He and She said:
So, we were going to do our top 10 posts of the year for a nifty little list today. After some review, the editorial staff suggested we make it a top 5 list… Or maybe top 2. But they’re just dogs, so what the hell do they know? So, we scrapped that idea and decided instead we’d go with the top 10 pictures of food we posted this year….Ok, so that was a problem too. New Years’ resolution number 1: Produce enough content for legitimate top-ten list in 2011.
Well, the lack of any socially-redeeming or even marginally valid content has never stopped us before, and we sure won’t let it do so now. So, without further ado, our list of the top ten things you should NOT do in a restaurant in 2011:
He and She Said:
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through New Orleans,
NOLA foodies were completing their holiday scenes.
Stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Rare Cuts would soon fill them there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Sucre danced in their heads.
(We thought it might be bad to leave them in the car)
As we stopped for a nightcap at the Sazerac bar.
My mother would hate this place. If however, you actually like to run with scissors, play in the rain, not look where you’re going, swim five minutes after eating, jump off a bridge because your friend told you to, and otherwise tempt fate up to and including eating with your fingers, Abyssinia might be just the place for you.
Prior to my current career, there was a shadowy chapter in my past that involved desertion from the French Foreign Legion. Said desertion allegedly the culmination of a disagreement over cheese that escalated into a knife fight (but just the little round brie knives, not the sharp ones) in a wadi outside of Tangier. As a result, I spent a few years as a soldier-of-fortune in East Africa, searching for the Ark of the Covenant and becoming somewhat of an expert in Ethiopian Cuisine. I can’t say much more about those days, for obvious reasons. In most cases when questioned my wife claims that I am ‘full of shit’ or ‘making that up’ in order to discourage too much attention. So far, so good.
Anyway, that background makes me ideally suited to review our recent trip to the new Cafe Abyssinia at 3511 Magazine Street. You have to look close to find this place. It is almost directly across the street from Martin Wine Cellar and next door to a snowball stand, but set well off the street with only a small sign to betray its presence. We stopped in to check it out, and here is what we discovered:
He and She Said:
A long, long time ago, some French people were talking over dinner. ‘Henri, this duck is very good,’ one of them said. ‘But, do you know what would make it better? Next time, let’s try cooking it in it’s own fat!’
Merde, those French know what they’re doing in the kitchen! If you’ve had duck prepared in other ways, you know they all pale in comparison to confit. If you haven’t had confit, make sure you do the very next time you see it on the menu. Even better, why not try making it at home? We’ll be taking a run at this recipe from our esteemed guest columnist, Mr. Mirepoix, over the holiday break and will report on the results. Here’s the skinny.
Mr. Mirepoix Said:
So it’s winter & you know what that means (at least I hope you do- it’s duck confit time of year……..Get duck legs from 6 or more ducks (at least 12 legs for the work you need to do. I’m doing 24)
You could buy whole ducks, and remove the breasts (skin ON of course) to freeze & use to sear & slice thinly for salads come Spring time or just buy legs. Those carcasses make AMAZING demi glace or sauce Espagnole for anyone with a copy of LaRousse Gastronomique. The only difference is you need simmer only 4-5 hours for duck bones in sauces rather than overnight for veal…..
Defending Big Food is probably a little bit like being the defense attorney for Jeffery Dahmer. You do your thing and then leave the blogoshere under cover of darkness, I guess.
In October of 2009, I went on a little rant about the outrageous Smart Choices program dreamed up by folks like Kraft and General Mills that resulted in Froot Loops being marketed as a “smart choice” for kids. I translated the industry comments about this program for the benefit of the marketing impaired.
Similarly vexed, Marion Nestle and David Ludwig argue for a ban on all front-of package nutritional claims in a column written this month.
They are wrong, of course, and they leave me in the curious position of having to take a stand in defense of the processed food industry. And I’m not the only one. They were taken to task by law professor Timothy Litton in the British journal Public Health Nutrition who, while agreeing with their concerns about consumer protection, points out that there is the not inconsiderable matter of the First Amendment to contend with as well.
Damn Starbucks has some loud music. As I sit here trying to begin my little tidbits about our dining experiences this week, I realize how absurdly loud this joint is. I would love to meet the marketing prick who stood in the Starbucks boardroom and presented this strategy and punch him or her in the face!
