Blackberry Mojito

The other night, I pulled out the mortar and pestle and most of Michelle’s bar supplies in order to play mad scientist with a batch of blackberries and limes. After a few experiments, I came up with a delicious blackberry mojito using more of the blackberries Michell had picked and a generous helping of Cajun Spice Old New Orleans Rum. The drink was so delicious and refreshing. It went really well with the pulled pork sandwiches that Michelle and I had with our friend, Lydia.

Mojitos usually include mint but none of our pots of mint had survived the most recent dry spell, and I didn’t really want to use the dried mint in a cocktail so we skipped that step. While our drinks were excellent without it, next time, I will add some to the muddling.

Optional – top with a splash of club soda. I didn’t have any, so we just enjoyed the drink in all its intensity.

Blackberry Mojito

Blackberry simple syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen

Add the water and sugar to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir regularly until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over the blackberries and let sit for 30 minutes, mashing the berries. Pour the simple syrup through a sieve to remove the seeds. Put in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Per drink:
1 lime, quartered
handful of blackberries
1/4 cup rum
2 tablespoons blackberry simple syrup

Muddle together the quartered lime and blackberries in a shaker. Add the rum and simple syrup and shake well with some crushed ice. Strain as you pour over ice.

Advertisements

Cochon Butcher’s Muffaletta

I’ve written before about my trips to Cochon Butcher (here in 2012 and again in 2014). On Friday, I had friends in town who had never had a muffaletta. For those who aren’t familiar, visualize a cousin of the Italian sub. Layers of various meats and cheese—ham, capicola, salami, mortadella, provolone are typical–plus some sort of pickled veggies. In the case of muffaletta, it is typically an olive salad.

The Cochon Butcher version has smoked meats on a sesame seed Sicilian bun. They were a really nice flavor addition. The olive salad wasn’t overpowering, it gave just the right amount of tang to the sandwich.

We also had the Brussel sprouts, mac and cheese and pretzels but we inhaled all of those too fast for me to get picture. Trust me, they were all delicious.

I’ve yet to have anything that wasn’t good at this place.

Cochon Butcher
930 Tchoupitoulas
New Orleans, LA
504-588-7675

Brennan’s Restaurant

My friends, Leigh and Garrett, brought their family through New Orleans on their way to a vacation and we went to Brennan’s Restaurant for dinner. If you’re looking for a lovely dinning experience with lots of old New Orleans’ charm, this is a place to go.

We started with cocktails. Garrett and I had the Caribbean milk punch with bourbon and rum and cream and vanilla. It was like drinking a glass of melted vanilla ice cream – if only ice cream had a sneaky little kick to it.

Their son, Jake, had the good taste to order a number of terrific appetizers. The frog legs were light and crispy with the tempura batter.

 

The foie gras was smooth and buttery.

 

The roasted oysters that the others ate were large.

 

Michelle had the the summer corn and coconut soup with shrimp. Very good flavor.

 

I ordered the spiced tuna, rare. While the outside had a lot of heat, the creamy black eyed peas took away the burn.

I tried the bacon wrapped pork tenderloin with octopus that the rest of the table ordered. Very smokey and delicious.

For dessert we had bananas foster, of course. I took a lovely video of the table side, flambe presentation but it didn’t turn out so I’m afraid you’re missing out both on the experience and flavor.

The walls are covered with paints of old carnival floats and the secret patio is lovely to look at from the air conditioned dining room. The wait staff was attentive and knowledgeable. The general manager even stopped by the table to make sure all was well.

I would definitely recommend Brennan’s for your next high level, culinary affair.

Brennan’s Restaurant
417 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
504-525-9711

Revisiting Oceana Grill

After Latoya Cantrell’s historic inauguration ceremony, my friends Lisa and Vincenzo and I followed Madam Mayor’s second line out of the Mahalia Jackson theater into Armstrong Park.

Madam Mayor in the light blue dress and white umbrella, stage left

Afterwards, we went seeking sustanence. It was Monday and our first two options weren’t open. We went with number three – Oceana Grill on Conti @ Bourbon. The last time I was here was 8 years ago and it stands the test of time as a casual dining establishment. It was as filled with local workers as tourists and we were served quickly with large portions of good food.

I went with the fried shrimp platter. Lots of them on the plate, plus hushpuppies and french fries. Nice bite to the jalapeno hush puppies and a nice fry on everything else.

Lisa had the Black and Bleu burger with blackening seasoning and blue cheese. Nice and beefy burger with a tangy sauce.

Vincenzo had the seafood platter, pilled high with oysters, catfish, shrimp. Lovely cornmeal batter on the thin and crispy catfish.

The server was friendly and quick with refills. For French Quarter dining, the prices are reasonable. I’d definitely stop by here again.

Charlie’s Steakhouse

For my birthday dinner, my folks came into town and we went to Charlie’s Steakhouse. Located on Dryades in Uptown, it is only open for dinner, Tuesday through Saturday. This is an old school steakhouse with no menus because there not much else on the menu but steak and sides. Exactly what I was looking for in a birthday dinner.

We started with onion rings. Thinly cut and deep fried, they were quite delicious. We all ate more than we should have based on how big the steaks were going to be.

Dad had half a wedge salad with bleu cheese dressing. He used some of the left over onion rings as a crouton.

We all went for 14 ounce ribeyes. Simply prepared with just salt and pepper, they came to the table still sizzling. All were cooked perfectly to order (from blue to rare to medium rare to medium) and were very succulent.

The sides were choose potatoes au gratin and sauteed button mushrooms. The potatoes were a little over salted but quite good with hunks of potato and lots and lots of cheddar cheese. They paired well with the lightly salted steak. The mushrooms and onions went very well with the steaks with their buttery flavor.

As it was my birthday, they brought out spumoni, a very rich ice cream. And, yes, I did share.

We finished every last  bite of dessert (although, we each had some steak left over for sandwiches the next day – and the day after that).

The atmosphere is relaxed and casual. The server was polite and very attentive. Everyone we came in contact with was friendly and personable. We even got a history lesson from the manager/owner about the original family, the restaurants they opened and were related to– so basically a success story of immigration to America. Oh, and a couple fun ones about bootlegging during Prohibition.

I would definitely recommend Charlie’s steaks. I know I’m not going to wait for another major milestone to go back again.

Gracious To Go

If you’re looking for good desserts (as well as other bakery items), Gracious bakery is the place to go. In fact, if I’m out and about in the morning around Earhart Blvd, I try to stop in a Gracious to Go. They are only open until 11am during the week here but, you are in and out fast, with fresh goodies to go.

Today, Michelle and I picket up a selection. We loved the deep, rich flavor of Valrhona chocolate in the chocolate croissant and chocolate pecan hand pie. The croissant was large, flakey and buttery and the hand pie almost had a cookie crust to go with the decadent interior.

We also some savory items, including a seasonal tart with sweet potato, Brussel sprouts and gruyere cheese and a spinach and goat cheese croissant.

The folks are super friendly and ready to make recommendations as well as encourage indulgences. Prices are reasonable and everything is fresh and creatively made. Try their two other locations for sandwiches and other items (one in Mid-city on Jeff Davis Pkwy and the other in the Garden District on St. Charles Avenue).

How to Boil Water Safely

After Turbine No. 6 went offline on Wednesday, September 20 at 7:25am, the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board took twenty minutes to switch over to an alternative electrical supply. Because the power loss resulted in a drop of water pressure to 15 psi, a boil water advisory was issued an hour later that continues today. New Orleans has an aging and cracked infrastructure and without sufficient pressure from inside the pipes, contaminants could leach into the pipes from the substrate.

Marsha Broussard, the City of New Orleans Director of Health, said no one should drink the tap water for the foreseeable future. Bottled or boiled water should be used to drink, cook, brush teeth, wash fruits and vegetables and to make ice. Pets should also be given bottled or boiled water.

Here is a how to:

Boil Water Safely

  1. Heat water until large bubbles come from the bottom to the top of the pot.
  2. Let the water boil for at least 1 minute.
  3. Turn off the heat and let the water cool.
  4. Store the water in a clean container with a cover.

If you don’t like the taste of boiled water, pour cooled water back and forth from one clean glass into another to add air to the water.

The Louisiana Department of Health has a ten page pdf on Boil Water Advisories that includes lots of helpful information on staying safe during one (link here)