Spring Rollin’ Two new Vietnamese restaurants have appeared on the scene. Vietnam Cuisine on Veterans Boulevard in Metairie has been opened by a team of sisters and their mom. The food is more on the American side of the Asian cuisine spectrum (hopefully that will change) but their Pho (soup) is aromatic with a heady beef broth base, and the Cha Gio (Vietnamese fried egg rolls) are absolutely delectable, crunchy bites of pork, glass noodles, carrots and seasonings. Uptown, LA Café Deli has opened on Oak Street at Carrollton Avenue. 

Sandwich Alert The Grocery on St. Charles Avenue at 6th Street has a slew of tasty pressed sandwiches but my personal favorite is the Avenue Special – grape-studded chicken salad, topped with avocado, bacon and Swiss cheese on rye.

Over in Mid-City, Shaggy’s Seafood and Sandwich Shop slings hot dogs served on poppy seed buns. Culinary reminiscences of my Chicago youth are satisfied with the all-beef, Chicago-style hot dog, topped with onions, relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato wedges, yellow mustard, sport peppers and a shake of celery salt.

Sugar, Sugar I’ve been popping into Sucré since mid-April (just before it opened) to sneak tastes of the sweet treats. Fruit jellies (pâté de fruits) of apple and raspberry, to name a couple, are addictive as is the airy and deep chocolate gelato, gorgeous airbrushed chocolates, French macaroons (the Cassis – black currant cream and pistachio – is heavenly) and plated desserts. Our waistlines are in a lot of trouble here.

National Props Not only has Chef Ian Schnoeblen, right, of Iris (New Orleans Magazine’s Best New Restaurant 2006) been tapped by Food & Wine as one of this year’s Top 10 Best New Chefs in the U.S. (magazine on sale June 19) but our fair food city was featured in the May issue of that magazine with special notation to Casamento’s, Cochon, La Petite Grocery, Lilette, Parasol’s and Restaurant August.

Love her or not Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine is an interesting read, RESTAURANT INSIDERespecially the May issue, where New Orleans was featured through the eyes, ears and palate of Irvin Mayfield. Jr. Where did he take the writer to eat? Emeril’s, Morton’s The Steakhouse, La Crêpe Nanou and Port of Call. Muriel’s Jackson Square was mentioned for their wine list and the Séance Room but we all know that they should have dined there, too.

Last, but by no means least, Esquire Magazine published their list of “60 Things Worth Shortening Your Life For.” Many of the items listed were food and it also included some drinks. Of those listed, a number were New Orleans classics – Oysters Mosca at Mosca’s in Avondale; The Carpetbagger steak topped with blue cheese, a fried oyster, hollandaise, and caramelized onions at Jacques-Imo’s; The Ramos Gin Fizz; and Sazeracs at Tujague’s.

And then there’s … The Creole Tomato Fest June 9-10; seriously tender and flavorful roasted chicken at Semolina Bistro Italia; outrageously good duck-fat laced, Steen’s Cane Syrup-topped corn bread from Cuvée; a damn-good Grilled Tuna Caesar at The River Shack; and hands-down the best handmade, fruity, spiked and not-too-sweet Sangria from El Gato Negro.