We were in town for a wedding and didn’t have much time for exploring our usual food places but we were able to work in lunch at The Company Burger on Freret st. Probably one of the best, if not the best, burgers I have ever tasted.
For the past 6 months or so I have been working the Louisiana Seafood Board (via a 3rd Party) to develop and photograph different seafood recipes for there FB page as well as their own recipe database. Ever since the BP oil spill there has been a certain “stigma” attached to seafood products from the Gulf and it has been extremely detrimental to Gulf Coast fisherman and the local economies that count on this industry. The Louisiana Seafood Board was tasked with restoring faith in Louisiana’s seafood industry as well as for lack of a better phrase “Promote the hell out of it.” They hired Chef Brian Landry, formerly of Galatoire’s, to use his knowledge and experience with Gulf Seafood to help spread the Gospel of Louisiana Seafood.
In late July in conjunction with one of my local favorite restaurants, Wine Country Bistro, Chef Landry ,along with Chef Anthony Felan of WCB & Chef Michael Brady of Fresh, did two dinners celebrating the bounty of the Gulf. Through my friendship with the owners of Wine Country Bistro I was invited to hang out in the kitchen and document the first night of the Seafood dinner.
I ended up taking over 300 pictures and tasting some really great seafood dishes. Here is to Louisiana Seafood……enjoy.
For my birthday back in April or as HBO’s Game of Thrones puts it – my Name Day – my wife surprised me with the news that we would be enjoying a short trip down to New Orleans. Normally we try to get down to NOLA at least twice a year but unfortunately we have not been able to schedule a trip since way back in January of 2010 when I tried out for Fox’s 1st season of MasterChef. We lucked out and got a pretty reasonable rate on a hotel right on St Charles ave,surprisingly since this was the same weekend as Jazz Fest. We drove down to Baton Rouge on Friday and stayed with her sister, Saturday morning we woke up bright and early and headed into New Orleans. Although early early early check in was not available we were able to leave our car in the Hotel’s parking lot. The weather was warm but not as hot and humid as Louisiana can get We decided we would walk a bit up St Charles towards downtown and when we got tired we would just hop on the streetcars that run up and down St Charles. Well we never got tired (till much later anyway) and walked from Uptown to downtown,all around the Quarter and back to Lee Circle where we caught a streetcar back to our hotel. In between all that walking though we did a lot. Our first stop of the day was at Cochon Butcher for a quick bite to eat and cold beer. They were pretty busy when we got there so we snagged a small table outside. Ann wasn’t too hungry yet so I ate alone, not arguing though. I had the Sweet & Spicy Brisket Sliders with a nice cold Pale Ale to wash them down with. Although there were just two sliders I had trouble finishing the second one due to how much meat was piled on them, these were really tasty.
After Butcher we set off towards Canal St. and the French Quarter. We walked all around the Quarter with Daiquiri and Beer ( Crescent City Brewery) in hand. Even though we were all over the Quarter I don’t think we ever stepped foot on Bourbon st (this is a good thing). There is just SO MUCH MORE to the French Quarter than that one street. I am not going to go into every little detail of what we did but you should get a pretty good idea from the photos.Read More Post a comment (3)
Not sure why I haven’t written about this sooner but maybe I was afraid I would jinx any chance I had by telling the world about it in detail. I had started writing this post back in March but saved it as a draft and kind of forgot about it, but being that Fox is airing the 1st episode of MasterChef tonight I thought it would be appropriate to write about my experience.Let me back up, back in January we traveled down to New Orleans so that I could attend an Open Casting Call for a new Fox Reality Show. The show is a Gordon Ramsay show but not in the way most of America views him. This is not going to be a Hell’s Kitchen type show (at least that is what they are advertising) with all the yelling and cussing and so on. Here is an excerpt from the official press release -
MASTERCHEF contestants will be put through their paces in a series of challenges designed to test their palate, food knowledge, passion and culinary skills both inside and outside the kitchen. As they’re whittled down, they’ll face increasing pressure, from being asked to slice and dice a truckload of onions to creating incredible gourmet dishes from boxes full of random ingredients to providing an all-American send-off meal for hundreds of U.S. Marines to catering a high-end wedding.
