Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Bites!

Yup, it's that time of year. Even though I've hung up the professional feedbag, there's just something about the end of the year that shoves me into a reflective mood, compelling me to boil 12 months worth of eating into a bite-size list.

It was a hell of a year. The newspaper folded. Our Baby Girl went off to college. And so did Johnny. He's this close to getting a masters in elementary education after putting his 30-year newspaper career to bed on March 17.

Still, this roller coaster ride of 2009 has had a whole lot of thrills, especially when it comes to meals shared around a table filled with friends and family. Here's to 2010 and all the great bites to come!

Some of my favorite morsels of 2009, pictured from top to bottom:

One of everything please at Couchon, New Orleans.

BLT handroll at Do, Memphis.

Walla Walla Sweet Onion taco, Walla Walla.

Claire's high school graduation party on the water at Lincoln Park: BBQ pork sammies, Nana's beans and cake from the same bakery where we got our wedding cake, Borracchini's.

Deep-fried dill pickles at Luizza's On the Tracks, New Orleans.

Go meet the new pastry chef at Barking Frog, Woodinville.

Post-hike bratwurst with my brother Chris at Munchen Haus, Leavenworth.

Duck egg ravioli made by Tom Douglas at the Tom Douglas Summer Boot Camp, Seattle.

Charcuterie and local cheese plate at The Pike, Seattle.

Hitting the snack bar at The Seaview Theater, Orcas Island.

Getting piggy with my barbecue guru at Central, Memphis.

Breakfast at Mother's, Portland.

2009 Bites! Part Two

More incredible/memorable bites from 2009, from top to bottom:

Bacon-wrapped scallops and kale at Black Bottle.

Craig's BBQ in DeValls Bluff, Arkansas.

Roast chicken at Soul Fish in Memphis.

Everything at Pam's Caribbean on the Ave.

Everything at Salumi.

Yellowtail tataki in Whitefish, Montana.

Oysters at Taylor Shellfish Farms, Samish Bay.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm dreaming of oysters for Christmas

I'm not sure when it happened, but my daughter has become oyster lover. Baby Girl used to be so dang picky, so parents of persnickety kids should take heart.

When we were working out our holiday menus, she suggested oysters on Christmas Eve. Which sent me into a shellfish fever. What would it be? On the half shell? Fried? Wrapped in bacon? Rockefellered? How about yes to all of the above. I'll make oysters a dozen different ways, I foolishly declared.

Now I'm in a pickle. I can only come up with 10 recipes. What am I missing?

On the half shell
A Bloody Mary shooter
Dredged in a curry powder and flour and fried
Angels on Horseback
Oysters Casino
Oysters Rockefeller
Oyster Stew
Oysters Bienville
BBQ-ed Oysters

Maybe I should quit fixating on coming up with a dozen. Ten's a good number. Unless somebody's got a savory suggestion.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pointing my compass toward Northstar!

Heading to Walla Walla this weekend for Holiday Barrel Tasting, snow forecasts be damned.

I've always loved trying wine in its earliest stages. It's a sneak preview of the wonderful things to come. But this fall, I'm particularly pumped because I've been following one wine at Northstar that I think has the potential to be a true superstar.

I've been chronicling the story of the Big Dipper since last summer, when winemaker David "Merf" Merfeld put nearly 300 miles on his pickup showing me some of his favorite vineyards. That journey reminded me how vast and how beautiful this state's wine country is. I know it's often compared with France, given our shared latitude. And many of the sites reminded me of vineyards I saw in Bordeaux, which is cool because Merf's definitely got an Old World state-of-mind about crafting the Big Dipper. He wants to make a wine that will age. A noble aspiration in our instant gratification wine-drinking world.

We won't get a sneak peek at Big Dipper this weekend. I'm bummed, but it's understandable. There's a limited amount of wine from various vineyards tagged for Big Dipper and Merf needs every drop for blending purposes. But super tasters will get to sample sips from other wines produced this year, which should give a good indication the direction they're headed. Can't wait! Will I see you there?

Along with barrel tasting, there's going to be live music Saturday and Sunday, tasting of older wines and a selection of cheese to sample. Find me there on Saturday afternoon and whisper "Big Dipper" in my ear and I'll buy you a drink!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving: The Aftermath

Did everybody have a wonderful Turkey Day?

