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Dec 30, 2013 12:22 PM

...and a happy New Year!

Fellow NOLA board, chowhounders.

Thank you all for being wonderfully opinionated, thoughtful and knowledgeable eaters and drinkers. You already know how much I **love your city** and I consider myself a west coast ambassador to New Orleans. So fun to meet a few of you in 2013!

I wish you all a delicious and libational 2014. Following is my list of relevant resolutions:

1. Try new recipes at home, and even occasionally post/lurk on @ Chow’s Home Cooking board. [Got a lovely Kyocera ceramic chef’s knife last week. I’ve tried a couple of recipes from Cooking for Two (America’s Test Kitchen), but so far the recipes are a bit bland for me.]
2. Collect some classic cookbooks. Suggestions?
3. One a month “girlfriend” foodie dine out night in San Francisco or East Bay.
4. Three trips to New Orleans, partaking of at least four (4) new restaurants each trip. Here are a few "new to me" spots on my 2014 wish list, in no particular order:
a. Clancy’s
b. Gautreau’s
c. Marti’s
d. Brightsen’s
e. Mariza’s
f. Bacchanal
g. Willie Mae’s Scotch House
h. Toup’s Meatery – still need to go!
i. Lucky Rooster
j. Cane & Table
k. Crabby Jack’s
l. Bar at R’evolution
m. What am I missing? Besides the many that will open up between now and May? Any news on Zimet's new place?
5. Parkway Po-Boy re-visit tradition. I honestly need to include the P-way stop for oyster/shrimo Po-boy, sweet potato fries and Abita beer on pretty much every visit.
6. Try Cochon Butcher’s muffaletta. Have not tried any muffaletta’s yet, shameful! Need to give CB another try.
7. Work through that delightful bottle of Cardenal Mendoza brandy my dear husband just got me for Christmas.

Happy New Year’s, chow friends. Can’t wait to see your posts and reviews.

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  1. Clancy's, Gautreau and Brigsten's are the ones on the list I frequent Willie Mae's is nothing remarkable but it made people feel adventurous to go there. I kinda thought it was proppsed up by Beard folks who probably never went to something like the late, great Eddie's on Law Street

    5 Replies
    1. re: hazelhurst


      I am with you on Willie Mae's - good, but not something that I will remember for the rest of my life.

      I feel the same way about the highly vaunted Fried Chicken by Chef Joseph Lenn (James Beard House - Best Chef in the SE) of Blackberry Farm - good, but not even near the top.

      For me, if one has not dined at Chef Frank Brigtsen's, that would be at the top of my "bucket list."


      1. re: Bill Hunt

        Thanks, Bill, I will move Brightsen's higher up the list.

        My daughter and her grandad went, on my recommendation, but I have not been. Taking Willie Mae's off unless we are nearby.

        Daughter -- the now 2.5 year N.O. resident -- says her folks/friends think the gas station "Brothers" fried chicken is some of the best in town. Location alone means that may be well outside my purview. :]

        I can take or leave fried chicken -- although I am happy to hear more about who is "near the top" in or around New Orleans.

        1. re: karendor

          Brothers really is pretty good, as is Magnolia Discount, another gas station/convenience store. Mag Discount also has excellent meat pies. McHardy's on Broad is probably my favorite overall. I've never been to Willie Mae's, so I can't compare.

          1. re: uptownlibrarian

            Good to get confirmation about Brothers. I saw a sign on a Common Street convenience store, but was not brave/hungry when I passed by. Ended up with soup at Merchant which was yummy.

            McHardy's looks more up my alley, and close to the fairgrounds -- so it may work well for the JF trip. Never too early to plan for the May 1 - 7 adventure.

            Thanks, uptownlibrarian.

          2. re: karendor


            That is a new one to me, BUT we no longer live in NOLA, so our visits tend to be fairly structured, and we miss so very much.

            That is one of the great things about this board - I get to live a bit of the NOLA cuisine (and I am talking about the "food" of NOLA here), through the regulars, and the locals. So very much that we just do not have the time to explore any longer.

