Have you ever made a roux? Like: really made a roux?
I’ve made a roux in quotes–a “roux”–whenever I’ve taken a roasted chicken out of its cast iron skillet, added some flour to the pan, cooked it for a minute or two and finished it up with a big glass of white wine. That makes for a thick, chickeny, winey sauce that’s very tasty. But after visiting New Orleans last year, and purchasing Donald Link’s indispensible cookbook “Real Cajun,” I’d been meaning to make a real Cajun roux. The kind that you have to develop for a while at the stove, the kind that you have to watch carefully, the kind that goes from a toast stage to a cardboard stage based on the smells its giving off. Which is why, last week, I made Donald Link’s Smothered Pork Roast Over Rice, a recipe he learned from his grandmother, and one that involves the creation of a peanut butter-colored roux.
You may recall that on our recent trip to New Orleans, we enjoyed something called a Sno-Ball. We ate this Sno-Ball at a place called Hansen’s Sno-Bliz and though I was wary at first–“isn’t it just ice and syrup?”–I was quickly won over by the texture of that ice and the intense flavor of that syrup. So imagine my delight and surprise when I learned that over in the old West Village City Bakery space (at 7th Ave. and Charles) a New Orleans-style Sno-Ball place had just opened up, a place called Imperial Woodpecker.
Just to bring some closure to the whole New Orleans experience, an experience that we loved, I thought I’d do a tie-it-up-with-a-bow wrap-up post for you to bookmark for your next trip there. To review: you must visit Cafe du Monde and Commander’s Palace (as all the guidebooks will tell you). Off the beaten path, you must go listen to music on Frenchmen St. (skip Bourbon Street. Really.) and, during the day, if you’re schvitzing, cool off with a Pimm’s Cup at Napoleon House or a Sno-Bliz at Hansen’s. Meal-wise, you’re not allowed to miss Cochon. Make sure to drink a Sazerac at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop and Bar. And, if you have some extra meals to figure out, do visit Mandina’s, The Green Goddess and/or The Camellia Grill (depending on what you’re craving). And if you don’t have a trip planned yet, go next year for JazzFest. We’re planning to go then too.
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.
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.
My “Someone’s In The Kitchen With” series continues from the rooftops of New Orleans, where I join celebrated photographer and food blogger Matt Armendariz (author of the brand new “On A Stick” and the blogger behind MattBites.com) for a stimulating conversation all about Matt’s career, his book, why he likes food on a stick, food photography (how to make your food photos better) all while sipping trashy drinks purchased on Bourbon Street. Thanks Matt for taking the time to do this! And thanks for the booze.
Previous Episodes: Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, Big Girls, Small Kitchen, Emeric Harney & Rachel Wharton.
One of the best parts of traveling to a new city is discovering a food item that you didn’t know existed before. Like when I traveled to Barcelona and discovered pa amb tomàquet. Same thing in New Orleans, only it wasn’t bread smeared with tomato that I discovered; in New Orleans, I discovered the snowball.
Restaurants that are institutions don’t have to be good. Before it closed, Tavern on the Green in New York was like that. You didn’t go for the food–no, you definitely didn’t go for the food–you went for the chandeliers, for the topiary, for the chintzy souvenirs you could buy in the gift shop.