A few weekends ago, my fiancé and I traveled to Lafayette for the weekend. I had not yet been to “Cajun country” as they call it, and I had really wanted to try the food there. The drive there was eerily beautiful, especially as you cross the Atchafalaya swamp. We stayed in a small town called Breaux Bridge for the weekend, known as the crawfish capital of Louisiana. Upon arriving, we were starving and desperate to eat. We stopped at a place called Le Café. It’s not really a café, per se. It reminds me of the clam shacks we have up north. We ordered a shrimp po’boy and the catfish platter. I was very pleased with my po’boy…the shrimp were huge! I hate when you order shrimp in Louisiana and they give you these little peewee shrimp. My fiancé also enjoyed his catfish, which was seasoned and fried to perfection. The other bonus is that they give you a ton of food and it’s cheap!
We left there satisfied and headed to our B&B, the Isabelle Inn. Such a charming place in such a quaint little town! The people there were very kind and accommodating. After we checked in, we decided to walk through the many antique shops and cafes located “downtown”. For dinner, we ventured into Lafayette to a place called Jolie’s Bistro. It’s a farm to table restaurant, featuring a seasonal menu, which consists of mostly Cajun dishes. Honestly, I could have just tried all of their starters, small plates and “salted bits”. To start off we had Jolie’s Oysters, topped with crawfish, corn, and Andouille sausage and mascarpone cheese, and followed by a salmon and grapefruit salad and spicy crab bisque. We probably could have stopped there (well, maybe one more small plate) but we had already ordered our main dishes. I had the duck saltimbocca served with sweet potato and Andouille hash. My fiancé had the braised short ribs served with shiitake mushrooms and risotto. Everything was delicious and I especially enjoyed my gimlet! (Scroll down below to see how pretty it was!)
The next morning we awakened to a lovely brunch at the inn. We did not realize our hosts were such gourmet chefs! She created a special treat of roasted plums served with mascarpone, fresh homemade biscuits, cherry tomatoes and pine nuts and crawfish étoufée served over scrambled eggs. It was the first time I had seen étoufée over scrambled eggs since moving to Louisiana. If you are hesitant at all, it’s actually a tasty treat! I’ve been thinking of making it at home for brunch ever since I tried it.
To sum up, we had a delightful stay in Breaux Bridge and I have wanted to go back since then to try more of what Acadiana has to offer.
This is going to be a long one folks, so stay with me (WARNING: YOU WILL PROBABLY BECOME UNBEARABLY FULL JUST FROM READING THIS). I have been spending a lot of time in New Orleans, lately. Not that I have any problem with that, I love New Orleans. But as usual, my trips there are all about the food. The night we arrived we headed to Pho Orchid in Metairie. New Orleans has many fantastic Vietnamese restaurants in the area, so I suggest you try one while you are there (if you have not). Of course we had some delicious pho while we were there but we also tried steam bún, labeled on the menu as Orchid Tacos. These were delicious and the most adorable little buns. The texture of the dough was amazing! Not too dense or soft and chewy, but just right.
The following day we drove out to Lacombe, Louisiana, anxious to try John Besh’s La Provence restaurant. It is a charming and welcoming restaurant set on acres of land, where they serve what they grow. Everything on the menu sounded mouthwatering. I began with the crispy cornmeal fried oyster and artichoke salad served with saffron vinaigrette and my mother had the crispy Brussels sprouts salad served with pork belly, fig mustard and toasted almonds. For both our salads, the seasoning and ingredients combined perfectly. The taste superb! For our entrees we ordered the slow roasted duck breast served with red cabbage, rapini and duck spring rolls in a plum sauce. I think duck spring rolls may be my new favorite thing (or at least one of them). My mother had the whole roasted mangalista pork with ratatouille. At this point we were filled to the brim, but when does that ever stop us from ordering dessert? I of course ordered the peanut butter chocolate candy bar served with caramel ice cream and my mother had the Meyer lemon Ile Flottante. La Provence was a divine eating experience.
Because we hadn’t blissfully tortured ourselves the night before, the next day we went to Commander’s Palace for brunch. I had never been and really wanted to try it. Have you ever been around the world in Disney? Well, if they had a place for New Orleans in Disney World, Commander’s Palace would fit right in. Ever since I moved to Louisiana, I had heard that if you want to try turtle soup, Commander’s Palace is the place to try it, so I did. To be honest, it’s not my favorite soup in the world, but it is flavorful. I also liked that they topped it off tableside with Sherry. For our entrees we ordered the truffled Louisiana blue crab and crawfish frittata and the blue crab stuffed flounder. Both were equally delicious, butter roasted flounder stuffed with Brie cheese and local crabmeat and the frittata spiced with white truffle oil were tasty. To go out in style, we ended our meal with the creole bread pudding soufflé and LOCAL Fresh Strawberry Shortcake.
And to answer your question, yes, we ate all of that in one weekend.
My New Year’s Resolution was to eat healthy, exercise, and save money, probably the same resolutions as everyone else. I was doing really well at first and then disaster strikes! That afternoon I stopped at Truly Free Bakery and had myself a Ground Turkey Quinoa bowl. It was truly delicious with a side of their homemade teriyaki sauce. What I like about Truly Free is that everything is organic and made from scratch. So what went wrong?
We really wanted to go out to dinner that night, my fiancé had been gone for a week and we just wanted to do something fun. So we went to Beausoleil, a favorite restaurant of mine here in Baton Rouge. And because my best friend had bought me a gift card, we went out to eat with no holds barred. We started out with delicious truffled fried oysters and a mussel frites cooked in a saffron sauce. Divine! My fiancé had the seafood pasta special, which was also cooked in a butter saffron sauce. I had the scallops served over chorizo risotto. Everything was delicious! And just because I felt like being bad, I had the chocolate pot de crème! Melt in your mouth! God, I could go for some of that right now and a glass of cabernet!
The next morning, because we hadn’t had enough, we went to the Chimes for Brunch. I had The Benediction, which is like an eggs benedict, served on English muffins, with ham, tomatoes and fried crawfish tails. My fiancé had the crawfish omelet accompanied by a bloody Mary. It was great southern comfort food on a cold Sunday morning in January (Louisiana cold, not meant to be confused with New England cold).
You would think we were done after that, but convinced ourselves that pizza was a great idea for dinner! That evening we went to Schlittz and Giggles. I insisted we have the Mediterranean salad to start; it made me feel better about myself. But then we ordered the Kitchen Floor pizza, topped with pepperoni, ham, Italian sausage, bacon, roasted red peppers, green bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives, and lots of shredded mozzarella.
We decided it best to end the weekend there, no need to go over board, right? Start fresh in the morning.
I like to call my mom the “Messy Chef”. While she creates the most fantastic meals, she also creates a fantastic mess! On the last day of her trip here in Louisiana (with my sister), she wanted to make a home cooked meal for us all to share. In addition to that, my mother had just come back from a cooking class in Italy and I wanted to see what she had learned. My fiancé also wanted to make some home cooked jambalaya for our guests. Together, we ventured to the grocery store and bought some fresh crabmeat, gulf shrimp and Andouille sausage.
During my mother’s trip abroad, she learned how to make hand cut pasta and delicious sauces. So to begin her meal, she made fresh ravioli stuffed with crabmeat and covered in a delicious sauce! This was our appetizer of the evening, but we could have just as easily eaten that.
My fiancé made spicy Andouille sausage and chicken jambalaya. To complement the jambalaya my mom made one of my favorite dishes, Shrimp Mozambique; a Portuguese dish using lots of garlic and beer. Except my mother doesn’t use beer (sorry I can’ tell you what she uses, family secret!). The dish originated from Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony. It is slightly spicy from the piri piri pepper (you can substitute this with any hot sauce) and it goes great with rice or crusty bread to soak up all that delicious sauce. One important step of this shrimp dish is to clean the shrimp but leave the peel on to lock in the flavor. Of course remove the peel as you eat it, which makes it a messy dish but well worth it!
To sum up the evening, crabmeat ravioli, shrimp Mozambique and jambalaya. I would say Portuguese meets Cajun was a successful evening (and of course a little bit of Italy for fun). We all slipped into food comas, happily.
This is going to have to be a two-part blog post. My mom and sister came to town to visit for a weekend. And what’s a trip to Louisiana without going to New Orleans and eating lots of delicious food? We spent the morning on Magazine Street, browsing through its charming little boutiques. Finally, when we were absolutely famished, we stopped at Martinique Bistro for Brunch, it’s a quaint and enchanting little bistro. I really adore their outdoor private courtyard. Their menu is crafted by using local ingredients from nearby farmers and fishermen.
We sat down and immediately ordered some creole Bloody Marys. I began with the pine nut crusted goat cheese over a bed of baby lettuce. My sister had the Gulf Coast Apple Salad with blue cheese and my mother, the asparagus and watercress bisque. My mother must have really enjoyed her soup, because it was gone before I got to try it. The scarlet frill gave my sister’s apple salad an interesting appearance and I really enjoyed my goat cheese salad.
For entrees we had the house smoked salmon club, the seared scallop nicoise and the French style crepe. Even though we were stuffed, we ordered the chocolate soufflé for dessert served with a Guinness ice cream. I really just wanted to try it because of the ice cream; it almost had a coffee like flavor to it.
Feeling like we were going to burst at the seams, we headed back out onto Magazine Street for round two of shopping and to walk it off, of course. We drove back downtown, checked in to our hotel and went to roam the French Quarter. My mother had never experienced having chargrilled oysters in the Quarter so we had to bring her to Acme, which was packed and had a line out the door and around the corner. So we walked across the street to Felix’s, when we sat down to order we discovered they lost their liquor license (no wonder they had no line!) but suggested we walk around the corner and order our drinks and come back. So we did. Drinks in hand, we ordered crab fingers (if you haven’t had these before, you must!), chargrilled oysters and oysters Bienville. I actually really enjoyed their chargrilled oysters, you could taste the smokiness in them. Then back to the hotel room.
We got a taxi back uptown to the Upperline Restaurant, where our driver missed the street because he said we smelled so good! Finally having arrived at our destination, we were presented with a charming little house that is Upperline. It is definitely a restaurant that the locals frequent. It is warm and inviting, the people there are friendly. They serve mostly Cajun and creole food with a modern flare. To start we ordered the Fried Green Tomato with Shrimp Remoulade and Spicy Shrimp with Jalapeño Cornbread & Aïoli. I relished in my appetizer (is that weird to say?). It doesn’t sound like anything amazing on the menu, but it is! The flavors are zesty and fiery, but not over powering. For dinner we ordered the petite filet served with fried oysters and a béarnaise sauce, grouper and a slow roasted duck served with a peach sauce. I don’t think I need to say it again, but we left satiated.
My advice for anyone going to New Orleans, especially for the food, leave the Quarter! Not that there isn’t great places to eat at in the courter, but there is so much more else where around town. Go out and explore!
Traveling north on Route 61, towards Natchez, we were suddenly ravenous. It was after work on a Friday and we needed to eat something and quick! Right when we get to Natchez, we see a restaurant called Roux 61. How fitting! We decide to try it and just not expect much of it, because let’s face it, we were starving.
When you walk in, you immediately feel like this is a chain, like outback steakhouse, or some family friendly place. Not in the mood to eat healthy, (I mean it was Friday) we order the stuffed portabella mushrooms and Roux Rita cocktail. It’s stuffed with crabmeat and topped with a crawfish sauce. Very rich and tasty. I guess the bed of spinach it came on made it healthy, ha-ha. The Roux Rita was also very good, not made with sour mix and not too sweet. I ordered the Barbeque Burger. It was huge! Topped with cheddar cheese, bbq sauce, pecan smoked bacon and their own homemade coleslaw on a sourdough bun. And it was cooked medium, just like I asked! Amazing! My fiancé ordered the shrimp platter. It was good ol’ southern cooking. Needless to say, we left in a food coma.
Pleasantly surprised, Roux 61, pleasantly surprised!
A couple of weeks ago a group of us went to the French Wine Dinner at Beausoleil. As soon as we walked in the door, we were greeted with a glass of Domaine del Sol (so refreshing after working all day) and hors’ oeuvres, which were, smoked oysters. We proceeded to our seats, which featured the dinner menu and many many wine glasses! The “premier plat” was a grilled seafood sausage with pickled fennel and a buerre blanc. It was amazing! You could clearly see the lobster in the sausage. Normally, I don’t like fennel but pickled it was delicious. Who doesn’t like anything pickled? The seafood sausage was served with a crisp 2007 Mommessin.
