Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Jan Carino Wine Dinner

Last month menu looked pretty good so I went again. Below is suppose to be a Tomato Due. A red tomato filled with a chicken and smoked cheddar fondue and a yellow tomato with shrimp and asparagus fondue. They had only red tomatoes because they could not find yellow. I got the chicken and cheddar in both of mine although my dining companions said they got both. It was very good. The smoke element made it

Salvatore's Fish Positano available on the menu is a tilapia fillet pan sauteed in a green and black olive lemon butter sauce with capers over a bed of angel hair pasta. Wonderful concept except the fish was under seasoned and over cooked. The olive and caper sauce was wonderful with the pasta. A salty meaty kinda flavor.
Next up was Grilled Chicken Pepperonata. Chicken breast in a burgundy onion and bell pepper tomato sauce alongside scalloped bechamel potatoes. Again a wonder concept but the chicken was poached not grilled. The sauce was wonder but could not overcome the blandness of the breast. The potatoes were luscious. If the chicken had been grilled in skin the smoke and fat would have brought this up the place where it should have been.
If the Triple Chocolate Tiramisu espresso soaked ladyfingers layered between mascarpone custard with white, milk and dark chocolate had been presented in the traditional way it may have been heavenly but presented in a demi tasse I could only taste milk chocolate mousse

You heard me make mention of my dinning companions. As usual I was by myself. However just near me was a table with a couple and a lady. I got invited over and I accepted. Turned out all three read my column and are what I would consider to be foodies. We spent the evening eating and talking about food. The couple especially so. If you knew me a little better you would know I am terrible with names. I am sorry to say the only one that pops into my head is Carol. However if you contact me with your name and contact info I will contact you when I next put together a group outing until you can come to one. My e-mail is

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Soul Food Heaven

Dropped in on a day I did not feel like making anything at the house. These day the list of things available runs about ten. I got pigs tail in gravy over rice with spinach with egg and okra. No more cornbread it seems but this time got strawberry cake baked in a muffin tin. Been awhile since I had tails but they were as good as any I have had. Did not care for the spinach. Had a strong vinegar note that would have been better in bitter green. Okra wonderful as usual. Nothing like okra smothered down in tomatoes. They always add a little something extra like sausage or bacon. Also they always seem to spice things just right

Thursday, January 21, 2010


This time I took my camera in so we have pictures. Here is the cup of chili. This one has beans in but when I had gone in before I could swear it did not. Whatever the flavor was good and it was the right portion sized to stimulate the appetite but not kill it.

The yeast rolls. Light and fluffy almost too much so. When I bite into them they squish and get all gummy.

Burgers are a special blend of ground sirloin, chuck & steak, seasoned with natural spices & served on a toasted bun. All sandwiches & burgers include Home-style Potato Chips. So says the menu. I opted for the Old Fashioned Cheeseburger with Cheddar cheese and bacon. As you can see the kitchen forgot the bacon. The server came by just after the runner dropped it off and spotted the mistake and had my bacon a minute later I got onion petals instead of the fresh chips. A mistake I will not make in the future. Northern breading on the onions made this a no go.
The burger was great. Recently I have found I do not like lettuce on my burger. Tomato is ok and I have never liked dill pickles on them. The patty has a real meaty taste. Maybe they do use three meats. As long as they offer coupons in the paper I will come here and get a burger. Maybe even after.

Pappy's Catfish Cabin

If you did not know the Catfish Cabin up Moss Bluff way closed down. The original owner retired. About a month later it reopened as Pappy's Catfish Connection. I am under the impression that it was some people who worked there that reopened. My Food Group went up to test it out. While most of it is fried there are some grilled items also. I got a seafood platter that pretty much cover the fried stuff. From left to right clockwise is catfish, stuffed shrimp, shrimp, stuffed crab, hush puppy, oysters, crab cake, and fries. All agreed that the quality had not suffered. This is what a seafood platter should be. Each item had its own coating and the crab stuffing was different for each item The shrimp was in seasoned light flour, the oysters in a coarse cornmeal crust, the fish in a cornflour crust. While the stuffed item had the same coating the insides were different. The stuffed crab had a bit more vegetables but lump crab. The stuffing on the shrimp was claw and handled so as to be not overworked. Therefore it was light and not compact. The crab cake used backfin and little breading. However the crab used for that seemed a little off. The fries were like most fries mediocre. Overall A. I had scoped it out the week before. I got a cup of gumbo which proved excellent with all the qualities I seek in one. It was a typical Moss Bluff style of shrimp and sausage.

Closed Monday they are open from 11AM to 10PM except for Sunday when they close at 3PM.
Go up and enjoy

Famous Food

Four meat combo. I choose chicken (breast quarter), ribs, hot link, and pork steak. You get dirty rice, beans and "mashed potato" style potato salad. The sides were excellent and I really enjoyed the hot link. Recently I have rediscovered the unique appropriateness of this product for BBQ whereas I usually looked down upon it. The chicken was nice and tender and juicy. The ribs were not so good and the pork steak which I usually adore was tough. I don't know whether my tastes have changed, they are slacking, or whether it was a bad day. Overall I was not pleased

