2011 New Orleans - Slim Goodies Breakfast - Creole Slammer

That I opted for the Creole Slammer at Slim Goodies over the Jewish Coonass is to say I chose hash browns over potato latkes. The dish, pictured, above was topped with over-easy eggs and bathed in crawfish etouffee. As I was unfamiliar with the term “coonass,” and since it sounds incredibly derogatory I investigated. Despite its disputed origin, the term it isn’t so bad when Cajuns say it to each other and its use may have led to the Cajun people being recognized as a distinct ethnic group.

2011 New Orleans - Slim Goodies Breakfast - Facade

The biscuit was such a welcome addition, I ordered another. If I ate this way every day, I would certainly die. But then again, I will certainly die some day, so I should enjoy these breakfasts while I can, no? After riding bikes around town for most of the afternoon Sunday, this certainly broke my fast like a sledgehammer.

2011 New Orleans - Slim Goodies Breakfast - Dining Room

Slim Goodies’ decor endeared me to them just as much as the food. Gorgeous letterpress posters from some of my favorite shops fill the walls, including Yee Haw Industries (Knoxville, Tn.) and probably some from Hatch Show Print (Nashville), and Standard Deluxe (Waverly, Al.). Check out the back patio for some wandering chickens, shaded tables, and creepy statues.

Skip produces The Gourmetro. Check out his published works on Aisle 9, and talk with him on Twitter.

2011 New Orleans - New Orleans On Tap Beer Festival - Beer Taste 2011 New Orleans - New Orleans On Tap Beer Festival - City Park 2011 New Orleans - New Orleans On Tap Beer Festival - LA 31 Boucanee Smoked Wheat Beer Label 2011 New Orleans - New Orleans On Tap Beer Festival - LA 31 Boucanee Smoked Wheat Beer 2011 New Orleans - New Orleans On Tap Beer Festival - Dan and Elisa

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2011 New Orleans - New Orleans On Tap Beer Festival - LA 31 Boucanee Smoked Wheat Beer

After landing a bit behind schedule at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, Elisa and I got a quick pint-and-slice at New York Pizza. With an Abita Amber and Lazy Magnolia Jefferson Stout, we headed downtown to the New Orleans On Tap beer festival.

The most interesting taste: Bayou Teche Biere LA 31 Boucanee. This cherry-wood smoked wheat beer tasted like smoked gouda, and is certainly not a session beer. In fact, I would probably only drink this with food. Salty, smokey, cheesy, delicious food.

That’s it for this mini-post, folks. I’ll be in town all week writing and shooting.

Skip produces The Gourmetro. Check out his published works on Aisle 9, and talk with him on Twitter.

2011 New Orleans - New Orleans On Tap Beer Festival - Beer Taste 2011 New Orleans - New Orleans On Tap Beer Festival - City Park 2011 New Orleans - New Orleans On Tap Beer Festival - LA 31 Boucanee Smoked Wheat Beer Label 2011 New Orleans - New Orleans On Tap Beer Festival - LA 31 Boucanee Smoked Wheat Beer 2011 New Orleans - New Orleans On Tap Beer Festival - Dan and Elisa

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Whenever I meet someone new and tell them I’m a chef, they usually get all excited and ask something along the lines of, “Ooo, what did you make for dinner last night?,” or “You must eat so well!”  The truth is, most chefs I know eat quite poorly.  Think about the lifestyle of a cook: you’re either getting up at 4 a.m. to go bake bread all day, or getting back home at 3 a.m. after standing and roasting meat all night.  You eat at weird times of the day, sometimes spend hours tasting minor variations of the same sauce, will occasionally stuff your face with leftover pasta, and many times your only meal is the wings & beer you have after work.  Pretty much the least healthy lifestyle ever, and it hardly leaves any time for home cooking.

About a year ago, I realized the toll that making $10/hour, not having health insurance, and sleeping at strange times of the day was having on my health.  I was cranky, not sleeping well, and completely antisocial due to my strange work schedule.  Thankfully, I found a job with some great women where I earn a living wage, have health insurance, and have Saturday and Sunday off.  Sure, I still work a lot, but it’s on a much more reasonable scale.

Now that I’ve finished steamrolling myself with restaurant jobs, I’ve realized how sad it is that this is an acceptable way of life for cooks and chefs.  Even where I work now, most of my co-workers (and those of the companies we share our kitchen space with) don’t take time to eat healthy meals, or will work through the whole day without taking time to eat.  Sometimes there will be scraps of cake, marshmallows, or whatever someone is making that we’ll all descend upon, but spending the day eating cake makes most of us less than pleasant to be around.

Personally, after working in pastry kitchens for a few years, I was prone to this syndrome as well.  I don’t have the willpower of many chefs, and would taste test ice cream and eat cupcake scraps ALL DAY.  This lead to severe sugar crashes and an uptick in my anxiety.  Now, I’ve realized that this is an absurd way to live, especially for a chef.  Aren’t we supposed to be setting the example for our society, emphasizing the importance of cooking to a healthy lifestyle?  Yet none of us eat breakfast or cook our own meals?

So now I’m on a crusade, attempting to convert my co-workers and friends to the world of healthy eating.  I mean, how easy is it to make a healthy breakfast?  SO EASY, you guys.  Grab a yogurt.  Pour some milk over cereal.  Spread some peanut butter on a piece of bread.  This is not about perfecting your omelet technique at 7:30 in the morning.  This is stuff you can do before you’ve had the benefit of coffee.  As for me, I’m making homemade salads and snacking on Siggi’s yogurt, but I don’t expect to convert everyone overnight.  All I ask is that the first thing you eat be something that’s good for you.  Is that such a lofty goal?

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Bell, Book and Candle: Brunch, Patty Melt with Pimms Cup

I’d nearly forgotten the art of brunch: delicious food with a couple of strong (yet appropriate) drinks to help facilitate the transition between Saturday night, Sunday afternoon, and the eventual return of the workweek. Coffee is usually a welcome addition. French fries are practically mandatory.

Bell, Book and Candle: Hanging Basil Cocktail

A few weeks ago, I went to Bell Book and Candle with my friend Lyssa, one of their hosts, and had quite the brunch. The space, a quietly marked basement on West 10th Street, formerly a laundromat, feels cozy and detached from the rest of the city. Each of the three main rooms have a different feel, from the spacious bar, to the long grey banquettes in the main room and the plush blue booths before the kitchen. Adding to the seating options, there is a rough-hewn 12-top chef’s table in the kitchen, and a cozy (cramped) 4-person secret room.

Bell, Book and Candle: Front Bar

It was a early on a quiet, grey Sunday, and daylight savings time had just sprung into effect and I had BBC mostly to myself. Cat, the brunch bartender, started me off with one of the house specials: The Hanging Basil. It had been a rough Saturday night, so instead of chile-infused vodka, she used kaffir lime-infused Hangar One.

Bell, Book and Candle: Beau Soleil Oysters

I lingered over the drink while and let myself get completely torn between the lobster taco and a half-dozen $1 Beau Soleil oysters, the crowd-pleaser or a personal favorite. As per usual, oysters won. When I go back, I’ll fight the oyster urge and try the taco. No promises, though. I love being near the sea, and oysters taste just like the sea.

Bell, Book and Candle: Front Bar, Reception

It was an unexpectedly warm day and after the Hanging Basil was empty and the shells were turned over, I asked Kat for a Pimm’s Cup and she happily obliged, throwing in a few dashes of cherry bitters (from an impressive collection) for good measure.

Bell, Book and Candle: Brunch, Patty Melt with Pimms Cup

The Patty Melt, medium-rare and beautifully cooked, won out over “gin and tonic” organic salmon. I am a simple guy, I guess, and tend to find salmon unflappably boring. I am a fan of the gin and tonic, but that wasn’t enough. Yawn, though I am sure it would have been well-cooked. The combination of rich, rare beef and “vintage” cheddar was exactly what my healing body wanted.

Bell, Book and Candle: Light

 

Bell, Book and Candle: Booth 2

 

Bell, Book and Candle: Statue

Bell, Book and Candle: Entrance

Bell, Book and Candle: Signage

Bell Book and Candle was talked about a bit last fall on Eater, The New York Times, and Grub Street, to name a few. That story at Eater has a great video from ABC Nightline that includes the restaurant’s extensive hydroponic rooftop garden. I can’t wait to go back.

Skip produces The Gourmetro. While he finds french fries an essential part of a good brunch, he sometimes substitutes them for raw oysters. Check out his published works on Aisle 9, and talk with him on Twitter.

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Dinner Alone - Australian Shiraz It wasn’t until I turned on the ignition leaving work that I finally decided what to make for dinner last night. I found myself in the somewhat unusual situation of being alone in the house. No blaring television, no loud post-work phone calls, just Grace the Cat and me with bottle of wine.

Dinner Alone - Sliced Potatoes In honor of my good friend Kim Sunee’s birthday, I set out to make one of my favorite bistro meals: hanger steak with shallot sauce, sauteed garlic string beans, and gratin dauphinoise. Simple and elegant are typically what I aim for, and I did not let myself down. On the way home, I stopped at the earthier grocery store and couldn’t find a hanger steak, or even a flank. Instead of opting for its tougher sibling, the skirt steak, I went with a flatiron.

Dinner Alone - Gratin Dauphinoise CreamUnpacking the groceries, I poured the last inky, smooth glass of a 2005 Kilikanoon Shiraz. It soothed my nerves while running potatoes through the mandolin, an expedient but moderately terrifying task. Potatoes are one of the perfect fat delivery vehicles, and gratin dauphinoise is such a deliciously simple dish, consisting of thinly sliced potatoes, salt, pepper, cream and freshly ground nutmeg (I added some gruyere cheese, which is not traditional).

Dinner Alone - Green Bean Ends Once in the oven, green beans were prepped, blanched and cooled, and the steak was generously patted down with salt and pepper. With 45 minutes left on the timer I did the dishes and listened to an episode of The Dinner Party Download, which kept me very entertained as I finished the glass of shiraz.

Dinner Alone - Sauteed Green Beens The steak sauteed in canola for about 6 minutes while the garlic and string beans finished up on another burner. The decadent red-wine shallot sauce came together during the steak’s resting period and before long the gratin finished up.

Dinner Alone - Final Plate (pulled back) Sitting down at the red-clothed table with Grace by my side (she sits at the table on her own stool), I imagined being at a small, loud, crowded cafe in St. Germain-Des-Pres. I only wish I had picked up some oysters, but didn’t linger long on the thought. A glass of bright (brash?) Rioja provided a tart companion to the otherwise decadent meal.

Skip produces The Gourmetro. His family cat, Grace, eats at the table with him nightly. Aging and no longer content eating pet food, she eats canned tuna fish from her own little plate. Check out his published works on Aisle 9, and talk with him on Twitter.

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