Nola’s Top Chef

While I’m on vacation this week, I wanted to leave you with something delicious to think about and something entertaining to look forward to. I just learned that Bravo’s Top Chef show is preparing for their new season this October by visiting local restaurants and culinary talent in New Orleans to acquire their competitors. The competitors have already been selected by Padma Lakshmi. These shows may be more interesting like a documentary than the actual competition. All the episodes can be viewed in sequence on bravotv.com. The contestants will come together to get judged on their culinary ability like making a dish strictly “from what they find in garbage dumpster” in New Orleans! Really?! A bit contrived, but what do you expect? This is “reality” TV afterall.

Here’s a prequel:

I don’t watch this show and may not even watch this one but it made me think of the GREAT and I mean nowhere-can-compare food in New Orleans! I’m spoiled in that I grew up on jambalaya, shrimp and grits and crawfish and so many other delectibles (don’t even mention the desserts) that cannot be found anywhere else and are hard to replicate with authenticity as many a restaurant may try.

I found one, however, Acadiana in DC. I love the name because it reminds me of “Acadia” what Andrew Lytle used to refer to when speaking of untouched Agrarian Southern Culture and territory as “Heaven”. Acadiana is the actual Cajun French region of Louisiana. I have been wanting to go to this restaurant since Katrina took everything I remembered (at that time) away from my beloved New Orleans. Acadiana opened about a month after “The Storm” — fantastic marketing!! It has been a popular place ever since and many other restaurants have joined its network.

Acadiana Restaurant_Art is Everywhere

We tried it for Piers’ 25th birthday. This was our same view into the restaurant from out table closer to the front entrance. It was a fabulous dinner! We started with Sazeracs, the official cocktail of New Orleans. I had a Big Easy since it had rum and evidently Friday, August 16 was National Rum Day. It was OK but I like a Vieux Carré better — our new drink of the season.

Acadiana Restaurant_Art is Everywhere

After cocktails, we moved to an assortment of fried green tomatoes (the only thing that was just OK), boudin balls (superb) and roasted oysters. The latter are not my favorite because I won’t eat oysters unless they are cooked and I admit, I like mussels better but these were excellent. My father’s favorite thing was oysters on the half shell. I just never acquired that tasting gene I guess.

For the menu, we had a trio of classic New Orleans soups to try: crab & corn, turtle and a chicken andouille sausage gumbo. We all had fish: Crispy Catfish and Blackened Redfish with a rich yellow bean and rice (take on red beans and rice) sauce. We finished with a flight of amaros. Fantastic!! I will go back and recommend. They did an excellent job on their own take on the classics like grillards and grits instead of grits and grillards, etc. They even printed out Happy 25th Birthday menus for us all and wrapped one for Piers to take home upon leaving.

 

Bring it on Top Chefs! The art may be in the preparation of the food, but I’ll be thinking of more authentic, classic and just plain good — without all the needed hype or fuss — New Orleans cuisine, while they may be trying just too hard to impress.

Something to “See” in NOLA?

Notices of exhibits show up in my alerts but my mother also forwards from New Orleans, since she’s there and sees it first.

This one “caught my eye” and would be one I’d like to see, Self Portrait of and by 73 year old artist Pat Steir at the Newcomb Art Gallery. Unfortunately, I was late in posting and the exhibit has already gone but worth taking a look at and reading more via this Times Picayune link.

self portrait_Pat Steir on Art Is Everywhere

I’m not too sure about this second one being my cup of tea but I find the Rashaad Newsome’s premise regarding heraldry and his visual perspective on 21st century pop culture in his artwork interesting. King of Arms is at the New Orleans Museum of Art (one of my favorite places), June 21 – September 21. So you’ve got time to explore and listen to the Baroque choral music combined with rap that accompanies his pieces.

Rashaad Newsome_Doug MacCash photo on Art Is Everyhwere

When I first saw this photo, I immediately thought of the Mardi Gras Indians and the bling they use for their most bedazzling costumes. I also thought of the type of gilding that takes place in iconic portraiture for halos and artwork mainly for churches.