Friday, February 26, 2010

Startin' the Day Off Right

I have been a huge breakfast fan my entire life. It's the driving force in getting me out of bed, especially if I wake up to the smell of pancakes and bacon. When I was a kid, weekends meant having friends over, sleeping late, watching countless Disney movies, and going to Bluebird Cafe on Sunday morning. Rarely we would go more than a couple of weeks without patronizing the neighborhood eatery. And many Uptowners were quite upset when the news rolled around that the cafe was closing its doors in the fall of 2009, due to leasing issues. Luckily, it was quickly reopened under new management and a new name. Sporting appetizing orange-colored walls and some of the friendliest wait-staff you will ever meet, Coulis, on Prytania, continues the long-loved reputation of the Bluebird Cafe. Their menu is as reasonable as it is delicious and their coffee ain't half bad either.

For breakfast I usually get an egg-white omelet with gruyere cheese, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and avocado. The omelet is fluffy and full of my chosen add-ins, never greasy and never rubbery... just perfectly cooked every time. Another favorite of mine is the eggs creole, which is scrambled eggs with sausage gravy, a grilled tomato, and cheese grits. Coulis also does their own take on an eggs benedict, placing two perfectly poached eggs on top of a jalapeno corn cake, pulled pork debris, topped with hollandaise. Talk about starting your day off delicious!

Coulis is a great place to enjoy the breakfast basics, but if you want to be "wowed" by a menu and order something out of the ordinary, I would suggest either Surrey's or Slim Goodies instead of Coulis. As for me, however, my deep connection to this particular breakfast joint keeps me coming back over and over again. It's nice that the new wait-staff already recognizes my face, continues to make my weekend mornings pleasant, and always keeps my tummy happy.

My favorite egg-white omelet and hash browns

Eggs creole

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

One Turns Five

Last night we attended One Restaurant and Lounge's 5th Anniversary party on Hampson Street. It was a cool, clear Tuesday night and many people came out to show their support by purchasing a drink from the bar and noshing on some free food. Chef Scott prepared his delicious char-grilled oysters with Roquefort cheese and red wine vinaigrette, as well as some other delectable dishes. My personal favorite was the pulled pork, which was rubbed with brown sugar, cayenne pepper, and paprika, then slow cooked all day in a bath of beer and chicken broth. The result was moist and tender pork served up with some long-grain white rice. After enjoying the pork and some chicken and sausage gumbo, I grabbed a white wine from the bar, headed outside, and hovered over the hot boiled shrimp with potatoes, corn, sausage, garlic, and mushrooms to stay warm.

The music, friendly crowd, and wonderful food was a great mid-week escape from the norm and I was very happy to be included. I look forward to sampling the new Lenten menu that the restaurant has created (available on their website) and attending the celebration again next year!

Congratulations One! Here's to enjoying another year of great food!

Cookin' up some char-grilled oysters

White wine and oysters: a perfect pair

Pulled pork and rice

Hot boiled shrimp

My favorite photograph in the restaurant

A great turn-out

Monday, February 22, 2010

Star Worthy

This past Saturday was arguably one of the most beautiful days I've ever experienced while living in New Orleans. The sun was out, the temperature was cool, and the breeze was blowing. We spent our morning in Audubon park and then our afternoon sunning ourselves on the back patio. Feeling rejuvenated by the gorgeous weather, we decided to use the clear, cool night wisely and cross off another restaurant on my list. The verdict? Lilette, located on the corner of Magazine and Antonine, which turned out to be the perfect choice. We made our reservations online (love that feature) for 6 p.m. and the sun was just beginning to set as we walked into the restaurant. It didn't take me long to notice that Kate Hudson was also dining there, looking magnificent, sipping on bubbly, and enjoying some oysters on the half shell. Good enough for the stars? Good enough for me!

