Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fleurdelicious Has Moved!

Hello dear friends and followers of Fleurdelicious! I wanted to let y'all know that I have purchased my own domain, so please check out my new and improved website: www.fleurdelicious-nola.com

I am still learning a lot about using the website, so bear with me while I work on making it pretty and user-friendly.

As always, thanks for being a part of my life through my culinary adventures! Your support means the world to me :)


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Mayo

If you're like me, you believe Cinco de Mayo is a holiday worth celebrating, but not always on May 5th. The inevitable long restaurant waits and crowded bars are a huge deterrent in my willingness to go out and join the party. Instead, I like to think of it as a week-long celebration, which is honestly just a way for me to justify having frozen margaritas for a longer period of time. My mom and I celebrated Cinco de Mayo at Superior Grill a few days early this year, and it was still delicious and fun.

Superior Grill on St. Charles Avenue has been serving up Mexican food for over 10 years and it still remains as my favorite place for frozen margaritas, chips and salsa, and sizzling hot fajitas. I've never really been a huge fan of enchiladas, and I prefer the tacos at other places, but Superior's fajitas always hit the spot. They come out on a super hot cast iron skillet with onions, bell pepper, tomato, your choice of chicken or steak (or both) and a plate of all the other fixings (cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo etc.) Paired with some queso dip and the best frozen margarita Uptown has to offer, and you've got yourself a Cinco de Mayo feast any day of the year.

Lunch fajitas with steak and chicken

A small glass of frozen goodness :)

One of the busiest bars on the Avenue, and the best place to get a drink during the Mardi Gras parades

Take your drinks to "geaux"

Monday, May 3, 2010

Free Sippin'

There are few things that excite me as much as finding a restaurant that doesn't charge a corking fee. And even though I've happily shelled out over $100 in corking fees here, I'm glad there are places where I can enjoy wine with my meal at no additional cost. Chef John Besh has the right idea by not charging a corking fee at his restaurants. Alcohol, after all, is merely an afterthought to great food. No one ever says "The food was terrible but the wine was so great, I'll definitely be back!" Point made? Good.

Needless to say, I've become increasingly interested in finding restaurants that charge little to nothing to cork a bottle of vino. But right now I only know of one restaurant that doesn't charge a fee at all, and that's Lebanon's Cafe on South Carrollton Avenue. Since ethnic food is something I'm often craving, I love that a trip to Lebanon is both delicious and cost-friendly (two people can easily fill up for under $30). We always start the meal with the Musaha, which is sautéed eggplant, roasted garlic, red, yellow & jalapeño peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, and celery that is marinated with olive oil and white vinegar. No tasteless veggies here! These vegetables are incredibly flavorful, and I especially like the combination of textures from the crunchy celery and soft eggplant. I spread mine on hot pita bread, sometimes with some Labna or Hummus, and it could easily become my entire meal. As far as entrees go, I particularly like the Chicken Shawarma because you get a generous amount of chicken, salad, and hummus (which you can substitute for rice if you want) for around $12. The dinner sandwiches are also great, especially the Luna Kabob (lamb), and they all cost between $6 and $7. With quick and friendly service, a menu full of variety, and no corking fee, Lebanon's Cafe makes a great dinner spot for first dates and big groups alike.

Can any of you suggest places that charge a small corking fee, or nothing at all?

Musaha: Sautéed eggplant, roasted garlic, red, yellow & jalapeño peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, and celery marinated with olive oil and white vinegar

Vegetarian grape leaves with hummus

Sautéed Vegetable Plate: Basmati rice topped with eggplant, onions, carrots, tomatoes, squash, cauliflower, broccoli, red, yellow & green peppers and a layer feta and mozzarella cheese, then baked to a golden brown in the oven

Friday, April 30, 2010

Childhood is Calling

When I think of my favorite foods as a child, a few things always come to mind, but nothing can quite measure up to the pure joy that a trip to McKenzie's caused. Home to what many locals consider to be the best king cakes in the city, McKenzie's bakery on Prytania was definitely one of my favorite places for a sweet treat as a kid. I can still remember the sound the bell made when you opened the door, their display of king cakes that seemed to go on forever, and how I thought nothing was cuter than one of their pink petit fours decorated with a little green leaf.

