Trading Thai for tapas

When the Spanish-inspired Costera Restaurant & Bar opened in the Prytania Street building that formerly housed La Thai, I was easily one of the first to try it. My zealousness was not due to the type of restaurant nor was I overly anxious to see what Brian Burns, formerly chef de cuisine at Peche, had in store (well, in all honesty, I was actually a little excited about that). But what really pulled me in there, no joke, was the fact that Costera was an Uptown spot that was open all day long.

While that may be a strange thing to look for, if you think about it, there are very few eateries Uptown that are open all day with no breaks between lunch and dinner. Though I understand why lots of places have set hours, I’m the first to admit that I’m an odd duck. I often get so wrapped up in work, errands and/or chores that I won’t have lunch till 2:30 or 3pm and finding a spot Uptown (where I don’t have to deal with tricky parking) that’s open all day is few and far between.

Anyhow, because of their convenient hours and generally fabulous food, I’ve been to Costera a few times since they opened this February. I haven’t tried everything on the menu (almost!), but I can tell you that Chef Burns and his partner Reno De Ranieiri are knocking it out of the park.

Rather than rattling off the whole menu, I’d rather just highlight a few of my favorites, starting with the “Gambas Al Ajillo” or garlic shrimp with olive oil, lemon and sherry. These perfect Gulf beauties are served head-on in a little cast iron pan with several toasted  slices of Bellegarde‘s country loaf served on the side to soak up all of that garlicky sauce.

Though much simpler, I also enjoyed the blistered shishito peppers with Arbequina olive oil and big flakes of Maldon sea salt. They could easily be a daily distraction for me. Another great veggie dish is the marinated beets with fennel, orange and creamy ricotta. This was a dish I was reluctant to share.

On the meatier side, I adored my small taste of the beef shank and potato “bomba” with pickled peppers. I kept scooping up the sauce with my finger till John gave me a dirty look. We also enjoyed the “Jamon Iberico” or thinly-sliced cured ham served with peppery arugula and crunchy Marcona almonds.

I realize it’s easy to stuff yourself silly with all these small plates, don’t forget to save room for dessert!  Though I’ve tasted several different offerings so far, my favorites have been their caramel popcorn crème brûlée and a pistachio-crusted cheesecake that also had the distinct, buttery flavor of toffee.

I look forward to returning to taste the last third of the menu I’ve yet to enjoy.


House of the Week: Side Hall Cottage on Constance St.

This past Saturday, my friend and real estate agent Zuheily from NOLA Living Realty invited me to her first solo listing. She knew there was no way I could afford this particular property, but she also knew how smitten I am with classic New Orleans architecture and the open house offered an opportunity for me to step inside a private building that was nearly 140 years old.

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Looking back on 2017

Since 2013, Eater New Orleans (or should I say editor/writer extraordinaire Gwendolyn Knapp) would hit me up for dining reflections of the past year and predictions for the next. This year, I was not asked and I have to confess, I was a little bummed. Perhaps it was because the new editor, Stephanie Carter, doesn’t know me from Adam or perhaps my recent slump in food blogging deterred her from seeing me as a reputable source … whatever the reason, I still feel the need to share. Whether or not this information is valuable is for you to decide …

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Mini-vacation at Angeline

Best okra ever!
Best okra ever!

Far too long ago, John and I ventured into the French Quarter to enjoy brunch at what has become one of the city’s most popular restaurants, Angeline. I don’t know about you, but whenever I go into the Quarter, especially on a sunshine-filled day, I like to pretend I’m on vacation. I imagine that my suitcase filled with summer clothes is stashed in an elegant room in the Hotel Monteleone or the Ritz Carlton while John and I explore the beauty of the city with no worries, no deadlines, no work … just a day of unadulterated fun. Continue reading

House of the week: Mary Plantation on Hwy 39

While people are spending millions to live in a 500 sq. ft. flat in Manhattan or a tract home in Northern California, you could have your very own plantation for little over a million. Located in Braithwaite, Louisiana, approximately 22 miles from downtown New Orleans, there is for sale a property that is over two centuries old offering over 2500 sq. ft. of living area and over ten acres of land. Continue reading

Willa Jean: A Parking Story

Grilled Gulf Fish Sandwich with tartar sauce and slaw on a Hawaiian Roll

Not to sound like a snot, but growing up around a major metropolis like San Francisco has taught me a few solid rules to follow when parking in the city. First, never park illegally or you will most definitely be ticketed, booted and/or towed. Second, never ever leave anything inside your car that can be seen from outside, that is unless you’re looking to have your window busted in and that item (and possibly your whole car) stolen. Finally, and central to the point of this blog, always pay the full amount on the meter whether you think your stay will be shorter or not. City time is different from any other kinds of time and there are tons of reasons one can get held up. Isn’t a $3.50 fee better than a $50 parking ticket? I would also add that when parking on a hill, be sure to turn your wheels, but in New Orleans that is (thankfully) not something anyone has to worry about. Continue reading

Twice as nice

While dining at the restaurant of a talented chef can be a choice experience, enjoying a menu created and prepared by a collaboration of two talented chefs is definitely twice as nice.

On Tuesday, February 23rd chefs Alex Harrell of Angeline and Jason Goodenough of Carrollton Market are joining forces to present a five-course prix fixe menu featuring California Olive Ranch olive oil plus meat and seafood sourced from Inland Seafood.  This synergistic experience will be held at Angeline located at 1032 Chartres Street in the French Quarter. Continue reading