Monday, May 30, 2011

Myth Busters

Even little know that you can't eat raw meat without getting sick, right? WRONG! Aside from delicious Italian carpaccio, there are hundreds of delicacies from all around the work that serve up raw meat. I' m not talking about sushi, I'm talkin bright red flesh and bone, well maybe not the bone! I know this probably sounds (and looks) disgusting, but it really is spectacular. The lovely thin cuts of beef seen below come from none other than Pho Danh #4 (of course), and do actually lightly cook in the steaming hot bowl of pho. However, this side of meat is served to your table exactly like this. 

Pho Danh on Urbanspoon

However, there are many dishes which involve no cooking at all. The dish below is an incredible Bim Bim Bop from Korea House, our only Korean restaurant in the city. This dish is served with raw beef that has been cured like ceviche, giving it a surprisingly light and refreshing flavor. The cut of meat is soft and easy to chew, not at all as gamey as I would have expected. I was a little on the fence about the whole raw meat thing before I dug in but this dish won me over.

All traditional Bim Bim Bop dishes come with a million types of Kimchee. For those who don't know, Kimchee is Korean pickled vegetables. Usually it is hard to find anything other than Korean pickled cabbage, but this came with all the appropriate fixins for a perfect Bim Bim Bop (my favorite Korean dish). They served pickled potatoes, cucumbers, carrots, radish, sprouts, and even black beans. Bim Bim Bob also is served with a raw egg on top. Usually, when this dish is accompanied by cooked meat, it is served in a hot clay pot that cooks all the ingredients together (including the raw egg). However, because we ordered the raw variation it was served cold... thereby keeping the egg raw as well. Interestingly, the raw egg creeped me out more than the beef. Too many years of my mother telling me I'd get salmonella if I licked the batter bowl!
If you are feeling adventurous definitely check out Korea House in Metairie and give it a shot! It's actually a perfectly tangy and light dish for the summer!
Korea House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 28, 2011


For years, this has been one of my family's favorite restaurants. In fact, it may be my entire family's number 1 in New Orleans. We first came to this adorable converted shotgun almost 5 years ago, on a trip to check out Tulane. My dad had heard from his friends who were from here that it was no doubt the place to go. When I first entered this warm and cozy restaurant I knew it was our style. Great (fancy) food, with a relaxed atmosphere, and friendly service, not something you find everyday back home in Vegas.
Their menu is pretty consistent, which would probably get old if I went there more than once a year. But my annual meal at Brigtsens is always divine. This year I unfortunately was extremely sick on the night of my graduation, when we came to Brigtsens and could barely taste my food. But I did take lots of photographs as usual, and each dish got rave reviews from everyone at the table.

I ordered the seafood platter seen above. As you can see, there were a million things to try on that tiny little plate. Even with my stuffy nose I did manage to still taste the incredible jalapeno and crawfish corn bread and stuffed crab. The plate also came along with baked oysters, redfish topped with crawfish tails, and coleslaw topped with shrimp. Not to mention the crawfish garnish. This is definitely a great dish to get if you're not from here and want to try a little bit of everything... or if like me, you just love seafood and have food ADD. My parents got their usual tuna steak with incredible mashed potatoes and sauteed veggies and Eric got the speckled trout topped with hollandaise. Everyone was mesmerized by the flavors and aroma of their food, except me of course who spent most of my time trying to discreetly blow my nose in one of the nicest restaurants in the city.

There is one thing that is disappointing about Brigtsen's though, the Pecan Pie. Ordinarily I would think it's good, not great, but still a yummy after dinner sweet, but my expectations were set too high when I heard it was featured on a Food Network TV show called Best Thing I Ever Had. This disappoints me greatly because it is literally steps away from the BEST pecan pie in the city, Camellia Grill of course! There pie is tastier to start off, but they really drive it home when they butter it and put it on the grill, which is really the only way to order it (and a la mode of course). Brennan's does have a close second, that is served hot and nice and gooey as well, but I actually like Camellia Grill's food better than the infamous Brennan's.... but that's a story for another time.
So the next time you want to treat yourself to a fancy, romantic dinner at a friendly place go uptown to Brigtsen's and then get dessert down the street!

