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.
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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.  Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Sticking to the pie at Pizza Domenica

Several months back, my singular dining companion Anne and I hit up Pizza Domenica for the first time. I’d been to Domenica quite a few times and I was curious if the Uptown pizza outpost held up the same commitment and quality as the CBD original, only because in my general experience, sequels tend to disappoint.

Anne and I arrived post-lunch rush so only about a quarter of the tables were filled. We ordered at the counter, as you’re supposed to, and sat down to await our bounty. We began with a few appetizers, the first being beef meatballs atop creamy polenta in an arrabbiata (garlic, tomatoes and chili peppers) sauce. As excited I was to sink my teeth in, the flavor of the meatball itself was somewhat bland, but I did enjoy the polenta and the spicy arrabbiata sauce.

The next two apps came together, a tuna crudo with avocado and Mandarin oranges and a shaved Brussels sprouts salad with toasted almonds, golden raisins and Creole mustard vinaigrette. The crudo was somewhat lackluster in presentation and the Mandarins, while an interesting addition, tended to make the whole dish too sweet for my taste. On the other hand, the salad was delicious and we scarfed it up, my only dismay happening in the second-to-last bite that oddly contained a piece of clear plastic. Strange, no?

Because the meal seemed a disappointment so far, especially when compared to the excellence at Domenica, I felt ready to give up before the main course. Before I could make up my mind to tell Anne I was pretty much done, our pizza arrived. Anne and I agreed on the Smoked Pork pie with mozzarella, red onion, Anaheim chiles and salsa verde. Thankfully, the pizza was absolutely divine and well-worth waiting for! The crust was thin and crisp and we had no difficulty gobbling the whole pie even after all the appetizers. All in all, I’m hoping I just went on a bad day, but the pizza was certainly worth a return trip.

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5 New Orleans Homes I’d Buy If I Were Filthy Rich

Wallowing in my poverty-stricken misery, I thought a listicle of homes I could never-ever attain would serve as appropriate torture for committing a few oh-so deadly sins; specifically lust, greed and envy. Though I cannot fathom how it would feel to be filthy, stinking rich, I sure know what I would do with all that excess…

1. Victorian on Esplanade Avenue

Over 4,000 square feet of magnificent hardwood floors, elaborate moulding, transoms, floor-to-ceiling windows, wrought-iron balconies, high ceilings and much more. This quaint beauty also comes with a guest cottage replete with a full kitchen and it’s right on the corner of Esplanade and Royal on the edge of the French Quarter and shaded by gorgeous oak trees. It’d be a drop in the bucket to a billionaire like me listed at $2,375,000.

2. Sidehall on Dauphine

Located in the Marigny Triangle, this 1890’s Victorian Sidehall is stunning with hardwood floors and heavy wooden mouldings, double parlor, built-in bookcases, wood-beamed ceiling, impeccable architectural details both inside and out, and, to top it all off, an in-ground swimming pool out back. Compared to the first house, this one is being sold for chump change at a mere $1,250,000
3. Greek Revival Mansion on Esplanade

This particular property really makes me drool with incredible architectural details like high, curved ceilings, sliding pocket doors, double parlor, wainscoting, bead board ceilings, wrought-iron balconies, transoms, floor-to-ceiling windows, claw foot tubs, and I believe there’s also a guest room next to the garage in back. This house is on the Esplanade Ridge just on the other side of I-10 which drops the price down a smidgen to a piddly $1,097,000.

4. Queen Anne on Josephine 

This one kind of blows my mind considering it’s questionable location in Central City, but what do I care? I’m loaded, right? I can hire 24-hour security if I’m that paranoid. Located approximately two blocks from St. Charles Avenue, this awesome house has a huge front porch, high ceilings, hardwood floors, a truly incredible wooden staircase, rich wood-paneled wainscoting and trim, tall windows and doorways with transoms, several fireplaces, French doors, bead board ceilings and a magnificent renovated attic. With almost 5,000 square feet of living space, this house is steal at $899,000.
5. Creole Townhouse on Burgundy
Saving one of the best for last, this three story, historical head-turner offers it all… plus a little lagniappe. The transoms are more elaborate and artistic, all of the rooms seem to be decked out with chandeliers and towering ceilings, French doors abound from room to room and letting out onto the balconies — this place is a freaking dream. Built in the early 1800s, this home offers all of the historic detail I crave while allowing elements that are modern, yet elegant. Located in the French Quarter, this divine diva would only set me back a paltry $2,950,000 and it would be worth every penny.
*Just in case you were wondering, the answer is yes. If I was a mega-billionaire, it’s likely I would buy ALL of these houses, not just one. Otherwise, what’s the point of being filthy rich?