At our home, it was a Northwest feast: miso salmon wearing purple potato scales, oyster dressing, sauteed kale, curried delicata squash soup, salad dressed in a pear and cranberry chutney vinaigrette. Apple pie for dessert. We were all mighty thankful for the 1999 Cabernet from Woodward Canyon.

Select leftovers were folded into pasta last night, as we sat around the table one last time with friends and family from out of town. They buttered me up with compliments. There were no dramas, just lots of laughs and sillyness.

We went to movies, skipping the Black Friday sales, and did a quick visit to the Seattle Art Museum and hung out at the UW Bookstore. Packed in a whole lot this weekend. I'm not the kind of person who thinks company is like fish. Starting to stink after three days.

I'm happy to see them come and sad to watch them leave. And hope they come back again soon.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Digesting Food Inc.

Finally saw Food Inc. last night and was worried I would have nightmares. It was damn scary.

This morning, I heeded the call to action and started planning an entirely new Thanksgiving menu, sourced entirely at neighborhood farmers markets and my husband said: "You know, sometimes ignorance is bliss."

Yes, that's true. It takes a lot of effort to do the right thing. I know I'm late to the table with this question, but I can't help wondering: How did seeing this movie affect you? Did it bring lasting change to the way you cook/eat?

Most people have good intentions about eating right, but the system's gamed. Cheap food comes from factory farms, that's the bottom line. It costs more to buy directly from farmers, I get that.

I am going to redouble my efforts to support sustainability as much as my super tight budget will allow. Starting on Thanksgiving. Just put in a call to Olsen Farms, asking what was available. Maybe I'll see you at the U-District Farmer's Market tomorrow?

Monday, November 2, 2009

What a great trip!

Sure had a filling trip to Memphis and Oxford, Miss., for the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium, three days of food, fellowship and big, big fun.

The combination of scholarly discourse and incredible food is what keeps coming me back to this annual event. I've met so many interesting people, all coming together to celebrate food traditions of the South.

This year's focus on music was so perfect, given the depth of musical talent to come out of that region. Serving red beans and rice cooked on a recipe inspired by a gone, but not forgotten restaurant in New Orleans before talking about the way musicians gathered at that venerable place was brilliant.

Sunday morning's Chitlin ballet -- formally called Pork Songs -- was followed by a banquet of baked fish, greens, grits and heaps of bacon and biscuits cooked by John Currence's crew at City Grocery.

That was my second breakfast. I had to go back to Big Bad Breakfast to taste whether the grit cake (pictured with a side of tomato gravy, a biscuit and andouille sausage) was as good the first time I tried it. Heck yes!

Already looking forward to next year.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Love being a tourist in my hometown

Had a friend from Atlanta visiting last week, in Seattle taking photos for a book on street food. Angie and I packed a whole lot into two days.

In between sampling meals on wheels -- the Cuban place on 90th and Aurora was my fave -- we also had a wonderful dinner at Crow, ate oysters at Elliott's, sandwiches at Salumi, cookies from Bakery Nouveau, biscuits and gravy at Citizen and spicy Bloody Marys at Taste at the Seattle Art Museum. Not in that order, mind you.

It wasn't only about the food. We saw the new Alexander Calder exhibit at SAM, went up in the Space Needle, walked around the Pike Place Market and rode the Monorail. Good fun.

What do you do when out-of-towners come for a visit?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Will Brake For BBQ

Stop! There's smoke. And where there's smoke, pouring out of a cooker, there's bound to be good barbecue, right?

I don't know how many times I've tried to find the holy grail of meats cooked low-and-slow over wood in the Pacific Northwest. I thought I had hit the jackpot today in Duvall, a teeny town north of Woodinville.

Ordered up the Bone Jour at Armadillo Barbecue. A combo that included beans, potato salad and slaw on the side. The meat -- cooked over alder -- looked so promising. But... it was underseasoned, the sauce was too sweet, the chicken was dry and the ribs were too fatty.

I really, really wanted to love Armadillo, which has been open about two months in this location. (The original is in Woodinville.) The staff was so nice. The price was right, under $10 at lunch for the generous combo. The sides were excellent. But the meat just missed the mark. I doctored it up at home with some Rendezvous dry rub and sauce. Much better.

Is it possible to find great BBQ in/around Seattle? I'm not convinced.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bacon Maple Bar? Mmmmmm!

