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.
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.
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.
Road trip time! Halfway between Glover Gardens and Little House in the Rockies lies the west Texas town of Amarillo. I’ve never done much there but sleep during our overnight stops, but its holiday vibe charmed me from my hotel window on Thursday night, and again in a different way on Friday morning. It was haiku-worthy.
at night all sparkly Amarillo by morning was muted by snow
Real life at Glover Gardens has been a little too busy for the Glover Gardens blog to be active for the past week or two…but I’m revving up for a revival.
I “catered” a friend’s 50th birthday party in the Texas Hill Country this weekend, spending a couple of very enjoyable days chopping, roasting, marinating, baking and garnishing. And hanging out with cool people in a lovely setting.
It was fun! I’ll share some of the recipes with you over the next few weeks, because this is a pretty good fall party menu. A couple of these dishes are going into the regular Glover Gardens rotation. And there was a bonus: the Grill-Meister found and executed a terrific cake called Bailey’s Chocolate Poke Cake. He says he’ll make it again, so you can expect to see it, too.
I like to live on the edge and tried a new recipe or two, including a sangria. I sent the birthday boy’s wife this story from Food & Wine and asked her to pick one. She picked a winner! Any time I get to use star anise, cloves, cinnamon sticks and whole allspice berries, I’m happy.
The Rosé Sangria with Cranberries and Apples was a hit. There was a teensy bit left, and I made it the star of a still life when we got home this afternoon. This spicy-sweet sangria will be on the menu over the holidays here at Glover Gardens. I jazzed it up a little bit and will tell you all about it the next time I make it.
Happy Sunday evening!
Update – as I publish the recipes from the party, I’m adding them here.
After an anniversary trip to New Orleans this summer, I waxed long and poetic in this postabout Suire’s, a tiny, quirky, wonderful and welcoming cafe and grocery in Kaplan, Louisiana that serves spectacular Cajun food.
Now I have to rave about Suire’s again – this time, it’s about the Crawfish Fettuccini. Wow!!!
If you read the original post(and I hope you did – or will), you’ll know the story about the generous stranger who insisted on buying us a frozen container of the Crawfish Fettuccini.
The Crawfish Fettuccini Katlyn gifted us with has been sitting in our freezer waiting for the right time for us to savor it slowly and remember what a great time we had at Suire’s. Last night was the night. I’m messing around with crab cakes, trying to create the perfect Glover Gardens version. The taste is all that (according to my Official Taster, the Grill-Meister), but the texture isn’t right yet, so I’m not ready to share the recipe. Stay tuned. Anyway, I needed a side dish.
The Suire’s Crawfish Fettuccini was the perfect complement to our crab cake experiment. And it was just that: perfect. Creamy, spicy, homey, with tasty little morsels of crawfish. Oh my goodness!
So Katlyn, thank you so much for the gift of the frozen Crawfish Fettuccini. You were absolutely right about it. Wow.
I’m excited because we still have two frozen entrees from Suire’s – Red Beans and Sausage and Crawfish Étouffée. When they’re gone, it’s time for a road trip! Wanna come?
Looking for lunch on a recent trek home from New Orleans, we took the long way along the coast and found a treasure (and I do mean treasure) in the backroads of southern Louisiana. Suire’s Grocery and Restaurant has been serving delicious Cajun food to hungry travelers, locals and hunters since 1976. It was magic: the food, the ambience and especially the people. The Grill-Meister and I were enchanted.
An Experience, Not a Pit Stop
You know it’s going to be a memorable experience instead of a quick bite right when you pull up to the unassuming white building. The menu is painted on the outside, along with a faded but very friendly-looking alligator to welcome you.
Inside, the feeling that you’re in a unique place is immediately reinforced. The walls are crowded with a fascinating collection of Louisiana kitsch, safety awards, family and local memorabilia, and articles from publications ranging from the New York Times to the Houston Chronicle. Referencing the authenticity of the food and the popularity of Suire’s with hunters and locals, the articles point out different dishes and dining experiences from the individual viewpoints of the writers, but they all have one thing in common: glowing reviews.
Menu Choices Galore
We didn’t stop to read the articles at first, though. The menu above the counter where you order at the back of the store draws you in and amplifies your hunger. And that’s only a portion of what’s on offer: there’s also a printed menu with so many choices! There are selections that you rarely find outside of Cajun Country, like turtle sauce picante and three kinds of pistolettes (deep-fried rolls stuff with crawfish, shrimp or crab), and just about every Cajun menu staple you can imagine: alligator, boudin balls, shrimp or crawfish étouffée, twelve different po-boys, multiple fried seafood platters, red beans and sausage…you get the idea. And then there are salads, burgers, sandwiches and sides like Cajun fries, potato salad. Oh my goodness!
A Very Satisfying Meal
It was difficult, but we finally made our selections. The Grill-Meister and I had been in New Orleans for 3 days celebrating a milestone anniversary and had enjoyed numerous Cajun and Creole dishes, but we were happy to continue the trend at Suire’s. He chose the shrimp poboy, and I had the shrimp and crabmeat gumbo plate. They were both spectacular: fresh, delicious, perfectly balanced. Humble ingredients transformed into permanent taste memories.