Brigtsen's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Maps for Diners, DriveIns and Dives, Man v. Food and more

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pascal's Manale

With NOWFE (the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience) kicking off this week I wanted to take some time to do some restaurant reviews myself. This food festival brings in foodies from all over the country, and globe, who all think they know exactly what they're talking about. Some are genuinely nice people looking for some good grub and friendly people, others have a stick stuck up the wrong end and can't seem to get the pretension out of their back handed comments. But from someone who lives and eats in New Orleans, and has for 4 years, here's my opinion of some of the top notch joints in this lovely city.

If you ask anyone around here where to get the best BBQ shrimp at least 7 out of 10 will say Pascal's Manale. Located on the ever so beautiful Napolean Avenue, I drive by almost everyday, but had never had the pleasure of peeling and biting into one of these famous shrimp until my godparents came in town for my graduation.
They are quite beautiful but I must say I was definitely disappointed. I've been hearing about these "phenomenal" shrimp for years, some even go as far to say that it is the ONLY place you should get them in the city, but to be honest there was nothing BBQ about them. It was simply shrimp drowning in butter, which of course is tasty, but not BBQ! Until recently, my favorite BBQ shrimp could be found at Bacco, a lovely Brennan's restaurant that unfortunately closed down a few months back. Those shrimp were blackened and smokey and smothered in butter, but these merely have the butter factor. I've been told K Paul's has some great BBQ shrimp so I'll have to check that out soon. But I was not completely disappointed by Pascal's Manale. First of all, their bar is adorable and they make some great extra dirty gin martinis. Plus, their soft shell crab was really tasty.
The oysters were a bit too meaty for me, but they have an awesome standing oyster bar that would be great for a casual date or even game night with the boys.
Get ready for some more reviews, I'm tired of tourists telling everyone wrong information!
Maps for Diners, DriveIns and Dives, Man v. Food and more
Pascal's Manale on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 23, 2011

Couples Cooking 101: Thai Curry

Cooking for two is a fun, romantic, cheap way to impress a date, but you don't have to do it all on your own! By sharing the cooking duties you have a fun activity filled date, and twice the help doing the dishes! Here is a step by step guide to making a delicious Asian noodle dish for two. Whether you're a pro, or a navice, this recipe is simple enough for you!
Eric and I concocted this recipe while hungrily dreaming about dinner one day. With few ingredients to choose from in my house, we had to dig through my stash of Asian ingredients from Hong Kong market. With a can of Mussamam curry paste, coconut milk and thai flat noodles, we knew we were half way to a delicious dinner. All we needed were a few vegetables and some chicken to pull it all together. If you're making this at home here is what you need to do. First gather all the necessary ingredients; 1 green bell pepper 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 onion, chicken thighs (or breast if you're too healthy for dark meat), 1 can of coconut milk, rice or Asian flat noodles, curry paste. If you don't have an Asian food store near you Whole Foods sells many Asian sauces and spices, including curry paste. Once you've gathered the ingredients decide who is going to be the head chef and who is going to be the sous chef. Most couples have one person who is the better cook, so this hopefully will not be too hard to decide.
To start off, the head chef begins de-boning and removing the skin of the chicken thighs. Meanwhile, the sous chef starts boiling hot water for the noodles (or rice), and begins chopping the vegetables. Once the chicken is ready the head chef begins the stir-fry. Simply pan fry the veggies and chicken in a wok/iron skillet/regular pan, adding salt, pepper and mild sauces/spices that go well with curry. Once the noodles are aldente the sous chef drains and rinses them. Using a large pot, the head chef stirs the stir-fry in with curry paste and coconut milk that has been brewing on low heat for 5 minutes. Both chefs take turns mixing the curry in with the stir-fry and noodles, adding spices and sauces if desired. Eric and I added some Hoisin, Sriracha, Oyster Sauce, Soy, and a little cinnamon, but most curries are fine on their own. Spicy curry goes wonderfully with an IPA if you're looking to drink a beer with your meal, but I like eating it with a glass of white wine. Eric and I got a rather tasty bottle of white from Whole Foods for under ten dollars that had just the amount of spice to complement the flavor of the curry, but I also recently discovered a box wine company that is incredible for the price. Box wine is known for being quite disgusting, but it recently has found a place in the respected wine section. Black Box, the classiest box wine you can get at the grocery runs for about $30, but Big House, an adorably packaged, very nice company, has boxes for around $13. I can't lie, I was originally attracted to the packaging, but I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the flavor was. And $13 for 3 Liters (4 bottles of wine) is a great price.
Finally, for dessert we made my favorite dish of the night: Baked Brie. It was absolutely fantastic, like the best part of butter and cheese combined. To make these heavenly puffs of decadence we wrapped brie and honey in crescent rolls (super easy and cheap) and then topped it off with strawberries, which we cooked down in butter and praline liquor, and of course powdered sugar. It was sheer nirvana. If I had to eat one thing for the rest of my life it might have to be this desert. You must try it at home! It is so easy and soooooooo delicious!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Proof I'm Not a Food Snob

