Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June wine dinner at Carino's

Based on last month's disaster I should not have gone this month. However the food seemed to be pretty full proof so I took a chance

Antipasto Platter An assortment of grilled eggplant and zucchini, roasted Roma tomatoes, shaved prosciutto ham and Kalamata olives drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and served family style Paired with Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc. While the eggplant could have use a tad more oil and some salt the rest of it was great especially the tomatoes.
Roasted Tilapia "In A Bag" Steam-baked parchment style with oven-dried tomatoes, fresh vegetables, basil pesto and roasted rosemary potatoes Paired with Clos du Bois Chardonnay
Opened up it revealed perfect cooked fish on a bed of potatoes and asparagus topped with tomatoes, herbs and lemon slices. Made a nice presentation.
Pasta Amatriciana Crispy applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onion, San Marzano tomatoes with spaghetti pasta and grated Pecorino Romano cheese Paired with Blackstone Merlot
As you can see I found this dish quite tasty despite the al dente pasta. I am a barbarian and like my pasta cooked through. The sauce however could make shoe leather tasty.
Lemon Tiramisu A summer twist on our classic handmade dessert - citrus infused mascarpone mousse layered with soaked ladyfinger cookies Paired with Hogue Late Harvest Riesling
And it was. A sprite taste to finish off the meal. All the wine pairings were good.
I generally go to these dinners alone as my eating group does not particularly like wine dinners. At the last three I attended I was approached by someone asking me to join them. While I generally eat alone and do not mind it, the conviviality of the wine dinner seems to embolden people. I have never rejected( I am not yet that much of a curmudgeon) the approach and have always had a lovely time. This group being mostly younger had superior phones so they got someone to take our picture and then it got sent to my e-mail. I have always had trouble with names so they will have to forgive me if I do not name them except the birthday girl Monica (on the right hand side of the picture).

Friday, June 25, 2010



Floyd’s Cajun Seafood & Texas Steakhouse
2290 1-10 South
Beaumont TX

Seven days a week 1100 AM to 10: 00 PM $2 to $24

I go to Internet sites that feature food from Houston to New Orleans. One day I noticed an establishment that started around Houston had an outpost in Beaumont. I scoped out the website and it looked interesting. I gathered some of my eating group and we had lunch there on a Saturday. It is situated in the old Don’s Seafood building. The interior seems shopworn but clean.

The breadbasket that hit the table as we sat down proved to be garlic bread made with a decent French bread. Crab Boulletes and Crab Stuffed Grilled Mushrooms appetizers were ordered for the table. The boulletes proved to a rice base product formed, coated and fried. They contained more than 50% crab and quite tasty. The mushrooms were huge and had been dewatered as not to water down the filling. That filling contained at least 75% crab and the grilling add a nice smoky flavor. Lemon butter accompanied it.

I ordered Seafood Gumbo. A very dark roux added its flavor to a superior seafood broth with a fair amount of crab and shrimp. This and the rice on the side made this a slam-dunk for me.

My baking friend went with a Shrimp Creole. It contained lots of large shrimp in a tomato sauce with onions and green peppers. My taste proved to have a bitter undertone. A little sugar could cure that. My food board friend opted for Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya. What came out could have feed at least three people with leftovers. What seemed at first to be a red i.e. tomato jambalaya prove to be coloration from the sausage which besides being smoky contained lots of paprika (Mexican influence?). My taste had a good spicy flavor profile with a well-cooked rice base and tasty chicken. My engineer friend went with Grilled Snapper. It looked perfect and was perfectly seasoned but slight overcooked which destroyed the texture. The mushrooms were so good that my sister had them for her meal.

I went with Seafood Courtbouillon. Not like the tomato based one of Southwest LA, this one was roux based with no tomato. I got a huge amount of sautéed large shrimp and crawfish along with fried catfish pieces in a dark stew like liquid with onions and bell pepper. It tasted wonderful and I liked it a lot because of the dark roux. When done properly the roux lend a roasty toasty nutty flavor to a dish.

We tried their Bread Pudding. We were put aback when it hit the table. The sauce covering it was pink like Pepto-Bismol. Once someone got the courage to taste it, it proved ok. One diner suggested a strawberry base. The bread pudding itself had peaches in it. All in all not a terrible dish as first appeared.

This is an excellent place to stop if in route on I-10 for a little different take on Cajun cuisine. We never got to chance to taste the Texas side.


Victoria’s Taqueria


Victoria’s Taqueria
1004 Broad Street
Lake Charles, LA

Monday to Saturday 6:00 AM to 4:00 PM $1.50 to $15

To a former gas station turned donut shop now comes a take away only Mexican taco venue. What is nice is they can utilize a couple of additional features if they choose to. There is a large room in front of the counter where tables and chairs could be placed so people could sit down to eat what they have gotten at the counter. It has the requisite restrooms. They also have a drive thru window that could be limited to call in and pick up orders. That would certainly make me a happy fellow.

For breakfast they have the usual suspects (egg, bacon, sausage, etc) on either corn or flour tortillas. I went for Chicharron, pork skin braised in their atomic green salsa. I love the texture and flavor so I will take the heat for this dish. The other one I went with was Nopalitos. This is Nopale cactus pedals dethorned and skinned. They cut them into strips and braise with red bell pepper and spices. They taste to me like a cross between asparagus and green beans, definitely a return item.

Lunch proteins can come in Gorditas, plate lunch with rice and beans or the taco options. Offal guy that I am I tried the Tripitas (beef intestine). This proved the mildest and beefiest thing I ate here and I loved it. For those less inclined try the Barabcoa. Nice shredded beef with a lovely flavor and back note of smoke. You will love it as I did. The two above were on corn tortillas. Gorditas are a thicker corn tortilla that is split and stuffed. You can almost eat it like a sandwich. I got Pastor (pork) and Picadillo (ground beef and potato) this way. I disliked the Pastor normally a favorite. It was gummy and odd tasting. I could only think that it had been over marinated with the pineapple juice that is part of its preparation. After the addition of salt to the Picadillo it proved alright. I prefer mine with olives and raisins.

On Tuesday and Wednesday they offer Pork Tamales. They possess an unusual white corn masa which I liked a lot. What I did not care for was the filling was a single piece of rather chewy pork in the spicy green salsa. I just could not take the heat while trying to chew the meat. Perhaps if the meat had been a large chop I would like it better. On Saturday they do Menudo. For the second time in my life hominy was not included, must be a regional thing. This one possesses honey comb tripe in a medium spicy broth with limes, chopped onions and cilantro to accompany it. It proved quite tasty.

I wish these people all the luck. I will return for Menudo and to see if the tamales change up. They also offer Horchata and Jamaica along with the regular American lineup.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I had to kill a little time before coming home because the lady who cleans my house sometimes run behind. I have noticed recently that Phil and Leona's was now just Leona's. I had to check it out. It has the same menu and the same people seem to be manning the counter and such. I got the lunch plate. Below is smothered turkey wings, potato salad and greens. Looking at those huge wing parts you may think as I did "no way they can be cooked all the way through". Not only were they cooked all the way through they were fall of the bone tender without being dry. Plastic fork tender with wonder flavor. The gravy could have use a boost. The greens were cooked with ox tail tips and the green color in the potato salad seemed to be parsley. All was good

The corn bread was sturdy (more corn meal than flour) but had an underlying sweetness I love. Went well with greens
Probably from a mix yet it added the right note of sweetness to complete the meal

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cochon coming to Lafayette

Chef Donald Link To Open Second Location of Cochon in Cajun Country
Award winning chef returns to his roots

New Orleans, Louisiana – Donald Link, chef and owner of the wildly popular Cochon Restaurant, Cochon Butcher and his flagship restaurant Herbsaint in New Orleans, has announced his plans to open a second location of Cochon Restaurant in Lafayette, Louisiana. Joined by Cochon partner Stephen Stryjewski, Link literally returns to his Cajun roots while paying homage to the rich heritage and culture of his Louisiana. Chef Link grew up in Louisiana’s Cajun Country cooking beside his grandparents in their home.

The new Cochon location, being built across from The Village of River Ranch, is situated south of the Vermillion River in the heart of southern Louisiana. Construction of the restaurant will begin in the fall, with an official opening next year. “Chef Stephen and I did extensive research to find the most natural market for our style and plan,” states Link, “but we always came back to Louisiana. It just made sense to bring it all back home.”

