The Best…and the Worst

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In some very exciting news for New Orleans the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (NOWFE) has been nominated for “Best Wine Festival” by USA Today newspaper. As the final award recipient will be decided via people’s choice, you are encouraged to vote for this fine local festival, now in its 21st year. Visit best-wine-festival to cast your vote. Take a moment to share it with others.

When I was a big-haired glam rock teenager growing up in 1980s New Orleans, I received a weekly allowance of $15 that was to cover all of my needs, including lunch at school. I rarely late lunch and if I did it was because I had bummed money off of my friend, Katherine, who had a “lucrative” job at the mall. Instead, every Friday evening I headed for Port of Call (838 Esplanade Ave., 504-523-0120, portofcallnola.com) with the same group of friends for monsoon cocktails served in snifter-like vessels the size of fish bowls,  and hefty charbroiled burgers topped with piles of sautéed mushrooms and Cheddar cheese that came with a fully dressed, mammoth baked potato on the side. Back then fifteen smackers was enough for my entire meal plus a generous tip. It was a hearty meal, and good thing as it pretty much had to hold my skinny little self all week long. Port of Call is still a favorite destination thought the same meal now goes for quite a bit more and the monsoons now arrive in large plastic souvenir cups. My favorite burger joint reopens Friday evening for takeout after a four month closure. Seated dining is not yet available as a long overdue  renovation and an update remain ongoing.  For the time being takeout will be offered 12-8 p.m. Fridays-Sundays.

Duck Fest to Geaux continues this weekend (Friday-Sunday) and next at Gabrielle (2441 Orleans Ave, 504-603-2344, gabriellerestaurant.com) with a limited duck-themed menu available for pick up between 4-7 p.m. The menu includes crispy ducky wings, duck mousse, slow roasted duck, and both chocolate pecan and chess  pie. Grilled sea bream is offered for non duckers. Only prepaid online orders, which can be placed here will be accepted and orders must be in before 3 p.m. on the day you intend to pick up.

And now for the bad news, and it is really bad. Saturday will be Bellegarde Bakery’s (8300 Apple St., 504-827-0008) last day of business for the time being. Owner and baker Graison Gill says “there is simply no more money left to lose”.  You can read his social media post HERE. This is a tragic loss for our city. Gill, named a finalist for the James Beard Outstanding Baker Award in 2020, founded Bellegard in 2013 using organic and heirloom grains grown in the region, ultimately reaching a point where he was stone-milling the grains himself and using traditional techniques to  produce flours, pasta, grits, pastries and breads that are rich in flavor, passion and history. Prior to COVID-19, Bellegarde provided its stone-milled products to more than 120 restaurants and markets in Louisiana. A the end of June, Bellegarde initiated retail walk-up hours from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., three days a week Today and Saturday will be the last days to stock up on the bakery’s spectacular breads, freshly milled flours, grits, pastas, pizza dough, sauces and more. Sadly, no one knows when we will again able to acquire Gill’s ultra-premium products, which are not available in other retail spaces.

This is what happens when people eschew local businesses in favor of national big box and online retailers. Wake up people! Our heritage businesses are dying.

 

 

Categories: Food News, Homepage, Restaurants, Side Dish