Archive for the Photos Category

Cochon– lafille’s Culinary Kryptonite

Posted in Eat, Entrees, Photos, Restaurants, Reviews with tags , , , , , on 9 February, 2010 by la fille

Monsieur D just celebrated his birthday, so that was the perfect excuse to treat him to a fancy dinner while he was in town. Cochon was on the shortlist, but after sending a request for suggestions into the aether that is Twitter the answer was clear and I made a reservation.

Now, when it comes to ordering from a menu, I usually pride myself on being a terrific food-chooser. Upon trying the dishes of my dining partners, I inevitably say, “That’s good, but I like mine better,” which is always what you want to be able to say.

For some reason, though, my food choosing skillz vanish when I walk into Cochon.  I acknowledge that it’s a terrific restaurant– I love the concept, and lord knows I LOVE meat (har dee har).

Both times I’ve eaten there, however, I’ve CHOSEN POORLY.

To give Monsieur D an idea of the kinds of things Cochon produces, we started off with the boucherie plate, consisting of homemade bologna, tasso, head cheese, pork rillettes, pickled tomatoes, baby toasts, and creole mustard. Everything tasted delightful, but we were both mainly enamored of the head cheese.

Last time I dined at Cochon, it was springtime and they were running a crawfish special, which I ordered for my entree. While tasty, I later wished I’d just gone with some pig, and vowed to do so on my next visit.

Guess what? I didn’t.

I ordered the rabbit and dumplings, while my companion went with the smoked beef brisket with horseradish potato salad. Now, to be perfectly clear, there was NOTHING WRONG WITH MY MEAL. It just wasn’t my style– being raised on super-simple chicken and dumplings, I’ve never been a fan of the type that contains carrots, celery, and other sundry additions, which is what they serve at Cochon.

The presentation is lovely, coming out in hot cast-iron, but once again, too much going on for my tastes.

Monsieur D’s brisket, on the other hand, tasted like melty, savory heaven in my mouth and I may or may not have contemplated incapacitating my friend in some manner so as to have the dish for myself. So tender that I hardly believed it was cow, with a mouthwatering sauce that was intensely flavorful, but which allowed the quality of the meat to shine through as well. The horseradish tater salad wasn’t anything to sniff at, either.

Cochon’s got a nice beverage selection, and we got a bottle of Dona Paula malbec, which is a nice, inexpensive red that Monsieur D likes but can’t get in his neck of the woods.

The service was just the way it should be– attentive yet unobtrusive– and when I called to say we were running a bit late, the hostess was accommodating and pleasant. (We ended up being on time for the reservation, which of course made her even more accommodating and pleasant.)

So– super interesting concept, great menu and beverage list, good service, nice atmosphere, tasty food…Cochon gets a lot of attention, but it’s definitely warranted.

Most importantly, the birthday gentleman had a stellar time.

Cochon

930 Tchoupitoulas St

504.588.2123

cochonrestaurant.com

Welcome to New Orleans, Monsieur

Posted in Eat, Photos, Words with tags , , on 4 February, 2010 by la fille

I know my posts have been sporadic since my return to Planet Blog, but I’ve kinda become a stereotypical bachelor. I’m hesitant to say stereotypical bachelorette, ’cause that just brings up a whole other slew of connotations altogether, and I do not, in fact spend my evenings at Chili’s getting sloshed on cosmos  sipped from penis-shaped straws while wearing a white veil. I do, however, spend a lot of evenings concocting meals from whatever ingredients are in the fridge, to varying degrees of success. I also don’t eat out a whole lot. Thus, not a great amount of blog fodder.

This weekend, however, was an extreme departure, as Monsieur D, my BFF in the world, flew in for a quick visit. Since this was the first time he’s been to NOLA since I moved here, there was a LOT to cram into 72 hours, including a whole lotta great food.

