Feast of New Orleans

Is it really 20 years since Jeff Bridges uttered the memorable words in his role as Jeff LebowskiThe Dude Abides! Well, I don’t know about you, but when in New Orleans your taste buds will be on a collision course for which that phrase is definitely the most apt response.

Lets start with a stroll along Dauphine Street calling into EAT for a dish to truly baffle the likes of Juno and BellaBlackened Catfish… a lightly crusty outer skin with soft meaty fish. Just add cups of gumbo, rice, and generous portions of gherkin and tomato to provide an introduction to the coming days of what is likely to be a culinary explosion.

Meanwhile, at Joey K’s over on Magazine Street I stumble across a NOLA staple of Red Beans and Rice. A slice of Andouille Sausage brings out some spicy flavour. Not exactly the best accompaniment to a full on Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, so my recommendation is to sample the free water with the food, and then gently sip the wine.

For an introduction to the definitive ‘Taste of the BayouThe Creole House on Canal Street offers a trio of cups to tantalise the taste buds, as the gastronomic Louisiana trilogy of Gumbo, Crawfish Etouffee and Jambalaya are presented for inspection. If you know what you want, dive in, but if you are unsure this option helps you decide what next to dive in to…

Strolling further along Canal Street why not try the Palace Cafe for a hint of Shrimp & Grits with a Creole Muniere, or maybe Turtle Soup followed by their signature dish of Crabmeat Cheesecake. The creole munière is a gravy with just the right level of spice to give an amazing dish extra oomph. As for the cheesecake… you have probably never tried anything like this before, and will then probably want to spend whatever it costs on returning to NOLA to check out what you just tasted! As for the poor turtles, well, you just have to when the opportunity arises… don’t you?

But, not everything here is about visiting restaurants. In between the dining establishments that provide great drinks there are, you guessed it, the drinking establishments providing amazing food. Try Vacherie on Toulouse Street, and while sitting at the bar sipping a range of local beers why not wrestle some Alligator Bites, Collard Greens, Bacon & Brussels Sprouts, oh, and a House Salad for balance…

And New Orleans may just have a welcome and forthright message for any youngsters dreaming of eating their usual fayre… take a hike Colonel Sanders! For the real taste of Fried Chicken check out the Treme based institution of Dooky Chase, particularly with a side order of Candied Yams (and that’s a Shrimp Creole that my friend is choosing, in case your concentration was drifting across the table!)…

Talking of Treme based institutions, a Shrimp Po-Boy slides down well, even with Tabasco Sauce, at Li’l Dizzy’s on Esplanade Avenue, but as a Brit I note that not even NOLA can hold a candle to our chips (that’s proper chips, not the fries nonsense inherited from somewhere in the basement of French cuisine)…

By now you are probably wondering how your health is coping with all of this gastronomic fabulousness. So, if it’s something a little lighter your looking for, but, being America no less enormous… try a salad or two, or more! Starting with the sumptuously named Satsuma Cafe on Maple Street the recommendation would be a boiled egg and avocado surrounded by the funky leaves of a Kale Salad washed down with a Beet Lemonade

Or, drop in to Luke on St Charles Avenue for Fried Oyster Salad accompanied by something distinctively fabulous that they do with Crispy Brussels Sprouts

Then again, if it’s music you like with your salad, try BB Kings on Decatur Street. The Spinach Salad with Blackened Chicken is a terrific accompaniment for the Blues, man!

BB King's Club Spinach Salad with Blackened Chicken

Did you say fine dining? Bayona on Dauphine Street provides a more delicate option than the soulful sounds of a blues club; but, starting with a Fig Salad or Quail Salad, the need for a deeper wallet will be more than compensated for on the tantalised taste buds…

Ultimately, thinking about all of this food, Envie is a place you may well be contemplating at this stage. Well it exists on Decatur Street and provides just the right accompaniment to a start of the day large cappuccino and OJ in the form of an Asparagus and Prosciutto Omelette with a side Biscuit (US rather than UK style of biscuit, that is)…

Until we speak again, not all institutions are necessarily good! NOLA is just waiting to ensnare you with a distinctive plate of their trademark Beignet. An avalanche of sugar covering a doughy case to a gloopy mess; think doughnuts ramped up to warp factor 10, this is something Juno and Bella would definitely turn noses up at and simply walk away… you may be well advised to do likewise, but when in New Orleans sometimes you simply have too dive in and hope!

Alka-Seltzer anyone!?

Meal of the year!

Okay, so Christmas festivities are enveloping our gastronomic juices at these very moments; but for me, nothing is going to quite equal the most breathtaking of many experiences of New Orleans back in October.

