Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Girl's lunch at The Irish House

Last week, I ditched John (working, working) and had a girl's day out with Anne. For several weeks we had attempted to have lunch at Chef Matt Murphy's brand new restaurant, The Irish House, and Friday was finally the day.

We arrived at the corner of Melpomene and St. Charles a bit late in the lunch hour, so we were not surprised to see the restaurant rather empty. We decided to make the most of it and get a couple of beers, I chose Rogue Chocolate Stout and Anne, who is not really a fan of beer, picked Strongbow cider. We placed an order with our very friendly waitress and proceeded to get a little buzzed, as we both were pretty hungry and had minimal breakfasts.

Our appetizers arrived in the nick of time, as the table was starting to look tasty. Anne ordered the Grilled Ginger and Whiskey Shrimp served atop a potato, broccoli and cheddar cake with tomato remoulade. Though this dish was super tasty (especially the broccoli and cheddar cake), it was not visually appealing at all. Thankfully, our hunger overpowered our hesitancy or we might have never taken a bite of what looked like a slimy, sloppy pile of fleshy green colored goo on a plate topped with shrimp.

I couldn't resist the Crispy Boudin, seeing as I can never get enough. It was served with colcannon which is a traditional Irish dish consisting basically of cabbage and mashed potatoes. We both enjoyed the dish and agreed the smoked tomato sauce was light and tasty, though I wouldn't mind if the boudin had a bit more kick.

Anne just had to get the day's special as her entree, Fish & Chips, since the Brit in her just couldn't see anything else. She was rather shocked though, that the dish was automatically served with tartar sauce (heaven forbid!) and she was forced to ask for the traditional malt vinegar. Pushing the offending sauce aside, she drizzled the dish with vinegar and dug in. The cod tasted fantastic and the batter was delicious too, but the strips of fried fish had the very odd characteristic of being crispy on the ends and soggy in the middle.

I chose the Corned Beef & Provolone Sandwich which was grilled "pub style" and topped with a fried egg. "Pub style" seemed awfully similar to panini or a pressed Cuban-style sandwich. The corned beef was delicious, salty and rich, but I wished there was more of it considering I only got one fairly thin slice. I suppose I was hoping for thick hunks of meat with ribbons of delicious fat like the corned beef ma used to make. My sandwich was served with a small mound of coleslaw that looked yummy, but when I took a bite, it tasted like straight mayonnaise. Don't get me wrong, I love mayo, just not by the spoonful.

Feeling bad for John, I ordered him the Murphinator Po-Boy to go. It was actually quite delicious (I tasted a bite when I got home), stuffed with lots of roast beef, French fries and Crystal onion rings dressed with Boursin aioli and served with a thick, brown gravy dipping sauce.

After lunch, we headed into the back to check out the shop. Anne was practically jumping for joy when she saw all the goodies they had for sale like Lion Bars, Hula Hoops Potato Crisps and Ribena. Now I know exactly what to get her for Christmas...

Friday, September 23, 2011

House of the week: "Not really a shotgun" on Olivier

Though the real estate agent or owner keeps calling this house a shotgun, I'm pretty sure it isn't. It is, however, gorgeous and a home I would not mind owning. Located in Algiers Point across the Mississippi River, this beautiful house has got to be from the mid to late 1800's with floor-to-ceiling windows, a cool, classic kitchen and a cute, little parlor in the center of the house. It has original hardwood floors, high ceilings, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a "mudroom" that leads out into a large backyard.

This is another one of those listings with a neat video walk-through which makes it even more "virtually" appealing and the house is listed at the fairly reasonable price of $253,000. Shotgun or not...I want it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sundae on Thursday

After John and I stuffed ourselves silly with Chinese food at Jung's Golden Dragon last week, I took his hand and literally dragged him about two-doors down the block to enjoy a delicious, sweet dainty from Sucré. Okay, it wasn't a was a sundae! Specifically, it was a Sucré Sundae with chocolate & caramel sauce, chocolate gelato, chocolate croutons (yes, I said croutons), cocoa nibs, a ton of whipped cream and a perfect chocolate macaroon on top. We also got a couple of creamy café au laits.

