Tag Archives: louisiana cooking

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

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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!

Creole Mustard Recipe

From

Creole Mustard is essential in the Louisiana pantry, used in many different preparations where Dijon would be used elsewhere. What would Remoulade sauce be without it? In my search for the characteristics that make Creole Mustard Creole, I found the following definition in what is one of my favorite books on Louisiana cooking American Cooking: Creole and Acadian by Peter S. Feibleman:

Pungent prepared mustard made from the spicy brown mustard seeds rather than the more familiar, but somewhat blander, yellow seeds. The seeds are steeped in distilled white vinegar, then coarsely ground and left to marinate for up to 12 hours longer before packing.

That says a lot about the preparation, but not much about the origin which is always of interest to me. I assume German Creoles were behind the earliest preparations but even more interesting to me is this passage from The Picayune’s Creole Cookbook of 1901:

Mustard is grown extensively in Louisiana, especially the large leaved or curled, which has grown to be a distinct Louisiana variety, quite different from the European. The seed is black, and is raised in Louisiana, and the plant is being more extensively cultivated every year. The large leaves are cooked the same as Spinach, or they may be boiled with salt meat and served as Greens.

Our Creole Mustard Seeds are famous, not only in making sauces, but for medicinal purposes.

The namesake as it turns out is more about the variety of Mustard plant than it is preparation. The book also contains a Creole Mustard Recipe calling for a pound of the above mentioned Creole Mustard. In addition, I also came across this page about black mustard seed that states the following:

The spicy component of black mustard seed is called ‘isothiocyanate’ and it is also found in horseradish and wasabi which belong to the same plant family.

My recipe is made with the more commonly found brown mustard seed and has an addition of horseradish which I think is a flavor must for a good Creole Mustard. In addition to the horseradish this recipe has an added punch which comes from a touch of Cayenne, as well as the garlic and crushed red pepper that I use to flavor the vinegar before steeping the seeds. Here is my homemade Creole Mustard Recipe:

From Nola Cuisine

Creole Mustard Recipe

1/2 Cup Distilled White Vinegar
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1/2 Cup Brown Mustard Seeds, crushed
1 Tbsp Freshly Grated Horseradish
Pinch Cayenne Pepper
Pinch Ground Allspice
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup
4 Tbsp Coleman’s Mustard powder
1 small canning jar with lid, sterilized

Place the vinegar, crushed red pepper, and garlic into a small saucepan, bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let steep for 15-20 minutes then strain the mixture, discard the solids. Bring back to a boil then add the mustard seeds, turn off the heat and let steep for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the vinegar with the horseradish, cayenne, salt, sugar, cane syrup, and brown mustard seed. Whisk in the mustard powder. Pour into the sterilized jar, put the lid on and process in a water bath for 15 minutes. When cool, tighten the lid, and make sure the jar is sealed. Place in a cool dark place and let mature for at least 3-4 weeks before using. This step will allow the flavors to marry and mellow which will not be able to take place in the refrigerator, although the mustard will need to be refrigerated after opening.

From Nola Cuisine

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which features links to all of the recipes featured on this site!