Had to see what all the fuss was about at VooDoo Donuts in Portland. Really lived up to the hype. The crunchy/salty bacon the perfect contrasting note to the sticky sweet maple frosting.

What really cracked me up about this funky spot was the "Cock and Balls" taking up some serious space in the whirling display case. The cream-filled donut is shaped like, you guessed it... just like the name says. And, they'll write anything you like on it. "We're not shy," the woman behind the counter said.

Come early, though, because: "Your best chance to find a cock is in the morning," she advised.

I just about spit out my coffee when she served up that line with a straight face.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Go into the light: learning some new photo skills

Lou Manna is a force, a photographer from New York who has been in the business for 30 years.

On Sunday, he led a small group of shutterbugs through Pike Place Market, trying to get us to look at things in a whole new light. Whether that light happened to be tinged with orange, washed out with bright white or soft and blue-y.

I learned a lot, even though I'm at best a point-and-shooter. Today, all I had was my Flip video camera, but I muddled through and got a few pics I think don't stink. I was inspired by the others in this feet-on-the-street lesson. Their images were brilliant. Trouble is, I think I need a new $1,000 camera. When I start shopping, what should I look for? Nikon? Cannon?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

And on a serious note...

Forgive me for going way off-topic, but my Baby Girl's about to fly away, leaving a very empty nest and I don't mind telling you I'm more than slightly freaked out.

She's a good kid. I trust her to make good choices, but I read the news. And I've got a cousin who's a cop. She told us there's a persistent problem with young women getting drugged and raped. This scares the hell out of me.

Anyway, we had lunch with Officer Suz and her husband, Officer Chris today for a little self-defense 101. The best defense is a good offense, they said. Instead of opting for a powerful pepper spray, they advised us to get a strong flashlight. Shining it in somebody's eyes if you feel threatened is instantly disarming.

I know this has nothing to do with dining. It's food for thought, though, in this scary world. Am I being a paranoid, over-protective mother? Excuse the cliche, but better safe than sorry!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My new magnet!

I've got a junk drawer full of fridge magnets. There's just not enough room for all of them.

But I'm pretty fond of the newest one to join the silly collection. Hot Dog! Yes, I found this tube steak at The Cheesemonger in Leavenworth during a recent trip.

Here's a little something I wrote about my sausage search for Serious Eats: Click here for the link!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tums, Rolaids, Maalox: What works best?

I like to think I've got an iron gut. I can eat just about anything and it doesn't upset my stomach. But occasionally, I feel the burn. Heartburn.

Yesterday, took a long walk and had to make a detour in search of some relief. Stopped at the IGA Kress downtown. First time I've been in the only supermarket in downtown Seattle. Impressive.

Yet, I couldn't find a small roll of antacids. Only big bottles. I bought some water and asked the clerk if I had overlooked them. No, they don't stock them. But, you know what? He offered me one for the road from his bottle of Tums. How sweet! Even in this day of germ phobia, I accepted. 

And the rest of the walk was a pleasure. I'm deeply grateful. And Tums is my favorite brand, though, recently I've had good luck with Rolaids. Any preference?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Canning: Fun, but a whole lot of work

Had a "Canning Across America" party this weekend and every inch of counter space was sticky by the end of the day. We started around 10 and finished after 5... a long, sweet day. 

As much as I enjoyed it, I don't know if/when I'll do it again. Especially as a solitary project. What made it so enjoyable was the good company and the team work. Everybody pitched in to tackle 40 pounds of peaches and 20 pounds of green beans. Which, it turns out, isn't as much as you might image.

My friend Laura, aka the Canning Queen, said she usually does 100 pounds of peaches in a day! Oh my.

The peaches were absolutely beautiful, golden, juicy orbs that will be most appreciated in the dead of winter. That's really the incentive, isn't it? It's not exactly something you do to flex your thrifty muscle, is it?

Adding it all up, the cost of the jars, the sugar, the fruit, the time spent prepping and cleaning and cleaning some more, it doesn't really pencil out. Unless you're canning free fruit. Or you become so proficient that you can tackle a project and get 'er done in a couple of hours.

Maybe it's like any other cooking? The more you do it, the more accomplished you become. 

Me? I've still got a couple dozen jars to fill. Searching for something to put in them. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Macrina!

