Friday, November 27, 2009

Olive Garden

For the second year in a row I tried to arrange an out of town venue for Black Friday. Did not go over. Downsized to a newly reopened local eatery. That went south because of lack of communication about hours. Ended up at the local Olive Garden. This chain has improved over the years. The one thing that remains constant though is an excellent salad.
My enthusiastic friend started off with Chicken & Gnocchi A creamy soup made with roasted chicken, traditional Italian dumplings and spinach. My taste proved nice. They have added a few new ones since the last time I have been
This is mine. Mussels di Napoli. Mussels in the shell, simmered with wine, garlic-butter and onions. Nothing I like better than good mussels. They do a really decent job here although they seemed to have had a massive shot of lemon this time
For her entree my enthusiastic friend went with a special. Stuffed Chicken Marsala Oven-roasted chicken breast stuffed with Italian cheeses and sun-dried tomatoes, topped with mushrooms and a creamy marsala sauce. With garlic parmesan mashed potatoes. It tasted wonderful. Maybe I should explore the menu at greater length
My sister went with the salad and soup and she got Zuppa Toscana Spicy sausage, russet potatoes and cavolo greens in a creamy broth. She seem to enjoy it I got another appetizer. It was from the specials menu. Sicilian Scampi large shrimp sauteed in extra-virgin olive oil with white wine, garlic and lemon. It was served over crostini. In most cases I prefer bread to pasta. The shrimp were not over cooked. The sauce luscious cut by a nice lemon snap and the bread really nice
We finished with Zeppoli soft, traditional Italian doughnuts dusted with powdered sugar, served with chocolate sauce for dipping. I caught the last one of film before I devoured it. Along the lines of a New Orleans beignet. Just sweet enough to be dessert without going in sugar shock
All in all not a bad experience.

Serops Baton Rouge

7474 Corporate Blvd
Baton Rouge LA

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

On our outing to the Red Stick Farmer’s Market and Whole Foods we ate lunch at Serop’s on Corporate. This is a long-standing establishment in the area. I can remember eating there when they only had a downtown location. Now the have five locations. This one was convenient for us as it is across the road from the Whole Foods. Although in a strip mall the interior speaks of elegance. Since I will only be covering lunch I have given you only those hours

I indulged in a Lebanese Ice Tea with Pine Nuts. This is a sweeten tea that has rose water and whole pine nuts in it. The rose water gives it a funky taste, not for everyone. I just like to try such things. Delightful at first it grew less desirable later on. First thing to hit the table was white and whole-wheat pita bread. They seemed to be an in-house product.

My cousin and I decided to do appetizers. Sometimes restaurant like this has what is called Meze. Basically this is a sampling of appetizer like dishes. This one did not so we put our own together. We started with Fried Kibbeh. Ground meat, onions, pine nuts and sweet spices stuffed in a cracked wheat shell. It sported the familiar double point and was delicious. Next was Hummus Deluxe. Chickpea dip topped with basically the Kibbeh stuffing finished with olive oil, smooth and creamy with the stuffing adding considerable flavor. Meat and Meatless stuffed grape leaves followed. The meatless was just the rice mixture without the meat. The leaves were tough and salty. They had not taken care to rinse the preserving brine from them. The Cabbage Rolls were mush better. Same meat and rice stuffing but the cabbage leaves had been treated properly. The last and best dish was a Meat Mousaka. Not the traditional layered affair. This consisted of eggplant slices cooked tin tomato sauce then topped with various sauteed vegetables (zuchhni, squash, onions, etc) with ground beef, black olives and feta cheese. This made for a delicious and tasty well-balanced dish. They do a meatless version.

My sister opted for Lamb Kebab. She received chunks of grilled lamb and onions with hummus and rice pilaf. My taste of the lamb showed a tender and succulent well-seasoned piece of meat. Our baking friend got a Chicken Shawarma Pita. This comes with a small side salad topped with feta dressing. The pita itself held almost a pound of tender chunky chicken breast with lettuce, tomato and a sour cream sauce. It stood two to three inches high and half went into a to go box.

We shared a baklava that was as good as I have every tasted. Service was good. If you like Middle Eastern food this is about as good as it gets.

Sabine Pass Crab Shack


Sabine Pass Crab Shack
3584 East Napoleon
Sulphur, LA

Monday to Saturday 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM $2 to $27

This drive-thru only situated at the corner of Hwy 90 and North Cities Service Road is just that, a shack. It does have friendly service.

My first run through I got the Seafood Platter. This comes with 14 medium fried shrimp, 4 catfish fillets, 1 stuffed crab, 4 oyster and a crawfish kicker. The oyster depending on their size ranged form overcooked to perfect. The shrimp were in a seasoned batter that grew on me. By the last one I loved it. The catfish proved the best, crispy cornmeal crust and moist tender inside. Although in a real crab shell the stuffed crab seemed mostly breading with little flavor. The crawfish popper, a beignet sort of thing, was cold in the middle and very mushy, not to my taste. These items lay on a bed of crinkle cut fries that were just awful. However the two hushpuppies in the box were good.

Next time I opted for a Cheeseburger. For a seafood shack it proved really decent. Nice bun loaded with lettuce, onion and tomato. The cheese was American of course. The patty had a nice char and a good beefy taste. What stood out here was the excellent sweet potato fries, thin and crunchy. They held a nice sweet potato flavor, so much better the other fries. I also got the Funnel Cake Fries. They were like mini churros. A thin hollow stick about three inches long. The powdered sugar made them just sweet enough.

Last time I passed by I ordered the Sabine Pass BBQ Crabs. They sell them by the half dozen and dozen. The favor was spot-on but being at the end of the season they were neither large nor full of meat. I would suggest holding off until next summer for these treats.

The shrimp and catfish are the best things here at this time in my opinion. It is a convenient place to grab a meal to go if you happen to be on that side of the lake

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kyoto Sushi

I am going to take you through my routine when I evaluate a sushi bar. This also my favorite meal. It is comfort food for me. I usually get green tea hot and the miso soup. This day I had a hankering for the bonito broth so that is what is pictured here
Also you can tell a lot about the place by the seaweed salad. No I do not think they make this themselves but it is pre prepared. The more types of seaweed the better in my opinion.

I order two nigeri type sushi. That is the type with the protein on top of a rice ball. I particular like ebi (sweet shrimp) because not only is it delicious (succulent and sweet) but you generally get a bonus ie the fried heads. If I am especially lucky they don't clean out the heads. Unagi (eel) is the other and I get it for dessert. The eel sauce is usually so sweet that it act like dessert in my opinion
The main dish I forgot to take a photo of. But if you frequent this blog you have seen pictures of it before. It is Chirgasi (it means scattered). Take a bowl and fill it halfway up with sushi rice. Then you scattered various proteins of top. The one I got the other day contained salmon, tuna, wasabi tobiko (flying fish roe colored orange and infuse with horseradish), white tuna (escolar or oil fish), surimi (fake crab), snapper, two white fish I could not identify, and sweeten egg omelet (another dessert like component). This represents the range and quality of seafood available at a sushi bar. Most of it is raw and shows the freshness. While rolls are OK they are not in the true spirit of a sushi place but rather an American affectation

Monday, November 23, 2009


I happened to be across the street and the front parking area fairly empty so I took advantage of that and had lunch. First of all a great chicken and sausage gumbo with potato salad and garlic bread. While a tad greasy the dark roux and broth held good spicy flavor

I also ordered the Shrimp Remoulade po boy. It is a white remoulade with what seems to be a mixture of mayonnaise, yellow mustard and a little grain mustard. The small shrimp is soaked in it. Shredded lettuce and sliced tomato finish it. The bread is decent and seems to have been baked to give it a nice crust before the sandwich comes out

I ordered a side of fried onions. They were medium cut and floured which made them perfect in my eyes. A little salt and pepper brought the flavor I love.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NOWFE for next year

For Immediate Release:
November 18, 2009

Liz Goliwas Bodet

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience Announces 2010 Dates

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – Plans are underway for the 2010 New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE), in the city that ranks number one in ten categories in Travel + Leisure’s “America’s Favorite Cities” survey. NOWFE, which also garners its own high rankings as a “perennial ‘Top Ten' Wine and Food festival,” as noted in Wine Enthusiast, features over 175 wineries and more than 75 celebrated restaurants. The 5-day event, which has raised nearly $1,000,000 for local charities, will take place May 25–29, 2010 in various locations throughout historic New Orleans.

“No other city can offer the rich history, beautiful landscape and architecture, eclectic art, and diverse music scene—not to mention some of the best cuisine in the country—along side one-thousand different vintages,” says Octavio Mantilla, NOWFE President. “Our events take place right in the heart of the city, where guests can enjoy the wine and food, while partaking in shopping, live entertainment, French Quarter revelry or just one-of-a-kind people-watching.” Some of New Orleans most famous landmarks will serve as backdrop to the 2010 event. More than 30 of New Orleans most talked about restaurants will host Wine Dinners on Wednesday, May 26; the popular Royal Street Stroll will take place on Thursday, May 27, while the Louisiana Superdome will serve as the home of the Grand Tastings on Friday, May 28 and Saturday, May 29.

“Each year NOWFE adds new programs, seminars and events to the schedule,” states Joyce Godbold, NOWFE Executive Director. “We try to keep the seminars fresh, relevant and exciting.” This year’s seminars will include: “The Craft of Curing,” a lesson on the intricacies of curing meats; a look at the bounty of Gulf seafood at “Gone Gulfing,” “Let them Eat Cake” will showcase dessert wines and their accompaniments, “Romancing the Rhone,” will explore Rhone varietals, and a special champagne & sushi seminar.

“New Orleans just gives you a good feeling, and NOWFE really uncorks that sentiment,” adds Mantilla. “We invite everyone to come and be immersed in the feeling that is New Orleans.”

The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience is a non-profit organization. The Board of the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience donates 100% of the events' profit to support their programs and foundations. Proceeds from the 2009 event benefited University of New Orleans School of Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism, the Louisiana Restaurant Association's ProStart Program, The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, Delgado Community College Culinary Arts Program, New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, Girls First, Cancer Crusaders, Animal Rescue of New Orleans, Coach Sean Payton's Play It Forward Foundation and Fore! Kids Foundation.

NOWFE 2010 will be held May 25 – 29, 2010.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thadapetch Birthday

While recently our choices of ethnic restaurants has improved in Lake Charles we are missing two types. However they are available an hour or so from the city. For Indian you can go to Marsala in Lafayette. There are Thai available there also but we like to head north for Thai. In Deridder there is Thai Basil and in Leesvile Thadapetch. My internet friend and her husband The Engineer like the one in Leesville and my birthday present this year was a visit there. This weekend was clear for both of us. After a pleasant drive (the four laning of 171 is a god send) we arrived.

Below in a full order of Tom Kha which feed the three of us quite well. Tom Kha is Thai hot and sour soup that has coconut milk added to it. This one was chicken with mushrooms, galanga, onion, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, chili and lime juice. The coconut milk adds a certain richness while allowing the spice and sour to come through. Regular milk would curdle because of the milk proteins. I usually get a bowl of soup. This is the first time sharing the larger one. The vessel was something unique and interesting

They provided bouillon cups for us and the hot pot had enough for us to have two cups
My internet friend got Pad Woon-Sen. Stir fried silver noodles with chicken , egg, baby corn, mushrooms, carrot and onion. This is a stir fry dish with fine rice noodles. It was quite tasty with a good amount of vegetables.
The Engineer got Yum Nuer. Grilled sliced beef with line juice, chili, lemon grass, tomato, green onion, and mint leaves served on a bed of lettuce. A fine example of a Thai meat salad and quite delicious if a bit sour.
I opted for Pad Ped Ta-Lay which is a stir fry dish of shrimp, squid, mussel, and catfish with bell pepper, mushroom, chili, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and galanga. Just spicy enough to be interesting and the seasoning compliment the seafood perfectly
We all got Mango and Sticky rice for dessert. I have not had this wonderful combination in so long I dug right in and forgot to take a picture. Just take it from me it is the perfect end to a Thai meal.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Papa Murphy

Papa Murphy’s
4070 Nelson Road
Nelson Road Plaza
Lake Charles, LA

11:00 AM to 9:00 PM Seven days a week $2 to $16

Set next to the Wine Store in the shopping center housing Que Pasa, this is a new concept for the lake area. You come into the shop and order a pizza. They put together your pizza in front of you with freshly made dough and freshly cut meats and vegetables. No pre-made pizzas hanging around. They wrap it in plastic and you take it home and bake. It comes on an ovenproof paper tray. Baking is as easy as pie. Instructions included and they tell you the procedure if you are a new customer. Now you can have piping hot pizza from your oven with fresh ingredients not a frozen thing

First time in I went with a custom pizza. Special orders do not upset them. I asked for beef, bacon, onion, and garlic white sauce. It came with a layer of mozzarella and some cheddar cheese on top. Fifteen minutes after preheating the oven. It came out with a crisp crust and bubbly top. The crust had a nice bready texture. It tasted just like a bacon cheeseburger, which was my intent. I also got a Cinnamon Wheel. It is raw dough topped with cinnamon spread, streusel and a tub of cream cheese frosting. Take the tub out of the center and bake. It was OK but the streusel was oatmeal based and not my favorite. Also the ratio of the bread to sweetness seemed off to me.

Next time I went away with a Gourmet Vegetarian. Heaped high with spinach, zucchini, mushroom, marinated artichoke hearts, roma tomatoes, onion, cheese and the white garlic sauce. It weighted a tone. However the amount of vegetables and the moisture from them did not treat the dough well. The curst was not as nice as the other one. While it was edible I kept thinking a double amount of dough would make it perfect. I also got the cookie dough. It made a decent cookie. However the four-dollar price tag for a pound seemed a bit steep to me.

Last time I ordered a Combination Calzone. It contained ricotta, mozzarella, salami, pepperoni, mushrooms and green onion with pizza sauce on the side. It baked up beautifully taking an extra ten minutes than the pizza. Not putting the sauce in the calzone proved a good thing. I have a problem with calzones and this solved it. Most have so much moisture in the interior that the dough turns gummy inside when baked. This one was almost perfect. The pizza sauce obtained a perfect balance: chunks of tomato with good flavor, a slightly sweet undertone, and a nice spice kick.

Really the only problem was it was too large. I am a single person and most pizzas come in family sizes. Here I can get a medium pizza (good for two meals for me) however I cannot get a medium stuffed pizza of calzone. The stuffed is a dough circle piled with stuff topped with another dough circle. A calzone is a dough circle with the filling on one half and the other half brought across the stuffing. My poser is that if you have medium dough circles why cant you do the above with them?

Despite all my minor quibbles this is an excellent operation and a good choice for families. The ingredients are fresh. The service is friendly and helpful. The final product is tasty. I am not a pizza fanatic. I will be back but not too often. I occasionally work on Sunday morning. I see this as a convent meal for those days. If you are into pizza this might be the ticket for you. I hear they are planning other locations.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dairy Barn No 3 deux

Here is the promised second visit to the newest Dairy Barn. While not quite up the others it was good. A Fry Person who knows his business is a unique asset. I have had too much bad fried food in my life to believe otherwise. The person here is almost to the mark and probably just needs a little more experience. Well worth it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Carraba's Lafayette

I had to go to Lafayette for a mini food show and used the opportunity to go here as it was just around the corner. I have been to the one in Beaumont many times. Even though it is a chain it is a great chain. Also the originators of this chain is Johnny Carraba and his uncle Tony Mandola of Houston. Their ancestry is Southeast Texas Sicilian that immigrated from Southwest Louisiana. So if feels like I am supporting home boys.

Below is their classic sangria made with Korbel Brandy, fresh fruit and our Italian house wine, your choice red or white. I do not normally indulge but it had been a hard day and it was not over yet. It was decent but a bit rough around the edges.

The house is basically a boule. The crust was lovely but the crumb a bit light weight. It could have been more dense for my taste. Still it sopped up things wonderfully and I utilized often during the meal

The main reason I came here. Cozze in Bianco Mussels steamed in white wine, basil, lemon butter and Pernod . As usual they were wonderful. The mussels small but fat. The broth so good that I used the bread to sop all of it up. I should take after pictures

A new item to was Mama Mandola ’s Sicilian Chicken Soup spicy chicken soup. Had to give that a try. Its heat came from black pepper. There was lots of chicken and a few vegetables. The broth was thick with a tomato base
The other reason I came. Spiedino di Mare shrimp and sea scallops coated with Italian
breadcrumbs, grilled and topped with lemon butter sauce with a side of cavetelli amatrica (corkscrew pasta in a spicy sauce). This dish is heaven on a plate. The contrast between the sweet seafood and spicy coating with the lemon bringing it together.
Finally an off the menu dessert. Bread pudding made with brioche and topped with Blue Bell (notice David) Vanilla and Limoncello liqueur. Very nice

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dairy Barn No 3

That's correct you read it right. Dairy Barn has opened a third location. It's the second one in Lake Charles. It is on Nelson Road at McNeese in the Nelson Plaza next to Huggy Bears. In a concession to Huggy's they are not offering ice cream. The rest of the menu is available along with some desserts. They have also put in a drive thru window on the north side of the building. Be careful pulling out until the stanchions are put in. This may be the best way since there is little space inside. They do have outdoor seating put that will be seasonal at best. A spot check of the burger and onion rings proved just as I remember them. Later this week I will check out the fry job