Creole tomatoes are in their green state these days, which is fine with me. For one thing, I know that the ripe red creoles are just weeks away; for another, I love fried green tomatoes. Love them.
The oil spill outlook has got us all worried these days. How will our fishing families adapt? How will the restaurant industry fare? It's still too soon to tell. But plenty of fresh, local seafood is still available right now, at the west bank wharf, in supermarkets, and at farmer's markets. Paul went last Saturday to the Crescent City Farmer's Market downtown and bought several pounds of gorgeous, perfect shrimp from Clara Gerica of Gerica Seafood. Her husband, Pete, shrimps in Lake Pontchartrain and sends his evening catch to market with Clara, who says their lake shrimping is unaffected at this point. So to celebrate that fact, and to celebrate shrimp in general, I concocted a tapas-style menu of two iconic recipes (barbecued shrimp; shrimp and grits (pictured at left)) and one newcomer (the shrimp taco).
I was talking to my friend Chana the other day about dining in New Orleans, and we have the same philosophy:
- If you charge $5 for something, it doesn't have to be fantastic. Kudos to you if it is fantastic.
- If you charge $40 or $50 for something, it better be awesome. It better not be something that I can taste and say, "You know, I think I could make this better."
We went to August the other day for a celebratory family lunch (see #2, above). I've only been to one other John Besh restaurant, Luke, but I've been there a few times and enjoyed it. The food at Luke is not fine dining, but it's quality. August is in a different league of dining experiences, along with places like Stella!, Herbsaint, and Bayona, where you arrive expecting a fantastically prepared meal and usually leave shaking your head in disbelief of how good it truly was (see #2, above, again).
The day we chose to go (to see Van Morrison) was a wet one, but we still got in some good eats. Plus some Juvenile and some awesome music in the gospel tent. Here are some photos of folks enjoying the food--including some damp, dedicated crawfish peelers.
I've only lived in the South for ten years; before that I lived in Oklahoma. Even though Oklahoma technically isn't the South, my grandmother, Willie Ruth Abbott (or Mee-Mo, as my cousin Kitty dubbed her), was a true Southern cook, making fresh sausage gravy and biscuits every morning, pouring cornbread batter into hot bacon grease in her cast-iron mold. What I learned about Southern food early on in life was all due to spending time in the kitchen with Mee-Mo, crimping the edges of her fried pies. When I was growing up, we'd travel every few years to family reunions held at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Durant, Oklahoma--a densely green and hilly area in the southeastern corner of the state. Long tables would be set up in the covered pavillion of the cemetery, loaded with every cook's most-requested dishes: fried chicken, dilly bread, peach cobbler, macaroni salad, angel biscuits, fried pies, baked beans, and several potato salads. Just writing this list makes my soul ache for those sweltering afternoons of paper plates weighted down with so much good food.
includes a welcomingly brief explanation of the author’s apprenticeship and tenure writing about the city’s most important industry, and quickly gets to the good stuff--the food. But Fitzmorris’s friendships (and rejections) behind the scenes provide backstory vital to understanding the intensity of the most formative years of New Orleans restaurantism--like when Paul Prudhomme’s blackened redfish hit the scene and so many cast-iron skillets nationwide--or when Prudhomme asked onetime pal Fitzmorris to stay out of his restaurant because of “controversial” discussions held on his radio talk-show--whether K-Paul’s should, in fact, offer diners more selection than their usual two wines.
Crawfish has two usages as a verb in Webster's: one is to catch crawfish, and another is to back out of something you've committed to. But I'm proposing a third definition: to crawfish is to celebrate the deliciousness of the little creatures by churning out as many recipes as you can in one weekend and stuffing yourself full of their glory. And with that definition in place, I can honestly say I have been doing a lot of crawfishing lately.
We're offering this list of eateries--plus a few bars, attractions, and oddities--for our guests and guests unknown to get ideas about where to spend their time and money. Only places we have visited and actually recommend are on the list. Of course, the list is ever-growing, as we continue to explore new spots every week.
If you'd like to suggest places that aren't here yet, feel free to leave a comment, and we'll add it to the list if we agree. Happy exploring...
Updated on January 24, 2013--Added to list: Domenica, Stanley, Willie Mae's Scotch House. Food Orleans' stories linked in brackets.
- Central Grocery (home of the muffaletta; mostly takeaway)
- Domenica (Rustic Italian cooking; beautifully sauced handmade pastas, pizzas, and the best octopus carpaccio in town; great cheese and salami boards)
- Coop's Place (best restaurant jambalaya, hands down)
- Stanley (right on Jackson Square; the best gumbo in the French Quarter; breakfast all day; interesting po-boys, especially the pizza/casesar salad combo) [my visit]
- Felix's (great oysters, turtle soup, sweet potato fries) [my visit]
- Antoine's (high-priced, long-established classic French; recommended if you can budget it)
- Port of Call (great big steak-like burgers, steaks, baked potatoes (no french fries here), big sweet drinks; there's usually a line out the door, but it's worth it; vegetarians beware)
- Galatoire's (legendary spot for Creole cuisine, festive dining rooms, excellent service, no reservations accepted. Take aunt Rudy's advice and get the green salad with garlic) [my visit]