Wednesday, 22 February 2012

One more feast before the fast

Me, Kayce, Kim and Donna
Just one more feast (New Orleans style, of course), before the fasting of Lent begins. And what better way to do it than with friends! If there's something you need to know about my friend Kayce before reading further, is that if you give her a theme, she runs with it...full speed ahead! She hosted us at her house for a Mardi Gras party with a few other friends and we had a great time. She really outdid herself with decorations, themed food provided by all and even crafts for the kids! On the menu: Tadd's gumbo, Kayce's andouille sausage and chicken pasta, Keith's fried shrimp, grouper and amberjack, king cake, bread pudding, moon pies, and hurricanes to drink!


What's a party without karaoke? Well, no party at all if you ask me!
Who are these masked beauties?
Beads and Libations
Great conversation always happens around a deep fryer if you ask the men!
"Let the Good Times Roll!"

So I have let the good times roll and roll, and the "rolls" are now appearing all over my body. In fact, there were many more cute pics I could've included on this post from our fun night, but I refused because of my multiple chins in most of them. I'm definitely ready to simplify my food, and life and start learning to give things up instead of giving in so often. I look forward to sharing with you some of the things our family does over the next 40 days as we prepare our hearts and home for our Savior's death and resurrection!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Chow Fest 2012 Day 5

Our last day we decided to enjoy the Embassy Suites breakfast since we would be leaving before lunchtime. So I had my omelet again, and also indulged in a biscuit with some insane gravy. When I took my first bite, Tadd saw my eyes roll back in my head, so he hurried up for one too. The lady said, "Your wife tell you about the gravy, so you had to have some too?" I guess we communicated without words, but he got the picture. The gravy was New Orleans style with little spice, peppers, onions, and some yummy sausage. SO good! I ran over to the Riverwalk to grab the kiddos some fudge from my favorite childhood place, The Fudgery!

Now, it was good, but not as good as I remember it. As an adult, fudge addict (I make a dang good batch myself), it is just ok. But it is fun to watch them make. They put it on these marble slabs, and swirl it in the air with giant wooden paddles. I have fond memories of sitting there mesmerized as I watched them flip and twirl that smooth chocolate in the air.

Tadd got the car packed and got us checked out of the hotel and picked me up from the mall and we made our way out of town. As we were driving down Poydras, we saw a most glorious sight (insert angels singing here). It was Mother's, in all of it's glory.

Now I promise you, due to our huge breakfast, we had no intentions of eating lunch, but when your "Mother" calls, you answer...and we did. So we stopped for a Famous Ferdi Special. Sounds crazy, but it is so good (trust me, the pictures do not do it justice). Mother's famous ham, roast beef, "debris," gravy, and creole mustard on french bread. We got it to go with the intention of waiting awhile to eat it, but it smelled too good. We couldn't wait. These pictures were made at Tadd's feet on the floorboard (shameless) as he "dressed" the sandwich with debris (little pieces of meat and juice from the bottom of the roast beef pan...yum). Ratings: Tadd-9 Holly-9

The Famous Ferdi did not disappoint, and was the perfect ending to our New Orleans culinary adventure. We hope you enjoyed the ride as much as we did (or as much as you can without actually tasting the food!). I'll follow up later with some additional posts with pics from our sightseeing!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Chow Fest 2012 Day 4

Day 4 in the Crescent City was good to us. However, I decided to start the day a bit healthier. My stomach was mad at me all night the night before. Could've possibly been the 2 lbs of butter that was in my dinner. So if you've ever stayed at an Embassy Suites, you know how good the breakfast is. I love an omelet bar! So I started my day with an egg white omelet with spinach, tomatoes, and a tiny bit of cheese, and a piece of wheat toast. Just the fuel I needed to get me through the day of walking that was ahead of us. We walked for miles and miles, and had the most beautiful day to do it! We made our way to the French Quarter and French Market. On the way, we stopped in Jackson Square mall. There were some very nice folks luring us in with talk of a free sample massage. Well, I'll tell you right now, if you ever stop for a "sample" massage, you can count on it that you are going to pay for the rest of it. We ended up staying for 10 minute chair massages. Best ever. No lie. I will go to the mall for a chinese massage now instead of a fancy $80 spa massage. They get down to business and it was awesome. Anywho, onto the food.

As we strolled through the French Market, I decided it was 5:00 somewhere, and I needed a cocktail. And it was unseasonably warm, so I decided to go with the Louisiana Lemonade.
Tasty little concoction from the Organic Banana Juice Bar made with some fabulous lemonade and rum, and a bunch of other goodness. The bad thing about this drink, is it went too fast! If you are ever in N.O. in the summertime or a warm day, stop by for one of these tasty cocktails!

Day 4 Lunch (Holly): Cafe Beignet

The good thing about eating veggies for breakfast, is you get to eat beignets for lunch! Tadd was supposed to partake in these with me, but had his mind set on boiled shrimp. Now tell me what you would choose if you had the choice?

We always go to Cafe Du Monde when we go to N.O. but saw this one on the Food Network (shocker), and just had to give it a try.

