Friday, August 29, 2008

Fresh Ham Roast

As you may know me and my cousin went in on a hog. I ordered the ham section (rear leg) not to be cured and smoked. I want to try it like fresh pork. Ham being part of a primary muscle has little intramuscular fat so I thought I would brine it to insure juiciness. Here is the 5 lb roast in its brine. I used a product I brought at the Williams-Sonoma store in New Orleans. It has not only the sugar and salt but a number of spices including thyme, sage, dehydrated orange peel etc

Here is the roast after a pat down. I forgot I was suppose to rinse it. That resulted in the outside being a tad salty (nothing I could not handle) but the interior was fine

I had some of this in the frig so I inject a couple of syringes into the meat

This is the roast sitting ready in my tabletop appliance. It uses both convection and light to cook.

The Thane Flavor Wave in action. If you google thane it will bring you to the site where you can get more info on this device. I swear by it. I even bake in it.

The roast at the halfway mark. Ready to be turned over.

Finally product. Total time 1 3/4 hours. Last 15 minutes I put an impromptu root beer glaze on it. The day before I had done refrigerator biscuit donuts and tossed them in a cinnamon sugar. I got to thinking. I did not have root beer but I did have root beer extract. I add a little of that to the sugar and some yellow mustard and then thinned it out to the consistency I wanted with a little blackberry wine I had in the frig. Came out very tasty

Final dish of sliced fresh ham with some pan juices, broccoli sprouts, and lima bean. I am stuffed like a tick

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Lunch Box

This venue at 1800 Broad Street (433-2168) serves a fine plate lunch. I must remember to stop in on Tuesdays when they feature pig tails. However today I got something just as good and available everyday here. Chicken Gizzards. I can hear you now. Ugh, how can you eat that. They are disgustingly chewy. Wrong. Gizzard are served with pride here. Both stewed gizzard (of which I got a dinner) and fried gizzards. They are also prepared and cooked with not only pride but a great deal of skill. My stewed gizzards were tender and juicy with a spicy gravy, I can also attest to the tenderness of the fried product. I choose greens and cornbread for my sides. The greens were spicy, smoky with a vinegar snap. The cornbread a bit on the sweet side just like my mother made so it made me feel at home. As usual in places like this I wind up being the only person staying and eating. Most their trade is take away. So if you are looking for soulful plate lunch here is your place. The owner of this place is the brother of the guy who owns Lagniappe Cafe at the truck stop casino. You would not believe what he cooks on Sunday. I will have to post my recent meal there

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Majestic Eatery
609 Ryan St
Lake Charles, LA

Monday - Friday 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM $2 - $10
Saturday - Sunday 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM

This place has proven to be an evolving concept. So while this is a second look there may be more in the future. Currently plate lunches are out and a lunch buffet is in. Gumbo is out until it cools off, a shame good gumbo. New sandwiches (two of which I particularly fond of) are in with a batch of panni types being tested out. Unless the Friday night trade picks up that may be out also. Sunday lunch is definitely in with plans to open earlier with more breakfast /brunch items that will be replaced with lunch items as the morning goes by
I sampled the buffet on two days. I got decent fried catfish and smoky greens. I ate fried chicken that seemed to have an Italian spice coating (quite tasty) and a killer Southwest Chicken penne pasta (medium spice with great flavor). I arrived on a Wednesday to the fabulous smell of BBQ, like an exquisite perfume. The wing I sampled needed no sauce. The rub had gone slightly sticky which suited me. The spice level and fantastic flavor made it truly finger- licking-good. The meat evidenced a smoke ring with a deep smoky taste. Please consider a Wednesday foray here.
First up was a “Cuban Sandwich” (Cubano). It possessed wonderful bread (crusty on the outside and soft inside) filled with an in house roasted pork sliced thin, thin sliced boiled ham, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard and sliced dill pickle. They used a press to warm and crisp it up. It proved delicious. The only thing that stopped it from being a classic Cubano was it had too much meat. With less meat it could have been pressed flat, a totally different dynamic. However it was pressed it was great. Up next a Gyro. It came out on fresh out of the oven flatbread with filling of a thinly sliced meat product composed of half beef and half lamb and delicious. Also in there was cucumber, tomato, onion and a yogurt sauce. A truly outstanding sandwich executed to perfection. The fries proved excellent also. That is all for now. I will check in periodically and see what is going on. Then report it to you

