A Chicken-Fried Good Time in New Orleans is In Our Future

Now there’s one more way to enjoy my beloved NOLA: a chicken-fried festival of flavors. A plethora of plentiful poultry done right. A cache of crunchy chicken goodness.

Photo from Shoofly by Ellis Anderson; that’s the fried chicken from Willie’s Chicken Shack

Shoofly Magazine, the pride of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, did the world a public service by sampling the best of the best of the chicken-fried offerings in nearby New Orleans, and published a great article about it: The Grand New Orleans Fried Chicken Pilgrimage.

A simple story about a food festival grows to epic proportions when it kicks off the search for some of the city’s best fried chicken. 

– Shoofly story by Ellis Anderson

We’re a little obsessive about New Orleans here at Glover Gardens and are revving up for another Jazz Fest jaunt later this year. Shoofly’s tribute to fried chicken adds complexity to our journey, because we are already stressed by the “so little time, so many great meals to choose from!” dichotomy. But we’ll figure it out, and if we have to make extra trips to NOLA to sample the crispy chicken delights highlighted in the magazine, we’ll do it.

Photo from Shoofly Magazine by Ellis Anderson: the Roosevelt Hotel’s Monday night chicken

Give the article from Shoofly a read, and think about joining us at Jazz Fest later this year when we’ll be tasting the chicken and jamming to the tunes. Thanks to the folks at Shoofly Magazine for adding to the never-ending lure of NOLA.

© 2019 Glover Gardens

Edinburgh Farmers Market – Jazz and Memories in the Shadow of Edinburgh Castle

NFMW2018_MGbannerIt’s National Farmers Market Week and I promised to share, so I’m unearthing more farmers market memories. Today, we’re in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Just last summer, I had this amazing experience in Edinburgh. Only a few weeks after my Dad died, I was on a European business trip which required a weekend stay-over, and the location happened to be Edinburgh. Lucky me. In a hotel that looked out to Edinburgh Castle. Double-lucky me!

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The hotel is in the center of town, in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. That was the (zoomed-in) view from my hotel window. Wow.

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Photo of Mary King’s Close from the Guardian by Murdo MacLeod

My colleagues and I did touristy things together on Saturday morning, including a macabre underground ghost tour that taught us all about how the Scots of way back handled the plague, and then we split up, some of them headed out to castles in the distance, some of them shopping, and me – just wandering around and thinking about Dad.

Getting back to the hotel and in desperate need of a nap, I was amazed to learn that the city’s month-long music festival had taken up residence right outside my hotel, the street blocked off at both ends to hold three stages and various food and drink vendors.

Score! I shucked off my inclination for a nap like a new year’s resolution on Jan. 3 and flung myself headlong into the crowd.

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Have you ever heard live jazz, in Scotland, in the shadow of a castle? I hadn’t … wow, what an in-the-moment experience.

Festival in the Shadow of Edinburgh CastleIt was the end of the performances for the day, sadly. The first – and last – tune I heard was, unbelievably, When the Saints Go Marching In.

Here’s a little bit of video of that performance.

Oh. My. Gosh.

The connectedness. The synchronicity. The serendipity. The simple, awesome experience of enjoying delightful live music with an appreciative crowd.

Saints is a tune that is important in my family. My Mom always loved the New Orleans tradition of the second line parade after funerals, that lively and joyful conclusion after the pre-funeral dirges. We made sure it happened just that way after her funeral; I will always be grateful to my friend / ex-husband for bringing his whole jazz band and playing their hearts out in her memory. Joy in sorrow, joy in sorrow.

Before this Scotland trip, I had been at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, when Dad was still alive. I had happily heard When the Saints Go Marching In about 10 times over a long weekend, including once by the legendary Herb Alpert. OMG, he is awesome! Dad and I texted each other during the Herb Alpert performance at Jazz Fest, when the Grill-Meister and I were awestruck at how vibrant he was at 80-something; Dad said, ‘your mother and I saw him ’round about 1965. Good times.” (Another story for another day.)

