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May 29, 201409:56 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Beer and Providence

A big beer tasting, seafood joints, Rhode Island and what's a "dive," anyway?

Parkway Bakery & Tavern, which was included on a list of "favorite seafood dives."

There are certain things that occur seasonally. Beer was once one of those things, but no longer. There is no specific “beer-tasting” season, but there are certain times of the year that beer is celebrated locally more than other times when beer is celebrated locally at sporting events. 
Witness: June 13 and 14 the beer tastings at Mardi Gras World hosted by WYES television. On Friday the 13th the 6th annual private beer sampling, which costs $50 per person, kicks things off from 7 to 10. Here’s what they said in the press release: 
"Sample over 90 plus craft brewed beers, specially made cask and home brewed beers, as well as special one-off beers from local and national breweries. Sample rare beers that you might not have the chance to sample again! There will be brew masters on-hand to talk about the craft and imported beers. Guests will receive a tasting glass and complimentary food provided by chef Tom Hinyup of Sun Ray Grill. Savor Thai riblets, sesame coleslaw, Cuban sandwiches and guacamole served with blue corn chips."
Saturday kicks off the largest beer event in Louisiana, the International Beer Tasting, which runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., again at Mardi Gras World. More than 275 beers are available to sample on Saturday. “More beer than you can drink” is NOT the slogan of the event, but c’mon. In their favor, the event features special pricing for “designated driver” tickets and round-trip bus tickets to the Northshore for $10. 
You can find out a lot more by visiting the website and I recommend you do so. 
Among the other press releases I received recently was a notice from a magazine called Coastal Living that they had released their annual list of Favorite Seafood Dives: “The list names 18 joints across the country from the Florida Keys up to Rhode Island and out to the Pacific Northwest where you’ll find cold beverages and fresh, off-the-boat seafood.” 
Parkway Bakery and Tavern was the local hook on which that story hung for me; at least as far as the publicist involved was concerned. But there’s more to this story than you may note on first impression. From the Florida Keys up to RHODE ISLAND …? 
Rhode Island is not a place that comes up in articles like this unless there is some sort of hidden agenda. Hell, Rhode Island doesn’t come up at all unless there is some sort of hidden agenda. It is the Hyperborea of States; the fabled land where men are often bearded and the women are a little too quiet but probably very interesting. It is also, of course, a land of fraud. 
While I will admit my sense of geography is not entirely sound, I know an island when I see one, and that is not an island. “Rhode Archipelago” is more like it, or possibly “Rhode Isthmus,” but I guess the dissemblers of “The Ocean State” don’t care much about that sort of thing. 
They probably have fine seafood there in the State Whose Nickname Should Be “The State That’s Largely Coastline,” and I’m really only making fun of the place for the same reason I sometimes pick on Liechtenstein: it’s a soft target. I know a grand total of one person from Rhode Peninsula, and while that person is larger than me, he is a gentle soul and poses no threat to those not on opposing rugby teams. 
But I digress.
I like Parkway, but I’m not sure if I were asked for a “seafood dive” it would be my first pick. I might go with R&O’s, maybe, or Bevi Seafood, or some joint on a back road south of I-10 and west of Baton Rouge.  
Additionally, I’m not sure any of the places mentioned above qualify as “dives.” I acknowledge that I’m 45 years old, but I when I think “dive,” I think of the place I observed “there is no running water within miles of here,” or of the place that prompted the question, “what is the origin of that hair in my soup?” and finally remembering the joint where I noted, “that cook who obviously has tuberculosis just coughed onto my fries and also I’m pretty sure that old dude at the bar just told me he has a metal plate in his head.” (True story).  
Perhaps things in the industry have changed such that visiting a “dive” no longer entails the risk of being stabbed. I don’t know. I’m not even sure why I’m quibbling with the nomenclature. Why does it matter whether you call a place a “dive” or a “joint” or just “casual?” Why am I asking you this question? 
But I digress.

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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene


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 here 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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