~ Notes from a New Orleans Foodie... in exile ~
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by Kevin Lacassin


A New Orleans foodie and a product of hurricane Katrina, I've landed on both feet and have started a new life in the Tampa Bay area. A natural disaster changed my state of residence and you can take me out of New Orleans, but you can't take the New Orleans out of me.
This is my resource for all things New Orleans: food recipes, culture and history.  In addition, you can find my original recipes and a log of my cooking adventures.  My writing here is unedited and uncut... I don't outline or plan what I type on the page.... consider it a diary of dining and cooking.
If you are a Louisiana native who's landed in the Tampa Bay area, you may be feeling a bit homesick.  Check out my NOLA in Tampa page to guide you to the places and foods that will help you feel more at home.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I am alive and safe in Chicago
I made it out of town just in time, and it seems like I am more fortunate than many.  Thank you so much for all of the e-mails and messages from those that were concerned;  I appreciate the support.
I had planned to stay at the hotel through the storm, but on Sunday morning at 10am I got word that we were closing the hotel.  I packed a few things, wrapped up a few more and jumped in my car with three quarter of a tank of gas.  I was driving for about an hour when I realized that I wouldn't make it to my parents house in Hammond, so I weighed my options and called my friend Tom, in Chicago.
After 11 hours of driving, I made it to Jackson, MS, where my friend Stephen was staying with his girlfriend.  She fed me some fantastic breads and cheeses and we had champagne to celebrate Stephen's birthday, and I slept in a warm bed.  I awoke early to hit the road and beat the storm to Chicago.  When I stopped at several rest areas, I was horrified to see the number of cars parked and people sleeping in them.  There was not a hotel room south of Memphis, and the people at the Illinois welcome center said the hotels in St. Louis were also full.
So here I am in the suburbs of Chicago.  The mayor doesn't anticipate anyone getting back in NOLA for at lease a month, and I am not sure if I will have a home or a job in which to return.  I am staying in Chicago with a friend, rent free, but will still need money.  I am not one for handouts, so in leiu of money, I just need someone to help me find a temporary bartending job in the Chicago area.  I am staying in Berwyn and have a car, but would prefer to jump on the "L" and find a gig downtown.  I'd prefer to earn money than to ask for donations (I have a finance degree and have saved, so I am not destitude yet, but months without work will be different).  Please let me know if you can help.  Also, I need to find wireless internet in the Berwyn area.  
Thanks so much for your concerns.  And I might just have to start writing about Chicago food!!  :) 
12:45 pm | link

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Where Do The Locals Eat?
From time to time, I get e-mails from people asking for my opinion on new places to eat while they are visiting New Orleans.  More often than not, they rattle off a list of places that sounds like it originated in a poplular glossy tour guide.  Don't get me wrong, the restaurants they've visited are impressive, but most of the places tend to be the high priced "touristy" type restaurants.  So "where do the locals eat?"  The easy answer is: "wherever we feel like going at the time."  Sometimes it's Tex-Mex, sometimes pizza, and sometimes we just feel like eating Popeye's Fried Chicken.  But if you are looking for New Orleans style food in a reasonable price range, here are my current top six (subject to change on a moment's notice): 
Clancy's - I started off my list with Clancy's because I can't think of a another restaurant in town that has more of a "local's" atmosphere.  It's buried in the midst of a residential area on the corner of Webster and Annunciation, a place that many locals even have a hard time finding.  My favorite dish there is their smoked (then fried) soft-shell crab, followed by a slice of lemon ice-box pie.  They have a small and active bar scene and an outstanding wine list. 
One - Though it is a fairly new restaurant, One Restaurant and Lounge has really made a name for itself with the locals crowd.  The reason I mention it second is because the chef and co-owner, Scott Snodgrass is an alumnus of Clancy's and their former sister restaurant, Lee Circle.  The style of food is tough to explain, but the menu is small and adventurous.  The restaurant only holds about 60 diners, so make sure to get a reservation.  For a great experience, ask to be seated at the food bar overlooking the kitchen.  Lee, the co-owner who runs the front of the house, will likely be answering the phone;  tell him I sent you.
Tommy's - Located in the CBD on Tchopotoulas, Tommy's is a spin-off (sort of) of the popular Irene's in the French Quarter.  Tommy was the co-owner of Irene's before their divorce, but has since opened his own place with a (very) similar menu.  The food is outstanding and reasonably priced, none of the entrees break the $20 mark.  The soft shell crab is outstanding and the duck is one of the best in the city.  For an appetizer, have the "Oysters Tommy," or be adventerous and get the trio of oysters, with the addition of Rockefeller and Bienville.  Great reasonably priced wine list.
Dick & Jenny's- A quaint little neighborhood eatery on Tchoupotoulas, right across from Sav-A-Center, near Napoleon Avenue.  They don't take reservations, so get their early or prepare to wait; the food is usually worth it.  The menu changes quarterly, so my recommendations will change, but it is one of those restaurants that you can order anything on the menu and have a great meal.  If you are dining alone, sit at the non-smoking bar and enjoy the company of one of the bartenders.
Upperline - The inventor of the "Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Remoulade;" make sure to get an order, they are fantastic.  Well known for their duck, but the medallions of beef are out of this world.  A true New Orleans food experience, there isn't a whole lot on the menu I wouldn't recommend.  Introduce yourself to the proprietor, Jo-Ann Clevenger, and you'll get a tour of the restaurant and everything you ever wanted to know about the artwork in the restaurant.
Bon Ton Cafe-  One of the few authentic "Cajun" restaurants in the city.  They are only open during the week, so make sure to get a reservation on a weeknight for dinner.  Almost everything there is good, but once again, I suggest getting a fried soft shell crab dish when they are in season.  Try out a Rum Ramsey cocktail; their signature cocktail and supposedly a secret recipe.  Finish off your meal with their wonderful bread pudding topped with the most potent bourbon sauce I've ever encountered.
12:15 pm | link

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