As the writer of a food blog, I catch a lot of people writing me off as a "foodie," aka a pretentious food snob that can never quite be pleased with their meal. However, if you read this chronicle (as I am assuming most people reading this now do) it is likely clear to you that I am no such thing. First of all, I LOVE food, almost all food; whether it comes from a five star fancy shmancy establishment or McDonalds, I usually find something I quite enjoy. In fact, many of my favorite fried chicken and po boy joints in the city are gas stations! Now what kind of snob would I be if I were to find myself in a Kwicky Mart grabbing dinner???? Not a very good one, I'll tell you that.

So here is my proof that I am not a food snob!!! Sweet Things and Grill. This adorable pink dinner is about the size of my bedroom and as bright as the lights I grew up with in Vegas. Between the pink roof and the cute name I have had my eye on this gem for quite some time. But I finally took the plunge and tried this Metairie dive a few weeks ago.
I immediately knew it was my kind of place as soon as I walked in. Tucked inside this humble dinner were six older adults, jolly and silly huddled around a tiny counter playing poker for pocket change. I kid you not, there were dimes and nickels everywhere! And everyone was incredibly friendly. I felt like I was in a scene from a Sandra Bullock movie in some quaint town where everyone knows each other and waves hello on their way to work. It's the type of place that just makes you feel nostalgic for times that frankly I wasn't even alive for.
Served up on a lovely styrofoam plate, this dinner makes all the kinds of food you wanted as a kid, cheeseburgers, french fries, grilled cheese, and yes... they have castle burgers! These teeny tiny patties made famous by Harold and Kumar are actually good. I know, I was surprised too! And super cheap, if my memory serves me correctly, one baby burger was 49 cents. Not bad at all. And of course, I almost forgot to mention the doughnuts! I'm pretty sure most people come for the doughnuts and coffee but I enjoyed my burger and grilled cheese more than my sprinkle doughnut. It might be because I went at the end of the night, but if you're torn between eclair or castle burger choose the burger!

Sweet Things & Grill on Urbanspoon

In summation, this evidence clearly proves my innocence and takes me out of the food snob category and into the food lover section, where I rightfully belong. My friend Nick brought a great article to my attention that I think expresses how I feel perfectly. Jonah Campbell the writer of a blog called Still Crapulent wrote an article for Food for Thinkers, in which he writes, "i do not much care for the term "foodie," but to claim that my political analysis is greater than my aesthetic distaste for it would be disingenuous; i just think there's something both precious and pernicious about the marketing logic that transforms a love for food and the eating thereof into a conspicuously subcultural marker. i don't mean to startle anyone, but such folk have always been among us, some notorious epicures, gourmets and gourmands; others perhaps recognizable only to those of like mind, the goinfres, goulus, or plain old great eaters—those, in any case, devoted in their own ways to the pleasurable embellishments and stylistic flourishes of the art of self-preservation (especially the pickles, confits and ferments thereof)."

Ironically, his bombastic writing style makes him sound a bit pretentious, the very thing people seem to dislike about "foodies" but I do agree with his message. Read more here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mackenzie Makes a Feast

In honor of Mackenzie's birthday (which is today) I decided to make a post entirely devoted to showing off her incredible culinary skills. This really isn't difficult at all considering her food is usually very photogenic, especially the delightful dishes she made recently for Easter.
Above is her smashing summer quinoa salad. For those who don't know, quinoa is an incredibly healthy and scrumptious grain that is super easy to cook and quite inexpensive. You can find it at Whole Foods in the dry goods isle, or at any grocery near rice and pasta. It is especially tasty and nutritious when paired with fresh veggies like these snap peas, green peas, and mushrooms. Super simple, healthy, and so good you'll be begging for seconds, not many dishes can accomplish all of that. Below is a fabulous whole grain pizza made with baked brie, blackberry preserves, and red onion, it was absolutely incredible. If you like the desert pizza at pizza hut brace yourself because your mouth is about to have a system overload. Baked brie is always spectacular, but paired with the other toppings it was mind blowing.
However, the bacon, pesto, and yard egg pizza was also fabulous... and more photogenic than the Dominica pie that inspired this creation. Though I do adore bacon and pesto (and eggs on pizza) my heart only gets that warm tingly sensation when my tastebuds are awakened by the oh-so mouthwatering sweet-savory combo; which is why the other two pizzas were my favorite.
This pie beats the bacon because although it is hard to tell from the photograph, underneath that ooey gooey luscious cheese is thinly sliced sweet potatoes. Again the salty-sweet dynamic prevails as the winner, as this pie was unanimously the favorite of all six taste-testers, myself included.
But wait there's more! Mackenzie also managed to make a spectacular (and healthy) potato salad without Mayo! Unlike most people in New Orleans, I am slightly grossed out by mayonnaise and try to refrain from eating it unless it's on a po boy. So naturally, potato salad is not exactly my favorite side dish, but this one was just lovely! Tangy and light, with a variety of veggies and a bit of cilantro.
Clearly I choose roommates wisely! Happy Birthday Mack Attack, here's to many more years of cooking, tasting, and indulging in the finer things in life.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Summer Treats

I took a little writing vacation the last week to fully celebrate my graduation, which I unfortunately stayed sick for, but I am finally feeling better - and just in time for summer! Schools are closing, the weather is warming up and we're all trying to loose those extra few pounds for bathing suit season. But even with all the summer dieting in session, one thing cannot go out the window: Ice Cream!!!! There is something just too wonderful about a refreshing frozen desert that brightens any summer day. Whether it's gelato, soft serve, or a milkshake, it's all too good to pass up. And oh so perfect for for a humid June afternoon.

Aside from sno-balls, one of my favorite chilled local desserts is Nectar Soda, an almond flavored beverage made of nectar syrup, club soda and vanilla ice cream. This beautiful float comes from none other than Creole Creamery(my favorite). And in case you're looking for a little pick me-up, let me just say that it is mighty fine with a bit of Malibu Rum to top it off.
Creole Creamery on Urbanspoon
If gelato is more your style fear not, your buttery Italian friend is not far. Located right in the heart of the city isAngelo Brocato's Italian Ice Cream and Desserts. This authentic gelateria serves up some of the best gelato I've had in the states. My favorite is Pistachio, but their chocolate hazelnut is a close contender.
Angelo Brocato Ice Cream & Confectionery on Urbanspoon

It has a great atmosphere and even better treats. Their coffee is also quite delicious. But my favorite part was their customers. Maybe I just happened to go on a good day, but everyone seemed to be in a particularly jolly mood. Young and old, getting giddy of ice cream and chocolate, two kids were even in their jammies. It was quite an adorable site to behold.