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Herb Alpert and his wife Lani Hall brought the house down at the NOLA Jazz Fest

Just three weeks prior to the Edinburgh trip, the venerable Saints tune was the joyful conclusion at my Dad’s funeral, just like it had been at my Mom’s 17 years earlier. Just like it will be at mine when it’s my time to go. I’m partial to that song, you might say.  🎶🎶🎶🎶 “O Lord I want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in.”

So, to be in Scotland on a business trip and just stumble into a live performance of Saints was almost too much.

The connectedness. The synchronicity. The serendipity.

I felt Dad’s presence on a grand scale, and my heart grew too big for my body, just like the Grinch’s when he saw that Whoville would still have Christmas without presents and food. It was a transcendent experience.

Back to the the Farmers Market

I haven’t forgotten, truly I haven’t – this post is supposed to be about the Edinburgh farmers market. My journey there tonight took place via music and reminiscence.

As I said, I hit the ground at the music festival at the tail end of the performances. Sigh. I jammed and jazzed to Saints, but then, sadly, the musicians began to break down their gigs and pack up. I was just getting started!  I noticed that there was a farmers market on the other end of the street … hmmm. Curses, is it about to close, too?!!? But no, the stalwart vendors didn’t ‘up and leave’ when the music was over; they were on their regular Saturday market schedule.

And what a lovely market it was. It had everything: produce, cheese, a bridal couple (he wore a kilt), dogs galore, arepas, paella, olives, breads, leather goods…a plethora of products to peruse while people-watching.

I’ll be in Edinburgh again soon, and will likely fall more deeply in love with it. Watch this space!

Related Resources

© 2018, Glover Gardens

Farmers Market in New Orleans – the Real Deal

I’ve been telling you how we love farmers markets here at Glover Gardens, and my Dear Readers, I did not exaggerate.

NFMW2018_MGbannerA farmers market is a must-stop on any road trip for the Grill-Meister and me. And sometimes even when we’re traveling by plane and can’t take home any foodstuffs or plunder, we still seek out farmers markets, just for the fun of it. I’m going on about this because it’s National Farmers Market Week and I promised to share, remember? (Of course you do – you read yesterday’s post, right?)

Crescent City Farmers MarketOn a recent anniversary trip to New Orleans, the Crescent City Farmers Market beckoned to us. The Saturday version, downtown, at the corner of Carondelet and Julia streets.

We knew we’d love this market even before arriving in the sultry summer morning, just from online list of vendors. I read it out loud to the Grill-Meister as we made our plans that Saturday morning, my voice rising and squeaking with each new exciting description.

Wild catfish, alligator, softshell crabs, crabmeat, alligator, frog, crawfish, turtle meat!

Heirloom strawberries, tomatoes, eggplant, okra, broccali, cauliflower, cabbage, squash, cucumbers, mustard, radish, tamales (veggie, cheese, jalepeno, bean), salsa (red and green), pico de gallo, tortilla chips, muscadine grapes, eggs

Assorted sourdough bread, baguettes, and pastries including country boules, Pain de Mie, swirls, Fougasse, and more.

Saddle up the Uber, we’re on our way!!!  “Spoiled for choice,” as that old saying goes. No one would go to this market seeking fresh food and come away disappointed. It is a “real” farmers market, with almost all of its space allotted to farmers and merchants with locally grown or locally produced food products (seafood, produce, honey, condiments, etc.) No tchotchkes, doodads, gewgaws, knickknacks or trinkets here – just fine NOLA foodstuffs and friendly folks, and some fantastic music. Just what you’d expect in the Big Easy.

Enjoy the photos, and put this market on your list the next time you visit the Crescent City. They have a market in different places around town every day except Sunday and Monday and sometimes there are cooking demonstrations in addition to the exceptional vendors and delightful music.

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Love the lettuce spilling out of this Green Bragg Bag, and the ice pop to beat the heat. She really exemplifies the farmers market vibe.

