Saturday, March 9, 2013

N'awlins part Deux

Part Deux begins after nap time, when we headed to Harrah's to search for Brian's jacket. It was not there. We moved on to a place called Howlin' Wolf. A little dive bar just around the corner from the main character of this story: Cochon. The Howlin' Wolf was pretty cool. Again, we tried some local brews. I went with NOLA Brewing's Irish Channel Stout (not pictured). It was a little more like a porter as Shane pointed out, but the finish had some real coffee notes, which was tasty!

Then it was around the corner to another annual staple: Cochon's BUTCHER. We hit this place up every year, because it is consistently delicious. These guys are curing and smoking all the right stuff. Here's a picture of our table "number" with a couple of Covington Brewhouse's Ponchartrain Pilsners.
I had a coke!
Then we had a charcuterie plate!! Coppa, salami, duck rillette, duck paté, smoked pork loin, and I believe soprasatta with chow-chow, mustard, and house made crackers. As usual - BALLER!
We always get the BLT, because it is so ridiculously good, so no picture of that this time, but here is a picture of the Muffaletta. A plethora of house cured meats with olive salad. Mmmmmmmm....
Well, at this point, we had two hours to kill between our "lunch" at BUTCHER and our "dinner" at Cochon (the swanky joint attached to BUTCHER). Now, why did I put those meals in quotations you may be asking? Because at this point, meals were not assigned titles. There was just food and we ate it. Anywhoselbees, we killed those two hours by walking back around the block to the Howlin' Wolf. Another local beer was enjoyed. This time Tinroof Brewing Company's Perfect Tin. A real easy drinking amber ale. Not bad. Also not bad, are my photoshop skills that eliminated the flash blown out can and replaced it with a readable can.
And now for the reason you're all here: dinner at Cochon. Recently named one of Bon Appétit Magazine's "20 Most Important Restaurants in America", Cochon does a really great job of upscale Southern/Cajun.
We went mainly with the small plates so as to reach as much of the menu as possible. Pictured here are (from top right clockwise) fried boudin with pickled peppers - a true Cajun delicacy, these were some of the finest I've had; wood-fired oyster roast - I couldn't quite put my finger on what these oysters had been dressed with, but they were great; cabbage braised pork cheeks with radish, cucumbers & field peas - while these had really good flavor, they could have gone just a bit longer in the braise for a spoon-tender texture.
fried alligator with chili garlic aioli - sorry Pappadeaux alligator, you've been replaced. We almost ordered another plate of this, but we already had a cavalcade of cajun cuisine coming (say that 5 times fast!)
pimento cheese rice fritters  - yes. House made pimento cheese and rice. Balled up. Breaded. Fried. How they serve anything else at this restaurant, I don't know. Next time, I'm eating these until I'm sick; crawfish pie - like an empanada full of crawfish ettouffée, this sucker was delicious!
rabbit & dumplings - the only "entree" to hit our table, but man, OH, man, was it worth it!! The dumplings were cooked to perfection, the rabbit was tender as aw get out! macaroni & cheese casserole - just so good.
All that goodness, but the show stopper was shrimp & deviled egg gumbo. You read that correctly. They made the best shrimp gumbo I've ever had with the most chocolatiest chocolate roux that I've ever even heard of, then dropped a deviled egg in it. I'm just going to stop there because if I try to explain how delicious this was, I will fail so hard.
Our waitress asks, "Would y'all like to see the...." I stop her here. Yes. Yes we would like to see the dessert menu, you silly girl.
Now the menu picture is slightly out of focus, and for that, I apologize, but let me assure you that we chose wisely. Pictured (from top, clockwise) pineapple upside-down cornmeal cake with coconut - lime sorbet & dulce de leche - ridiculous; "Elvis" ice cream - peanut butter, banana, and bacon ice cream. Don't tell me to shut my mouth! You shut your mouth! It was really something to behold; banana strudel with butterscotch ice cream - I shouldn't even have to tell you how good this was. Let's just all think about it for a second.

After dinner, we mustered the strength to waddle down to Bourbon Street, even though we had stuffed ourselves sill and it was about 35º outside. We walked in to this joint because we all had to use the boys room. So as to not be rude to the owner's of this "fine" establishment, we purchased a few beverages. $27. For THREE domestic beers. We should have seen the signs.
No really, look at the spelling here: "BUD LITE"?! It's ON THE TABLE TENT, YOU DUMMY!!!! And the sign behind the bar is extolling the wonders of Club Sing Sing at 418 Bourban St. Really? You couldn't just poke your head outside to look at the sign? Or maybe, I don't know, look at a bottle of bourbon? Worst bar ever. 

