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New Orleans 2022: A brief foodblog


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4 hours ago, heidih said:

What part of town are you guys staying in? I am a Cochon fan. 

 

13 minutes ago, Katie Meadow said:

Me too, a Cochon fan, but the last time I was there was about nine years ago, so no recent experience. Fresh wild caught fish was the deal. Delicious. When I go South I always go for fish I can't get in CA. 

So, I googled Cochon.   Is this what you guys are talking about  .  Wow.  Looks incredible.  

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7 minutes ago, Shelby said:

 

So, I googled Cochon.   Is this what you guys are talking about  .  Wow.  Looks incredible.  

That's Cochon Butcher - an offshoot of Cochon.... this is what everyone's talking about

I was there a long time ago also - it was one of the best meals we had there... but again, taht was a long time ago.

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Today's lunch plan got upended when my original choice (selected for proximity to my hotel, since it's cold out today!) called and cancelled due to construction! However, it turned out for the best, the replacement lunch option was outstanding. We ended up going to Herbsaint, which is just a few blocks from our hotel:

 

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Once upon a time this was a go-to restaurant, but their James Beard awards were over a decade ago, and my feeling is that they've faded into relative obscurity since. I approached the meal with some trepidation, but it turned out to be unfounded, I have not had a lunch this good in a very long time. I started with a delicious Domaine Boyer-Martenot 2018 that they had available by the glass. Which was brought promptly, I might add, in contrast to last night! Today's pacing was perfect: the service was attentive but relaxed, in a beautiful sunny space that we really enjoyed. The bread is a French lean, well-executed, though the butter was a touch too cold for spreading easily:

 

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I started with gumbo (yes, again... I love gumbo, and did I mention it's cold here?):

 

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This was unusual to me, it was much thinner than I normally make mine, with a more broth-like consistency. But it was still very rich and flavorful, and paired very will with the wine. My wife had a salad with duck prosciutto that I am told was excellent:

 

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For our mains I had shrimp in a leek beurre blanc with fresh horseradish: it was excellent. Very well-balanced, with just the right amount of horseradish. It was also well-portioned for lunch, though here I am three hours later and still full.

 

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My wife had a "small plate" of homemade spaghetti topped with breaded egg. She reports that it, too, was excellent.

 

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We also enjoyed a side of the vegetable of the day, which today was roasted baby carrots in a spiced butter. They had just a hint of anise to them, and were excellent:

 

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Finally, for dessert we had the "Black Forest cake" -- really a mousse with cake-like crumbles on top and studded with amarena cherries. Here I thought the proportion of cherry-to-mousse was off, and should have either had more cherries, or less mousse. Still, it's hard to go wrong with good chocolate and amarena cherries.

 

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Overall this was a superb lunch, and I'd happily dine here again.

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Chris Hennes
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So good to hear the classic HerbSaint continues well. I am particularly liking the shrimp with the horseradish. The dessert - I could deal But with lots of chickory coffee ;) Onward!

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GW Fins makes a lot of lists for "place you must try in NOLA", and has for many years. The danger with that sort of place is that it's resting on its laurels, or was purely a tourist trap in the first place, etc. I'm happy to report that I just had a very good meal at GWF, and while probably not as good as today's lunch, it's still worth recommending.

 

They start you off with biscuits, which does feel a little "Red Lobster" to me, but the biscuits were fine. I found them too sweet, but my wife disagrees, so YMMV:

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The butter was soft enough to spread here, so bonus points for that. The wine list had a 2013 Albariño on it, which I thought was highly unusual (that's not a wine that often has much age on it, in my experience), so of course I ordered it. And it was excellent... but it was not a 2013 :/ . You had to study the label pretty hard to find it, but this was really a 2019. Delicious, but not quite as unique as the menu may have (accidentally) suggested.

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As an appetizer I had a tilefish ceviche. To be honest, I don't know what a "tilefish" is, but in ceviche it hardly matters: it tasted like fish and acid, and I mean that in the best possible way. It was served with a habanero sorbet, which was sort of intriguing and texturally complementary, so overall I liked this one, even if it's not much to look at on the plate:

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My wife had a red snapper app advertised as being a "sustainable" cut, as in, it was from some part of the fish normally reserved for stock. She said it was good, and didn't share any with me, so I guess we'll take her word for it:

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For the salad course I had "shrimp remoulade" -- it was served with tempura-fried tomato slices and a very nice mustardy sauce. And the shrimp were perfectly cooked. And I don't say that lightly. There's this magical place in the cooking of shrimp where they are just done enough to not be raw, but haven't yet crossed into a firm texture: as a cook I find that sweet spot highly elusive, so was very happy to find it here. Also, the flavors were excellent, and the contrast with the hot tempura battered tomato slices worked perfectly. A+. Unless this is eBay, then AAAA++++++OMGWTF, etc.

 

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On to the mains. My wife cheated and got the black truffle gnocchi. At a seafood restaurant! For shame! Alas, it was spectacularly delicious so all is forgiven. She did indeed let me try a small bite, and it is so very hard to go wrong with black truffles, potatoes, and cream. One of my favorite foods.

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I had the "dry aged swordfish steak" served with parsnip puree and haricot vert. The swordfish was heavily wood-smoked, so if there was something unique to the dry-aged flavor I was supposed to be tasting it was lost. Still, wood smoked swordfish is not a bad food, so I enjoyed it nevertheless. And the haricot vert were spot on as well. But the parsip puree. Oh my. I've tasted some terrible things, but this... this was BAD. So very, vey bad. Like, did they accidentally put marshmallow fluff on the plate instead of the parsnips? It was truly horrifying. Thankfully in small portion and easily sequestered to a far corner of the plate, never to be spoken of again. Wow. No joke, I think they put vanilla in it. Run away.

