Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Blackeye Peas

My second try at cooking beans in the pressure cooker. One pound of blackeye peas, 4 cups chicken broth, 2 cups water, 1/4 cup dehydrated trinity with garlic and some jagerwurst (sort of german mortadella). 15 lbs pressure for one and half hours and natural cool down. Below is the result. Beans so good that nothing more was needed. Definitely the way to go for dry beans. Sorry no cabbage.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Seafood Palace

I had a serious urge for great gumbo and fried oysters. Solution. Lunch at Seafood Palace. Sorry for the blurry picture but they do two things I love when I get gumbo at a restaurant. First of all a dark roux which contains great flavor but little thickening power. So you get a dark thin gumbo. As they say the juice makes the gumbo. If a gumbo is made right I don't need the protein just the broth and the rice. Secondly they bring a separate container of rice.

Ok this is a the small fried oyster plate. I got eight count them eight huge oysters. They arrived crispy with no grease and the inside steaming hot but still juicy. The oysters cooked just right. They squirted hot oyster liquor all over the place I was in hog heaven in a matter of speaking. They offer you a choice of french fries or fried okra. I went with the fried okra. Also hot, crispy, and non greasy. They have a master on the fryalator.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

El Tapatio

Lunch after going into work to do the bank deposit and such because my boss is out of town. I also did some reconnaissance on up coming venues. It had been awhile since I have been here so I dropped in. Seems like every time I go in the salsa is different. This one was chunky with tomatoes , medium spiced and served cold. Just up my alley. I tend not to like heated ones.

What never changes is the excellent tortilla chips. Thin, crispy, never greasy and never over fried. I usually over indulge

As an appetizer I usually get one tamale or one Chile Rellenos from an a la carte menu. Today it was the chile rellenos. A huge Poblano stuffed only with a little white cheese, egg white battered and fried with their red sauce on top. Never fails to please. After these I do not know if I could go back to the overstuffed ones.

Perhaps my favorite dish here, Carnitas. Pork shoulder roast, refried beans, rice, salad and tortillas. The reason I love it is that pork shoulder or boston butt is used instead of the pork loin roast that many restaurants use these days. Pork loin is ok but needs special attention when cooking or it quickly becomes inedible. The only sin with pork shoulder is under cooking it. Overcooking a little does little harm and sometimes some good. There is so much fat and collagen in it that it needs a low slow long cooking time to make it just right. They do a good job here. Understand that this is a treat meal and not an everyday thing

This time I ended up with a sweet. This is their version of sopapilla. A flour tortilla fried then drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. Simple but perfect.


In the new year I hope to be back up to speed with the blog. This month between my vehicle being in the shop for a week and half (good news it did not cost as much as I thought), a bumper amount of events at the restaurant which put me under a lot of stress (my down time being spent zoning) and a slew of new openings which I do not post here until I review them the pickings here have been slim. I want to thank you for forbearing with me. Now I am going to do something that is sorta against my policy. There are two ethnic restaurants that just opened and are not advertising. I want to give them a boost. I will make no comments on the food but just let you know they are there. First is Regalia Cafe & Market 411 West College 764-9831. This is Syrian food which is very similar to Lebanese. The hours are a bit different. Tuesday - Friday 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM Saturday 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Next is Donde Tonio in the old Byron's Catering/Mama Rosa building at 425 7th St 421-1400. It is Colombian cuisine. Their hours are 7 to 10 for Breakfast, 11 to 2 for Lunch, and 5 to 10 for Dinner Monday thru Sunday.

Red Beans

With my batch of red beans from the pressure cooker I have had red beans and rice with sausage, made some red bean tostadas, and yesterday red bean soup with sausage. All very good. Pressure cooking is definitely the way to go with beans.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Candy

Seems innocuous and for the most part it is. I receive this particular tin full of brown sugar brownies with pecans and candy orange slices every year from my sister. We don't ever call it brownies. To us it is Christmas Candy. That what our mother called it. It was one component of a Christmas box or tin of cookies that our mother baked and distributed to the people that gave us service throughout the year (paperboy, mailman, etc). Most years this simple tin and its contents hit me like a sledgehammer. It contains much more than Christmas Candy it bring up memories of our mother. Her baking all the Christmas goodies, making us a Saturday dinner because she took the noon Mass at the Altar Society table on Sunday so the other mothers could be with their families, her scrimping and saving so I could go to Catholic school, the stoic countenance she assumed when diagnosed with cancer and her fight to overcome it, her arranging for her sister to cook my homecoming meal when I came home from college when she was dying and countless other things. I was always on the receiving end of her motherly love. I think my sister got her share also. That is why I think she does this simple thing each year so neither one of us will forget. This tin brings as many sad moments as joyous ones. If offered a million dollars for it, I would not hesitate say NO. These memories are too precious to me. I was and still am a momma's boy. I say that with pride because of what my mother was to me.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Red Beans and Sausage