So as not to end on a low note, I'd like to reiterate that we, once again, had an incredible time in New Orleans again this year. As always, I can't wait for next year. Our "Places to Eat" list is getting smaller, but they keep putting up fine eating establishments there, so we're gonna have to keep up. 

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

N'awlins pt1 and MORE!

Unlike last year, I'm actually going to finish this New Orleans blog. ALSO, the end of this blog features a really big announcement. Please don't just scroll to the bottom. Thanks. You already did, didn't you? Well please get yourself a nice cup of tea, wrap up in a blanket, and check out the rest of the blog anyway.

Joel, Brian, Shane, Josh, and myself journey to the Crescent City every year just after Mardi Gras. It used to be for reasons other than food, but now... well.... it's mostly about food. If you followed on facebook last weekend, this little trip down memory lane will provide the visuals to those status updates.

We stopped at Drago's for charbroiled oysters to start, as we do every year. I believe I posted pictures of these last year, so here's some pictures of the beers we had!
I'm turning into somewhat of a beer nerd, so we went with as much local beer as possible throughout the whole weekend. Bayou Teche's LA31 Pale Ale was a really easy drinking pale ale that paired great with the grilled oysters. Lazy Magnolia's Southern Pecan was my favorite of the weekend. I'm really starting to move more toward malty, caramel beers than the hoppy stuff. And Covington's Strawberry Ale was like a savory strawberry Fanta. Really not bad.

After charbroiled oysters, we went for... more oysters. This time at Felix's Oyster Bar. Here, as you ordered oysters on the half shell, they just shucked 'em and put them right on the counter. It was great. We had Abita's Andygator. The gentleman sitting next to me at the bar was kind enough to point out that this particular brew, was 8% ABV, after we had ordered it. It was super sweet, which in the beer world means, jet fuel.

And then we had dinner. At 11pm. (I told you it was about the food!) Sylvain came recommended from my pal Jenna. It did not disappoint.
Again, we hit up some local brew. I again went with a Bayou Teche, this time the LA31 Boucanée - a smoked wheat ale. I had ordered the beef cheek, so I thought this would be a nice pair. I was right.
Here is Joel presenting a lovely 2013 L'eau Du Robinet Nouvelle Orléans.
Here is a picture of (left) Shane's Slow-Cooked Pork Sandwich pickled collards, roasted garlic and chili oil. It was tasty, but not as tasty as my (right) Braised Beef Cheeks potato puree, sweet onions, field peas, natural jus. SPOILER ALERT! I'm going to show you the other dishes ordered, but, as usual, my dish won dinner.
Joel's (left) Pappardelle Bolognese parmigiano reggiano, house made durum pasta was good, but nothing to write... about. Brian and Josh both got the (right) “Chick-Syl-vain” Sandwich buttermilk-fried chicken breast, house made pickles which was just a really good chicken sandwich.

DAY  2
Yea. All that other stuff was the first night. I got up the next morning and hit up the ol hotel continental breakfast. Most people wouldn't count that as a real meal. So neither will I. This picture is the outside of Elizabeth's Restaurant which was recommended by a friend of Joel's. What a cool building huh?
As we knew that there was a full day of eating ahead of us, we started with some Praline Bacon and Boudin Balls, then went splitskies on our entrees.  

Shane and I shared the Duck Waffle Sweet Potato and Duck Hash on top of a Corn Bread Waffle with Pepper Jelly. Tasty, but really more like a sweet potato and duck mash than a hash. Also could have used more duck.
Josh and Joel went with the Grillades & Grits Smothered steak with Creole Gravy. This was really good. Maybe like 15 minutes over braised, but still a really good dish. 
On the way home from brunch, we stopped at Willie Mae's Scotch House for the best fried chicken ever. Yes. ON THE WAY HOME FROM BRUNCH WE GOT FRIED CHICKEN. Because that's how we do. Please note, this joint is NOT in a nice part of town.
Let's take a break. A little "Brand X" with Russell Brand, a truly awful show? No?
How about a little nap? No?
Well then, how's about that announcement I promised, and we'll finish the New Orleans blog tomorrow. Which you'll definitely want to read because we'll cover Cochon, Cochon's Butcher, Frozen Bourbon Milk Punches, Bourbon Street, and IHOP!!!!

As promised in my previous blog "Beer Coffee Steak Bacon Corn" I have some really cool news: Myself and my pals Greg and Mike have started a catering/event company!!! Not so much birthdays and bar mitzvahs, but more like beer tasting events and private parties. Of Course is the name of the company and we have an event planned already!!! 

April 6th at Hops & Grain Brewery, we are pairing six passed appetizers with six of their awesome beers. It is going to be a great time! Leave a comment on the blog for a coupon code for tickets to the event. Check out the website for more info and tickets.