The Sweet Smell of Baked Goods
House-made baked goods are everywhere, tempting you while you wait for your meal. This is NOT fast food. There’s time to take in the abundant ambience and ponder your dessert choices while the Suire’s kitchen prepares your order. A huge selection of old-fashioned favorites make it really hard to choose. Peanut butter balls or fig cake? Heavenly hash or rice krispy treats? Brownies, cookies or fruit-filled tarts? And who can resist homemade pecan pie??? After some soul-searching, the Grill-Meister chose the fig cake. I know that he loves me, because he gave me a bite.
A Freezer Full
A further temptation is the freezer full of Suire’s specialties, fulfilling the promise painted on the front door:
Don’t feel like cooking? … Frozen Foods – Ready to Eat – Just Heat and Serve
We just happened to have an ice chest with us. (No self-respecting foodies would go on a road trip to Louisiana without a way to bring some of the goodness home.) The ice chest got a little fuller.
Dry Goods and Groceries, Too
I’ve been gushing about the restaurant and the ambience, but shouldn’t ignore the other side of Suire’s – the grocery store. I’m from a very small town in Southeast Texas, and I know that the local grocery store can be the center of a small community, the place where people go to chat and get news, and the source of that one missing ingredient for the big dinner you planned to make.
Saving the Best for Last: the People of Suire’s
The most enchanting thing about Suire’s was the people. We had the great fortune to meet and chat with Joan Suire, who co-owns and runs the business with her sister, Lisa. Happy to chat, she pointed out some of the more interesting articles and photos on the walls and provided backstories. For example: behind the signed celebrity photos from the 1940s was the tale of a relative who worked at the Waldorf-Astoria, met and married a Rockefeller, “and never worked again”.
Jean tells her stories with a charismatic, wry smile and an excellent sense of timing. We could have conversed with her all day; her pride in the family business is evident and irresistible. She told us how here parents had started the business when she and her sister were teenagers, and that she’d never married but has had a great life at the counter of Suire’s. Joan shared a recent testimonial from a customer, a Baton Rouge native who’d just found Suire’s:
Your food resurrected my mother!
Taste memories. They’re important.
It was early Sunday afternoon when we visited, and there was a steady stream of locals picking up to-go orders. Jean knew everyone’s name and asked after their families with a genuine interest.
Southern Hospitality: “It’s My Treat!”
But it’s not just the proprietors that are special at Suire’s, it’s also the customers. One struck up a conversation with me, sharing that a new porch was being built at her house that day, so she was picking up lunch from Suire’s for everyone. A lovely young woman, she almost glowed as she gushed about the food, saying that the crawfish fettuccini was the absolute best. As she was paying for her order, she gestured for me to come up to the counter and said, “Do you want to try the crawfish fettuccini?” I thought she meant a little bite from some big vat of the wonderful stuff back in the kitchen, but no – she was offering to buy us a meal! We had already ordered, so I declined, but she insisted:
I’m going to buy you a frozen one, then. It’s my treat. You have to try it!
So there you are. An absolute stranger bought us a local delicacy because it’s that good. I think her name was Caitlyn and wish I had written it down so I could thank her properly. (Lovely young lady, if you read this and I got your name wrong, please correct me!) Whenever I think about southern hospitality from now on, this experience at Suire’s will come to mind.
Another Road Trip
The Grill-Meister and I are already planning another road trip, this time with the express purpose to soak up more of that Suire’s magic. Wanna come?
Note: some of the articles I read when I was preparing this “restaurant rave” post suggested that the 2002 New York Times article put Suire’s on the map and made it famous. I disagree. It might have increased awareness about this little gem, but it’s clear that Suire’s has always been famous with the people of Southeast Louisiana and the the travelers, hunters and fisher-people who visit.
Epilogue: Anthony Bourdain was Here
We didn’t know when we found Suire’s two weeks ago that Anthony Bourdain had visited in February of this year for his Parts Unknown series. Wow. The episode, Cajun Mardi Gras Recap, aired soon after his tragic death. The photo below, taken on Ash Wednesday, is on the Suire’s Facebook page and features Anthony with owners (and sisters) Joan and Lisa. “One of the more awesome locations I’ve ever found,” he said of Suire’s. Indeed.
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.
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.
What 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.
So, 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.
For more of the Glover Gardens outlook on the wonderful city of NOLA, click here.
Headed out to the Round Top Chili Cookoff with friends today, I’m inspired to reblog this post from last year. It’s a tale of a chili cook-off fundraiser in a tiny Texas town, two friends, five gallons of spilled chili, dozens of kind people and a chance meeting with the governor.
It was a perfect late autumn afternoon this Saturday last when my son and I took a drive out to The Oasis in Austin for a libation and a chat. The wind was brisk but the sun warmed our faces, and the view was stunning.
I noticed that our drinks looked beautiful in silhouette against the backdrop of the lake and distant shore and took out my camera to snap some pics.
It took a few moments to get the angle right and include the shadows, and there was some grumbling about the delay. While waiting to drink his delicious Dr. Pepper, the Musical Millennial threw down this off-the-cuff haiku.
perfect photo op… impatient millennial: “ok, time to drink!”