Took the pressure cooker out for another spin. A friend told me that it make the best red beans. Simple recipe. One lbs beans, 7 1/2 cups water, at pressure for 1 and 1/2 hours. I added some dehydrated trinity with garlic and a little salt. It turned out good. The beans were soft. I stick blended them and reduced a bit. Not true red beans but I like them extremely creamy and this was almost like refried without the grease. It held a rich red bean flavor that I truly like. In the future I will try less liquid and half of it stock with some sausage pieces. I cooked a couple of pieces of smoked pork sausage with jalapeno I got from Market Basket.and put on top. Delightful repast

Thursday, December 18, 2008

True Mexican House

This is the spicy rib plate lunch. The ribs were not that spicy but they were fall off the bone tender with a subtly sweet sauce and great flavor. We talked about her fajitas and I think that will be the next plate lunch. If not this month maybe next month.

She also had Taco al Pastor on the menu Thursday so I got a couple. The pork possesses a Indian Tandoori color with the pork being very dry and virtually tasteless. The sauce was super spicy and it had the requisite pineapple and cilantro on some excellent and corny tortillas. This gives me pause on whether I want to go on Saturdays when they offer other things not on their regular menu.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Big Daddy's Sports Grill

Not to be confused with Big Daddy's of Iowa which is now defunct. This establishment is in a strip mall on Sale Road just east of Nelson Road. It is basically a hole in the wall that is going to be expanding into the next space in the strip. It is sports themed and does from scratch cooking. I was in the area because I was on a Sam's run for the restaurant I work for. They serve breakfast on Saturday until noon. This is the Home Run breakfast plate. I opted for a pork chop but you can also get a ribeye or ham steak. I went with bacon instead of sausage. Grits instead of hash browns. Biscuit instead of toast. Eggs sunnyside up. They have jelly on the table they get from a local lady. I know the owner and while we were talking his breakfast came out. Mile high fluffy pancakes. I know what I am going to get next time I go for breakfast. Good plate lunches are served Monday thru Saturday. With the expansion will come live music on the weekend (Cajun) and more places to sit down and enjoy this fine home style cooking.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pressure Cooker

Join in my first adventure in Pressure Cooker cookery. I must apologize for a number of slightly out of focus pictures as the camera or my hand did not want to cooperate. The dish is Pork Chops with sweet potatoes, apples and onions. First of all pork chops being seasoned with Emeril's Rib Rub

Being browned off in olive oil in the bottom half of the pressure cooker

The load of chopped onions, sliced sweet potatoes, and sliced Fuji apple going in over the chops
A mixture of apple cider, spicy whole grain mustard, brown sugar and cinnamon to be put over everything

Everyone in the pot for a nice steam bath

The pressure cooker locked tight. I have a Spanish made model with a stem that pops up when pressure is achieved. I also have a choice of low or high pressure. It also has a knob that I can release pressure after cooking if I am in a hurry.

The results of 8 minutes at 15 lbs.

My platter of goodness.

Ok it was delicious but I learned a few things. When they say on commercials and ads about how much time you save there is a certain falsehood. They cite the time spent at pressure but neglect to mention the time required to get up to pressure and time waiting for the pressure to go away. That almost doubles the advertised time but is still a lot less than a normal braise operation. Secondly I must be aware of the thickness of the protein. At 8 minutes these came out tender enough but not falling off the bone. I then noticed the recipe called for 1/2 inch chops and I had 1 inch or more chops. Looking through the cookbook I found a recipe for 1 inch or greater that said 15 minutes at pressure. I suspect I will learn lots more as I go through other recipes. I hope to record them here. Below is reduced pot juices.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fausto's in Iowa (Plate Lunch)

