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

Finally, a Trip to K-Paul’s in New Orleans

It Started with Mom’s Food Crush on Paul Prudhomme and Her Collection of His Cookbooks

My Mom, an excellent cook, had a food crush on Paul Prudhomme. She bought every cookbook he published until her death in 2000, and those books were well-used. Marked-up, dog-eared and stained, they are family treasures.

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My copy of Chef Paul’s first cookbook is over 30 years old

As my first culinary teacher and mentor, Mom made sure I also got a copy of every one of the cookbooks, too, so I could share in the Chef Paul magic. I was a very young adult when Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen was published in 1984, and I’m sure that his recipes influenced my tastes and later, my recipes.

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That’s Mom and me in her kitchen around the time Chef Paul’s second cookbook was published. Louisiana Kitchen was in the stack right there on top of the oven (on the left), because she used it so often.

When she died, I inherited Mom’s Chef Paul cookbooks (and lots of others). I instantly started using her books instead of mine, because there’s a lot of love and family history encrusted in those pages. Along with the cutting boards my Dad made, these cookbooks are at the top of my Prized Possessions list. My own dog-eared copies of Chef Paul’s complete works are packed up and waiting for my son (known as the Musical Millennial in these pages) to have his own home and kitchen (after college and grad school).

Mom and Dad Fell in Love with K-Paul’s Restaurant

Even with Mom’s food crush on Chef Paul, it took a while for my parents to get to K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, the restaurant in New Orleans that he ran with his wife, Kay. Together, their names are the origin of the restaurant name “K-Paul’s”.  Finally there on a culinary road trip in the late 80s, Mom and Dad absolutely loved their dining experience at K-Paul’s and raved about it from that day forward. (It was one of their first big empty-nester trips, and I’ve never really forgiven them for not taking me along.)

Mom was ill for the last few years of her life and definitely too sick to cook, but she was a devotee of all of Chef Paul’s cooking shows on PBS in the late 90s. It was fun to visit her and watch his shows, commenting on his recipes, reminiscing about the dishes we’d made from the cookbooks, just being foodie nerds together.

Well, I never made it to K-Paul’s with Mom and Dad, and Chef Paul died in 2015.

K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen is Alive and Well

K-Paul’s is still in daily operation in the French Quarter, and you can still find tried and true Louisiana Kitchen dishes there. The Grill-Meister and I took a tenth anniversary trip to NOLA this summer, and finally visited this family legend restaurant. More than 30 years after Mom and Dad’s discovery trip, it was everything they said it was, updated for this century. And yet, still a little homey, which is the promise of the sign, the original from the late 70s (as far as I can tell from online research).

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Let me tell you about it.

The bread basket sported jalapeño rolls and two different little muffins, one of which, the carrot-pecan (and molasses, I suspect), had the Grill-Meister enthralled.

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The bread basket, after we gobbled down several of the choices (eat first, pics later!)

We shared Fried Green Tomatoes and Shrimp, and it was heavenly. Just the right amount of crisp batter on the tomato slices, with shrimp in a piquant brown sauce sandwiched between them.

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Fried Green Tomatoes – crisp on the outside, tender on the inside and made perfect with the addition of shrimp

Oh, the main courses! We ate, and we ate, and we still couldn’t finish them. I had the pan-fried fish and shrimp with jambalaya and the Grill-Meister had the blackened drum. Both came with gloriously sautéed vegetables and the drum was accompanied by a very creamy, very large dollop of garlic mashed potatoes.

fullsizeoutput_255ePan-Fried Flounder with Shrimp and Chartres St Jambalaya

Our waiter was magnificent: well-versed in the intricacies of the menu and daily specials, funny, solicitous and there when we needed him – but without hovering. Exactly the qualities we hope for in a waitperson.

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We made friends with interesting folks at other tables.

The ambiance at K-Paul’s is casual and fun, with recipes on the walls.

