Hogs and Vending Machine Champagne

There are many things happening in the restaurant and food world, and I am here to report more or less accurately on some of them.

Hogs for the Cause went down this past weekend at a new venue, the UNO Lakefront Arena Grounds. The event raised $1.3 million for pediatric cancer outreach services, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. Ninety teams competed in multiple categories, and from all reports the spread was amazing.

If you missed the event, you can still donate to the organization. There are worthy causes, and then there are worthy causes, and supporting families going through the experience of dealing with a child suffering brain cancer is worthy. Give if you can.

Chef Nina Compton was named a finalist for the “Best Chef – South” award by the James Beard Foundation earlier this year, and has now been named one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs for 2017. Chef Compton is not exactly “new,” but she’s certainly deserving of the recognition, because her restaurant, Compere Lapin, is super awesome and so is she.

Blackberries are in season, and you can find them if you know where to look. Areas of transition between open ground and a tree line are a good bet, but basically they grow anywhere they can get enough sun and won’t be mown down too frequently. One thing to consider, of course, is whether the berries you’re picking have been sprayed with something you don’t want to eat. If you have any doubt, don’t eat them, but usually you’ll see stunted growth, brown, dying leaves and other signs that the plant isn’t healthy if the plant has been sprayed with an herbicide.

When I was out last weekend, I also came across some mulberries, which look a bit like blackberries, but grow on the eponymous tree, and are generally much sweeter. Keep an eye out for those as well.

Do you know this jackass? He broke into Midway Pizza on Freret Street last week, and is still at large. I don’t know why, of all places to break into, you’d choose a pizza restaurant, but then I suppose I haven’t really considered all of the options where break-ins are concerned. That’s probably because I don’t break into places. My guess is that the jackass in question is an idiot in addition to being a jackass, and should consider what famed bank robber Willie Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks, “Because that’s where the money is.” Mr. Sutton did not rob pizza restaurants.

Perhaps I am mistaken, and this was a case of a man stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s starving children. One hopes, if that is the case, he finds a better way.

Finally, I provide to you without comment, but with emphasis added, a press release I received recently:


WHO:              Arnaud’s Restaurant

WHAT:            French Champagne giant Moët & Chandon brings champagne vending machine – one of three in the world – to Arnaud’s

WHEN:            April 13 – 16

WHERE:          Arnaud’s French 75 Bar, 813 Bienville St., New Orleans

WHY:               Arnaud’s patrons will be one of the first to experience a one-of-a-kind champagne vending machine, as part of a partnership with Moët & Chandon. The machine will be stocked with 320 mini bottles of the champagne maker’s Imperial Brut.

To make a purchase, guests can acquire Moët-branded gold coins available for $20 at Arnaud’s French 75 Bar. The machine carefully dispenses each bottle without shaking them. Each mini bottle comes with a Moët-branded spout for guests to drink immediately and directly from the bottle.

Arnaud’s is the first restaurant in the world to feature the state-of-the-art device. The bubbly dispenser was born in the UK two years ago. The other two machines are displayed in Las Vegas hotels.


I love Arnaud’s, and I love the French 75 bar, but I’m at a bit of a loss to figure out why I’d want to first buy a gold coin at the bar, then go to a vending machine to buy a very small bottle of champagne that I’m supposed to drink from the bottle like a savage. I will drink beer from a bottle, and I have become accustomed to wine from a can, but a special spout designed for guests to drink immediately and directly from a champagne bottle that has just been delivered tenderly from a vending machine is right out. Right out.


Enjoy your weekends, friends.


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