Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Chocolate Bar 1835 West Alabama Street, Houston - (713) 520-8599

This establishment product all feature chocolate from cakes to ice cream and everything in between. Our original thick and rich European Sipping Chocolate blended with ice, topped with fresh whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. The greatest cool chocolate drink known to man and woman! Got without whipped cream. Not very sweet but lots of chocolate. I think I would like better hot. May have to drop by during winter
They have 20 different chocolate based ice creams. I choose Orange Sunrise and Cool de Menthe. Hard to tell apart color wises however flavor as different as night and day. Orange Sunrise was orange flavored with slivers of candied orange peel and Cool de Menthe was of course mint flavored

Michael's Cookie Jar near 5330 Weslayan St, Houston, TX 77005 (713) 771-8603

Cookie assortment for the room. Top row where cake like cookies cooked in a muffin top pan and iced. Dipped macaroon and a lemon bar. Second row pecan chocolate, three flavors of ruglach and macadamia peanut butter. Third remnants of a palmier,walnut chocolate chip, ginger cookie and brownie. Shortbread heart in center. Had a goupon of course. It was my birthday trip and I ate well in the room.

Fatboy & Skinnys 303 S. 5th St. Leesville, La. 71446 (337) 404-3933

About six months ago was an article about this establishment. I had occasion to go to Shreveport and for sentimental reason took Hwy 171 up and back. I stopped here to try it out. They offer two size burgers. A Fatboy with two 1/3 lb patties and a Skinny with one. The owners resemble the name of the restaurant. Skinny is the cook and he make a mean patty. Intensely charred on the outside and juicy on the inside. The "gimmick" is a selection of toppings for both burgers and hot dogs. One half of a Skinny (one 1/3 lb patty) with mayo, sauteed onions and cheddar cheese
The other half had sweet relish,mustard and hot sauce. Turn very nice. Patty had nice char but not over cooked. Nice and juicy
A third lb dog barely heated on griddle with mayo, mustard, onions, slaw and sauerkraut with pickled jalapenos. Did not care for it. Did not like the slaw or sauerkraut and dog could have charred more. I think a chili cheese dog would be alright
All in all a nice place to stop. It is in an old gas station on the north main drag right after it splits into a north side and south side with businesses and housing between them. If I have to head up that way again I will get that chili dog and report

The Wild Truffle 815 West Bayou Pines Drive Lake Charles, LA 70601 (337) 439-8364

In the past 5 years or so it has become a habit bordering on a tradition that I eat Christmas Eve at the Wild Truffle. I do not take pictures because it can disturb the other guests and it disturbs me. I have come to value this time to wind down from the year and just enjoy myself. Most other meals are work for me. However I am not adverse to sharing my meal with my readers.

Quail Brik with fire roasted peppers, sun-dried tomato, artichoke & scallions, wrapped in a thin pastry dough with soft cooked egg, pan seared crispy in olive oil and served with fresh lemon
Brik is traditionally a dish from north Africa (Moroccan) encased in filo dough. Chef Chetto did an excellent job. Nice and crispy with wonderful flavors with the yolk of the egg making an excellent sauce

Roasted Beet & Shaved Black Truffle warm chèvre and beet greens. In general I do not care for salads but I will eat any one Chef Chetto cares to offer. The earthiness of the beets, sharp notes of the goat cheese and slight bitterness of the greens made for an interesting combo. The most unusual and perhaps best tasting was one several years ago of citrus segments and a dressing of olive oil and the juices sprinkled with gold leaf

Roasted Goose black truffle mashed potato, chestnut stuffing, asparagus, cranberry sauce, natural jus. I have never had domestic goose before. It was juicy and a bit chewy. The earthy mashed potatoes shone with truffle taste. Chestnuts are very starchy and so was the dressing.

Gala Apple Tart Tatin with Vanilla Bean Gelato traditional caramelized upside down apple tart. I am afraid the caramel in my tart was burnt. The gelato was good however

The Wild Truffle

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Seafood Palace 2218 Enterprise Blvd, Lake Charles, LA 70601. Tel: (337) 433-9293.

