The Audacity of Soft-Shell Shrimp
And other spring favorites
Soft-Shell Shrimp appetizer at Perino’s Boiling Pot
Crustaceans grow by shedding their shells and growing into new ones that they secrete around themselves. For a brief period of time the new shells are soft and edible. The molting process is most familiar with soft-shell blue crabs, the season for which is just starting to roll in. Soft-shell shrimp are much harder to come by. They are visually indiscernible from shrimp that aren’t molting, they don’t keep or transport well and they deteriorate quickly. Shrimpers hoard them for themselves. On the rare occasion when I’ve seen the precious specimens offered at a restaurant, it has been as a special with a hefty price tag attached.
This changed recently when I went to Perino’s Boiling Pot. Here, soft-shell shrimp are offered as an appetizer every day on the printed, laminated menu. To make such an audacious move, the Perino family needs the assurance of an infallible source for those rare specimens. The soft-shell shrimp on offer at their eponymous eatery are brilliantly fresh and briny, fried with only the thinnest of crackly batters that serves to accent the shrimp’s natural flavor. What is more, they’re offered for a relatively thrifty price of $15.98 for a dozen. Pass on the ketchup and tartar sauce for this feast: no enhancements are needed. Add a side of Perino’s razor-thin onion rings and a half-dozen of their simply amazing charbroiled oysters for the perfect meal.
A friend recently turned me on to the daily happy hour at Superior Seafood. Every day, 4-6:30 p.m., frozen cocktails, including the addictive frozen French 75 (gin, Champagne and fresh lemon juice), are two-for-one and cold, salty oysters are $.50 apiece. Sit outside if the weather is fine, but know that the unadulterated views of a beautiful stretch of St. Charles Avenue are visible through the large picture windows while still enjoying the comfort of air conditioning. The restaurant’s festive bistro environment is established largely by the spectacular 32-foot zinc bar, which was crafted in Petoux, France, salvaged from Paris and shipped to New Orleans with great fanfare.
New Orleans Wine & Food Experience
Perino’s Boiling Pot
3754 Westbank Expressway, Harvey
4338 St. Charles Ave.
Starting the Wednesday before and running through Memorial Day weekend, the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience will once again present more than a dozen wine and food seminars, hands-on experiences, wine dinners, the Royal Street Stroll, Vinola wine auction, Grand Tastings and Sunday brunches.
New this year: Wine tasting 101: A Sensory Tasting; Louisiana Caviar, Oysters & Champagne; Road Crossing (a journey of all things charcuterie led by Master Chef Rene Bajeaux with Italian cheese accompaniments from Nor Joe Import Co. and French and Italian wine pairings); Have Your Steak & Eat it, Too (chef Isaac Toups of Toups’ Meatery and Toups South will teach how to break down a ribeye using techniques to create different cuts using locally sourced Louisiana beef with pairings of Bordeaux-style blends from Ancient Oak Cellars). Zum Whol! (Oktoberfest in May at Bratz Y’all Biergarten in the Bywater with German wine, beer, schnitzel, strudel and brats).
The Spirit of New Orleans seminar will be held on Friday, May 25, at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum in La Galerie de L’Absinthe and includes a special absinthe tasting. New Orleans was once dubbed the absinthe capital of the world, so come celebrate New Orleans’ 300th anniversary with this special seminar. The absinthe cocktail has been taboo throughout history, surrounded by legends of hallucinations and mystery. It was illegal in the United States from 1912 to 2007. Guests are invited to engage with the mystique of absinthe by tasting it for themselves and learning about its history and its complicated relationship with wine.
From May 29-June 6, the week following NOWFE, the Southern Food & Beverage Museum will offer half priced general admission tickets to all NOWFE attendees. Make sure to bring your credentials with you to enter at this price.