Building my sci-fi, utopian food court: Kebab

Sometimes, this eternally hungry fat girl wonders what it would be like to have her own, personalized food court. I could stand in the center, whirl around with my eyes closed, my arm outstretched like a pointer on the Wheel of Fortune, and slowly tick-tick-tick to a stop, anxious and excited to open my eyes and look even knowing full well that no matter what I land on, the choice will be, well, choice. Continue reading

House of the week: Shotgun on 6th Street

Picture Pippin on the porch!

No matter how hard I try to steer my focus away from house-hunting, there will always be those stray moments when I find myself drawn to a Curbed post or catching myself before I click on in my bookmarks. Today I had one of these moments only to find, yet again, another house to cry for.

Located on 6th Street in the Irish Channel, this 1300 square foot shotgun certainly isn’t a mansion. It isn’t a luxury abode that would find itself in Architectural Digest and it definitely wouldn’t be enough for a couple looking to start a family, but for me? For me it’s just right. Those telltale details that set my heart racing are all present and accounted for: high ceilings; hardwood floors; floor-to-ceiling windows; transoms; and exposed brick fireplace mantels. It’s only two bedrooms and one bath, but that’s plenty for John and I. There’s also an adorable front porch, a cool wrought-iron fence and a sweet patio out back just right for grilling. Continue reading

Still slurping …

What do you think? Have I given in or gone up? In all honesty, I thought creating a new venue on which to spew forth my love for the Crescent City might get the juices flowing again … so to speak. A shmancy new WordPress template seemed like just the fix, after all, who uses Blogger anymore? So here she is (I’m a she, so why can’t my blog be female?), in all her glory. I’ll take all and any feedback, unless you’re just trying to sell me something.

It’s … it’s … an ice cream po-boy?

When it comes to ice cream sandwiches, nothing is finer (in this Bay Area girl’s most humble opinion) than an It’s It. These rather notorious cookie and ice cream sandwiches have been around since 1928 and, regrettably, I tend to judge all other similar confections by their standard.

Now admittedly, It’s-It has gone somewhat downhill since I was a kid. The ice cream isn’t as creamy and the cookies seemed to have shrunk, but I will never forget being a sweaty, hungry 10 year-old girl who was treated to pizza and It’s-Its after a continuous stream of disappointing soft ball games. (*Our coach was flaky and cut out on the team right before our big game, taking all of the candy money we earned with her, but that’s another story). Smooth, dense chocolate ice cream sandwiched by two, chewy oatmeal cookies and dipped in dark chocolate … I can almost taste it.
Anyhow, recently I was cajoled into trying a new ice cream sandwich that New Orleans Ice Cream Co. just launched this June dubbed (as one might expect) the “Po’Boy.” Similar in size to the It’s It, the Po’Boys are made with the company’s own Creole cream cheese or vanilla bean ice creams delicately squashed between two chocolate cookies and dipped in milk chocolate. The quality, flavor and texture of the ice cream was top notch, or “ultra-premium,” as you might expect from New Orleans Ice Cream Co. and the cookies were chocolaty and crunchy, offering a pleasing juxtaposition to the creamy ice cream.

The Po’Boys were generally delicious and I look forward to possibly trying them in other flavors like the Coffee & Chicory or Ponchatoula Strawberry if they decide to expand the line. My only request would be to offer them with a dark chocolate coating too, because I just can’t seem to shake the ache for an It’s It. 

Tuning out

I want to be her again. Blissfully unaware, biding my time, plotting my escape to a place that finally understood and accepted me, exactly as I was. This moment was only one year before I made the move. This moment was three years before the levees broke.
My heart is wrenched recalling this moment because it took too damn long to find my home. My heart is wrenched recalling this moment because it was pulled from my grasp after only two short years of euphoria
My heart is wrenched because this place, while it still somewhat resembles the paradise I lost, is rapidly becoming the place I ran away from … and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
Should I run again? Or should I stay and find whatever solace I can among the remnants? Where would I run to? 

Breaking my fast at Biscuits & Buns on Banks

*Warning – Today I will be venturing into the realm of “too much information.” If you can’t hang with a bit of over sharing, I suggest you ramble on.

In a vain attempt to make a long story short, I suffer from recurrent UTI (a.k.a. urinary tract infection). Over the past several years, it’s gotten so bad that I have developed allergies to all of the typical antibiotics that “cure” UTI. That’s right, I break out into hives (or worse) when ingesting Cipro, Macrodantin, Bactrim (or any of the sulfa drugs), Doxycycline etc. I’ve tried many different remedies or forms of prevention, everything from non-sweetened cranberry juice and herbal extracts to D-Mannose, which, for those of you wondering, doesn’t work.

Anyhow, around two years ago I decided to cut out breads and pastas thinking perhaps my frequent infections were due to a gluten sensitivity and at first it seemed to work. A magical combination of herbal tinctures and eliminating gluten from my diet afforded me 8 glorious months without even one UTI.

Then one day, for no reason, they came back.

Frustrated, but determined, I became more vigilant in my gluten-free quest, increasing my intake of preventative herbals and diet options like cranberries, blueberries and yogurt, but to no avail. At minimum, I still get UTIs once every two months.

Throwing up my hands, I decided finally to fuck the gluten-free approach. Here I was denying myself one of the greatest pleasures on this gorgeous, green earth and for what? I didn’t lose any weight and my UTIs were back with a vengeance. What was the point?

So, when I say I was breaking my fast that morning several months ago when I first visited Biscuits and Buns on Banks, I’m being quite literal. Not only was I having breakfast, I was breaking a year-long, oh-so torturous fast from bread and let me tell you, I couldn’t wait to have a biscuit.

When I sat down in the small, but colorful dining room in the back, all I could think about were biscuits and I was pretty sure I was in the right place to score some. I was about to place an order for a side of biscuits, butter and jam when the waitress comes to the table with a complimentary plate of mini-biscuits with Steen’s-laced butter! With my goal in reach, I narrowly managed to restrain myself just long enough to place an order, after all, I couldn’t just gorge myself on free mini-biscuits, right?

As the server walked away, I pretended to be focused on creaming and sugaring my coffee when in reality, I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the biscuits. By the time the waitress returned with my entree, all three buttery biscuits had been demolished with only a few crumbs remaining in the aftermath.

My entree was the fried andouille hash cakes served with country-style potatoes and topped with two sunny-side-up eggs and a Creole cheese sauce.  Now, I am generally not a fan of cheese sauce unless it’s smothering a paper tray full of tortilla chips sprinkled with jalapeno peppers, but surprisingly, I did enjoy this particular dish in spite of the sauce, Perhaps I was still giddy from the biscuits…

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Swooning at Shaya

While I realize that everyone and their brother’s mother are waxing poetic about Shaya, I just can’t help jumping on the bandwagon. After all, Alon Shaya was awarded the 2015 James Beard for Best Chef: South and he is the undeniably creative force behind one of Downtown New Orleans’ most popular restaurants Domenica. So I’m getting on the praise train, not only for the above reasons, but also because Shaya is next in line on my (pitifully delayed) blogging schedule and because the restaurant is, without a doubt, fabulous.

Right after Shaya first opened in February, I pushed John out of his comfort zone (read: desk chair absorbed in a video game) and dragged him out to have lunch with me on Magazine Street. We arrived fairly early, but the restaurant was already packed. Since it was still rather cool, we opted to sit out in the courtyard which was empty when we were seated, but filled quickly as the afternoon progressed.

Though we wanted to order almost everything on the menu, we finally narrowed it down. Lunch began with a plate of warm, just-out-of-the-wood-fired-oven pita bread that was so delicious, it literally altered my definition. It was served with a small dish of olive oil, vinegar and sesame seeds, and though it was tasty, we had other plans for our bread.

In the “For the Table” section of the menu, we selected three different items that (I believe) were meant to accompany the fresh pita. We chose roasted beets (with cardamom I think), Ikra or paddlefish caviar atop a thick dollop of labneh, and another dish of the labneh with peppers and radishes. We also chose the Curried Fried Cauliflower Hummus with caramelized onion and cilantro. These dishes with the pita bread turned our little table party for two into a veritable feast! It was more than enough food for lunch, but because our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, we had also ordered a couple entrees.  

So, while we were ready to push the table back and pat our stomachs in commiseration, John’s order of lamb kebabs arrived along with my Matzo Ball Soup. The lamb was delicious! Even full, we had no difficulty inhaling the tender kebabs that were juicy, well-seasoned and served with tzatziki and pine nuts. The Matzo Ball Soup made with slow-cooked duck (normally made with chicken) knocked my socks off, but after everything else we simply couldn’t finish, although I must say we made a good dent.

Yes, we had eaten enough for four and yes, we were groaning, but you know I couldn’t leave without dessert and we didn’t regret that decision … not one bit. We ordered the “Milk & Honey” which turned out to be a labneh cheesecake served with burnt honey ice cream and granola. Cool, creamy, soothing and sweet, this dessert blew us away and even after I put down my spoon, John happily inhaled what was left. I can’t wait to go back…

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House of the week: Greek Revival on Philip St.

It seems I will continue to torment myself by searching through long listings of elegant New Orleans-style homes until either I win the lottery, write a best-selling novel or some philanthropic soul becomes empathetic to my misery and gifts me my dream house. What? It could happen!

During my latest tour of self-imposed dolor, I discovered this little beauty on Phillip Street. Naturally, all of the features you know I adore were present and accounted for including the ubiquitous hardwood floors and high ceilings, transoms, ceiling medallions, floor-to-ceiling windows, sliding pocket doors, exposed brick fireplaces and a freaking guest house out back past the courtyard.

Perks include being located within the luxurious Garden District, only four blocks away from St. Charles Avenue and less than one block from Magazine Street. Right around the corner we’d have Stein’s Market & Deli and District Donuts Sliders Brew. Plus, I would be in short walking distance of Juan’s Flying Burrito, Maya’s and more … not to mention the literal butt-ton of shopping available in that short, one-block stretch.

Perhaps if I wish upon a star, drop coins in a well or place my hopes on thousands of fluffy dandelion seeds blown into the wind, the $739,900 required to purchase this house will magically appear in my bank account, but until then, the dreams must go on.

Craving CIBO

Although during hot, summer days like today I tend to hide in the air-conditioned comfort of my apartment, I can’t help but hanker for something to eat that unfortunately, does not reside in my fridge. Since well past the lunch hour, I’ve been craving a good deli sandwich and the closest option in my neck of the woods is the Carrollton neighborhood newcomer dubbed CIBO.

This quaint, Italian-style deli opened up not too long ago in a space that has seen a long train of fairly unsuccessful ventures. For a long time, this little house-turned-restaurant on Carrollton Avenue was the home of Maurice French Pastries, but after they moved out, nothing has really stuck, until now (I hope).
John and I first visited CIBO way back in February, not long after it first opened. Though I am a po-boy fan through and through, I sometimes miss a well-made deli sandwich and for a long time, it seemed like the only worthy option was Stein’s Deli in the LGD, which can be a bit of a trek. So I was pretty excited to try CIBO, if only for a nearby source for quality cold cuts. 

We opted to sit at one of the few tables inside, even though they have lots of tables out front if you’re looking to lunch al fresco. After much deliberation, we placed our order at the counter and sat down to await our sandwiches. 

John chose the “Imports Combo” with  prosciutto, sopressata, capocolla, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, balsamic and extra virgin olive oil on Italian bread. This, my friends, was a magnificent sandwich with a beautiful balance between sweet, salty and tangy that really set my taste buds in a whirl. My only complaint? I would have loved more … more delicate deli meat, more cheese, more red peppers … especially for an $11 hoagie. Am I a little piggy? Perhaps, but I still maintain that twice the ingredients would have made the sandwich far more satiating than it was. 

I chose the Slow-Roasted Italian Pork Sandwich with caciocavallo cheese fondue and sauteed broccoli rabe served atop an Italian sub roll (of course). John was a bit jealous because my sandwich certainly had a lot more heft to it and it was both delicious and satisfying. Both sandwiches also came with a small cup of pasta salad, which while tasty, was nothing to write home (or a blog) about. 

Since that day, we’ve been back to CIBO many times and the food is consistent every time we go. I’ve also purchased some Italian bread and a pound of good mortadella from CIBO to make my own sandwiches at home. Another point of awesomeness would have to be their “filled-to-order” cannoli which, I’m pleased to say, give the ones at Angelo Brocato’s a serious run for their money. I might even go so far as to say they’re superior, but I fear repercussion from Brocato’s diehards. 
Anyone want to join me for a late lunch?

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Melting for Brown Butter Southern Kitchen & Bar

Several months ago, my friend Lorin and I met for lunch at Brown Butter Southern Kitchen & Bar. Located in Mid-City, Brown Butter opened up inside a strip mall early this year and seems to have made quite an impression in the six months following.

The restaurant was already jumping when we arrived, even though it was a bit late in the lunch hour. After saying hello to several people (including food writer Todd Price whom I finally met in person) we sat down and placed our order.

Because I simply couldn’t resist, I ordered their house made cream soda which turned out to be pretty much perfect, and surprisingly, not too sweet. We began our lunch with warm pork rinds, still crackling from the fryer, served in a brown paper bag (replete with grease marks) and served with a smoked-corn buttermilk dressing for dipping. As we munched, our entrees arrived … all three of them!

Lorin chose the steamed mussels with French fries, while I opted for a truffled egg salad sandwich on a split croissant with a side of fried Brussels sprouts. Because it sounded so fantastic, we also ordered their special, vinegar-braised beef short ribs served over creamy, stone-ground grits with a boiled peanut salad.  Yes, we were stuffed and yes it was a lot of food, but everything was just wonderful, particularly the short ribs, a dish we suggested should remain on the menu permanently … and it did!

Naturally, I couldn’t leave without dessert and Lorin indulged me. We ordered a rice pudding that was not so great, but then again, I am not a huge fan of rice pudding. But, we also ordered a crème brûlée that was better than great, it knocked our freaking socks off! Now I have to ask, are you melting for Brown Butter, too?

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