**Please also note that these homes are all on the market right now. If had my choice of ANY house in New Orleans, this list would be quite different!

Breakfast at Blue Line Sandwich Co.

While I don’t often journey into Metairie, when I heard (quite a few months ago) that Chef Brad McGehee had opened up his own breakfast spot after leaving Ye Olde College Inn, I simply had to go check it out. Though it is tough to convince John to leave the house on Saturday mornings, I managed to drag him out for breakfast at the Blue Line Sandwich Co. on Metairie Road.

When we walked in, there was a lull at the counter so we were able to order quickly, get our giant mugs of French Truck Coffee and grab a table before the rush. While we waited for our food to arrive, we watched traffic roll by outside the window and commented to each other on the sparse, but appropriate blue decor.

By the time we were almost finished with our first cuppa Joe, our food came flying out of the kitchen all in a rush. We decided to share a plate of biscuits and gravy, and while the biscuits were buttery and fluffy, the gravy was a lot thinner in consistency then I had hoped, even though the flavors were all present and accounted for. A minor glitch, perhaps?

For entrees, John ordered the Cochon de Lait Biscuit and I got the Broken Yolk Sandwich. John’s slow-cooked pork with grilled tomatoes and red-eye gravy certainly looked “to die for,” but the flavor was somewhat blander than he had imagined. On the other hand, my sandwich made with house-corned beef, Swiss cheese, grilled onions and a fried egg on seven grain toast was spot on. My only complaint was a devout wish for more corned beef because it was, put quite simply, off the friggin hook.

All in all, I chalked any oddities up to being a newly opened restaurant that was still working out the kinks, but the beautiful biscuits and my Broken Yolk Sandwich are more than enough reason to seek a return trip.

Blue Line Sandwich Co. on Urbanspoon

House of the week: Condo on Napoleon Avenue

My boyfriend John won’t even entertain the idea of buying a condo. When I find a cute half double or a cool apartment in an old home spilling over with character and history, John will completely write it off if there’s a mere mention of the “c” word. But, I do believe that if this particular condo was anywhere near our price range, he’d swiftly change his mind.

Located inside a stunning building that long ago served as St. Elizabeth’s, an orphanage in the 1860’s (previously owned by famous author Anne Rice), this particular unit appears to be centered in what was, at one point, a chapel. We’re talking 24-ft ceilings, awe-inspiring stained glass windows, 3 bedroom, 5 bathroom, 5,000 square feet of reverent wonder. I mean, just look at this place! There’s a freaking theater upstairs! For the first time on this fantasy house-hunt of mine, I am at a loss for words. 
Who lives in places like this? Listed at a paltry $4,950,000, I’m sure it will never be me. 

Alfresco lunch at Pho Cam Ly

A few months back, my buddy Anne and I enjoyed lunch at Pho Cam Ly on Magazine Street. Over the years, I’ve eaten a lot of pho at a lot of different Vietnamese restaurants but there are always a few that can’t help but stand out. Pho Cam Ly is on that list.

Why?
So many reasons! First, Anne and I arrived right after the lunch rush at noon and were able to score a seat on the porch of their gorgeous sidehall-turned-restaurant. After perusing the menu, Anne and I ordered a veritable Vietnamese feast, and settled to sipping sodas and gabbing till our lunch arrived.  
We started with an appetizer of steamed buns (banh gap) stuffed with grilled pork, fresh cilantro and pickled carrots that was flavorful and plentiful, seeing as you got three large buns for only $5.50.  We also ordered the fried egg rolls that were crispy, meaty and pretty much gone about as quickly as you can say “cha gio.” 