That said, I just paid like $5 for a coffee so I’m going to try to get down to business. Here are a couple of tapas-style reviews, appetizer-sized morsels about two places. Eat them yourself, or share with friends.
Gone Fishin’! Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. It has been quite some time since I have actually been the one catching the fish. My attention span is rather short as is my interest in all things bait. I am very lucky however that my father-in-law enjoys the occasional trip and perhaps more lucky in that my mother-in-law doesn’t allow what he brings back in the house.
Pops went out this weekend and brought us some beautiful catfish. I am always seeking alternatives to the deep-fried fish and grease pits, I mean hush puppies. And frankly we cook tons of other fish, but not so much catfish. So off to the internet I go and happen upon this recipe for Grilled Catfish Fajitas with Chipotle Salsa. I am slightly embarrassed to say that it came from a website supporting US Farm-Raised Catfish, but our heart was in the right place, and our fish is about as wild-caught as it gets. The recipe can be found here. Our modified version is below.
In short, this was a really good and fairly simple dinner. Sure you marinate the catfish, but once that’s done, it cooks up in no time. Our only problem was that it was impossible to compliment the fish with a perfect wine pairing.
Last year we wrote a review of Michael Ruhlman’s outstanding Ratio: The simple codes behind the craft of everyday cooking. This is the ultimate book for people like us who love cooking but have no formal training. (Truth be told, Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese was a major stretching of my culinary wings when I moved out of my parents’ house many years ago.)
One of the great things about the net is the unlimited recipes always a google click away, but we’ve always been more than a little envious of those we know (like Mirepoix) who can look in the pantry and just invent something delicious. How long does it take, I wondered, before you’re not just following directions, but actually creating something in the kitchen?
He and She Said:
Actually, you’d think we’d love porn. After all, we like spiciness at least as much as the next blogger. And really, who’s a bigger sucker for a lacquered breast or a coulis-drenched thigh than we are? Heck, we won’t even turn our noses up at a bit of underage veal every now and then. How’s that for racy? Asian, Middle Eastern, Ethiopian, or Latin, when it comes to food we’re pretty inclusive, willing to do it all, if you know what we mean.
So, while we’re not saying it’s culinary Sodom and Gomorrah in our house every night, it sure ain’t Pilgrim’s Progress.
But, if you read us at all, you may have noticed something strange about us: We don’t do food porn. While this is certainly not by design, we’ve become aware that we seem to be perhaps the only NOLA food bloggers who don’t post photos of the food they eat. If you’re old enough to remember the days before Sesame Street started to care about self-esteem and feelings and crap like that, you might remember a little bit they did where the TV was divided into four squares with a kid in each one. Three kids were happily bouncing a ball or picking their noses or whatever, but the fourth kid was just sitting there, looking like someone had just shot his puppy. This lovely vignette was accompanied by a pithy, instructive song with the concluding couplet: “One of these kids is doing his own thing/ One of these kids just doesn’t belong.” (For those of you too young to remember, we are not making this up; it actually happened. In heavy rotation.) Anyway, we’ve been looking at everyone else’s sites and feeling like that little sad kid with no puppy, and that’s no way to feel. So we had a long talk about it. It went something like this:
Man, there’s nothing to do in this town!
Ever sit on the couch and ponder how few options in dining and entertainment we have in New Orleans? Yeah, me either. On the contrary, any single decision means there are hundreds of others left blowing in the wind. One recent Friday evening after a spirited game of Rock, Paper, Scissors He said victoriously and rather smugly chose Bouligny Tavern as our starting point. (This is of course how I remember it.)
We ventured out early, which is never a good sign if you intend to have plans post-dinner, and arrived at Bouligny about 6:30 pm. There were still at this time several open tables as well as the bar. Looking around the room, I realized that this is definitely one of the see and be seen places around town where the pretty people go. It makes sense, as the atmosphere inside is significantly different (in a good way) from most other bars and restaurants throughout the city. It reminds me of Tomorrowland in Disney. You know, yesterday’s cutting edge vision of tomorrow which has now become yesterday and is therefore vintage. I’m not sure I understand that analogy myself.