Thursday, March 28, 2013

Instant gratification

It really shouldn't surprise you to know that for Valentine's Day a few weeks ago, John and I had lunch at Patois. It should be equally evident that the food was incredible, considering several rave reviews I have posted in the past. Since no fanfare is really needed, I'll just show you a few of the dishes we had for lunch and then YOU can decide.

We shared two delicious appetizers, but John's choice was ultimately the star, a Mississippi Rabbit Terrine with kumquat compote, pistachios, whole grain mustard and toasted baguette slices.

John got the burger, but I tried this deliciously messy Short Rib Sandwich with giardiniera and Provolone on toasted ciabatta.

We finished off the meal with this "made-just-for-two" chocolate, chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream that I could have easily finished off myself.

Where are you going? Making a reservation for tonight? I thought so...

Patois on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 21, 2013

House of the week: Creole cottage on Marais Street

"If I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars
Well, I’d buy you a house
I would buy you a house"
     -Barenaked Ladies

When I do things like prepare my taxes or pay yet another doctor bill, I tend to avoid torturing myself by "window" shopping for things I can't buy...hence the lack of house posts. But, today I had just a bit more time on my hands and what do I do? I start by looking at really expensive and beautiful clothes and then couches (I haven't had a couch in over a year, longer if you don't count futons) and then inevitably my interest drifts to homes.

"If I had a million dollars" I would buy myself a house and it's extremely likely that it would look something like this gorgeous Creole cottage double on Marais Street. Originally built in 1900, this six bedroom, four bathroom multi-family house has been stunningly renovated into almost 3000 square feet of absolute fabulousness. It features original, wide-plank hardwood floors, exposed brick fireplaces, transoms, plantation shutters, floor-to-ceiling windows, French doors, wood-beamed ceilings, a bricked courtyard and a guesthouse.

It's basically three units, but I would love for it to be mine all mine. A place where I could invite friends and family to stay with me, yet they would have their own privacy...and their own entrances just in case they decided to enjoy a late night in the Quarter or on Frenchmen Street only a few blocks away. This incredible house is listed at a mere $436,000. What would you do if you had a million dollars?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Caffeine clip: Making the switch...

When the weather gets warmer and the sun makes more frequent appearances in the sky overhead, one of things I look forward to is making the switch...

...from hot coffee to cold.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Liuzza's...the other one!

No, I'm not talking about Liuzza's Restaurant & Bar. I'm talking about Liuzza's by the Track. "What's the difference?" Well, one is located on North Lopez Street, just a jump off of Esplanade and less that two blocks from Fairgrounds Race Course & Slots, while the other is on Bienveille, not far from North Carrollton Avenue. One focuses much more on "Creole-Italian" cuisine while the other is more concerned with making the perfect po-boy. I don't know the history of why there are two restaurants in Mid City that both bear the same name, but I do know that they are owned by two totally different people and that the restaurants are no longer related to one another in any way (if, in fact, they ever were). In a city where a street can be spelled Zimpel when it's headed towards the river and Zimple heading towards the lake, it's sometimes easier to avoid all the questions and just go with it. So we did...

A few weeks back, we (John, Posie and I) hopped in my friend Dani's van and cruised over to Liuzza's by the Track for lunch. It's a little difficult to get to considering the strange angle of streets around the Fairgrounds and Bayou St. John, but like my dad always told me, "three rights always make a left." A valuable lesson to learn if you are navigating the streets of San Francisco or New Orleans.

We moseyed into the small, neighborhood restaurant and fortunately, there was one table left to hold us all. Actually, there were two smaller tables that the friendly waitresses pushed together to accommodate our party, all with bright, genuine smiles and enthusiasm. While I looked over the menu, I couldn't help gawking at the plates that were coming out and it was difficult for me to decide what to order, but I finally settled on something and tried to wait patiently amidst the other diners gobbling away.

Right as my stomach began to audibly growl, the bowl of gumbo I ordered arrived with a basket of French bread and butter. The gumbo was rich, thick and dark with big chunks of chicken and sliced smoked sausage with almost every bite. It was so good, that I think it is fighting for first place as the best gumbo I've ever tasted. I had no difficulty (and a lot of help), slurping down the whole bowl and using the bread to wipe up the leftovers.

For our entrees, we all ordered sandwiches. John chose a Reuben that featured sliced rye piled high with corned beef, provolone and sauerkraut. Dani selected the house special, their BBQ Shrimp Po-Boy that was a "stuffed" version with butter-sauteed shrimp literally pouring out of a hollowed pistolette. It was greasy and fabulous with the peppery, buttery flavor oozing into the French bread and coating all of the shrimp. Posie had a grilled cheese and everyone shared a large plate of hand-cut French fries. I had been craving one for sometime, so I chose a fried shrimp po-boy that was fully (and most excellently) dressed. I dig a lot of mayo on my fried shrimp po-boys and Liuzza's definitely delivered.

Although I was only able to devour half of my sandwich, I saved the rest for dinner and wouldn't let my company escape without ordering dessert. Everyone moaned and groaned, saying they were too full (everyone except Posie), but I went ahead and ordered a slice of Double Chocolate Cake and the forks were flying. Posie especially dug the rich, chocolaty cake and was wholly willing to lick the plate clean. Lunch again at Liuzza's? I'm in!

Liuzza's By the Track on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

And the elephant asked me too...

A few weeks back, several members of John's family came down from Pontchatoula and we all went to the Audubon Zoo. Believe it or not, I have lived here almost 10 years and have never been to the zoo. I vaguely remember going to the San Francisco Zoo when I was a little girl and all I can recall is chasing my twin brothers around who were endlessly fascinated by the huge flocks of pigeons that they could startle into the sky with their high pitched screams and upraised arms. Oh and the giraffe. How can one forget a giraffe?

At any rate, it had been a long time, but with John's 4-year-old niece Ava in tow, I began to remember how fun it could be. Like an outdoor museum with a display of nature's art and a chance to meet face-to-face with wild animals from distant places only seen in movies or books...or nowadays iPads. There's also opportunities to touch and interact, not only with tamed or safe animals, but with other people...other kids and learn more about the wide-wide world around us.

We looped around through the Asian Domain in time to catch the elephants and touch one, watch the lazy lions and tigers sleeping in the sun, wander through the children's museum and make a pit stop at the playground. It was interesting to me because out of everything we saw and did, from the white alligator and bright zebras to petting a snake and brushing a sheep, the most fascinating attraction that absorbed a largish chunk of our day was Monkey Hill.

Coming from the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm always amused when I hear the alleged story about how this hill was originally constructed back in the 30's to show the children of Louisiana what a hill really looked like. Where I grew up, there was nothing but hills and they often recall bad memories like trudging up steep inclines when walking home from school in the sun or how treacherous it was to park in the city without a good e-brake. When I saw these kids running up the hill, the look of accomplishment as they reached the top and the sheer delight they took in rolling back down, recalled some of the better hill racing down Sugarloaf Drive on my 10-speed.

The only bummers of the day were seeing the apes and the jaguar. The apes, specifically the gorillas, seemed so bored, unhappy and people were jeering at them from their places of relative safety on the other side of the moat. It made me angry and I started to hush them. Me! Publicly reprimanding strangers I mistakenly assumed were adults. Don't they know how intelligent apes and gorillas are? Don't they care that they might be hurting their feelings? I couldn't understand the lack of respect and made me sick to my stomach.

Another fellow that was hard to see caged was the ferocious jaguar. You could tell that he was NOT a happy camper as he paced in front of the fence, expecting a younger cat make way every time he changed his route around the enclosure. It saddened me because with all that angst, you could tell that he really didn't belong there and he'd likely prefer to die in the wild than live a life being fed like a kitten and trapped by someone else's boundaries.

On a brighter note, the whole day proved to be a lot more fun than I had hoped. I really enjoyed spending time with John's mom Glenda and sister Ashley, who we don't get to see often due to lack of a car. We even finished off the day with a tasty meal at Liuzza's Restaurant & Bar. Maybe when they come back next time we'll go to the Aquarium or the Insectarium. I think I might finally be brave enough to eat a bug...

*In case you didn't know, my title is from the lyrics for The Meter's song "They All Ask'd for You"

Friday, March 1, 2013

La Fin du Monde sans Zaphod

“Good evening,” it lowed and sat back heavily on its haunches, “I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in parts of my body?”
                            -Douglas Adams

We've already established that I am a complete dork, so it should come as no surprise to you that when I first heard the name "La Fin du Monde" (which means "the end of the world"), I couldn't help thinking about Douglas Adams' hilarious book The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

The new restaurant on Magazine Street, however, did not offer a constant replay of the end of everything outside the windows, nor did it contain one Zaphod Beeblebrox, but it did offer a pretty tasty meal for my friend Lorin and I.

A few weeks ago, we decided to meet up for lunch at La Fin du Monde, located in the spot formerly housed by Cafe Rani, and were a bit surprised to be presented by a "lunch" menu that offered "brunch" items. We rolled with it, placed our order and discussed the rather sparse atmosphere. I sure hope they add just a bit more color since our visit, as it seemed rather drab.

Like most restaurants seem to be doing these days, La Fin du Monde offers its own house-made charcuterie, so we thought we'd give it a try. We ordered a large plate full of soppressata, prosciutto and salami with some cornichon, crostini and whole grain mustard. We enjoyed it all, but my favorite was the large, spicy wheels of salami.

For her entree, Lorin chose their "daily" quiche, which was cheddar, bacon and spinach. I got to try a bite and found it to have a delightful, buttery crust with a creamy, eggy interior full of thick-sliced bacon and fresh leaves of spinach.

I chose the BLT with their thick-cut, house-smoked bacon, Boston lettuce, fresh slices of tomato, aioli and agrodulce (a.k.a. a traditional Italian sweet & sour sauce often made with vinegar and sugar). I also chose to add some extra cholesterol with a freshly poached egg that oozed magnificently over the other ingredients when I cut the sandwich in half. I gobbled it up with alacrity before the egg could get too cold, but I did manage share a bite with Lorin.

They didn't offer any dessert, so we opted for some coffee, which luckily was sourced from French Truck. Lorin downed a quick shot of espresso while I opted for a cappuccino. While everything was well-prepared, I found that the portions were kind of small for the price. It might be worth it if I spot Marvin the Paranoid Android the next time I visit...

La Fin Du Monde on Urbanspoon