Not long ago I got an email from a guy named Matt Del Vecchio, alerting me to his start-up, Laugh Eat Foods. He offered to send me a sample of the shelf-stable gumbo they're selling under the brand New Orleans Soup Co. Now when I hear “shelf-stable gumbo,” I'm not immediately going to salivate, but I do like local companies, and Del Vecchio mentioned in a follow-up email that their roux is made with duck fat. I thought I'd give it a shot.
Two cartons of Gumbo Ya-Ya arrived a few days after my emails with Del Vecchio. The cartons are made by a company called Tetra-Pak, which claims they're designed to allow sensitive products like milk stay fresh without refrigeration or preservatives for up to 12 months. In New Orleans Soup Co.'s case, they're also pretty cool-looking. The company's name is done in lettering provided by Nolatiles, and there's an image of a streetcar on the front. I liked what I saw on the back, too, which was a list of ingredients that was small and composed of words I can both pronounce and understand.
None of that would be terribly important were it not for the fact that the gumbo was actually very good. It's fairly light in color for a gumbo, and pretty thick at room temperature. There was a little oil floating at the top after I tore open the packaging, but I mixed it in before heating it. The soup thinned considerably on being warmed. What was most impressive to me was that there's a background of spiciness to it. It needed a little salt, but that was easily solved. I'm not sure I'd have picked up the duck fat in the roux had I not been told in advance, but it gives a subtle flavor to the dish.
You can pick up New Orleans Soup Co.'s Gumbo Ya-Ya at a number of retailers around the city, the current list is available at this link.
Pêche, the latest restaurant from chefs Donald Link, Stephen Stryjewski and Ryan Prewitt is slated to open April 18, 2013, and you can check out the menu at the restaurant's website. It's understandably seafood-centric, but what I find interesting is the diversity of the flavors on offer. The raw bar has local oysters, of course, but they're also serving tuna, flounder and shrimp. Shrimp toast and stuffed mussels are among the more interesting snacks, and I'll be checking out the fish collars in chile vinegar and spicy ground shrimp with noodles on the small plates menu. They've got a grill at Pêche, and you can order a whole fish cooked on it, as well as tuna served with olive salad.
I'm not entirely sure why I'm describing all of this to you, as the link in the first sentence will take you to the actual menu, and I haven't had a chance to taste any of it so as to give you guidance on what to order. Maybe I'm just looking to fill space? But that doesn't make sense, since there's no space limit or requirement on the internet.
I think it's because I simply love typing.