Friday, September 30, 2011

I Monneli 4017 Johnston St Lafayette, LA 70503 337-989-9291

This time the Bargain Bee led me to an authentic treasure. Perhaps the finest Italian food I have had in a while. Fresh ingredients and simple but precise cooking make it so. Below is the bread basket and butter.

Next I got an Oyster Rockefeller soup. The only oyster was the fried one you see floating. The soup was a creamy spinach with nice taste. It was like eating liquefied rockefeller base. It was a perfect riff on the dish in soup form. I enjoyed every spoonful

Sorry the mozzarella came out looking little yellow. This Salad Caprese was perfect. The perfectly ripe romas and fresh mozzarella with the pesto sauce tasted as a Caprese should taste. No fiddling around just clean pure tastes from the field.

I love mussels and the simpler the prep the better I like them. A simple lemon and butter sauce with tarragon. Great I would have been happier if they had been fuller but sometimes they are not. Nothing that can be done with them. I used up the rest of the bread to sop up the broth.

Not many restaurants bring a palate cleanser to the table these days. But they did. A lemon sorbet or sorbette.

I have a soft spot for soft shell crabs and these were prepared perfectly. Fried with a light coating and topped with lump crab to bring out the crab flavor. The simple and delicious butter sauce helped that along. The squash was great also.

I did not much care for my hazelnut mousse. It was fine but I was looking for tiramisu or cannoli to end this superb meal.

I would certainly return anytime to fabulous venue

I Monelli

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Guadalajara 4414 Dowlen, Beaumont, Texas (409) 924-7718

I do not know if this place is related the Guadalajara recently closed in Sulphur. When I reviewed it certainly did have the same menu. The chip were just out of the fryer, hot, thin and corny. The salsa a little cold just the way I like it and a bit spicy. Perfect

Below is one of my new favorites in Mexican cuisine. Tostadas de Ceviche. Two tostadas with ceviche (shrimp, tilapia, and calamari) sour cream,lettuce, and shredded cheese topped with sliced avocado. Unfortunately their too much shredded lettuce. I knock most that off. They start with a tostado. The sour cream comes next in a thin layer. Then the marinated seafood, lettuce, shredded cheese (white fresca) and avocado slices. It is a surprising combo that works for me. Crispy, creamy, tart, and unctuous

I know this as Coctel de Camerone but they call it Shrimp Cocktail here. 12 jumbo shrimp in our special cocktail sauce with pico de gallo and sliced avocados served with crackers I dived right in but it did not have the heat level I am use to. It dawns on me that the Valentino sauce they brought with it (bottle hiding behind the goblet) was so I could spice to what level I want. I made one mistake however. I did not mix it enough. There was a tomato pico at the bottom which should have been brought up to the top in the beginning. I was left with it and no shrimp. Still very good and I would order it again

Tres leches cake was thoroughly moist and the best I have had in awhile. Another plus for this place

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Dippity 815 S. Main St., Lumberton, Tx (409) 755-3632

Had to return to try The Texas Tummy Tackler. Below is the excellent onion rings. Cut medium in a batter. You must eat it first because it goes sideways after they cool off. One of the disadvantages of using a batter

Here it is. I liked this big burger rather than two or three patties stack as they throw of the balance of bread and burger. They started out as a donut shop and bakery. No donuts but they bake their own bun every day. As you can see a nice patty crisp on the edges with nice melted cheese and three crisp pieces of bacon. These day I 86 lettuce and pickles and am about to forgo tomatoes. In future it will be just mayo, mustard, and onions. If this place bargain bees again I will purchase it. The burger is that good

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Bella Figura 2207-I Kaliste Saloom Road Lafayette, LA 70508-6671 (337) 216-6660

Another high end Italian in Lafayette. It was good but I prefer I Monelli. One nice thing here is they ask you if what white or wheat baguette. I went with wheat which turned out to be a multigrain half baguette. I know it is par baked but still delicious.

Below is the dipping sauce of olive oil and balsamic. Why the shredded parmesan beats me

Next comes the Arancini Riso. Crisp golden risotto balls stuffed with spinach & Italian cheeses, lightly battered and flash fried with homemade tomato sauce . I love this dish. The balls were not quite the size of oranges and lacked the peas I am use to but they were good as was the marinara sauce under it. Obviously freshly cooked but not over cooked.

I then had a Pear and Gorgonzola salad with Mixed Greens, Spiced Pecan and an Herbed
Cane Vinaigrette. Very nice especially the vinaigrette which was both sweet and tart

Now the big gun a Braised Pork Shank . Slow-Cooked Pork Shank served with Spicy
Italian Polenta and topped with a Chipotle au jus. They also surrounded it with the cooked vegetables. It is basically a pork osso buco. The meat very tender and the chipotle sauce adding just the right. Under it one the best polenta dishes I have eaten. Truly a masterpiece.