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The music from this duo was a delightful add to the festive market atmosphere

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Little Miss in her bright orchid sundress was a sight to behold, and she might’ve had the best time of all. She knew she was rocking that outfit with the matching bonnet. (You see things like this at farmers markets.)

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Resources

© 2018, Glover Gardens

 

From Food & Wine: “The 50 best Southern restaurants in America, according to OpenTable”

Food & Wine Magazine sends me emails fairly often, but I don’t usually have time for them unless the headline catches my eye. This one did: “The 50 best Southern restaurants in America, according to OpenTable.”

Hmmm. I’m in the South – I wonder if I’ve been to any of these ‘best Southern restaurants’, I wonder what the selection criteria was, I wonder ….”

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BBQ Shrimp at Mr. B’s in NOLA

So of course I read the article, and of course I’m sharing it with you. I’ve only been to two of the 50 spots on the list, Brennan’s of Houston and Mr. B’s in New Orleans, both of which were excellent, in my humble opinion (that extended Brennan’s family just knows how to do restaurants). In fact, I have a Mr. B’s post half-drafted to share with y’all one day soon in my Restaurant Rave series – it’s all about the barbecued shrimp. And the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had was at Brennan’s in Houston. Stories for another day…

The methodology for selecting this list of top Southern restaurants was based on analysis of OpenTable reviews of restaurants in the Southern Cuisine category over a certain period of time. It’s interesting that the restaurants aren’t all located in the South; they are simply “Southern restaurants”.  I guess that’s all right, but I feel a little uneasy about it. It’s cool, though, and not surprising, that New Orleans had the most establishments on the list with 8.

photo from Yarbird Los Angeles

Did your fave make the list?

I want to check some of these out! Watch this space for more restaurant raves, if they live up to the hype.

Read the article here: These are the 50 best Southern restaurants in America, according to OpenTable.

© 2018, Glover Gardens

 

Discovery on Magazine Street: Garlic Beignets at The Vintage

I can’t go to New Orleans any more often than I do, or I’ll need a whole new wardrobe, at least two sizes bigger. (You may have noticed that many of my NOLA posts wax rhapsodic about our culinary treasure hunts.)

Here’s a new discovery: garlic beignets are a thing. Who knew? Not being a big sweets-hound, I can easily and quite happily avoid regular beignets (and the crowds) at famous NOLA haunts like Cafe du Monde, but these savory little nuggets from the newly opened restaurant called The Vintage had my number from the start. We ordered them as soon as we heard of their existence. It needed to be done.

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A little neighborhood bar and cafe that touts “bites and bubbles,” The Vintage appealed to us during an afternoon foray down tree-lined and shop-laden Magazine Street. Trust me, you can work up a serious appetite and thirst while shopping in New Orleans in the summer. The Grill-Meister and I had a great time on our miles-long walk, taking in all kinds of local color, artisan’s creations, antiques, touristy baubles and some downright junk.  Check out the Magazine Street Merchant’s Association for more info.

After all that walking, I didn’t feel guilty about my first couple of garlic beignets, and planned to stop after the third. But one more wouldn’t hurt…  you get the picture. We didn’t finish them all, but we were very, very glad that our dinner reservation at K-Paul’s wasn’t until 8:30, giving us time to walk some more and restore our appetites.

fullsizeoutput_2599What did they taste like? Think of a light, crisp beignet, tossed not with icky-sweet powdered sugar, but with garlic, herbs and parmesan, making its way toward your taste buds preceded by a beguiling aroma. That’s all I really need to say.

fullsizeoutput_2596So, except for the impact on the waistline, I can recommend this little gem of a restaurant as a great place to stop for a bite and a drink and to gin up more energy for walking and shopping on Magazine Street. NOLA.com’s review of The Vintage describes it perfectly: it has “the vibe of a coffeeshop crossed with a bar” . The friendly service make you want to “sit a spell,” chat, and enjoy the laid-back ambience and wry humor of the decor. If you do go, try the garlic beignets. And let me know how you liked them.

