Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tis the Season to be Jolly

It's crawfish season here in New Orleans (the season lasts from the months of March through June), and the crawfish is abundant, scrumptious, and amazingly affordable. You can get it for as low as $1.00/lb from the individual seafood vendors around this time of year.

To me, crawfish (or "mudbug," "crayfish," or "crawdad") has the most palatable flavor of any shellfish. Although the texture of the crawfish meat itself is not substantial as other shellfishes, the flavor of crawfish is distinctly and deliciously umami. The meat is not as delicate as crab, and it isn't as tough or overly succulent as lobster or shrimp.

Also, the green-colored, scrambled egg-like "tomale" of the crawfish is superior--it tastes almost like a hearty seafood bisque or a savory pudding.

The step-by-step instructions on how to eat crawfish is simple.

Step #1: First, using your fingers, separate the body of the crawfish from the tail. Then, take the husk of the body and suck out the spicy seafood broth (hopefully, flavored with fiery and zesty Cajun spices) that has collected in the tiny soup repository.

People from New Orleans typically don't eat the claws of the crawfish unless they are particularly substantial. Otherwise, just discard them.

Step #2: Then, pinch off the fan-like part of the tail with your thumb and pointer finger, and using your pointer finger, push the meat inside the tail through the shell.

Step #3: Repeat Steps #1 and #2 until you've emptied out the entire pot of crawfish. Enjoy, and y'all come to visit New Orleans soon!

Oh, and also, if you are interested in New Orleans, you should check out a new memoir I am reading by Kim Sunee (with fantastic recipes). The book is about Kim Sunee, a Korean-American adoptee who grew up in New Orleans and lived in France and mingled with the culinary greats (her beau + friends) in Europe. The book involves heartbreak, love, and life. I can't wait to post a full review!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I'm a Proponent of Photoshop

Introducing. . . Adobe Photoshop Express! You can now use a free online version of Photoshop to crop and modify your food pictures, and now you get 2 GB of free space to store them! If you can't afford Adobe Photoshop or don't have Adobe Photoshop Elements, you should check it out.

Also, I updated my post about Mardi Gras, if you are interested!
Image courtesy of Adobe.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

To Me, Fro-Yo Is Less Than So-So.

I am going to make a lot of enemies today.

Living in New Orleans, I have been insulated from the
Pinkberry-driven frozen yogurt fad that swept through Los Angeles last year and that is in the process of taking over San Francisco and the Bay Area now. I recently flew back to San Francisco to take care of some wedding-related business, and after dinner, the beau took me to Jubili, a low-rent knock-off of Pinkberry, to sample of this "next big dessert thing."

Unfortunately, I found myself having a less than enjoyable experience, primarily because I usually don't like sour + cold.

To me, sour + cold tastes like a sharpened ice pick digging into the largest nerve in my back molars.

It tastes like rusty nails, shrieking and scratching across a black chalkboard.

In other words, it tastes like a "food that Passionate Eater will not like."

On top of my sour + cold aversion, I have two more minor gripes about these frozen yogurt places, or perhaps the place I visited, in particular:

Belligerent Gripe #1: The cost of living in New Orleans has skyrocketed since Hurricane Katrina, and I would even venture as far to say that it is comparable to living in San Francisco. But after living in New Orleans, I can't begin to stomach the unnecessary premiums that places charge for "fad items." Almost $1.00 for toppings, including bland-o-rama selections like generic cornflakes and Cocoa Pebbles? That ain't right man, that just ain't right.

Already the yogurt is on the pricier end of the spectrum of what I would pay for frozen stuff (excepting Mitchell's, Fenton's, or Bi-Rite Creamery.) However, it is against my religion to pay around $1.00 for a diminutive sprinkling of kid's cereal. Well, if it was Kashi or Musilex, that might be another story. Or Pops, Boo Berry, or Count Chocula. Dang, I love that stuff. It's like crack in a cereal box!

Belligerent Gripe #2: Ain't nobody that I know who can call yogurt with Lucky Charms, Cap'n Crunch, and Fruity Pebbles "healthy" as Jubili does on its website. Call it like it is! At least people from the South admit that a deep-fried twinkie might not be the most healthy of options.

Other than those irrational gripes, I thought my first frozen yogurt experience was an eye-opener. The place I visited was bustling and appeared to be making good business. . . Any one looking for a co-investor for a frozen yogurt business? I'd be interested!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Quite Possibly the Best Meal on Earth

The way to my heart is easy. Bring me to an NBA game and buy me nachos with reheated and sodium-laden processed cheese "product;" canned and vinegary jalapeƱos; and uncomely squirts of watery chili, and I will belong to you for the rest of my life.

Throw in foil-wrapped hot dogs and an ice lemonade on top of that, and I will offer you an animal sacrifice.

Yesterday, I attended the Hornets vs. Lakers game at a sold-out arena and watched a mind-blowing game where the home team won. At the close of the game, the audience was showered with teal streamers and sparkling confetti flittering and sashaying through the air.

The game was adrenline-packed, with slam dunks and three-pointers galore. But the best part is that I brought my own signage. Yes, I am one of "those people." I stopped by Office Depot a half-an-hour before the game, bought some highlighters and poster board, and designed the following beauties: (I came up with these sign ideas myself, but I am sure the generic nature of these puns makes it likely that they were used before, ad nauseum.)

This picture of "how the West was won" refers to David West, a player for the Hornets and how the Hornets are close to being the Western Conference champions this year. Drum roll, please!

The "Pau-l" sign refers to Pau Gasol (for the Lakers) and Chris Paul (for the Hornets). Get it, "there's only one (#1) Pau-l in the house?" Drum roll, again! I know you love my signage. Oh yea baby!

(Oh, and ahem, the poster board, the highlighters, and the "markers on clearance" resulted from a last-minute purchase at Office Depot, but the David West printout was courtesy of work. Thanks boss!)

I had a great time watching the Hornets and the Lakers, both NBA teams with great players. To me, an amazing NBA game can make any food item taste like "quite possibly the best meal on earth."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Just a Picture to Get Me Through the Day

We all need inspiration. Lately, I've been needing it quite often. Though raspberries aren't in season now, this picture serves as a nice reminder of what awaits for me in the late summer.

A wedding and the early start of the berry season.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sweet Tooth, or Lack Thereof

Both the beau and I agreed that at our wedding, food will be of paramount importance. Western and Asian elements are crucial. Execution, presentation, texture, and flavor are imperatives. However, getting down to the details, there are actually some food things that I don't really have a strong opinion on one way or the other. One being, the wedding cake.

I never had much of a sweet tooth, and have always preferred the savory over the cloying. In fact, the last memorable sweet thing I consumed were strawberry cupcakes and a white chocolate individually-sized cake (as seen in images here), both for my summer birthday in 2007. (Yes, it is now 2008, and the strawberry cupcakes were light, airy, and gorgeous.) Therefore, my opinion on this topic needs some edumacation.

Conversations with the beau about the wedding cake usually proceed as follows:

Beau: Should we have tiers of cupcakes, or a cake?
Me: Either is fine.
: What about a dessert buffet instead?
Me: I am not adverse to that.
: Should we do a plain white cake, a Chinese sponge cake filled with fruit cocktail, or tiramisu? What about a red velvet cake like how Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson had? (For recent blog posts on red velvet cupcakes, check out these cake posts.)
: I am at peace with the conventional. I am also at peace with the non-conventional.
: Should the cake be traditionally decorated with frosting, with flowers, or shaped and decorated as a cartoon character . . . Or a Jedi Knight, Klingon, or World of Warcraft character?
Me: All are okay.

(I know you cringed when you read that I was okay with the beau's suggestion of a "sci-fi" cake, but I honestly feel that ambivalent about wedding cakes that I would let the beau call the shots.)

While I disagree with those who think that a wedding cake is unnecessary at a wedding, I have even entertained the idea of having a fake styrofoam decoration cake and serving guests slices of sheet cake wheeled into the dining area after being surreptitiously plated in the back.

Do you have strong ideas or opinions on the subject of wedding cakes?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Wedding Weight Woes

As I said before, I will never be a bridezilla, and I never wanted a big wedding. For me, the dream wedding that I always envisioned entailed either (1) the signing of a marriage certificate at city hall or (2) the hitting up of a jingling slot machine after stopping at the Elvis Chapel o' Love in Las Vegas. But now that I am compromising with the beau and am agreeing to have a wedding at all, I am really starting to get into it. One thing that I previously vowed never to do, is try to lose weight for the big day. Unfortunately, that was the first "vow to myself" that went out the window.

Recently at work, my co-workers held a "Biggest Loser" competition, where the participants put in $60 each. At the end of the eight-week competition, the person that lost the most weight would get an award of (I think) $800. Although I didn't participate, it was motivating to learn this week that the winner ultimately lost 33 pounds. It was then that I realized I should probably try to skinny up a little, and lose some weight before my big day.

However, a "diet" (ugh, I hate that word) would really put a kink in my passionate eating lifestyle. Especially because I am infatuated with Mother's and Domilise's, and I can't get over po' boys filled with crunchy and deep-fried nuggets of seafood and crawfish cooked in butter and spices. (Oh, and later, I really want to share with you about Dot Domilise, the most-adorable lady ever and the owner of Domilise's, and her story about Hurricane Katrina.)

Yesterday, I went to Mother's for lunch, and with my "diet" in mind, I accomplished my first, mind-blowing, lifestyle-altering step towards losing weight. I ordered a dressed oyster po' boy, but without extra mayonnaise. Without extra mayonnaise!! I am on my way to losing weight!

Baby steps, folks. Baby steps.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Inaction Justified?

Notice a trend about the spam I have been receiving lately? I think it is a message from the spam gods to "marry or date the rich and wealthy" and to beware of pain pumps and pain patches. Well, I am going to tie in my spam emails with my life.

I miss you so much, my food blogging friends, and really do love you. I haven't looked at food blogs in a long time, and you know that means that something is awry in Passionate Eater land.

Well, there is. I have HUGE news to share with everyone: I am now engaged! Just as my email spam seems to imply or recommend, I will be getting married! (Holy mutha' of all! What the heck did I do when I accepted his proposal?)

I have been with my beau (now fiancee) for five (5+) years (including our on-and-off periods and long-distance periods), and thus, we decided to have an abbreviated engagement period. But, this "abbreviated" engagement period is stressing me out like mad. My current job (which I previously described as dealing with all-things-resulting-from-Hurricane-Katrina) has been EXTRAORDINARILY demanding. Also, another factor for my "stress" is that I never wanted a big, glitzy wedding, so I loathe wedding planning.

But you all mean so much to me, and I had to share the news ASAP. I also want to tell you all (especially my kindred food blogging friends linked to in my sidebar) that I love you all SO, so much (I really do), and I greatly value the friendships that I have established through food blogging. Tears come to my eyes when I realize all of the encouraging and sweet words that you have repeatedly communicated to me, and I wish I could invite you all to my wedding! (In fact, I promised some of you that I would!) I discussed "costs" and etc. with my Beau and I reluctantly agreed that we would limit our guest list to only close friends and family. (His family is literally 20X the size of mine, so I think that 90% of the wedding guests will consist of his side.) But I will be sharing the food related wedding details on the blog, as I can. I might however, only start blogging again though after the summer time wedding, given my intense time crunch. :(

Oh, and ahem: Does this mean that I can get a blogging waiver until the end of summer / the beginning of fall? Thanks friends, thanks!

And if you are not a food blogger and are just a casual visitor, please check out the food blogging links in my sidebar, they are the best food bloggers EVER!! (Way better than me.)

Miss and love you all,
Passionate Eater (or Passionate Loather of Wedding Planning and Work)
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