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  1. Thanks for the comments. I never thought about the idea that the rise of blogs might be connected to the apparent decline of the discussion boards. But if that is the case, it makes me wonder if we are also witnessing the return of the food critic. Or perhaps yet another new balance between the kinds of opinions out there. When the boards were hot, we only had a few influential critics in town (or perhaps "visible" is better than influential). Now we have the well-known print, radio and television critics, but in addition, we have a slew of blogging food writers who may also be influential in their own way. I am not sure what the long term impact of that might be (assuming I am right, which I may not be), but it is interesting to think about.
  2. I go through periods of following the on-line discussion fora here in New Orleans and I have noticed that lately many of them seem to be near death. Egullet's Louisiana forum, of course, has always been rather sedate, but some of the local discussion boards have historically been hyperactive at times. These have included neworleans.com (currently looking rather unhealthy), www.thefoodalmanac.com/community/ (Tom Fitzmorris' board, fairly active these days, but I think it has been more active in the past), nola.com's dining forum (relatively quiet), etc. There are of course others. So I am wondering: 1) What on-line forums do you follow in New Orleans? 2) What do you think accounts for the rise, fall and possible re-rise of these discussion sites? 3) Is the on-line discussion of food in New Orleans unusually active or unusually quiet compared with other cities? Any insights?
  3. I like the gumbo at Mr. B's. Actually, I also like the gumbo at K-Paul's...of course, they are sort of the same gumbo. For a different kind of gumbo that is usually excellent, try L'il Dizzy's. Of course, that is not in the Quarter -- their main restaurant is in Treme, up Esplanade almost to Claiborne, but they have a branch on Poydras, in the CBD. Wonderful stuff.
  4. As far as I am concerned, all trips out of New Orleans that go west or southwest are boudin trips. You must seek out and eat boudin wherever you can. If that is your mission, you will have a wonderful trip. That said, I have not really figured out what to recommend to you. Others, however, have studied this weighty matter a great deal. I suggest you visit the Southern Foodways Alliance's Southern Boudin Trail web site for some guidance. They helpfully provide a link to another web site, The Boudin Link which has boudin evaluations. I have heard good things about The Best Stop in Scott, if you don't mind going slightly out of your way. Most of the places I know personally are probably too far west for your trip. I also suggest that you make this at least an overnight trip -- it is a long round trip for one day and all that driving leaves little time to enjoy the food and sights. You could spend the night in Lafayette, or go for something romantic, like a night at Lafitte's Landing in Donaldsonville (which would lead to more good food).
  5. Success! After something like 30 hours, the last 8 or so on the high setting in the slow cooker, the oranges had turned a very dark orange, closing in on brown and had also become very delicate. We took several sections out and served them along with a lovely creole cream cheese cake our guests brought, drizzling the syrup that the process produced on the cake. Both were delicious, although at least one person felt that the orange rind was still a bit too bitter. I'd like to try this again, perhaps with a thinner skin fruit. And I'm sticking with high heat the whole way through the next time. But the slow cooker is definitely a winner on this one, at least for me.
  6. Here is an interim report on my oranges in the slow cooker. 1) After two eight hour sessions on the low setting, the oranges were still very bitter. I have to admit, I was concerned the whole time because Bittman suggested that the heat ought to produce at least a few bubbles, but the low setting on the crockpot seems to be too low even for that. 2) Six further hours, this time on high setting, which seems to produce a low boil (maybe a bit too hot?), the oranges are raggedy and getting sweeter, but the rind is still fairly bitter. I added more sugar. Note that I am doing this covered, because that is the way of the slow cooker. So I have a couple questions: 1) What is the point of changing the water and sugar every 8 hours? Is this just to get more sugar in, to get fresh water in, to raise the water level or what? (I am determined to see this through, even if it is not ready for tonight's dinner, because, darn it, I want to...but should I change the water again or just let it go on for another 6 or 7 hours?) 2) Anyone have any idea what the impact of keeping it covered in the slow cooker will be? Speculation is very welcome! Whatever happens, I'll report back this evening.
  7. Try the Abita Brew Pub Abita Brew Pub ← I recommend Middendorf's. If you are going west on I-10, you take a short northerly detour, and if you are going west on I-12, a quick south detour...in both cases, on I-55. It is located in Pass Manchac. They make a great oyster soup, wonderful soft shell crabs (in season), and are especially famous for their fried catfish. Many folks like the very thin version, which I think is mostly fried crust. I prefer the regular version, which is pretty thin anyhow, but really delicious. Lots of other good stuff on the menu. It does get crowded on Sundays at lunch, but it worth the wait.
  8. I am trying it today, but I am using a slow cooker instead of the stove. I can't stay in the house for the next 16 hours and leaving the stove on makes me nervous. My guess is that the crock pot should keep the temp low enough and I'll be back often enough to keep the water level up.
  9. That suggests -- I think -- that neither you nor Mr. Richman have palates that have been sufficiently trained to understand gumbo. That is nothing to be ashamed of; one can always learn. After all, I moved here from the East Coast and I learned. A broader point is that Mr. Richman failed to understand how deeply emeshed food is in the local culture of New Orleans. He seems to bring a kind of cosmopolitan set of expectations to eating out. I can also understand that -- when I eat in London or New York, I am looking for cutting edge ideas, ingredients, etc. But mostly that is detached from anything local. New Olreans -- and Paris, for that matter -- are different. The food is part of something larger called culture. If Richman does not get that, he is really not qualified to write about New Orleans.
  10. Having spent way more time this week researching this than is healthy, I can assure you that the definitions of a proper or classic croque vary wildly. On Epicurious, for instance, there is an acrimonious discussion about whether or not a Croque Madame is distinguished from a Croque Monsieur by an egg or by chicken instead of ham (this is in the comments on a recipe). What I have found in general is that a Croque Monseiur has ham and cheese, sometimes bechamel, and it may in fact have chicken instead of ham. The chicken innovation is often attributed to Jacques Pepin, but I think he was reproducing a recipe from home, because if you look in the Larousse Gastronomique, they list chicken as an option. A Croque Madame is distinguished by the fried egg on top. Now that is in general. The possible variations on these are rather broad and, as usual, there are many people who assert that their variation is in fact not a variation, but the original correct thing, all other variations constituting heresy. I really appreciate the wonderful suggestions you have all provided. I have experimented a bit this week, with different kinds of bread (lacking brioche -- although I will get some today, I think), I tried both a rosemary bread (excellent) and pumpernickel (I like it, but the flavor is too strong for this), with different meats (a nice cooked ham worked well, prosciuotto worked too), with mustard, bechamel, mornay (this was great), gruyere, cheddar, with eggs on top (tasty, but structurally problematic), with tomatoes (not that great) and with sauteed chanterelles (instead of meat, for vegetarians, and this was really quite good). I was unable to find the suggested truffle cream here in New Orleans, but I have another possible source I will check soon. I need to use eggs because the theme of the dinner is eggs. If I use a mornay sauce, I suppose I technically don't have to put one on top too. But it looks cool and that is important. I am going to be making about 10 of these, so I'll probably do a variety of them. Right now my biggest concern in structural and I think that maybe cutting off the crusts will help with that. Still, I need to work with brioche to see if that helps. I wonder if a challah would work as well? I also thought of trying an egg wash (like french toast), which gets me the eggs and might add an interesting texture. Oh, and I baked mine in the oven and added the egg after that. Perhaps I should grill them (is that the right term?) in a pan first, so one side gets crispy, then run it under the broiler to melt the cheese on top. Ahh, the possible variations are endless.
  11. I am cooking for a dinner with friends on Saturday night. It is a sort of gourmet potluck, in which we all bring dishes. The theme is eggs. So, I am thinking gourmet croque madame. I know, some people think madame is a travesty. There is no doubt a pun in that, for which I do not apologize. But I beg your collective assistance anyhow. Does anyone have any really creative ideas for this? I have heard of Daniel Boulud's croque monsieur with smoked salmon and caviar, but I don't know how he makes it and, anyhow, I think someone else is bringing a caviar dish. Still, a smoked fish is always welcome in my house. I have also thought of using prosciutto and a very dark bread, with, of course, a fried egg on top. We are in New Orleans, so perhaps I should look for a New Orleans twist...a croque madame with shrimp and tasso? (Hard to imagine cheese and an egg with that.) Something with oysters? I would really welcome any ideas!
  12. Along with all that you mention about replacing furniture, appliances, carpets, etc., there is probably a huge amount of nasty mold in there. The interior will have to be gutted to the studs and, as you note, the studs themselves may not be salvageable. That said, I have been in some of the nearby neighborhoods (down Broad a little ways), where the flooding was similar and some people are gutting and getting ready to renovate. And if there is going to be a neighborhood, then there will have to be restaurants. Right?
  13. Is there one food item, tool, or image that you think could easily represent New Orleans or Louisiana culinary culture? I need an idea for one item that is easy (and legal) to transport in an airplane, unlikely to spoil and likely to inspire a group of non-Louisianans to think about our culinary customs. This is probably too much to load up on one thing, but that is my assignment. Any ideas?
  14. A friend of mine recently wrote a letter to the editor in the New Orleans Times Picayune suggesting that it was time for the city to secede from the South and rejoin the Union. He was writing about something other than food (decadence, relatively speaking), but I wonder if the question might not be raised about cuisine as well. I noticed in the rather long discussion thread about what is good about the southeast a particular concern with what I take to be authenticity. In one of the last postings, in fact, Holly Moore pointed out that she is suspicious of non-Southern food (she cites Italian, Asian, French) in the South. She adds that the cuisine of the South is as dominant there as the cuisine of Italy in Italy. I think this is an interesting point, especially when seen from New Orleans. There can be no doubt that we have a dominant cuisine here, in the manner of Italy or France. But we also have variety within some very specific parameters. Creole Italian, for instance. And I think that one important defining characteristic of New Orleans cuisine is that can be sophisticated haute cuisine. It aspires to be more than a regional cuisine; following the French model, New Orleans cuisine aspires to be a world cuisine. It is both unique to New Orleans and universal in its effort to define certain tastes. So does that mean New Orleans is not really of the South? Do we leap right up to the level of the universal? I am being deliberately provocative, so feel free to let fly with corrections.
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