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For more of the Glover Gardens outlook on the wonderful city of NOLA, click here.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Surrounded: A Photo from New Orleans

It’s a quick weekend trip for the Grill-Meister and me, celebrating our tenth anniversary.

On a short walk yesterday afternoon, I looked up and saw these steeples framed by the traditional NOLA architectural elements of this stately home and a beautiful old oak tree. All of them both have withstood so much for so long.

It felt great to be in the moment, take the picture, have time to think about these iconic symbols, and then walk on.

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Surrounded

© 2018 Glover Gardens

New Orleans, the Kentucky Derby and a Boozy Bourbon Milk Punch

The Kentucky Derby is today. It seems to always coincide with the last weekend of the New Orleans Jazz Festival, which seems to always be the weekend that we choose to go. I’ve seen the annual “Run for the Roses” on a bar TV in New Orleans more times than I can remember, usually from Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House. Even though the traditional Kentucky Derby cocktail is the mint julep, the libation of choice for the Grill-Meister and me is the Bourbon Milk Punch. It is lusciously, sinfully rich – a milkshake for grownups.

This year, we’re not at the Jazz Fest and we won’t be enjoying a cool, creamy Bourbon Milk Punch while watching the Kentucky Derby, but these things remain on our Replay List to enjoy again in the future. Read more about it and get the recipe for Bourbon Milk Punch here – and remember, one is enough!

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These boozy, grown-up milkshakes can accompany an afternoon snack

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While we’re on the topic of horse-racing, I heard a great story about the only Texas horse to win the Triple Crown on NPR /Texas Public Radio yesterday. Read it here: Remembering Assault, The Only Texas Horse To Win The Triple Crown.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

The Made-in-Italy Paderno Cookware I Fought for and Earned

A long, long time ago, when I was quite young, I was in New Orleans with another too-young person. We had no money (or rather, we spent all our money to stay at Hotel Provincial), so we did things that young and poor people do: we walked, talked, people-watched, ate at small, humble and wonderful places, drank a little bit and enjoyed the street music.

As often happens in NOLA, a flyer was pressed on us by a slight young man, and we were intrigued by its promise: come hear a pitch for a time-share condo and get a free helicopter ride to get a bird’s-eye view of NOLA. Whoop-whoop! We called for the reservation, showed up at the appointed time, and settled in to listen to the pitch.

The salesman glided into his spiel for about two minutes and then stopped abruptly, saying, “You aren’t even in the ballpark of affording something like this, are you?” I’m surprised it took him that long, as we were 20 and 21, looking every bit as naive and broke as we were. We happily ‘fessed up to exactly what we were being accused of. He sighed, dismissed us with a “come back and see us when you’re a little more settled” and rose to escort us out the door of the warehouse-like makeshift office, past a sitting area where other folks were patiently waiting their turn to be sold a bill of goods.

But what about the helicopter ride?

“You didn’t qualify, so we can’t offer it to you,” he said.

We exclaimed that the flyer didn’t say anything about having to qualify for the purchase…you just had to listen to the pitch.  I brandished our copy of the flyer as proof.

See! It says it right here!

“Look, you’re just youngsters, and you don’t understand how it works…”  He spoke quietly, as we were in the waiting area and folks were watching us.  I raised my voice a little; let’s call it a controlled pre-shriek.

What if I said ‘false advertising’ really loudly? I wonder if these people here would be interested? We want our helicopter ride!

“OK, look, I can’t give you the helicopter ride. But here, take this. It’s our alternate gift.”

Even at that age, I was in love with cooking and the kitchen, and when I saw the “alternative gift”, I was good to go. It was a duo cookware set, a skillet and a dutch oven.

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Aren’t these cookware pieces beautiful? 

I never thought to look up the “alternative gift” cookware until today, when I was toasting aromatics for pho broth (see Excited about Star Anise and Pho).

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This skillet is perfect for toasting aromatics

It’s a good thing I checked today instead of ten years from now, because the trademark is wearing off. I wasn’t that surprised to find out that it’s really good stuff. Interestingly, I couldn’t find my exact pieces anywhere on the internet.

