Tag Archives: New Orleans

Stanley & Drago’s – New School New Orleans

22 Aug

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Our SFA friend Sara Roahen tipped us to a French Quarter eatery dubbed “Stanley.” Stanley as in Stanley Kowalski, the Marlon Brando character in the Southern fried cinematic classic, “A Streetcar Named Desire.” We were determined to dine outside our comfort zone of regular Big Easy favorites.

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The gumbo at Stanley was very dark and rich. So dark, in fact, that I almost thought (following the first spoonful) that the roux had been burned. I am happy to report that this was not the case at all. Further tasting resulted in an amazingly complex flavor profile. It was truly excellent, but I really love all things rich, mysterious and spicy. Others may be a little undecided about the almost coffee-like overtone and a pretty potent kick of cayenne.  

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The decor was totally New Orleans. Classy yet quite comfortable.

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The Eggs Stanley was a nice mid-day dish. Canadian bacon over toasted English muffins, topped with perfectly poached eggs, a light (not too thick) Hollandaise sauce, and four large fried oysters.  This tasty mix of flavors and textures had me shouting … “STELLA!!!”  www.stanleyrestaurant.com

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Drago’s is located in the waterfront Hilton hotel, yet it is in no way your typical hotel restaurant. Although I am not sure about the rest of the menu, I can tell you that the chargrilled oysters are nothing short of perfection on the half shell.

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The local oysters are opened and laid directly on the grill. This process delivers a deliciously smoky hint to each briny bi-valve. The oysters are topped with lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, butter, and Lord knows what else. Simply fabulous — one of the best bites of the entire weekend trip.  

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 The accompanying hunk of French bread was superb as well.

I just couldn’t resist asking where it was made.  

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 My answer was on the large brown bags stored at the end of the bar.

Leidenheimer Bakery does make an incredible bread – great for dipping!

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The four of us gouged at and slurped down these babies like it was our last meal on the planet. Sparks flew from the greyish shells, buttery goodness dripped down our chins, an occasional piece of shell was swallowed in the process.

Shear happiness on a plate — get here as soon as you can & tell a friend.

www.dragosrestaurant.com

The Ramos Gin Fizz

16 Aug

Just enjoyed my first Ramos Gin Fizz recently — and it was a tasty one. It’s a very refreshing, frothy concoction (pictured above) from days gone by. I have included a recipe and some history on the cocktail. Now I need to move on to the next steps: Sazarac and Absinthe drinks. “Bottoms up!”

RAMOS GIN FIZZ

  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

  • 3-4 drops orange flower water

  • 1/2 lime — juice only

  • 1/2 lemon — juice only

  • 1 jigger dry gin

  • 1 white of egg

  • 1 jigger heavy cream

  • 1 squire seltzer water

  • 2 drops extract vanilla (optional)

Mix in a tall barglass in the order given; add crushed ice, not too fine as lumps are needed to whip up the froth on the egg white and cream. Use a long metal shaker and remember this is one drink that needs a long, steady shaking. Keep at it until the mixture gets body — “ropy” as some experienced barkeepers express it. When thoroughly shaken, strain into a tall thin glass for serving.

The gin fizz has long been an institution in the city care forgot. The age of the Ramos gin fizz is well past the half-century mark, and its popularity shows no signs of abating. In the good old days before the federal government was so prodigal with padlocks, the saloons of Henry C Ramos were famous for the gin fizzes shaken up by a busy bevy of shaker boys. Visitors, not to mention home folk, flocked in droves to the Ramos dispensary to down the frothy draft that Ramos alone knew how to make to perfection. One poetical sipper eulogized it thus: “It’s like drinking a flower!”

Exactly what went into the making of a Ramos gin fizz always has been more or less a secret. One thing is certain — only at the Ramos establishment could one get what tasted like a real gin fizz. Wherefore, like all successful drinks, the Ramos fizz was widely imitated but never really duplicated. Possibly no other thirst assuaging emporium gave the mixture the long deliberate shaking it received from the shaker boys behind the Ramos bar, and that was the secret of its lip smacking goodness. Came prohibition, and the drink that made the name of Ramos disappeared. After the return of legal liquor, the trade name of Ramos was acquired by the Hotel Roosevelt, and today that is its legal domicile.

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The gin fizz, and by that I mean the common or garden variety, had its beginning way back yonder, but the Ramos concoction was not known to Orleanians until 1888 when Henry C. Ramos came to New Orleans from Baton Rouge and purchased the Imperial Cabinet saloon from Emile Sunier. The Cabinet was located at the corner of Gravier and Carondelet streets (where a modern Sazerac saloon now holds forth) and above it, on the second storey, was a famous restaurant of days gone by — The Old Hickory. Here it was that Henry Ramos served the gin fizz that departed so radically from the other frothy gin mixtures served in New Orleans saloons, and here he remained until 1907 when he purchased Tom Anderson’s Stag saloon opposite the Gravier street entrance to the St. Charles Hotel.

The new place became a Mecca for the thirsty and for those pioneers who would make a pilgrimage of any sort for a new drink. At times The Stag became so crowded that customers were forced to wait an hour or more (or so it seemed) to be served. The corps of busy shaker boys behind the bar was one of the sights of the town during Carnival, and in the 1915 Mardi Gras, 35 shaker boys nearly shook their arms off, but were still unable to keep up with the demand.

The recipe given is the original formula. Veteran barkeepers differ violently — practically come to blows — over the inclusion of the two innocent drops of extract of vanilla. Old-timers who worked for Henry Ramos in the past declare the original Ramos included no vanilla in its make-up. Others hold that the twin drops of extract wrung from the heart of the vanilla bean either make or break a real gin fizz — make it taste like heaven or the reverse.

Therefore, when you mix your fizz, add the two vanilla drops or leave them out, just as you please. If still in doubt, take it up with Paul Alpuente at the Hotel Roosevelt bar. He was with Henry Ramos for years, and when he mixes your Ramos gin fizz, watch him closely.

www.therooseveltneworleans.com

Sucre – The Art of Sweets

15 Aug

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 Too pretty to eat. Those words have likely been used countless times to describe the amazing sweet creations at Sucre in New Orleans.

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 Even the graphics and decor throughout the shop are gorgeous.

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 Son Travis tried the Raspberry gelato after sampling countless other flavors. Thought we were going to have to pay for all those tiny plastic spoons after a while! I tried the Coconut Basil gelato. Yep, sounds bizarre but it really did work. The basil note was noticeable but not overpowering. Dreamsicle is another popular flavor. I loved the pistachio — but I am a massive pistachio nut.

My wife Eileen popped a couple colorful macaroons. They come in an incredible array of flavors and pretty much any color you would find in a rainbow.

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Call it a candy boutique, if you wish. I call it SWEET!

www.shopsucre.com

Images of New Orleans

15 Aug

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Snapped these pics on our recent trip to NOLA.

Can’t make good red beans & rice without Camellia Red Kidneys!

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The world famous Lucky Dog cart – this one on Jax Square.

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St. Charles Street Car line. Our destination was the cozy Camellia Grill.

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The servers in this place are a hoot — pure New Orleans!

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These pecan waffles had more nuts than San Francisco.

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The sign is old school — so is the business. And that’s a good thing! 

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How do you spell relief? S-P-U-M-O-N-I.

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The Brocato’s – King and Queen of Italian Treats in NOLA

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The Roast Beef Po-Boys here are just killer — go get one ASAP!

Cafe Brulot – A New Orleans Tradition

14 Aug

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Curious about the Cafe Brulot thing in the Big Easy?

Me too!

Read on for a brief history & Emeril’s recipe:

A lot of towns have dinner theater, but in New Orleans dinner is theater. This is especially true in the old line Creole restaurants where locals and visitors partake in dining experiences as cultural and theatrical as they are culinary.

In these terms, the New Orleans postprandial libation known as café brûlot can be considered a special effect, or maybe even pyrotechnics.

This is no ordinary after-dinner drink, nor is it readily available at ordinary restaurants. It comes with specialized equipment, it comes flaming in portions large enough for at least several servings and it comes with a choreographed tableside preparation sure to temporarily supercede conversation not only at your table but usually at all those within earshot.

The name, of course, comes from the French: café, or coffee, and brûlot, which can mean either “highly seasoned” or “incendiary,” both of which prove apt for this singular drink. A list of ingredients in the classic café brûlot recipe helps illuminate its elaborate nature. Most preparations call for an orange peel cut precisely as one long, intact spiral; a lemon peel cut into strips; sugar, cloves and cinnamon; cognac or brandy and hot, strong black coffee. Most importantly, the drink requires fire.

The Flaming Finale
It ends up tasting like very thick, sweet coffee with the deep citrus and clove flavors mellowing the sweetness. Many diners say they prefer the second cup to the first, since the concoction has had time to steep a little more. Though the drink is ordered year-round, café brûlot’s hot temperature and rich, bold flavor make it a particularly enjoyable way to end a dinner on a cooler winter night. It is especially popular as a finale to a big holiday meal, such as the New Orleans reveillon feast.

However delicious and reviving it may be, getting there is more than half the fun when it comes to the cafébrûlot.

The recipe is so special, it requires its own exotic equipment to make. This includes a silver bowl, a circular tray and a long handled ladle. The brandy mixture is poured into the bowl, which is surrounded with a small amount of alcohol in the circular tray. The coffee is brought to the table steaming hot and added to the brandy. In many cases, the lights of the dining room will then be dimmed to accentuate the impending dance of flame that accompanies the final steps of this drink’s dramatic preparation. The waiter ignites the alcohol with a match and allows the fire to heat up the contents of the bowl, which grows increasingly aromatic. The waiter then dips the long ladle into the mixture, ignites it from the flame surrounding the bowl and carries the flame back to set off the brandy. Quickly, while the mixture is still flaming, the waiter will hold the spiraled orange peel over the bowl with a fork and proceed to ladle the flaming coffee mixture down the peel repeatedly. The technique creates a mesmerizing ribbon of blue-gold flame that inspires choruses of ohh’s and ahh’s around the dining room whenever it is done right.

The spectacular preparation gives the term mixed drink a whole new meaning, and it is certainly a job best left to experienced professionals.

Antoine’s Restaurant (713 St. Louis St., 504-581-4422) lays claim to the invention of café brûlot, and gives the credit to Jules Alciatore, son of founder and namesake Antoine Alciatore, sometime in the 1890s. The drink enjoyed special popularity during Prohibition, when the coffee provided cover for the then-contraband alcohol. Café brûlot also became a house specialty of other old line Creole restaurants, as it remains today, including Galatoire’s Restaurant (209 Bourbon St., 504-525-2841) and Arnaud’s Restaurant (813 Bienville St., 504-523-5433), which happened to open for business the same year the federally-mandated deprivations of Prohibition began.

Restaurant lore at Arnaud’s holds that special coffee drinks were also used there to disguise liquor libations. Today, however, ordering a café brûlot with all its attendant ceremony and ritual is one of the worst ways to be inconspicuous in a formal New Orleans dining room. It is also one of the most memorable ways to cap off a glorious New Orleans meal.

The coffee is prepared in and served from a special decorative bowl positioned over a flame, and the finale consists of the flaming coffee being ladled down a long spiral of orange peel back into the bowl. A Brulot ladle is specially designed with a small strainer at the end so that the bits of peel, cloves and cinnamon do not get served to guests. The finished beverage is served in tall, thin, footed mugs, often decorated with a full-length portrait of the devil, reference to the drink’s other name, “Cafe Diabolique” or “Devil’s Coffee,” perhaps so named for the punch it packs!

CAFE BRULOT RECIPEYield: 4 servings
 

1 orange, peel cut into 1 long, intact spiral
6 whole cloves
1 orange peel, cut into 1 by 1/8-inch strips,
1 lemon peel, cut into 1 by 1/8-inch strips
4 sugar cubes
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup orange flavored liqueur
2 cups hot, freshly brewed, strong black coffee

Stud the orange peel with the cloves.

Light the burner under a Brulot bowl, chafing dish or wok. Adjust the flame to low. Into the bowl place the orange and lemon peels, sugar, cloves, cinnamon stick brandy and orange liqueur. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a long-handled ladle, to dissolve the sugar and warm the ingredients.

When the mixture is warm, ignite with a match.

Quickly, while the mixture is still flaming, hold the spiraled orange peel with the prongs of a fork over the bowl, and ladle the flaming coffee mixture down the peel several times into the bowl for a spectacular presentation. Add in the hot coffee to extinguish the flames

Ladle the Cafe Brulot into Brulot or demitasse cups, being careful to leave the flavorings (peels, cloves, cinnamon) in the bowl. Serve immediately while hot.

Po-Boys & Muffulettas – A Brief History

7 Aug

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In preparation for our New Orleans dining adventure, I was doing a little research on some of the city’s culinary traditions. I found these interesting tidbits on the web site for the world famous Leidenheimer Bakery, makes of the finest breads for po-boys and muffulettas.

During the early years of the 20th century, two brothers, Benny and Clovis Martin, migrated to New Orleans from rural Raceland, Louisiana. When the Martins first reached the city, they found employment as streetcar conductors. Later, they opened a sandwich shop near the French Market and made a culinary discovery: if they concocted sandwiches out of the traditional loaf of French bread, with its tapered ends, the resulting sandwiches would vary in size. The solution was relatively simple: the modern, more or less symmetrical po-boy loaf, which could be cut into equal size sandwiches.

As for the name, during the late 1920’s, the New Orleans streetcar conductors went on strike. The Martins vowed to feed their striking brethren for free. When one of the strikers entered their shop, the call went out: “Here comes anther po-boy!”

The ingredients that go on a po-boy are virtually limitless, depending on one’s imagination: hot roast beef with gravy, ham and cheese (known in New Orleans as a “combination”), fried seafood (oysters, shrimp, softshell crabs, catfish), hot sausage, meatballs–even French fries. When the New Orleans po-boy is “dressed,” the reference has nothing to do with fashion: “dressed” in New Orleans nomenclature means that lettuce, tomatoes, and mayonnaise are added. Po-boys are the great equalizers of New Orleans culture, consumed by workingmen, bankers, doctors, lawyers, musicians, Mardi Gras Indian chiefs, and Carnival Kings. What the finest po-boys have in common is bread baked by Leidenheimer, “Good to the last Crumb” since 1896.

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The muffuletta is an Italian-style sandwich invented by Salvatore Lupo in 1906 at Central Grocery in New Orleans’ French Quarter. The origins of the name are vague. Some sources say that it was named after one of Lupo’s best customers: others believe that the name refers to the distinctive round sesame seed-coated bread. What’s unanimous is that the muffuletta is one of the tastiest of all New Orleans culinary creations.

The traditional New Orleans muffuletta is stuffed with ham, salami, various cheeses and marinated olive salad. Muffuletta variations include seafood, turkey, and even a vegetarian version, with grilled eggplant substituted for the meat. The key ingredient is the bread, which has to remain crusty despite the onslaught of melted cheese and olive oil. For this reason, master muffuletta makers demand bread baked by Leidenheimer. www.leidenheimer.com

Southern Power Pop Lives on Bar/None Records

16 Apr

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I first heard of the dB’s (led by Stamey & Holsapple) back when I was in college at WUVT Radio — and that has been a while back! The band came out of North Carolina and were masters of the genre that became known as “Power Pop.” Jangly guitars, crunchy chords, high octane arrangements, catchy melodies – I think you know the drill. Flash forward 30 years or so and the boys are still at it. The have mellowed a bit, but these guys have retained their knack for composing and performing some highly enjoyable music. We especially enjoyed the single “Early in the Morning” and the track called “Santa Monica.” If you fondly remember The dB’s “(I Thought) You Wanted to Know” or Stamey’s timeless “The Summer Sun,” pick up on this CD — and fast! You will surely dig it.

“hERE aND nOw” is the first new collaboration in almost two decades by Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey, the acclaimed songwriters of the dB’s. Scheduled for release June 9 on Bar/None Records, it features Branford Marsalis on two tracks: the single “Early in the Morning” and Peter’s ode to New Orleans, “Begin Again.” Drum aces Jon Wurster (Superchunk, Son Volt, Bob Mould, the Mountain Goats), Logan Matheny (Roman Candle, The Rosebuds), and percussionist Gary Greene (Hootie and the Blowfish, Big Head Todd and the Monsters) bring power to tracks such as “Some of the Parts” and “Widescreen World”, and the dB’s’ rhythm section Gene Holder and Will Rigby join in on the atmospheric “Santa Monica.” The acoustic side of the duo, reminiscent of their 1992 RNA album “Mavericks,” comes to the fore on tracks such as “Long Time Coming,” one of several that feature Greg Readling (Chatham County Line, Tift Merritt) on pedal steel. The lead track, “My Friend the Sun,” is a cover of a classic from the legendary British prog-pop band Family.

Peter and Chris grew up together in Winston-Salem, NC, and started playing music together in middle school—and have really never stopped. Through countless bands along the way—including Rittenhouse Square, Little Diesel, Sneakers, the H-Bombs, the dB’s, Continental Drifters, the Golden Palominos—and recording sessions and sideman stints with the likes of R.E.M., Bob Mould and Hootie and the Blowfish, the two have maintained a deep musical connection. They both are proficient at most string and keyboard instruments, and neither is much good at winds! Having relocated to Durham, NC, from New Orleans in 2006, Peter is constantly evident in international musical situations while Chris produces many records each year at Modern Recording, his home base in Chapel Hill, NC, where this record was made. www.holsapplestamey.com

Two Great New Southern Books

21 Dec

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As many of you know, we here at DixieDining.com have a strong fondness for New Orleans and the region known as the Mississippi Delta.

Our years living in places like Mobile, AL and Hernando, MS have allowed us great access to this wonderland of history and great eating.

The University of Mississippi has recently released 2 books that fall into this category. Check them both out and please consider them as possible Christmas gifts for that Southerner or Southerner at Heart in your family or circle of friends.  

“YOU ARE WHERE YOU EAT”

Eating and cooking well are not just industries but ways of life for all New Orleans. Writer and photographer Elsa Hahne has visited the kitchens of thirty-three of New Orleans’s home cooks and raconteurs and has served up an expansive smorgasbord inspired by this vibrant city’s love affair with food.

Almost every cultural group that has made its mark on New Orleans is represented in these pages: Creole, African American, Native American, Isleño, German, Cajun, Italian, Irish, Greek, Hungarian, Croatian, Cuban, Honduran, Mexican, Indian, Filipino, Chinese, Vietnamese, and more.

With thirty-three first-person accounts and over one hundred black-and-white and full-color photographs, You Are Where You Eat proves that the local population remains as passionate about cooking after the hurricanes of 2005 as at any time before. Among the eighty-five recipes are such classic New Orleans dishes as red beans and rice, catfish court bouillon, crawfish bisque, filé gumbo, grillades, and daube glacé, but also more recent arrivals to local tables: yakamein, pork tamales, crawfish samosas, and Vietnamese spring rolls.

“DELTA DEEP DOWN”

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The Mississippi Delta evokes mystery, beauty, and hardship in equal measures. Its haunted fields, turbulent history, and resilient people have fueled countless songs, tales, and literary works, and its presence resonates strongly in the construction of the American South.

In Delta Deep Down, photographer Jane Rule Burdine captures the region with clarity and warmth. Since the early 1970s, Burdine has used the Delta as her muse, traversing and documenting the ever-changing landscape in color photographs. These powerful images reflect how the Delta and its citizens have responded to each other, and how each has in turn been changed. Weatherbeaten shacks, cotton and soybean fields, industrial equipment, people at work and play, and cloud-draped, endless horizons are all seen through Burdine’s lens. The Delta’s past and present mingle in every photograph of the inhabitants–black and white, young and old, rich and poor–in moments of contemplation, hard work, and joyous revelry.

Novelist and Indianola native Steve Yarbrough offers a touching, personal introduction that explores how Burdine’s photographs reveal the place he once called home, and how, through her photographs, the hold this fertile ground claims on his heart is reinforced. Delta Deep Down offers an unforgettable portrait of a quintessential Mississippi place and the people who abide in it.

Wendy McDaris provides historical context and locates Burdine’s work among current trends in fine art photography.

http://www.upress.state.ms.us/

Warm Up & Wake Up with Cafe Brulot

11 Dec

What could be more sublime than to taste
the delights of heaven while beholding the
terrors of hell?” 

— John Ringling of circus fame, on tasting café brulôt

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The ceremonial rite of preparing café brulôt was developed from the custom of French bon vivants who liked to poise a spoon holding a sugar lump drenched in cognac over a demitasse of dripped coffee. This was set alight and kept burning until just before the sugar began to caramelize, then it was lowered into the cup. In 1890, Jules Alciatore of Antoine’s conceived the idea of placing the brandy in a dish with lemon peel, lumps of sugar, and spices then adding fireworks. Sometimes, the café brulôt was served in a hollowed out orange skin, the rind adding piquancy to the spicy drink. Later, the drink later became a popular way to disguise alcohol during Prohibition. 

“Usually you have café brulôt after a big
meal where you’ve already had drinks,
several bottles of wine and possibly even
champagne. By the time you’ve drunk the
brulot, you’re wide awake and dead drunk
at the same time.”

Jon Newlin, New Orleans gastronome & bon vivant

CAFE BRULOT

1 stick of cinnamon
6 whole cloves
1 orange peel, taked from the orange in one long piece
1/4 cup thinly slivered orange peel
1/4 cup thinly slivered orange peel
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup brandy
2 Tablespoons orange flavored liquor
3 cups hot, strong black coffee

Combine cinnamon, cloves, slivered citrus peels, and sugar in a chafing dish or a cafe brulot bowl over low heat.  Muddle together as sugar dissolves.  Add brandy and orange liquor and increase the heat.  Mix well.  Light the mixture on fire.  Ladle the flaming mixture down the intact orange peel for a more exciting presentation.  Add hot coffee to flaming mixture and serve in cafe brulot cups or demi-tasse cups.

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum
has a cafe brulot bowl and cups on display in its Louisiana Exhibit.  Reproductions of Antoine’s Restaurant 1890’s  Café Brulôt cups with the devil design can be found at Adler’s website.  Café Brulôt can be served any time of the year and waiters actually put the flame on the tablecloth.  Some waiters serving Café Brulôt can write a patron’s name in flaming liquid on the tablecloth.  To hear Galatoire’s waiter Gilberto Eyzaguirre’s oral history with the Southern Foodways Alliance, click here.

Allen Toussaint & Elvis Costello

22 Oct

Here’s a bouncy New Orleans number from two music legends.

The name of the song is “Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further.”