With the first refreshing breaths of cooling autumn air and the turning of the leaves – to the extent that leaves actually change here – we can welcome a season for outdoor dining. After a long summer spent huffing frigid Freon fumes and running about in tank tops, we can finally dress up a bit and enjoy dining al fresco once again. My personal favorite place for outdoor dining is Café Degas. The patio dining room at this charming French bistro is built around gardens and a tree trunk, lending the space the feel of a tree house and an ever-present air of romance. The verdant, picturesque view of Alcee Fortier Park, located just across graceful Esplanade Avenue, lends itself well to long lingering meals of shared charcuterie boards, steak frites and, for bunch, omelets with fines herbs and lumps of crabmeat.
Café Degas is a top destination for an exceptionally good happy hour, offered Wednesdays and Thursdays, 3-6 p.m. Plates of assorted pâtés with saucissons, fig mustard and cornichons are offered for $6; plump, expertly fried oysters with creamy aioli are also $6; classic escargot arrive swimming in garlic butter for $5; and a hearty portion of Moules au Fenouil and frites is available for $8. Glasses of quality French wines, both still and sparkling, a daily house cocktail and glasses of Nola Blonde beer are $5.
So dear to my heart, The Southern Food & Beverage Museum (SoFAB), New Orleans’ institution devoted to the preservation and perpetuation of the food of the American South, will present the 2018 Contemporary Issues in Food & Drink Lecture Series presented by Domino Foods: “Edna Lewis, Southern Food, & Identity: A Conversation with Sara Franklin & Liz Williams.”
The food of the South resonates with the heartbeats of the people who have developed and eaten it. From the outside it’s Southern food. From the inside, it’s food. On October 18, Sara Franklin and Liz Williams will explain the role of Edna Lewis in introducing America to Southern Food, and shaping the way we see the South and its food. Following the discussion SoFAB will host a great number of southern cookbook authors, who will sign and discuss their books. Authors include Elizabeth Williams, Poppy Tooker, Kit Wohl, Yvette Jemison, Beth D’Addono, Justin Nystrom and Cynthia Nobles.
Admission to the lecture is free, but please RSVP to secure your spot.
Culinary entrepreneur Kyle Brechtel (Fulton Alley and Bonfire Catering) recently opened Copper Vine, a new wine bar concept with a state-of-the-art wine tap system in the historic, circa 1876, Edwardian building that once housed Maylie’s Restaurant.
There is an expansive, lush, sexy tropical courtyard decked out with bench seating, throw pillows, rugs and elegant minimalist outdoor furniture.
Thirty wine varietals are available on tap. Wine flights allow for vertical exploration of flavors and varietals, and a Coravin system allows guests to taste 20 higher end and exotic wines that aren’t typically poured by-the-glass. There are eight local beers on tap, as well as a strong cocktail program.
Chef Mike Brewer, formerly with Brennan’s, Commander’s Palace and his award-winning sandwich spot The Sammich (where he took home the crown as the 2015 King of Louisiana Seafood) is heading up the kitchen with a solid gastro pub approach. Snacks start at a thrifty $4 and include deviled eggs topped with jumbo lump crab meat; beef carpaccio with hot sauce-pickled strawberries, pea shoots, snow peas and shaved radish; and farm-raised Murder Point oysters with pineapple-mint gelée topped with Cajun caviar. Flatbreads include duck confit with bacon jam, goat cheese and micro arugula as well as escargot with shiitake mushrooms, housemade bacon, pork trotter marinara, preserved lemon and charred onion. There are also inventive, interesting soups and enticing entrées, like chicken fricassee with crawfish boil peanuts and boudin rice, and Cajun bouillabaisse. I am not much on desserts, but the goat cheesecake with basil ice cream sounds pretty irresistible.
3127 Esplanade Ave., 945-5635, CafeDegas.com.
1009 Poydras St., 208-9535, CopperVineWine.com.
The Southern Food & Beverage Museum
1504 Oretha C. Haley Blvd., 569-0405, For reservations: NatFAB.org/events/edna-lewis-conversation.