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Can a food capital recover? (9/21/05 update!)


Gifted Gourmet
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article from the Mercury News, San Jose, California

"It's one of America's food capitals,'' said Clark Wolf, a New York- and Sonoma-based restaurant industry expert. "New Orleans gave us a sense that there could be a regional American food style. It gave us the notion that food was about celebration, and taught Americans that a little spice never hurt. It's the original fusion cuisine in this country -- Cajun.''At least some of New Orleans' landmark restaurants appeared to be in relatively good shape, though others had sustained visible damage. The Los Angeles Times reported that half the facade of Commander's Palace was gone, as was one wall of Antoine's. The Dallas Morning News reported that Café Du Monde (the place for beignets and chicory coffee) and Central Grocery (home of the muffuletta) appeared to have sustained little damage. One of Louisiana's most famous products is Tabasco sauce. Its maker, McIlhenny Co., which counts California as its top market, was lucky. Based on Avery Island, 120 miles west of New Orleans, the pepper farm, manufacturing plant and headquarters were spared

and we will continue to watch what is happening daily ...

What tastes from New Orleans bring back your fondest memories? :huh:

Mine would be the olive salad covered muffalettas at Central Grocery and strawberry daiquiris at River Walk ..while watching the brown Mississippi flow by... it seems that sensuality seemed part of the warp and weft of life in New Orleans .. wish I had spent more time there now ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Basically, I considered the piece not well thought out, the expert was not even from that part of the culinary world. Having read too many posts here, I am not worried about New Orleans. Some have gone on, others will stay, and there will be others who will rise to the top to take the place of those who left. Once it is made inhabitable again, life will go on. According to todays Times Picayune, the CBD is getting power back, and that is where a lot of the restaurants are. Also, phone service is returning to several parts of the city. THe hotels will be reopened to house recovery workers, that means jobs returning to the city. Like a phoenix, it will arise better than before. some parts will be very different, but some parts will retain their charm. I have memories of riding the St CHarles street car home after work late at night and smelling all those night smells in uptown. IF it was supposed to go away, it would of happened long before now. Viva la Nueva Orleans.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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New Orleans will undoubtedly recover, but its unquestionable that it will not be the same city it was before. I would imagine that many of the legendary restaurants will be gone, only to be replaced by new ones.

It was only 3 months ago Rachel and I spent an entire week tasting the many delights of this great city. I have to think that many of the things listed below that we tasted I'll never have the opportuntity to try ever again.

Eating New Orleans

Eating New Orleans Snowballs

Eating New Orleans Ice Cream

Eating New Orleans Po Boys

Willie Mae's Scotch House

Upperline

Deanie's

Central Grocery

Sid-Mar's

Palace Cafe

Commander's Palace

Drago's

Pampy's Creole Kitchen

Dunbar's

Tujagues

Jacques-Imo's

Bayona

New Orleans Farmers Market

Crescent City Farmer's Market

Cafe Du Monde

Mosca's

Uglesich's

Bozo's

Pascal's Manale

Elizabeth's

Frady's

New Orleans Rum

Plaquemines Parrish Heritage Seafood Festival

see also:

The Perlows to Visit New Orleans (2003)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Original Pascal's Barbeque Shrimp (lots of black pepper)here  was one of my favorites as well .. as is the artwork at Upperline ...scroll down and enjoy the pictures yet again! :biggrin:

Loved the shrimp--I'll miss the turtle soup at Brennans before brunch, the eggs sardeau (sp?) with a spicey Gewurtz.

Cooking is chemistry, baking is alchemy.

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I have to admit that I was never really a fan of the restaurants in the CBD and other tourist-y areas. I never had a hankering to eat in any place a Brennan or a Legasse owned. It's just not my thing, and quite frankly, I'm a small-town girl who prefers low-key neighborhood delights. I will miss (at least for the next year or so, if not forever in some cases):

-- Willie Mae's fried chicken, rice and butter beans

-- Everything about Upperline (especially JoAnn)

-- Crawfish cheesecake at Dick & Jenny's

-- Gail Uglesich's Bloody Marys

-- John Rea's booming voice announcing the food at Uglesich's

-- Dooky Chase's Monday lunch buffet

-- Everything about the Fair Grinds Coffee Shop (near City Park)

-- Chocolate chip/banana pancakes and huevos rancheros at the Bluebird

I'm glad I spent a week there in August soaking it all in. Who knows when we'll be able to get back, and certainly things will change. Memories are a wonderful thing, and for me, it's double the pleasure when memories involve good food, good conversation, and good collegiality with the folks who prepare and serve.

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Undoubtedly, some places will not reopen. Their loss will be felt acutely by many.

Life, however, goes on; the loss of good restaurants also creates opportunities for new restaurants. New legends spring up after old ones fade.

I've never been to NOLA, but I've long been aware of a creative, exciting mindset among food lovers in the area. I'm looking forward to seeing which of the cream rises to the top. There's plenty of it to go around!

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Oddly enough, I have to credit New Orleans with introducing me to my one honest-to-God fast food addiction:

Popeye's fried chicken.

The chain began in the city, and it was there where I first tried the stuff in 1978.

However, thanks to franchising, I do not need to return to NOLA to have some.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Oh you naysayers, We will be back, we are strong, we will suprise you Jason. At this moment, I have lost my home and my job. I am riding around in my 10 year old car, with my 82 year old mother and 3 changes of clothes. Don't feel sorry for me. NO is a way of life, which just happens to include the best food in the US. We will never give up our culture. I'll meet you all on September 8, 2006, at 4 PM at the Napoleon House for a Pimm's Cup. Be there.

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Oh you naysayers, We will be back, we are strong, we will suprise you Jason. At this moment, I have lost my home and my job. I am riding around in my 10 year old car, with my 82 year old mother and 3 changes of clothes. Don't feel sorry for me. NO is a way of life, which just happens to include the best food in the US. We will never give up our culture. I'll meet you all on September 8, 2006, at 4 PM at the Napoleon House for a Pimm's Cup. Be there.

So this is a date. Should we put it on the eG calendar?

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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OK, before I start smashing my keyboard, let me get this off of my chest.

Can a food capital recover? Well... hell yeah it can. Why do you think it's a food capital in the first place? Do you think it's because of the beautiful architecture at places like Mosca's? Or the lovely atmosphere at Hansen's? Or the white table cloth service at Uglesitch's?

I, and many of my colleagues have written reams about why we are the way we are. If you don't get it at this point you aren't going to. But let me sum it up for you.

Our raw materials, as a general thing, are better than your raw materials. While, temporarily, it's a pain to shrimp as no one can process, there are lots of guys willing to do it, even if they can't make any money at it due to current pricing and diesel costs. It's what they do. Ditto for oysters, crabs, crawfish (not in season anyway), etc. We have a year round supply of fresh produce and native citrus of various sorts. Hurricane or not hurricane, it's not changing. It's been this way since the only guys living here were indians.

We have a cuisine that is local, native, and completely indigineous and one that has continued to evolve, but still uses the same centers as it has for a very long time. It is a broad cuisine, almost always involving what's fresh and local. That is not going to change.

Our restaurant staffs live here. Most people in the bsiness in New Orleans are not hobbyist. On almost every level you find professionals. Whether it is in a family run sno ball business (there is some serious money in one of those things if it's well run, believe it or not), or a big chain of restaurants-you will find that the employees take the service and the food seriously. Just look at some of the past discussions in the Louisiana forum here. For God sakes, how many times can we discuss cheap eats in New Orleans? Well, plenty, says I. Because as a general thing you could (and will be able to again) eat better more cheaply in New Orleans than anywhere in the US. The reason for this is probably mostly two fold-!) New Orleans is a poor place. As my friiend Fred Flames said a few years ago, " New Orleans is a place with a low standard of living and a high quality of life." Very few statements about this city ring as true right now as that one. 2) The raw ingredients don't go far and are cheap to get here. In fact, for most of the year, you can have an oyster poboy where EVERY ingredient, oysters, bread, tomatoes, pickles, mayo, hot sauce, etc. are all made IN New Orleans, not near here, but here.

Sure, some people will leave and some will come back, but not to the same places they were running before, for both personal and financial reasons. Let's face it, many of these guys aren't going to be covered for the kind of loss that they suffered and even if they are it won't be enough to keep them afloat for a year and leave enough left over to come back and open a new place.

New Orleans will be back, don't worry about it. It's one of the most intersting places on the planet, has a port that can't be replaced (2/3 of the water in the US flows out past the French Quarter-that can't be stopped and there has to be a port there-so give it up on this "move New Orleans" crap-we ain't leaving), a food culture that is like none other, and a people who are fiercely proud of what they are and where they live (admittedly, even when it's clearly crazy-we are still pulling for the Saints, though only the Good Lord knows why). I'll be there in the middle of it. I can't wait.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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As always, Mayhaw Man gets right to the heart of the matter ... and I also can't wait! No one knows New Olreans foods like Brooks ...

And, from the article cited in the last post :

This is not just any food. It is Cajun with its brash, full-bodied take on pork fat and crawfish. It is Creole with its okra and red beans, butter and cream. It is oysters Rockefeller. It is king cakes and beignets.

which Brooks actually says with considerably more panache ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Update as of 9/9/05 from Paul Prudhomme's website:

K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen

Initial reports indicate that the restaurant sustained minor flooding and/or damage. We are hopeful that these reports are correct. As soon as city officials give us approval to re-enter we will begin to start up operations.

Chefs Cook for Katrina’ fund‘Chefs Cook for Katrina’, a charity effort by Chef Paul Prudhomme, is a 501c3 organization under IRS tax codes and all donations are tax deductible. These donations will be used exclusively to help Chef Paul and other local chefs who will be cooking for first responder, police, firemen, volunteers and the military. The fund will provide food, supplies, paper goods, etc. to help in Katrina relief efforts.

the K Paul website

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I received my copy of John D. Folse's "Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cooking" last night. I had ordered it 2 and a half weeks ago, and as you can imagine, reading it last night was a bit of a strange experience. However, I can truly say that it one of the most magnificent books on anything that I have ever seen ($50 honestly seems like a bargain - it is so much more then a cookbook). I spent many hours poring over it (and barely made a mark) and it really hit home for me what a truly unique food culture exists in NO and LA. Something as deeply entrenched as that does not disappear. I can't wait to return.

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Sorry that this is off topic but do any of you remember food and drink scenes from A Confederacy of Dunces? I mean other than Ignatius's mother hiding her wine in the oven ("Your wine must be done by now")? And "Fix me a weenie."

I am looking for that book right now.

Edited by My Confusing Horoscope (log)

Scorpio

You'll be surprised to find out that Congress is empowered to forcibly sublet your apartment for the summer.

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Oh you naysayers, We will be back, we are strong, we will suprise you Jason. At this moment, I have lost my home and my job. I am riding around in my 10 year old car, with my 82 year old mother and 3 changes of clothes. Don't feel sorry for me. NO is a way of life, which just happens to include the best food in the US. We will never give up our culture. I'll meet you all on September 8, 2006, at 4 PM at the Napoleon House for a Pimm's Cup. Be there.

PamPam . . . You are so right. I got engaged to my ex (native New Orleanian) not long after Betsy (1965) and was able to see the rebuilding from that one up close and personal. His father was a big wig in the banking business and had a lot to do with the rebuild. Yes, it all came back. Yes, this one was bigger and a whole lot worse. But, the big heart is still there. I am much encouraged. Keep reminding me, but I am putting it on my calendar. I will see you on September 8, 2006 at 4 PM at the Napoleon House. Have my Pimm's Cup waiting!

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Several blocks away, the Napoleon House, a dimly lit bar on Chartres Street with the ambience of 1830 Paris, is closed, but not boarded up. A tourist trolley is parked outside, empty, two wheels on the sidewalk.
Washington Post

Apparently, the place is fully functional and will reopen ... :biggrin:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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New Orleans will be back, don't worry about it. It's one of the most intersting places on the planet, has a port that can't be replaced (2/3 of the water in the US flows out past the French Quarter-that can't be stopped and there has to be a port there-so give it up on this "move New Orleans" crap-we ain't leaving), a food culture that is like none other, and a people who are fiercely proud of what they are and where they live (admittedly, even when it's clearly crazy-we are still pulling for the Saints, though only the Good Lord knows why).  I'll be there in the middle of it. I can't wait.

Right on, Brooks.

Scott told me yesterday he's thinking about moving back home to New Orleans once things have settled down. He asked if I'd be willing or if it was a crazy idea. I knew he was from there but had no idea what it meant to him.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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