The property, surrounded by trees and overlooking the river, will feature a 2000 square foot deck, a bar with eating capacity up to 50, and a dining room larger than the original Cochon in the Warehouse District. Link and Stryjewski will keep the menu filled with authentic Cajun and Southern style foods they have been lauded for, while adding some new dishes that will surprise and delight local clientele. “I am very proud of the food we are crafting at Cochon and I look forward to sharing it with the people who made me who I am today,” comments Link.

Link’s flagship restaurant Herbsaint earned him a James Beard award in 2007 for Best Chef South. Gourmet Magazine has listed Herbsaint as one of the top 50 restaurants in America, and this year Herbsaint was inducted into the Nations Restaurant News Hall of Fame. Cochon was nominated in 2007 for Best New Restaurant in America by the James Beard Foundation; and was also listed in The New York Times as "one of the top 3 restaurants that count." The James Beard Foundation honored Link’s first cookbook-- Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana (Clarkson Potter) with their top award for Best American Cookbook. Released in 2009, Real Cajun is a collection of family recipes that Link has honed and perfected while honoring the authenticity of the Cajun people.

From Liz Goliwas Bodet

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I may be city born and bred but I have country blood flowing through my veins. Sometimes simple is the best. Now that tomatoes are in season, slices of salt and peppered tomato on white bread spread with Miracle Whip with a chaser of milk is what my thoughts turn to. Simply delicious. I have enhanced it just a bit by using a Cherokee tomato (heirloom variety available at our farmers market) and buttermilk. Out of this world. By the way there are two vendors selling heirlooms at the Charleston Farmers Market.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Had a coupon for a free lunch if chips and drink bought. They cost $3.09 and this is what I got. Chicken noodle soup and a beef, cheese, and bacon bullet. Not very appetizing looking and the taste follow through. Not likely to return. If they ever decide to deliver I may reconsider. The ribeye with au jus at the next table looked ok

New Chips

Discovered at Kroger's on McNeese. Are not potato chips by their very nature gluten free just like 7up never had caffeine. Whatever. There seem to be about 6 flavors and this seem to be of interest to me. It delivered on its promise of parmesan and garlic. Salty cheese and sweet yet biting garlic flavor. Ate the whole bag the same day. I have no idea if they are at any other Krogers. But if you are by the McNeese one drop in worth it.

Friday, June 11, 2010


They had rabbit on the menu but when I got there it was pork steak. But what pork steak. It was so tender it had fallen off the bone and they had to just spoon up hunks of it. Nice medium spicy gravy. I got coleslaw which had raisins and shredded cheddar in it and field peas. Sorry about the quality of the picture but I think the steam coming off the entree affected it. I was told rabbit for next week but I think I will call and check before hand

I did get a bit of lagniappe. A scoop of dewberry cobbler straight from the oven. A sweet/tart filling with a brown sugar flour crust. Delicious.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Church's Wild Wings

They have two flavors of interest to me. The one below is boneless white meat with Chile Lime. Funny thing is the nuggets are sorta shaped like chicken wing. These were excellent. A big citrus tang ( y0u could see the zest in the sauce) and a more than medium spice level. Just the way I love it. These are the traditional bone in wings with the Sweet and Spicy. Neither one came across very well. Only on one piece could I get the sweetness with a mild spice level. I think the problem here is that they pour the sauce on the wings rather than tossing them to coat.The big surprise was the new dessert. Strawberry Shortcake. They start with one of their biscuits then pour sliced strawberries with lots of juice and top with whipped cream. As you can see they are improvising on the container. The bottom is too small for the biscuit to lay flat. Although not esthetically pleasing it was delicious. I just kinda smooshed it up. The honey biscuits complement the juice and getting a crispy bit of biscuit adds to it
As the wings are $2.99 for six and the shortcake $1.29 this is a definite do over and over. At least until they stop selling them

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jo Jo's China Bistro


Jo Jo’s China Bistro
1732 West Prien Lake Road
Lake Charles, LA

7 days a week 10:30 AM to 10: 00 PM $1 to $13

It seems like fate that this venue and I should come together. The day the sign went up I was passing by so I swung in to see it up close. Keeping an eye out any time I was out that way, one day there seemed to be someone in it. There was and I got the information that opening day was the next day. I was there. I often stumble onto venues on their opening day. I usually go in just to check it out. I liked this place right off. Subtle colors and oriental touches on the walls with nothing too gaudy also not a buffet in sight and well-dressed staff. A look at the menu gave up the usual culprits but also ones I had not seen before. I started with hot tea. A habit I developed in my early days eating Chinese food. They bring a nice big pot enough for two.