Most food decisions were left to me, but he did specifically request Parkway, somewhere with a great cocktail selection, and something upscale but Louisiana-y. So this weekend we enjoyed Parkway, Cochon, One Restaurant, Avenue Pub, Creole Creamery, and Fuel. And maybe something else…it’s still a bit of a blur.

As soon as I picked the monsieur up from the airport, we headed over to Parkway and gorged ourselves on a large surf ‘n’ turf po-boy, some sweet potato fries, and a couple of Abita Ambers.

Welcome to New Orleans, indeed.

(photo by lafille)

Recipe: Mango Yellow Curry

Posted in Eat, Entrees, Photos, Recipe with tags , , , on 29 December, 2009 by la fille

I spent some time waiting tables at a Thai restaurant when I was an undergrad, and while I absolutely despise waiting tables, I did get some positive things out of the experience. Primarily among those things was an unmitigated and abiding love of Thai food. I’m on a quest to find good Thai food here in New Orleans (episodes recounted here and here), and have yet to find a place that satisfies, so I’ve taken to cooking a lot more of it than I used to (here, for example).

All Thai-style curries rock balls, but yellow curry is by far the yummiest. It’s sweeter than green and red due to inclusion of cinnamon and cardamom, which I think provides a perfect balance with the spice. Of course, one varies ingredients depending on the curry, and here’s a list of stuff that’s awesome in yellow curry:

Onion

Potato

Carrot

Chicken

Shrimp

Tofu

MANGO

Almonds

Yellow bell pepper

Cauliflower

Sweet potato

Last night, I made a big batch to take to work for my lunches this week, and I included potatoes, carrots, onion, and mango.

I make a lot of yellow curry, not just because it is my favorite, but because New Orleans is the first place I’ve ever been able to find yellow curry paste in a grocery store and I am so excited about it. They carry it at Hong Kong market on the Westbank, which, if you haven’t been, IS THE BEST PLACE EVER. This is the shit you want to get:

Mae Ploy makes a great curry paste–if you aren’t making it from scratch, go with that brand. They do most kinds: yellow, green, red, massamun, panang, etc.

Although the traditional Thai accompaniment is jasmine rice, last night I used brown rice instead and was very pleased with my decision. I will probably be doing that from now on.

Ok, ok, on to the recipe.

Yellow Curry

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

2 c. brown rice

1/4 c. yellow curry paste

1 19oz. can of coconut milk (DO NOT USE “LIGHT” COCONUT MILK. IT IS DISGUSTING. GET FAT. IT’S WORTH IT.)

2-3 tbsp. fish sauce

1/3 c. sugar (Usually you’d use brown sugar, but I was out. You probably need less if you’re using brown sugar.)

1/2 c. water

Veggies, meat, fruit, cut into chunks or slices. For example, I used:

2 mangos

1/2 a large potato

1 medium sweet onion

2 medium carrots

Red pepper flakes or Sriracha if you want more spice

RECIPE

1. Cook rice according to instructions on bag. Brown rice takes longer to cook than jasmine rice, to plan accordingly. It usually works that you can start your rice cooking and by the time it’s ready, the curry will be also.

2. Combine curry paste and coconut milk in a wok or giant skillet on medium-high, and stir until the paste is blended in. Bring to a simmer, stir in sugar, fish sauce, and red pepper if you’re adding it. This would also be the time you add a protein if you’re using one, like chicken, and cook that.

3. Add ingredients based on time they take to cook. So in go the potatoes, carrots, and onions first. Simmer, stirring often, until they soften (15 minutes or so).

4. Toss in the mango and any other quick-cooking stuff and simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve over rice!

Also, go to Hong Kong Market!

925 Behrman Highway
Gretna, LA 70056-4569
(504) 394-7075

Grocery Stores as Cultural Microcosms

Posted in Eat, Imbibe, Photos, Words with tags , , , , , on 24 December, 2009 by la fille

Nothing gives one a sense of a new geographical area more than a visit to the grocery store. Okay, maybe that’s hyperbole, but you know what I mean. So much of a culture is wrapped up in its food that a trip to pick up some groceries tells you a lot about both the history and the present of a place.