When I moved back to the Northwest in 2007, after three delicious years in Memphis, I probably gained 10 pounds eating my way through the spectacular pastries and artisan breads at Macrina Bakery.

I’m crazy about the cookies and the cupcakes and the scones. I’ve ordered layer cakes for special occasions and have cashed in quite a few “buy 12 loaves, get one free” cards. I don’t know if I could pick a favorite.

Owner Leslie Mackie didn’t hesitate when I asked her top picks for loaves and sweets: the seeded baguette and the fresh fruit coffee cake.

Tomorrow, Macrina celebrates its 16th birthday by treating customers to a cup of coffee. Sweet!

Macrina started small, doing mostly breads in a teeny 847 square feet space. Just one bench for seating. The operation has grown to three locations, each with its own charms. Lately, I’ve been drawn to the SODO spot (in the photo above) because I love watching the crew working the dough through the windows into the huge production space.

A good reminder, Mackie said, that everything’s made by hand.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

And the winner is... Rachel Yang from Joule

Had an absolute blast at the Ready, Set, Go... Cook competition at the U-District Farmers Market today, an annual event that's a fresh take on the Iron Chef. 

This year, there was a twist. In addition to shopping at this incredible market, chefs had access to some pantry items from the U-District Food Bank. Today's winner, Rachel Yang from Joule, took advantage of the eclectic selection and incorporated, among other things, some Spam. 

She made a lovely congee and folded in chopped zucchini vines, diced zucchini and finished the dish by sauteeing diced Spam, yellow squash, fried squash blossoms and, then, the brilliant finishing touch: an egg yolk "cured" in soy sauce. Wow. 

I was so impressed. She also made a pan-roasted veggie salad with Japanese eggplant, which she scored, so it cooked more quickly, and wedges of fennel. She finished that with some purslane, a green that looks like a weed, but has a nice citrus-y flavor. 

Really inspiring to see the way the pros use the incredible raw materials. Great job!!

And, by the way, Joule's Sunday series continues tomorrow with JFC: Joule Fried Chicken! Heck yeah, I'm going! You?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Never thought I'd fall in love with a farm

Just spent a few amazing days at the Quillisascut Farm School of the Domestic Arts and I'm still high from the good vibrations. It was an amazing learning experience. Tough and tiring, but really rewarding.

I wasn't sure what to expect when we rolled up after a nearly six-hour drive from Seattle. That included a pit stop at the still-adorable Billy Burger in Wilbur. When I lived in Spokane, I made many journeys through Washington's wheat country on Highway 2 and this trip brought back loads of happy memories.

During the four days of Farm Culinary 101, we did all sorts of chores, but there were times for reading and reflection. I loved sitting on the deck (the view pictured above) and listening to the birds and the soft wind moving the leaves on the trees. 

As we went around the table during our final morning meeting, we talked about the word grateful. I said I was grateful to reconnect to my sense of smell, triggered by the barnyard perfume of compost, the sweetness of lavendar, the intoxicating aroma of bread baking and the odor of sauerkraut fermenting. I forgot to include how grateful I was to go and jump in Lake Roosevelt after a sweaty afternoon of wandering orchards or pulling weeds.

What made this such a powerful experience was sharing it with strangers who became fast friends. The first night was quiet polite conversation, the last was filled with laughter and one wild prank. (Sorry, I'm sworn to secrecy.) There are few times in your adult life when you can give in to child-like feelings of joy and this was one. Only trouble is, now I'm missing life the farm. I feel like I'm going through withdrawl.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm going to be on Martha Stewart Living Radio!

How cool is that?

I'm going to be on Morning Living with Kim Fernandez and Betsy Karetnick Wednesday, July 29 at 6 a.m. PST, 9 for my friends on the East Coast. The segment's called "The Dish" and it features restaurant critics from across the country talking about some of their favorite things, trends, seasonal stuff.

But we're also going to talk about my Critic-Turned-Cook project, which, this week, involves a trip to Culinary Farm School 101 at Quillisascut Cheese. Can't wait to take my turn on the milking stool.

You can sign up for a free trial of Sirius XM Satellite radio to hear my interview on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Here's the link.

Got any suggestions/advice/tips? Where's your favorite place to eat in Seattle these days?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The saddest day of summer...

Every summer, we have family from overseas visit for several weeks. There's a whole lot of shopping and prepping and cooking and eating and doing dishes and starting all over again.

