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.
While I realize I constantly tout the awesomeness of my Oak Street neighborhood, there are areas all over the city of which I would love to be a part. One such neighborhood is the Esplanade Ridge, especially that area right next to the Bayou St. John. The trees and houses are stunning; you’re right near the bayou, City Park and the fairgrounds; and you have “around-the-corner” access to restaurants like Cafe Degas, Liuzza’s by the Track and, a new addition, 1000 Figs.
The restaurant was smaller than I expected, but offered gorgeous, wood benches and tables, plus a high counter along the front window where guests can perch, savor lunch and watch the world go by. I wanted to try one of everything, but to start we ordered some crispy, flash-fried Brussels sprouts with red cabbage and salad greens drizzled with fresh lemon. We also scored a big bowl of hand-cut French fries served with a thick, creamy labneh or yogurt for dipping. I couldn’t stop munching on the fries and long after we “finished” and were paying the check, I couldn’t help sneaking forkfuls of the crispy sprouts.
For her entree, Lorin ordered a ginormous squid salad and I opted for their signature falafel in platter form. I got a taste of Lorin’s calamari which was nice, but I was far more focused on the light, crunchy falafel that was served with a creamy hummus, salad greens and wedges of pita. Overall, it was a lovely lunch and while I realize French fries and falafel are … well … fried, I felt like I had enjoyed a healthy meal because it didn’t weigh me down or make me groan from being over-sated. If you’re looking for a delicious, “light” lunch, I highly recommend it. Oh, and don’t forget to get a big glass of their Hibiscus Iced Tea!
Several months back when I was still entertaining the idea of actually purchasing a house in Gentilly, I met my realtor (and awesome new friend!) Zuheily for lunch at The Munch Factory. Cruising around the area, it seems to me that Gentilly still has a long way to go before it competes (in a culinary capacity) with other New Orleans neighborhoods, but there are certainly a few gems worth visiting.
Located on Elysian Fields Avenue, less than two blocks from the University of New Orleans campus, The Munch Factory is a fairly new eatery (opened in 2011) headed up by talented chef Jordan Ruiz. When Zuheily and I walked in for an early lunch that day back in November, I was expecting Creole comfort food with a twist and that’s exactly what we got.
We started with Shrimp Remoulade served atop several slices of fried green tomato. The dish was as delicious as any “fine dining” plate of remoulade I’ve ever tasted. The shrimp popped and the tomatoes were crisp, tart and not the slightest bit greasy. I also had to sample a bowl of their soup of the day, which turned out to be a creamy potato leek topped with a little shredded cheddar and a few croutons.
For our entrees, Zuheily and I shared out an Ultimate Grilled Cheese and a Hot Sausage Patty Melt. Both sandwiches were pressed on Cuban bread, both were oozing cheese and both were served with their signature “Elysian Peels” which are essentially well-seasoned, baked potato skins. Though we gobbled as much as we could, we still ended up taking some home because the portions were incredibly generous.
Dessert is almost always a given on my lunch outings, so naturally, Zuheily and I shared a slice of Tres Leches cake. Though the flavor was nice, it was much drier than I expected which kind of bummed me out, but the rest of our lunch more than merited a return visit. Especially since I’ve heard so much about the herb chicken he serves at dinner …
I’m not on a mission to offend fellow writers or popular publications, but I have a problem with “listicles.” Instead of well-crafted, thought-provoking articles, it seems theses days, most of what people read are just lists. No one cares how long it takes to construct the perfect sentence or pull together a piece that both educates and entertains. Very few people even take the time to read at all, let alone a full, 1000-word piece on the value of honey. There’s just too much information out there, too much to absorb and too little time. Listicles tend to be what my boyfriend calls “click bait” whose sole purpose is to get more clicks, which in turn translates to more page views, which in turn translates to more advertising dollars.
Also, it seems to be what “readers” these days want and who am I to argue?
In an effort to pull my nose out of the clouds and get with the program, I’ve decided to try my own “listicle.” Let me know what you think …
1. Cake Donuts from Blue Dot Donuts
2. All Meat & All Sides from McClure’s Barbecue
3. Vermicelli Bowl from Ba Chi Canteen
4. Steak Tartare from La Petite Grocery
5. Truffled Manchengo Cheese Grits from Green Goddess
6. House Ramen Bowl from Noodle & Pie
7. Whole Grilled Fish from Peche
8. Mississippi Lamb Meat Pies from Oak
9. Ham & Gruyere Quiche from Toast
10. “Loaded” Guacamole from Del Fuego Taqueria
11. Cheeseburger from trūburger
12. Double-Cut Pork Chop from Toups’ Meatery
13. Mechada from Mais Arepas
14. Crispy Chicken Wings from MoPho
15. Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake with Peanut Brittle Ice Cream from Herbsaint
16. Shrimp BLT Wrap from GG’s Dine-O-Rama
17. Mazorca from Baru Bistro & Tapas
18. Gulf Fish Almondine from Patois
19. Raisin Cinnamon Bun from Gracious Bakery
20. Bacon-Wrapped Prawns from Salu
21. Kurobuta Pork Belly from Three Muses
22. Crispy Hen from Mint Modern Bistro & Bar
23. Blackened Shrimp & Grit Cake from Boucherie
24. Tacos Al Pastor from Cowbell
25. Blueberry Muffin from Maple Street Patisserie
Since it sometimes feels as if I’ve tasted virtually everything, it’s always a wonderful surprise when I get the opportunity to sample something new. That’s exactly what happened when Lorin and I enjoyed a lunch at Namese a few months back.
Located on the corner of Tulane and South Carrollton Avenue, Namese was once a convenience store that sold Chinese food to-go. What with the surge of interest in Vietnamese cuisine and the changes that are slowly-but-surely happening in this previously unloved corridor, the owners sensed it was kismet to get back to their roots and open a full-service restaurant.
Though it was cold the day we visited, I could totally see returning in the springtime (and I have!) to lounge on their spacious and comfortably-furnished patio out front. But on this particular occasion, Lorin and I sat inside. After placing our order, we munched on complimentary prawn crackers and talked about all things food-related while we waited.
First to arrive was an appetizer we ordered to share, a dish of shrimp and avocado spring rolls with a rich, dark peanut sauce for dipping. Needless to say, the rolls were fresh, flavorful and gobbled up in no time at all. Shortly thereafter, our entrees arrived and I couldn’t help oohing and aahing … at least a little.
Lorin ordered their Shakin’ Steak that was marinated, pan-seared and served with jasmine rice and pickled vegetables. Me? I was in the mood for pho, so I chose the filet mignon. Now, I’m pretty sure I’ve ordered filet mignon pho at almost every Vietnamese restaurant in the city, but not once has it ever been served up like it was at Namese.
Instead of just a bowl of soup, Namese took it one step further bringing out the pho (with noodles and veggies, of course) with a separate plate of raw, thinly sliced beef. Essentially, I was cooking each piece of meat in the piping hot broth right before stuffing it into my face. It was fantastic! Especially with their spicy, sate chili sauce that I added to each bite. Although it might not seem like much, this added dimension to the meal made all the difference. I just love trying new things … especially when it’s food!
“You should eat a waffle! You can’t be sad if you eat a waffle!” -Lauren Myracle
I wasn’t sad, but I wanted a waffle, specifically a waffle from the groovy (pun intended), Waffles on Maple located on Maple Street (duh) featuring a distinctive waffle facade. A new friend and I met at the small wafflery (is that a word?) for lunch a few months back and quickly got happy.
Due to my every-widening ass, I’m not a huge fan of the restaurant’s interior. It’s a tiny place taken up mostly by the kitchen/counter and the only seats require one to perch upon a small stool while wolfing your waffle. If you’ve got posterior problems like mine, I highly suggest waiting for a warm day and sitting at one of the tables outside on the sidewalk.
Zuheily (my friend) and I ordered at the counter and perched on a stool to await our simple, yet fabulous fare. I mean, how hard is it to make a waffle? I’ve made tons at home on a Williams Sonoma Waffle Iron I bought for a relative long, long ago (she didn’t want it … go figure?). I’ve whipped up everything from Belgian to Chocolate Chip and topped them with honey, whipped cream, maple syrup and ice cream, but these … these were waffles of a different color.
