For breakfast today we sought out a well-recommended location in the French Quarter called The Old Coffee Pot - an original restaurant of old New Orleans established in 1696. The establishment’s history was evident in the historical paintings and objects located throughout the restaurant.
Maureen and I ordered “the Plantation Breakfast” — two eggs any style, ham steak, grits, biscuit and something called “Calla Cakes” — deep-fried sweet rice balls seasoned with vanilla and almond flavourings and dusted with powdered sugar.
On the plus side, the eggs were cooked a perfect over medium and the grits were buttery and well seasoned. The “ham steak” was tasty but was clearly a slice of processed, pressed ham which is kind of a sacrilege in the South. We were expecting a slice of off-the-bone ham. The biscuit was warm, light, fluffy and delicious – among the best we’ve had.
The calla cakes were, like the beignets of Cafe Du Monde, submerged under a tiny mountain of icing sugar. Once the cake was shaken off enough to get a bite without wearing some, the crispy treat was a warm, homey delicacy with dominant almond flavouring. Our server made it seem like it was a “secret ingredient” and looked crestfallen when we identified it immediately. They were good to try, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to order them.
The ham was wonderfully rescued by placing it between two halves of this amazing biscuit. All is forgiven.
Crawfish, crawdads, mudbugs… whatever y’all call ‘em, they are in season here in Louisiana, and they are delicious. Rob and I have had crawfish, often frozen, in effoutees and fish pies, but have never been in the south when they are fresh in season. Roadfood’s Foodfest Crawfish boil was the main reason for this trip to New Orleans. Last night’s real-deal Cajun “Fait Dos-Dos” crawfish boil at Bayou Barn did not disappoint.
We lined up for the 30 minute bus trip to the bayou. As we waited we discovered all of our fellow nearby patrons were not just from Canada, but from various towns in Ontario. We also lucked out and had Michael Stern riding shotgun on our bus and chatting over the PA system. Michael Stern is the Founder of Roadfood.com and author of many books and magazine articles on road food and special food finds along America’s highways and byways.
Disembarking at the Barn, we hear the strains of a zydeco band pumping out some lively tunes and head inside to the rustic, wood-hewn, open-air space. White strings of Christmas lights lend a festive party atmosphere. We immediately find a table with two other St. Louis-based roadfood festers that we had met earlier in the day at the street fair. They invite us to sit and shortly a Canadian couple we met on the bus joins us. It was like being with old friends so far from home and made the evening really enjoyable.
Abita Amber beer and light beers are flowing freely. The band is in full swing. We are being called to join the line. Crawfish is in the house! Actually its in a canoe. Hundreds of pounds of steamed, bright red crustaceans are being dumped into a canoe along with steam trays of corn on the cob. Boiled red-skinned potatoes occupy one end of the boat. Large cardboard containers are on hand to scoop up as many mudbugs as you can carry. A second container was needed for corn and potatoes. We stuffed plastic forks and napkins into pockets.
Back at our table, we were all anxious to dive in. But how? Rob gave us an impromptu demonstration on how to deal with a crawfish that he had seen on a video. “Twist the tail off, remove first section of carapace, straighten tail, gently tug meat out with teeth, suck on head.” I was a little leery about the head part but it turns out that there is really nothing inside except a little of the boil liquid which offers a nice hit of spice. Our table continued to plow through what must have been thirty pounds of the little guys. It’s a lot of effort for a little piece of sweet meat, but the beer, music and company make it a party.
The Cajun “Fait Dos-Dos” is not complete without a whole pig barbequing out back and pounds of shrimp on a boil. Wow. The pork was moist, succulent. Some of the meat had been mixed with a sweet, dark bbq sauce. Other meat had been set aside naked with a sweet honey mustard on the side.
Later in the evening the shrimp finally arrived. Sweet, Gulf peel-and-eat shrimp boiled in spice. Dessert was a lovely, hot, steamed bread pudding with a sweet, sticky, warm bourbon whole pecan topping.
By now most people had eaten their fill and more, and taken to the dance floor. The band provided some crude instruments such as washboards and spoons to the revellers and amped up the party a bit.