We sat and enjoyed warm bread and butter before our waitress came to take our orders. She was very knowledgeable and with her help we decided on the white truffle parmigiano toast with wild mushrooms, marrow and veal glace and the Alaskan king crab claws with passionfruit butter as our appetizers. Both dishes were exceptional tasting but I must say that, for the price, their sizes were a let down. Especially the crab claws, which offered a hefty price tag of $14 but not very much crab meat. After spending five minutes desperately trying to find more crab meat inside the claw to dip in the butter, I finally gave up and asked our waitress for some more bread. The bread did the trick and, once again, I succumbed to passionfruit butter heaven.

For our entrees, we went pretty traditional and ordered what the waitress had recommended as some of the most popular choices. My love ordered the grilled hanger steak with fries and marrowed bordelaise; while I ordered the paneed black drum with Israeli cous cous, leeks, tomato, and ver jus mussel butter. Our entrees were much more reasonable, giving us a lot of food for a price tag in the twenty-something range. We both agreed that the steak was slightly salty but that my dish was absolute perfection. The fish had a flavorful crust on the outside and was moist and flaky on the inside. The cous cous lightened the dish and its caviar-like texture made it fun to eat. Delightfully filling but not too rich, Lilette's paneed black drum is arguably one of the best fish dishes I have ever had.

Having reached our spending limit we opted against dessert (although I really don't think I would have had room for it anyway) and left the restaurant full and happy. Perhaps next time we'll go for lunch and sit outside when the weather warms up. I sure do hope it warms up soon :)

Truffle toast with mushrooms and veal glace

Alaskan crab claws with passionfruit butter

Hanger steak with marrowed bordelaise and pommes frites

Black drum with Israeli cous cous and mussels

Secretly hoping Kate Hudson would walk out as I snapped this picture... no such luck :(

Friday, February 19, 2010

Romance Around the Corner

Even though Valentine's Day has already passed, I was still feeling the love four days later and opted to patron our neighborhood French bistro last night instead of going out for pizza or tacos. La Crepe Nanou, located on the corner of Prytania and Robert Street, has an undeniably charming and romantic atmosphere and offers some very authentic French bistro-style cuisine, as well as the best dessert crepes on this side of the ocean. We have been quite a few times and, after sampling some different things off of the menu, we have narrowed our choices down to what we like the most.

The Les Moules Marinières (mussels), which are steamed in cream, white wine, garlic, and tarragon, are always fabulous, as is the tropicale salad--made with boston lettuce, avocado, cucumber, hearts of palm and is served with an amazing creamy vinaigrette dressing. Lastly, the Soupe à l'Oignon (French onion soup) comes with a big crouton and melted cheese on top (how could that be bad?). As far as entrees go, you cannot go wrong with the grilled amberjack with béarnaise sauce, the roast chicken and vegetables, filet mignon, or the panéed veal and pasta. Order some pommes frites to soak up all the wonderful sauces that come with your meal and make sure to drink plenty of red wine. You'll find yourself thinking France is closer than you had imagined.

Steamed mussels

We ordered the salad special instead of the salad tropicale. It was prosciutto with mixed greens, walnuts, walnut vinaigrette and served with a slice of Roquefort cheesecake. It sounded too good to pass up... and it was.

Soupe à l'Oignon

Strings of white lights make this bistro magical.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Carnival Favorites

Well, Mardi Gras is officially over and after days of constant consumption I am somewhat relieved that I get to wait a whole year before doing it again. I will definitely have to up the cardio in the gym to work it all off!

Mardi Gras is my family's excuse to have in excess the things that we don't normally allow ourselves. From the king cakes to the fried chicken and the mimosas to the homemade Leidenheimer french toast, we did it big this Mardi Gras. Here are a few of my favorite things...

The Early's Breakfast muffins (made with biscuits, cream cheese and bacon)


Dad's french toast, made from day-old Leidenheimer bread, dipped in a mixture of milk, egg, and vanilla, dusted with cinnamon, and then cooked in butter in a cast iron skillet until golden brown

Jambalaya with crawfish and shrimp

Monday, February 15, 2010

Purple, Green, and Gold Valentine

Amidst the madness that is Mardi Gras in New Orleans, we decided to take a night off from parades and beer to celebrate Valentine's Day a little early. So on the eve of the 14th, we swapped our muddy tennis shoes and brightly colored beads for some nice dress clothes and a reservation at One Restaurant on Hampson Street. Having only eaten there once before, we were excited to go back and try some new things.

This time I decided to step out of my comfort zone of crabcakes and oysters and go with the herb gnocchi and escargots with wild mushrooms as an appetizer. Escargots lack any real flavor, so they really just soak up the flavor of whatever sauce is paired with them. Luckily these escargots were drenched in a wonderful bordelaise sauce. Rich and buttery, this sauce is what made this dish and thank goodness we had plenty of bread to sop it all up. We also ordered the tomatoes 3 ways: marinated, roasted and raw. The heirloom tomatoes used were wonderfully fresh and Chef Scott Snodgrass did just enough to bring out their natural juices and tart flavors. For our entrees my valentine ordered the beef tenderloin with beef shoulder rillete, which was covered with stilton cheese and served with dauphinoise potatoes and sauteed green beans. Since I was in the mood for fish, I ordered the pan roasted flounder on a mirliton and sweet corn gratin, topped with grilled tomatoes and basil crème fraiche. I had the fish the first time we went and it was just as fabulous the second time. For dessert we went with the strawberry shortcake, served with a caramel sauce and topped with bavarian creme. How sweet it was...

The dining room at One is small but they make excellent use of their space, even opening up the kitchen so that patrons can sit at the food bar and watch the chefs in action. But the fast-paced and modern feel to One Restaurant is very charming, as is co-owner Lee McCullough, who makes every person feel important and welcome (he knows my name and I've only eaten there twice). Both times we've dined there it has been the utmost pleasant experience and we are very excited to attend the restaurant's 5th anniversary customer appreciation party on February 23rd. Chef Scott will be cooking up a plethera of delicious New Orleans fare, including boiled seafood. Expect many pictures to be posted!

Friday, February 12, 2010


Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, so, as a little precursor to our Saturday night dinner date, I decided to take my man to get lunch at a place I thought he would really like (and it just so happened to be on my list of places to try). Located on the corner of Magazine and Jackson Ave., Stein's Market and Deli was the perfect rainy day choice. From their vast selection of artisan beers, home-made bagel chips, and bread loaves, to their extensive menu that offers classic sandwiches as well as their own specialties, Stein's is sure to please.

We ordered the Tuscan panini and the "Sam." The Tuscan panini is made with Tuscan ham, fresh mozzarella, artichokes and red onion. And the "Sam" boasts hot pastrami topped with swiss cheese, cole slaw, and russian dressing on rye bread. The Sam was probably the most delicious pastrami sandwich I have ever had and it will be hard to order anything different the next time I go.

Even though Stein's is not Kosher, reviews have stated it's the closest thing to an authentic New York style Jewish deli that New Orleans has to offer. The atmosphere is fast-paced and eclectic, yet really charming. The one negative comment I have is that there is limited seating, so if you're planning on grabbing lunch with a friend and catching up, Stein's would not be my first choice. All in all a delicious experience and we will definitely be going back.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Oh, When the Saints Paraded In...

It's never been a doubt of mine that New Orleans loves their Saints, but last night I was completely amazed at what I saw. The city of New Orleans put on a Saints parade in honor of their Super Bowl victory and each Krewe donated one of their best floats for the coach and the players to ride on. Eight hundred thousand people showed up to witness this moment in history and man, was it a celebration. The parade started rolling at 5 p.m., so we got downtown early in order to grab lunch and then hit up a few bars before heading down to Canal Street for the festivities.

We decided to commemorate the day by eating lunch at Stanley, located in the Pedestrian Mall on the corner of St. Ann and Chartres. Owned by local Chef Scott Boswell, Stanley is the more casual and less expensive sister restaurant of Stella, which is also located on Chartres Street. Stanley's menu consists of great breakfast items (served all day) such as bananas foster french toast, corned beef hash, and an eggs benedict po-boy. But since we were there for lunch, I ordered the P&J's oyster, gulf shrimp, andouille sausage and chicken gumbo along with an oyster po-boy. The gumbo was excellent, made with a dark roux and plenty of fresh seafood. The oyster po-boy came dressed with an amazing cole slaw, which added a refreshing and different element. After receiving great service and filling our bellies with awesome food, we walked out into the sun, which was beaming off of St. Louis Cathedral, and headed to Pat O's to wash it all down.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Sundae to Remember

A few days before the Saints took on the Colts in Miami, we stopped into Creole Creamery on Prytania to get ourselves pumped by sampling their special "Superbowl Sundae". It was vanilla ice cream topped with housemade praline sauce, chocolate truffles, whip cream, and a cherry. It was delicious, but not as delicious as it was watching the Saints win their first Super Bowl 31-17. Massive celebration broke out in New Orleans last night and I am so glad I moved home in time to be a part of it all! Maybe Creole Creamery will come up with a Super Bowl Champs Sundae... here's to hoping! WHO DAT!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Delicious and Nutritious

Ever since I was a kid I have loved Vietnamese soup. In grade school my dad would pick me up on Fridays and take me to get an afterschool treat. While most kids would have wanted McDonalds or ice cream, I usually exclaimed "I want Kim's soup!". Kim's was our favorite Vietnamese restaurant when I was a kid, and now we've changed it to Jazmine Cafe on the riverbend. I go there specifically for the vegetable soup, which is chock-full of broccoli, bean sprouts, cabbage, onions and cilantro. It's the perfect pick-me-upper when you're feeling under the weather, or in our case, it was the warm and comforting meal we needed when the weather has been anything but optimal. Best part is that my delicious soup is only seven dollars and I always have leftovers.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Crackin' the egg

For almost a year now my friends have been enthusiastically encouraging me to start a blog. "You're always going out to eat," they say, "you should write about food, and you're funny." Well, I don't know about the whole funny thing, but I am always going out to eat and so I decided that as one of my many 2010 resolutions, I would start a blog about my dining out experiences in my home city of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Ever since I was a kid, I have had a deep appreciation for food. I love the colors and textures, but most importantly, the flavors of culinary creations from all over the world. I really don't discriminate when it comes to what I eat and can thank my parents for always encouraging me to try new things. Especially my father, an artist, who always seemed to find a way to get me excited about what I was eating, even if that meant dyeing my black eyed peas blue.

While I'm not an advocate for blue-dyed legumes, I am an advocate for good food and New Orleans just so happens to have a ton of it.

When hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, I was forced to leave New Orleans and relocate to Jackson, Mississippi to attend college. Once the stress and confusion of relocating had dwindled and the homesick feeling had settled in, I found the best way to fill the void was to go out and enjoy a great meal with my friends. Food was my connection back home, as many Jackson restaurants had replications of classic New Orleans dishes such as red beans and rice, jambalaya, crawfish etouffee and even beignets. Needless to say, the school cafeteria barely saw me.

I moved back to New Orleans in May of 2009 and have fallen in love with the city all over again. It has been such a pleasure reuniting myself with my city and all it has to offer, especially the food. In an attempt to make up for lost time I have constructed a very long list of local restaurants that I have yet to try. This blog will consist of reviews from some of my favorite restaurants as well as those that I will be dining at for my first time.

Now, I'm not claiming to be some type of culinary genius and I'm certainly not a master chef in the kitchen. But what I do know is what tastes good and my expectations of food (and food service) are generally pretty high. I look forward to enjoying the fruits of the culinary laborers that make this city so special and sharing my thoughts and experiences with all who choose to follow me. Bon appetit!