105 East Miller
Iowa, LA
Monday - Saturday 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM $1-20
This fried chicken place is part of a small family owned chain based in Southwest LA. It has always put out good fried chicken, burgers, and etcetera. My interest in the one in Iowa is the Bryan Vandicor of Big Daddy's fame operates it. Fortunately the owner of this chain allows individual stores with the proper permission to seek their own identity. With Bryan that means plate lunches on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Monday is cook’s choice with Wednesday being Fried Pork Chop and Friday usually Catfish Courtbouillon.
First time in I happened on Chicken, Sausage and Okra Gumbo. It held a light roux and was perhaps a bit thicker than most but the flavor was there. It very much reminded me of the gumbo my mother would fix me when I come home from college for the holidays or summer. I have always loved it that profile and will to the day I die. I was not expecting such a large bowl so I also ordered a Cajun Burger. It is one of their “Gourmet Burgers” This one started with Sheila Patron's sweet Sourdough bun topped with lettuce, tomato, 8 oz meaty patty, sauteed onions, onion rings then finished off with pickled Jalapenos and mustard. It stood tall but I squeezed it down so I could get a bite of everything. It proved delicious in both taste and texture. There were a lot of things working (sweet, spicy, tart, meaty, etc) but they all worked together to get you there. A good concept especially the onion parts of it. I still do not get why adding Jalapenos to a burger make it “Cajun”
Let me be upfront with you. Bryan knows who I am and would not let me pay for anything. He would bring out my food himself and I could see that by looking around me I was getting some lagniappe. In those cases you take it for what it is worth. In general my food was not any better or worse looking than the plates around me. I know him well enough that he takes pride in his food and would not shortchange anyone. This time in I was forewarned about the plate lunch. He was making a dish not seen too often at restaurants in the area these days. It was a Crab and Shrimp Stew with Boiled Eggs. It consisted of a thick dark gravy loaded with crab bodies and medium peeled shrimp. The crabs were full and I sucked on them with enthusiasm. Overall flavorful especially the eggs which had soaked up the flavor and spices. As lagniappe I got some grilled shrimp (succulent and not overcooked), slaw (fresh crisp and a little sweet) and macque choux (sweet, savory and corny).
Last time in was Fried Pork Chop Day. I do like pork. I received a thin pork chop fried to perfection and steaming hot, a roll, and dirty rice. The chop was everything I hoped for (plastic fork tender, flavorful and crispy). Except for being made with “cardboard rice” the dressing profile was spot on. As lagniappe the plate contained fried okra (crispy), fried red tomatoes (a different taste but good), and smothered potatoes. The flavor profile was wonderful but the potatoes were undercooked for my taste.
So, if you find yourself with extra time at lunch, drive to Iowa to get some good home cooking. You order at the counter but they bring it to you or just do the drive thru.

Friday, December 5, 2008

True Mexican House

Sorry I have not posted in awhile but a combination of a heavy work load at the restaurant and vehicle problems left me little incentive for posting. While neither will be going away soon I have sorta got a handle on it now. I receive a fax of the plate lunch specials for the month of December. Now for a little plug for this place.

Monday Chicken in Peanut Sauce
Tuesday Pork in Salsa Verde (tomatillo and cilantro)
Wednesday Beef Fajitas (her special recipe)
Thursday Spicy BBQ Ribs
Friday Pork with squash, corn and Poblano peppers

Below is the Friday menu. The pork is loin very tender and flavorful ( I personally would have prefers shoulder) cooked with zucchini (I was hoping for winter squash) , corn and peppers. While not super spicy it was tasty with a backnote of spice. I am really like her version of refried beans and mexican rice. Probably the best rice in town at this point

She went to Mexico the last two weeks of November and she came back with some candies. She gave me a dulche de leche which was ok. I bought the two below. The caramelized goat milk one on the left was between two wafers and wonderful. The one on the right was tamrind pulp with seed that had sugar and pepper flakes added to it. Sweet, spicy and tart all at the same time. If you get watch out for the seed.

I will probably be trying some more of the plate lunches so be on the lookout.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pork Shouler Roast

I injected the piece of meat which was about 4 lbs with a third of a jar of Tony Chachere's Creole Butter. I then liberally sprinkled the outside with Emeril's Rib Rub. It then went the tabletop appliance for 5 hours at about 275. It came out looking like this. It was not tender enough to pull but despite its look it was tender enough to take off the bone and very juicy.