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Hilton New Orleans Riverside
2 Poydras St
New Orleans La
Since I was staying at the Hilton last year, when this branch of the restaurant opened, I just had to try it. It is a lot more convenient to get to than the Metairie location. I had dinner plans so this was an oyster stop for pre-appetizers. The setting as with most high-end hotels proved magnificent. Lots of marble and carpet. I sat at the oyster bar where the shucking and char grilling happens. The raws came out big and juicy with great saltiness. Amazing since it was late May. Served on crushed ice in the shell, as they should be. The char broiled lacked the smoky flavor of the wood fired grills of Metairie since they can only use radiant ones in the hotel. Still they were tasty. How can a glop of garlic butter and Parmesan cheese go wrong? The owner, Tommy, knows me and sent out a complimentary dish of a new recipe at the time. Called Fleur d’Lis Shrimp it consists of fried shrimp tossed in a red bell pepper aioli (mayonnaise) with chopped peanuts, delicious.

St James Hotel
322 Magazine St
New Orleans La
The chandeliers in this upscale restaurant are built around huge bottles of champagne and wine. I would guess probably Methuselahs. A prie fixe menu called a Degustation caught my eye and I went with that. A wrought iron sleigh arrived at the table containing marvelous pieces of cornbread, toasted herb focaccia square, and a small slightly sweet muffin. I swear I could make a meal of just that. Next dish up an amuse bouche. Spiced Shrimp Napoleon composed of a crisp mirliton slice topped with a shrimp in a white remoulade sauce and frisee surrounded by a cayenne beurre blanc. The crisp neutral flavor of the mirliton, sweet shrimp in tart mayonnaise, slightly bitter frisee and spice hit of the sauce made for a great bite.
Next appeared a Colossal Lump Crab Heirloom Tomato Salad in a large martini glass. It also contained fresh avocado slices and key lime/patron margarita vinaigrette. The acid in the tomatoes balanced the sweetness of the crab and the lushness of the avocado. The vinaigrette rounded it all out. I did not care much for the presentation as all the fluids collected in the punt of the glass and left some components less moist. A plate presentation would have been better for the flavor of the dish.

A bowl of White Bean Roasted Garlic soup came to the table next. They dressed it up with crawfish tails and white truffle oil. It was creamy with an excellent earthy sweet taste. To me the crawfish were unnecessary. Next came a Foie Gras and Proscuitto Torchon. Poached duck liver served on a huge Parmigiano reggiano crouton surrounded by olives and balsamic, delicious but a bit difficult to eat. The crouton was a whole slice of bread so hard that it crumbled when I tried to cut a piece of it to eat the liver on. However as I love liver anyway you give it to me, it made little difference to me. The flavor was there.
The star of the evening shined next. A piece of seared redfish topped with a spicy peppadew relish sitting on a blue crabmeat cake surrounded by Louisiana barbeque butter. The flavors melded together to provide a Gestalt. The whole is better than the sum of the parts. The flavor right and spice perfect. Its combination of sweet, spicy, salty and earthy made it almost Oriental in nature.
This next dish proved my least favorite. The Madeira Braised Lamb Tart seemed to be a riff on a Moroccan dish called Brik. Braised lamb in a phyllo crust shaped like a cone surround by wedges of fresh apricot and a lamb demi. I love lamb and was looking forward to this but it had an acrid and bitter after taste.
Last but not least was a Ricotta Cake. Surrounded by fresh strawberries and a port reduction and topped with spun sugar, this proved a spectacular and light ending to this meal. The flavors here spot on and delicious. The ricotta made this cheesecake light and refreshing with a tang to it.
While I had some minor quibbles with the meal it came down to my personal preferences. The execution, presentation, and flavors of the meal stood out and I would go back here in an instant.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ryan's Family Restaurant

