Imagine showing up for Thanksgiving dinner only to find your family had moved away.
More than a few times I’ve said that the iconic Donna’s reminded me of holidays with my extended family. If, that is, my extended family suddenly included an ever-changing cast of brilliant musicians and we routinely stayed up past midnight together. New Orleans has an embarrassment of essential live music venues, but Donna’s has for me always been the friendliest, the most unassuming. Each time I walked through the doors at the corner of Rampart and Saint Ann I would get the same vibe. Donna’s had a distinct personality, and it always felt to me like they were asking me to come on into their living room, settle back, and grab something to eat. And oh, by the way, this brass band we’ve got tonight will blow your freaking mind. So have a drink and make some new friends, because you’re at home here.
He and She Said:
Death Match Sugar Gauntlet
People love to vote.
(Editor’s note: for information on the 2012 King Cake Death Match, Thursday Feb 2nd, click here.)
This Wednesday, Fahy’s Irish Pub on Toulouse and Burgundy hosted with us the First Annual French Quarter King Cake Death Match. There were no casualties (with the possible exception of a few sugar-comas) and we were unable to document a single sleeper-hold or figure-four leg lock, but great fun was had by all.
Truth be told, Quarter residents can be a bit of a jaded group. Spray-painted mimes battling in the street with pirates; naked bicycling jugglers: For some, signs of the apocalypse. For us, just another Tuesday. So we knew we needed to bill this as a lethal armageddon just to keep people’s interest. We did learn that showing up anywhere with twelve King Cakes will always make you more popular.
Posted in Better Weekends, He and she said, Lists, Reviews
Tagged Better Weekends, Cake Cafe, Fahy's, King Cake Death Match, Maple Street Patisserie, Randazzo's, Rouses, Sucre, Tartine
It’s been a soup kind of week in the He said/She said household. Two primary reasons: First, He said had surgery and I was lucky enough to become his temporary outsourcing resource for all needs/things outside of peeing. Actually this wasn’t completely terrible but it was minimally exhausting. The point where he suggested a bell as an appropriate means of summons was my cue to redirect and suggest some alternate behavior. Second, the ‘courtesy call’ we got approximately 10 hours pre-surgery alerting us to a ‘sign-on’ fee of $1,100 plus 20 percent of total cost certainly made an impact on our wallet. Good time to rethink our spending habits. News flash: Soup is cheap. Even cheaper than soup: Beans. And this is how my black bean soup project began. Time stuck in the house + captive audience (even if it was an audience of one) + a bank account crashing like the US housing market = one kick-ass soup. The details:
Love is patient, love is kind. Unless, that is, you screw up Valentine’s day.
Ladies, a little secret: for us, it’s just another day. But you probably already knew that, didn’t you? And you pretty much don’t care either, right? One of the prices of admission to congress with the fairer sex is making this day important. And part of that is Valentine’s Day dinner.
We’ll be dining in this Valentine’s Day, working on an ambitious attempt at Duck Confit. You’ve probably heard all the stories about Valentine’s Day, along with Mother’s Day and New Year’s Eve, being among the worst times to dine out. Much of that is true: Valentine’s dinner means restaurants packed to the rafters. More importantly, they are packed to the rafters with people who almost never dine out. Otherwise lovely venues are overwhelmed with complaints about portion size, demands that the tuna be cooked medium well, rants about the fact that the sweetbreads aren’t sweet, and sure ain’t bread, and requests that they serve the steak tartar with the tartar on the side.
Posted in Dinner, He Said, Lists, Restaurant, Reviews
Tagged Bistro at Maison de Ville, Coquette, Dominique's, Galatoire's, Gautreau's, Lilette, Meson 923, Stella!, Valentine's Day
Absolutely, positively, no one got naked. I swear it.
Candy Bar, 908 Bourbon, has been open since September. Hmmm…Candy Bar. Hmmm…Bourbon Street. We divide things up at this blog, so I told my wife I’d handle Candy Bar. It seemed like the right thing to do.
Imagine my shock when I discovered desserts, sweets, and specialty foods. We were nosing around, checking things out, and I was all, ‘So is anyone gonna like, get naked or anything?’ The situation was made even worse by the fact that my wife was actually with me at the time.
So, no strippers here. Despite the absence of visible thongs this place is really very interesting. Check them out right away, because I don’t know how long they’ll keep their doors open.
A million-dollar talent played a million-dollar instrument, and most people didn’t even notice. Several friends have mentioned to us the experiment in context performed by The Washington Post in which renowned violinist Joshua Bell performed on a Stradivarius in a D.C. subway, unremarked by most passers-by. Many conclusions have been drawn from this. Here is one view, and here is another. Let me offer a third: I claim no expertise in classical music and I cannot speculate on the rarity of Joshua Bell’s talents. But I am confident that the only thing preventing us from encountering brilliant musicians in the NOLA subways on a daily basis is the lack of the subway. We’ve got the musician thing covered.
Food has been the North Star of this project since its inception, but music is another abiding passion we share. We’ve spent the fall reviving the blog and exploring some of the amazing new restaurants all over town; the Holidays are a particularly good time to be food-centric. Now that the calendar has turned to January we’re starting to get juiced for Festival Season, and not just because of the food booths. We’ve been a few places both in and out of the country, and each has their charms, but none are as musical as New Orleans. Not Paris, not Barcelona, not Rome, not San Francisco, and not Saint Petersburg. The more places we go the more we realize we have right here. Starting with this post, the nature of the blog is going to change significantly as we devote some of our prose to a celebration of the Trenta-sized collection of musical talent among which we live.
I love soup: Partly because it is comforting, but more important than that, it’s hard to mess up. Anytime you can throw a whole bunch of crap into one pot and have a fairly good chance of success, it’s a good thing!
My sister, who happens to be an amazing momma, has a few go-to meals. One of which is tortilla soup. I
stole borowed my initial recipe from her, and each time I make it, it evolves into something new and different. I cheat and use a rotisserie chicken in my soup, whereas she uses chicken breasts that she cuts into chunks. I prefer the whole pre-cooked chicken because it is simple and I can use the carcass to make a stock. Added fun fact, I can pick a mean chicken. He said isn’t allowed near it because he isn’t nearly as efficient.
Equally exciting is the price. The husband and I can spend some dollars on groceries. Seriously, we managed to blow $50 on taco night this past Monday. In fairness, that included a bottle of wine, but like $38 on taco fixings. Jesus, we should have gone to Felipe’s for a $4 burrito and a pitcher of sangria. The rest of our week has subsequently centered around finding more fiscally conscious meals.
Forgive me for not being overly specific in my recipe below as I think individual creativity is half the fun of soup. Really, it is hard to mess up, I promise.
Actually, I really, really like Dante’s kitchen. A lot.
I almost went with En fuego: Dante’s Kitchen, which would have been perhaps a more accurate post title, and I seriously considered The Magic of Dante, referencing a local magician, because it’s not easy to come up with any Dante line that doesn’t reference everybody’s favorite Italian poet. In the end, I decided to stick with the catchy branding Dante stuck on a big sign just outside the gates of hell near the beginning of the Inferno, the only part of his trilogy anyone ever even thinks about reading. Atonement and Grace as delivered in the Purgatorio and Paradiso? Boring. Testimony, as if we needed it, that badness is more interesting than goodness any time.
Dante was not shy, placing numerous contemporaries with whom he had a beef in whatever circle of hell he felt most appropriate, naming names, and subjecting them to various hideous and eternal torments. Were I a million times more talented than I actually am, I might try a NOLA version. Between Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, I think the circles of damnation might have a wait-list.
Wait a second: Isn’t there supposed to be a restaurant review here? Ok then: My mother’s birthday was this past Monday, so we took she and my father to the wonderful Dante’s Kitchen for brunch Sunday morning. In Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain rails against brunch as amateur hour, the service for which no chef wants to be present, and generally an opportunity for the restaurant to get rid of whatever didn’t sell during the week by repackaging it as a special, as in specially designed to offload this crap. I’m sure Bourdain knows what he’s talking about. He is, like, famous and everything. But brunch is not that way at every restaurant, and certainly not at Dante’s. First, brunch is big business. Dante’s opens at 10:30, and that’s when you want to be there. Unless you want to stand around and drink for awhile as you wait for a table, which come to think of it is not such a bad thing. Ok, so maybe abandon all hope is a little strong, but I couldn’t find be prepared to wait for a table in my Dante concordance. Maybe I missed it.
Over the past few years our relationship has been a bit rocky. It all started about two years ago when my husband and I experienced a rather inspiring meal, but an unfortunate and loud argument between serving staff behind our table. That isn’t exactly what you hope for in a five-star restaurant. Then we decided to head that way for lunch, in our opinion a bit less committment. We entered and were told to have a seat at the bar as it was about a 5 minute wait. Over 20 minutes later, we’d not been acknowledged. That is until we actually walked out the front door at which time the maitre’d came after us for a snappy interaction of sorts. After this experience, we were a bit hesitant to try it again.
Every so often the idea of giving it another go was discussed and for one reason or another dismissed. Until this past month when He Said and I were discussing where to celebrate my annual birthday dinner. We’d been to Stella! twice this year (once in November), the chef’s table at Commanders is upcoming (!!), and we’d spent our most recent anniversary at Lilette. We gave some consideration to Gautreau’s, Patois, and even a first go at Le Foret, but in the end it was August.
I’ve been a little under the weather lately, which is the nice way to say something is wrong and the doctors can’t figure out what the hell it is yet. We’ve been trying to keep friends and family informed via email distribution so that every conversation is not a repeat of the latest information and we can instead have more productive interaction. That desire to report combined with my writer’s impulse can yield some interesting results, as I start to frame the story in my mind while I am in the middle of a given procedure. My MRI this week was so extreme I couldn’t wait to get home and write about what happened. This wasn’t written with the intention of publishing it in the blog, but screw it: privacy is such an outdated concept.
(FYI, no food-related content whatsoever)