Sugar Belle Bakery Wednesday, May 29 2013 

 

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Kasie Coleman, owner of the newly opened Sugar Belle Bakery on Plank Road hands me a freshly made praline and says, “Try it and then try to tell me it isn’t the best praline you ever tasted.” I am skeptical until I take my first bite and have no choice to agree that it surpasses the pralines of bake sales and Christmases past. It possesses a creamer more complex quality, but this could be said about everything Coleman creates at Sugar Belle.

Coleman started baking cakes at the tender age of 4. Her grandmother, Mary J. Davenport has served has her lifelong mentor and inspiration for her newly opened bakery.  Mary’s picture even hangs near the entrance along with one of her handwritten recipes.  Since opening on April 20th, Coleman has been selling out of her signature cupcakes, whoopie pies and Bundt cakes almost every day.  Some days she even debates whether or not she should close a little bit early due to lack of stock.  Coleman does not bake late in the day because she believes nothing should sit on the shelf overnight. Everything is baked fresh daily from scratch. “Sugar Belle would never use a mix,” Coleman says. “I am in the back room sifting flour and cracking eggs every morning.”

The bakery always keeps staples like their butter and cream cheese pound cakes, red velvet cupcakes and pralines, but Coleman also features six different specialty cupcakes each week from her collection of more than 100 different recipes. Currently the most popular group is her Booze Collection. I had the pleasure of eating a White Russian cupcake that managed to capture the spirit of one of my favorite cocktails without being overpowering or too sweet.  The only downside to this rotating menu is that folks fall in love with a cupcake and the next week it isn’t on the shelf.  Coleman does take special orders if patrons can’t stand to wait until a favorite makes it back into the display case.  “It’s fun,” she says. “People come every week just to see what is new.”

Coleman didn’t always wear an apron to work.  She is a former pharmaceutical sales representative who turned to baking as a form of therapy during a life-changing bout with retroperitoneal cancer which affects the entire abdominal cavity.  “While I was recovering, I would bake seven or eight cakes a day for people,” she says. “The idea for the bakery and all the recipes were all in my head.” Coleman has been in remission for about a year now and enjoying a rebirth in the form of a cancer-free life and a thriving new business.  She still continues the fight against cancer.  She is the Louisiana coordinator for the Million Cancer Survivor March and will be leading the march up the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building on June 1, 2014 for the anti-cancer rally.

5151 Plank Road, in Delmont Village Shopping Center. (225) 355-8080 or mysugarbelle.com.

 

Mother’s Day Essay Constest for The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MS Wednesday, May 29 2013 

Mother’s Day Essay Contest for The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MS

Nancy Hanks-Myers

Growing up, my mother made me costumes, not clothes. These jumpsuits with ears and tails caused my father great pain. He would say, “Nancy, you can’t take her to the Dairy Queen dressed as a dragon. What will people think?”
My mother would reply, “Stephanie Leanne Hanks Myers … Never worry about what other people think of you. It isn’t worth your time.”  This comment served as a foundation for my fearlessness and led me down many unexpected roads.
Whether it was being the consummate room mother or spinning fabulous tales about Bigfoot, Civil War treasures buried along forgotten fence posts, or putting on all black and running round the backyard in the moonlight with a flashlight covered in red cloth to convince me that a monster called the Big Red Eye roamed freely on the banks of the Amite River, my mother made every day an adventure. Her free spirit has stayed with me all of these years and I like to think she is the reason I carry a little bit of magic in my pocket everyday.
This Mother’s Day, we won’t have brunch.  Instead I will order a cake from Baum’s with butter cream frosting and we will eat it while it is still in the box.

Cinco de Mayo in Baton Rouge: Five Margaritas and a Recipe Wednesday, May 29 2013 

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Five Red Stick Margaritas and a Recipe: With a special history lesson, tequila tutorial and margarita recipe by our resident bartender Lynn Burgett II.

Another drinking holiday is upon us. Cinco de Mayo means everyone is Mexican for the day and margaritas and nachos must be consumed in mass quantities. Here is my list of 5 diverse standouts to enjoy while celebrating Mexican Independence Day. For those who wish to remain at home on May 5th, Lynn Burgett, barman to the stars, was nice enough to provide a brief history of the margarita, tequila tutorial and his own special recipe.

5 Muy Bueno Baton Rouge Margaritas 

1. Superior Grill makes their Superior Margarita big, strong and tasty. Large Styrofoam cups keep them cold. This is the iconic Baton Rouge margarita. 5435 Government Street.
2. Go the nontraditional route on May 5th. The Pepino Diablo at Olive or Twist is made with jalapeno tequila, cucumber and lime juice, and agave nectar. It is spicy and soothing all at the same time. 7248 Perkins Road.
3. Mestizo’s Maximillian Margarita is worth the splurge. It combines the perfect proportions of Tres Generaciones Reposado Tequila, Cointreau, fresh oranges and lime juice for a luxurious experience. 2323 South Acadian Thruway.
4. La Carreta has always believed that margaritas can come in a rainbow of flavors. Their Mango Margarita is sweet tropical paradise in a glass. 4065 Government Street or 9828 Bluebonnet Boulevard. 
5. At Ninfa’s, they make their Ninfarita frozen or on the rocks. The recipe hasn’t changed for almost 40 years because it is just that perfect. 4738 Constitution Avenue.

A Purist’s Guide to the Margarita
By Lynn Burgett II

Cinco de Mayo is rapidly approaching, and I wanted to share a classic recipe to enjoy on Mexico’s Independence Day. The margarita is a timeless cocktail that almost a dozen bartenders claimed to have invented as early as the 1930’s. So its true history and original creator will never be known.

I would, however, like to give you a brief guide to the different types of tequila and my own recipe. The first piece of advice I want to impart is to closely read the label for “100% Blue Agave”. Jose Cuervo Gold Especial is a “mixto” which means it is 51% tequila, 49% other liquors (usually corn derived) and colored to resemble aging. About 95% of tequila in the U.S. is “mixto”. Jose Cuervo does have higher-end brands that are “true” tequilas.

In order to be considered “true” tequila, it needs to be harvested from the blue agave plant primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila, Jalisco, the western state of Mexico. The starchy core of the blue agave plant is called the pina. Once the core is harvested, it is roasted and mashed. The pulp is discarded. The remaining product is referred to as “honey water.” This “honey water” is used as the base for tequila. After that, yeast is added; the mixture is distilled—yielding basic tequila.

Blanco (white) is only aged for a couple of months—if at all. It basically comes straight from the still. Reposado (rested) is aged for a couple months to a year in oak barrels previously used to mature bourbon. Finally, there is Anejo (aged): this is aged in the same seasoned barrels, but for 1 to 3 years. The gold/brown hue of Reposado and Anejo tequila is the result of the liquor sitting in the wooden barrels.

Classic Margarita Recipe

1 ½ oz Dos Lunas Reposado (or your preference of aged tequila)
3/4 oz Fresh squeezed lime juice (fresh lemon or orange juice can be used as well)
1/2 oz Cointreau or Triple Sec
1/4 oz Agave Nectar
Glass (highball or coupe)

Take a lime wedge and wet the entire rim of the glass. Rim half the glass with kosher salt creating a crescent shape. Leave the remaining rim clean. Wipe all the kosher salt from the inside of the glass. The kosher salt should never be able to directly touch your beverage but you should taste it when you sip to complement the ingredients. Next, fill the glass with ice. Combine all the ingredients in a shaker and shake until the shaker is frosty to the touch. When you pour the margarita over the rocks make sure you “double strain” the cocktail using a tea strainer due to the fresh squeezed lime juice and to capture any ice shards that would further dilute your cocktail. Finally, garnish with a lime wheel that is dropped on top of the cocktail instead of the rim as a throwback to the lime juice used. You can cut back on the Cointreau or triple sec by a ¼ oz or so and add a splash of orange juice. Lemon or orange juices tend to soften the beverage, giving an almost sweet taste.

About Lynn: “I’ve been tending bar for over 13 years and traveling the country for 7 of those as a bar trainer. The epitome of my passion is the history behind the handcrafted cocktail, the use of fresh super-local ingredients and the techniques used to procure a variety of unique concoctions.”

If you require the services of Lynn, you may find him at Galatoire’s Bistro Baton Rouge on Perkins Road where he resides as the head bartender.

Have a libation related question for our resident bartender? Email cherrythedivebargirl@gmail.com

Street Breads Wednesday, May 29 2013 

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Turning quick meals into a special experience…

Husband and wife Josh and Melissa Priola of Lake Charles shared the lofty goal of taking a concept as simple as a sandwich shop and turning it into an exceptional, yet casual and affordable dining experience.  After four years of research and trial and error, they decided their path to success lay in recreating the flavors from some of the world’s best street foods. Their first sandwich shop, Street Breads, opened in their hometown a couple of years ago. After their initial success, a second location in Baton Rouge felt like a natural progression.