It’s a well-oiled machine – we enjoyed watching the food come out and get served within moments.

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Fried oysters, lookin’ good! (Next time.)

Some folks say that K-Paul’s is a tourist destination, and they’re right. That’s just fine. It’s worth the trip. It was for Mom and Dad back in the 80s, and for the Grill-Meister and me last June.

And as for those heirloom cookbooks, they’re still in use here at Glover Gardens. We make Chef Paul’s blackened fish about once a month – check it out here.

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Our blackened fish (tilapia) from Chef Paul’s recipe

Gumbo Recipe (and Stories) Coming Soon

I’m in a Paul Prudhomme mood because I’m making gumbo tonight, and he was one of my gumbo mentors. I’ll publish my version soon, hopefully in time for Thanksgiving and those turkey leftovers. Turkey makes marvelous gumbo.

© 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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Request from a Friend: Got New Orleans Trip Advice?

This post is in response to a request from a high school friend of my son’s. They’ve kept in touch since starting college in the fall of 2016. She said:

23735210_1976769339315597_7870035890653888512_nHi! It’s been a while since we’ve talked – I hope you’re doing well. I’m planning a trip for 2 to New Orleans on December 18-21st and I was wondering if, by chance, you might know of any good things to do in NOLA around that time of year.

Thanks in advance!

And I said: “Oh yeah! I will be happy to send you tips. Thanks for asking; I am so flattered! You are an excellent photographer and beautiful model, so I hope you will consider letting me post some of your experiences in my blog.” (She agreed.)

New Orleans Tips for Mallory

And so, my dear, here is my New Orleans travel advice for you and your companion. It’s probably a bit more than you expected, but I’ve been carrying around this list in my head for a long, long time; I was only 18 when I first visited the Crescent City. And by the way, don’t worry that you’re missing out by being under 21 – NOLA is one of the great all-age cities of the world. You will have a wonderful time.

Packing and Pre-Trip Mindset

  • Be ready for weather that could be anywhere from 30° – 70° (or even higher), but will definitely be damp; take clothing that can be layered on and off, like scarves, vests and light jackets.
  • Comfortable walking shoes are a must! And be sure to pack band-aids in case of walking-induced blisters (I speak from experience).
  • In fact, unless you’re planning to go somewhere that requires fancy clothes, don’t bother with them – New Orleans is about the food, the music and the people-watching, and you won’t see many fashion mavens.
  • An umbrella or raincoat with a hood is your friend. That’s me below at Jazz Fest in the spring of 2010, but believe me, the rains can strike at a moment’s notice in the Big Easy in any season.

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  • Bring an extra memory card and battery for your camera or be sure to carry your phone charger with you, because you will take way more pictures than you than you imagine and will need the extra memory and power.
  • Get lots of sleep the night before you go, because NOLA is a 24/7 wonder and you won’t want to sleep much while you’re there (the best time to go to Cafe du Monde is in the middle of the night).
  • 51oy430jrhl-_sx327_bo1204203200_Get in a New Orleans frame of mind early by boning up on its history.  If you have time (although I know you have finals just before this trip), go to the library or download a book about New Orleans. It is so fun to walk around in a city when you know a bit about its past and the physical structures that you’re seeing.  NOLA has a fascinating and diverse heritage, probably the most varied of all American cities, which adds to the enjoyment of your visit. (I’m reading a book right now called The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans, which is far too long to absorb before your trip, but if you’re interested, you can borrow it next summer when you have time.)
  • 41he5yidzvlOr jump-start that New Orleans feeling by reading a quick novel or watching a movie set in the Crescent City.  I have always liked Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, which isn’t about New Orleans, but the city is definitely a character (in my humble opinion) and a sense of place is a recurring theme. Amazon will let you download The Moviegoer for free right now with a 30-day trial of Audible. I think you will find this book interesting and thought-provoking, even beyond its connection to New Orleans and travels.
  • Take a look through The Storyteller blog to see the real New Orleans through the lens and mind of a photographer. I think you will be inspired, given your interest in photography.