Unfortunately, the next dish I forgot to photograph. It was so delightful that I became so immersed in it and before I knew it was gone! Chef Nathan served a Lapin Au Vin (rabbit stew) with a house made fettuccine. C’est Marveilleux! Served with a Chateau Artix. I tried to ask for another serving so I could take picture (of course!) but the chef was already on to his next dish. The main entrée was pan roasted lamp chop satin potatoes and rosemary veal reduction served with a smooth Chateau Hoyt Bordeaux. The meat was tender and the potatoes were so rich and creamy. I wanted to lick the plate!
The grand finale was a black cherry and walnut strudel with a white chocolate whipped cream and a vanilla brandy sauce. I don’t know how I managed to eat it all, but I did, including the Clos Sainte Anne Bordeaux I washed it down with. Everything was magnifique. Now, I am not a wine connoisseur, I just enjoy it. But everything at Beausoleil that evening was fabulous. We really enjoyed it and appreciated the fact that the chef came out to talk with us at our table and explain the menu. Can’t wait for the Beer Dinner this October!
So my best friend comes in for the weekend (a fellow Yankee) and as usual we eat our way through Sunday. Three meals we shared really stuck out for me. We both love good food and a good time (you can’t really have one without the other, let’s face it). She arrives Friday night and I take her to Beausoleil on Jefferson Highway. I love it there because until now, I had to travel to New Orleans to find contemporary Louisiana cuisine. Plus it has a warm, casual atmosphere that is inviting and enjoyable. She had the scallops on chorizo risotto with chili butter. I had the veal cheek over Louisiana purple rice pilaf with pepper jelly. Both were superb! The seared scallops were not overcooked and my veal cheek was braised to perfection.
The next morning we headed over to a new favorite of mine, Magpie Café at the Perkins Overpass. I love this delectable little café with their Weck Jars and local products. Every morning is a surprise and particularly on this morning we were pleasantly surprised! Magpie’s was making fresh homemade strawberry-filled pop tarts! They were scrumdidalyumptious (to quote Roald Dahl)! The pastry was melt in your mouth delicious. Warm and buttery on the outside and oozing with strawberry on the inside! They don’t always have them so check them out on Twitter or Facebook before you go (not that they don’t have other tasty treats!).
Because we had not stuffed ourselves enough, we proceeded to Zeeland Street Market for lunch (after an estate sale). I had never been before but it came highly recommended from many people. When you walk in, you immediately feel welcomed at this family owned and operated establishment (even when you arrive 20 minutes before closing). We each ordered a sandwich but could have easily shared one. The portions are huge! I had the Belmont Po’boy. It’s a pot roast sandwich with turkey, ham and mozzarella cheese. Of course I had it fully dressed! The sandwich just exuded scrumptiousness. Sadly, I wimped out and couldn’t finish the other half. Next time, I will have to share. Beware they close at 2 p.m. and are only opened for breakfast and lunch. Enjoy!
This little bistro is a hit with the downtown crowd during lunch. But my boyfriend and I went one evening after work to check it out. It’s inside of City Plaza II so if you are unfamiliar with the area you might have difficulty finding it. But that shouldn’t deter you!
I truly enjoyed the food at Zolia’s and was pleasantly surprised. We tried various tapas, Tuna Tartare, Abita Shrimp, Salmon Basilica and the Warm Truffled Crimini Crostini, to name a few. They were all delicious. My boyfriend normally doesn’t like sashimi but he loved this tapa. It was fresh and packed with flavor. The texture and consistency were just right.
I really loved the Abita Shrimp served over a chive grit cake. I like to call it the “Cajun Tapa”. It’s really delicious and something different to try. I also enjoyed the Salmon with the tomato caper relish. It was cooked to the right temperature and not dry at all, like some salmon can be. And the Roasted Garlic and Goat Cheese on the mushroom crostini really complemented it well. The flavors were spot on.
If you haven’t gone yet, then please go. I can’t wait to go back and try more of their delicious tapas and antipasto boards.
A few more pictures of their tapas: