New Orleans Oyster Festival 2011

From New Oyster Festival 2011

I meet many wonderful people through this blog, most of which I never get to meet in person. I met Seth McMillan, this way and later through Facebook, so when I knew I was coming down to New Orleans for a visit I sent him a message saying we should try to get together, he suggested we go check out the Second Annual New Orleans Oyster Festival that was happening on the same dates of my trip, great call!

We met up at about 8:30 a.m. on the Sunday morning, both a little rough around the edges from the night before. I followed Seth’s lead by grabbing a Gatorade from the Walgreens across from Jax Brewery where the festival was being held. Another great call…electrolytes. I like this guy already!

Seth is a Sous Chef at Bourbon House Seafood Restaurant and an all around great guy. He does the seafood ordering for the restaurant, so he shared a lot of interesting information about ordering Seafood in New Orleans, and about all of the vendors and purveyors that he deals with in the day to day. We shared restaurant stories, talked food and eventually ended up at the Bourbon House bar for eye openers until the festival opened up (by the way, the frozen Bourbon Milk Punch at Bourbon House is a hell of a way to start the morning, loved it!)

After some good conversation at the bar with the bartender, who colorfully relayed a story of his early morning run in with a very hungover guest of the hotel, which had my sides splitting, we headed over to the festival with a nice lady that was at the bar when we arrived, who needed someone to walk over with. After making sure the bartender got our descriptions she said:

“I should be crazy walking away with two strange guys in the city, but at least there are like a million people around!”

To which I jokingly replied:

“That’s what alleys are for.”

But alas, we arrived safe and sound after a few hundred abduction jokes and said goodbye to the nice lady whose husband was working at the festival. We then did a flyby of all of the tents to see what they were offering.

From July 21, 2011

Here is a listing of the restaurants that were there and what they were serving.

After the flyby we stopped at the Drago’s tent. It was a windy day, with a little bit of welcomed rain that kept the temperature, still hot, but almost livable. The wind carried huge gusts of aroma from Drago’s famous Charbroiled Oysters deep into the Quarter. Later in the day we were on Chartres and were caught in a smell storm of charcoal, oysters and cheese sauce flare up, that made my mouth water. Here are some of the grill men working the Oysters.

From July 23, 2011

Drago’s Restaurant owner Tommy Cvitanovich was on hand and let me get a few pictures of Drago’s Char-Broiling Fire Engine, complete with flat screen TV’s, tappers of Abita Amber, and a Jagermeister dispenser.

From July 21, 2011

Tommy dispensing the Jager!

From July 21, 2011

Drago’s Char-Broiled Oysters are in my humble opinion, one of the best damned ways to eat a Louisiana Oyster! I even created my own recipe to try to duplicate them at home. In fact, I proudly announce that my photo from the same shoot from that post is being used on the cover of The Louisiana Seafood Bible: Oysters!

From Louisiana Seafood Bible – Oysters

Here is the recipe:

Drago’s Style Char-Broiled Oysters Recipe

From November 21, 2011

Here is the real deal from the festival!

From July 21, 2011

After visiting the Drago’s tent we decided it was time for an ice cold Abita Amber:

From July 21, 2011

While hanging around the beer tent Seth ran into, and introduced me to Sal Sunseri of P&J Oyster Company, which is absolutely legendary in New Orleans, and unfortunately, is still reeling from the effects of the BP Oil spill damage to the Louisiana Oyster beds. In fact, the Oyster Festival was started last year to educate the country about the benefits and importance of the Louisiana Gulf Oyster, as well as to showcase the restaurants and the dishes that they create from them. P&J also has a wonderful cookbook:

The P&J Oyster Cookbook

Sal Sunseri and Seth McMillan:

From July 21, 2011

While hanging near the Abita Beer tent we stopped and checked out James Andrews Band, I absolutely love this photo that I caught of the incredible trumpeter James Andrews at work!

From July 21, 2011

I also have to say, as incredible of a food experience that I always have in New Orleans, I also always have an equally incredible music experience! Hopping clubs on Frenchman Street at all hours, the Monday night Super Jam at Maison! Street Musicians galore! Rebirth Brass Band at Maple Leaf Bar on Tuesdays. More on the music in a later post, on to more food!

Fried Oyster Po Boy with Smoked Tomato Relish from John Besh’s restaurant Luke:

From July 21, 2011

i

These are Oysters from the largest Oyster Contest, they are easily bigger than my opened hand.

From July 21, 2011

Oyster Rockefeller Bouhe from Royal House, Seth said that this was his “guilty pleasure” of the day!

From July 21, 2011

The last stop was Bourbon House‘s tent, because Seth works there I got a behind the scenes view of the cooks making what was one of my favorite things to eat at the festival, Barbecue Shrimp, for the Barbecue Shrimp Po Boy. The second photo being one of my favorites from my whole trip! I love food photography, maybe because it’s hard to go wrong! If the food looks appetizing it is an amazing photo opp!

From July 21, 2011
From July 21, 2011

The finished product Barbecue Shrimp Po Boy from Bourbon House!

From July 21, 2011

The other offering from Bourbon House, Seth’s choice, and a good choice, Mcilhenny Oysters! He gave me a sample of an Oyster before he dug in, absolutely delicious, perfectly fried and the sauce was a perfect compliment! This is also one of my favorite pics from my visit!

From July 21, 2011

These festivals are such an incredible way for visitors and locals alike to sample the wares of a lot of different great restaurants in one spot, not to mention listen to some great live music!

After we were done with the Festival, Seth and I continued to hang out and decided to jump in my rental car and go find an awesome restaurant to check out, the city was our Oyster, pun intended, but as we found out, Sunday afternoon is no time to dine in New Orleans.

Boucherie…closed, Dante’s…closed, this little place right there I heard about has great…DAMN…closed! Look at this a Tapas bar off of St. Charles, the door’s open! Finally! Let’s go check it out! How ya doin?

“Good, but we don’t open until 5 o’clock. Sorry.”

DAMN IT!!!! Ahh, excuse me…Do you have a bathroom? Great, thanks.

The afternoon was a relentless barrage of closed signs and shuttered doors, we had nothing to do but laugh by the end of it. It was either laugh or cry.

We ended up at the mostly unlikely place for two educated diners to be eating in New Orleans. Jackson Square??? How the hell did we end up back here? Next stop:

Stanley!

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which provides links to all of the recipes featured at Nola Cuisine!

Homemade Rendered Lard

From Homemade Rendered Lard

Lard…the four letter word. Like one of my other favorite four letter words, if used in moderation, it can add emphasis and an added oomph…and let’s face it, sometimes, just sometimes, there is no other word that can be used that will properly express your feelings as well as that four letter word.

Lard makes things taste good. I’m going to repeat that, because it bears repeating. Lard makes things taste good! That is all I’m really concerned about here on Nola Cuisine, making things taste good, and making people happy with food, and by people, I mostly mean me and my family. I share my thoughts and hope you enjoy them too.

Lard makes things taste good, when things taste good, they make me feel good, when I feel good, it lowers my stress level, and believe me, the stress is going to kill me far before the lard does.

I use lard in moderation mind you, I’m not condoning cooking every meal in lard, but when you’re making that Sunday supper of Fried Chicken…nothing is going to make that crust crispier or more flavorful than lard (unless maybe you add some bacon fat as well.) If you only make Pies once or twice a year and you KNOW that Leaf lard makes THE BEST pie crust, why not use it? How much is each guest going to have? One Piece? Two? If this were a pie eating contest you should be concerned. It’s not. Use what yields the best results.

When talking about lard, I’m talking about homemade rendered lard. I don’t like the stuff they sell in the grocery store, which is a mixture of lard and hydrogenated lard. It tastes funny in my humble opinion, it has a chemical like aftertaste. I’m not a chemist or a scientist, I don’t know what the hell they do to hydrogenate fats or oils (by the way I don’t want to know, for the comments section…kinda kidding). I do believe however that the processed foods are the foods that are killing us, or better said that we’re killing ourselves with. I’m not a crazy organic guy, but lets be honest, we’re killing ourselves with all of this mass produced crap. We really are, I’m no exception.

Make your own lard. Use it for special occasions, or for your favorite dishes where it applies. Use it in moderation and ENJOY it! Don’t stress about it! Enjoy life! Our culture has us stressed about everything under the sun, we’re afraid of our own shadows for God’s sake…it’s ridiculous. The dinner table is really our only place to relax (when we can even make it there), so when you sit down at the dinner table, relax! Free your mind and indulge in GOOD cooking and good company!

Here’s how to make homemade lard, the same application applies for duck fat…another post. (Stepping off of my soapbox)

How to make homemade Rendered Lard

2 lbs. Clean Fresh Pork Fat cut into 1/2″ cubes (I usually use back fat because I can find it locally. Leaf Fat is the best and is preferred for baking purposes)
1/2 Cup water

Some important notes:

*Use only CLEAN, FRESH fat. If the fat has an off flavor, your lard will have an off flavor. The fresher the better! I get my pork fat from a polish butcher here in Michigan where I live, who, by the way, also has a ton of house made rendered lard for sale! The polish word is “Smalec.”

*Cut the fat into equal sized pieces, this helps to prevent some pieces from geting too brown before others, which will give the lard an off flavor.

*Remove all lean meat from the fat before rendering.

*1/4 cup of water is added to the pot for each pound of pork fat. This keeps the fat from burning or browning in the pot, before the fat starts rendering. The water will evaporate away.

The Process:

Add the fat and water to a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven:

From July 18, 2011

Cook the fat and water at medium-high heat until you start to see the fat really start to liquify in the pot, turn the heat to low. Cook slowly for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Your lard is ready when the remnants in the pot, now called cracklings are golden brown.

From July 18, 2011

Strain the cracklings in a fine mesh strainer, obviously reserving your beautiful golden homemade lard.

From July 18, 2011

Drain the cracklings on paper towels season them with salt and snack on them, or use them to make Crackling Corn Bread!

From July 18, 2011

Place into a clean, dry container, I use a French Market Coffee can, and store in the refrigerator for at least six months. Use to make Fried Chicken that looks like this and tastes even better!

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe

From July 18, 2011

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which provides links to all of the recipes featured at Nola Cuisine!

Radosta’s Famous Po-Boys

After my visit to the Abita Brewery, and my 23.83 mile jaunt across Lake Pontchartrain from Abita Springs, I decided to keep with my ritual on every trip to New Orleans and go straight for a Roast Beef Po-Boy! I’ve heard good things about Radosta’s in old Metarie, so that is where I headed.

From Radosta's Famous Po Boys

Radosta’s Restaurant & Deli
249 Aris Avenue Metairie, LA 70005-3424
1 (504) 831-1537

Tucked away on a neighborhood street, it took a little looking to find. Although it was slow when I came in, I got the feeling right away that this is the kind of joint that locals in the neighborhood pay a strong allegiance to. The folks that own and run it, are just as nice as can be.

From Radosta's Famous Po Boys


View Larger Map

I ordered at the deli counter, the gentleman behind the counter took my order, and when I asked about a drink he said, “Just help yourself to anything you like from the coolers, just like you’re at home. You can pay on the way out.” I liked that.

From Radosta's Famous Po Boys

I grabbed an ice cold Abita Jockamo IPA, because hell, why break the theme of the day. I had a seat to wait for my order and snap a few shots of the interior.

From Radosta's Famous Po Boys

I love neighborhood places like this, and it always makes me jealous that I don’t have one like it. A father and son grabbing a Po boy and a soda, presumably after school, another family relaxing and talking after a late lunch. The counterman casually checking the score on the TV as he prepares my sandwich. No stress, no mess. Business as usual.

My food arrived a few minutes later, a dressed Roast Beef Po-Boy, and a cup of Gumbo. I started with the Gumbo, and I have to tell you, I was floored, just delicious. Nothing crazy, or new, just a well made, well seasoned File Gumbo. I loved it. Honestly, I don’t usually order a Gumbo at restaurants, because quite frankly, I like my own. But I was glad I did on this occasion, it really hit the spot.

From Radosta's Famous Po Boys
From Radosta's Famous Po Boys

On to the main attraction, the Roast Beef Po-Boy. Very good, wonderful beef, tender with good flavor! Good buttered and toasted French Bread. Dressed. Generally I like my Roast Beef Po Boys a little more sloppy, lots of gravy and mayo. This one was more about the beef itself which was very good and a very generous portion!

From Radosta's Famous Po Boys

After stuffing myself I went to the counter to pay, had some nice conversation with the delightful gal tending the register, I presume one of the owners, and went on my way, fat and happy!

Related Posts:

Parasol’s Style Roast Beef Po Boy Recipe
Parasol’s Bar & Restaurant
Domilise’s Po Boy & Bar
Roast Beef Po Boy with Debris Gravy Recipe
Mother’s Restaurant

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which provides links to all of the recipes featured at Nola Cuisine!