calamari, shrimp and fresh fish with a jalapeno-cilantro mayonnaise. Although I enjoyed the batter and the dipping sauce, the calamari came out chewy and overcooked, plus there were only two pieces of tiny salad shrimp. To add insult to injury, the catfish was awfully muddy and pretty much inedible.

Sipping our drinks, we grinned at one another and hoped for an improvement in our entrees. We shooed the other dishes from the table as they arrived, John's Steak Burrito and my "Huachinago a la Plancha," a seared redfish filet and shrimp served in a lemon-butter sauce. Both dishes also featured Mexican rice, although John's was located inside his burrito along with some refried beans. We both agreed that the steak was delicious, although there wasn't a whole lot to be found.

I really enjoyed my whole dish, the sauce was buttery and rich...just like New Orleanians like to do it and the redfish was perfectly cooked. I was also happy to see large, butterflied shrimp on my plate as I almost feared the "pinkies" from my appetizer. My dish also included a side salad of shredded lettuce and huge chunks of fresh avocado piled on top of thick slices of juicy tomato.

At last, it was time for my favorite part of the meal...dessert. On the server's recommendation, we chose the Tres Leches Cake, an opulent treat I've enjoyed at many Latin restaurants around town (Rio Mar's version being my favorite).

The dish that came out looked dreamy and when I took a bite, the warm flavors of cinnamon and sweet milk were all present and accounted for, but the mushy texture of the cake brought my overall enjoyment down several pegs. Since I was expecting the springy feel of sponge cake, all its lovely pores filled with three kinds of milk, the dense cake we actually received was not my preferred conduit for all that creamy goodness.

Perhaps I should give them more time and come back again in a few months?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Crazy cool house on Canal Street

Feel free to throw tomatoes, Creole or otherwise, as I realize I haven't been posting a lot lately. Well, that is going to change...starting now!

Since I am still out of work, aside from odd jobs and writing gigs here and there, I have basically become my boyfriend's "bitch" as he has taken on the role of "sugar daddy," being the only one with a proper job. I make all the meals, clean the apartment, do laundry, grocery shopping and drive him to work each evening (as opposed to paying outrageous parking prices we can not afford).

Every night as we cruise down Canal towards the Quarter, we pass this one particular house that I can't help commenting on regularly, much to John's annoyance. Sitting on the corner of S. Derbigny, right across the street from the now defunct Grand Palace Hotel, is a gorgeous, gingerbread-like Victorian beauty...and it's for sale!

Being located far too close to the Interstate and the abandoned hotel makes for a depressing view and a dingy neighborhood, but I can't help admiring this gem hidden in the dust of speedy highway travelers. I know I could never afford to buy a home like this, regardless of its environs and likely structural faults, but I am positive I would sure love living in it!

Drive-by photography by Kim

***Thanks to Frolic, a very cool, local food writer who honors me by reading my blog, I have discovered that this house is actually a New Orleans landmark - The Charles Orleans House.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Delicious comfort at Café Freret

As a fat girl, I have a tendency to seek clothing and environments that make me comfortable. Although dining at a fine restaurant is always a flavor-rich thrill and pleasure beyond measurement, most of the time I enjoy eateries that are low-key with an easy-going staff and modest menu. Considering the upcoming holiday parties and dinners, it was a relief to go to one of my favorite nearby spots, Café Freret.

This is my 63rd cheat and I am down 77 pounds.

As you all might have noticed, my weight seems to be bouncing up and down a lot lately, but not making any definite progress. It seems I have either A) hit a plateau or B) need to get off my ass and start exercising. I hate to admit it, but I am pretty sure answer B is correct. I've decided to begin a 20 minute Pilates workout three times a week. I know that doesn't seem like a lot, but considering I was doing absolutely nothing up until this point, I think it'll be a great start. I most certainly am not going to give up my cheats...

Located on the corner of Lowerline and Freret Streets (surprise, surprise), this Uptown, service station turned cafe is a great, inexpensive place to get your grub-on as many frequenting Tulane students will tell you. On a nice day, you can sit outside on the generous patio along with your favorite, four-legged friend to enjoy a leisurely meal, or cram session, while watching the "Freret-Jet" traffic roll by. By the way, you can order special treats for your canine companion, too!

John and I selected a spot as far away from a table filled with budding lawyers as possible and before long, placed our order with a friendly waitress that has been serving at Café Freret for at least five years now. Sipping our sodas, it wasn't long before our dishes arrived and we fell to without hesitation.