I initially heard about this open casting call via the Times Picayune online newssite back in December and just knew I had to try out. I debated back and forth about what I wanted to do,something with grits but a little different but still accessible. I finally settled on Bourbon Cane Syrup marinated grilled Quail over cheesy grits with sweet potatoes (two ways) and rosemary cane syrup jus with granny smith apples. I have only made quail only a handful of times so I need to practice this dish beforehand. Most of the times when I try something new it is for whatever dinner or event I am doing, I know this may sound risky but 90% of the time it works out. We had some friends over a week before the casting call for dinner to be the guinea pigs, The dish worked just like I had planned.
We drove down to Baton Rouge on Friday (it’s only an hour away from Nola) and stayed with Ann’s sister Alex. I got up about 5:30 and set up my little disposable campfire grill that I bought for $5 and grilled the quail. I also made the cheesy grits inside on the stove. Once everything was done I wrapped the ingredients separately in foil or packed in Gladware(Hey, this could work out like a TopChef promo thing) and sealed everything up in a big aluminum roasting pan with hand warmer packets sandwiched underneath. This contraption allowed me to keep the food warm for the drive in to Nola since the rules stated you could not cook on site.
We arrived in New Orleans around 8am or so and our hotel ,luckily, allowed early check in. I dropped Ann and the kids off and headed to the audition site in Uptown. When I got there it was already packed with a line around the building. I ended up waiting about two hours before I got y chance to “audition” my food. We were set up in a big room with about 9 different tables that fit two people each. There were several different judges that came by and quizzed you on your food,what inspires you and why you want to be on the show. After all the judges had quizzed me I was directed to go see somebody else and much like American Idol I received my “golden ticket”(in reality it was just a piece of paper telling me to come back on Tuesday for an on camera interview. Score
We spent the rest of the weekend enjoying New Orleans and meeting up with our friends Bridget and Blake at Slice Pizzeria in Uptown. We drove back home on Sunday and arrived in Shreveport just in time to see the Saints beat the Vikings in order to go to the Super Bowl which they ended up winning….man saying that never gets old.
I previously posted about the rest of our trip HERE
I got up early Tuesday morning and headed back down south for the 5 hour drive for my on camera audition. My time was for 1am and I wanted to be sure I was early. I think to stay awake I must have gone through at least 4 64oz Fountain Diet Cokes. I did my interview and even saw a few people that were in my group on Saturday. Here is where I might have tripped up. I don’t think I was energetic enough for a “reality” show. I answered the questions,went off on a few tangents with some stories as is my way but basically told my story about my love of food and cooking. I would hate to see playback of the tape because when I get nervous there is no telling what all I might say. I was told that the tapes would be sent back to the producers in L.A. and a decision would be made from there. I thanked them for the opportunity and I made my way back home to Shreveport. Let me tell you, driving to and from New Orleans in one day is not the most fun thing to do,especially when you are alone.
A fellow foodie blogger friend in San Francisco was trying out as well and we compared notes on how the auditions went and what to expect. At this point it was just a waiting game. I waited and waited and waited. I wondered if I had given it my best (maybe,maybe not) did I choose the right dish to showcase my talents ( I think so), did I say something stupid during the on camera interview (possibly),then my thoughts started thinking about making it on the show. You see anytime I have an opportunity that really pushes me out of my comfort zone I sometimes talk myself out of it. This was one that scared me,excited me, I knew I could do it kind of thing that I made myself follow through on. I started daydreaming about winning the whole show, what the prize would be, how would my life change,what this would mean for our family. Then the thoughts gravitated towards how would I deal with Gordon Ramsay,would I let him push my buttons and self destruct like so many who have come before me on his other shows or would I stand my ground and most likely get kicked off for being a smart ass(which I am pretty good at)? Would I be able to follow through and rise above all the other challengers with the help of all the support and positive feedback I was getting from friends and family or would I let them down miserably and be “that guy” who gets voted off the 1st day but always ends up on the reunion show at the end of the season? The questions and possibilities were limitless,is this the right thing for me, are my talents really any better than others out there,would I get the answers I wanted…….
I guess I’ll never know, I didn’t make the cut.
This past weekend we were in New Orleans so that I may try out for a new reality cooking show on FOX (more on this in the next post). As usual we made a trip to one of our favorite spots – Chef Donald Link’s & partners Chef Stephen Stryjewski & Chef Warren Stephens Palace of Swine : Cochon Butcher. You can see a previous post on our visit HERE.