Where is that bus now? Fait dos-dos…
One of the reasons we came to New Orleans this Spring was to attend Local FoodFest, a food festival that’s put on by RoadFood.com. It’s unique in that while it features many New Orleans eateries and their signature dishes, it all also features local specialities from around the USA, such as tamales from Tucson, or BBQ form Memphis. We wandered the Fest today and sampled a number of delicious dishes and enjoyed the party vibe. Here are some photos from the event. There’s more information in the captions.
Here’s what we ate:
And lastly a pic of the police man on duty at Foodfest. I’m calling this photo, “Two Weeks to Retirement”.
You really can’t go long when reading about New Orleans before you come across the Sazerac. It has a long history and has evolved through the generations to become the drink it is today. It’s very hard to get one outside of New Orleans and get a good one.
The trick is in the ingredients. The purported tradition is to use Sazerac Rye Whiskey and Peychaud Bitters, both New Orleans inventions and products. This no doubt being due to the the promotion departments of these local products. Like any local specialty, people are passionate about a good sazerac. Who has the best? What is the correct way to make it? What are the perfect ingredients? Lots of opinions and none are fully right or wrong. When reading the online foodie boards (Chow, Yelp, etc.) there seems to be a regular question about who has the best in New Orleans, and as always with these sites the answers reflect the responder’s experience and taste (or lack thereof). But sometimes you can find thoughtful, well-researched responses that influence your decisions.
We decided to settle this question for ourselves with a Sazerac Crawl. We picked 6 places from these “best of” lists that were close enough together to walk a route between them. They represented a mixture of the traditional and the new, the places that are famous for doing it one way for decades and the new bars who are riding the wave of the current haute cocktail culture. Some of them served food, a necessity to keep us able to work through the night with clear heads. We’ll also add a bonus Sazerac from dinner the night before, making a total of 7 to review.
Here’s a link to the map route in Google Maps.
There was a fairly wide variation in ingredients and techniques across the bars we visited. The type of Rye Whiskey, the use of Cognac in addition to, or instead of the Rye, whether the class was seasoned with Pernod, Herbsaint or Absinthe, and whether Peychaud bitters or other bitters were used. Here is our rundown of each one we sampled. We’re rating the drink, the experience and the service.
1. SoBou – New, high end cocktail Bar in the W Hotel, French Quarter.
Their drink was called Taylor Bird Sazerac. SoBou uses a combination of Sazerac Rye and Cognoc, seasoned the glass with an Herbsaint spray, and finished the drink with their own blackberry and walnut bitters, crowned by a twist of lemon peel. The cocktail was very smooth, and the ingredients were all very present.
The mixologists, Andrew and Abigail (who writes and excellent blog called RyeGirl) are knowledgeable and engaging on a variety of topics but their passions about cocktails are clearly evident. We chatted with other patrons, a couple from Alabama who were sampling a variety of cocktails, so it was excellent to see these bartenders in action.
No good crawl starts on any empty stomach so we ordered some cracked, spiced olives and a blue crab mousse with a mix of blackberry and caviar, with long spiced crackers. All was delicious.
Sazerac: 5 Service: 5 Experience: 5
2. Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street
Upon entry it was evident that this establishment had sacrificed its history (opened in the 1700s) for the party-hearty Bourbon street tourist dollar. The walls were covered in stapled-on business cards and NFL helmets were hanging from the ceiling.
The Sazeracs were made with a Pernod swirl, Sazerac Rye and Peychaud bitters. Half-way through, the bartender decided to re-tie her ponytail and get right back to making them. The glasses were wet when we got them. Were they rinsed clean? The cocktail was thin tasting. The whiskey was barely there — watered down maybe? The other ingredients were prevalent, but the drink was pale and disappointing. We left un-finished drinks on the bar.
Sazerac: 1 Service: 1 Experience: 2
3. Arnaud’s French 75
We were accosted by Cigar smoke as we entered the bar. I recalled reading that this was a cigar bar, but it wasn’t bad at all once inside. It actually set an ambient tone that was helped by the dark walnut panelling and the bow-tied and business-like bartenders.