In 2001, McKenzie's closed its doors for good, but not before selling some of its most popular recipes to Tastee Donuts, another local donut chain. Long-time McKenzie's fans were thrilled that they would still be able to enjoy the bakery's best sellers, such as their king cakes, jelly rolls, turtles, and buttermilk drops. The McKenzie's that I used to go to as a kid is now home to Creole Creamery, so whenever I need some sugar-coated joy I head out to the Tastee Donuts on Harrison Avenue in Lakeview. My most recent trip resulted in the purchase of buttermilk drops and turtles (pictured above). The turtles are shortbread cookies topped with chocolate frosting and chopped pecans, and the buttermilk drops are these round, cake-like donuts about the size of a tennis ball, covered in a sugary glaze. No matter if you grew up eating these tasty treats or not, one bite will definitely make you feel like a kid all over again.

Tastee Donuts: "It's a New Orleans Thing!"

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Refuel Cafe

I may have mentioned before that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. It's the jump-start you need to take on whatever lies ahead and I think we can all agree that there's nothing quite like waking up to the smell of freshly baked biscuits and eggs frying in the skillet. Unfortunately, most days out of the week I find myself settling for cold cereal with fruit, so the occasional mid-week trip to a local breakfast joint to get the good stuff is always welcomed with open arms and a big appetite.

This week we decided to try Refuel, a breakfast/lunch/brunch place on Hampson, just a few doors down from here. Their breakfast menu lasts from 7 to 9 a.m. and consists of the traditional items such as eggs, waffles, and parfaits. I ordered the Garden Omelet with potatoes and my boyfriend ordered the Riser 1, which came with 2 eggs, 2 pieces of bacon, toast, grits, and a small cup of coffee. My breakfast was slightly disappointing because the omelet was watery (probably because of the spinach that was in it) and my potatoes were cold and tasteless. In fact, the absolute best part of the meal were my boyfriend's grits, which came out in a nice sized portion, super hot, and super creamy. Definitely the best grits I've found in New Orleans thus far.

The service was friendly, prices were reasonable, and I liked the clean and cozy atmosphere. So even though my breakfast was a let down, I'll most likely go back to Refuel for their weekend brunch, where they offer things such as a Prime Egg Sandwich, with prime rib and a fried egg, and Huevos Rancheros. Besides, those grits are a good enough reason to go back any day of the week.

Even though Refuel is a small restaurant, they have a lot of windows, making it seem much more open

Garden Omelet with potatoes and wheat toast

The best grits I have ever had

Monday, April 26, 2010

Petit Dejeuner

The summer before my senior year in college I had the amazing opportunity to visit Paris, France while studying abroad. We were there for three unforgettable days, filled with beautiful scenery and delicious French food. We enjoyed wine and cheese on the Champ de Mars at night during the Eiffel Tower's light show, crepes while waiting in line outside of Notre Dame, and the most scrumptious chocolate croissants every morning from the vendor across the street from our hotel.

So when the cravings for authentic French baked goods sets in, it's nice to know that there's a place in New Orleans where I can get those wonderful chocolate croissants and much more. La Boulangerie, literally meaning "Bakery" in French, is located on Magazine in between Cadiz and Valence Streets and is home to some of the best pastries and breads in the city. They have everything from fresh fruit tarts to olive bread, and during carnival season people go crazy for their authentic French King Cakes. We like to get an assortment boxed up to bring home for special weekends when friends are visiting. Nothing says "we love having you here!" like a box full of flaky, buttery pastries filled with fruit or chocolate. Be sure to bring cash because this bakery doesn't take anything else, and don't be surprised if the staff doesn't dish out loads of southern hospitality. They tend to be pretty busy in there and I think it reflects in their unwillingness to be incredibly helpful. So to ease the decision making process, here are some of our personal favorites: Apricot and Cherry danishes, Raspberry and Chocolate croissants, Brioche, and Raisin rolls.

