Fried Potato Bread with Fried Chicken at Bar Tartine, Dinner with @ChezPim at State Bird Provisions

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Yesterday I described a mini-drama in my head when I was choosing, on Wednesday, between the fried potato bread with fried chicken and something healthier at Bar Tartine. I went with something healthier and kind of regretted it.

So yesterday (Thursday), I went back with Kate from Serious Eats and we tackled the fried potato bread with fried chicken on top. You can see it in the above photo. I see that picture and think to myself, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I ate that.”

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Great New Orleans Meals at Mandina’s, The Green Goddess, The Camellia Grill & Cochon

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We ate many meals in New Orleans, but the following four meals were the most memorable for me. In all four cases, these weren’t meals you could enjoy anywhere else in the country. The food, the people, and, most importantly, the environments added up to create four totally unique experiences; experiences that I recommend you have on your next trip there.

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The Sazerac

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When in New Orleans, you should drink a Sazerac. I didn’t know this until I went with Pim to dinner at a place called Mandina’s (more on that tomorrow) and she ordered one. Pim’s Sazerac was so good–it’s made with Rye whiskey, absinthe or Herbsaint (an anise-flavor liqueur, like Pernod), and bitters–I made a mental note to order one the next night with Craig so he could experience it too.

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The James Beard Awards’ Chef’s Night Out

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I have a secret to reveal: this year, I was a judge for the James Beard Awards.

Whoah, I just heard your collective gasp through the computer screen. Believe me, I gasped myself when they asked me. It’s a pretty gasp-worthy fact, considering that the James Beard Awards are like the Oscars of the food world. At first, I was shocked, then I was terrified, then I was deeply honored and flattered. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what category I judged (that’s a major stipulation) but I can tell you about my reward: two tickets to the big blow-out “Chef’s Night Out” party at SD-26.

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Win Two Tickets to IRON CHEF AMERICA

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I was late this year to Menu For Hope, Pim’s awesome fundraiser that, last year, raised more than $100,000 for the U.N. World Food Program, because I was trying to muster up the coolest prize I could: two tickets to Iron Chef America.

It’s quite a prize because it’s so exclusive. Unlike other TV shows that tape in New York, you can’t get tickets by sending in a postcard or writing an e-mail to Food Network; Iron Chef America is invite-only. To this day, I still get e-mails from people who’ve read my post about going to a taping two years ago who want to know how they can get tickets. Well there’s a simple answer: you can’t! That is, until now.

To win these two tickets, it’s really simple. Just go to the donation page by clicking here and bid on this prize by entering the prize code: UE27. For each $10 donation, you buy one raffle ticket; you can buy as many tickets as you’d like–the more you buy, the better your odds of winning. All the specifics are on the donation page, so read them carefully before entering. Also, be advised: Iron Chef America tapes in New York in June, so you’ll have to find a way to get here yourself and you will have no control over the date for which the tickets will be issued. We’re very lucky to get these tickets at all, so let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth!

Thanks so much to everyone at Food Network who made this possible–especially Bruce, Lauren and Rachael–and thanks to Pim, again, for organizing this great event. Make sure to check out the master list of other prizes on Pim’s site and bid as much as you can; it’s for a great cause. As for the Iron Chef tickets, in the words of my uncle: let the battle begin!

The Best Butter in America (Beurre Pim)

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“Walk me home,” said Pim after dinner. “I have something for you in the freezer.”

We were at Franny’s, my beloved Park Slope pizzeria, sharing pasta and pizza and a decadent panna cotta for dessert. What could Pim have for me in her freezer? Not even her freezer, but the freezer of the person with whom she was staying? We walked along Flatbush over to Fort Green and up the stairs of this mysterious apartment. And once inside, Pim finally opened the freezer door and removed a pyramid-shaped packet wrapped in parchment.

“Open it,” she said.

Inside was a shimmering, glittering mass of butter.

“What is this?” I asked eagerly.

“This,” declared Pim, “is, I think, the best butter in America.”

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