Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Just returned from a long weekend in New Orleans, where we ate-and ate-and----. It was my first visit to the city since Katrina, and evidence of the hurricane is very much present despite the rebuilding, but the esprit, the euphoria over the Saints' win, and the obsession with good food - all were alive and well. Our first dinner was at Herbsaint, and it was terrific. It appears that nobody in New Orleans practices restraint as far as butter,frying and any other health concerns, but what the heck, it was just three days. Dinner that night was a salad of wild greens with blue cheese and citrus. This was followed by pan-fried flounder on a bed of spinach, with roasted carrots and a satsuma glaze. Dessert was a warm caramelized banana tart. The concierge at the hotel was incredibly helpful and his suggestion for breakfast the next morning was a hole in the wall cafe serving southern food - so, grits, hot biscuits and eggs. For lunch, on Magazine street where we walked for what seemed like miles~ Joey-Ks, a neighborhood joint where the catfish poboys and home-made fried onion rings were fantastic - by this time restraint had flown out the window. Dinner that night was at Luke,one of chef John Besh's restaurants. I started with a salad of bibb lettuce with shaved,roasted beets and julienne of carrots tossed with a buttermilk dressing. Next, a sublimely fresh redfish, pan-fried and accompanied by haricots verts. Dessert was profiterroles with a deep, dark chocolate sauce. Our reliable concierge sent us the next morning to Stanley for a breakfast of french toast in a pool of cane syrup, topped with fried bananas. Mmmmm. Dinner Saturday night,the piece de resistance of the trip, was at Bayona, where the chef-ownder is Susan Spicer, a great chef and delightful person, who chatted with me at our table. Bayona is in a charming cottage with a courtyard for warmer weather. The service was outstanding, the wine list impressive and everyone in the restaurant seemed to be hugely enjoying themselves. I started with a salad that was savory beyohnd description - cold-smoked quail served warm on a bed of mesclun with bourbon-molasses dressing. I sucked those little bones dry! Next,pacific salmon on a bed of choucroute with a gewurtztraminer sauce, served with a puree of roasted squash, haricots verts and slices of crisp roasted potatoes. Dessert was tiny beignets on a pool of caramel with house-made vanilla bean ice cream. The meal, and the experience were perfection. Now, bread and water.