Arnaud’s Sazerac was the real deal: Old Overholt Rye (a popular substitute), a Pernod swirl and Peychaud bitters, made in the classic style. It had a nice citrus nose from the lemon peel rubbed on the glass rim, and the bitters came through. This was a very, very good Sazerac.
We talked with a nearby couple who visit the city every month and took dinner recommendations, which we definitely needed by this time.
Sazerac: 5 Service: 3 Experience: 4
It was half-time in our crawl and we definitely need to take a break and eat something. GW Fins had been recommended at our previous stop. They posted a great fish-oriented menu, so in we went.
As we sat down, hot sweet biscuits were brought by our table and were served to us directly off the baking sheet. They were crumbly and delicious. We started with grilled shrimp with a smoky onion relish.
Maureen had a grilled scallops and mushroom risotto. I had grilled grouper with a red pepper and sweet potato hash. It was rich and succulent. Both our serving sizes were perfect. By American standards, they were skimpy, but the fish was fresh and the dishes were complete.
With full bellies were were ready to get back to the crawl:
4. The Sazerac Bar, Roosevelt Hotel
This is purported to be THE place for Sazeracs. Hell, they named the whole bar after the drink. What you find out, of course, is that it’s a licensed name and the claim to tradition is somewhat suspect. But that’s fine. It was a elegant bar in a fine hotel with history all of its own. The biggest thing it had going against it was a bar load of hollering frat boys and shrieking 20-something girls making the place very loud. Ugh.
This was the first bar to offer a choice of Sazeracs, one based on cognac and one using Sazerac rye. I tend to see a Sazerac as a whiskey drink, the other ingredients there to soften the rye and to add to the experience. I found their rye-based sazerac to have an good partnership between the whiskey and the other ingredients. It had the most whiskey burn of all the Sazeracs we tried.
The Cognac-based drink is a thing unto itself. It doesn’t compare and doesn’t stand up to the whiskey version. I am happy to chalk this up to personal preference, and it shows the wiggle room there is in choosing ingredients for this classic cocktail.
The spoiler for the evening was that the bill for the two drinks came to $29. The Cognac version was $17. In other locations, the price averaged, $7-10 per drink. The bar was clearly milking any association they had to the history of the cocktail, but the price was unwarranted.
Sazerac: 4 (Rye) 2 (Cognac) Service: 3 Experience: 2
5. Mr. B’s Bistro
This drink was shaken into glasses, so its ingredients had a different impact on one other. The other ingredients were the star here. You could taste the Pernod, Peychaud bitters and lemon distinctly. The whiskey was barely present, however the drink was pleasant and unique among the ones we tried.
We were sitting at the bar and all of the food being delivered to our neighbours looked spectacular. In our pre-crawl research we noted that Mr. B’s BBQ Shrimp were a must-have. Who were we to argue. We ordered a serving each not quite knowing what to expect. The bar staff were moving a mile a minute and while harried, they were friendly and helpful.
This dish’s relationship to BBQ as we know it is in name only. Sautéed head-on shrimp were finished with a sauce that was rich with butter, black pepper and Worchestershire. It came with a small load of good French bread because there would be much sopping to do. We were both quite surprised at how good this dish is. It may just be the best thing I have put in my mouth, and that’s not just the sazeracs talking. We’re going back for these before we leave, AND we’ll be recreating them at home to be sure.
Sazerac: 4 Service: 4 Experience: 5
6. The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone
Our final stop on tonight’s crawl brings us to the famous bar in the Monteleone Hotel. The Carousel is a beautifully appointed space, but very loud this evening. We find a small table, the only available, at the very outskirts of the bar, near the dining area. This does nothing for ambiance or the experience. Sazeracs seem best enjoyed belly up to a bar with fellow patrons to strike up conversations with.
The sazerac at the Carousel is dominated by the whiskey. It is less strong than the cocktail at Roosevelt but more so than at Mr. B’s. We sip our drinks for a bit and quietly leave. It’s fair to say that by this time in the evening, remaining objective becomes difficult. Having 6 of any drink will create an uphill battle for whoever is 6th in line, but we did attempt earnestness in our appraisal.
All in all, it’s been a terrific evening, not just for the Sazeracs, but for experiencing the establishments and the people you meet on the way.
