Monthly Archives: November 2012

New Orleans Eats – Day 3. Little miss Ziggy and the bike

Coquette's Crab Salad“It’s like riding a bike” I told the wife when she voiced her concerns about our upcoming bike tour.  She hasn’t ridden a bike in over 20 years and we were off to a bit of a rocky and zigzagy start with Cassidy and the Confederacy of Bikers Creole tour.  The motorists stuck behind her were very polite and understanding as the common notion was that this was just another history of drinking tour.  But it wasn’t.  No drinking involved, at least not until we reached Marie’s Bar and her amazing Bloody Mary (with that pickled okra there it is again – yum).  But little miss Ziggy pulled through!  Very proud of her. But the day will forever be remembered for the meals.  We are fortunate enough to be able to travel and eat all over the world and this was perhaps the yummiest eating day we’ve had in this country and perhaps any country this side of Italy.  We begin with an institution…

BeignetsCafe Du Monde – Calling this coffee shop a coffee shop just feels wrong.  Established in 1862, this legend has been dishing out Beignets and cafe au leits 7 days a week, 24 hours a day – closing only on Christmas and hurricanes.  You feel you are in one of those iconic institutions as soon you enter. And the Beignets are nothing to sneeze at, really.  A bad idea to sneeze on them and even a slight cough can trigger a sugary mess all over your family/friends.  And they taste pretty awesome.  Hot off the oven, airy, sweet goodness.  I will not normally go out of my way for good donuts but this was pretty darn good.  And the Coffee not too bad either.

Cafe Du Monde

Coquette's Duck ConfitCoquette – Another memorable meal.  During all our travels we noticed one thing that many of the great dining establishments got in common: Great bread.  This Ciabatta straight out of their oven was a Wowsar! (foodie technical term, besides I’m running out of adjectives).  Loved the goat cheese and greens salad with these crazy delicious sweet pecans – couldnt get enough of them. Loving the pecans here. Lovely Louisiana crabmeat with remoulade, potato and quale egg was another stunner.

The shrimp and grits as good as they were are probably at the bottom of the food chain as far as all the other shrimp dishes we had this week.  The winning entrée was perhaps the duck confit.  The Brussels sprouts that came along made us order more brussels sprouts.  My SIL was having a “I’ll have what she’s having” moment with her veal tacos. Desserts were some uneventful chocolate munchkins but overall another superb meal.

CoquetteCoquette

Herbsaint's PastaHerbsaint – If I have to give you just one must from this trip, it’s probably dinner at Herbsaint.  What a meal! The one dish I was so looking forward to try on this trip was the homemade spaghetti with Guanciale and fried poached egg. You break the egg, mix it up with the pasta and the result is pure ecstasy with every morsel.  And the salty Guanciale takes this dish to another dimension.  A beef short rib with potatoes and salsa verde did not disappoint.  The green salsa especially was such a nice complement.  The Hummus Whisperer had one of veggie moments where he orders nothing but veggies and really enjoyed the Grilled mushroom special. For main we shared a great pork cassoulet. Heavy and full of flavors.  But the star of the mains to me was clearly the lamb neck.  I had a great lamb neck in Tel Aviv a few months ago and Herbsaint’s version beats it without question. Crunchy crust with super tender inside with these delicate savory noodles and a tomato confit.  So so good.  Also had a side of fries. Someone posted somewhere these were the best fries in town – that person must have not tried Boucherie’s.  These were a little too salty for me and I love too salty.  The bacon braised faro with beans side was more like it.  Fantastic side! The desserts here were mixed.  Their coveted banana butter tart that I heard so much about was even too sweet for my too sweet tooth.  The duck egg creme brûlée was the creme de la creme of the creme brûlées. Overall, a truly spectacular meal to cap a truly spectacular eating day in New Orleans.  Now I get it!

Herbsaint's Lamb NeckHerbsaint's Cassoulet

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Categories: New Orleans | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

New Orleans Eats Day 2 – Men in black sitting on cane stools

Commander's PalaceSounds mucho isnt it.  10 nicely dressed adults sitting outside on the tiniest stools one can imagine (the ones that turn into walking sticks or weapons), listening to a lecture on the history of New Orleans for 57.5 minutes.  In NYC this would require police or at the very least occupy wall street members protection.  This was us in the lavish Garden District, half a mile away from homes of papa bear Payton, Sandra Bullock, other celebrities, and 10 miles away from Nicholas Cage’s future grave.

We were touring with Tree of RaconTours who not only knows his history but also knows his trees.   Tree also got the Sweet Deal.  The Deal that no other Garden District guide got.  A deal with a legend called Commander’s Palace where Tree started is NOLA career as a waiter.

Commander’s Palace –  This is an institution.  One of the oldest and most famous restaurants in America and the birthplace to legends like Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse.  We got a private room with a balcony overlooking the famous Lafayette cemetery.

Commander's PalaceThis was one of those lunches that was one of the least memorable flavor wise (more of a testament to the other places) but the most memorable overall.   The only oohs and aahs came from the fabulous turtle soup although it was fairly small (large coffee cup size). It was nice and thick and very rich in flavor  (27 ingredients packed in this one). Commander's Palace - Shrimp and TassoAnother app of shrimp and tasso was good. Loved especially the pickled okra side.
The shrimp and grits were good but not as savory as the wonderful shrimp dishes from the night before. I enjoyed the Cajun Cochon de lait  a bit more. Tender, savory pulled pork, boudin, corn and other goodies on a homemade tortilla. Took a bite of the brisket, not as good as boucherie’s.  The famous bread pudding soufflé was good but again falls behind the others. I actually enjoyed the pecan pie more at CP.  The unlimited 25 cent martinis on the other hand makes everything taste better.

Overall a very enjoyable, fun and exceptionally memorable meal  However do it in style!  Do it with Tree!

Commander's Palace Pecan PieCommander's Palace - Cochon de lait

 

SoBou – What a fantastic meal! Great drinks, beautiful decor, nice vibe, and one of the more enthusiastic waitresses I’ve ever seen. Or maybe she was high.  Not sure don’t care.SoBou - Pork Belly
As for the food, loved the cajun queso – pork cracklings with the sickest cheese fondue ever. The girls really enjoyed the butternut squash with honey soup. Very sweet but savory. The tuna ice cream cones were just ok for me.  Yes its original, unique, cool, but that does not always translate to full of flavor.
Excellent alligator sausages and more of those awesome pickled okra we enjoyed throughout the trip. Need to start looking for that at home. The star perhaps was the pork belly with another fantastic boudin.  We were split on the Duck debris and butternut beignets.  The girls like them, the boys didnt care for them.
SoBou - Alligator SausagesOk here’s the thing with the cherry jubilee bread pudding. Great overall and perhaps the best one we tasted so far but not enough cherries in something thats called cherry jubilee. We (in a fun nice way) mentioned it to the waitress and she said we were not the only ones to mention it and that they were probably running out of cherries. The dark and stormy banana rum cake ordered by the Hummus Whisperer who was still raving about the dark and stormy at boucherie was enjoyable as well.
Loved the menu, loved the meal.  Highly recommend SoBou

SoBouSoBou

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New Orleans Eats – Day 1. The legend of the Schweddy Balls

Day 1 started with a bang and a possible a hygiene complaint.  You be the judge…

Drago's Chargrilled Oysters

Drago's Chargrilled Oysters

Drago’s Chargrilled Oysters – Really enjoyed our first snack in New Orleans.  These were meaty, cheesy, citrusy, garlicky goodness.  Various blog chatter hinted on some inconsistancies here especially compared to Drago’s original location and if that’s the case, color us lucky.  With that said, this Hilton location is a big operation where the oysters are constantly being cooked regardless of the ordering.  Our order of a dozen of these babies arrived at our table within a minute after the order took place  Nice start!

Mr B’s Bistro – I already mentioned Mr B’s in the opening remarks.  The fact that we visited this place twice and had the BBQ Shrimp twice and that upon ordering the dish the waiter puts on a bib on you speaks volumes.  It was like eating butter.  Well, 3 sticks to be exact in every dish.  But there was also a fair amount of fiery pepper in that sauce.  Add plenty of huge juicy plump gulf shrimp and you got a spectacular dish.  Bravo!