Here is the meat and the bone to prove it

My dinner of peas and mushrooms, sliced pork shoulder and mashed potatoes. I had plenty left over. Enough to give my sister some and I will consume the rest this week this week. I think it could have have gone longer and gotten to the pulled pork stage. I have three more to experiment on. I took this one off because the smell was making me hungry and it was getting late. I will start the next one first thing

Pat's Fisherman's Wharf

My group took a different approach to Black Friday. We sleep in late. Have a late breakfast then head somewhere out of town for a late lunch. This is the first year we have done this but I think I will endeavor to make it a tradition. I had wanted to go to Cafe Vermillionville but they were not doing lunch. I polled my group and asked for suggestions. Our enthusiastic friend suggested Pat's. A cousin of hers loves the crawfish etouffee camp style. I also had been contemplating going here for awhile. I went to the original Pat's years ago and wanted to see what they had done to the new one. The original Pat's burned down a number of years ago. Pat's Wharf had been built before that because Pat Huval's ex-wife had got the original in the divorce settlement. Looks like Pat is trying to build a little village and museum on site. He n0w has a hotel and some out buildings from the area including a syrup mill. Be forewarned the prices here are very high. Below is some onion rings ordered for the table. Light flour coating fried to perfection with a outstanding tarter sauce for dipping

A dinner salad that has to be ordered extra.

I had ordered the crab dinner. This is the cup of crab gumbo that came with it. It had no salt in it at all. After I put salt in it the flavor came up. They must have a base gumbo because the broth had little crab flavor. They added a good amount of backfin crab and some green onions.
They bring the rice on the side which I consider a plus.

I also was craving raw oysters and ordered a half dozen. Very small and virtually tasteless. New members of the group (Towanda and Engineer) who were sitting far down from me ordered a cup of Corn and Crab Bisque and Crawfish Bisque. I got neither a taste or a photo. Not really their fault. If I would have spoken up they would have shared but this was not a review run but a fun run. They both seemed to enjoy the food.

Here is the famous Crawfish Etouffee Camp Style (Mother Huval's recipe) gotten by our enthusicatic friend. She thoroughly enjoyed it. My taste was OK but it seem to lack flavor. Probably better with fresh crawfish

The blurred picture is my sister's Broiled Red Snapper with vegetables. She seemed well pleased with her dish also.

This was our baking friend's Eggplant Casserole with Shrimp and Crab. This was also ordered by Towanda. After my taste I agreed with both of them that the flavor was excellent but the texture left something to be desired. It was very liquid. I made the comment that it would make a great base for eggplant dressing. That was proven when rice was added to it and tasted. Accompanying it were some excellent sweet potato fries. Almost got my hand slap because I was pinching them

The Engineer got Fried Shimp which look fantastic and he ate with enthusiasm. Below is my crab dinner. From left to right a Crab Boulette, Backfin crab with cocktail sauce, Fried Crab Fingers, Stuffed Crab, Soft Shell Crab sitting on the etouffee rice, Crab Pie, Crab Stuffed Bell Pepper, Crab Etouffee. The pie had the etouffee in an undercooked crust. The standouts were the stuffed crab, and the ettouffee. The boulette and bell pepper stuffing was a bit mushy. The soft shell tasted like it had been fried in old oil. Nothing really bad but not excellent.

The other restaurant I have been to in Henderson mine you it was 20 years ago about the same time I went to Pat's is Robins. Robins as I remember was better than Pat's. Maybe next time. Pat's is definitely a tourist destination and while they feature some good bayou cooking the prices are a little rich for repeat visits.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Couche Couche

This is another traditional food that gets misrepresented. I can not tell you how many times I have seen and heard people call cornbread and milk couche-couche. Cornbread and milk is not couche-couche it is cornbread and milk. It is not bad. I grew up on cornbread and milk. It was never called anything else but cornbread and milk. My mother never made couche-couche. I encountered it later in my life and fell in love with it. Only one restaurant in south Louisiana has it on its menu. If anyone knows of another let me know. Cafe des Amis in Breaux Bridge is the one I know. OK now for the technical stuff. Cornbread is a baked product. Couche-couche is fried and steamed on the top of the stove in a cast iron skillet. Below is the skillet heating up with fat (in this case bacon drippings). Heat it on high until almost smoking then bring down to medium.

Below is the mixture of corn meal (stone ground in this case), salt, baking soda, and baking powder with liquid (you can use milk I usually use water). The consistency should be of wet sand. Although it has all the ingredients usually found in cornbread it takes a different course

Now you put the mixture in the skillet and let it fry for a minute or two on medium. At the end of that time you scrape the skillet bring up the crust that has formed and stir into the mixture

I like a lot of crust in my couche-couche so I do this process at least 5 times. Below is the result of that

Then you put the heat on low and cover and steam for 15 minutes.

Into a bowl with milk. The traditional accompaniment is Steen's Cane Syrup but I like preserves also especially fig since that is what I put in my cornbread and milk as a youth. This time I had a sorta of combo of that. A vendor at the local farmer's market was selling jars of syrup left over from canning figs. The best of both worlds.

DeAngelo Express

Louis DeAngelos Express
2740 Country Club Road
Lake Charles, LA
Monday - Sunday 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM $1-25
For those who have been missing DeAngelos there is now relief. At this basically take-out venue they cover most of the original menu. They have limited seating but virtual no decor. The plan was always to expand to South Lake Charles but the destruction of the original spot kinda made it mandatory. Construction on the old site should start sometime this month with them shooting for an April opening. This express venue will remain open after that event. So there will be two establishments to get your fix.
I started off with Gamberetti and Pancetta Flat Bread. It is basically a sauceless pizza and in this case they top the crust with grilled shrimp, crisp Italian bacon, fresh spinach, roasted garlic cloves and Asiago cheese. The combo of flavors (sweet shrimp, fatty pork, mellow garlic, sharp cheese, slightly bitter spinach, and warm comforting bread) really hit my palate hard but in a good way.
Next I tried the La Caprese Towers. I received seven double stacks of sliced Roma tomato and sliced fresh mozzarella. Arranged around them were calamata olives, capers, and pepperoncini (semi hot peppers). A chiffonade of basil and in-house vinaigrette topped them. Excellent flavor and very sharable. I ate all of mine with great gusto. Each stack was perfect. It was like having seven perfect caprese salads. The Tuscan Chopped Salad next. I expected a regular steakhouse style salad. This was very good but just not a chopped salad. On a bed of spinach and romaine surrounded by Granny Smith apple slices they heaped on the tomato slices, red onion slices, feta cheese, dried cranberries, and chopped pecans. Adding the grilled Lemon-Basil shrimp I ordered extra and their excellent in house Italian dressing turned this into a feast. I tend to like salads that have no iceberg and combine fruit and nut in delicious ways. The slight bitterness of the greens, sweetness of onion and cranberry, tart sweet apple and full flavored feta with the nuttiness of the pecans makes for a delightful taste. I ended with Toasted Almond Cream Cake. Like Tiramisu but using almond and coconut instead of coffee and chocolate. It was fine but I prefer the original version.
Last foray I got Mozzarella Bread. They use their sandwich loaf and add so much cheese I would have blanded out except for an excellent in-house marinara dipping sauce. The just right sharpness and acidity of it gave the cheese something to partner with. Then I ordered a Whole Wheat Calzone with Meatballs and Italian Sausage with anchovies added. This became an unfortunate mistake. The new guy at the ordering station misunderstood me I think. What I got was Italian sausage with an inordinate amount of anchovies, too much for even me. To compound the style sausage they use here I do not like. It is compact and dense while I like a looser version. The concept of this calzone I love. Using no sauce but offering it as a side with ricotta and mozzarella as the binding agent and cutting big slits for the escaping steam does away with all my objections with this product normally. With a different filling I am sure I would have loved it. Just have to put it down to miscommunication and my personal preferences.

StewBo ???!!

It has been hectic at work and lots to do at home so I have not posted in awhile. Last Friday I started a gumbo with Oak Grove mix, some Rabideaux sausage, shrimp and chicken. Kinda of a clean out operation. When done it did not have the depth that I was seeking. Therefore I dumped some Tony Chacere Brown Gravy in it. It achieved the depth of flavor I wanted but it also made it thicker than I like. Already having more than enough I did not want to make more by thinning. So I treated it more like a seafood stew hence stewbo. I ate the first round over biscuits. Saturday I did my shopping at Albertson's on Country Club. They are the only grocery I know that carries those little jars of oysters from Amite. I bought one of those and a long sweet potato. While I was baking the sweet potato I brought the stewbo up to a simmer. Dumped the oysters in and then cracked two raw eggs in it and simmered for 15 minutes. The raw egg trick is something my mother use to do on Fridays. She called it egg gravy. A thick brown gravy that she poached raw eggs in. She never did do the boiled egg thing that some people do. The eggs are cooked to a hard yolk and absorb more of the flavor than hard boiled. So after the sweet potato was cooked. I had the stewbo with it in the tradition of Opelousas eating baked sweet potatoes with gumbo instead of potato salad. Over the next couple of days I will have it with rice and fried grits. I am taking the next two days off and have one expedition planned so the blog should see some activity. My brunch this morning will be couche-couche with fig syrup. I hope to get pics of prep and finale.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Famous Food