Getting Around

  • If you’re driving to NOLA, park your car when you get there and leave it.  It’s a pain to park and much more fun to use other forms of transportation. Parking is also very expensive, because it is at a premium.
  • Walk as much as you can; much of the magic of New Orleans lies in its dynamic street life.
  • When you’re not walking, ride the streetcar as much as you can.
  • Uber is quick and easy, but the cab drivers have the best stories.

Stuff to Do

  • Amble through Jackson Square and strike up conversations with the artists. There is usually music to enjoy, too.

  • Go to the French Market and shop, shop, shop.  It is seedy, tacky, touristy and full of imports like $7 sunglasses, while also offering cool local art, jewelry and other handmade items at reasonable prices. There are local foodstuffs, and some funky junk. I usually pick up a stocking stuffer or two while I’m at the market.  Sometimes there’s live music, and on Wednesdays, there’s a farmer’s market. Green space, trees and tiny parks can be found in the 6 blocks of shopping, too.

  • Take a whole afternoon to visit the galleries in the Arts District.
  • Or plan a whole day in the Arts District and take in a museum or three after the galleries.  The National World War II Museum is over there (an immersion experience; you’ll have to pick just part of it if you want to fit it into an afternoon), and so are the Contemporary Arts Center and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.  All are worth the trip!
  • There are many other museums scattered across NOLA that you should consider, like the Jazz Museum in the Old Mint, which frequently has performances, and, lucky you, is staging one during your trip (there will be clarinets!). There’s a sculpture garden over by City Park, and, while not a museum, I’ve always wanted to stroll through the cemetery there, too.
  • If you want the holiday festival experience with rides and an amazing array of holiday lights, take the streetcar out to City Park and go to Celebration in the Oaks (even this kind of big-production, glitzy festival is different and special in NOLA, because of its unique ‘carnival’ food, jazzy music and enchanting, ancient oak trees).
  • Explore the River Walk and riverfront, checking out the public art, Crescent Park and the fascinating hustle and bustle of NOLA’s river commerce.
  • If you’re curious about Bourbon Street, take a walk from where it intersects Canal Street all the way to Frenchmen Street, in the late afternoon before it gets too rambunctious. It is very entertaining during the day, and not scary. (You can probably tell that I don’t care for Bourbon Street at night.)
  • Take the ferry over to Algiers and check out the shops in Algiers Point or walk along the riverfront, or just do a round trip. The views from the ferry alone are worth the $2 trip.  Be sure to check the schedule for the last ferry so you don’t get stuck there, because they don’t run at night.
  • Get on out to the Garden District to see a different side of the city, first printing out this itinerary and map for the self-guided walking tour.  This is a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and to work off the beignets, muffulettas and poorboys you’re going to be eating!
  • Get off the beaten path and be open to unique adventures…talk to locals some more and find out what they’re excited about doing in the Crescent City in December.
  • One more thing on the Stuff to Do List: don’t be in a hurry.  Take your time; be deliberate. Look, listen, smell, taste and touch. New Orleans has a myriad of unexpected sights, sounds and people that can only be discovered – or appreciated – if you are truly in the moment. In my humble opinion, that’s the best thing about it.

Food and Drink

  • Go to Café du Monde if you must (it’s an icon, has great beignets, and you can visit on the day you go to the French Market because it is close by), but also try tiny little coffee houses you stumble across and take time to chat with the proprietors and other customers. They’ll give you the best tips about where to go and what to do.
  • Be a foodie-on-a-budget by going to a great restaurant at lunch; my favorite is Bayona (click here for my gushing testimonial).

  • Another foodie-on-a-budget trick is to eat at the bar at popular restaurants, ordering a stellar appetizer to share and then moving on to another stop; you don’t have to have reservations and can still experience stellar cuisine.