The creme brulee had the perfect crust but the custard was too thin and over cooked

Bella Figura

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You Don't Know Jack

You Don’t Know Jack
504 North Beglis Parkway
Sulphur LA

10:00 AM to 10:00PM Everyday $3 to $25

I am sure that many of you ate at Chinese King Downtown until it closed its doors. After a short hiatus Jack Wong is back cooking. This truck stop casino restaurant carries a dual menu. One side is Cajun with burgers, fried seafood and such. The other side is Asian including some dishes from his original establishment.

On the Cajun side none of his appetizers stuck me. I went with a Small Combo seafood platter. It consisted of two oysters, four shrimp, a huge fish fillet and a fried crab cake. Except for the crab cake they were all coated in the same standard corn flour/corn meal mixture. Good for the oysters and fish less so for the shrimp. The oyster were moist and the fish perfect, crispy crust and moist interior. The shrimp were fried properly but the coating still bothered me. The crab cake had surimi in it. However the coleslaw proved wonderful. It seemed to have been made fresh with a slightly sweet mayonnaise dressing and still crunchy. The tartar sauce was too dilly for me. The real disaster was the vastly overcooked crème brule. Maybe it was just a bad baking day. Another customer was noshing on a really nice looking beef sandwich with au jus to dip it in.

On the Asian side I got Pot Stickers. They turned out to be vegetarian but delicious. The spicy soy based dipping sauce certainly helped that. Then a Spicy and Sour soup came out. It lived up to its name being nice and spicy with a sour vinegar kick. It contained tofu, mushrooms, green onions, etc. A bit off putting at first but it grew on me. For the entrée I got Tong Cho Chicken. I love Tong Cho sauce but I have never had it with chicken before. This turned out to be a delight. Boneless white and dark meat cut up and flash fried then put into a dark spicy/sweet sauce. The chicken pieces held their crunch and the contrast with the sauce made for fine eating. Spicy/sweet happens to be my favorite combo. I ate every bite of chicken then used my rice to sop up the sauce. I was very happy. I tried the other dessert on the menu, Fried Ice Cream. I found the rice cereal like crust off putting. It came with a sweet vanilla sauce.

The menu on line is more extensive than the one they handed me the last time. They may be expanding it or maybe it shrunk. I do not know but I will try to go back in about a month and find out. The on-line menu had some interesting stuff. Watch the blog. This however is a golden opportunity for devoted customers of Chinese King to relive those days.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cotton's 2001 Oak Park Blvd 337-477-9759

An old favorite comes up with a Bargain Bee. One of the few places I know when I order an hamburger steak that it will be made from fresh ground beef and not a pre-fab slab of meat. It met all expectations with it's grilled onion topping and string onion rings with just a flour coating. The salad was ok as was the Texas toast but the real star was the perfectly cooked beef. Also perfectly seasoned.

They have Mrs Johnnies pies, tea cakes and planks. I eat at every opportunity I get and have never been disappointed.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cafe Piquet 5757 Bissonnet Street Bellaire, TX 77401 (713) 664-1031

This a Cuban restaurant. Below is Tostones (Fried Green Plantains) with garlic oil on the side. You peal an unripe plantain and cut into sections. The longer the section the larger the tostone will be. You pan fry the cylinders but not all the way through. Then it is squashed into a round and refried. They are not sweet but have a lovely starchy flavor. The garlic oil adds a new dimension.

I then order a combo platter called the La Rumba. It contained Ropa Vieja, Pernil, Picadillo,arroz blanco, yucca con mojo,platanos maduros That translates to Shredded beef, pork roast topped with garlic and Cuban ground beef served with white rice, yucca with garlic and ripe platains. Going around the rice at the top is the pork. Hunks of braised pork in a Mojo (sour citrus marinade) with the garlic in oil on top. Tender and tasty. Next is the beef. Very much like shredded pork but beef. It came with onions on top. Ok. Next is the boiled yucca with the garlic oil on top. Very starchy and now I know I prefer the fried kind. Then comes the ground beef dish. It is basically ground beef cooked with peas, potatoes, tomatoes and carrots with capers. I really liked this. I have fixed a similar dish. Last is the fried sweet platains. They were quite lovely. Sweet and little greasy but in a good way

I had Tres leches Three milk cake for dessert. Nice presentation but the top third of the cake was not soaked and tasted like it had been hanging around awhile

All in all a nice restaurant and I would go back because there is so much more on the menu. I just wanted to hit the traditional stuff.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Kitchen 417 Prewitt Street Lake Charles, LA 70601-6014 (337) 436-1444

I have followed the three incarnations of this place over the years from the shack (plate lunch out a window no interior seating) to the present location. I do not frequent as much as I should. That is why I loved it when they went Bargain Bee. Below is the cornbread and cake you get with a plate lunch plus an extra piece of cornbread because I knew I was going to need it. Cornbread slightly on the sweet side which I love. Cake some moist lemon bunt

The reason I only g0 here on Tuesdays. Ox tail my favorite. Here they have it sliced unlike most places that do by the joint. Fork tender and flavorful like usual. I got mustard greens and cabbage hence the need for two pieces of cornbread. Both well smothered and spiced.