They have over 30 lunch specials available on weekdays. I decided to go this route with one exception. You get choices on soup and rice. For my soup I went with Hot and Sour. It proved to be a perfect rendition with slightly thick pork broth with strips of pork and tofu with black mushrooms. It held a medium spice and a nice tang. Crispy Noodles (fried won ton strips) accompanied the soup. The deviation is that I also got an order of steamed dumplings (a favorite of mine). They possessed thick dough with seasoned meat inside. A soy and chile oil dipping sauce made it a delight. The entree, Beef with Black Pepper, turned out to be stir-fried beef strips, green pepper and onions in a dark black pepper sauce. I got steamed rice. You get two huge scoops at lunch. It was tender and flavorful

I returned Saturday with friends and some new acquaintances I opted for Egg Drop soup. The almost fluorescent broth with the flags of egg proved taster than it looked. Edamame (steamed soybean pods) and Pot Stickers were bought for the table. The soybeans were OK and the pot stickers just a pan seared and steamed version of the dumplings. The first Belgium lady ordered the House Special Lo Mein. It contained a bit of every protein tossed with fettuccine pasta in soy based sauce. My bite of it was delicious. The second Belgium lady got Hunan Shrimp. It consisted of a stir fry of shrimp, broccoli, carrot, water chestnut, mushroom, Napa cabbage and bell pepper in a light and spicy red sauce. A shrimp offered to me was perfect. My artist friend went with Spicy Scallop. They flash fried the scallops in batter then tossed them with a spicy red sauce. They sat on a bed of steamed broccoli. I received a scallop that was sweet, succulent, crispy and spicy. My particular friend opted for Kung Pao Beef. Stir-fried beef strips with celery and carrot but curiously no peanuts. The piece of beef offered me proved succulent and flavorful. When I encounter this dish, Salt Pepper Shrimp, at a Chinese restaurant I always try it. Forewarned it was cooked in shell I still went with it. I received a dozen large shrimp coated with corn starch then wok fried and tossed with a mixture of salt, black pepper and green onions. Served on Sai Fun (fried mung bean noodles) the shell proved edible (I am Cajun, I eat shrimp tails). Peeling them would not only be messy but would leave most the flavor behind. I enjoyed it but it not something I would recommend for most people.

Last foray was a lunch date with part of my eating group. Won Ton soup was ordered. It proved classic with a clear chicken broth with dumplings. My baking friend went with General Tso Chicken. Pretty ordinary except for the slices of jalapeno floating in the sauce. My food board friend got the Almond Chicken. A stir-fry with coated chicken pieces and vegetable with almonds on top. My sister’s Snow Pea Chicken (not coated) contained lots of vegetables and snow peas. All the tidbits that came my way tasted wonderful. I went a different route. I started with a large bowl of soup (Sizzling Rice) and supplemented with appetizers, an impromptu dim sum. Except for the rice that did not sizzle it proved to be a clear broth soup with an assortment of meats and seafood cooked perfectly. The Shrimp Roll was fried rice paper wrapped around some tasty shrimp with a sweet sour dipping sauce, delicious. Then came the clunker. The BBQ Ribs were too big and undercooked with a very peculiar tasting sauce, not for me.

All said and done this place is a keeper. Excellent professional service with dishes cooked a little different than most Chinese places in town. I highly recommend it with one caveat. They do not serve alcohol

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cajun Singles

As you can see I found a new one. An Italian would hate it. The sauce is too soupy and pasta not al dente. Me I love it. A wonderful butter and garlic sauce with nice soft past and plenty of small shrimp. I think I finally got the knack of heating it. None of the shrimp were overcooked. A definite repurchase. I hope you all appreciate my efforts as I had pass on my favorite Spaghetti and Tomato sauce that eats like sauce piquante