John's Cuban Po-Boy with thinly sliced roast pork and ham with sautéed mushrooms pressed together on Leidenheimer's French bread was indisputably delicious, but I think we agreed that mine was even better.

Since I had been craving steak all week long, the New Orleans Steakbomb totally hit the spot with tender flank steak shaved nice and thin draped in melted Swiss cheese and topped with sautéed onions, mushrooms and bell peppers. I easily gobbled this Crescent City version of a Philly Cheesesteak, which was also served on toasted French bread, in no time flat. Both sandwiches were served with potato chips, but I had to have some of their crispy, greasy onion rings on the side. We got a large plate of rings, but had no difficulty devouring the entire order.

As expected, I couldn't leave without some dessert and opted for a heated slice of Pecan Pie. Although I have had nothing but tasty dishes as Café Freret, this dish was my first disappointment. Even though the filling was tasty and sweet, there were hardly any pecans and I suspected a pre-fab culprit. Our waitress admitted that the pie came from'd think a big food corporation could get something like pecan pie down right! I highly suggest that instead of the pie, you order one of their house-made desserts that change on a weekly basis, or perhaps their bread pudding. Either way, I'm positive it'll be wonderful and totally satisfying.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Deference to the divine: First Emanuel Baptist Church

This church on Carondelet Street is so incredibly cool looking, I have been in awe of it ever since I moved here. I absolutely love the stepped columns leading up to the main tower. As I was standing there, attempting to take a photo with the least amount of electricity and telephone wires in the shot, an older gentleman came walking by and commented in passing. "That church has been there for as long as I can remember!" Although I thought it might be empty and no longer used, the stranger assured me the church still had services every Sunday.

I did some light research on the building and could find nothing discussing the architecture or age. If anyone knows anymore information, I'd love to hear about it! They do however, have a Facebook page and a website!

Monday, November 29, 2010

My first mission as Food Godmother: Café Adelaide

Since most of my family lives over 2000 miles away in California, I decided last year to begin my own Thanksgiving tradition. Instead of making a ton of food, a large portion of which would become leftovers that I wouldn't be able to eat because of my diet, I chose to dine out.

Last year, John and I enjoyed our Thanksgiving at Muriel's Jackson Square and had a fabulous dinner on top of a beautiful day spent in an unusually quiet French Quarter. This year, we invited another couple and their darling daughter to join us for dinner at Café Adelaide. This is my 62nd cheat and I am down 76 pounds, having lost one of the pounds I gained last week.

John and I appeared for our 4 p.m. reservations to find Dani, Saeed and Posie patiently awaiting our arrival in the lobby of the Loews New Orleans Hotel, which is where Café Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar are housed. We were escorted to our table in their comfortable dining room whose decor (intentionally) echoed the elegance of the 1950's.

Not long after we placed our order, we were pleasantly surprised by a delightful amuse-bouche, a Creole Tomato Bread Pudding with a tiny dollop of herbed butter. It was a tasty insight into the unique dishes created by Chef Chris Lusk, a kitchen magician who braves unusual flavor/texture combinations that I was anxious to experience.

Before long, our appetizers arrived accompanied by warm, fresh French bread. Though it might seem difficult, all five of us managed to share two very different dishes; Hudson Valley Foie Gras Grillades & Grits and Blue Crab Pound Cake. The "pound cake" turned out to be a dense, sweet cornbread draped in a Port-Salut cheese "icing" with truffled crab claws on top. It was delectable and rich with the flavor of crab. My only complaint would be the quantity...I wanted more!

Posie, our 11-month-old dining companion was delighted by the foie gras and considering my general dislike of liver, so was I! The meat simply melted in my mouth and meshed well with the creamy grits doused in a port wine sauce. That little girl is eating far better than I was at her age. Posie's mother Dani informed me that it was my responsibility to see that Posie learned how to eat well.  Mission accepted!

We wouldn't let our servers take the plates away till they were completely cleaned, much to their amusement. In the interim, John and I decided to order a couple of cocktails, both of which were created by one of Swizzle Stick's most talented bartenders, Shawn Phipps. What's Thanksgiving without a little libation after all? I chose a "Santeria" with Stoli Vanil Vodka, Nocello (walnut liqueur), Licor 43 (a Spanish citrus liqueur), allspice and a cinnamon-sugared rim. It smelled like Christmas and tasted even better. John's "Cary Grant" was definitely more of a man's drink featuring Knob Creek bourbon, vanilla, cognac and orange bitters.

We had just begun sipping when our entrées arrived, served all at once by three different servers. I love this kind of extra-special care when dining, to me it's one of many signs the restaurant really does have your best interests at heart and good service (along with fabulous cuisine) is a top priority.

Posie and her dad Saeed stayed traditional with a plate of Herb Roasted Ashley Farms Turkey served with shrimp & mirliton dressing, P&J oyster dressing, rye whiskey-Steen's syrup sweet potatoes and giblet gravy. Posie offered me a taste of her turkey and it was juicy and delicious, just like she said it was...well, not in so many words, but I knew what she meant.

Dani's Creole Cream Cheese Gnudis were fluffy and cheesy with wild mushrooms and a light, grilled tomato consommé, a delightful dish even though I had expected her to order something a bit heavier. John's Pecan Smoked Redfish-Soybean Cassoulet was "off the hook" with a house-made andouille encased shrimp that he was reluctant to share, but strangely enough, I thought the white beans stole the show.

Although I was intending to get off my duck "kick", I simply couldn't resist the Muscovy Duck & Pumpkin Waffles. Thick slices of moist duck breast rested atop two savory pumpkin waffles and a sunny-side up egg sat quivering on top until I broke it with my fork and let the heady yolk cover everything. It was a fantastic dish in both flavor and creativity and I couldn't help but inhale it...most vigorously.

We finished off our meal with two lovely desserts, a "Hot Chocolate" Pound Cake and Praline Pot de Creme. Both were wonderful, but for the first time ever I preferred the thick, creamy custard over the dense, rich chocolate. Hey, it had to happen sooner or later! Posie just happened to agreed wholeheartedly...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

No malware here!

Unfortunately, because I had links to on my website, Google now lists this site as possibly being infected by Malware.  Just so everyone is clear, I have removed these links from my site and there is no danger of your computer being infected by my website. It's all good!

So...there are no viruses here, no spyware, nothing that can hurt your computer. You may be subject to terrible writing and intense hunger pains, but if you've visited sucktheheads before, it will come as no surprise. Also, I love the representation of a computer virus in this picture below, so I decided to include it in this blog. He's kinda cute, huh?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Marvelous marinades: GoodFood's Chile Lime Marinade

Because I am trying to eat more healthfully and cut out extraneous fats, it is always a challenge trying to come up with new and interesting flavors for the same old chicken breasts. Not too long ago, I was on one of my very rare shopping adventures at Whole Foods on Magazine when I discovered GoodFood marinades. I chose the Chile Lime Marinade at random and added it to the my cart.

Half-used because I couldn't wait!

I never would have guessed in a million years that one impulse purchase would be so damned good! If you've never tried this particular brand, know that it has the "Good Housekeeping" seal of approval and is only one gram of fat per serving...only one!

The resulting chicken dish I created with the marinade made me feel like I was cheating it tasted so good. Robust flavors like onions, roasted garlic, lime and (of course) chiles burst into your mouth. Now, I make this chicken almost every week.

Just in case you were wondering, you can get it now at Rouses, too!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Capdeville: A street by any other name...

Hidden in the shadow of the monumental John Minor Wisdom U.S. Court of Appeals building (a really cool blog in itself) lies one of New Orleans' many elusive alleyways, Capdeville Street. Working within mere blocks of this street for two years didn't manage to bring it to my attention and it wasn't until the restaurant, Capdeville opened there, that I even knew it existed.

Not feeling very deserved of my 61st cheat (I gained two pounds), I moped about quite a bit, seeking something that wouldn't be too expensive. Capdeville, a self-claimed "American interpretation of a British social house" piqued my interest and stayed within my budget.

Arriving at the end of the lunch rush, John and I were seated very quickly and offered drinks and menus. Sucking our sodas from large, Guinness pint glasses, we made our selections while admiring the black & white photography adorning the walls, a glowing jukebox pumping out Black Sabbath and a chalk-scrawled quote on the wall by John Bonham, "Nowadays, you can't be loud enough."

Stomachs grumbling, we watched other diners receive their large white plates with envy until one of our own came out, a huge order of thin cut fries covered in crumbled Chorizo and shredded Manchengo cheese. The sausage was spicy and the fries were still hot and crisp, but I would have loved some more cheese. Manchego is so creamy and delicious, too much is never enough!

Just as we finished fork-fighting over the remaining French fries, our entrees arrived. John had a delicious Black & Bleu Burger with thick-cut bacon, creamy bleu cheese and Worcestershire mayonnaise. Cooked perfectly to order, the burger was so juicy and flavorful, John was reluctant to share.

I had selected the Duck Confit Club featuring duck cracklings dressed with a roasted garlic aioli, lettuce and tomato on toasted white bread. The condiments saved this sandwich that would have otherwise been too dry.

As usual, I couldn't leave without dessert and opted for their "Cobbler du Jour" which turned out to be apple. More specifically, a Honeycrisp Apple tart with brown-butter crumble. God forbid I ever turn my nose up at extra fat, but the piping hot tart tasted too buttery and the sweet flavor of the apple was almost completely lost. Maybe I'm more prone to the flavor of a sour Granny Smith for baking.

I'm glad to know Capdeville Street exists, thanks to the eponymous restaurant. I'll be keeping my eye out for other hidden delights down mysterious alleyways in New Orleans from now on.

*I can't read that last sentence without giggling...does that make me immature?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Silly sculpture in Lafayette Square

John and I were strolling through Lafayette Square today and noticed that scattered among the other historical, more formal pieces in the park, lingered sculpture that didn't seem to belong.

For example, did this artist watch the movie Donnie Darko too many times or what?

I mean with the "bunny" and these "flowers" below, I know exactly where I'm hanging out the next time someone slips me some magic mushroom tea...

But I'll probably avoid the "eye benches."

That would be like asking for a bad trip...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tapas-style New Orleans Portland?

When my good friend Miriam began noticing my food blogs, she sent me an email titled "You probably won't like this but..."

I guess Miriam believed I wouldn't appreciate the existence of a Cajun/Creole tapas restaurant living smack in the middle of Portland, Oregon. Yep, Tapalaya is the name of this fairly new eatery that features small plates of everything we like to eat big; jambalaya, red beans & rice, BBQ shrimp, fried catfish, po-boys and even mac & cheese.

Owner Seth Matasar, the mind behind this madness, had moved from Chicago to New Orleans to attend Tulane University when he was 17-years-old. He lived, loved and worked here for over ten years, most notable was his five-year stint at Commander's Palace. Although he left New Orleans, he still carried his love for the city in his heart and stomach.

Tapalaya has now been open for two years and is still going strong. If you are ever in the Portland area, check it out and let me know how it is! I can have nothing but love for folks trying to spread the fabulous cuisine of our area to other parts of the world.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Food coma induced by Po-Boy Festival on Oak Street

If you weren't at the New Orleans Po-Boy Preservation Festival yesterday, you were sorely missed because it sure seemed like the rest of the city was there! From the start at 11 a.m. to the finish at 7:30 p.m., folks were lined up at every available food booth on the entire length of Oak Street, that is when they weren't dancing or devouring their latest purchase.

I had already decided to gorge myself silly at the Po-Boy Festival this week to celebrate my 60th cheat. I am now down 77 pounds.

My friends and I began our day dancing to Clockwork Elvis while we scoped out the booths nearby, considering our choices carefully. John, not willing to wait, bought his first...a Spanish Style Pork Loin and Gouda po-boy from Barcelona Tapas Cafe which proved to be as delicious as it sounds. I'm still surprised I managed to get a bite in before John hastily scarfed the rest.

After that one taste, the race had begun. I quickly got a Sloppy Roast Beef Po-Boy from Gattuso's and after one bite, immediately knew why they had won last year's competition. The gravy was thick, savory and practically the only thing holding the tender meat together. It seems there's a contender for my favorite roast beef spot now.

I stood in line for a Hot Sausage po-boy from Vaucresson as I inhaled the Sloppy Roast Beef, ordering just as I threw away the wrappings. Rarely disappointed by their sausage, I took a large bite and relished the popping sensation as my teeth broke the casing. Spicy, greasy and wonderful, the sausage was only lacking a bit of heat as it wasn't nearly as hot as I had hoped.

We shambled along a bit slower, enjoying our food until we came to more booths.  Dante's Kitchen was serving a Confit pork Cuban po-boy with black pepper bourbon mustard that sounded awesome, but the line stretched back an entire block! I heard that they sold out before the fest ended because everyone knows how awesome the cuisine at Dante's can be. It was one experience I unfortunately missed...oh well, maybe next year.