Thursday I pulled and made up my own plate lunch. I love their smoked turkey wings and this time they had a spicy/sweet rub on it that made even more favorable. I love wings in general because the give a good skin to meat ratio. These turkey wings run about 2 lbs. The excellent rice dressing (dirty rice) and potato salad rounded out the meal

I finished it with a Mrs Johnny's Pie. Operating out of a building just south of Kirkman on Alamo St I am always happy to find her pies. They tend to have more crust than filling but the crust is really excellent. They are more cakey than flaky. It reminds me of my aunt's sweet dough pies.

Monday, November 17, 2008

True Mexican House

They have started doing plate lunches. This is Monday's Meatball in a chipotle and tomato sauce, rice, and black refried. In Spanish these are called albondigas. They are stuffed with rice. I received very little gravy but it was the end of the day. The rice was excellent and mixed with sauce good. Meatballs a little bland on spice but good beef flavor. The refried beans was here usual liquid kind. That is ok with me but what made it for me was the use of black beans which I take over pintos any day. She will change up every month. This month is tues lemon catfish, wed fajitas, thurs, mex meatloaf and friday carne asasda. On Saturdays from 4 to 8 they do some traditional mexican dishes including pastor. During the week they limit the non plate items to tamales, tacos, and enchiladas. I am looking forward to what she comes up with in the future.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I had to work until 2 PM Saturday. I was going to hit the grocery store for a few items and eat from them. Did not happen as it seems Saturday afternoon is grocery shopping time for the whole city. The places I tried had no handicap spots left and no electric carts available. I was near Popeyes so I pulled in there. I am a sucker for onions in any way shape or form. The new menu board seemed to have a new onion ring so I got an order. In a light flour batter with a smidgen of cayenne pepper and near greaseless they are the best onion rings they have had in a long while. A+ material. Defintely a keeper.

Not so for the shrimp po boy. Looks good doesn't it. Well the shrimp and the Delta sauce were. However they committed a cardinal sin in my eyes. They nuked the bread. By the time I got it home and I live just around the corner from this store, I could have resoled my shoe with it and it wore it for years without any wear. Stick with the popcorn shrimp. Do not get the po boys here.

Kentucky Fried Chicken

I was wandering around Friday afternoon checking out a venue when I happen to pass Kentucky Fried Chicken (I have never called it KFC). Anyway it had been awhile since I had some so I pull in. I eventually got the Guitar Box. Overall good. The leg had that old fashion taste I associate with Kentucky Fried. The Snacker under the biscuit also had the right crust. They use a black pepper mayo or dressing which made this item a bit spicy and very tasty. I would eat it again. The tenders were OK but the crust while seeming to have the herbs and spices was not thick enough to impart their flavor. Not worth repeating. The mac and cheese was ever the same (processed cheese), the biscuit good but the BBQ beans were undercooked. While the sauce was good the beans had hard centers. Overall I would give it a B

Friday, November 14, 2008

Donald Link

Donald again pays tribute to his birthplace. He has a new catering operation opening in January in the New Orleans Warehouse District on Tchoupitoulas St. He is calling it Calcasieu. The web site is All that is there now is a coming soon sign. It will be serving upticked South Louisiana food.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lucky Wok

Lucky Wok
2609 Broad Street
Lake Charles, LA
Monday - Sunday 11:00 AM to 9:30 PM $1-8
I have waited quite awhile for this venue to open. Seems like they worked on it for a year or more. Now it is here and serving reasonably tasty food at quite a reasonable price. The exterior remains about the same as when it was the Kettle except for an addition of a drive-thru. Except for the ceiling the interior seems brand new.
This establishment offers a three-prong attack. You can go with the buffet, order off a short but nice menu or us the drive-thru with the same menu. I really don't do buffets these days. However I scanned it and watched it when I did go in. It seemed decent and they use 2-inch pans so it does not take long for it to disappear. From the counter they monitor it and then make frequent runs to replenish.
First time in I opted for Hot and Sour soup and Garlic Shrimp. The soup seemed a different class than others in town. It was dark with a gelatinous mouth feel. It tasted of vinegar and dark soy with bamboo shoots and egg flags. I liked the change of pace. The shrimp consisted of a stir-fry of bok choy, carrot, broccoli, water chestnuts, cabbage and green bell pepper. They finish it off with a spicy sauce with a ton of garlic. Whatever fried rice is handy finds it way onto the plate. This time it was plain fried rice. I enjoyed the dish very much as I love garlic.
Second foray saw Egg Drop Soup, Egg Roll, Shrimp and Cheese Fried Wonton, and General's Chicken. The soup with a nice chicken broth and plenty of egg pretty much reflected the standard, as did the pork and vegetable egg roll. The wontons looked nice and home made but the use of a thickener dough (egg roll wrap maybe) made it inedible. The boneless dark meat chicken pieces were lightly battered and deep fat fried. Then tossed with a dark sweet and spicy sauce. This combo always goes over great with me and this one was no exception. This time I received house (mixed protein) fried rice even though I asked for plain steamed rice. Not fatal but I do prefer steamed rice with my meal unless I am doing just fried rice.
The last time was a test of the drive-thru. I went at the height of the lunch hour. I received timely service. It was not 5 minutes from the time I ordered until they delivered the meal at the window. I went with Shrimp Toast and House Lo Mein. The toast appeared a bit different. Shrimp paste is spread on bread and then wrapped in on itself. It looked like a cigar. The shrimp paste was hot but not greasy. The lo mein contained tender and juicy shrimp, beef, pork and chicken. The medium brown sauce was tasty and just spicy enough. However they used fettuccine noodles whereas I prefer spaghetti or thinner. Taste wise it was fine but texture wise it would have been better with thinner noodles.
In any case nothing is terrible wrong here. The service is friendly, food tasty, and prices reasonable. Since it is on my way home and has a drive-thru I suspect I will be pulling thru on a regular basis.

La Petite Grocery

La Petite Grocery
4238 Magazine St
New Orleans La 70115
Lunch Tuesday - Saturday 11:30 AM - 2:30 PM
Dinner Tuesday - Saturday 5:30 PM - until

This restaurant is one of several operations that Joel Dondis, originally from Lake Charles, has an interest in. I meet Joel at one of his other venues. He was kind enough to offer to host me if I ever came in and wanted to eat at La Petite. I gladly accepted the offer. It is in line of a neighborhood bistro. Situated in a building uptown that once was a grocery store they have turned the inside into a temple to dinning. Cozy spaces and a comfortable bar area highlight this venue.
My dinning companion and me started our dinner with a lovely breadbasket of crusty bread, a foreboding of the evening. I ordered the Charcuterie Plate, which was in fact, a long cutting board loaded up with an in-house country pate with olives and red bell pepper. A small bowl of cornichon and olives perched along side condiments of grain mustard, onion relish, and Dijon mustard. Spread on bread in various permutations made for a delicious and interesting way to start the meal. My companion, a lady who frequently accompanies me at my New Orleans meals, went with the Steak Tartare with a smoky aioli (mayonnaise) topped with a mirogreens salad. My taste proved beefy and satisfying.
Next I went with Shellfish Bisque with Creme Fraiche and Chives. The base was crab and tasted of it in the best way possible. It contained some medium shrimp. The flavor profile wonderful with deep intense flavors. One of the best I have eaten. To maintain dinning balance my companion was brought something extra from the kitchen, a Gratin of Blue Crabmeat in Brie Cream. This turned out to be outstandly rich and creamy with a wonderful crab flavor. A twist on an outstanding Crab and Brie soup from another New Orleans restaurant.
Salad followed. I went with a Celery Root, Apple and Walnut one with Blue Cheese and fresh herbs with a white wine Vinaigrette. The crispy crunchy slightly sweet ingredients with the mild vinegar tang worked for me. My companion opted for the Shrimp and Hearts of Palm with Shaved Fennel with tarragon and watercress in an Herb Emulsion. While the profile of the emulsion did not suit my palate I could taste the potential of the other ingredients working together.
Main course for me was a braised Berkshire Pork Shank with stone ground grits and smothered greens. The meat came out fork tender, juicy and with a great pork flavor profile. I never had to my knife. As good as the meat turned out the smoky greens and grits proved better. It bought out the southern boy in me. This dish of low on the hog was turned into a high on the hog eating experience. My companion went with the Fresh Market Fish that happened to be Escolar. A pan seared fillet sat on a proscuitto rich risotto. My taste provided a fish with a crisp exterior and succulent interior and risotto full of hammy flavors.
We were so full dessert did not seem an option but we decided to split a vanilla bean crème brulee. However the kitchen surprised us again with a trio of frozen treats from Sucre (another Joel Dondis operation). It consisted of Lemon Sorbet, Mango Gelato, and Chocolate Ice cream. All packed to the gills with wonderful flavor punches. The lemon sorbet especially was nice after the heavy meal. The creme brulee provided a perfect example of the art of this dessert. The ratio of sugary crackly crust to creamy custard was sheer perfection.
Service was exemplary, as I would expect. The menu changes on a regular basis. Some of the dishes I ate remain but with different preparations and sides. Whatever they offer, you can be assured it is going to be the best. I highly recommend this venue if you want to get out of the Quarter to a local place with flavor and flair.