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The trademark info from the bottom of the skillet

I’ve seen a lot of things, done a lot of things and cooked a lot of things since that time over 30 years ago when I got the Paderno pots instead of the helicopter ride, and my hard-won cookware has remained with me. It is my go-to choice when non-stick isn’t needed and cast iron is too much. The skillet is marvelous for sautéing, and the pot is perfect for risotto.

I’m not sure if my set is aluminum or stainless steel, but it doesn’t really matter: it’s mine, it works and my affection for it will last a lifetime. It’s funny to think that it is “vintage” now, but so be it. So am I.

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My Paderno made-in-Italy cookware, circa 1984

Copyright 2018, Glover Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: Making Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Fish at Home

The eighth post in a series about the New Orleans Jazz Festival covering food (restaurants and recipes), fun, music and travel tips.

In the run-up to our Jazz Fest trip in early May, we are building anticipation by looking back at past good times in New Orleans and sharing our travel tips. And also cooking some of our favorite Louisiana recipes at home to get in the right mood – yum! Last night, it was Paul Prudhomme’s blackened fish.  Actually, his recipe was for blackened redfish, but we use tilapia instead.

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Blackened fish is a perfect late spring meal by the pool

I usually tinker with recipes to make them my own, which you will know if you’ve ever taken a gander at my About page.  But some recipes cannot be perfected, because they are already there.  Chef Paul’s blackened fish is one of those. His blackened redfish was so popular in the 80’s that some called it the dish of the decade.  In a retrospective about Chef Paul, the New Orleans Times-Picayune says it almost wiped out Gulf Coast redfish population.

I can understand why!  We’ve created magic with the Chef Paul blackened fish recipe twice now, and it is downright spectacular.  Moist on the inside, crusty and just-right spicy on the inside…heavenly.

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My copy of this cookbook is over 30 years old and battered with use

The recipe in the cookbook has a marvelous spice mix that is juuuust right.  Beware: there’s a recipe online on the official Paul Prudhomme web site, but it is different than the cookbook version and uses a pre-made commercial spice mix from the Chef Paul brand.  Don’t use that one – use the one from the cookbook.  I wouldn’t normally publish the recipe from the cookbook because it is copyright protected, but the New Orleans Times-Picayune published it in their online article in NOLA.com, so I’ve included it below. My advice:  do not stray from these instructions. The result is a perfectly cooked blackened fish that is fine enough to serve to Sunday company.

From The Times-Picayune, April 5, 1984

“Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen” includes this note: Redfish and pompano are ideal for this method of cooking. If tilefish is used, you may have to split the fillets in half horizontally to have the proper thickness. If you can’t get any of these fish, salmon steaks or red snapper fillets can be substituted. In any case, the fillets or steaks must not be more than 3/4 inch thick.

Blackened Redfish

Makes 6 servings

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted in a skillet

SEASONING MIX:

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper (preferably cayenne)
  • 3/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 6 (8- to 10-ounce) fish fillets, preferably redfish, pompano or tilefish, cut about 1/2 inch thick (note:  at Glover Gardens, we use tilapia)

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over very high heat until it is beyond the smoking stage and you see white ash in the skillet bottom (the skillet cannot be too hot for this dish), at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour 2 tablespoons melted butter in each of 6 small ramekins; set aside and keep warm. Reserve* the remaining butter in its skillet. Heat the serving plates in a 250-degree oven.

Thoroughly combine seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowL Dip each fillet in the reserved melted butter so that both sides are well coated; then sprinkle seasoning mix generously and evenly on both sides of the fillets, patting it in by hand. Place fish in the hot skillet and pour 1 teaspoon melted butter on top of each fillet (be careful, as the butter may flame up).

Cook, uncovered, over the same high heat until the underside looks charred, about 2 minutes (the time will vary according to the fillet’s thickness and the heat of the skillet). Turn the fish over and again pour 1 teaspoon butter on top. Cook until fish is done, about 2 minutes more. Repeat with remaining fillets. Serve each fillet while piping hot.