As we inched our way further down Oak Street, we discovered a bottleneck of festival-goers smashed up next to Blue Frog Chocolates who were serving, among other heavenly items, a bag full of Chocolate Dipped Zapp's Cajun Crawtator potato chips. I stood in line yet again, determined not to miss out on this decadent treat.

While doling out some of the Chocolate-dipped chips to my friends, I noticed Frenchy's original painting for the Po-Boy Fest poster displayed in front of his gallery. Like all of his work, it was a riot of movement and color, effectively capturing the eager crowds eating their way down Oak Street. There was a box full of festival posters for sale and although I desperately wanted one, $60 was just a little too rich for my blood and I had to force myself to move on.

Although the flavor of spicy chocolate still lingered on my tongue, but I couldn't resist buying a Double Chocolate Whiskey Caramel Brownie from a stand that was also selling Bacon-Fried Hot Dogs. I ate the brownie later that evening and it was easily one of the best I'd enjoyed in a long time. Who were those vendors? I may never know...

John and I were pretty full by this time, but when we saw Ninja serving sashimi po-boys, I simply couldn't resist. Anne and I jumped into a line that seemed endless, but moved astonishingly fast and before we knew it, Anne was cradling a Deep Fried Soft-Shell Crab po-boy while I had already taken a bite of my Salmon Sashimi po-boy featuring sliced cucumber and wasabi mayonnaise. Both were fantastic!

Completely sated and a bit drowsy, we wandered back to my apartment in a zombie-like daze after eating and waiting in line non-stop for more than half a day. My friends eventually went home and John left for work. When the house was quiet (aside from the muffled noises from the fest still going on outside) I collapsed on my bed and finally succumbing to a richly deserved food coma, passed out for several hours.

Only 364 more days till next year's fest!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Crescent City Samaritan

Politeness and hospitality are common characteristics I've encountered since my life in the South began, but it seems I find very few Samaritans who go out of their way to help the average Joe (or Josephine) on the street. The story I heard yesterday from one of my close friends completely changed all that and I simply had to share.

A couple of weeks ago, Dani and her 11-month-old daughter Posie were sitting at a bus stop on Magazine Street waiting to return home, which is located off Jackson Avenue. They had just left their regularly scheduled Tuesday play date on Calhoun Street and looking forward to making a stop at Pinkberry for their weekly treat of frozen yogurt when an older Asian woman pulls up to the curb and offers them a ride.

A bit shocked, Dani told the nice woman that she was planning on stopping a couple of times and that she really didn't mind taking the bus. Not to be deterred, the woman persisted in her offer.

Not only did the extremely kind woman insist on giving them a lift, she actually stopped at Pinkberry, waited for her to purchase some frozen yogurt and then took them the rest of the way home!

Now this might seem a minor event to some, but this story brought tears to my eyes. Who does this kind of thing anymore? We all know how difficult it is to trust strangers in this day and age, but this woman didn't even hesitate to hold out her hand. Could things be looking up?

Now just because I haven't heard stories like these in a long time, doesn't mean they haven't happened. Have you met a good Samaritan or have you been a good Samaritan? I'd love to hear about it...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's not a house this time!

I've posted a few images of abandoned homes and I thought I might change it up a bit. So here's something a little different:'s a blighted car!

Okay, so that's not so different. But don't you just love the way the vines are growing around the tires? On the rear window there's a finger-drawn note in the dirt offering to tow the vehicle for free. I wonder why the owner hasn't taken them up on the offer...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Getting stuffed at McGuire's

When you deny yourself fatty goodness for an entire week, it's easy to slip into fantasies involving butter, mayonnaise, cheese, bacon, creamy salad dressing and more. Did I forget to mention butter? Anyhow, all of those wonderfully tasty items begin to haunt your waking hours until you finally get the opportunity, like a fabulous cheat meal, to let your hair down and pig out.

That's exactly how I felt when I visited McGuire's only a few days ago. It was my 59th cheat and I am down 76 pounds.

Anne, John and I arrived late in the lunch hour (and hungry) to the Warehouse District sports bar on the corner of Magazine and St. Joseph Streets. Thankfully, McGuire's has their own parking lot and we pulled into an available space with no fuss and at no cost to us.