Of course, we all know that New Orleans is a phenomenal example of this, but even in a place not so completely defined by its cuisine—like, oh, I don’t know, New Jersey—there are myriad regional differences.

First and foremost–bagels!

They just aren’t the same outside of the Northeast. One could argue that they aren’t the same outside of Manhattan, but my bagel standards aren’t quite THAT rigid. Shop-Rite had a whole WALL of bagels: plain, everything, sesame, garlic, blueberry, poppyseed, onion, raisin. Yum. Someone told me that climate has a huge effect on how one’s bagels turn out, and comparing NJ bagels with NOLA bagels I might believe it. Rusty’s bagels from The Bagel Factory are tasty, but they’re dense and too tough to enjoy unless you toast them. The Shop-Rite bagels in Jersey have attained the Golden Mean of pastries—nice and chewy, but fluffy on the inside, and delish toasted or no.

The seafood section’s another part of the store where you can get a real sense of place. Of course, nowadays everyone gets flash-frozen salmon, tilapia, and shrimp from halfway around the world, but there are still always fresh regional offerings. Naturally, there was not a crawfish to be found in Jersey, and the oyster selection was dwarfed by the choices of clams and mussels. (They don’t call it New England clam chowdah for nothin’.) I saw lots of little silver fish, too, like anchovy and smelt, and then there was this:

Fresh eel. Now I know you can find eel in NOLA, especially at the Asian markets, but I get the impression it’s probably a different kind—this seemed distinctly regional to me. Maybe I’m wrong, though.

As I turned away from the fish case, I noticed a bunch of prepackaged fish fillets that were just sitting on a table, not being refrigerated. “That’s weird and unsanitary,” I thought. Turns out it was salt cod, which I suspect is not only a regional thing, but a seasonal one as well. I figure it hearkens back to the days when you had to cure your meat to ensure you had enough to make it through the winter. Or, you know, to take on your whaling ship.

Regional differences tend to show up in the fresh parts of the store—bread, seafood, meat, veggies—but here’s one I found in the soda section:

Dr. Brown’s in a 2-liter? For $1.19?! Dan Stein, are you listening?

Beyond the food selection, and I never thought I’d say this, a trip to Shop-Rite in New Jersey is even more harrowing to a trip to Rouses on Carrollton. Although the patrons of Rouses are just as inconsiderate and oblivious to my existence as those at Shop-Rite, at least in New Orleans they’re slow about it. I have time to see that someone has no intention of moving to accommodate me and adjust my route accordingly. Everyone moves so quickly Up North that I don’t have time to get out of the way before being run over.

If you want to get a sense of a place, visit a grocery store.

New Jersey = bagels, clams, rock salt, fast-moving, no eye contact.

And no one asks about my mom and ‘dem.

I Got Gott

Posted in Eat, Entrees, Photos, Restaurants, Reviews with tags , , , on 17 December, 2009 by la fille

Something else that’s kinda cool about my new job is that I get a lunch hour. I’ve never worked a nine-to-five type gig before, so the concept of leaving in the middle of the day is new and exciting. I usually bring my lunch and sit in the park across the street, reading and just chilling in general, but yesterday I decided it was time to start venturing out for my mid-day sustenance.

Sending a call for suggestions into the aether that is Twitter, Eating in NOLA suggested Gott Gourmet on Magazine Street. Close by– check. Fast– check. Cheap– check. Online menu for easy phone ordering– check. Works for me!

Through a perusal of their website, I discovered that Gott is committed to being as environmentally conscious as possible, and their to-go packages are biodegradable. That’s awesome! I often feel bad getting takeout because of all the Styrofoam and plastic and whatnot.

