Sunday, February 27, 2011

Food of the Crescent City

A few weeks ago, Alex, Cass and I decided that it would be fun every now and then to get together at our place on a Saturday afternoon, plan a dinner menu around some theme, go shopping for the ingredients, then come home and make the dinner together. Our first try at beginning of February, which involved a Mexican theme and a run to the fantastic Mi Pueblo market in San Rafael, was quite successful.

Yesterday we decided to give it another try, and since we are all planning to be in New Orleans in a couple of weeks, decided on a NOLA theme.

Alex and Cass came over on the ferry at noon bringing with them a couple of their favorite New Orleans cookbooks.

After a bit of browsing, we decided on the following menu (with the exception of the spinach dish, all from the “Cooking Up a Storm” cookbook):

~ Baked walnuts with fresh rosemary, cayenne pepper, sugar and salt;
~ Eggplant fritters;
~ Chicken and sausage gumbo; and
~ Spinach Madeleine

Following a quick run down the hill to Mollie’s for provisions, we cranked up the iPod with a Cajun/ NOLA blues and jazz mix (heavily influenced by the soundtrack from the
HBO Tremé series) and got going on the cooking. There were a few tense moments when it seemed that the roux might not be coming together, but all worked out in the end.

Then, while the gumbo did its simmering thing for a couple of hours, we headed down to Wellington’s to enjoy a glass of Cremant and the beautiful afternoon light on the Bay. It was not very crowded at Wellie’s, although we did run into a particularly cute bulldog sitting out on the deck – most appropriate for the establishment.

The meal turned out very well, in particular the walnuts and the gumbo (we made an okra-free version, although we did add some filé) which would both be well worth doing again. The spinach dish was tasty, but with two full cups of marscapone it may not be something we could survive more than once.

We are looking forward to our trip to the Big Easy. Of course, we will have our native guides along (Alex and Cass both being Tulane grads), but I have been preparing with some study of the very interesting “trails" (including for gumbo and boudin) on the Southern Foodways Alliance website (click on "Tourism" and enjoy).

No comments: