Archive for New Orleans

Corner Bar & Grill, New Orleans, La

Posted in New Orleans Restaurants with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2009 by restaurantouring

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There’s a little bar & grill by the river, down in New Orleans.  It’s probably one of my favorite little places to go to eat lunch, because it’s laid back, they serve a large portion of rich, chicken gumbo with jambalaya in the middle instead of rice (two of my favorite things on this planet are gumbo and jambalaya), and they have crispy-on-the-outside, savory and tangy-on-the-inside fried pickles with a ranch dressing dip. Fried pickle chips are delicious. Just try it. You’ll like it. Now I sound like your mother!

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So if you’re ever in the area and you want a cool little sports bar with plenty of big windows to dine at, check out the Corner Bar & Grill on St. Peter and Decatur. It’s a pretty relaxed place, so I wouldn’t suggest going there for a quick bite to eat if you’re in a rush to go somewhere. But if you’re tired from walking, if you want a place to sit down, and if you wanna grab a beer, some fried pickles, and maybe a sandwich or their signature “Gumbalaya,” this place is where it’s at. Prices are moderate but service (in true southern fashion) is admittedly slow. The food is a little inconsistent, but watching sports on any of their HDTv’s or people-watching are both fair game. But, you’re in the south. Relaaax. And let me know what you think!

Corner Oyster Bar & Grill
500 Saint Peter St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 522-2999
*get the fried pickles and share with friends
**try the gumbalaya!
***beware the gratuity added to the bill to avoid tipping them twice!

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Creole Gumbo

Posted in Home cooking and more with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2009 by restaurantouring
Creole Gumbo

Creole Gumbo

The word “gumbo” comes from the African word for okra, kingombo, and in New Orleans, there’s no doubt that a cup of gumbo is king. Bad puns aside, here’s a recipe for some creole gumbo. Happy Mardi Gras, everyone:

Ingredients:

– 4 tbl butter

– 1 lb. smoked andouille sausage, sliced

– 1/2 cup of flour

– the trinity: ½ onion, chopped, 1 bell pepper, chopped, 2 stalks celery, chopped

– okra, sliced

– 2 medium tomatoes, chopped

– 4 cups, beef or chicken stock

– 4 cups, fish or shrimp broth

– 1 bay leaf

– ½ tsp. thyme

– salt and pepper

– hot sauce (optional)

– 12 to 18 shrimp

– 6 to 12 oysters, mussels, or clams

– 12 crawfish or 3 split crabs

– cooked long grain rice

– chopped parsley, to garnish

Directions:

Melt the butter in a large dutch oven or heavy pot. Sauté the andouille to render out some of the fat. Strain and reserve. Sauté the okra to prevent sliminess. Strain and reserve. Add flour to the fat to make a roux, adding more butter or oil as needed. Gently cook roux until it darkens to the color of chocolate. Add onions and cook until onions caramelize. Stir constantly to make sure nothing burns. Add the rest of the veggies and tomato and cook until soft. Pour in the stock with the okra, sausage, bay leaf, and thyme. Lightly season the gumbo with salt and pepper (the flavors and salt will concentrate after simmering for an hour to two hours). Add the seafood last, to ensure that it does not overcook – clams, oysters, or mussels first, followed by the crabs split in half, and finally, the shrimp). Divide soup into 6 bowls, making sure that every bowl gets a little bit of everything. Top with a mound of rice, and sprinkle with some of the chopped parsley. Serve very hot, with or without hot sauce.

Notes:

– Whenever you’re working with bivalves like clams and mussels, you want to be sure to use fresh product.  Also, be sure to soak them in several changes of cold water so that they won’t be too gritty or sandy.  Scrub the outsides of clams with a brush under cold running water.  Remove the beards of the mussels with a needle nosed plier.

– Be careful with the clams, since clams will add saltiness to the gumbo over time.  A perfectly seasoned gumbo may end up being far too salty the next day.  To help remedy this, remove the shells before storing your gumbo overnight.

– You may find that the gumbo is not thick enough to your liking.  You can remedy this in a number of ways.  You can add less liquid (remember that the seafood will give up some liquid, too.  This can thin out the gumbo), make a larger batch of roux, or fortify the gumbo with additional roux after you’ve simmered it for a while.  Okra helps.  File powder (ground, dried sassafras leaves, used as a thickener and flavoring agent in Cajun style gumbos) works too.  I’d stick with roux and okra for this version of gumbo, though — I think it’s more authentically Creole.

Wow

Posted in Food on TV with tags , , , , on February 20, 2009 by restaurantouring

Dear Lord, it has been a while since my last [real] post. Apologies for that. I’ve been trying to sort out some personal matters while looking for a new job, since I intend on leaving my current one very soon. Damn this economic downturn for making things so difficult!  I just want to cook!  But alas, no one is hiring.

The first thing I want to talk about is Top Chef, of course. I’m obsessed with this show. And what a roller coaster ride it has been! With Ariane Duarte eliminated a few weeks ago, the show became a little less interesting for me. I was really cheering her on, not just because she’s a fellow New Jerseyan and her restaurant is 15 minutes away from my apartment, but she was super nice (not like Leah or Stefan) and she actually knew how to cook, unlike half of the untalented hacks that show up on these shows sometimes.

The following week, Radhika was eliminated for being a poor host and leader during restaurant wars. Not only was her restaurant seemingly unfriendly, the desserts failed. What a bummer.

Then, Jeff fell in the All Star episode due to a seemingly lackluster ceviche. I’m still scratching my head a little about that one, but it doesn’t matter. I also read an interview with him somewhere online. I’ll link to it when I find it, but in it, he basically said that he felt like he was being used as some sort of sex object on the show or something. This I find hilarious, if you remember the name of the place he works at (Dilido Club, for those of you who don’t).

The following week, Jamie (Shock! Surprise! She was one of my favorites!) was sent home because of oversalted braised celery ribs in her attempt to recreate one of Le Bernardin’s dishes, even though Hosea botched some fundamentals and Leah completely fuxxed up her dish. The only justification I’ve been able to muster up for this decision is that salt is the most important thing in the kitchen. At least, learning to control salt is the most important fundamental. Terrible to see her go, though.

Leah finally gets sent home after that. She botched poached eggs for her eggs Benedict. Not only were her eggs undercooked, she watered down her hollandaise when she should have left it alone. Fabio breaks a pinky finger but still manages to win the challenge, which was fantastic.

This brings us to this week’s episode:

The final four (Stefan, Hosea, Fabio, and Carla) meet back up in New Orleans for the end of the season. Emeril is the guest judge. In the spirit of the rebirth of New Orleans, the judges bring back the last three competitors eliminated for a chance to get back into the mix.

Quickfire: Jeff, Jamie, and Leah must prepare a dish using crawfish. Leah’s dish looks the least appealing — like a failed gumbo or stew, so she calls it a soup. Although Jamie’s dish looked tasty, Jeff pulled it off with his version of shrimp and grits, substituting the crawfish for the shrimp.

For the elimination challenge, Jeff needs to win in order to proceed to the finale. If he does win, the judges will eliminate two other chefs. Unfortunately, he ends up just missing the mark to Carla, who really shined with an oyster stew, freshly fried shrimp beignets, and a non-alcoholic (Gasp! In the middle of Mardi Gras???) mixed drink. Stefan and Fabio end up being the least favorite chefs, and Fabio is unfortunately sent home.

So, the final 3 are Stefan, Carla, and Hosea. This is very different from whom I imagined would be in the final 3: Jamie, Stefan, and either Jeff or Fabio.

If Stefan wins, he will probably deserve it, even though he’s an arrogant ass. Hosea, I think, doesn’t really know how to cook at a high level. Carla has been truly impressive in the last few episodes. She’s definitely the dark horse out of the bunch, and I hope she wins it all. We’ll see what happens.

I just hope these chefs remember what the formula for success seems to be on the show: good interpretations of familiar foods. Simplicity. Elegance. Austerity. Perfect execution. And bacon.