Since this was a takeout order, I didn’t get to experience much of the place’s atmosphere, but it seemed clean, bright, and pleasant. The man at the register was friendly and personable, as well.

I ordered the Chicago-style hot dog, which came with chips, and a side of ancho-honey slaw.

That was a good dog. Big ol’ all-beef frank on a poppyseed bun, yellow mustard, shockingly neon green relish, sport peppers, a pickle spear, onions, halved grape tomatoes, and celery salt. Tart, spicy, and savory– all the things a Chicago dog should be!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the slaw, but it was pretty tasty. Even though it was mayonnaise-based (I usually prefer vinegar-based slaws), it wasn’t overly goopy and retained its crispness. The flavor was a lot milder than other similar slaws, maybe because of the addition of honey. Regardless, I enjoyed it.

I’d like to go back sometime when I can sit down and eat. The menu’s gott got (we’re not gonna do that) a fair number of tasty-looking items that look to be creative treatments of standard lunch fare (soups, salads, and sandwiches). They also serve breakfast on weekends.

Gott Gourmet Cafe

3100 Magazine St.

504-373-6579

gottgourmetcafe.com

Today in ‘Things You Don’t Want to Eat’: Horrific Mummified Vintage Candy Corn

Posted in Eat, Photos with tags , , on 15 December, 2009 by la fille


Horrific Mummified Vintage Candy Corn

Originally uploaded by matthewkirscht

From my friend, artist Matthew Kirscht:

I recently received this antique candy container, and since it already had poorly repainted eyes, I decided to make the eyes look a bit more natural to traditional German styling. After I finished it, I noticed the container seemed to feel too heavy, so I started pulling off the Plug on the bottom which I has assumed was glued on.

After deciding to go for it & tear it off completely, I saw what looked like wax inside. This puzzled me as I could see no point in Filling a candy container with wax. A few jabs with an exacto knife and these little mummified Candy corns began dropping out of the hole. In the end The piece now weighs about 1/8th of what it did having spilled its guts on my drawing board.

What I assumed was rubbing damage on the container now appears to have been liquid leaching out of the candy, and this was also the glue which had cemented the bottom plug on.

The Moka Pot

Posted in Coffee, Imbibe, Photos with tags on 13 December, 2009 by la fille

As a long-time devotee of the French Press, I was hesitant to try my new roommate’s stovetop coffee pot, partially out of snobbiness and partially out of FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN. I didn’t like the idea of using boiling water to make my cuppa– ideal coffee extraction temperature is about 195 degrees F, otherwise the extraction process is effed up and you get bitter coffee. Turns out it’s the steam that forces water up through the grinds, not the fact that it’s boiling. You’re supposed to remove the pot from the stove before it actually starts boiling.

Once that misconception was cleared up, I decided maybe I could get on board with the moka pot. (It may also have had something to do with the fact that the only coffee in the house was ground fine for said moka pot and had I used it in my press pot I would be drinking mud.)

Whilst stovetop brewing produces a very different cup from a French press, done correctly it’s delightful. Since steam and pressure play a major role in extraction, the resulting beverage is much more akin to espresso than press pot coffee. The only reason I still prefer the press is that I like my coffee just a little thicker, where there’s some sediment at the bottom of the cup when you finish. You definitely don’t get that with a moka pot.

So anyway, I’d recommend trying it out if you never have before. It’s less work than a French press, since you only need one vessel rather than a kettle and a press. Here’s a diagram:

So water goes in the bottom and coffee goes in the filter basket. For best results it should be ground more fine than for drip, but not quite as fine as espresso. Put the pot on the stove or whatever heat source you’re using and as the water heats up, the resulting steam will force it up through the filter into the upper chamber. Remove it from the heat before it reaches the boiling point (i.e. before it starts gurgling and spitting) and the steam will continue to force the remaining water upwards. There’s even a chance you’ll get some crema, just like a shot of espresso.

What’s your favorite coffee extraction method, and why?

(photo by lafille)