I just took the extra leaf out of the dining room table and seating for six has gone back to a four-top, set for just two this week. We get a taste of the so-called empty nest syndrome soon to be a permanent piece of our lives because Baby Girl's gone to Maui with the in-laws... on their trek back to Cambodia. (My brother-in-law works for the CDC and has lived in Asia and Africa for nearly 10 years.)

These quiet, post-visit meals always take some getting used to, especially since there's a lump in my throat. I hate saying goodbye. (Especially at the curb at SeaTac at 6 a.m.)

This summer visit, we shared some spectacular spreads: grilled King salmon on the Fourth, a Thai feast prepared by Ubon (and, no, she didn't give me recipes...), a weenie roast at cousins Marge and Jim's, seared flank steak and caramelized Walla Walla Sweets, gingerbread pudding. But no matter what we're eating, it's the sitting around the big table and talking and laughing and teasing and occasionally breaking into song that I love.

It's corny, but these gatherings feed me. The meals take me back to childhood memories, hanging out in the kitchen with my grandmother. Believe me, it sure wasn't all Norman Rockwell. There were some damn dark times, too, but I'm not going to go there. I'm just going to close my eyes and think about the lazy Sunday supper when my 17-year-old nephew suggested a post-dinner game of hearts. That moment was sweeter than any dessert.

What about you? Do you have visitors this summer? What are you feeding them?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Apologies to chef Holly Smith

My friend and I were walking to the Pike Place Market today and didn't notice the signs that said "crosswalk closed", so she ended up walking onto some freshly poured sidewalk. Red-faced construction worker yelled at her and others who took the same path. A policeman showed up. Big drama.

But it was an honest mistake. Not like the muck I stepped in yesterday when I casually Twittered a helping of idle gossip I heard this weekend about Cafe Juanita being on the ropes. I very quickly heard from chef/owner Holly Smith, who was rightly upset. (That's chef Holly pictured above at the James Beard Foundation Awards in NYC in May.)

I also got chewed out by various followers on Twitter. I should have known better. I apologized. But I don't really feel like that's enough. I want to turn this negative into a positive by pledging to get myself out for a meal at Cafe Juanita as soon as possible.

While chef Holly and her hard-working crew are still pulling in appreciative diners, if the restaurant is like any other fine dining venue, I'm going to guess their numbers are down from this time last year. It's a tough business and getting tougher all the time. 

I met the GM of Campagne last night and he told me the landmark restaurant near Pike Place Market is doing a makeover. Out with the white linen tableclothes, in with the bistro butcher paper and three courses for $30 daily. Chef Daisley Gordon recently launched a blog, letting fans know what he's up to in the kitchen. The Campagne lounge, not to be confused with Cafe Campagne downstairs, is one of the unsung gems of the happy hour circuit. All y'all get in there and support this fabulous place. 

In fact, please go and eat and support your favorite fine dining restaurant. Heck, any restaurant. I know the end of my gravy train had to have some impact on the local economy. Last year, as the P-I's food critic, I spent nearly $40,000. Shocking, right? Three of those meals were at the Herbfarm, which was $500 for two. 

I know belts have been tightened, but I would like to remind people that a vibrant restaurant scene is part of what makes Seattle so special. Please go out and dine. 

Anyone want to join me at Cafe Juanita? (Where I'll be eating humble pie!)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Just wondering...

.... what has happened to pasta genius Justin Neidermeyer from Spinasse? Keep hearing gossipy dish that he was fired from the restaurant he launched because he wasn't showing up for work.

.... does anybody else notice a striking similarity between the menu at the new Bastille and Le Pichet/Cafe Presse

.... even after glowing reviews Tillikum Park Cafe is often empty? Get in there and support this place!

.... how some lousy restaurants manage to stay open in this down economy when good ones go under? 

.... when diners will finally get over this obsession with upscale mac-and-cheese? Yes, everybody's favorite comfort food tastes damn good, but it's a sign of a lazy, unimaginative kitchen. Let's move on.

.... why Tom Douglas isn't as famous as Mario Batali?

.... when there's going to be a backlash over review sites like Oh, wait, that's already happened.

.... why more chocolate lovers haven't made the pilgrimage to Claudio Corallo in Ballard?

.... where can I find authentic Cajun-style boudin in the Northwest? (There is a boudin blanc on the menu at Le Pichet I wanna try.)

The first person who answers all these questions gets a picnic lunch at the Seattle Art Museum's Sculpture Park catered by me, Critic-Turned-Cook. Ready, go!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Spreading myself too thin?

Hey guys and gals.... 
I wanna apologize for neglecting this space. I've been playing the field. Writing for other sites that actually -- gasp! -- pay me good money. (Thank you so very much and AlDenteBlog!)

While I feel a bit like I've been cheating, I also think there's enough food to go around. Three meals a day and snacks and reading and viewing while chewing make for endless options to chat about what's on everybody's plate, right? What I've always loved about blogs is the conversation, so I'm wide open to suggestions about what we should talk about. Recipes? Restaurant trends? Bizarre stories about service snafus. (Just got an earful from a friend who was so turned off by the behavior of a server, she left in the middle of the meal. She paid for the first course, but was too uncomfortable to stay. And, then, the owner chased her down on the sidewalk to ask why she was leaving. Well, I hope you come back someday, she said. Not bloody likely.)

Rants and raves aside, I wanted to share a couple pieces I wrote this week about my recent trip to New Orleans. I'm particularly psyched about the little film I made while touring Hubig's Pies. Click here for the link. 

Also warmed by the memories of Cajun country and the hunt for the best boudin, which I wrote about for Serious Eats. Thanks for checking it out by clicking here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


This is the best news I've heard all week: Friday at noon at the Pike Place Market, roving Northwest Cherry reps will pass out Rainier cherries. Sweet!

For a list of some Seattle restaurants giving cherries the star treatment they deserve, check out this link.

What's your favorite way to enjoy cherries? I love/love/love 'em straight up, eating them until I get a stomachache. You?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cooking lessons: Thai chef in my kitchen

My sister-in-law Ubon is a fantastic cook. Though she grew up in Thailand, she is a globally inspired culinary artist. Still, I'm forever asking her to teach me her secrets from her homeland.

I long to master complex curries and satisfying noodle dishes. But for those dishes, she works quickly and uses sense memory, not recipes. 

Today, she's coming over for a visit and I'm determined to shadow her until I can soak up some knowledge. Will update this entry with photos and recipes. Any special requests?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

New Orleans report: Part 5, The Aftermath

I sure hated to leave, so brought a little bit of New Orleans and beyond to my home sweet home. Here's what was in my very heavy luggage:

Swamp Dust
Hubig's Pies
A whole muffaletta from Central Grocery
Cajun seasoning from T-Coon's
Community Coffee
Pat O'Brien's Hurricane Mix 
A crawfish paddle (picture a small oar)
Uncle Bud's Deep-Fried Cajun peanuts
A spray bottle of Cajun Grilling Spice, looks like Windex on fire
Two Cajun cookbooks
A Hubig's Pie apron
A crawfish magnet for my fridge
Roux mix

Wish I had room for a whole lot more. What's the wackiest food souvenir you've carted home after a memorable trip?

Friday, July 3, 2009

New Orleans report: Part 4, Sure do hate to go...

Such a great trip! Anybody who really loves food has to go visit New Orleans!! More details to come!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

On the road to Lafayette: A whole lot to digest

Started the day at Le Jeune's Bakery in Jeanerette, aka Sugar City, a spot with some ancient funk. And I mean that in the best possible way. The secret to their deeply satisfying loaves and po-boy rolls? Using malt instead of sugar to feed the yeast and using lard. The ovens at this special place looked like they belonged in a museum. 

After a killer lunch at T-Coons (crawfish ettoufee!), we did a little drive-thru daiquiri and a "turn here, turn here, turn there please" detour to Tiny Prudhomme's House of Meat. Best damn cracklins ever.

During dinner at Prejean's, we were seranaded by a three-piece band that sounded as sweet as the smoked duck and andouille sausage gumbo was spicy. Another Abita please.

A pinky-size finger of Pappy Van Winkle neat and I'm off to dreamland, visions of two-steppin' couples at The Blue Moon dancing through my head. 

New Orleans report: Part 2... Boudin balls, bourbon flights, oysters, milk punch and more!

After the biggest eating day of my life, I woke up hungry. Imagine that! Details on yesterday's moveable feast in magical New Orleans to come. 

I'm rushing out the door to hit the Boudin Trail... Best Stop. Then Zydeco Country, Lafayette.