Bonus Sazerac: K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen
We tried the Sazerac at K-Paul’s the night before our crawl. Having done so, I should warn against ordering the Sazerac there as a before-dinner drink. By definition you have an empty stomach, and their Sazerac is easily a double, maybe even a triple.
It was a very good one, with evident whiskey, and bitters notes and smooth, yet with s slight whiskey burn, but there was way too much and it hampered the enjoyment of the meal, which was notably very good
Sazerac: 3.5 Service: 5 Experience: 4
To experience a Sazerac closer to home in Ottawa, we’ve found that Absinthe, Town and Union (albeit with a cognac variation) all make cocktails that hit the mark. To make it ourselves, we found it was next to impossible to source the Peychaud Bitters in Ottawa but finally were able to order some online from an American Bartending Supply company, and next time we make one, we’ll be applying some of the techniques we learned on this trip.
it’s a cloudy, muggy day in the Big Easy. The forecast threatened rain at any time, but has held off for the most part. We decide to go a little further afield and change it up a little form the New Orleans cuisine we’ve been exploring up until now.
We head to Butcher. It’s an annex of sort to Cochon, a very popular snout-to-tail place that’s getting terrific reviews and is showing up on lists of top new places to try in NOLA. Butcher is around the corner and is its more casual cousin. It’s open from 10AM to 10PM, but it being Friday, we want to get there before the workday lunch crowd and arrive in time to score a parking space right in front and a prime window table.
Inside, it really is a butcher shop, selling home-made sausages, prepared foods and sauces as well as artfully butchered cuts of pork and beef. At the back of the shop there is a set of 3 blackboard panels with today’s menus — small plates, sandwiches and beverages (it has a full bar). The decor is industrial chic with simple surfaces and raised tables and stools.
We order a number of items to split — from the small plates menu, some spicy brisket sliders, potato salad, boudin sausage with pickles and grainy mustard and a mac and cheese with pancetta. From the sandwich menu we order a Cubano to split — a pressed Cuban sandwich. We’re given a table marker (Dr. Morgus from the 1962 sci-fi classic, “The Wacky World of Dr. Morgus“, and in two blinks our food arrives. Here’s a run down of each dish:
The Brisket Sliders – Sweet with a BBQ sauce but rich and meaty. Perfect brisket and complimented by sweet pickles and a soft bakery slider bun. These are outstanding.
The Potato Salad – Nice, creamy with celery, chives and a little heat from hot sauce.
The Boudin Sausage – It was white boudin, made with rice, pork, liver and spices. Perfect with the pickle and mustard. Maureen’s not a huge fan of liver, so I had this all to myself, as if it wasn’t planned that way. It was rich, mildly spiced and the strong grainy mustard and pickle worked well with it. Butcher knows about pickles and how to use them. I counted three different kinds among our dishes.
The Mac and Cheese — Creamy and tangy. Maureen and I though it was possible that pimento cheese was used in the recipe because it had that colour and tang.
The Cubano – Although the bread wasn’t classic Cubano fare, it had a less chewy texture, but it was flat and crisp from the pressing and was great anyway. The roasted pork and ham on the sandwich were very flavourful and carried the day.
We picked up some of the jarred delicacies that Butcher sells to bring home and headed out for a day of exploring. Maureen was going to walk around and take some photos of the gardens, alleys and oddities of the French Quarter and I was bound for a little guitar shopping.
Tonight we headed down the street, a 5 minute stroll to K-Paul’s. Paul Prudhomme’s beautiful, warm Cajun kitchen. You want to be here as soon as you enter. Friendly staff, exposed brick walls, an open kitchen and original pop art works greet you.
We had perused the menu online before coming and hoped something would finally say, “pick me.” K-Paul’s short menu has too many choices that jump out. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I don’t know. Just as I think I have it nailed, our knowledgeable server Nicole relates the special. Surf and turf which basically combines two fan favorites. I’m in. I order the fried green tomatoes and shrimp creole to start. Rob orders the rabbit starter and stuffed pork chop. We intend to really explore the native sazerac and so we start here. The cocktail arrives and is VERY geneous, about a triple. It is classic. Hints of absinthe and citrus and warm, soft rye. Excellent. We also order a “Cajun” gin martini to try with pickled chayote, which they call mirliton. Again an excellent cocktail, spicy and crisp.