Seem like there were a bunch of like minded people here Monday. I watched as bowl after bowl of gumbo made their way to the dining room. My usual accompaniment to my gumbo (fried oysters (some of the best in town)) was not available. So I went with a crab pistollette. What's not to like: fried bread and steaming hot spicy crab stew. Lovely
There it is. The best seafood gumbo in town bar none. Loaded with small shrimp (by far the tastiest if not overcooked) and shreds of crab meat. You do not need premium food products to make excellent gumbo. It is a poor man's meal made superior by the cook. The broth or juice (as our family called it) make the gumbo. Here it is rich and redolent of seafood with a dark thin nutty roux. Now the second thing that makes this the place for gumbo is that they bring the rice separate. I am sorry gumbo should not be eaten like rice and gravy. There should be more juice than rice. In fact if gumbo is made properly all the flavor is in the broth. I may add file or pepper vinegar later in the meal. These two things enhance the flavor in my opinion. I also will eat it with potato salad or a baked sweet potato (Opelousas style). Now if you poach some eggs in it I will always come to you.
Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of a steaming bowl of gumbo? This picture does it no justice


538 Alamo St
Lake Charles LA
Monday thru Friday 11 AM to 7 PM $1 to $8

This cottage shop venue by the Latin Corner is owned by the same people. It serves a pan Caribbean cuisine that is strictly take-away. There are a few patio style chairs and tables just in back that allows you to eat there if the weather is good. They set up the menu in three basic sections. They consist of a daily plate lunch, stuff available every day including dessert, and drinks which include some unusual to us juices.

First time in was Parrillada (Friday). The plate consisted of Grilled Chicken and Beef with a potato/carrot salad and boiled cassava. Both meats were flavorful but not spicy the beef was a bit chewy. While unusual the potato salad did not suffer by having chunks of sweet carrots in it. The cassava was bland as I expected but an accompany sauce made it nice. I also got Pastelitos trio (small round fried flour turnovers) which about two bites each and very nice. I received one beef and two cheeses. I tried their Horchata (cinnamon flavored rice drink) and Cuarto Leches (four milk) cake which both proved excellent

Next time was Cerdo Horneado (Thursday). Baked pork loin slices topped with a finely chopped slightly sweet salsa. The plate also had saffron rice, fried green plantains and a carrot salad served over corn. The pork was tender and delicious with hints of citrus. The tostones tasted starchy as they should and the salad nice. I drank blackberry juice this time. I also got the empanada trio (chicken, beef, and cheese).
These possess a corn flour crust rather than wheat and are fried. Make for a crispy corny pocket holding wonderful fillings of beef and onion, chicken, and white cheese. This is about the third time I have encountered this variation and I am beginning to enjoy them immensely. The flan I got was very dense and the caramel burnt.

On Monday it is chef’s choice. Recently it was lentils (with a strong cumin aroma) and white rice with meatballs and fried ripe plantains on the side. The lentils cooked to perfection (still whole but meltingly soft) and the perfect rice combined well with the soft but flavorful meatballs (full of herbs) and the sweetness of the plantains. I got the rice pudding for dessert but it did not suit me as the rice was not totally cooked.
The sugarcane juice with lime tasted like a fine limeade.

Last time in I tried the Arepas. Similar to gorditas these thick corn cakes are split and filled with meat and cheese to form a kind of sandwich. The griddled one I ordered with pork and cheddar cheese. Here they come with lettuce, tomato and a slice of avocado. This one had a crust like a great corn tortilla (lusty but a little dry). The moist and flavorful chunks of tender pork made this one. The other arepas offered is made with the same dough as the empanadas and fried. I got this one with shredded beef and white cheese, whole different texture and taste. The frying brings out the corn flavor but in a different way than the griddled. I liked both but the fried one has a slight edge at this point. They offered guava juice that day and I thought I had died and gone to heaven as I love guava anything.

None of these dishes were really spicy but they carried great flavor. They may have sauces in the shop but I never went in. I called in my order and they were kind enough to bring it out to me. I can tell from the menu that some dishes are from different Latin countries. The owners are Venezuelan so I suspect they put some that influence in them. All I know the food is good and different. That is enough for me

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bakkhus Taverna Greek Restaurant & Bar, 605 6th St, Kemah 77565.

I was going to bundle this lunch and the Bailey's dinner for a review in the Lagniappe. But with the closing of the former, this was somewhat of an orphan. Really too small for print but just the right size for the blog. This establishment in Kemah features great food and atmosphere.

Below is Keftethes. Handmade beef meatballs topped with avgolomento (lemon sauce). Very tender and redolent of oregano, the sauce added a rich (it has eggs in it) citrus kick that made this the perfect lead into the next dish
That dish was Greek Bar Trash. It was an amalgamation of Octopus, Kalamari, Shrimp, and Scallops all grilled and brushed with seasoned olive oil then finished with fresh lemon.
Served with fresh toasted bread. This was excellent and its size make it perfect for a one person meal or appetizer for four or more. Except the octopus body the tail on shrimp, squid bodies & tentacles, scallops and octopus tentacle were tender. All were infused the with olive oil, lemon and oregano grilling sauce. Oopah
I ended up with Galaktoboureko. Homemade Greek custard baked in a flaky crust then drizzled
with honey syrup and dusted with powdered sugar. What I got was the custard in a crepe. Still very sweet and good
Being on the east side of Houston the trip here is less than two hours. It seems to be a fun place with lots of shopping in the town. Just make sure you eat here. They have an extensive menu here at Bakkhus Taverna

Bailey's American Grille

Another one that ain't there anymore. Not my fault. It had excellent food and was packed when I went there a month before it closed. It was a family owned and run establishment. From some newspaper articles I ran across it seemed that one family member had been skimming and neglecting to pay vendors and employees. Strangely the same article talked about a new establishment to be opened in Kemah in the future.

Below is the bread plate with whipped butter in the center surrounded by french bread slices and a yeast roll with sun dried tomato in it.
I followed that with Texas “Tornadoes”. Beef Tenderloin Bites topped with Roasted Jalapeno Goat Cheese and Jumbo Lump Crab with Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce. Served with Smoked Tomato Relish. The photo is a bit washed out. A chance you run using a flash in a dark restaurant. However the flavor was not washed out. Nice combination of beefy, spicy,tart, sweet and smoky.
I always like to taste the gumbo especially in southeast Texas. Most times they are a disappointment but this Filé Gumbo with Shrimp, Crab, Andouille Sausage, Dark Roux was as good as I have ever tasted. You can see the richness from the pic.

The Texas Tomato Salad was a flop. It supposedly consisted of Homegrown Vine-Ripened Tomatoes, Shaved 1015 Yellow Onions,Goat Cheese and Saba Dressing (whatever that is). While the salad components and dressing were good the tomatoes were not ripe.

For my entree I ordered pan sauteed red snapper fillet topped with crabmeat with a lobster vanilla cream sauce with andouille risotto
The fillet was cooked perfectly, crisp skin and succulent moist flesh. The lump crab topping was good. The sauce made all the difference. It tied the savory of the fish and sweetness of the crab together. The risotto was wonderful to my surprise. Usually it is cooked Italian style (undercooked as far as I am concerned) or overcooked which makes it really mushy. This was right in the middle
For dessert it was brown sugar cake with spiced blueberry compote
Nice light cake with brown sugar flavor that went well with the blueberries flavored with cinnamon and cloves
Ain't I a stinker. Tempting you again with food you can not get now. Such is life

Denny's 928 hwy 146 south, la porte texas 281-867-0030

I was spending the night next to this Denny's. It did not seem like the usual one. The facade was all chrome colored and the outline was like 50's diner car. Intrigued I went to breakfast. The menu seemed like the regular one but the floor space about half. This being Texas they had a special menu for that. Ribeye Migas with grits was one of those options. Standard scrambled eggs and fried tortilla strips bumped up with avocado cubes and pieces of ribeye steak. It was great. I have been on the lookout for these new concepts but have yet to see on other than this one.

Cochon Butcher 930 Tchoupitoulas Street New Orleans, LA 70130 - (504) 588-2123

I went in to New Orleans earlier this year. While I will combine two stops into one review this one was a bit small for a full review. However I did not want it to be sweep under the carpet. This operation is a combo butcher/deli shop/ sandwich place. One of the things I bought to bring home was the Sweet Potato Habanero Sauce. It is wonderful with a heat level about super jalapeno with lots of fruit notes. I fell in love with it and was able to get a few bottles through connections. They sell only at the store. I look forward to when the Lafayette site opens so it is only 60 miles to get it.
On the wooded platter is charcuterie course. These are becoming very popular in New Orleans. Some restaurants use commercial or artisan offering. Places like Cochon make and cure their own. From left to right clockwise are Braesola (an air dried beef), green olives, Cochon mustard (grain mustard made with Abita Amber beer), soppersetta (dry cured salami that is usually spicy), cotto salami (a less dry sausage with mild taste), duck rilletes (a sort of pate made with cooked duck meat mixed with the fat of the cooking and chopped fine). All were excellent with their own nuances. I loved the dry beef along with the rillettes best.
Also popular in New Orleans are cheese boards or trays. The majority are composed of cheeses from a new cheese shop in the city, St James Cheese Company. Below from left to right are pickled mirleton (made in house), green olives, toasted baguette slices Rouge River Blue (US cows milk) , Selles sur cher (French goats milk), La Welsho (French cows milk). It is customary for cheese trays to have some form of pickled vegetable. I am such a neophyte with cheese I can only say I liked them but not why.
I also had a sandwich with a processed and cured meat that is a little unusual. GLT Guanciale (cured and smoked hog jowl) lettuce and tomato. I have liked hog jowl for a long time. Way before it became the darling of the gourmet world it was popular for country cooking because it used a portion of the hog that was not that popular. I've bought mine from Burger's Smokehouse for the last ten or fifteen years.
Definitely a place to visit when in the city. Cochon the restaurant is just around the corner. Eat there and take something home from here.

The Foundation House

This falls in the realm "Ain't there no more". I noticed the signs at the Foundation House blues club on north Enterprise Blvd at the beginning of the summer. There never seem to be any cars there at lunch. I called to be sure they were open. Both times I went there were no other customers either there or picking up. First time in.

Smothered turkey wings and necks, corn, cabbage, rice & gravy, sweet potatoes, corn bread. Two necks and third joint (tasty but not a lot of meat), sweet potatoes right out of can, cabbage good but spicy, same with corn, cornbread very sweet. There was always plenty of food but some of it was way too hot for me.
Second round was smothered pork chop (tender), okra and tomatoes (super hot) and green beans with a roll and rice. Again lots of food good flavor profiles and lots of spice.
There never was a third time. I got caught up in something I remember not By the time I was able to go back the signs were down and no one pick up the phone at lunch. So I now get to torment you my readers with what might have been.

Chili's 317 S Cities Service Hwy Sulphur, LA 70663-6405 337-625-3837

I like Chili's for certain things. Especially if I have a coupon as I had for this. Below is a new item as least for me. SWEET CORN SOUP Topped with corn and green onions. A great vegetarian option. It was lovely. Corny, sweet, and toothsome with a nice taste. I especially love the burgers here with the triple thick bacon. Below is the SOUTHERN SMOKEHOUSE BACON BURGER With maple bacon, smoked cheddar, mayo, crispy onion strings and ancho-chile BBQ sauce. If you can get your mouth around it the various flavors and textures are great. The burger is moist and flavorful. The bacon meaty with a nice smokiness along with the cheddar.
Now the reason for going there. A coupon for a BROWNIE SUNDAE Warm, rich chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge. In general I do not like most restaurant's habit of putting ice cream on every dessert. However if it is an essential part I do not mind. This one called for it. Rich thick warm chocolate brownie with warm fudge. The melting just made that much better which it was intended to do

Friday, December 10, 2010


Press Release that I got a couple days ago.

Tickets for the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience are on sale now.
The five-day bacchanalia, which will take place May 24 – 28, 2011, will feature dozens of nationally recognized local chefs and highlight the region's many indigenous ingredients. Thousands of wines and champagnes from over 175 wineries will be paired with food from more than 75 restaurants at various events throughout the extravaganza.

Featured events of the 2011 schedule include:
Effervescence Everyday
Discover world-class sparkling wines made in the Champagne method and see how they match up.

Eat, Stay, Love
Join local chefs as they prepare culinary delights from their unique restaurants that just happen to be situated in hotels. The lovin' is up to you.

Kindred Ingredients
Louisiana Crawfish and Rice seminar presented by Chef Donald Link (Cochon, Herbsaint, Cochon Butcher)

Honing your Craft
Forever change the way you think about serving and enjoying craft beer presented by Spiegelau & local brewmasters.

Bubbly Personalities
A comparison look at the Champagne House's personal style and some of the vintages they have created.

Visit NOWFE on Facebook

The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience is a non-profit organization. Proceeds from the 2010 event benefited the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation, The University of New Orleans, School of Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Program, The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation's ProStart Program, The John Fol se Culinary Institute, Delgado Culinary Arts School, Cancer Crusaders, Girls First, New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA), Southern Animal Foundation (SAF), Coach Sean Payton's Play It Forward Foundation, and Fore!Kids Foundation.

Jackson's Deli


Jackson Deli
3607 Legion St
in the Exxon Station
Lake Charles LA

Monday thru Friday 5 AM to 2 PM $2 to $6.50

Sometimes the best food comes from the most unlikely places. This place used to serve only fried food and now it does not even have a single fryer. It now serves great tasting relatively health food and uses as much locally sourced product it can. That is because the man behind it believes in such things. I worked with him and can attest to his desire to go local and also the skill he brings to his kitchen to assure that the food you get will taste fantastic. If you go in the venue, you too will feel the warmth and enthusiasm of him and his co-workers. It makes for a friendly atmosphere to pick up your order or eat it there. There are just a few tables in the space but I tend to want to eat at an establishment if I can rather than take it away. Sitting there I can feel the friendly give and take between the people on both sides of the counter. All are treated with respect. These days there are lots of customers because they have heard of this fabulous place from their co-workers and friends, nothing like word of mouth to build a faithful clientele.

My first meal exemplified many of the attributes here. A pork shoulder roast had been braised until plastic fork tender and flavorful. I received a substantial hunk and was well pleased. Some grilled vegetables along with Kurk Unkl’s special rice accompanied it. A great example of a local source, this rice is nationally known but locally grown. You can pick it up at the Cash and Carry Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays. One rather nippy day I went with the spicy tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich. The soup was delicious with just the right level of spice. Not enough to kill your taste bud but enough to make you sit up and notice. The grilled cheese on a hoagie bun held three different cheeses. Another day it was the Parmesan Chicken Sandwich. The in house breaded chicken breast pieces pan sautéed then layered on a hoagie with a made from scratch tomato sauce topped with mozzarella and parmesan cheese prove exquisite. I savored every bite wishing for more when I finished. I got a lagniappe of garlic sautéed green beans with it, great. Also some where down the line I got a gratis serving of baked Mac & Cheese which was lovely. There are no leftovers here. Everything is made fresh each morning.

They do a breakfast trade also consisting of croissant and biscuit sandwiches along with breakfast burritos. They also do the standard stuff along with an unusual thing, breakfast pizza. I went for this. It is a mini pizza on standard dough topped with parmesan cheese sauce, sausage, potatoes, eggs and cheese. I loved it, both nutritious and tasty. I also got a side of grits. I can tell a lot about a place by their grits. These proved exceptional, cooked from scratch and finished off with cheese and a bit spicy. Just the way I love it.

They offer Breakfast, Fresh Salads and Sandwiches along with a daily special plate and sandwich. Well worth the trouble to seek them out. Nice place for grabbing a lunch to go.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rosita's 2401 East Napoleon Street Sulphur, LA 70663-3702 (337) 533-9077

My traditional starter here. Probably one of the few things that is just enough for one person. They seem to be adding things to it. I loved it as just mayo and limed shrimp but now it has avocado, sour cream, and salsa made with serrano peppers. Therefore it is a little more spice. I like spice but not particularly in this. Will have to ask them them to hold the salsa. Otherwise it is just perfect especially the amount. A 4 or 5 bite appetizer to stimulate the appetite

Here is their menudo. The broth looks angry and spicy but it is actually pretty mild. I put the roasted tomatillo sauce in it to give it a kick. This one had pork shank bones, honeycomb tripe, another stomach tripe and posole. I enjoyed it to the very last drop. I cannot explain my liking for this except I have a love of certain textures that both the Chinese and Mexican people like and cook.
Here are the accompaniments. I usually use all the onion and lime and just part of the raw jalapeno along with only a little cilantro. This is the large and cost $9. A deal in my opinion. I got up well sated.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jackson Deli 3607 Legion St in the Exxon Station Lake Charles LA 337-513-9987

This is a post review breakfast at Jacksons. The review with pictures will be up in a few days. This is their standard egg breakfast. I go eggs scrambled, bacon, toast and home fries. Everything was fresh and cooked to order. The home fries with sauteed with onions and peppers were very good. No frozen hash browns here.

Daigles Sausage Kitchen 726 East Russell Avenue, Welsh LA 70591-4844

I fondly call this place 20 mile cafe. It is one of my favorite places if not the favorite place I like to eat at. The reason is that it is fantastic SW LA home cooking. It puts me in mind of my dear mother's (may her soul be at peace) cooking. I may not go often any more but it is great when I do. I got some smoked boudin for home. He puts a nice heavy smoke and the casing is crisp enough to eat. I do love a heavy smoke on anything. I ate it like a ravenous dog.
The reason I went. Crab and Shrimp Gumbo with poached eggs. Little evidence of crab except in the broth which is fine with me. For me the broth makes the gumbo. If done properly all the goodness is there and you need nothing but the juice and rice. However the shrimp and egg were a nice addition and cooked to perfection. Rice just OK
You get two sides. I opted for a sweet potato casserole which was quite delicious
and the potato salad. A semi mashed potato style with chopped boiled eggs and mayo.
Next time I may ask them to 86 the rice and I will eat it with the potato salad and sweet potato. Around Opelousas they eat gumbo with a spoon in one hand and a baked sweet potato in the other.


I love this time of year because they do crawfish. I think the fried ones are good especially with the horseradish sauce. Obviously I would buy it again but not often.
I also think the etouffee is not too bad except for the cardboard rice. I generally eat the crawfish and sauce with as little rice as possible.


Since my main objection to the pasta in the bread bowl was the lousy bread and since they have switch to a better dough (at least in my opinion) I decided to try it again. This time it was decent but still had a few problems. Too much dough in this case. I did like the pasta so I think next time I might just try it without the bread bowl