Then of course there are always sno-balls the New Orleans classic summer cool-down desert. Our tastier, even more cavity provoking version of a snow-cone. Ultra fluffy extra thin shaved ice drenched in sugary flavored syrup, how can you not like that? Drizzle a little condensed milk over the top and you have yourself a masterpiece. But if that's not doing it for you, this may... imagine all of that tasty goodness with soft serve ice cream hiding in the middle. That's right I said it. It's like if a Wendy's Frosty and a Plum Street Sno-Ball miraculously merged into one super dessert! Not all sno-ball joints have the frozen yogurt machine to create this spectacular concoction, but please, for your own sake, if you can get it "stuffed" DO IT.

Finally, if you are just too gosh darn healthy to consume any of the previously mentioned sinful delights, I have just the fix. No, it's not a smoothie from Jamba Juice or Smoothie King (although those can really hit the spot sometimes), it's Boba tea! Often called bubble tea, these odd smoothies come in all sorts of strange flavors with tapioca pearls floating on bottom. Many of the flavors are chock full of sugar (not too much healthier than the other frozen sweets) but the tapioca actually is a great source of iron... plus, they're really fun to chew (and use as spit balls, mature, I know!). One of my favorite odd ball flavors is Avocado. I kid you not, it is wonderfully fresh and great on a hot day. But milk tea and thai tea are great flavors too if you want something a little different, but you're not into drinking vegetables, which is totally understandable but you should rethink that decision!

You can find these fun shakes at most Vietnamese restaurants and in the Hong Kong Market complex. Check it out and let me know what your favorite flavor is so I can expand my Boba horizons!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Soft Shell Crab

Soft shell crab, one of the most delicious New Orleans delicacies is only in season during the late spring and early summer months. During that time you'll find it on the menus of every fancy shamncy restuarant in the city, along with some more low key po boy joints. 

The best soft shell crab po boy I have never had is from Ninja Sushi.  Ninja only makes this po boy a few times a year for festivals, but it is fantastic! The tempura batter and spicy mayo add a nice Japanese twist to this Louisiana classic. Definitely try one of these stunners next time you see them at Po Boy Fest! 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Almost Famous

The Hungry Heretic is finally getting some hype! First it was featured on The Shed's facebook page, then on some random UK food blog called Chubbs and Chunks, and now on the wall of Dat Dog, one of my new favorite restaurants!

Apparently, Constantine Georges, one of the owners of Dat Dog found my post while googling his fine restaurant one night. Flattered by my raving revue he printed out my article and hung it up right next to a review from an actual publication! It's actually hung in two places, one is on the wall next to the counter and one is in the bathroom. I couldn't be happier to be someone's bathroom reading.

I discovered my new fame the other day when friends of mine saw my article hanging on the wall.

Of course, I had to thank the proprietors for being so kind so I naturally went right over to show my appreciation. Little did I know that Constantine would be such a warm and friendly man. He was so pleased to meet the girl who called his delicious dogs "orgasmic" that he told me next time I come in I get a dog on the house!

Hopefully there will be more friendly owners and free swag to come.

Happy Eating!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bye Bye College

I graduate college in exactly 6 days, that's right no more school EVER!!!!! As you can tell, I'm super pumped to be done but there are a few things Im going to miss, the people (of course), my relatively stress free life, the strange conversations I have with professors, and last but most certainly not least, the drinking culture. Now I'm not saying that I'm an alcoholic or anything along those lines, but I do thoroughly enjoy employing the its 5 o' clock somewhere logic. And that is most definitely the college approach. I can just always justify having a tasty beer, whether it's 2 in the afternoon or 2 in the morning, a brewsky is always the answer.

Of course I can continue living my life that way, but it may prove challenging when I have a 9-5 job. Then it really will be 5 o' clock when I'm catching a swig of a nice refreshing ale.

At this point it's a toss up between my top four favorite local beers, Abita Strawberry, Covington Strawberry, Covington P40 and Turbodog. Each has it's own fantastic qualities. Covington on tap is definitely my favorite, somehow when it's on tap it is magical. If Boddington's cream ale and Nestle strawberry milk powder had a baby it would taste like this heavenly seasonal beverage. I'm convinced that part of why I'm so enfatuated by this beer is it's lack of availability. Supply and demand is a beautiful thing. And until very recently it could only be found on tap at a few bars. I seriously had a party when I found out it was finally bottled. Unfortunately it loses some of it's creamy goodness when it's not on tap.

The other Covington Brewery brew I love is also very rare, in fact it has a private contract with American Sector, and is only sold there! (Which is why I'm there for happy hour to get this fantastic creamy light beer at least once a week).

Finally, the last two are from none other than the Abita brewery.

Abita Strawberry, and Turbodog. Nobody ever seems surprised that I enjoy the Strawberry (as most girls my age do), but the Turbodog does get some interesting responses. This dark beer is an English Brown Ale, which tastes just as chocolaty and roasted as a stout, but a little lighter on the hops, in other words, it's perfect. It's roasty flavor gives it a hint of espresso bean, and with the right food pairing you could think you're drinking coffee, often just the pick me up you need for a long day of day drinking.

As the wise Homer Simpson once said, "Alcohol, it's the cause and solution of all of life's problems."


Friday, May 6, 2011

Vietnamese Showdown

I am officially done with school... FOREVER!!!! With all this new free time I've had more freedom to indulge my most common food craving as of late, Vietnamese food of course! As I've mentioned numerous times before, New Orleans is home to some seriously legit Vietnamese Restaurants. However, the best, most authentic spots are a bit out of the city on the West Bank. I often drive over the river to visit these fine establishments, but I recently learned about a noodle house in Harahan, a slightly closer neighborhood. Kim Anh's Noodle House blew my mind. Their Bun was fantastic, Bun is basically a Vietnamese salad made of cold vermicelli noodles, daikon, pickled carrots, cucumber, mint, cilantro, green onion, some sort of meat, and sweet nuoc nom dipping sauce. I got mine with chargrilled pork and shrimp and I could not have been happier.

It was so spectacular that I drove all the way back to Harahan two days later to eat more delicious noodles. This time I got a soup made with pork broth, egg noodles, cilantro, bean sprouts, lime, jalapeno, chicken, beef, and seafood. There may have been too much going on in this one little bowl. I loved the fish balls and crab sticks and broth, but the rest was a little disappointing after how spectacular their Bun was.

Clearly that didn't quench my Vietnamese cravings. After months of hearing rave reviews about9 Roses (aka Hoa Hong 9), a restaurant on the West Bank, I finally had my chance to investigate. Their menu is enormous, I mean absolutely HUGE!!! They have delicacies such as imitation shark fin soup and jellyfish salad. As usual Eric went with the stranger dish.

He got coconut curry eel which was actually really tasty. I had never had eel in any form other than sushi, but I'm definitely a fan. It's a little odd because it really does taste like a fusion of fish and chicken, similar to frog legs.

After my delicious Bun from Kim Anh's I had to see how it compared to 9 Roses and it actually was a very close call. It may be a perfect tie. As a whole dish Kim Anh's was actually victorious, but the 9 Roses chargrilled pork was phenomenal. I'm going to have to go back to 9 Roses soon and try something a little more daring... maybe even the jellyfish!

Hoa Hong 9 (Nine Roses) on Urbanspoon
Kim Anh's Noodle House on Urbanspoon