Wal Mart gets another chance

I received a pleasant surprise last night. A Wal Mart employee called me in reference to a e-mail I sent last Friday about the coupon situation. I explained what happen from my point of view. She basically said she knew of no policy not to accept internet coupons but she would have to check. An hour later she called back and read me the policy. Basically they accept internet coupons and others but retain the right not to accepting specific coupons that they feel are being counterfeited. Stores are sent warnings. She apologized and asked me to continue shopping. I will put them back in rotation but armed with this info I will handle the situation differently if it arises again

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Leronard's Food Quarters

It has been a long stressful day that started with an incident that left me slightly battered and sore. I was hungry, stressed, and sore enough not to want to crutch into someplace. Luckily I have three viable options with drive thrus, none of which are fast food. I went for the one that has the comfort food I desired. Below is smothered steak with corn and garlic bread. The steak is not the traditional 7 steak but like high quality beef tips. What ever it was it was cooked to fall apart tenderness with a rich gravy and real (thank god) rice. The smothered corn was sweet and spicy with bell pepper. The garlic bread very garlicky. Hit the bulls eye.

This is a new addition to this establishment. Lisa's Desserts. This one was a sweet potato pie. The crust was very short and the filling had a great balance of warm spices with an outstandingly smooth super sweet potato taste. It time for me to crash to face tomorrow. My boss is out of town and it always seems to fall apart when he is gone.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Upcoming Week

I probably will not be posting much as this a deadline week and my boss at the restaurant will be out of town so I will have to spend more time there. So you don't need to check everyday but maybe every third or so as I may be able to sneak one in.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Wal Mart Grocery Shopping Nixed

I was so mad I could have eaten nails and spit out white hot brads. You could have fried a full breakfast (eggs, bacon, hash browns and a new york strip steak on my forehead) five times over. I had just spent a little under 2 hours finding items to match my coupons. The newspaper inserts pages mostly contain useless (to me) mail in stuff and few coupons I want. Most of my grocery coupons are from the Internet. I get to checkout and put all my stuff on the rolling strip and get told " We don't do these coupons" Not the first time I've heard from these people. She goes and gets what I assume is a manager to tell me I can not use them. I tell her "If you don't want my coupons I don't want or need to shop here ever again". Then I ride off leaving them close to $150 in groceries to restock with at least 35% frozen items. Bad mistake on their part. I am sure other coupon people are doing the same.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sam's Cheeses

Over the last year Sam's Club has upgraded their cheese selection. I have been buying the Danish Blue for a while now. It delivers an excellent blue cheese punch while being smooth and creamy for a reasonable price. The Cabot (a dairy co-operative from the Northeast started in the 1920's ) always has excellent cheddar some of them extremely sharp. This particular one is white (the natural color of cheddar) and fairly mild. What makes this special is the hand rubbed coating of sun dried tomatoes, dehydrated garlic and onions, cracked black pepper and fennel seeds. That backnote of licorice really adds to the cheddar flavor.