Crabmeat Cheesecake… yes, you read that correctly! The Palace Cafe on Canal Street have developed a signature brunch dish for those who can’t quite make their mind up… is it going to be shellfish or a desert that will provide the best kick start to yet another day of sensory overload?

Until we speak again, why not spice up your start to the day the NOLA way!

Palace Cafe Crabmeat Cheesecake [3]

Winging it in Bodmin

Who said there is nothing good in Cornwall? Oh yes… my regular Devon correspondent! Well, a brief sojourn in Bodmin has just served to remind me how much I love chicken, particularly when satay is involved.

Until we speak again, my favourite duck is most certainly aromatic and crispy. As discerning cats I am sure Juno and Bella would have agreed.

Dining in the Wild West

When the good lady says she knows a few places for spectacular dining, well, gales and crashing waves were not the first things I had in mind. The best idea I could come up with was to just get strapped in and do as I was told (an altogether unusual experience!). Fish anyone?

As it turned out the salmon at Pierre Bistro along the seafront at The Mumbles was worth shooting the breeze for…

But a mere 24 hours later, the initial sense of any sea of tranquillity was to be sublimely displaced by the already showcased sea-lashed topography of The Gower shoreline.

Some may go for the ‘catch of the day’, but if it involves wrestling the aforementioned waves… me, I’m after drier terrain and something with more hooves than scales. “Bring on your best rib-eye” I said. And the Langland Brasserie overlooking Langland Bay did just that…

Until we speak again, when the good lady says there is a really great joint down by the sea, step through the door and take a good long toke on whatever floats your boat.

Twice upon a time in the country

The draw, a welcoming sign on a background of grey…

Dynevor Arms [1]

The tease, book or not to book?…

2018 [1]

The joint, a deceptively ordinary facade hides a warmly welcoming bar…

2018 [2]

The roast, a family favourite for any Sunday…

2018 [3]

The steak, memories of the earlier visit…

Dynevor Arms [3]

Until we speak again, on the experience of two visits, the next time you happen to be travelling along the Llantrisant Road just outside of Cardiff there just might be a hearty meal waiting a discerning culinary cat.

Up market dining

Strolling around the tranquil Penarth Marina, on the far side of Cardiff Bay, only served to tempt thoughts of the sea, of fish… of a time to eat. But, the restaurant chains of Mermaid Quay were a distance away and just not stimulating the gastronomic needs of a discerning cat.Penarth Marina [1]

This was a stroll with intent… to enthuse a visiting stroller from outside of Cardiff to what the city has to offer. But, where would match up to the beauty of the wider setting? Step up to the plate The Custom House building near to the Cardiff Bay barrage; a remnant of the former grandeur of the Penarth side of the old docks, built in a Renaissance style in 1865, and converted from dereliction into a fine restaurant in the 1980’s…

Custom House building

This fine building now houses the El Puerto restaurant. Forget menus at your table, this is the marketplace brought into a restaurant…

El puerto [1]

Order your drinks at the table then step up to the main counter for up close inspection of the produce on offer, and place your order…

El puerto [2]

The returning visit of the previously identified ‘delightful company‘ was a situation requiring delicate and refined taste. Hake for the lady and Swordfish for me would complement the aquatic excursion of the previous hour…

El Puerto [3]

Until we speak again, for the vegetarian critics amongst you dear readers, here is a special moment just for you…

Who needs William anyway?

When you can have Bill’s!

Outside [2]

So, what to do when you find your ship has run aground down the Bay?

Ship on roof

When you wish to play the welcoming host with a promise of a trusted restaurant, only to find your number one choice (Bayside Brasserie) has closed down and deserted you? And just when you’re on a mission to satisfy that late Sunday afternoon hunger? Bill’s comes to the rescue.

For starters we both settled on the Crispy Calamari with Red Chilli and Lime Aioli. What is it with this fashion for serving food straight from the cooking utensils? Saving on the washing up, maybe. But hang on, it could just be that my delightful company has seen the red chilli’s lurking with intent, and is grabbing her bag to make a quick getaway…

As for the main event, my thoughtful companion surveyed the menu for interesting tastes, opting for a healthy sounding Warm Chicken, Avocado and Parmesan Salad. As for me, well another cow just had to lose some weight in the Sirloin region, and a side of foliage will surely temper the overall threat of arterial assault…

Until we speak again, if your looking for posh and formal this is not the place. But for serviceable food in a relaxed setting it fits the Bill (yes, I hear the groans at that one). And the staff will simply be queuing up to serve you… possibly!

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