We are in that season in New Orleans when one day the weather is flirtatious and beautiful, and the next it’s Stanley Kowalski in a stained wife-beater yelling at you and you’re on a hot tin roof. Sometimes that’s the same day. It’s unpredictable, is what it is.
I was going to try to segue into my next topic on the theme of unpredictability, but then it occurred to me that by the very nature of writing this, I am predicting that on Saturday, at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, Saudi Arabian Chef Badr Fayez will put on an hour-long cooking demonstration starting at 1 p.m.
The museum, which goes by the acronym “SoFAB” (the “M” is silent), has a pretty sweet demonstration kitchen, and if you haven’t been, this may be a good chance to check it out. Additionally, it looks like a good chance to learn about the cuisine of a country that we don’t see much around here. Most of the restaurants in town that serve “Middle Eastern” food identify as Lebanese, though there are a few places serving Palestinian food, a couple of Israeli spots and at least one place with a connection to Egypt. So far as I’m aware, we don’t have a Saudi restaurant.
I don’t know enough about the differences in regional cooking in the Arab world to tell you how Lebanese food differs from Jordanian, Saudi, Iraqi or the cuisines of other Arab states. But I know enough about history to know that there likely are significant differences, and as I am a fan of the food generally, I am hoping I can free my afternoon to attend the seminar. It’s free and open to the public, but samples of the food are limited. Check out this link for more details. Hope to see you there.
Also coming up shortly is the NOLA Crawfish Festival, held at Central City BBQ May 1-3. I have never heard of this festival, but doesn’t it seem like a no-brainer of an idea? Hold a crawfish festival during the week between Jazz Fest weekends? How does that not succeed? Plus, they have a fantastic lineup of musicians, which you can see (along with other details) by following this link.
Central City BBQ should be a great venue for this, too, because they’ve got a ton of space, and, well, it’s fairly centrally located. There are several options as far as tickets go, from a basic general admission pass for one day, to a 3-day VIP pass that includes a bunch of extras. The link above has all of those details too.
What that link does not have, at least so far as I can tell, is an explanation as to why I was not invited to be a “celebrity” judge for the crawfish cook-off on the final day. Perhaps the organizers consider only people who are actually celebrities fit the definition? We may never know.
I remember a time when the Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel was one of the best restaurants in town. It wasn’t necessarily a local restaurant; the food was more like what you’d find in a great hotel in London. But it was very, very good. New(ish) Chef Gabriel Charpentier has rolled out a new dinner menu, and it’s starting to remind me of the good old days. I can’t seem to embed a direct link to that menu, but this will put you one click away.
What makes this noteworthy from my perspective is that there’s a 3-course option for $39, and given the menu, that seems like an excellent value. I’ll hopefully be able to give you a first-hand report soon.
I can testify from personal knowledge about the “plate lunch” special, which costs $19.84 and offers a choice from one of five main courses, and three sides from a list of about a dozen sides. Yes, it’s a “meat and three” concept, but one where “meats” include gulf fish meuniere, crab and crawfish cake, and quail with boudin, and where you can order seasonable vegetable-farro casserole, roasted cauliflower with raisins and chili flakes, and crispy Brussels sprouts with chili butter as sides.
I’ve been twice since they started offering that special, and it’s been outstanding each time. I think it’s starting to catch on, too, because the last time I was there, there were at least a half-dozen tables occupied by locals in addition to guests of the hotel. If you go, please let me know what you think – particularly as to dinner.