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Barbecued Shrimp at the bar at Mr. B’s Bistro – enough to share!

  • Have a po-boy sandwich somewhere – you’ll never have a better one than in New Orleans. Go for an oyster po-boy, or mix of fried oysters and shrimp (you’ll be having a meat-stuffed muffuletta later, so stick with the seafood on the po-boy). With creamy remoulade or tartar sauce spread liberally on freshly baked  french bread, a pile of cold, shredded iceberg lettuce and thinly sliced tomatoes and hot, crunchy seafood stuffed so full it falls out, the po-boy in New Orleans will rock your world. Trust me on this. I haven’t been there, but the Storyteller blogger in New Orleans highly recommends Cafe Reconcile in Central City in this post. It’s a non-profit that helps at-risk youth turn their lives around, and I will definitely be going there on my next trip.

 

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Image of the chef at Cafe Reconcile making po-boys from the Storyteller blog / www.laskowitzpictures.com

  • In addition to the po-boy, you must have a muffuletta. They’re large, so you can split one with your travel companion.  I daren’t court controversy by naming a place with the “best” muffuletta because there are huge disagreements over the amount of meat / hot versus cold / size of the bread and how / whether it is toasted, etc. You’ll have to check with the locals and report back on your findings for the benefit of Glover Gardens readers. Here’s a muffuletta picture and recipe from Emerils.com to whet your appetite.

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Muffuletta from Emerils.com

  • Another food must: have a cup of gumbo somewhere. I don’t always do this any more because I make a pretty mean gumbo myself, quite often (have you had it?), but you shouldn’t miss the chance to have gumbo in NOLA if you haven’t had that pleasure. You could order it at the bar of one of the foodie places you visit, and can be sure that they’ll bring you some crusty french bread for sopping.
  • And, since you asked, most people wouldn’t call this a must-eat in the Big Easy, but the Grill-Meister and I had a wonderful and memorable lunch at the New Orleans Pizza Kitchen when we ordered their extremely tasty and memorable Jambalaya Pizza.

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Music

  • My usual go-to for jazz is any place on Frenchmen Street, but since you’re under 21, most of the clubs there are off-limits, including my favorite, The Spotted Cat. However, here’s a link to some great recommendations where you can get in. I’ve been to almost all of the places listed, and you really can’t go wrong. Let me know where you go and what you think.
  • Preservation Hall is an experience unto itself and worth standing in line.
  • img_3012You’ll encounter small bands of musicians or solo artists camped on street corner after street corner – who are just as likely to be self-taught geniuses as they are to have had formal instruction. The music can be folksy or sophisticated, but either way, it is captivating, and you’ll want to be sure to have some dollars ready for tipping. If you feel called to dance, do it!

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Got my picture with the musicians, after tipping, of course

  • Be ready to seize the moment and literally “follow the music” at any time, because you might get lucky and see a second line parade. If you do, be sure to join in and become part of the party.

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The Grill-Meister and I were awestruck a couple of years ago when we happened on a 2nd line parade that was a wedding party and all of the guests following a brass band in their traditional white uniforms and dancing Mardi Gras “Indians” in elaborate costumes as they made their way from the church to the reception at a hotel a few blocks away. The street was blocked off and there were several tables covered with champagne in plastic glasses (I had one; I’m not sorry). The whole experience was a microcosm of how “living out loud” seems to be commonplace in NOLA. It was magic – the mood, the people, the music. Wow.

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Well Mallory, That’s About All…’Til Next Time, or ‘Til We Hear Your Tips

Most of these tips apply at any time of the year, and NOLA is the kind of place that is fun at any time of the year. I’m looking forward to hearing about your discoveries during your December journey and posting them here.

Anyone Have Anything to Add?

And finally, here’s a request for all of you out there who love or live in NOLA: what are your suggestions for having a great time there in December, or any time? We’d love to know.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

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: Frozen Bourbon Milk Punch

 

The sixth 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 I will wax poetic about the frozen Bourbon Milk Punch from Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House.  Because I must.