Appetizers arrive. My shrimp creole is rich and succulent. The tomatoes are lightly fried but unnecessary. The creole is divine. Rob’s rabbit is crisp and delicious. The dark meat is nicely cut with a sweet orange marmalade. Two truly excellent apps.
Our mains arrive shortly after. I am having the recommended special, Drum fish, a light flakey white fish, pan fried with blackening spice and beef tip also blackened and served with rich, debris sauce, a roast beef jus that is reduced for four days in the kitchen. K Paul’s is a kitchen which takes their sauces seriously. True French influence on the Cajun scene. My main came with perfect broccoli and heavenly mashed potatoes. My only complaint would be the overall saltiness. I am hesitant to berate a kitchen on this point because my tolerance is low, but this was at the peak of my tolerance.
Rob’s pork chop was blackened and stuffed with exotic cheeses, and served with a spiced and sauced potato with sautéed bok choy. The pork chop was tender and flavourful and it’s sauce was meaty and rich with mushrooms, red wine and prosciutto. The potato was outstanding with a rich and creamy, spicy sauce. This food was set apart from the more typical New Orleans fare because of the clear mastery of ingredients and sauces.
Dessert was a shared piece of pecan sweet potato pie. Perfect – not too sweet and chock full of nuts, it was wonderfully balanced between the sugary nuttiness of pecan pie and the Christmas-spiced sweet potato filling, to make the best of both worlds. The lightly sweetened whipped cream was a true compliment.
K-Paul’s is a stand-out. It is clear why Paul Prudhomme was among the first celebrity chefs in a world without Food Networks and mainstream food culture. This flagship restaurant exhibits the best of Creole-influenced food and sets the standard for what it can aspire to be.
Day one: travel day. Even when air travel is uneventful it is a grind. “Moo!” Treated like cattle. Ottawa is a snow covered, balmy -2. Pretty hard to take since it is nearing the end of March. Not sad to be leaving winter behind for a short time.
We arrive in New Orleans in late afternoon. It is sunny and 70. Aahhhhh. After arriving at our French Quarter hotel, we settle in and head to a favourite haunt to kick off our New Orleans trip, Acme Oyster House. The line is long but we are tired and hungry, so we hang. The wait is always shortened by striking up a conversation with fellow hungry patrons in line. After about forty minutes we are led to a table. A pitcher of Blue Moons is delivered, glasses are clinked and we are officially on holiday in the Big Easy.
This is our third trip to Acme. We both order their excellent Po’boy sandwiches, shrimp for me, for Rob, the Fried Peace Maker Po’boy, oysters, shrimp and tabasco infused mayo, all dressed of course. We also ordered a side of Boo Fries which are akin, dare I say as a proud Canadian, to our beloved poutine. Acme’s are excellent fries topped with their extremely rich, tasty roast beef gravy and mediocre cheddar shreds. Not bad. The gravy is the star here.
As we fill our bellies we realize that our plans of people watching on Bourbon Street and late night drinks are fading with the daylight. It’s been a long day and we are just happy to be here.
It’s sunny and cool the next morning, our first full day in the city. Expected high in the seventies. Perfect day for strolling and getting reacquainted with the French Quarter. We decide to head on down to the famous Cafe du Monde, a tourist trap in it’s own right but with the distinction of actually serving excellent beignets and coffee despite that rap. The quarter is beginning to hop despite the chill in the air. The Cafe is bustling. Freighters cruise along the Big Muddy. Live music mingles with the clatter of horse drawn buggies, trucks making deliveries, streetcars and the locals starting their work days and some just getting home.
We sight see for a time and just soak up the Quarter, and grab a quick drink. The day is fresh and we are deciding on somewhere new to try for dinner tonight.
Two weeks ago when all of the kids and significant others were in town, we went to breakfast at Le Resto Fish & Smoked Seafood Bistro, in Chelsea, Quebec. I was enticed by their new menu item, Cod poached Portuguese-style in tomato sauce with anchovies, chorizo, capers and olives served with chick peas, green beans, egg and olive oil drizzled bread. For an extra charge you can add mussels and shrimp. This rustic dish was so good I could not stop thinking about it.
The cod was lightly poached and held its shape and succulent, delicate flavour. The tomato poaching broth was rich with the warm spicy flavours of anise, saffron and smoky paprika, chunky with carrot and chick pea, salty and complex with olive, caper and anchovy, and bright with citrus. A perfect half of a soft boiled egg adds luscious creaminess and the grilled bread slathered in olive oil lends a delicious chewy crunch.
I was prepared to recreate it through Google and trial and error when, on a whim we visited the Boucanerie (the Resto’s smokehouse just up the street) for some of their divine hot smoked maple salmon. Madame Line Boyer was in the house and I decided to straight up ask her if she would share the recipe for the cod dish. Line is the kind of hostess who is passionate about her product and customers and not only happily shared, but also led me through the preparation of her creation which was inspired by a surplus of cod, her French heritage and intuition for cooking and a traditional Portuguese recipe. The Boucanerie sells the sauce pre-made for the less adventurous, and of course, excellent cod fish.
So, as Mme. Boyer launched into her passion for this recipe (which is now a regular menu item due to popular demand), Rob recorded the “recipe” on his phone as she shared. Line cooks inspired by her ingredients and what is on hand. No measuring. I guessed at most amounts, and I must say I think I nailed it. I made the cod this past “Bottle of Wine Monday” and it was perfect. I also learned how to make a perfect soft-boiled egg for the top…which is essential.
Cod Poached in Tomato Sauce Portuguese-Style
2 Fresh chorizo sausage, casing removed and meat cut into small chunks
1 Carrot, small dice
1/2 tsp. Anise seed
Good pinch of saffron
1 tsp. Smoked Sweet Paprika
Splash of Sherry or Masala
1 28 oz Can San Marzano or best quality whole tomatoes
1 Can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (Line prepares dried chickpeas for her dish)
1 Anchovy fillet, mushed up, plus a bit of the anchovy oil
A good dollop of frozen orange juice concentrate
2 tsp. Capers, rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Pound of Cod
2 Eggs, soft-boiled
Rustic bread such as Art-Is-In Dynamite white, grilled or toasted and liberally drilled with good quality olive oil
16 Kalamata olives
1. Render chorizo in a bit of olive oil. When meat is cooked add carrot and saute until tender, about a minute or two.
2. Add anise, saffron and paprika. Saute another minute. Deglaze pan with sherry.
3. Add chick peas and toss. Add tomatoes by squooshing the whole ones with your hands.
4. Add anchovy and a bit of anchovy oil. Simmer for 20 minutes
5. Walk the dog
6. Add the orange concentrate and the capers. Taste and add salt and pepper.
7. Place cod pieces in stew to poach. About 7 to 10 minutes.
8. Meanwhile, as fish cooks, boil eggs and toast bread.
9. Serve in low bowls, with 4 olives for garnish, half of a soft boiled egg and toasted baguette drizzled with olive oil.
10. Open wine
There are well over 16,000 food blogs and even more food related sites on the web. It is impossible to wade through them all, but for various reasons we manage to stumble on a few that we use regularly for recipes and inspiration. Here are a few favorites:
Closet Cooking: Kevin is a Toronto based Blogger. I find his recipes are almost always keepers and quite original. Often cooks up a batch of something and then turns it into several inspired meals. Good pictures. Our keepers include Greek Baked Shrimp with Feta and Garlic, Roasted Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Soup, Mushroom Risotto, and Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Alfredo Pasta. Looking forward to trying Pumpkin Shrimp Bisque.
Pioneer Woman: This blog is not purely about food. Ree blogs about ranch life, children and animals, photography, comfort food in a comfortable manner that makes her feel like a friend. Ree’s brisket recipe is melt-in-your-mouth-to-die-for.
Homesick Texan: A Texan living in NYC. Great recipes, lotsa spice. Two of our particular favorites are Hatch Chili Apple Cobbler (note that Hatch chilies are not available in Ottawa but roasted poblanos or canned green chillies work well) and Red Chili Seafood Chowder. Look forward to trying her Chicken Tortilla Casserole, Tomato Bacon Pie and Green Chili Cheese Steak.
Serious Eats: Not a blog but a foodie site. Great recipes, hot topics regarding food, great restaurant and eating out guide for traveling in the States. I found a keeper recipe for Shrimp Puttanesca here (and posted a blog entry when we put it on pizza) and can’t wait to try Tamarind Rice, Blackened Salmon with Coconut Couscous, Moroccan Baked Scallops and Shrimp Enchiladas with Roasted Poblano Sauce.
The Kitchn: Features kitchens and recipes. This site often provides you with a handy slideshow and recipes for a theme such as 15 weekday chicken recipes or the like. I usually find one hit in a collection. Penne with Vodka Sauce, Hallumi Salad, Crawfish Dip, Braised French Onion Chicken with Gruyere and Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef of some examples of what they feature.
Coconut and Lime: Rachel writes from Baltimore. Her blog is inspired and all recipes are her own creations. Originals that grab my attention are Green Chili Pineapple Chicken Chili, Winter Seafood Salad with Pomegranate and Beets, Beef Chorizo Potato Burritos and Fresh Jalapeno Dip.
Chow: This site is more of a large foodie network. You can post questions, get answers and search for recipes. Great site for finding say a recipe for Steak Diane and getting a few hits and then you can choose the one you think will fit your needs best. We found an excellent recipe here for Corn Chipotle Soup.
Mon Food Blog: Ottawa based. Always a good read. I like it because he posts simple, often intriguing recipes and has been recently inspired by a trip to Italy. Much but not all of his blog features Italian cooking. He includes his own tweaks and touches and often a little back ground history of a recipe. Great resource if you are looking for something a little different in the Italian arena. Recipes such as Celery Soup, Toasted flour Soup and Onion, Almond and Cinnamon Soup and Turnips with Green Olive Pesto pique my curiosity for sure. Comfort food pasta and sauces abound and the photography is excellent.
White on Rice Couple: Diane and Todd are California based food and lifestyle photographers. Excellent food photography. Pretty Blog. Good reading. Can’t wait to try their beautiful Baked Tomato Breakfast.
Pinterest: I looooove Pinterest because I am always attracted first visually to a recipe. I would more often than not disregard a recipe with no photo. Pinterest is a social network where you post a small profile and begin following people. People will also find and follow you, especially if you pin or repin good stuff. You set up your own boards to pin to for your own use. Mine for instance are mostly but not all food related. When I scan Pinterest and see a recipe that looks good (remember it’s all pictorial) I will pin it to one of my boards. When I wish to make it, I can go back and click on the photo and it will bring me to the blog or page on the web where the recipe resides. It is a wonderful resource for recipes that are tried and true by other “pinners”, especially vegetarian recipes. Pinterest eliminates the need to save magazines or bookmark pages. All of your recipes are stored as pictures in file folders named by you. One click away. Pinterest will also lead you to other food blogs that interest you. Great resource for special needs eaters like diabetics, vegans and celiacs.
When I was a kid, the ice cream freezer at our local supermarket held few surprises. The frozen dessert was sold in bricks. Bricks of Strawberry, Chocolate, Vanilla, Neapolitan and Spumoni. Tiger Tail and Maple Walnut if you were lucky. All of the other flavours have survived the fight for shelf space dominated by Rolos, Turtles, Tahitian Vanilla, Cookies and Cream, Dulce La Leche, Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey…except for Spumoni. Spumoni, that sweet, creamy, decadent combo of pistachio, cherry and chocolate ice creams studded with bits of cherry and candied fruit, lives on only in old school, classic Italian eateries.
I was reminded of this recently while dining in Ottawa at the Trattoria Italia Caffe on Preston. I spied Spumoni gelato on their dessert menu and had to have it. Trattoria’s Spumoni is sublime, dished up large in an old fashioned, fluted ice cream bowl. I have been thinking about it ever since. I asked our waitress where Trattoria gets their Spumoni and was told, “Montreal”. She gets asked this all the time she said shaking her head and laughing at how strange the interest was. Not really, since she was maybe a day over 19. Oddly, November 13th is National Spumoni Day in Canada. I had never heard of that as most of my friends have never heard of Spumoni ice cream. A shame.