To serve, place one fillet and a ramekin of butter on each heated serving plate.

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Chef Paul isn’t with us any more – cooking blackened redfish for the angels? – but friends tell me that K-Paul’s is still just as good

I don’t know if we’ll have time to get to K-Paul’s while we’re in New Orleans for the Jazz Fest (in less than 2 weeks!!!!), but with this recipe, we can have a little bit of Chef Paul’s kitchen magic right here at home.

One last tip:  if you have any blackened fish left, it is marvelous the next day in a fish taco.  Just add a bit of pico de gallo or slaw and serve it up on a corn or flour tortilla.

Resources

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: Food at the Festival and the Foodie’s Dilemma

The seventh post in a series about the New Orleans Jazz Festival covering food (restaurants and recipes), fun, music and travel tips.

In the run-up to our Jazz Fest trip in early May, we are building anticipation by looking back at past good times in New Orleans and sharing our travel tips.

Today, we discuss a rather serious situation:  The Foodie’s Dilemma.

How to Enjoy Festival Food and Yet Save Room to Experience NOLA’s Restaurants?

The issue at hand is:  the festival food is so wonderful, so food-truck-trashy-tasty good, so “mama’s been making it for years just like this” authentic,  that any self-respecting foodie simply has to eat it.  And yet,  as a proud foodie, you want to save room for the dinners at the myriad of super-fine restaurants New Orleans has to offer, like Bayona, which was profiled in an earlier post.  It’s a difficult thing.  I’ve been to Jazz Fest five times and still don’t have the formula right for solving the Foodies’ Dilemma.  The best advice I have is to do a lot of walking and make room for more!  Since there are nine different food locations all around the festival offering over 250 menu items, you can do a lot of your walking just trying to make up your mind!  The other strategy we deploy is to skip breakfast, make a reservation for an early lunch at a foodie’s choice restaurant, then head out to the festival and start the serious snacking in mid-afternoon.

How to Choose from All the Mouthwatering Goodness?

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Crawfish Monica photo from EatDrinkCulture blog

And that’s the second part of the Foodie’s Dilemma: once you’ve realized you’re just going to be stuffed the whole time, and not really as ashamed about the gluttony as your Mama taught you to be – how do you pick between all of mouth-watering goodness provided by the 70+ vendors?  With the memory-laden lure of your old favorites, how can even a foodie branch out and try something new?  I’ve never had the Crab & Crawfish Stuffed Mushrooms that Prejean’s restaurant brings to Jazz Fest, but how could I pass up the Crawfish Monica or Crawfish Strudel that I always have?  In the crawfish department alone, there were 18 different selections featuring this delicious little crustacean in 2016.  So many options, so little time!  The Foodie’s Dilemma is actually a Foodie’s Delight.

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I snapped this pic while in line for Crawfish Strudel; notice all the hats (read here about the importance of hats)

Festival Food Photos

So today, for your culinary daydreaming pleasure, here’s a look at some of the delectable festival food, just random pics I’ve snapped during a few of our Jazz Fest journeys.  Some of the food was mine; some was in the hands of strangers.  People are always really nice about letting me photograph their food.

People are always nice at Jazz Fest, period.  It’s like a great big family reunion, but, instead of genes and upbringing, the thing you have in common is a love of music and food.

Catfish Almandine, Potato Salad and Creole Stuffed Crab

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Crawfish Strudel

Jazz Fest Food - Crawfish Strudel

Fried Crawfish and Greek Salad with Gyro Sandwich

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Crawfish Bread

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Have these photos piqued your interest?  The resources below include a link to the food section on the Jazz Fest web site.  There’s a lot more there to see and salivate over.

Crawfish Monica Recipe from Emeril’s Test Kitchen

Did you know that the amount of rotini pasta used to make the Crawfish Monica sold at the festival in a single year is 6 tons???  That stuff is hurt-yourself good.  So here’s a Crawfish Monica recipe via GoNOLA, with a video from chef Chris Wilson, the director of culinary operations at Emeril Lagasse’s test kitchen.

Resources

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook