Archive for the ‘Dining’ Category

The Bon Appetit Grub Crawl: A Tour Of French Quarter Cuisine

The New Orleans MetBlog is happy to present a guest post by culinary historian Elizabeth Pearce. She recently attended the Bon Appetit Grub Crawl, which led foodies through a range of French Quarter eateries to sample new dishes. 

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One of the great things about food festivals is the opportunity to taste dishes from a variety of chefs. Unfortunately when tucking into a plate at an outdoor event, you miss out on all the other pleasures of dining in a restaurant: the music, the lighting, the flowers, the linen, the china and crystal. You also miss the conviviality of sharing food across a table with friends and family. A chef’s repertoire is also limited at outdoor events, narrowing a guest’s opportunity to experience the full spectrum of a restaurant’s menu.

Enter the Bon Appetit Grub Crawl. Conceived along the lines of a pub crawl, where participants move from one location to another, the Grub Crawl allows guests to sample a restaurant’s signature dishes in their original setting. Originally launched in Brooklyn, with plans to expand to L.A. and other cities, New Orleans played host to the second incarnation last weekend, rolling through the Central Business District Friday night, the French Quarter Saturday, and Uptown on Sunday.

I was lucky to attend one leg of that savory journey in my favorite neighborhood: The French Quarter. Along the way, participants cooled off with some delicious Belvedere Vodka cocktails. (Belevedere reps gave us several recipes for tasty drinks. Click here for those.)

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The Saturday Bon Appetit Grub Crawl snaked through the French Quarter beginning at Domenica, the John Besh restaurant located in the Roosevelt Hotel. We were greeted by Chef Alon Shaya who offered us a stunning array of house-made charcuterie, relishes, pate, cheeses, and a refreshingly bubbly Lambrusco. I quickly appreciated an additional benefit of the Grub Crawl format: face time with each restaurant’s chef, when Chef Alon told us how the prosciutto was made from locally raised hogs and cured in-house.

Wanting to save room for the next stops, I initially shared a plate with my friend and guest Monique Leon. But as we tore through the three-year aged prosciutto and Taleggio, it quickly became apparent that neither of us was in a sharing mood. Of particular note was the pate, so delicious that we contemplated stealing the jar to nosh on at home, but decided transportation would be messy. So we had seconds. And thirds. No kidding. And then came the artisan pizzas and at that point we were just eating on principle because it was all so delicious.

Though our bellies were full, we rallied and headed over to the Napoleon House to sample its signature muffaletta and Pimm’s Cup. We were served by third-generation owner Sal Impastato who regaled us with stories of his family restaurant’s. From there we walked a few blocks to Sylvain. It was a nice contrast to leave the Napoleon House — operated by the Impastato family since 1914 — for Sylvain, which has been open less than a year.

The French Quarter is usually viewed as the most traditional neighborhood in New Orleans, but there is plenty of room to start something new here, as we learned when owner Sean McCusker recounted his professional arc from New York writer to New Orleans restaurateur. We savored a tasty portion of crispy pork shoulder served with tangy greens and creamy Coosa Valley grits. Chef Alex Harrell not only told us how he made his dishes, but also where to get his grits (sourced from near his home in central Alabama). But my favorite bite at Sylvain was of perfectly pickled okra. Unlike its soggier, commercially-made cousins, this okra remained crisp, and though pleasantly sour, it wasn’t aggressively pickled. All I could think about was how delicious it would be in a gin martini. But we had more drinking and eating to. Onward!


Tonight In New Orleans: Pause4Dinner, Supporting The LASPCA

Just a reminder that tonight is the Louisiana SPCA’s annual “Pause4Dinner” event. If you want to give the organization a leg (or a paw) up in helping strays and other animals in need, all you have to do is grab a bite tonight at any of these participating restaurants. Each and every one of them will donate 20% of dinner proceeds to the Louisiana SPCA.

See you tonight!