 

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OK, I don't want to leave on a low note, really the meal was overall very good, and so much better paced than yesterday. A solid two hour meal, with plenty of time to chat and enjoy. For dessert, the house specialty, the Salty Malty™. Or something like that. It was malted milk ice cream, with some pretzels and caramel. Too much ice cream, not enough pretzels. And although the menu listed Lagavulin 16, they were out. OUT! For shame, how do you run out of a product that stores flawlessly for years without degradation? I "settled" for Laphroig 10 (still one of my favorites, but not Lagavulin!).

 

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OK, overall this came across more negative than it should have: the meal was very good, and the hits were really hits. If we forget about the parsnip fluff, then all of the food was excellent. So some better curation of their liquor list would be nice, but that's not enough to remove the "you should eat here" recommendation, in my opinion.

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Chris Hennes
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8 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

But the parsip puree. Oh my. I've tasted some terrible things, but this... this was BAD. So very, vey bad. Like, did they accidentally put marshmallow fluff on the plate instead of the parsnips? It was truly horrifying. Thankfully in small portion and easily sequestered to a far corner of the plate, never to be spoken of again. Wow. No joke, I think they put vanilla in it. Run away.

 

I think you had the answer here...

 

8 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

 OMGWTF, etc.

 

Not saying anything about the food, what I will opine about is the amount of stuff on the plates.  My goodness, it reminds me of Floribbean plating of the 90s; that is, if it can fit on the plate, put it there!

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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11 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

Wow. No joke, I think they put vanilla in it. Run away.

Well if you Google parsnip purée with vanilla is a thing!

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

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43 minutes ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

Vanilla is (more) often (than not) pernicious.  

When I first saw it years ago it was a little scrape of vanilla bean in the dish not a glug of extract. I do not get artificially sweeting a naturally sweet vegetable as with honey glazed carrots or the traditioal sweet potato glop. I'd prefer your skill used to elevate the natural sweetness or just use good produce ;)

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I just got a cancellation notice about a forthcoming meal (restaurant closing due to a positive COVID-19 test among staff). The problem is, it's a Resy reservation, so the text message came from their generic address. So I know that one of my upcoming reservations is being cancelled... but I don't know which one yet!

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Chris Hennes
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4 hours ago, weinoo said:

Not saying anything about the food, what I will opine about is the amount of stuff on the plates.  My goodness, it reminds me of Floribbean plating of the 90s; that is, if it can fit on the plate, put it there!

That's probably more an artifact of the photography, though I will say that they used "normal" sized plates, not those gigantic almost-charger things you sometimes see in fine dining at the moment. While none of the plating was particularly notable, I didn't find the plates to be offensively crowded, either. Well, except the crowding induced by trying to keep the parsnips at bay :) .

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Chris Hennes
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I took out some gulf shrimp this morning and made a remoulade for this evening.

 

Napoleon House has curbside pick-up if in a pinch. Good basic NewOrleans menu. Excellent muffuletta. Gumbo, Boudin, etc. No reservations for indoor.

SusanSpicer's Bayona is excellent for higher end but mostly a favorite of locals. Local ingredients but not the 'classics'. Reservation might be impossible anyway.

 

Nephews wedding a few years ago we just could not stay away from our seedier favorites. Po' Boys and oysters and crawfish. We met in NewOrleans and had a long list of the ol' stomping ground places. Susan is an old friend of my husbands and discussed it but ran out of time and not in the mood for fancy.

 

 

 

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We enjoyed Bayona when we were there, which like I said before, we a long time ago.  Nice thing about NO is that if you don't finish your bottle of wine by the end of dinner, you can get the rest in to go cups so you can enjoy it while wandering around.  Sitting at the table next to us was the band The Radiators, who evidently go there quite often when in town.

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The weather is spectacular today, perfect for a walk, so we took the streetcar halfway and walked the rest to Willy Mae's Scotch House (original location, not the new one in the food court).

 

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Obviously, I had the fried chicken (dark meat). I mean this in the most literal sense: it was perfect. I can't think of anything that could possibly have improved this chicken. Perfectly seasoned, just a little spicy but not so much that you couldn't taste the chicken, moist and tender, with a shatteringly crisp crust. Basically sets the gold standard for fried chicken.

 

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My wife ordered the red beans:

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I also ordered the red beans, but the waiter said "why you ordering the same thing she got? Get the butter beans." Yes sir. Butter beans it is:

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Both beans were excellent: a bit spicy but not over-the-top. Also, cornbread muffins:

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A little sweeter than I would expect here in the southern US, but still delicious. Finally, an obligatory bread pudding:

 

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Needed vanilla ice cream. But I definitely did not need anymore food at this point, so I shouldn't complain. We walked really slowly getting back to the streetcar :) .

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Chris Hennes
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I don't know if it's available in winter, but I find it hard to leave NO without getting a snowball, aka sno-ball, aka sno-bliz.  The last time we were there, we enjoyed walking down Tchoupitoulas to Hansen's...  lots of home-made syrups and flavors and great texture on their sno from their vintage snow machine.

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9 minutes ago, Chris Hennes said:

Obviously, I had the fried chicken (dark meat). I mean this in the most literal sense: it was perfect. I can't think of anything that could possibly have improved this chicken. Perfectly seasoned, just a little spicy but not so much that you couldn't taste the chicken, moist and tender, with a shatteringly crisp crust. Basically sets the gold standard for fried chicken.

 

 

Truly classic.

 

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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So glad you went to Willie Mae's - these classic restaurants like Dooky Chase that have survived to hell and back are national treasures. Love your waiter's strong comment/suggestion 

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