Now, I am a lover of Cafe Du Monde (and my sisters will probably argue this one), but I think Cafe Beignet's are better! Seriously! Crusty on the outside, super soft and steamy hot on the inside, and as you can see, generously doused with powdered sugar. So good! I ate 1 1/2 of these for my lunch and we took them back to the hotel for an afternoon snack! My comparison in the two would be like Starbucks and your local favorite coffee shop. Starbucks is so yummy, but there is one on every corner, and they are inconsistent. I would imagine that if I lived in N.O. Cafe Beignet would be where the locals go. Oh, and they have regular food too, so you can get a sandwich first if you choose to eat real food for lunch unlike myself! Rating: beignets I've ever had!

Day 4-Lunch (Tadd)-Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House. We made a stop to fulfill Tadd's shrimp craving. He ordered the boiled shrimp and this is what he got...
...just enough shrimp to make you mad...four to be exact!. They were big and fresh though, and I didn't eat them, but Tadd enjoyed them. I did dip a cracker in the remoulade, and it was delicious! Rating: Tadd-9

Day 4-Dinner- The beignets and shrimp served their purpose. They tided us over for the main event (insert big booming voice guy saying "Let's get ready to rumblllllllllle! here). Our plan for dinner was to eat at Commander's Palace. We drove uptown to eat there and you had to have a reservation to get in. So goes the never-ending marital argument of planning vs. just rolling with it. But it all worked out in the end, because we headed over to our second choice, Galatoire's. They don't take reservations, and being just a party of two, we got in pretty quickly, although the place was packed! Men have to wear a jacket there, so I felt like I was in a scene from a John Grisham novel. Very southern chic. The atmosphere was so cool, and our waiter had been working there for 25 years, so it is steeped in tradition as well! I will warn you that this is not the most frugal place to eat, but a perfect place to celebrate a special occasion...such as your 40th birthday! Galatoire's is right smack dab in the middle of Bourbon St. It is so funny that this fancy place is right in the middle of all of those party bars and strip clubs. But people definitely put on their Sunday's best and show up for dinner!

We started with a cup of seafood gumbo each. It was made with a light brown roux, like my dad makes (and my Maw-Maw used to :( ). It had shrimp, crabmeat and oysters (Tadd ate my oysters). It was really good gumbo with the perfect amount of spice. I will say that Tadd makes the best gumbo I've ever had, so this would have to be 2nd or 3rd best I've had.

Next, we split a wedge salad. Here is a picture after Tadd covered his with black pepper. Best blue cheese dressing I've ever had, but Stoney River's wedge salad is better in my very humble opinion.
We shared our main dish. We ordered redfish and au gratin potatoes. The fish was covered in a lemon, butter, caper sauce. It was so fresh and delicious. Good fresh, fish needs very little done to it to make it tasty. The sauce was perfect. Not overpowering at all. The potatoes were tasty as well. I don't think there are too many foods I like out there as much as cheesy potatoes. These were really good!

Redfish (this is a half serving)


Dessert was chosen by Tadd tonight because I got to pick our Nola dessert. He picked pecan pie. We took it back to the hotel because we were stuffed to the gills after dinner. I actually (don't faint) only took 2 bites of it. Pecan pie does not tempt me. I do have a separate stomach for dessert usually, but I was so full that I couldn't do it. If it was chocolate cake, I'd have made room for it. It had an chocolate cookie crust and was drizzled with chocolate sauce. Tadd finished the whole thing. He claims that next to Nola, it is the best pecan pie he's ever had (don't tell his mama). Ratings are going to be hard for this because we ate EVERY COURSE on the menu. We have lots to factor in, so here goes. Based on all of the information we have given you, here are our ratings. Tadd- 7.75 Holly-8

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Chow Fest 2012-Day 3

First off, to start off this day, let me just say that if you are in need to put on a quick 20 pounds, follow our suggestions on where and what to eat. I will say this. We are walking everywhere. One of our favorite things about New Orleans is that you can walk just about everywhere and see so many cool things. Yesterday, while in Biloxi, I took my poor husband on an all day shopping extravaganza at the outlets in Gulfport. He was not thrilled. But again, we were burning off calories. Ok, enough about that. Onto the adventure!

For breakfast today, I took my voucher for a free breakfast buffet at the casino while Tadd slept in. I had french toast, a cinnamon roll, eggs and grits and coffee. Shut up. I know it's a lot of food, but I knew it was going to be later before we got to N.O. to eat lunch. I had to fuel up people. And I have difficulties at buffets. I feel like I need to eat a little of everything. It's a problem, I know. Anyway, I brought Tadd a muffin and a banana (the only fruit or veggie you will hear about today), and we hit the road! No ratings for breakfast. It was a buffet. You don't need my ratings to know what it was like.

Day 3-Lunch: So we started getting nervous about our lunch choice. We had seen it on the Food Network several times, and we were gun shy based on our experience with Blow Fly yesterday. We proceeded though with hopes that since Emeril loves it, that we would too. We arrived atDomilise's around 2:00 p.m. Can I just say right now that this is one of the fun things to me about traveling without kids. You can eat when you are hungry. Not when they are!

As we pulled up, we could smell the seafood frying from outside! My french toast had worn off and I was ready to EAT! My wise husband reminded me though that we would need to be hungry for dinner, so we decided to split a small shrimp po-boy.

Now, being from the Gulf coast, I've had many a shrimp po-boy. This one was special. The breading on the shrimp was perfectly crunchy and golden. The perfectly petite crustaceans were laid to rest upon crusty french bread and topped with lettuce, tomato (yeah, we ate veggies!), mayo and Crystal hot sauce. I can't explain the flavor, except perfection. I am one who usually eats tarter sauce on my po-boy, but I decided to let the pros guide me here. I'm mighty glad I did!

Top it off with Zapps Spicy Cajun Craw Tators, and you are set my friend. It was a tasty start to our time here in the Big Easy! Ratings: Tadd-9, Holly-9

Tad and Holly after our po-boy
Day 3-Dinner: After checking in the hotel and walking around for a few hours, mama was hungry again! So we headed to Tadd's favorite place for oysters, Drago's! This place surprised us on our last visit here, as it is in the lobby of the Hilton. Tadd hasn't quit talking about the grilled oysters since then! We ordered a dozen of them and crab au gratin. Yummy! Now, I do not eat oysters, but Tadd made me try them.

I ate 2. They were so good. They grill them while covering them in a buttery sauce (video below...if it works). It is served with grilled, garlic french bread and lemons. And the au gratin was cheesy and full of fresh, lump, crab and filling. Just delicious! Ratings: Tadd-10 (he wants to specify that these are the best grilled oysters he's ever had, not the best food). Holly-8.5

Day 3-Dessert: Don't judge. You would eat like this if you were here too. And in all fairness, we ate two appetizers for dinner (even thought they were both bigger than my face). We planned to walk to Nola, but it was raining, so we took a cab.

When we got there, we saw that they were filming a movie in the bar across the street. I tried to get a part as an extra, but they said I was too fabulous. Ha! Anyway, the movie was calledNow You See Me starring Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman and Woody Harelson. We got to see Mark Ruffalo! I love a star spotting.

Anyway, onto the real star of the night...Emeril's King Cake bread pudding! It was served with creole cream cheese ice cream, strawberry compote and pecan streusel. It was absolutely divine. I loved it so much. It was rich, but not too sweet, moist and perfect in every way. I'm ashamed to say that we both dug into it before we remembered to take a picture. Sorry it's not very pretty!

We sat at the bar where we could see all of the chefs at work, and had such a good time. You can see in the picture that this guy was cooking in this 800 degree wood burning oven. He made us a little sample of warm house-made pancetta with roasted garlic and pickled okra. The combination of all of them together was truly something special.

And to top it all off...a night cap with the one you love. This can't be rated. Off the charts!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Chow Fest 2012-Day 2

Still in Biloxi and decided to save our appetites for the po-boy we salivate over every time we talk about it. So we ate blueberry muffins and coffee from the hotel lobby. Again, this was just to tide us over and keep us alive until the real meal. No ratings for this one.

Tuesday, Day 2 Lunch: One of the benefits of Tadd's many travels for work is he learns about many good restaurants. He could have his own show on Food Network as he travels through the South. Rena's Deli is no exception.

Tadd found this little gem a few years ago, and every time we are in the area, we MUST stop for a roast beef po-boy. Fresh french bread, tender roast beef with gravy, lettuce, tomato, mayo and pickles on the side. Zapps chips make it extra special (salt and vinegar are my favorite). They have daily specials, and Tuesday's was red beans and rice. Everyone else in there ordered this, so I'm sure they are fantastic, but we couldn't sway from our old favorite. We both agreed that this time, the beef was a little dry. That didn't stop me from eating every. Single. Crumb. It was yummy! Rating: Tadd-7.5 Holly-8 **Note: We normally would rate this a 9 or 10. This time they were a little off. Still check it out if you find yourself down here!

Day 2 Dinner: Our family's favorite show is Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network. We love seeing regular people working hard to run their small restaurants, and serving good food! We saw this dive on the show awhile back, and inserted it in the line-up of stops. The Blow Fly Inn!

Honestly, I think we were much too excited about this and ended up underwhelmed. For appetizers, we ordered shrimp bisque and crab cakes. The bisque was not good at all. We each took one bite. No seasoning in it, and it tasted like flour. The crab cakes were tasty though! Very little filler and lots of lump crab meat. The remoulade sauce on top was good too, but could've used a little more spicy kick.

For the main course, we shared the BBQ shrimp. For those who don't know, BBQ shrimp is just called that. It's not really BBQ. It's a ton of butter and lots of spices sauteed in a pan. They serve it with crusty french bread to dip in the sauce.

I enjoyed this dish, but am going to take a moment to brag on my husband. He makes, hands-down, the best BBQ New Orleans style shrimp you have ever put in your mouth. He adds a touch of heavy cream at the end that really takes it to the next level. So in all fairness to the Blow Fly Inn, there was really no competing with the talents of Tadd Moore (he's not reading this before I post it, or he wouldn't let me say all of that. He's very humble!). Ratings: Tadd-5 Holly-6.5

We are off to New Orleans!