Finding Sunday breakfast not to mention brunch is a hard row to hoe in Lake Charles. Most the independents are closed. One good option is Ryan's on Ryan. Granted nothing fancy but the food is edible and they offer such things as an omelet and egg station. Heck they will even do sunny side. Even though the edges are a bit crispy critters for the most part the whites were soft and the yolks runny. Just the way I love it. Add some semi decent grits (instant I am sure but doctorable) crisp bacon and fresh sourdough toast. You have got what I consider a special breakfast for me. Special because I only do this a couple times a year. Most weekdays it is cafe au lait at work. On weekends I also do a special cafe au lait and do a breakfast type meal about 10:30 or so. It usually is not what I call a full bore fry up like this. So until Pitt Grill decides to rebuild in town I think Ryan's is better than OK. By the way Happy Birthday Juanita

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Here are two of the three new small items on the menu. I got this as combo they are featuring. You can get two of the new items, a side item and a drink for $5. The first item is the Delta Mini. A chicken nugget on a mini bun with a spicy sauce. The sauce was OK but the nugget was mostly breading. That combined with the mini bun was just too much carbohydrates with not enough meat. Also the bun tended to get gummy. The nugget on the biscuit might be better

Now the wrap option was a totally different story. A strip of crusted chicken breast with more white meat than crust set on top of red beans and rice in a yellow flour tortilla. The chicken strip was meaty and crisp. It went well against rice and beans. The tortilla was not too bready and I have no explanation why it was yellow. This reminded me of a meal I had at Zea's recently. Red beans and sausage with a piece of fried chicken on top. I loved that and this little wrap reflects that concept. It is sorta like a New Orleans neighborhood restaurant Monday staple made portable. This I would buy again

El Tapatio

My most favorite Mexican restaurant in the city and my second favorite meal here. Helps that they are just around the corner. The so called appetizers here are enough for a meal. I have resorted to ordering a Chile Relleno a la carte. It is great and simple. A poblano pepper with just white cheese in it, oaxaca I think. Dipped in a egg white batter and fried. Served with a simple tomato sauce. Fresh and delicious

I follow that with a Coctel de Camerone. Mind you this is a small. It is like a sweet and spicy gazpacho with about dozen 20-25 boiled shrimp, avocado slices and chopped raw Jalapeno pepper. It starts off mild but slowly build up the until I am sweating at the end but eating every spoonful

The tables and chairs are heavily decorated with rural scenes especially of the pina harvest. Nice friendly atmosphere. Be forewarned they have no liquor license although they are trying again to get one. Despite the fact they cannot serve alcohol the parking lot is jammed full at lunch and dinner time.

Friday, August 22, 2008

??????? Meat and Grits

Here is the mystery meat in its raw state. Don't worry I will not make to guess what it is but I am going to wait to the end to tell you. At this point I hit it with some Zatarain's Creole. A fairly heavy shot
Here it is sauteing in olive oil. I did it in two batches so it would sear and get some good color and flavor

Here I am making a pan gravy from the drippings. Added flour into it and cooked until the raw taste came out

The nature of the meat meant that a braise would be best. These days I braise in the crock pot. In winter it is a different story. Since I do not cook from scratch everyday I keep the following product around. It is dehydrated onion, green bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Handy in a pinch especially if you are braising something. Inquire at Albertson's for it. They carry Rex products but have stopped carrying this. I get it from my secret source

Here it is in the crock pot all ready to go. I cooked on low for about 4 hours and it came out perfect

The final application. Mystery meat and gravy over grits.

Now the reveal. My cousin went in together on a hog. I got the heart and had the slaughterhouse cut it into strips. Because the meat has very little fat and is all muscle it can be inedible. However with a low and slow braise it comes just a bit chewy but tender. Because it is also blood rich (having to have lots of oxygen to pump) it also had a slight liver flavor (which I happen to love).
So I guess what I am trying to say here is don't let the name of something turn you off. Give it a try.