            Enjoy, and travel safely!


      2. Thanks, hh. Yeah, it was more of a "should" regarding fried chicken, but not a high priority, and I appreciate your feedback. I might have it mixed up with Miss Mae's bar? Oops.

        1. A very Happy New Year to you and yours! I think you have some mighty fine goals for '14.

          The Muffuletta gap can certainly be remedied. I think CB does a good good job but for your first one, I'd really have to recommend the Napoleon House's offering. Of them all, I think they have the best olive salad (theirs includes chickpeas and I particularly like that). Plus it can be washed down with a half dozen Pimm's Cups and nothing beats the Muff + Pimm's + the N.H. courtyard on a hot day.

          That said, Tracey's on Magazine is my go-to place for a quick lunch Muffuletta -- they slap the meat on the grill for a bit before making the sandwich; I think that's a nice touch if a little unorthodox. Plus I just kind of like Tracey's in general.

          I have no idea what became of Zimet's new place but can report that the building had been being worked on for a while (that is to say: there was a roll off out front) but looks abandoned now and -- if memory serves -- has a realtor's sign up.

          I suspect Oxalis will make it onto your list. I haven't been to their new location yet but gosh, the food they served out of Cane & Table's kitchen was damn good.

          My favorite cookbook, by far, remains Fergus Henderson's The Whole Beast. It's not a reference work and it's kind of impractical in some regards but if you have basic technique down and want to go exploring, it's a good jumping off point. Henderson, for me anyway, is up there with the food writers whose prose borders on slightly erotic. MFK Fisher's books are similar (but not really cookbooks exactly) -- Consider the Oyster remains my favorite of hers. Anything by Elizabeth David or James Beard is to be recommended for similar reasons. And don't forget Julia.

          On topic: Emeril's cookbooks are pretty damn good. I realize it's cool to dis the big E. but I learned how to cook from his TV Dinners book ... the recipes always work and are founded in solid technique. I'm not sure how much of that is him and how much is Marcelle Bienvenu but I'm not sure that matters.

          2 Replies
          1. re: montuori

            Thank you so much, km! I am very excited about the cookbook recommendations - and this is wonderful news about a Muffaletta treat at Napolean House.

            "nothing beats the Muff + Pimm's + the N.H. courtyard on a hot day."

            My best girlfriend and I (she was the NOLA virgin) are doing the JF May '14 trip -- and she loves NH's Pimm's Cups so now that I know about it as a preliminary sandwich hallmark, at least two goals (perhaps more!) will be fulfilled in one easy trip to the heart of the quarter.

            Last April, after just two NH Pimm's Cups, she and I each bought a floppy hat bedecked with a big flower at one of the Chartres shops near NH, we sat lazily in the white chairs outside the boutique (I think a Go Cup was involved), took a pedicab pack at our hotel -- all the while watching the driver's nice booty -- and laughed like crazy because in that tipsy state my hat was quite askew a' la Minnie Pearl. (Miss B will like that story!)

            Great response, as always, and I hope I see you both in May.

            1. re: montuori

              Speaking of Napoleon House. Great photo, and quite a distinction for New Orleans to nab a spot on this list:


            2. I am interested in montuori's response and I think Napoleon House is a good idea. I can argue that the olive salads around town aren't what they were--I think there was more garlic in the 1960s---but whathehell. Cochon Butcher gets rave reviews but "purists" (meaning Old People) think it is too "artisanal," to manifestly High Falutin'...ought to be blue collar quick stuff, like a po'boy or poor boy. You decide.

              For cookbooks I think you should track down the late Leon Soniat's stuff, La Bouche Creole (2 volumes). These are reprints of his newspaper articles. Leon was a delightful man who loved anything about food, history, name it. He "hammed it up" in his writing but he was genuine, as opposed to many later "chefs" who talk about how "Memere" used to corral th' chirren out on th' farm for the annual Crawfish Drive and Tante Alphoreada made her Creole Sweet Potato-and German Something pie/gumbo. Leon told a truth and you'll enjoy his stories.

