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Feb 15, 201810:46 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Post-Mardi Gras Eats

 

Whether you participate in the traditional Lenten fast or not, after Carnival we all tend to need a bit of a break from rich, heavy food. It’s a bit easier when you consider that the weather – unusually cold this year – is bound to warm up soon, meaning lighter fare is more seasonally appropriate, too.

Boiled crawfish are a classic, of course, and while they’re a bit expensive this year, I don’t think many New Orleanians are going to forego a boil over a few bucks. My favorite place to pick up the bugs is Bevi Seafood, which has locations in Metairie and Mid-City.

I am an adventurous home cook, but there are a few things I’m just not going to do myself, including boiling crawfish and frying a turkey. Could I do either of those things? Probably, but the result would almost certainly not be as good as what I could get from a professional (or from a friend or neighbor who does it regularly), and the cost to purchase the gear I’d need would mean I’d end up paying more for sub-par food. Also, while the risk I’d end up in the hospital if I tried to fry a large bird isn’t high, it’s high enough that the reward isn’t worth it.

I also don’t really fish. It’s not that I wouldn’t; it’s just that I haven’t taken advantage of the opportunities to fish that have been offered to me by friends because of the time commitment, and to be honest because friends sometimes give me fish that was professionally cleaned and filleted (particular thanks to David R.)

I am a lucky and grateful man.

Now and again I make salads, but following the freeze last month I have re-planted arugula in my garden and in a few weeks I anticipate having a bumper crop. I know arugula is pretty much ubiquitous in salads, but I love the stuff, and as good as the industry has gotten with packaging the stuff, there’s nothing like arugula (or any green) that you can eat within hours of taking it from the garden.

In terms of dressings, I prefer the minimal approach for the most part. A little oil, a little lemon juice and a bit of pepper are perfect. One exception is Caesar dressing, and the best example of that dish I know is at Boucherie, where they grill the Romaine before dressing it and then use a generous hand with the Parmesan. I buy Romaine to make a version of that dish which, while not as good as the original, is still pretty damn tasty.

I’d be delighted to know your Lenten traditions; do you make any inventive substitutions to traditional recipes so you can continue to enjoy them without guilt? Do you change your diet completely? What restaurants do you frequent more often during Lent? Let me know in the comments, if you would? 

 

 

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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

about

Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived in New Orleans his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.

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