Helping Pets Is As Easy As Eating Out At Tonight’s ‘Pause 4 Dinner’ Event

In case you haven’t heard, tonight is the Louisiana SPCA’s “Pause 4 Dinner” dine-around. If you’ve never taken part in an event like this, never fear: it’s simple and straightforward.

Just head to dinner at one of the many participating restaurants. There’s a range of spots on the list — from the very affordable to the slightly swanky — and a percentage of every sale will go toward the LASPCA’s noble efforts. Plus, it’s a nice break from the daily routine of coming home, playing partypoker cz, and heating up some Soup for One.

No time for a full meal? No problem: even Pinkberry is participating. Don’t tell me you don’t have time to pop in for some yogurt on a scorching hot day like this.

On the off-chance that you’re reading this from afar, though, you can always make a contribution to the LASPCA on the web. Not that we’re pushy or anything, but consider that a hint. Need more info? Visit the LASCPA website.

See you at 8. (Dinner’s always at 8, kids.)

The Benefits Of Getting Drunk: A Manifesto

Carnival officially begins on January 6 (aka Epiphany, aka the 12th Night of Xmas), but most of us in New Orleans don’t really get into the Carnival spirit until much later. For me, the trigger is usually the Krewe du Vieux parade, which happens about two-and-a-half weeks before Fat Tuesday (aka Mardi Gras).

This year, however, I’m late — late like Rizzo in Grease, to use a theatre queen simile. I’m just not in the mood yet. Maybe the balls and parades this weekend will tip the scale.

My friend Elizabeth, however, is full of the Carnival spirit(s), and she’s penned something to commemorate the season: “The Benefits Of Getting Drunk: A Manifesto”. Whether or not you live in New Orleans, whether or not you celebrate Carnival and Lent, whether or not you sip the Devil’s Urine (as my Sunday school teacher used to call it), it’s well worth your time. Here’s an excerpt:

Sometimes life is terrible. You get divorced. You get laid off. Your loved one dies. Your heart breaks. Your city floods. When it does, most of us soldier on, waking up to a bleak future, plodding through the day, trying not to cry in public, keeping it together so we don’t lose our jobs/annoy our co-workers/scare our children. Merely being alive exposes  us to failure, fear, regret, and loss. Most of us endure these moments, these weeks and sometimes these years, managing to not kill ourselves, until little by little we make life better or, by the grace of time, it just gets better. But during these terrible times, it is perfectly appropriate to want to get the hell out. To get away from the bad that seems like it will never end. And getting drunk can do that for you. Granted, sometimes the drinking can make problems seem worse than they are, but when they actually cannot get worse, when they are really, really bad, go ahead. Get drunk. Forget where you live, whom you live with, your name (old or new) your job (old or new), someone’s absence, someone’s presence, your own presence. Line them up and knock them back. Don’t flip through the old letters, the old photos. Don’t watch the DVD for the 100th time or listen to your song. Don’t try and do the ugly math that is your bank account. They will all be there tomorrow to remind you to remember. Instead, stare blankly ahead of you, don’t look back, and for now, forget.

“The Benefits of Getting Drunk: A Manifesto” at

See y’all on the neutral ground.

New Orleans one of the 10 Best cities for Local Food

I was reading through the Huffington Post this morning and came across the list of 10 Best Cities for Local Food. I knew there was no way New Orleans didn’t make the list so I clicked through and there we were at number 6. They say that we are “continuously endeavoring to green its cuisine.” which I suppose is true of nearly everywhere in America right now but come on, our best food isn’t exactly good for you but it’s still oh so good.

Heritage Foundation & Solar Energy?

Weirdest email I’ve received all week (and I’ve already gotten some doozies):

Greetings and salutations!

I would like to let everyone know of our upcoming Permaculture Courses.

RiverSolar in cooperation with the Heritage Foundation is offering weekly courses in Permaculature and Design concepts. Core concepts will be provided in block format on Fridays from 12 – 2 PM beginning July 10, 2009 at the ArtEgg Building.

Students can choose to take one class or all leading to a Permaculture Design Certificate. Please contact Doris for enrollment information.

1001 So. Broad St. New Orleans, LA

Which sounds great except for the part about the HERITAGE FOUNDATION.

Seriously: THE Heritage Foundation? The same ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation that worshiped at the feet of Ronald Reagan? The same war-mongering Heritage Foundation that pushed heavily for the invasion of Iraq (and, less successfully, Iran)? The same Heritage Foundation that looked at the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina and found it a perfect example of the need for relaxed environmental regulations? That Heritage Foundation?

UPDATE: Of course it’s not that Heritage Foundation. As the friendly Alex just pointed out:

It’s actually the Heritage Foundation for Arts and Cultural Sustainability, which shares a space in the ArtEgg building, along with RiverSolar.

Which is great, but also a really unfortunate choice of names. Oh well: at least the world makes sense again.

It’s Cocktail Time in New Orleans


Well that phrase is actually stated every minute, every hour and everyday in New Orleans but Tales of the Cocktail is something entirely different. Normally I would be blogging about some perceived slight or some moronic decision made by a so-called New Orleans leader but Tales makes even me stop and enjoy a little down time.

I first met Ann Tunnerman, the creator of Tales of the Cocktail, sometime early in 2006. Those early days after Katrina brought people together that may not have ever gotten together before. The radio station was up and running, Ann was a faithful listener and wanted to create a partnership between the station and Tales. We thought the event had potential so we joined up and became part of the event.

Tales of the Cocktail, started in 2002, has become one of New Orleans must-do events of the summer. Locals know that generally, festivals and such are not real wise in the summertime because of the heat but this one is different. How different? Well first, Ann Tunnerman is a marketing genius. I doubt she reads my blog so it’s not like I am kissing butt or something. She has taken this event from a fun humble small start and turned it into something that people from across the country come to our fair city to attend.

Tales of the Cocktail is scheduled from July 8th thru July 12th. Many hotels, restaurants, bars etc are involved in the event so I don’t want to bore you with all of that. You can click the link above and check out all of the events and places. The Hotel Monteleone is the base headquarters though. Events scheduled for the 5 days including mixologists competitions, seminars about cocktails and the creation of cocktails, spirited dinners (which include some of the best restaurants in New Orleans, which also means some of the best restaurants in the country) which are six course dinners that include specialty crafted cocktails that work in conjunction with the fantastic dinner, and of course many many many “tasting rooms”. I don’t really need to explain that do I?

If your a local or a out-of-towner, think about doing some of the events associated with Tales. It is a special event and since New Orleans created the cocktail, what better city than this one to create and host this kind of event?

It’s not the destination

Phone Box at Washington Square park It’s the journey. And today was a perfect example of why that saying is spot on. The Little Guy and I headed out to the Creole Tomato Festival at the French Market today after nap time.

If anyone went outside at all today you will know it was damn hot so our adventure had a lot of pit stops and every single one of them was better than the actual festival.First we stopped over at Washington Square Park to play and rest, there were more than the usual crowd in the park, I think there was a memory service being held for someone who has passed but with the little one I did not want to disturb anyone and so I could not get close enough to really hear what was going on. As we left the park we noticed what someone has done with the old pay phone box on the Royal side, it does not specify what the money is for but there are flowers and other decoration inside a custom made shadow box and a request for change. If I had any change on me i would have given to Chance to put in the box. We didn’t get much farther before it was pit stop time again as we passed Cafe Rose Nicaud I was informed that we needed a cookie from the coffee shop so in we went and cookie we did procure. Cookie at Cafe Rose Nicaud After we filled up on cookie off we set for the push to the actual festival crossing Esplanade and crossing Decatur over to the French Market and into the action or more realistically the crowd of tourists in fleur-de-leis T-shirts and too short, impossibly plaid shorts fanning themselves with cardboard fans shaped like (Creole?) tomatos, talking loud and occationally doing what they could to insult the local people.

I was told (though under their breath) in so many words more than once that because I wasn’t carrying my son he would get kidnapped. Well, I am happy to say there were not a million people around, I was walking two feet behind him at all times, it’s none of your damn business and as far as i could tell the worst people around at that time were their sorry asses. fountain I’m sorry but the next time a swarovski crystal embellished grandma wants to give me parenting tips, I say bring it on but, Do It To My Face!

Where was i? Oh yeah it was hot really, really hot and the booths for the festival were all out in the sun so we took ourselves through the festivities at a pretty quick pace, landing ourselves at the fountain near Decatur and Ursuline where we rested another few minutes in the shade, I could have sat a little longer but a two year old never really rests no matter how hot and tired they are so off we went again. This time we followed Decatur back till we hit Angeli’s a tasty restaurant with highchairs (even though we didn’t need one this time) where we went in for a drink and a bite to eat. The place was nearly empty which I though strange for all the people that were out and about but I guess we were a little early for the dinner rush. The little guy amazingly sat in a regular chair the whole time amusing himself by making faces in one of the mirrors that decorate the dinning area.
We made one more stop at Washington Square Park, much shorter this time, before heading on home. Just a block from the house someone stopped us and told me that “something smells dead back there” as he gestured over his shoulder in the direction we were going. Nothing came of it since I did not smell or see anything that smelled/looked dead all the way home but it did add to the adventure of the day.

Louisiana Oyster Jubilee


C’mon down to the Quarter this weekend for the Louisiana Roadfood Festival. Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 7pm on Royal Street, tons will be going on including the World’s Longest Oyster Po’Boy. Music of course will be on hand both days, up and down Royal Street, including Loose Marbles, Lee Floyd Trio and the Doreen Letchens Jazz Band.No charge for the event, but bring some cash cause you will want to taste some of these offerings:

Meat Pies, Crawfish Pies, Fried Catfish, White Beans, Creole Hot Sausage Po’Boys, Jambalaya, Shrimp Remolaude Po’Boys, Gumbo, Smoked Turkey Legs, Cochon de Lait Po’Boy, Red Beans, Alligator Ettoufee, plus tons of sweets, think pralines, snowballs etc…

Proceeds from the food go to the participating restaurants, including Cafe Reconcile

Lights out for Al Copeland

I wasn’t really into Al Copeland. His hair plugs were sad and laughable, and his racing boat fetish spoke to some wang-related insecurities. But whether you loved the man or only his chicken, you have to admit, this is kinda sweet. At the very least, it’s the best media alert to cross my desk today:

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The late Al Copeland’s famous Christmas
display to make its final appearance
Copeland Family To Hold Last Christmas Display Lighting
on Saturday, November 29

WHAT: Locals and tourists alike recognize the symbolic tradition of the Copeland Christmas lights, as the official mark of the holiday season in New Orleans In a tribute to the legend–the late Al Copeland Sr.–his family will put the famous lights on display for the last time.

WHEN: Saturday, November 29, 2008, 6:00PM

*Media to arrive by 5:45PM*

LOCATION: The Home of the Late Al Copeland, 5001 Folse Drive, Metairie, LA

ADDITIONAL INFO: Al Copeland Sr. passed away earlier this year to Merkel Cell Carcinoma, a rare and deadly form of cancer. To honor his legacy, his family created the Al Copeland Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to contributing money for research to eradicate this rare cancer. To further culminate this holiday, the Copeland Family will be hosting a “Heaven on Earth” gala on Saturday, December 13. Admission is $100 and all proceeds go to The Al Copeland Foundation in support of Merkel Cell Carcinoma Research in Partnership with The University of Pittsburgh Merkel Cell Carcinoma Research Program. To learn more, please visit

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