              Curious about the Fergus Henderson recommendation. I have never looked at it. The whole "phenomenon" struck me as odd but on reflection I suppose he does a service of reintroducing what was already known. I was down beyond Back Vacherie a few weeks ago and went into a local grocery. The had tripe and sweetbreads and kidney and they always have had it. In New Orleans tripe, for instance, has not always been easy to find and sometimes it will be available at an upscale grocery for quadruple cost of a neighborhood place in a low-income area. It is a game, I suppose.

              I'll stick up for Emeril here. He does know how to cook. I used to see and talk to him in his sous chef days and he is a decent fellow. He's got the bit in his teeth, though, and the Empire is on the march. He is selling an harm there. The fact is, thought, that meuniere is meuniere anywhere. Hollandaise is hollandaise. Butter will vary in quality but the fabrication does not. My 1930s Joy of Cooking has recipes that are almost identical to Besh/Link/Anyone..packaging makes a difference.

              12 Replies
              1. re: hazelhurst

                Thanks, hazelhurst and montouri...I wish you both a delicious 2014.

                Honestly, getting past this olive salad business is my issue so I may call on you for some "in person" support for the NH repast come May. Especially since my friend is vegetarian. Oh dear!

                And I agree with hazelhurst on my "tackling" a more standard version of the dish: I want to get past anything artisanal, sit down and give it a whirl alongside a strong drink.

                Cookbooks: I fondly recall my mom's tattered Joy of Cooking, guessing it was a 1950s edition, so I think I need to track a used copy down. Like the idea of picking up a used Emeril's TV Dinners (1998?). Both Elizabeth David and Fergus Henderson look like quite interesting.

                Just found La Bouche Creole I and II by Leon Soniat (love the name!) on Amazon. This should be fun and fattening.

                Not sure I am quite ready for Beard or Julia, but will keep my mind open, especially for the foundational sauces. I am sure my stepmother has all the classics in her immense cooking library.

                Thanks for the info on Oxalis. Can't wait to read your reviews.


                Happy New Year!

                1. re: hazelhurst

                  I went into La Bouce Creole for the grillades receipe last week. One should have a few "roots" cookbooks in their collection.

                  All these decades of cooking and I finally cooked grillades and turtle soup, both for the first time, and in the same week. The grillades were outstanding but the turtle soup needs some fine tuning. Although it was much improved as leftovers the third day.

                  In reviewing a half dozen receipes for each dish there was not a lot of difference among the receipes other than the amoungs of each ingredient. And I've always considered that the choice of the cook.

                  Also there are those that add trinity to roux and those that add roux to trinity. For turtle soup one school says brown the turtle meat and the other school says boil it.

                  Not being a math wizard, with all the ingredients and methods for making gumbo or stews, the number of permutaions possible must be very high making the question "Who has the best gumbo" unanswerable.

                  It may be easier to state whose gumbo to pass up.

                  1. re: collardman

                    Thanks, collardman, and congratulations on your bold cooking choices last week. I ordered a used spiral-bound version of "La Bouche Creole I' and a paperback of "French Country Cooking" by E. David. Saturday night adventures for me and Bob.

                    I am a big believer in your quote regarding amounts of each ingredient: "And I've always considered that the choice of the cook."

                    My daughter tells a NOLA story of watching three young men try to collaboratively cook a pasta dish for a church group; the resulting discussions/analysis were quite excessive and hilarious according to her. Again, these were young chemical, mechanical and nautical engineers. I am much more liberal in my recipe interpretations.

                    ##Any great NY Eve dining adventures for my chow brothers?##

                    We settled on a very mediocre neighborhood joint where the red wine (a Sonoma county blend from Hook & Ladder) was the standout of the evening. Poor hubby's squash ravioli was quite drowned in a horrific looking white sauce. Sad. Thankfully, step-mom's homemade persimmon pudding righted any problems from the earlier meal.