It Started with a Travel Tip

The Grill-Meister has a friend who travels extensively for work and also for pleasure, and he has a talent for sniffing out excellence in every locale.  When he gives you a travel tip, you pay attention.  That’s how we first learned of the frozen Bourbon Milk Punch:  “If you’re going to New Orleans, you have to try the Bourbon Milk Punch – it’s an adult milkshake.”  He was right.  If you’re of age and inclined to imbibe, this creamy, dreamy, thick elixir should be on your bucket list.

A Break from the Hullaballoo

Bourbon House is situated on the bottom floor of the Astor Crowne Plaza New Orleans Hotel, and the Bourbon Milk Punch is served in the hotel lobby as well as the restaurant.  The restaurant has terrific seafood and is always crowded, so if you’re just in the mood for a naughty little frozen drink, just pop into the lobby bar.  It’s quiet and offers a nice little break from the hullaballoo.

The “Secret” is the Gelato

If you get chatty with the bartender and ask for the recipe, you’ll get a coy, “well, it’s a secret, but I’ll tell you if you promise not to share it; it’s the house-made vanilla gelato that makes it so creamy”.  Imagine my surprise when I found that information online, right there on the Bourbon House web site – see below.

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Recipe from the Bourbon House web site; link below

The Replay List

I’ve just realized that if you’ve already done something – like going to the New Orleans Jazz Fest and experiencing the rest of the unique and wonderful city – then you’ve crossed it off the bucket list of things you must do in life.  So there needs to be another list for those things you simply must do again; I’m going to call it the replay list.  The Jazz Fest is on our replay list and will probably get replayed again and again, like that favorite song back in sixth grade.  The frozen Bourbon Milk Punch is on there, too, but one per trip is enough.

Resources

 

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: The Importance of Hats (and Bandanas)

The fifth 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. So many of you have had your own wonderful experiences in New Orleans, so I’ve asked for guest bloggers and content on the Glover Gardens Cookbook Facebook page (and – it’s not too late for you to contribute).

This plea reaped a reward for me, a NOLA-experienced friend who provided worthy content in the form of pictures and home truths.  Therefore, this post is a serious discussion about The Importance of Hats at Jazz Fest.  According to my friend Nancy:

The importance of hats at Jazzfest cannot be emphasized enough! Then, of course, one finds much whimsy, and with luck, a lovely friend.

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Nancy and me, and Jimmy Buffet in the background – it was a straw hat-theme that year, as you can see all around us

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A new friend we made, with an asparagus fern straw hat – a NOLA original!

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A NOLA hat with a Mardi Gras theme

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My wide-brimmed black hat provided just the right amount of protection from the sun

Nancy also emphasized the importance and versatility of bandanas as a Jazz Fest accessory:

I highly recommend including bandanas! I have about 7 that I bought for a dollar each at Walmart.  Very good for covering burnable décolletage or back of the neck.  Easy travel gear! So many colors!

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Nancy rockin’ the bandana; David in the canvas safari hat

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Yet another of Nancy’s $1 bandanas – so many colors!

Seriously, it can be very, very hot in New Orleans in early May, and the sun is as strong as their chicory-laden coffee and those marvelous drinks they call Hurricanes.  A hat and bandana are required for a successful Jazz Fest outing.

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The Grill-Meister’s hat plan involves a series of visors

Resources

The Mad Hatter

And finally, just for fun (because the New Orleans Jazz Fest and hats inspire this sort of thing):

“Take off your hat,” the King said to the Hatter.
“It isn’t mine,” said the Hatter.
“Stolen!” the King exclaimed, turning to the jury, who instantly made a memorandum of the fact.
“I keep them to sell,” the Hatter added as an explanation; “I’ve none of my own. I’m a hatter.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook