Wednesday, May 14, 2008

In Pictures: Seasons Greetings!

I just had to put up yet another post, with more pictures of the glorious shellfish that is Louisiana crawfish. The season is over in June, so get your crawfish now, while they're hot, spicy, and fresh! And don't forget to (1) boil rotund and creamy-fleshed red potatoes (and leave the skins on), (2) barbecue sweet corn in their papery husks, and (3) cook up some spicy andouille sausage to go with yo' crawfish! (Those are the perfect Louisiana accompaniments.) And as for the crawfish boil, you must use Zatarain's, there is no other substitute!

You can boil some turkey necks with crawfish, to add to the flavor.

Also, if there is still crawfish left, and you are full, peel some extra crawfish for a nice crawfish sandwich for lunch the next day.

And here is a plate to show you the leftover refuse. Just picture me in a stained bib saying, "All done!"

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Only "Sun" In My Life Right Now

Sigh, wedding planning, the NBA Playoffs, and work have really started to take its toll on my life.

First, work stress is making my eyeballs bleed. Deadlines. Deadlines. And more deadlines, that is all I can think about right now.

Second, I bought two dozens of Krispy Kreme donuts for the Habitat for Humanity volunteers this last Saturday, and only two people ate any or took any donuts, leaving me to consume more than a dozen and a half of donuts on my own. And I did so happily, until I realized that my wedding dress is coming in one week. Then I felt depressed and ate a pint of ice cream in front of the kitchen sink.

Third, as you've heard, the Phoenix Suns just let Mike D'Antoni pack his bags and happily walk away from Phoenix. Without a fight. Without a whimper. Without any signs of a struggle to keep him at all. It was like they bought him the plane ticket to New York. Great job, Suns management. Great friggin' job.

Then, just when I thought my week couldn't get any worse, I just watched the New Orleans Hornets let a two-game lead against the Spurs evaporate into nothing. My stomach is churning, in a bad way.

I think I need some sugar to cheer me up. Krispy Kreme and greasy diners, here I come.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I Give a Flying Freak for Juan's Flying Burrito

If you are in the mood for a crazy-good and authentic Mexican burrito in New Orleans, I hate to break it to you: There ain't none. But Juan's Flying Burrito on the trendy Magazine Street in New Orleans will provide a worthy and scrumptious run for your money. Don't be fooled by its "Creole taqueria" moniker, or its tattooed and pierced servers, Juan's serves up some good Mexican stuff.

The substance contained within Juan's burritos is terrifically satisfying. Within a regular burrito, you'll find (1) a gooey, melted layer of cheddar and Monterey jack cheese; (2) soft spoonfuls of long-grain rice; (3) tender-cooked black beans (not at all sandy or gritty); and (4) hearty pieces of diced and grilled chicken breast. The chicken is packed with flavor, and more towards the "juicier" end of the spectrum, and not the "stringy, dried, or tasteless" end. Best of all, the generous layer of cheese in the burrito transforms into elastic and stringy wisps of melted deliciousness with each burrito bite.

Unlike many authentically-inclined taquerias, at Juan's, you even have your choice of tortilla: be it spinach, tomato, or whole wheat.

Finally, the salsa is the real deal. I'm not sure whether I am reading more into their salsa than is there, but I discern the distinct flavor of charred chili peppers in their flavorful and fresh tomato blend.

If you are in New Orleans and are in the mood for a killer burrito, I would "fly" down to Juan's and try it out.

Friday, May 09, 2008

In Pictures: Nearing the Third Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

A fallen tree branch, stripped of all of its leaves.

Broken windows, with glass tenuously hanging onto disintegrating, rusted window frames.

Piles of debris lining the sidewalks.

Peeling and warped paint chips, vigorously twisting and curling off of graying and discolored wood.

Vacant houses, seemingly empty of all life.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

These photos were taken in a block in an average neighborhood in New Orleans. This weekend.

I hope these pictures speak to you about the enormous and long-lasting toll that Hurricane Katrina has taken on the City of New Orleans.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tony! Toni! Toné!: Martinis & Tony Parker

From the obscene amount of basketball references in this blog, it's obvious that I am a basketball girl. I grew up near Phoenix (12+ years) and lived in Los Angeles (7+ years), and those cities are some of the biggest and loudest basketball towns around. That's why when I moved to New Orleans, I could not fathom (or even attempt to wrap my mind around) the fact that only this year, New Orleans began turning their attention to the wonderful sport of basketball.

But I saw first hand this week how much of a "basketball town" that New Orleans is becoming. Earlier this week, my friends (visiting me from out-of-town) and I decided to take advantage of the $0.25 (yes, 0.25¢) martini lunchtime special at Café Adelaide, in celebration of one of my friend's birthdays. We each thirstily downed the alcohol-laden drinks like water, and, after finishing our meals, we stumbled outside in a drunken stupor. (Folks, this is common in New Orleans. New Orleans people know how to have a good time, even during the afternoon!)

You'll never guess who we ran into: the fabulous Frenchman, Tony Parker! He was quiet and shy, but obliged in allowing us to take a few pictures of his handsome visage. Feast your eyes on his deliciousness! (Yes, I hate the dirty Spurs with a vengeance and Tony Parker is happily married to Eva Longoria, but that doesn't mean I can't look!)

I was sputtering like a nut, propelling spittle onto his face, and acting quite obnoxiously towards him (because I had downed the limit of three martinis just a few minutes ago), but he didn't curse me out or slap me in my face. Therefore, I would say our interaction was a success!

Okay, enough of the basketball, onto the food!

As for our pre-Tony Parker lunch, my friends and I (four ladies, total), started our meal with a martini each. Being the girly-girls that they are, they eschewed the traditional martini, and opted for the fruity, more feminine flavors, such as the appletini and the cosmopolitan. I daringly ordered the famous Commander's martini, which is made with vodka, white vermouth, blue curacao liqueur (which gives the martini its beautiful sapphire-blue color), and lime juice. Be careful to sip on a Commander's martini slowly, that drink feels like straight-up 90% proof liquor, yo.

At Cafe Adelaide (Commander's Palace, or Bacco's)--all restaurants owned by the Brennan family and all places where you can get these 0.25¢ martinis--you will be limited to three martinis, total. They keep track of the number of martinis that you have already had by a little charm, such as the plastic mermaid figurine that you see here. Yes, that is my second martini below.

Two of my friends started with the Ponchatoula strawberry salad, which was made with freshly harvested spring greens, crunchy pine nut kernels, silvers of sweet onion, and milky crumbles of Point Reyes blue cheese. The leaves of the salad were carefully tossed and coated with a white balsamic and Bocage honey vinaigrette. I sampled a bit of the salad, and loved the playful combination of the sweet and subtly tart flavors of the strawberries and vinaigrette.

Another friend and I started with the black bay shrimp and sweet corn soup. The soup was thick and savory, and tasted both beefy and tomatoey. There were tight curls of shrimp and cubes of root vegetables swimming towards the bottom of the bowl, including dice-sized pieces of softened carrot. The soup was almost comparable a wintertime stew, because it was both hearty and substantial.

For my main course, I ordered the Grand Isle Shrimp fried po-boy, stuffed with shrimp boil mozzarella, grilled local shrimp, roma tomato jam, and LeBlanc's pepper jelly. The po' boy sandwich was breaded and deep-fried, so when bitten into, the sandwich had a resonating "crunch." I actually thought the dish was only decent. I was (and still am) a bit perplexed as to what the curly orange crispies were on top of my dish. It tasted like squash chips, I think. The sweet pepper jelly was a bit too cloying and overpowering for my taste, and I got a little frustrated because the bread was crunchy to the point that it scraped up the skin on the roof of my mouth. I also found there to be a paltry amount of dressing for my side greens. I think they just drizzled (and I mean, barely "drizzled") a bit of sticky honey over the greens.

Another friend ordered crispy des allemands catfish, which had been breaded, deep-fried, and served with a salad of fire-roasted sweet peppers, ribbons of spring squash, creole mustard, and pickled okra aioli. I was able to sneak a bite, and the moistened catfish and crispy skin surface was quite delicious.

Finally, we all shared two desserts, including a strawberry shortcake filled with wickedly supple and decadent whipped cream. The shortcake part (or biscuit part) convinced me that people in the South bake the best biscuits in the entire world. The biscuit was airy, fluffy, buttery, and literally melted in my mouth. And what can I say, I love powdered sugar, strawberry syrup, and sweet Southern strawberries!

We also concluded our meal with a Bourbon chocolate pecan pie served with a frosty orb of vanilla bean ice cream. The chocolate infused into every molecule of the sticky pecan pie, therefore making the pie a sweet ending to an enjoyable meal.

Oh, and I shouldn't forget to mention our tastiest dessert of the afternoon, Mr. Eva Longoria! Geaux Hornets, and laissez le bon temps rouler!

* If this is a legal (or non-legal) representative of Mr. Parker, and you wish to have his image removed, kindly leave a comment and I will happily entertain your request.
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