When our sundae was brought to the table, all heads turned to follow the procession, most of which belonging to women. John made a sly comment about attracting his next girlfriend and though, I had to give him the crusty-eye, I couldn't help but agree. After all, it's not babies, diamonds or expensive cars that make my pupils's chocolate!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pot sticker haven at Jung's Golden Dragon

Growing up in the Bay Area did not make me an expert on Chinese food, but I am very familiar with different aspects of the cuisine. As a matter of fact, my Mom's best friend and neighbor was from Hong Kong, so steamed pork buns and red envelopes were as common to me as sourdough bread and the word "hella."

When I moved to New Orleans, I was so overwhelmed with all of the delicious Creole and Cajun dishes that it took me a while to realize what I was missing. Other than cheap, delicious Mission-style burritos (oh how I miss La Cumbre), my body has been seriously aching for some decent pot stickers or a tongue-searing Kung Pao Chicken and I think I might have finally come close...

Last week, John and I stopped in for a late lunch at Jung's Golden Dragon located between 7th and 8th on Magazine Street. Though it was almost 2PM, we were a little surprised to be the only diners in the large restaurant, but we decided to take advantage of the privacy and chose an even more secluded spot by the window. We both ordered off of the special lunch menu along with a couple of iced green teas and a little something extra...

The first dish out was John's Egg Drop Soup. I had selected Egg Rolls that were not yet ready, but the server brought a cup of soup for me too as lagniappe so I wouldn't "get bored" watching John eat. It was a tasty, basic chicken stock with silky strands of beaten egg and a bit of cornstarch for a thicker consistency. We both slurped it up, but when it comes to Chinese soups, I am usually more partial to Hot & Sour or Won Ton.

Though our lunches included small appetizers like the soup, I simply had to place an extra order for some pan-fried dumplings (a.k.a. pot stickers) due to a tip from friend and fellow food writer, Lorin Gaudin. They arrived after the soup, a large plate filled with fat, crispy-bottomed, dumplings that were stuck together and still held the shape of the pan. Although they were quite hot, I plucked one out with my chopsticks, dipped it into some soy-vinegar sauce (a required flavor experience) and popped the whole thing in my mouth. It was wonderful! I can say in all honesty that I have not encountered a better dumpling since leaving the Bay...cross my heart and hope to die.

The crispy, fried egg rolls that I selected with my lunch special came out as we were wolfing down the dumplings. They were of average size and the filling was really tasty, but I think they may have needed to refresh the oil in their deep fryer because the wrap tasted kind of bitter.

On a brighter note, John's Moo Goo Gai Pan was wonderful. The chicken was so tender it almost melted in your mouth. Craving a little heat, I chose the Hunan Shrimp that had plenty of delicious vegetables and lots of plump, fresh shrimp and the spice was just about right, though I can always go for a little more. Both of our plates were served with a hefty helping of shrimp fried rice and we were getting so stuffed, we both needed to-go boxes.

Now if only there was a place to get great dim sum...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rewrite: Missing the heat at the Basil Leaf

A few days ago I was working on two pieces, this blog and another article, for approximately 5 hours. Just as I was putting the finishing touches on both, my computer crashed and I lost everything. After slowly realizing that throwing my keyboard against the wall and screaming at the top of my lungs would not bring back those missing hours (and missing work), I adjourned to my bedroom, ate some Peanut M&M's, and passed out.

The thing is, I've already wrote this blog and I simply can't bring myself to write it again. I have been trying for several days now and it just won't come out of me this time. I am blocked, stymied, stalled and I can't see getting out another piece until I finally wrap this up. So, meaning no disrespect to the Basil Leaf, here's what we ate:

You can't eat Thai food without the's mandatory!

This was John's appetizer, a fabulous peppercorn-coated and seared tuna with a ginger-sesame dressing. 

The shrimp and pork stuffed dumplings were delicious, though the minute amount of stuffing (maybe a teaspoon) was kind of disappointing.

John's entree was Siam Beef. The sliced filet was sauteed in a wine chili sauce with vegetables, cashews and pineapple and served with Jasmine rice, and though it was spicier than my dish, it was pretty mild for the kind of Thai cuisine I am accustomed to.

