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love and pasta at domenica

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By Jen White · January 24, 2013 · 0 Comments ·
passing the plates at Domenica

I have a serious, life-long, nearly debilitating crush on handmade pasta.  I love its freshness, its tender bite, and the way just a little sauce elevates it into the highest form of art.  When I see it on a menu, at places like La Petite Grocery or August, I'm done. Take the menu away, just bring me the pasta, please. Pronto. So Domenica, whose menu features handmade pasta at every turn, among other authentically prepared Italian delights, naturally holds a place very dear to my heart--my almost Italian, highly dramatic, pasta-loving heart.

Left: octopus carpaccio. Right: tagliatelle with rabbit and porcini

I met the chef of Domenica, Alon Shaya, last year at the Tabasco event I attended on Avery Island, where he proceeded to make fusilli by hand, torture shrimp into a beautiful stock, and generally wow us all with his homemade cured meats and warm olives.  He's a master at his craft, and the restaurant reflects his easy-yet-professional style.  Vegetarians and vegans have nothing to fear here: just tell them, and they'll please most eagerly.

roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta

with your cheese and/or salumi board, you get these savory "beignets", little puffs of crackly, buttery bread

At Avery Island, Shaya prepared a 5-course tasting menu featuring different Tabasco sauces. The meat course was a slow-roasted porchetta, but for the vegetarians, he offered a whole roasted cauliflower.  You can order this at Domenica, along with the most fantastic whipped feta cheese as a sauce.  Hint: try this whipped feta on everything you possibly can.  It never fails!

whole roasted cauliflower with its accompaniment of whipped feta (looks like hummus, but is so not hummus)

This is a great place to bring a bunch of friends and order many small plates so everyone can have a taste of the good life. Be warned that it will be a little on the noisy side, so save your important discussions for another time and place. Also, though they have a wine list, you can bring your own bottles with NO corkage fee.  True!  Plus, they're making some smashingly good king cakes these days.  Check out their happy hour, 3:00-6:00 daily, and be on the lookout for their Seder Menu, which promises to be special.

a 100-year-old lady, a goat at the party, and a baby in the band

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By Jen White · February 28, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

Last weekend was a big, fun, family-filled time for us...we had a birthday party for my great-aunt Rudy, who turned 100 on February 15, in Slidell. Several relatives (and friends) drove down from Oklahoma to go to the party and hang out with us in the French Quarter. I forget how much I love the French Quarter until I'm there, and then I just want to keep going back. Without further ado, here's the 100-year-old lady:

If she looks awesome, it's because she is. She made a short speech at the party, which she closed by saying, "I don't lean on anyone. You lean on me."  I love it that she got a personalized boa and parasol. I wanted to stand up right then and start a second line, and I think it might've happened, if this gal hadn't crashed the party:

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a little progression: Felix's to Stanley

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By Jen White · February 27, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

A few months ago, I wrote about my grandmother and her sisters taking their husbands along on progressive dinners in the French Quarter when they were all in town together, and Paul and I haven't stopped thinking about making our own progressive dinner routes ever since. It's fun, it's easy due to the high number of eateries in the Quarter, and it gives you a little something extra to do while you're down there. Because once you get to the French Quarter, you might want to have a plan. Maybe some of the time you'd like to ramble and follow your nose to the next fun thing, but sometimes you'll want to not make many decisions, and you'll want to know that a particular place is open and particularly worth it.  Yesterday, we devised a short progressive lunch for a drizzly Sunday afternoon: Felix's for oysters of any variety, then Stanley for gumbo (or a po-boy or even breakfast, but definitely the gumbo).

Felix's is our favorite French Quarter spot for raw oysters for nostalgic reasons, but also because they always taste good there. Also, Felix's is not a pretentious place; it's not trying to look cute or slick or full of Cajun artifacts. It's just a good place to eat.  I'd eat oysters there any old day.

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rudy at galatoire's: a meditation on salad

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By Jen White · September 14, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

This gorgeous woman is my great-aunt Valentina Wilkinson Sanford Duckworth--or as we like to call her, Aunt Rudy.  She's 99 and a half, and has spent most of her life in New Orleans.  She's pictured here with her boyfriend Joe Minacapelli of Slidell.  My grandmother, Frances, was Rudy's youngest sister; they had another sister, Florence, who passed away a number of years ago. Rudy is the oldest and the last surviving, and she recently moved back to the New Orleans area after a long stint in Cleveland, Oklahoma, where she moved to open a needlework business with Frances.

The needlework business was sort of a "retirement project" for the sisters, and they did well with it for about 10 years, but I don't mean to imply that once Rudy left New Orleans for a small town in Oklahoma, her life somehow quieted down. In fact, once she joined up with Frances, Rudy started to travel the world. My grandmother had taught foreign languages in high school, and had become the kind of French teacher who took a group of seniors to Europe each summer. She'd caught an insatiable travel bug, and when the needlework store started taking off, she and Rudy booked passage to Europe, Scandinavia, the U.S.S.R. (it still was, then), China, Australia, Israel, and places in between, with the dual itineraries of heavy-duty sightseeing and textile purchasing.  But let me not forget eating--they loved to try the local specialties, no matter how unusual. So when Rudy talks about restaurants, she's speaking with a wealth of experience, from cooking during the Depression to 13-course meals in Moscow--but you can tell that her favorite memories are from times she had in the grand restaurants of New Orleans.