I ordered one of their daily specials, a cornbread waffle topped with a jalapeno-grit cake and smothered in melted cheddar cheese and sour cream. Talk about a carb attack! It was intensely filling and pretty tasty, though I’m not positive I’d order it again. It’s more likely I’d order on the sweet side next time, likely something similar to Zuheily’s dish, a Strawberry Shortcake waffle covered in a hot, strawberry sauce with huge chunks of strawberries and whipped cream cheese. Next time…
A lot of folk claim there is one type of food that they know they could eat every day for the rest of their life. For me, that food was sushi. Since my first taste of salmon nigiri in a tiny, Japanese restaurant off 19th Avenue in San Francisco almost 20 years ago, I was hooked. My friends and I used to hit up Fuji Sukiyaki in San Mateo where we would literally gorge ourselves on the special rolls — from a simple Crunchy Roll to a Dragon Roll and everything in between. (*Note: Remind me to tell you about the time my friend Wilson was dared into eating a huge wad of wasabi.)
Everyone has heard me rave in many different mediums about the wonders to be had at Tartine run by chef/owner Cara Benson. Well, this magical, magnanimous, Mom and baker extraordinaire has done it again with Toast, a mouth-watering breakfast experience she opened about six months ago.
To be perfectly fair, I’ve already raved about Toast, too … just not here on my lil old blog. Now seems the optimal time to rectify that. I’ve been to Toast on many occasions since the first, an experience I’m about to relate, but just know, there is nothing on this menu that won’t make you swoon, and if it doesn’t well … more for me!
About a month after it opened in June 2014, John and I headed Uptown to Laurel Street to have a meal that was so delightful, Toast has become the stuff of dreams to us, a place we think of every time we think of breakfast.
Though it was still dreadfully hot, we opted to sit outside since it seemed the only way we’d be sure to get a table. We both ordered a cup of coffee (yes it was French Truck, thank you very much) and tried hard not to order everything on the menu.
John chose one of the “toasts,” with cream cheese, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and capers atop a thick, toasted slice of Benson’s brilliant, house-baked brioche. What can I say? It was astoundingly simple, yet exquisitely delicious. Everything was just right, from the amount of cream cheese to the fluffy scrambled eggs.
While I loved John’s toast, we both couldn’t help oohing and aahing over my dish, a huge slice of ham and Gruyere quiche. Cross my heart and hope to die, this was the best quiche I ever had the pleasure of inhaling. Easily three inches high, it had a gorgeous golden crust and the filling was so light and creamy, it was almost like delving into a delicate souffle. Don’t doubt that I’ve enjoyed her daily quiches many times since.
John and I also shared a side of thick-sliced bacon and, something I never thought to see on a breakfast menu, a plate of ratatouille — a mouth-watering, stewed vegetable dish that only added to the meal’s overall wonder. I can’t wait to go back again … and again … and again …
This is not a blog where I describe several courses, going into great detail on each morsel that entered my mouth, well, at least not exactly. This is a blog where I tell you how you should go to McClure’s Barbecue on the corner of Magazine Street and Bordeaux with a friend and order “All Meat & All Sides” and be sure you are hungry …. very hungry.
With your stomachs grumbling audibly, Owner Neil McClure, or one of his attentive employees, will set before you a virtual trough of goodies which will most likely include juicy pork ribs almost falling off the bone, a heavenly-smoked portion of chicken (breast and thigh), pulled pork, crispy brisket and a plump sausage. This carnivore’s heaven isn’t quite complete if you don’t try one (or five) of over 15 different kinds of BBQ sauce that are lined up against the wall like spice-laden sentinels.
As if that were not enough, you’ll also get Pork & Pork & Beans, a creamy scoop of Four-Cheese Mac, a pile of BBQ Jambalaya, Creole Potato Salad, Molasses-Stewed Collard Greens and a large hunk of Roasted Corn & Jalapeno Cornbread.
John and I enjoyed this feast with relish and, believe it or not, managed to polish off every single bite. We will most assuredly be back…
I’m ecstatic that New Orleans has finally upped its game when it comes to Mexican cuisine. If anyone asked me what I missed most about living in California, other than the fact that my whole family lives there, I would have to say two things: 1) the Pacific Ocean and 2) Mission burritos. Thankfully, a man after my own stomach, owner David Wright, opened Del Fuego Taqueria early this summer bringing the Mission burrito to the Crescent City.