Instead of rice or mashed potatoes I got sweet potato in a cinnamon syrup

The Kitchen

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pappy's 2627 Ryan St # A Lake Charles, LA 70601-7325 (337) 436-2813

Bargain Bee time. The gumbo here is consistent and good. Nice dark roux, fair amount of boneless chicken and a decent sausage. The rice is cooked to my taste and the potato salad has sweet relish. Virtually all my favorite flavors. Garlic toast a nice touch.
This out of focus kibbie probably deserves to be out of focus. It consisted of 90% bulgar shell with 10% meat. Not good
I have not had the shrimp remoulade po boy in years. Again as good as it ever was. I just wish they would toast the bread a bit more. I am not one for lettuce on po boys and hamburgers but this shredded lettuce worked for me. Listen I am so old that I remember Pappy's as a convenience store with a huge magazine area which had a nice selection of naughty mags.
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Auntie Chang 2621 South Shepherd Dr # 290 Houston, TX 77098-1596 (713) 524-8410

A recent foray into Houston and I had a voucher for a dumpling house. They had a number of condiments on each table to mix up your customized dipping sauce. They contained plum sauce, mustard, ginger oil, red chile oil, jalapeno oil, and soy sauce. I loved it.
To eat up all of the voucher I went old school and they obliged by being old school with the Shrimp toast. A layer of shrimp paste on plain bread in the right proportion. Tasted wonderful
Hot oil sesame noodles was an attempt to replicate a similar dish I have had in Houston. However not the same but good. This was sorta of like Bun but with heat hot sesame poured over noodles and finished with chopped peanuts. It was mildly spicy.
On to the dumplings They had Pork dumpling pot stickers which were good. I had fun creating different dipping sauces from the pots.
They had a combo of 2 each steamed pork, chicken, spinach, and shrimp dumplings. I really prefer steamed. Same pork mixture as the pot sticker. The chicken was ok. Spinach was surprisingly good and the shrimp really nice. Interesting menu and I would return to other things
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Auntie Chang

Friday, September 9, 2011

Big Al's Fried Chicken 3669 5th Avenue Lake Charles, LA 70607 (337) 478-0818

Again I found myself on the south end of town heading home and hungry not wanted to fix anything at the house. I pop by my savior on such occasions. This time I went with a three piece mixed fried chicken. As wonderful as the first time. A simple seasoned crispy flour crust. The meat juicy with some evidence of marination. The heat level is just below medium and compliments the meat rather than overpowering it. I will continue to go here as long as they are open

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Big Al's

Creole Cream Cheese

My favorite so far. Creole cream cheese is a product that was as far as I know a New Orleans phenomenon. Back 4o or 50 years ago every milk company in the city made their own version . It slowly faded out but had a rebirth when Maute family started making it again and selling at the farmers market. Several family dairies jump on board as did John Folse. It is made by separating the cream from the milk. Then the milk is coagulated. The curds are drained until a soft product is obtain. It is then put in a container and the cream added back to it. Some just pour the cream over the proto-cheese while others give a little mix. Either way you wind up with a creamy rich product with a pronounced tang. In the day most was eaten for breakfast either with fruit or salt and pepper. These days in New Orleans you see a lot of ice cream and cheesecakes made with it. This is the best of the ice creams. It maintains the integrity of the product while giving a rich creamy mouthfeel. Again the tartness cuts through the taste bud cloying of the cream to allow you eat it spoonful after spoonful. I have been very busy but I hope to run by Albertsons to see what flavors they have. Adrian I am ready for my next shipment.
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Cajun Rum Raisin

I saved my two favorites for last. I have tasted both before. I like this one because of the add ins go figure. The raisin are a dried fruit and absorb the rum so they are tender with no chewy skin. The rum which is made in New Orleans in especially smooth with no raw alcohol taste. But the killer add in is the cayenne pepper. They use just the right amount. First taste is the creamy ice cream then a faint heat after you swallow. Just a pleasant warmth that cut through the creamy mouth feel of the ice cream. For me that prepares my palate for the next spoon. I do not get that taste bud fatigue of a constanly sweet and fatty taste spoonful after spoonful. I just love it. If you have not figured it out yet I love spicy sweet.
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