I chose the Shrimp Mussaman Curry, a coconut-based curry sauce with large, juicy shrimp, potatoes, pineapple and peanuts. I was aching for the spiciness of Chao Praya (a Thai restaurant in San Mateo: Here's some food porn), and even incorporating the "Nike" swoosh of chili sauce wasn't doing the trick.

Unbeknownst to me, you can request a higher level of heat from almost any dish at the Basil Leaf, but there is no where that is stated on their menu as far as I could see. I had to ask the waitress. 

We certainly had no trouble gobbling down the dessert, fried bananas with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. Next time I visit the Basil Leaf, I am definitely going to request they kick it up a notch, but the food was hot, fresh and prepared to order. 

Again, I am sorry this is not my usual type of blog, but like I said earlier, I WROTE THIS ALREADY! (grumble) 

*P.S. Is it just me, or does anyone else find it odd that they are also serving sushi now at the Basil Leaf? 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

House of the week: Creole Townhouse on Esplanade

I'm feeling very whimsical today, endlessly hopeful and full of fancy. I'm dreaming big dreams and wishing on a star because only a huge windfall of fortune would enable me to attain a dream house like this one. People just don't know how good they have it sometimes. Removing the financial limit on my property search was ridiculous, I know, but I couldn't help seeing what I could have if money was no object. Just look at what I found...

This stunning, four story Creole Townhouse was built circa 1834 and is located on the edge of the French Quarter on the corner of tree-lined Esplanade Avenue and Chartres Street. As you can see, it has two wraparound, wrought iron galleries, five bedrooms and 5 1/2 baths, hardwood floors, high ceilings and it includes a carriage house in the back. Architectural details include elaborate ceiling medallions, arched and floor-to-ceiling windows, an elegant, modern kitchen and a library! Yes...I said a library. Click here and take the virtual tour and see if this property doesn't have you drooling on the keyboard in envy.

By the way, this house is being sold for the bargain basement price of $1,695,000...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Trū Burger: So much more than a macron

I feel ashamed, appalled and just plain mortified at my supreme sloth and I can't hold my head up in public until I admit to my stellar level of laziness, throw this burden from my chest and heave a humongous sigh of relief.

We drove to Trū Burger.

Indeedy! A friend of mine picked us up and we drove less than 1 1/2 blocks to to gorge ourselves on delicious burgers "brought to us by Burgau" on Oak Street.  Is there something wrong with this picture?

After piling out of the car, we stepped inside and quickly ordered from the simple menu at the counter. Turning around to pick out a table, I admired the simple, modern concept of the the decor, but still found myself aching for a jukebox. Regardless of the intention, Trū Burger still holds a hint of 50's nostalgia for me and I had to fight the yearning for saddle shoes and poodle skirts.

My chocolate peanut butter shake was ready first and I passed it around reluctantly. The only way that shake would have been better is if half of it was served in the metal mixer cup...maybe some whipped cream and a cherry. It tasted that classic, like that purely perfect, scrumptious comfort from my past; thick and chocolaty with small pockets of creamy, nutty bliss....(sigh). They serve their shakes at Trū Burger with gargantuan straws so sucking the drink down was far too easy and my dessert quickly disappeared.

I ordered "The Truth" burger, house-ground Angus beef patty cooked medium and topped with thin-fried onion rings, Swiss cheese and Trū Sauce.  It was on special alongside Jalapeno Poppers and the "Deep South" burger topped with fried green tomato and Pimento cheese. I had no difficulty gobbling "The Truth" down along with half an order of fries.

John went against the grain and ordered two Zweigle's Hot Dogs dressed to the hilt with onions, kraut, relish, chili and cheddar cheese. He quickly inhaled the delicious dogs, but not before I got a bite or two. My friend Dani ordered a huge double cheeseburger with American and thick slices of bacon. Combined with her daughter Posie's "nekkid" burger, she was forced to leave with leftovers.

Since I am on the subject of confessions, I must also admit that I had been to Trū Burger before. Not too long ago, they started a special on hand dipped corn dogs and it was like I was hypnotized. I couldn't get corn dogs out of my brain. I mean honestly, when was the last time you ate a hand-dipped corn dog? And, as if you really needed me to tell you, those were fantastic, too!

By the way, the rain started pouring down not long after we squished ourselves back into the car, so I didn't feel that guilty on the long drive home.