Things That May Be Of Interest To You

Photo courtesy of Robert Peyton
The roti at Banana Blossom Thai Café were a standout on the menu.

This Sunday, La Boca is hosting an Asado dinner at Rio Mar. It’s an all-you-can-eat affair with cuts of beef, lamb, pork, chicken and morcilla and chorizo sausages on the menu in addition to shared appetizers to start. There’s a special price on wines, and the dinner should be a bargain at $50. Things start at 7 p.m., and reservations are required. Call 504/525-8205 for more information.

Chef Pete Vazquez, whom you may remember from his excellent restaurant, Marisol, is back in a New Orleans restaurant kitchen. He left New Orleans and the restaurant business after Katrina, but he has returned to cook at Mimi’s of River Ridge. He’s an imaginative chef, and I imagine he’ll bring the same culinary swagger that characterized his previous restaurant to Mimi’s. Call the restaurant at 504/737-7641 to learn more.

The New Orleans Culinary Institute is set to open at 1519 Carondelet St. The cooking school will offer a 16-month professional program that results in an associate’s degree, as well as recreational classes for folks not looking for a career in the kitchen. NOCI will also operate The Cellar restaurant, which will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, call 504/529-1519.

Tonight and next Thursday from 5 to 7  the Maison Dupuy hotel is hosting Cork in the Courtyard. It’s an opportunity to have a glass of wine or a cocktail in the hotel’s large courtyard while sampling food from chef Michael Farrell of restaurants Bistreaux and Le Meritage.  If you haven’t checked either restaurant out, this is an excellent opportunity. Parking at the hotel is $7 but free if you stay for dinner. You can call Le Meritage for more information at 504/522-8800.

The New Orleans Po-Boy Preservation Festival will take place this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Oak Street. It’s grown from a small celebration of our native sandwich to a pretty serious event. There will be music on three stages and panel discussions ranging from an investigation of seafood king Al Scramuzza’s legacy to growing heirloom mirlitons in the home garden. Of course the festival’s focus is on food, and there will be 30 or so vendors  serving a wide variety of poor boys and other good stuff.

I had a pretty good meal at Banana Blossom Thai Cafe in Gretna recently. The menu isn’t particularly extensive, and you might be disappointed if you’re looking for a restaurant that serves the cuisine of the Thai royal court. But it’s a nice little place and a great addition to the local dining scene. Everything I’ve had so far has been competently prepared, and the roti were particularly memorable. An indication of the influence the Indian subcontinent has had on the cuisines of the regions to its east, the roti at Banana Blossom are fried pillows of wheat dough, served in this case with a small bowl of red curry sauce. I’m a sucker for freshly made bread such as naan or paratha, and the roti at Banana Blossom were outstanding.

The red curry I had was pretty mild, and the same was true of the tom yum soup. I’m not one of those fools who equates spiciness with flavor, but I do expect certain Thai dishes to carry some heat, and the next time I dine at Banana Blossom, I’ll likely request a bit more in the chile department.

I regret that I was not able to sample any of the desserts on the menu when I ate at Banana Blossom. I would lie to you and say that I regret it because I can’t report to you about it, but the truth is that my regret is more for the missed opportunity to sample the banana fritters advertised on the chalkboard. In addition to being a sucker for freshly made bread, I am also a sucker for the combination of "fried + banana." Next time.

Categories: Haute Plates, Restaurants