The last time we were here on a Saturday afternoon we pretty much had the place to ourself but this time it was pretty packed. This was also the same weekend as the NFC Championship between the Vikings and the Saints……. WHO DAT……. Super Bowl Bound. We didn’t stay too long but long enough to grab some stuff to take home and of course the obligatory Abita Amber. I was back in New Orleans on Tuesday for a 2nd interview with the producers but due to time constraints was unable to meet up with my sister for lunch at Butcher,stupid clock………..Check out the rest of our visit below as told by the pictures.
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This post on our last part of our trip to New Orleans this summer is looooonnnngggg overdue so here it goes.
After a great lunch at Boucherie we headed over to Hansen’s Sno-Bliz on Tchoupitoulas St for a refreshing snack. The line was out the door but the wait was well worth it on a hot summer afternoon in New Orleans.
After checking into our hotel in the Central Business District we went walking around, more particularly towards the warehouse district. Two years ago when we came here we had a great meal at Donald Link’s Cochon. This time we wanted to check out his butcher shop/wine bar Cochon Butcher or as some call it the Swine Bar.
This place was great and I wish we could have spent some more time here. If you ever find your way down here please stop by Cochon Butcher, you will NOT be disappointed.
And on this note, I feel that my writing cannot fully capture all the details and the great time we had this trip so I am going to let the pictures (hopefully) tell the rest of the story,enjoy.
I know I keep saying this every few months but I have been really horrible about sitting down and writing a blog post. I guess I contribute it to everything going on this year – moving to a new house, getting ready for the new baby, job situation and of course the “project” I am working on that I really cannot speak about right now. Back in mid-July we were able to take a 3 day vacation to visit Ann’s sister at LSU in Baton Rouge and of course head further south and go to New Orleans.
There is so much to write about this trip and I think that is one of the reasons I have been putting it off. We had a great time, great meals and I finally got to meet one of my fellow food bloggers face to face after 3 years of conversing via email and our websites. To make this easier on me, as well as really showcase each experience I am going to split this post up into three different posts Hopefully after this one I can post the other two in the next week/weeks or so.
Post 1 – Baton Rouge, Perkins Rowe and the Schmo.
Post 2 – New Orleans, lunch at Boucherie with Blake Killian and Robert Peyton
Post 3 – New Orleans in the afternoon: Cochon Butcher, early evening, and the next morning.
Hope you enjoy……
Baton Rouge, Perkins Rowe and the Schmo
We left Shreveport early on Friday after dropping Ethan off at daycare (Ann’s parents picked him up just in case you are wondering), after a 4 hour trip that included a coffee frappucino being slung everywhere, numerous bathroom stops and Natchitoches meat pies for breakfast we arrived in Geaux Tiger land (that is what Ethan referes to it as). Ann’s little sister, the Schmo, attends LSU and the lucky little heifer lives right down the street from Whole Foods. For my readers who don’t live in a city with a Whole Foods you will understand my jealousy. We picked up some to go items from WF and ate at the front of the store (inside). The reason for the stop in BR was to help the Schmo get furniture for her new apartment. After driving all around BR and being in the middle as what I can only describe as a Honk-a-Thon on Perkins rd at 3pm, love the traffic btw, we decided to check Craigslist for deals on furniture. By the third call we had a winner, a fairly new couch for less than $100 and only two blocks from her new apartment. Score!!!
For dinner I wanted to try the Wine Loft in Perkins Rowe, a fairly new development off of the aforementioned slowest moving road in america in the middle of the afternoon on a Friday. The three of us split a cheese course, a wine flight and each ordered an entrée with the intention of sharing with each other. It turns out the only thing we shared was the cheese course. I cannot remember what everyone had even though I have the menu somewhere around here, but I do recall my entrée – a grilled flank steak with chimmichurri sauce alongside a salad of arugula,jicama and a citrusy dressing. The place was somewhat quiet, the server was very knowledgeable about the wine pairings and we all loved the food. If Shreveport had a better downtown scene I could see a place like the Wine Loft doing very well here but as of now, not so much. We do however have the excellent Wine Country Bistro on Line ave if you are looking for the same kind of atmosphere and cuisine.