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heavenly feasts in a holy city

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By Jen White · June 21, 2010 · 0 Comments ·

I've had dozens of cherishable moments living in New Orleans.  They happen all the time...how can they not in a place where a parade or a song can spring up at any time, for any reason at all?  This summer is a precious and tense time, because we're losing animals, coastline, food, and traditions.  We're celebrating everything and keeping one eye on the weather channel.

The past few weeks have been filled with marvels for me.  Truly, it's way too hot to do anything outside or even go anywhere, but we keep doing and going, and we keep getting rewarded for it.  For instance, the New Orleans Oyster Festival, which was held June 5-6 in the French Quarter.  We went on Sunday afternoon, after the rain cooled the air down.  And it was actually pleasant--so pleasant that we decided to find something fun to do in the Quarter after the festival shut down at 6:00 p.m.  More on that in a minute.  First, the food:

Turtle soup from the Court of Two Sisters.  Turtle soup is delicious.  I know it sounds bizarre to some folks, but trust me--it tastes like really really rich chili.

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my green heaven

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By Jen White · May 16, 2010 · 0 Comments ·

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 use of green tomatoes on a BLT has been a bit of a lunch trend in the city--La Petite Grocery offered a BLT with green tomato jam last spring, for instance, which was outstanding.  The tarter, "greener" flavor of a green tomato plays well with smoky bacon, and just feels like spring, to me.  At last week's Saturday market, Paul found baby green creole tomatoes, about the size of limes.  They were so cute, and their slices so perfectly round, that they just seemed to be crying out for the starring role in a BLT.  So that's what we had--cocktail-sized fried-green-tomato BLTs.  Hooray!

where y'everything: a list of places to eat and more in new orleans

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By Jen White · April 1, 2010 · 0 Comments ·

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.

French Quarter
Eats
  • 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]

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hot child in the city

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By Jen White · July 2, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

Believe me when I tell you that a couple of weeks ago, when I was dead-set on filling out a nice, long post with photos of the Creole Tomato/Louisiana Seafood/Cajun-Zydeco festival throwdown, I had no idea that it would be so hot down in the French Quarter.

It was too hot to take photos. Seriously, the camera kept slipping out of my hands.

I managed a few, though:

I love these little guys. I ate them.


Cajun fish taco. I asked for a small portion of slaw so I could really taste the fish. It's a lightly fried tilapia filet, dusted with just a bit of Cajun seasoning (like a mixture of cayenne, garlic powder, thyme, salt, pepper). Really nice and simple-tasting, a good thing to eat in the heat.


Shrimp-and-crab-stuffed Creole tomato. This was the perfect dish to "marry" the two food festivals together. Creole tomatoes are the jewels of the summer season here in Louisiana--people talk about them all year, either how much they miss them or how much they love them. They don't really look different from regular tomatoes, to me, but the taste is something special. Denser, sunnier, redder. I devoured every last seed of this tomato.

We had some other yummies--crawfish sausage, hurricane sno balls--but they didn't make it to the photo stage. If you can stand the heat, this festival trio, known as the "Vieux To Do," is really something. Tons of food, great vendors, fun music. This year it was held the weekend of June 13-14, so I'd assume next year it will be sometime close to that.

virgin no longer: a seafood love story

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By Jen White · October 10, 2008 · 0 Comments ·


I'm an Oklahoma girl, born and raised, so it should be understandable that I never had much occasion to sample raw oysters. There is a popular oyster bar, P&J Oyster Co., in Tulsa's Brookside (near my stomping grounds), which my dad visited occasionally, but when the family went, I only ordered fried shrimp. I should admit here that I was fifteen or sixteen before I could even abide the texture of shrimp.

But after a few years of eating shrimp, I palated scallops, then lobster, then clam strips. Then I tasted my first fried clams "with bellies"--the whole animal--at Cape Cod. After those, I was hooked on all the secret, dark wonders of the fruits of the sea.

I became a sort of sushi wunderkind. I craved mussels, relished snails, and devoured squid. And now, I can slosh oysters down with all of you. Order up.
My de-flowering experience took place at Felix's Oyster Bar in the French Quarter--romantically, also the place where my Paul had his first raw oysters (though he was ten years old--what a pro!). The oysters were so juicy, cold, and fresh; they tasted like the sun-drenched air above the seawater. That's the best way I can think of to describe it.

I'm still quite a fan of all the different cooked-oyster treats I get to sample here in New Orleans. At Felix's, I had my first serving of Oysters Rockefeller, with their casserole-like spinach topping, and Oysters Bienville (left side of plate), which has a rich, custardy sauce. Serious yummers. (Check out John Folse's Bienville recipe here: http://www.jfolse.com/recipes/seafood/oyster06.htm)
What also happened: turtle soup. Gosh.
Note: I'd like to ladle on some advice to all you raw oyster-eaters trying to convince non raw oyster-eaters to try them. Don't say anything about texture. If you can eat steak, you can eat an oyster. I was shy for way too long due to texture comments. That's all.



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