Monday, June 27, 2011

American Sector

The American Sector
945 Magazine Street
New Orleans LA

Dinner 5 PM - 10 AM

This John Besh operation connects to the WW II Museum in New Orleans. The name really refers to the section of New Orleans settled by the people of the United States after the Louisiana Territory was bought. The food here is mainly a riff on the food eaten at home during WWII rationing. It also includes some up scaled items of New Orleans area country cooking that Chef Besh grew up on. Catch his new cooking show on PBS on Saturday at 2 PM.

First up was Shrimp Okra gumbo. It is like my mother okra gumbo except with a darker roux. I love the flavor that a dark roux gives (smoky) a dish. This preparation was no different. Instead of bread you get a half pint mason jar of in house pickles. It is what is called a half pickle that had dill and spicy kick. The vinegar had such a kick I used in the last of my gumbo to kick it up. Then I got Rabbit Pate. It came out in a tin reminiscent of a sardine can with celery root slaw on the side and crackers wrapped brown paper. Pate was excellent and the slaw made a nice foil to cut the unctuousness of it.

Next came a black eyed pea, fried head cheese, poached yard egg and micro greens salad. The peas made the base topped by the head cheese with the poached egg and greens on top. The yolk of the egg was the final component of the dressing adding richness to it. Do not be afraid of the head cheese as it contains no meat from the head just some pork meat in gelee. It was an elevation of a country dish that might be thrown together in a south Louisiana farm kitchen

I followed it with some more up ticked country fare. Pork cheeks, cornbread and braised black eyed peas. I rarely come to New Orleans these days and for the past couple of years have seen pork cheeks on the menus of establishments I admire. I jumped on the chance to taste it. They had been braised tender and finished off by pan sautéing to give a nice crust, fork tender to say the least. It is brought to the table in a bowl with a piece of corn bread. The peas are in a tin can and then poured over the meat and cornbread. I nearly swooned. The tender and unctuous cheeks, sweet cornbread and perfect peas made a great combo. I also ordered a side of Jalapeño Cheddar Grits. Need I say more, creamy, cheesy, spicy and delicious.

For dessert I got the cupcake with bacon. I love the taste of salty smoky bacon with anything sweet. Seems like a natural match. I get that combo whenever I can. In this case it was a vanilla cupcake with sugar icing and a slice of caramelized bacon in it.

If you visit the museum, stop by for lunch. During the day they offer po boys, unusual sandwiches and in house hot dogs. I would certainly return as it offers a wide and varied range of items. As with all John Besh operations anything they can make in house or source locally is done.

American Sector

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