We called it an early night so we could get up at the crack of dawn and start our trip south to New Orleans……….
Up next : Post 2 – New Orleans, lunch at Boucherie with Blake Killian and Robert Peyton
We were in New Orleans this past weekend and had some great food with some good friends…….
Cochon Butcher …..a palace of Swine
and lunch at Boucherie, I am still thinking about this great lunch
I should have a full write up soon………
A few weeks ago we traveled to NOLA for the weekend. Our nephew, Noah(on Ann’s side) was having his 2nd birthday and it was a chance for us to get together with family before Noah and his parents moved to North Carolina. We were not sure we would be able to go until basically the last minute. We both took off ½ day on Friday and drove down that afternoon( it is about a 5 hour drive from Shreveport).
We stayed at a hotel on Camp Street about two blocks off of Canal. It was not anything fancy but it was nice and paid for by her parents( thank you again). It was in a great location because you could pretty much walk to wherever downtown and parts of the warehouse district. The only thing that really bothered me was parking – seems like a rip-off if you ask me, shouldn’t that be included with the hotel rate???
The thing about New Orleans (and what we love) is that when you arrive you feel an “energy” that you do not get with other cities, along with the “smell” of the city and the humidity. It’s hard to describe but if you have been there before you should understand. Its not just that it is so much bigger than where we live but I think it is the mix of culture, the people, the tourists and mostly the food. We often go to Dallas which is about 3 hours away from Shreveport and though it has its own energy it does not compare to how NOLA is.
Okay so one of the things I hastily arranged when we knew for certain that we were coming down to NOLA was to arrange a meeting with Blake from BlakeMakes.com. I have been conversing with Blake since early fall and we constantly trade food ideas, talk about living in Louisiana and brainstorming about turning food ideas into viable businesses. Its strange how much alike we think sometimes. We settled on meeting up for lunch at Cochon on Saturday. I had eaten there about a year ago when we were in NOLA for a weekend in August (which I never blogged about but have plenty of pictures). Much to my dismay Cochon is not open for lunch on Saturdays. I received a call from them stating this in response to my online reservation request as I was circling downtown New Orleans looking for a parking spot near the hotel – I was not too happy around this time. I texted Blake for other suggestions and he mentioned La Petit Grocery so that is where we settled on going. Our weekend was pretty planned out for the birthday celebration but luckily lunch was free time and Ann’s parents offered to take Ethan to the aquarium. On a side note, my family is aware of my blog but not all of them understand what I am trying to do with it. Do you know how odd it sounded when we were explaining what our lunch plans were? “Oh we are going to meet up with a guy I have been talking to online” , I definitely got some funny looks.
We got to La Petit first (or so I thought) and sat in the back at a large round table. The restaurant is what you would expect in terms of décor for Uptown New Orleans. It’s located on the corner of Magazine street and a street I cannot remember. We were there for about 5 minutes when a familiar faux hawk emerged from the bar area (there are high booths in the bar area shielding it from the rest of the restaurant). Blake and his wife Bridget had been there waiting on us already, they joined Ann, myself and Ann’s little sister Alex at the back table. We had a really good time eating lunch there and hanging out with the brains behind BlakeMakes.com LaPetit is known for their hamburger and it did not disappoint. Having never met Blake before or even speaking with him on the phone it was funny how much alike we were and how the conversation flowed like it was old friends catching up. Alex told us afterwards that sitting at the table and listening to the four of us talk all she could think of is “oh crap there are two of them (couples)”.
As a parting gift I had brought along some pork belly that I had cooked with Blake’s Peanut Butter Dulce de Leche and a bottle of my Ancho Bacon BBQ sauce. You can read about what he did with it HERE.
On a side note with La Petit: one of their owners – Joel Dondis- catered my oldest sister’s wedding and Joel’s sister was Blake and Bridget’s wedding photographer, small world.
We ended our trip to NOLA by parking uptown and taking a streetcar ride up and down St Charles. Ethan was amazed by this as this was his first time on one. We had brought him to NOLA back in the summer of 2004 but he was only 7 months old at the time.
All in all it was a very relaxing and enjoyable weekend and look for big things to come from our lunch with the BlakeMakes team.