Toga Grill


Toga Grill
4439 Nelson Road
Lake Charles, LA
Monday to Saturday 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM $1 to $10
We now have a family style Lebanese to compliment the family style Syrian. The owner of the Dollar Bee in the Market Basket Plaza on Nelson Road has split his shop in twain. On the grill side you have counter service (the menu above the counter) dining establishment with limited seating. The other side trucks on as before. The most popular thing here is the Toga Sampler. On the left end of the signboard is about twelve different appetizer style dishes. You can pick six of these to on the sampler. First time in I got kibbie, fried zucchini in yogurt, stuffed grape leaves, baba ghanoush, mujardrah (lentil and rice) and hummus. The kibbie consisted of a thin shell of Bulgar wheat with a meat and onion interior fried just right. The zucchini seemed more pan-sautéed and while tasty not my favorite. The rice and meat stuffed in the grape leaves with skordalia (garlic sauce) certainly met the standard. The baba ghanoush (eggplant dip) had loads of smoky eggplant flavor. The mujardrah seemed to be having a bad day and the hummus fantastic, full of flavor and very smooth. The dessert called nummuria came out as a baked semolina product soaked in a honey syrup, bit of texture and not too sweet. I finished with Turkish coffee. I cannot believe it but I now have three places to drink this wonderful concoction

Next time in I meet with some of the Eating Group. All got the variations of the toga Sampler. Additional items such as stuffed cabbage leaves, mousaka (eggplant and vegetables cooked in tomato), tzatziki (cucumber dip), and a Feta Salad were ordered. The salad consisted of greens, back olives, tomato, and feta cheese with a light dressing on the side. I ordered a Falafal Pita. Ground seasoned chickpeas formed into meatball size patties and deep fat fried. They are served with tomato, red onion, and lettuce wrapped in pita like flat bread, very nice

Next time in I got the lunch special. It was Lebanese sausage balls (ground meat with special spices) in flatbread with a side salad, hummus and fried potatoes. The balls (size of small meatballs) were not spicy but well seasoned and delicious. I also got a Fatoush Salad, which contained lettuce, cucumbers and tomato in olive oil vinaigrette with herbs. I ended with a homemade baklava whose crusts were of that same semolina product with a chopped walnut filling. Again not as sweet as most but an interesting texture and taste

I went one more time to taste remaining bits and pieces. I got tzatziki, mousaka, tabbouleh, cabbage rolls and mujardrah again. The cucumber yogurt dip, eggplant with tomato, and stuffed cabbage roll met all my expectations. However the tabbouleh and mujardrah stood out. Best tabbouleh I have had in years. The hint of mint in it made my day. The lentil, rice and onion dish was perfection, no bad day today. I also got some lentil soup. They seemed to have blended the lentils (yellow ones I suspect) until silky smooth with a lemon hit to it. I also tried the Meat Pie and Spinach Pie. The meat one was like a small pizza with ground meat sauteed with minced vegetables, well seasoned. The sauteed spinach and onions filling was in a triangular shaped tart. The dough used for both of these items suited them very well. Sturdy but tender with a yeast backnote.

As my fellow food guy Eric Cormier stated in his column this is great home cooking but not your mother unless she was Lebanese. Well worth the time and trouble to get.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mama Rosa Farewell

For those who have not heard Mama is pulling up stakes. For a number of reason she is regrouping. She will shut down here at the end of the month. Then she will go back up north and try and open a smaller operation in Leesville. While this will mean a 60 minute drive to get her food I feel it is a good move on her part. I think she will operate better in a smaller venue where she can devote herself to making sure every dish is excellent. I went to lunch and got Arancia just in case she does not reopen. Under that mound of cheese and sauce is a fried rice ball with meat and peas inside. While I have never had them this way they proved delicious. It certainly made for a hearty meal. My eating group will make one last foray and then we will see what happens.

The garlic bread is a sub roll with dried herbs

This is what I will miss the most. The best Tiramisu in the south. Light and delicate but full of flavor.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cajun Singles

Savoie's proved to be a real Cajun Fricassee. No tomato but a deep brown flavorful gravy. Too bad I overcooked the shrimp. However overcooking the shrimp made the rice nice and soft and more to my taste especially as it soaked in the gravy. Would by again

Richard's chicken stew compared badly with Savoies. In fact I did not finish it. It went in the can and I will never buy it again. Rice hard and no potatoes along with little flavor

Seafood Riff

Taking a page out of Rosita's tostada ceviche I used some ingredients in the frig that mimicked it. Started off with some flat bread that I toasted. Added some red pepper hummus. Then a layer of guacamole followed by a seafood salad from sam's. The flavor was surprisingly good but not likely to happen again as I was just doing a frig clean out of bits and bobs. Nice when it turns out to be good also

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


This was a limited run along with the Wicked Chicken. It may have already passed. I am not saying this was the best gumbo ever. However if I was in a city not in southern Louisiana and there was a Popeye's in that city and I had the on vie for gumbo I would not hesitate to go get some there. The flavor was excellent and thickness just right. Tasty chicken and decent sausage. It held a medium spice and the rice was OK. Not worth a repeat but definitely worth a try

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday Breakfast

A simply throw together. Mary's Kitchen Roast Beef Hash cooked crusty topped with fried sunny side eggs and bacon with my cafe au lait. The canned beef hash is from my youth and I still get it once in awhile. This may seem like a big breakfast and it is especially since I ate it at 10 am. But I just snacked in the afternoon and evening. So essentially it lasted all day. I have started using CDM (Cafe du Monde) blend for the cafe au lait. The dark roast and hefty chicory content is so much better than the Community blend