I highly recommend La Boulangerie for a quick bite to eat before hitting up the shops on Magazine, or in our case, when your Saturday morning needs a little something sweet to remind you that the weekend is finally here.

Dr. Bob's artwork is proudly displayed all over the bakery

Croissant and danish heaven

It's obvious that the Sticky Buns are big enough to share, but I'm not sure I'd want to!

Gorgeous fruit tarts and eclairs

Our assortment: Peach, apricot, & cherry danishes; regular, raspberry, & chocolate croissants; brioche suisse (brioche filled with pastry cream and chocolate chips); raisin roll

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Pleasant Surprise

Even though I'm constantly researching new places to eat, I'm always pleasantly surprised when my friends make suggestions of where to go. One of my best friends (and fellow food lover) took some time out of her busy nursing school schedule to slow it down with me over dinner and drinks this week. She suggested Rambla since we could bring our own wine and because their menu is designed for sharing. After reviewing their menu online, I replied to her suggestion with an enthusiastic "Yes!".

Located on Camp Street off of Canal in the Central Business District, Chef Kenneth LaCour's Rambla is a unique blend of Spanish and French cuisine inspired from the popular tapas bars that line the streets of Barcelona, Spain. Both the food and the atmosphere have been designed to inspire conversation and relaxation, using big wooden tables, antique mirrors, candles, and decorative ironwork to create the right aura.

I arrived earlier than my friend and received a very detailed overview of the menu by the maître d’, who was incredibly helpful, so by the time my friend got there with the wine, I had already decided on what we should order. We started with the Medjool Dates which were stuffed with blue cheese and a Marcona almond, then wrapped in smoked bacon. The combination of the chewy date and bacon mixed with the creaminess of the cheese and crunch from the almond made this small plate an instant favorite. Next we had the Applewood Smoked Salmon, served with a dill crème fraiche, corn beignets, and sliced grape tomatoes. We both really enjoyed this Petits Plats (small plate). Smoked salmon and dill are a classic combination and the corn beignet was both unexpected and wonderful. It was crunchy on the outside, sweet and fluffy on the inside, and dotted with plump corn kernels. The sliced tomatoes, though not many, added a nice tang and splash of color to the dish. Next our waiter brought out the Stuffed Piquillo Peppers, one stuffed with Tuna Confit and the other with Herbed Chevré, and the Patatas Bravas. We found the Tuna Confit to be slightly fishy and agreed that sweet pepper paired with the creamy herb cheese was much better. The Patatas Bravas were cubed pieces of potato, much like hashbrowns, that were cooked to a golden brown, rolled in paprika, and then topped with a garlic alioli. Coming from a person who doesn't even like potatoes that much, these cute little carb cubes have my vote for "Most Delicious Potato Put in My Face in 2010". Last we had the Churros with salted caramel for dessert. Let's just say that when my two churros were gone, I definitely dipped my finger in the caramel sauce three... okay, four times.

We finished up our glasses of wine, paid the bill, and thanked our waiters for an excellent meal. It was the perfect amount of food for the two of us, though next time I'm definitely going to try the Galacian-Style Octopus and Rambla Shrimp, which sound too good to pass up a second time. Even with our busy schedules and monthly money saving attempts, my friend and I still manage to get together often to enjoy a nice meal. Food always tastes better when enjoyed with best friends.

We drank our own bottle of wine, but don't these specialty drinks sound delish?

My friend and I both agree that a dinner party around this big table would be so much fun

Applewood Smoked Salmon with Corn Beignets and Dill Crème Fraiche

Stuffed Piquillo Peppers with Tuna Confit and Herbed Chevré

Patatas Bravas with Paprika and Garlic Alioli

Churros with Salted Caramel sauce