Out and About Review

Fox’s Pizza Den
2590 Maplewood Drive
Sulphur, LA
Monday - Saturday 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM $1 - $24

Situated in the “old” Dairy Queen and taking over from another pizza joint, this chain out of Pennsylvania has landed across the river. They spruced up the place although the floor of red tile bricks remains. The tables and booths sport a red and white motif on seating and banded wood tables coated in clear polyethylene. It is counter service. You order from an overhead board and they bring it to you.
First time in I could not resist a Wedgie. An unusual sandwich unique to this chain. They take pizza dough and dock it so it does not rise when baked. The baked dough is cut in half. Sandwich fixings go on one half. The other half goes on top and it is halved again, hence a wedge. I got the Beef, Bacon, & Cheddar. It comes fully dressed and proved quite tasty.
Next time I ordered a Pizza and Stromboli. Not a big fan of traditional pizza I got the BBQ Pizza. I chose grilled chicken. It comes with bell pepper and onions topped with both cheddar and mozzarella. The crust was thinner than most and quite crisp. I enjoyed this variation. Sad to say that was not the case with the Stromboli. A calzone like product it came out burnt nearly black but annoyingly the crust was still doughy inside. I got a pepperoni one and it was inedible. Last time in I got Cheese Garlic Bread, a Hoagie and Hot Wings. The bread made on a hoagie half was suitably cheesy and good. The Meatball Hoagie was a disaster. I opted for honey wheat bread. I got that fake dark bread nearly burnt black stuffed with mediocre meatballs and bland tomato sauce topped with shredded lettuce. Needless to say I did not like it. The Hot Wings were a mixed bag. The smaller wings were nice, good level of spice and cooked through. However the larger ones suffered from rubbery slimy textured skin.
Not a venue I would spend gas money going across the lake. It does give Maplewood another option other than the other pizza chains.
Brother’s Po Boys
808 Sampson
Westlake, LA
Monday - Saturday 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM $1 - $15

Located in the former Golden Hen building little was done to the exterior. However the interior was painted with Mardi Gras colors (green, gold, and purple). Seating consists of black cafeteria chairs and laminated tables. The floor sports large black and white vinyl tiles. It is counter service here also. While they also do pizzas I concentrated on the sandwiches. Both a wall and the menus tell the story of how po boys began.
I began with the Brothers Special (ham, turkey, roast beef, spicy mayonnaise, and lettuce). The roast beef seemed to have been soaking in gravy. Except for the fantastic bread (crisp crust and soft crumb with great flavor) it seemed like a Darrell’s knockoff. Next came a travesty, the so-called “New Orleans” Muffuletta. I have had Muffulettas in New Orleans and this was not it. Because of the outstanding bread (sesame topped Italian round loaf) it would have made for a decent salami sandwich except they nuked the meats and cheese making them very greasy and unappetizing. Last thing I ate there was tremendous. A shrimp po boy, again wonderful bread, fresh coated and fried shrimp, shredded lettuce and tarter sauce.
This I would come over the lake for. If they would make a spicy tartar sauce to go on it, it would be sublime
Short Shot
It is a bad news good new situation. Cid's on Opelousas St has closed (a victim of the summer doldrums and bad location). I am glad my last meal there was pigtails. However Lagniappe Cafe has started doing their soul special, a trifecta of chittlins, tripe and pig’s feet. They will be doing every second Sunday. So give them a call at 436-1151 to get the scoop. I had to have all three. Piled in a bowl they proved tender and tasty with a fine cornbread to sop up the juices.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Grocery Items

Whenever I run across something new or interesting I will post it. Below is a new Butterball product. I first got it with a coupon however it is so good I just bought one without a coupon. It is really buttery like injected fried turkey and moist with that fried taste. Something different.

For this you will have to go to Wal-Mart. Several months ago I discovered it. It is in the deli department on the shelf in front of the cases. A few minutes in the oven and you get Naan like it just came out of a tandoori oven. I buy it every time I see it. It has disappeared from the hwy 14 store. I saw it once at the nelson road but I hate the arrangement of that store. This is from the hwy 171 bayou one. The only thing I can figure is that there is enough of an Indian enclave south of town and in Moss Bluff that these stores stock them. The hwy 171 store is the newest and the one I like the best. I will just have to go the extra mile to shop there. The Naan also comes in a plain version. Excuse me while I put these two items together for a great sandwich.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

La Truffe Sauvage

After a week of eating substandard food in the line of duty, I decided to treat myself to one of the finer dining establishments in town. This was in mid July and the restaurant amidst all of its trees and shrubbery looked like an oasis. First item up was Chilled Spanish Gazpacho with Avocado . It was done chunky style which I prefer and there was not only some lump crab meat as garnish along with the usual avocado but it a spicy kick. Even with the spicy kick it was cool and refreshing. A shimmer of olive oil finished it off. There was a nice contrast between the melting qualities of the tomato, avocado, and fire roasted pepper and the crunch of onions and cucumber. The rich flavor of the avocado played well against the sweetness of the crab meat. A pleasant start to a great meal

Arthur Durham co owner and baker make such wonderful bread that I do not mind the extra charge for it. This was a her bed focaccia with a crisp crust and soft crumb . Dipped in Chef Chettos marvelous olive oil and balsamic mixture I could make a whole meal off of it

The entree was a magnificent piece of halibut in a sliced potato coat made to look like scales. It sat on a bed of fresh spinach on a lake of dill lemon butter sauce. The fillet was cooked just right. The contrast between the crisp salty potatoes, the sweet rich fish, the slightly bitter greens and the tartness of the sauce made for a great combination. The gestalt of the dish was more than the parts.

A espresso with my dessert set in the right mood for the rest of the afternoon. The espresso here has perfect crema and tends to be a little more bitter than most. For me this is a good thing because it set off the sweetness of the dessert. A prime example of opposites making for a better product

For dessert I had what the menu calls Frozen Nougat with Dried Fruit and Nuts with organic apricots, cherries, toasted almonds, walnuts & coconut folded in a light honey mousse. I would call it a semi-freddo of the first degree. Light, cool and creamy without being too rich with the contrast of the crunchy nuts adding to it. They finished it off with a raspberry and strawberry garnish then got fancy with puddle of raspberry sauce with creme anglaise hearts in the puddle. It was not inexpensive but it was something I felt I deserved.

A link to their website follows. The menus change seasonal and the special menus for various holidays are special indeed. I usually wind up here for Christmas Eve

Fresh cut French Fries

Well here is my first rant. People are always saying they do not want French fries that have been frozen. They want the fries cut fresh. Then they complain the the fries are soggy and not crisp. What they don't realize that a lot of places have no idea how to deal with fresh cut fries. They just throw it in the fryer and expect it to come out crispy and nice. Well there are several reasons for soggy fresh fries. First of all they are probably using the wrong type of potato. Second of all they do not realize it is a two step process to crispy fries. First you have to par cook or blanch the fries in oil at a lower temp. Then you pull them out and let cool. When do the final fry it must be at a higher temperature and only takes a few minutes. Most small operations do have the space, time or manpower to do this or don't realize they have to do it. The manufacturers of frozen fries have done the blanching so all that has to be done is the final fry. I will take a frozen fry any day over the most of the so called "fresh " any day of the week. Now if you know that the establishment is doing it properly fresh is superior. But I would think that is a small minority

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Taco Bell

My first post and I am already revealing secrets about myself. My name is Arthur Hebert and I am a fast food addict. I am addicted to the convenience (Drive thru) especially since my amputation. I am addicted to the new items. I just have to try them. I am addicted to the flavors that is to say I am addicted to the fat content. Fat is flavor carrier. So a certain number of posts will be devoted to this. I have been eyeing Taco Bell's summer drink for a while. I finally broke down and got one today along with a Big Bell box. The drink was a disappointment for me because is basically a frozen carbonated drink and I do not like carbonated drinks frozen or unfrozen. Has to do with being raised up on non-carbonated drinks. The box held a Double Decker Taco which was certainly up to their standards of taste. I kinda liked the combo of flour and corn tortilla. The Fajita Steak Melt came up short on most fronts except for having too much flour tortilla. It was basically tasteless and soggy with little meat as you can see in the pic. The cinnamon twists were wonderful as usual