In short order, our soups arrived. I chose the pho tai with raw eye of round which was huge, even though it was a regular-sized order. The broth had that wondrously delicious depth present in any great pho, the beef and noodles were tender and plentiful, and the price was happy dance-worthy at only $6.75. I can’t recall if Anne got the pho chin with brisket or the pho bo vien with beef meatballs, but I do recall her devouring it almost as quickly as I did. 

Overall, it was a satisfying, traditional Vietnamese lunch savored at a surprisingly stellar price, and who could say no to that? Certainly not I…

Pho Cam Ly on Urbanspoon

House of the week: Shotgun on North Rampart St.

Have you ever experienced love at first sight? I have, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Yes, I am head-over-heels in love with an object. More specifically, I am in love with a house. This IS my house. This is what I picture when I dream about the perfect little abode for John and I. I see myself here…I must have it!

I want it now!

Like Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (the old one with Gene Wilder mind you, not that demented Johnny Depp version), I want a house, a house on N. Rampart Street. There’d be roomfuls of laughter, bows in my hair and all kinds of bean feasts if I could slap the cash down for this ultimate little haven.

Located in Bywater, this absolute jewel is a two bedroom, one bath shotgun with high ceilings, gorgeous hard wood floors, transoms, exposed brick fireplaces, barge board wainscoting, bead board ceiling, mammoth built-in bookshelves, distressed-wood kitchen, a claw foot tub … can you hear me panting? As if that isn’t enough to drive me into a frenzy, one of the finest features is a cute little, “shack on da swamp” guesthouse in the back where I would set up my office and write till my fingers fell off.

My house (a girl can dream!) is also in a great neighborhood within walking distance of Vaughan’s Lounge, The Joint, Jack Dempsey’s, Meltdown Pops and Bacchanal. Sadly, at $295,000, I could never afford this piece of heaven on earth, but it won’t stop me from dreaming about it.

Of course, if some super-rich soul out there wants to buy it for me out of the kindness of their heart, I certainly wouldn’t be opposed!

What the devil? Lunch at The Sammich

*Update – Since posting this blog a few hours ago, I received a note from the owner concerned that readers would believe this experience occurred recently. So, for those who skipped the first phrase, this happened several months ago in September of 2014.  

Several months ago, John and I decided to quit procrastinating and have lunch at The Sammich, one of the newest restaurants to open in the Riverbend. Previously, The Sammich had been a sort of permanent pop-up inside Chickie Wah Wah, a popular local music venue on Canal Street, and we were excited to see it land its own digs on Maple Street in our neighborhood.

After ordering at the bar, we chose a table outside to be less obtrusive with our picture-taking and to enjoy a rare day of sun (it was still winter, after all). Everything came out at once, but we started with an appetizer of deviled eggs stuffed with Louisiana crab, capers and cornichons (small French pickles). Now I realize, picking the meat out of Louisiana blue crab can be a tedious project and from time to time, shells will get into your final product no matter how fastidious you are. But, on this particular occasion, every single deviled egg had a minimum of two or three shells. It got to the point where we would take a bite out of one, find a couple of shells, and then try a bite of another … only to find more! The wonderful flavor kept us interested, but not for long. We just hoped our “sammiches” would make up for it.

John ordered their “En Brochette” Sammich with fried oysters, bacon, brie and meunière. Though I am not a big fan of mixing cheese and seafood, I really enjoyed this sandwich, enough to dub it a “sammich” indeed. Unfortunately, my order was not. I chose the New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp cooked in Abita Turbodog with blackened avocado mayo. The shrimp were juicy and perfectly cooked, but the Turbodog gave the whole sandwich a bitter aftertaste that I simply couldn’t get past and I ended up leaving the rest, stealing the other half of John’s sammich because I was starving. 

Since I’ve heard fellow foodies rave about The Sammich, extolling everything from their flash-fried escargot to the tempura-fried lobster knuckle sandwich, I will definitely have to give it another go. Only, I don’t think we’ll ever order the deviled eggs again… 

The Sammich on Urbanspoon