Mr B's BBQ Shrimp

Mr B's GumboGood gumbo ya ya as well but think I was expecting a bit more on my first gumbo in NO (I’ve had many gumbos before). Very nice bread pudding with whiskey sauce – first out of many BP’s on this trip for this Bread Pudding deprived poor blogger.  😥

Boucherie – An excellent meal from start to finish.  One of many uptown establishments located inside a house.  Nice and cosy.  A nice Pimms and something called Dark and Stormy that the Hummus Whisperer absolutely adored was a promising start.  The meal started with a very nice smoked shrimp and fish beignets with tartar sauce and leek frites. Blackened shrimp and grits were beautifully seasoned and very tasty.

Boucherie Shrimp and GritsBut the star was the boudins. You could smell it immediately when it arrived.  The smell reminded me of Shawarma seasoning.  I was sitting next to the bar and a blonde at the bar who was a little tipsy turned around and said “mmm I can smell your balls from here”.  For the record I did not take a shower that day(yet) but I did not hear any complaints from my travel companions.  I suspect however that they did not shower either because none of us spent much time in the hotel yet.  But anyway, big flavors in those boudins.  One of the top eats of the trip.

Boucherie Boudins

Boucherie BrisketThe brisket was another winner.  Tender and juicy melt in your mouth goodness.  The garlicky Parmesan fries that came with it were spectacular and the table vinegar took them to another dimension.  Also enjoyed the nicely seasoned dry rubbed ribs and the sides of crispy fried shallots.  Loved the sides here.
The Krispy Kreme bread pudding here was as good as advertised. Perhaps better than Mr B’s.  They also had an apple cobbler that we all enjoyed and a side of some amazing homemade butter pecan ice cream.  Great first dinner!

Boucherie Bread Pudding

Boucherie Cobbler

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New Orleans – 5 days of Culinary Bliss

Mr B's BBQ Shrimp

Paris, New York, Tel Aviv, Lisbon, Venice, Staten Island are just some of the food Meccas where we’ve enjoyed some amazing cuisine.  Adding New Orleans to the top of the list.  Ok ok maybe not Staten Island but we getting there.

The picture above says it all.  Thats BBQ Shrimp at Mr B’s, aka 3 sticks of butter plus spices galore.  I can still smell the aromas coming out of the dish.  Partly because I’m currently wearing the shirt I wore while eating it and spattering  sauce all over it.  Also its the first dish my wife and I ate twice while on vacation.

Accompanying us during this trip was renowned food blogger Hummus whisperer, and renowned critic Hummus Whisperer’s wife.  She’s not a food critic, just a critic.

Wherever we go we normally have our share of average and less than average meals.  Not so much on this trip.  Is it because I’ve spent countless hours browsing various food blogs like Chowhound to come up with what was later described as the “heart attack I can die now itinerary from hell”?  Possibly.  I did in fact research more than usual on this trip because unlike other trips, food had more of a purpose here.  The purpose was to enjoy some of the best New Orleans has to offer and the result was, as can only be described by Borat… GREAT SUCCESS!!

This post is the first of a series of posts about New Orleans food, New Orleans cemeteries, and what to eat after visiting New Orleans cemeteries.  Enjoy!

Categories: New Orleans | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hey reader, want to help Staten Island? Here’s how

We spend our entire lives witnessing and discussing various disasters, natural or not, occurring all over the world.   Its then somewhat surreal when one of those hits your back yard.

Its our turn to ask for help and here’s how you can…

Simply show up.   Grab some supplies (masks, gloves) and perhaps even some pizza and simply show up anywhere in the affected areas like South Beach, Ocean Breeze, Midland Beach, Oakwood Beach, New Dorp Beach and Oakwood Beach.

Some of the neighborhoods like Ocean Breeze have set up a facebook page where you can get more details and meetup times.  https://www.facebook.com/AngelsRelief

You can also follow “Occupy Sandy” on facebook and on http://interoccupy.net/occupysandy/. They give you some fairly specific needs at any given time.

If you want to send money that would go to Staten Island directly you can do so with the Sillar Foundation, www.tunneltotowers.org. Click on Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, then check the box for “Staten Island“. If mailing a check put “Staten Island” on it.

You can also stop by at the Sillar Foundation headquarters at 2361 Hylan and drop supplies there. They are right in the middle of things arranging BBQ’s and helping out in a big way.

Other ways to help…

*The Red Cross is accepting donations of large packages of bottled water at their temporary kitchen, 2900 Veterans Rd. (Home Depot parking lot). 

*Large donations (truckloads, shipping containers) can be sent to a 60,000-square-foot warehouse at New York Container Terminal at 300 Western Ave. near the entrance to the Goethals Bridge – secured by Molinaro and Rep. Michael Grimm — that is storing supplies for distribution to hurricane victims. Please call, (718) 816-2000 to coordinate delivery. Only large-scale donations will be accepted at this location.

*Volunteers are needed to drive, sort items and unload vehicles. They should report to Midland Beach (981 Father Capodanno Blvd).

*Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who organized a cleanup of Midland, New Dorp, Oakwood and Cedar Grove beaches over the weekend, is continuing her efforts. Volunteers should bring what tools they can — rakes, shovels, push brooms and work gloves to help remove debris and help clean out homes damaged by the storm. In addition, manpower is needed to move donated items to the New York Container Terminal, said Ms. Malliotakis. “We are looking for trucking companies with trucks, U-Hauls or vans to transport goods to the container port,” she said.

*Project Hospitality is seeking volunteers and donations. People can register as volunteers, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Project Hospitality, 100 Park Ave., Port Richmond, to help receive donations and restock the organization’s storm-damaged warehouse. The organization is also taking donations of new socks, toiletries, canned food, heavy duty garbage bags, C and D batteries, underwear, sweatpants, sweatshirts, towels and blankets.

*Movement Church, based in Castleton Corners, is looking for volunteers to clean out destroyed homes, as well as donations of children’s clothing, socks, underwear, diapers and baby food. Clean-ups are taking place each day between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Volunteers can report to Hett Avenue and Marine Way. For more information call, 718-812-9894 or 718-216-9416.

*Donations of cash, goods, services, or to volunteer, can be made at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycservice/home.html.

*St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Bulls Head is accepting clothing, cleaning items and personal necessities.

*Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts will be collecting food from shoppers to help restock Project Hospitality’s pantry Saturday between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at Pathmark at 2875 Richmond Ave. in New Springville, Key Food at 450 Forest Ave. in West Brighton, Shop Rite at 2424 Hylan Blvd. in New Dorp, Stop & Shop at 2754 Hylan Blvd. in New Dorp, Pathmark at 3501 Amboy Rd. in Prince’s Bay and Key Food at 778 Manor Road in Westerleigh.

*Young Israel is collecting donations of cleaning supplies, such as garbage bags, gloves, bleach and mops that can be left in the lobby of 835 Forest Hill Rd. in Willowbrook.

*Those interested in volunteering with the Red Cross can call 1-877-RED CROSS or consult http://www.nyredcross.org. To make a monetary donation, text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to automatically give a $10 donation.

*The Mayor’s Fund to Advance the City of New York, which has a Hurricane Relief Fund, is accepting donations at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/fund/html/donate/donate.shtml.

*United Way Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund is accepting monetary donations, which can be made online at http://www.uwsandyrecovery.org. A $10 donation can be made by texting the word RECOVERY to 52000.

*New Dorp Moravian Church needs baby clothing, baby food and formula, blankets, towels, sheets, pillow cases and pillows. The church will be serving food on Saturday. Donations are being accepted at the Diforte Agency at 1194 Hylan Blvd. between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Wednesday to Friday.

*Silver Lake Masonic Lodge in Port Richmond and Silver Queen Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star joined together to provide non-perishable food, water, clothing and other necessities. They need donations of cleaning supplies. For more information, call 347-416-3288 or tmartin@rwdsu.org.

Categories: New York City, Staten Island | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

This is where I live

Some of us blog about various subjects like travel, food, and blogging, while at the same time follow other bloggers of similar subjects.  But how much do we know about our fellow bloggers?  Do we know for example where they live?  Well I for one, live in Staten Island, NY.

My previous post was 2 days after the worst natural disaster hit NYC.  I don’t think our mayor understood the severity of the damage the storm caused at that time.  Neither did I.  While doing some volunteer work for Mt Loretto church, daily trips to different parts of the worst affected areas have left me in a state of disbelief.
The island is divided.  One part looks fairly normal except for some ridiculously abnormal lines for gas that last anywhere between 3 to 20 hours, and some large trees down causing some havoc.  The other part is post war Iraq…
Categories: New York City | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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