Monday, September 12, 2011
Weekend in New Orleans
We left Friday morning and headed to our first stop, Bruce Cafe. Bruce Cafe is located at the intersection of State Hwy 20 and 81. The Cafe is a small house known by locals as a place for good home cooking. In the kitchen is an old lady cooking from scratch on a standard home range in cast iron cook ware. Nothing better. I always get the sweet potato pancakes. These pancakes are light, fluffy and sweetened with the taste of sweet potatoes. My bubble was burst when I asked for the recipe and the waitress told me I could get them on line. They are Bruce's sweet potato pancake mix from Louisiana. The Bruce family packages sweet potato products and are know for their quality. That being said, I will still stop at Bruce Cafe for its homey atmosphere and delicious food. The drive to New Orleans was easy having done that drive hundreds of times. Next stop Adams Catfish. I have traveled all over the south, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas (not the south) and Mississippi, and eaten fried catfish in all those states. I have even eaten catfish in Indianola, Mississippi the home of Delta Pride Catfish. No one, I mean, no one fries catfish to perfection like Adams Adams is located in Belle Chasse, Louisiana on the westbank across the bridge from New Orleans. My father in law had a Western Auto store there and I remember when Adams first opened. It is a small restaurant that does one thing and one thing well. It is the best catfish I have ever had. I went for the six piece fillet plate with fries and coleslaw. I left nothing on my plate. I really do miss this place as it was one of my families regular stops with the in laws. We met my sons, daughter in law, the grand babies, and some dear old friends. We had a great time seeing Woody and Karen. I was full of love and catfish. The next day off to the seafood fest.
The festival, located downtown at Lafayette Square, provides plenty of grassy area to throw a party, and party we did. The food represented by local restaurants, was plentiful and delicious. We shared, crawfish and spinach served in a bread boat, crab cake remolaude salad, Cajun egg rolls, meat pie, seafood pie, and a New Orleans snowball to cool us down. Also available was Drago's grilled oysters, softshell crab poboys, shrimp poboys, oyster poboys, seafood Penna pasta, and fried Alligator on a stick. You know, Alligator taste exactly like, Alligator. Music was provided by Amanda Shaw who is now about 18, but started when she was about 13 playing Cajun style fiddle. She really got the crowd dancing. Next was hometown artist Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers. Kermit is a trumpet player in the New Orleans style and vibe. He played several N.O. standards, as well as, adding his own N.O. style to other songs. It was a long day, but well worth the trip.
Last night we visited an old favorite Cafe DiBlasi in Gretna where we once lived. We have known Mario DiBlasi since we first got married 32 years ago. We stumbled one night into his restaurant and have been going back ever since. Simple Italian fare done well. It's the first place I ever tasted Braciolle and I get it every time I go. He also has the best fried eggplant ever. It was heart warming to see the restaurant busy. It's one of those neighborhood restaurants New Orleans is famous for. Lori got the seafood pasta, Josh had the veal DiBlasi, veal topped with a lemon cream sauce, and Andrew had the steak Marsala, a beautiful beef fillet topped with Marsala sauce. To me when you want comfort food, Italian works for me and Cafe DiBlasi is my go to place.
Sunday was a day of rest and time to spend with the girls. We went swimming in the pool and relaxed in the room, anxiously awaiting or reservations at Restaurant August, John Besh's flagship property. When we arrived my son Andrew knew the bartender. Once seated we were presented a bottle of Champagne. It's good to know Andrew in New Orleans. Our waiter was Richard and as he described to nights offerings you feel like he could make a Michelin sound delicious. We started with hot and cold appetizers. Of course we had the gnocchi with blue crab and truffles, we also had an heirloom beet salad with quail eggs, mizuna, and black eye pea croutons. We had the foie gras done three ways served on brioche toast points. One version was topped with a muscadine jelly, one wrapped in a sponge cake topped with a champagne gellee, and the last done terrine style with oxtail mouse. We also had the organic greens served with a pumpkin seed vinaigrette, with point Reyes blue cheese and pumpkin seed brittle. Last but not least we had the crispy pork belly, with kimche cucumbers and grilled plums. I could have walked out right then, but of course I didn't. Main courses included, Red fish Courtbullion with the sauce was poured from a tea kettle at the table, Duck with smokes bone marrow, Softshell crab meniere a brown butter and lemon sauce, Snapper crusted an olive bread crumbs in with a peprine sauce topped with an roasted eggplant marmalade, and I got the crispy pork tenderloin and pork shoulder, the latter served with a ravioli on topped filled with a pork sauce, so when you cut the ravioli the sauce showered down over the pork. Phenomenal. I told Lori that we should go to Cafe D'Monde for bengnets and coffee, when our waiter told us the Chef had a special treat for us. 5 plates of sorbet with shortbread. And if that wasn't enough gifts from the kitchen, Richard our waiter said the chef was sending out another treat. We all ordered coffee and shared a plate of chocolate genache cakes, blackberry pasties, a raspberry square in the style of a firm jello, and pralines. I guess I'll get the beignets some other time. What a meal. If you go to New Orleans, make August one of your stops. Oh yea, ask for Richard, he was awesome.
On my way out of town tomorrow I'm going to the Gourmet Butcher Block, he is the guy who made John Madden those six legged Turduckens, for some specialties. Also for lunch my beloved hot sausage po boy. This has been a great vacation. If you have never been to New Orleans, please go and enjoy what america's culinary city has to offer.