The cool fall temperatures and bright sunshine enticed us outside to lounge at a picnic table set in the tavern's back patio. Like any good bar menu, all of the greasy food groups were present and accounted for and it wasn't long before we placed our order and tried to talk joyfully over our rumbling stomachs.

Soon after, our appetizer arrived and even though we were all starving, we had to take a moment to consider what we had picked. For fun (and out of sheer curiosity), we had elected to try the Boudin Egg Rolls which were served with a sweet plum sauce. Initially, I liked the crispy wraps filled with "Cajun" boudin sausage, but when I dipped it into the sauce, it just didn't work for me. Anne created a solution by adding some Crystal to the plum sauce and that extra kick went a long way to make the strange dish come together.

I was more excited for my main dish which was a mixed seafood platter with fried shrimp and catfish. Requesting a hefty helping of tartar sauce on the side, my cravings were finally sated as I dug into the crispy fried seafood featuring a tasty cornmeal batter and a nice-sized helping of French fries.

The platter at McGuire's comes with your choice of jambalaya, potato salad or red beans & rice. I had opted for the jambalaya, but I will never do so again. To me, jambalaya should be so sticky and moist that you can shape it into a mold and it should also be rich and heady with spices. McGuire's version tasted like the rice had been cooked in some kind of crab boil till it was light and fluffy...and the minimal amount of sausage seemed like an after-thought.

Anne and John ordered McGuire's "Big Cajun" and "Big Bayou" burgers which were a 1/2 pound of ground beef stuffed with cheddar and jack cheese, battered and deep fried. The "Big Cajun" was also stuffed with hot sausage and topped with their Cajun sauce, whereas the "Big Bayou" included bacon and was topped with BBQ sauce.  Both burgers were served on a toasted Kaiser roll with a large helping of curly fries on the side. Neither Anne nor John were able to finish more than half of their mammoth burgers, but they both enjoyed them immensely.

Anne (a woman after my own heart) was still in the mood for some dessert and since McGuire's didn't offer anything made in house, we decided to hop in the car and cruise up St. Charles Avenue for some tasty cupcakes at Pralines by Jean.  We took our selections back to my apartment to enjoy with some coffee I had purchased from Cafe Du Monde. With a hot cuppa joe in hand, we sampled each other's cupcakes: Peanut Butter & Chocolate, Vanilla & Chocolate and Pralines & Creole Cream Cheese.  All were delicious and moist, a sugary sweet ending to a supremely greasy cheat.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A New Orleans wedding

A couple of days ago, I had the honor of being invited to my first ever wedding since moving here more than seven years ago. The young couple had been planning and saving for this occasion and after two years, the fateful evening had finally arrived.

Now, what struck me most about this wedding and what I want to share with you is how "New Orleans-like" this special event actually was.

For starters, the ceremony and reception took place in the heart of City Park's Botanical Gardens. It was a gorgeous setting (albeit cold evening) and the happy couple exchanged vows underneath grand oaks dripping with Spanish moss.

After the vows were made and their first kiss as husband and wife had been witnessed by one and all, the guests filed into the many-windowed pavilion and the party began.

Not only were there liberal amounts of alcohol being poured with the notorious heavy-hands of New Orleans' bartenders, there was a ton of local cuisine laid out on several tables around the hall and passed around by servers bearing large silver trays.

There were boiled shrimp, deep fried shrimp, deep fried bacon-wrapped oysters, bite-sized hunks of fried catfish, mini-crab cakes and more! At no other wedding I have ever attended (and believe me, there have been quite a few) were there so many delicious fried goodies to be had. I was stuffed before I could even visit one of the food-laden tables!

A local cover band playing a string of well-known 80's tunes kept the revelers entertained and even started a second-line led by the new couple that encircled the hall several times before petering out. And, to my great surprise, the band led the crowd in a "Who Dat" chant with plays from the 2010 Superbowl appearing large as life on huge video screens behind the drummer. The people went wild, jumping up and down and yelling praises to our beloved Saints whose great accomplishment will never be forgotten. Only in New Orleans would this kind of behavior seem normal, even at a wedding reception.

As John and I were walking out of the hall at the end of the night, I noticed a huge table filled with Hubig's Pies that had been personally stamped to celebrate the union of the newlyweds. How much more New Orleans can you get? It's an experience I will never forget.

Congratulations Jimmy & Lauren and may you live happily ever after!