                    1. re: collardman


                      Did you do the turtle soup from scratch, and the ground up?

                      The reason that I ask, is that we tried that once, very long ago (still lived in NOLA then). My wife cooked the turtle meat, then cooked the turtle meat, and finally cooked the turtle meat. This was long before the days of slow-cookers, and we NEVER did get it tender. Sort of reminded us of Charlie Chaplin's "Gold Rush"

                      Just curious,


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        I did the soup from almost scratch, that is no turtle catching involved.

                        I went to two groceries that generally handle animal odds and ends but they didn't have turtle meat. Off all places it was good old Rouse's that now carry frozen turtle and alligator.
                        I was concerned that the meat would be tough but went with the browning start and the meat was tender. Although for the next batch I will boil the meat. (Having high milage I was familiar with the Tramp reference, but catching the video was a treat)

                        I agree that the two cookbooks you mentioned. River Road and Talk About Good, are great standards to have on the shelf

                        1. re: collardman

                          One of the problems with boiling is that stuff smells awful and it is with some trepidation that I use that stock even though it comes out fine. The veal stock substitute is the standard now I think. I'm trying to wheedle the recipe from one of the Old Line clubs and am getting close after about twenty years. A friend has the Southern Yacht Club's version and it is outstanding.

                          Speaking of grillades, try the NO Junior League plantation cookbook version. The problem with commercial efforts tehse days is that no one pounds the flour into the meat and browns it anymore so it is, often, just a beef stew.

                          Look a River Road's etoufee recipe--that is one of the earliest published don't see it in older cookbooks

                          1. re: collardman

                            Sounds like you had MUCH greater success, than we did, and that is a very good thing.

                            We also did not catch, but with that cooking time, I think that we could have raised a brood...

                            Were my wife to do that one again, I think that she would use a pressure cooker for the first 10 days, then a slow-cooker for the next 10... [Grin]

                            I need to pick up a new copy of "River Roads Recipes," as my wife's is really biting the dust - but then, she would have to copy all of the various annotations over to the new one.

                            We are about to renovate her kitchen, and will add a computer to the butler's pantry, just for her various recipes. I will add a smaller scanner to it, just for the purpose of getting an electronic copy of decades of great recipes. One can never have too many cookbooks, or recipes.

                            Enjoy them turtles...


                        2. re: collardman

                          <<Not being a math wizard, with all the ingredients and methods for making gumbo or stews, the number of permutaions possible must be very high making the question "Who has the best gumbo" unanswerable.>>

                          I could not agree more. I have had Gumbo, that was a light broth w/ tiny shrimp over rice, that was oh, so delicious, and have had Gumbo, that was almost tar-black, and had to be eaten with a fork, that was wonderful too.

                          Now, I am a big fan of my wife's version (dark brown with Smoked Sausage and Seafood), so long as she does NOT listen to any family members, and just does HER version. Her brother will send up "Gumbo in a Box," counter-to-counter via SW Airlines, with the "fixins" in dry ice. Then, she works her magic, and we dine well for several days. If she listens to other family members, things just seem to go "off," and not to my personal tastes. It's akin to asking a dozen residents of Mexico, "who has the best mole?" There will likely be 12 different answers, and 12 different recipes. All can be good to excellent.


                        3. re: hazelhurst

                          Along with "La Bouche Creole," I have two more, "River Roads Recipes" (not sure if in print now), and "Talk About Good." OK, the latter is by the Lafayette Junior League, but much of it will translate to NOLA Cuisine too.


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            Both cookbooks are available (spiral bound!) used on Amazon.

                            Emerging classic collection of Louisiana spiral bounds soon to be in my tiny kitchen.

                            My stepmom just *refused* to lend me her Beard/Child books, so apparently I will check out the local library soon.

                            You chow-brothers are my new family. :/

                            1. re: karendor

                              Happy New Year, sweet Karen! So many gems yet to try on your 2014 visits, hope to see you at one of them!