Paul Burgess is the general manager of both Street Breads’ locations. He has been with the Priolas since the beginning. “Our goal was not to make the biggest sandwich, it was to make the sandwich with just the right amount of quality ingredients,” Burgess says. All of the sauces and toppings that provide the foundation for their sandwiches are made fresh in store daily and represent a collection of flavors from all over the world. All of their sandwiches are served on high quality fresh artisan bread.

Burgess’ current favorite sandwich is the Mediterranean Portobello, which showcases freshly grilled eggplant and a lemon tapenade, but he says, “With so many exciting flavors on the menu, it just depends on your mood.” Other popular items include a pulled pork sandwich topped with slaw, remoulade, and cheddar cheese called the Deep South. The Argentinean Sierra Beef features roast beef, pepper Jack cheese, spinach, red onion, chimichurri, and Texas caviar, which is black bean based spread, piled onto a rustic bread.  There are also plenty of fresh options for vegetarians. Gourmet salads and wraps are also available. The Pacific Asian salad consists of greens, almond slivers, carrots, cucumbers and fresh-made mango salsa served with an Asian vinaigrette.

Street Breads sandwich, Baton Rouge

Side items include their delicious feta potato salad, which is an inspired twist on a Southern classic and their “Street Slaw” which highlights their mix of secret spices. Street Breads also offers house-made hummus and salsa served with chips.

The interior of Street Breads looks more like a comfortable modern bistro than a sandwich shop. Diners can enjoy everything from a quick affordably priced bite to a leisurely afternoon lunch while sitting on the sofa with a friend drinking a glass of wine.

The Priolas likes to keep it local by keeping Louisiana craft beers from Tin Roof and Parish Brewing on tap.  A nice selection of moderately priced wine is available by the glass and dispensed though a state of the art self-service machine.

Internationally known street artist, Chor Boogie created the vivid mural that encompasses the entire back wall of the shop. Boogie happened to be in town working on a mural for the Museum of Public Art in South Baton Rouge. He liked the concept of Street Breads and agreed to work on a commission.

When asked what was in store for the future of the chain, Burgess said, “We want to keep going. Six months down the road, we want to start looking at other locations.”  And with a concept like this, it is easy to see how Street Breads could leave places like Subway, Quizno’s and Jimmy John’s in the dust. 3131 Perkins Road. (225) 930-4672 or www.streetbreads.com.

 

Banana Pudding Friday, Apr 26 2013 

Banana Pudding

Banana pudding

Published April 25, 2013.

Banana pudding just might be the quintessential Southern summer dessert. It is a staple at family reunions, church picnics and crawfish boils. For decades, middle-aged women wearing madras Capri pants and kitten heels have tottered across the wet grassy fields of parks and down uneven sidewalks while tightly gripping the sides of aging Pyrex bowls with fading daisies printed on the sides.

Almost anyone can make banana pudding. It doesn’t need to rise and bake. It is easy to assemble and uses very few ingredients. Perhaps this is why with the exception of the occasional cafeteria, it is rarely available for purchase. However, most Southerners have no aversion to shelling out a little dough for other custard and banana delicacies like Bananas Foster, Crème Brulee and banana cream pie.

Right after I moved to New York, a friend drug me to Magnolia Bakery mainly because Sarah Jessica Parker’s character in Sex in the City, Carrie Bradshaw, had a special affection for their cupcakes. As I leaned over the display case, I saw small single servings of banana pudding for $5. FIVE DOLLARS! My initial shock turned to confusion and then quickly wrinkled up into anger. I placed buying banana pudding in the same ballpark as paying for sex and selling a baby on the black market.

After leaving Magnolia, I quickly realized that much like Rumpelstiltskin had effortlessly spun straw into gold; I could easily turn Jell-O pudding into an “exotic” dessert. My German friend Stefanie declared that I had to make her banana pudding at least once a month. When she moved back to Munich, I gave her my mother’s recipe. I expected her overwhelming gratitude but was met with anger. She said, “It is so easy to make. I could have been making this every week. This is worse than the day I found out Rice Krispie treats could be ready in ten minutes.”

Now I will give to you my Mother’s recipe. I will also give you the Magnolia’s bastardized take on banana pudding. You can feel free to do what you will with them.

The Nancy Hanks Myers Banana Pudding
(Keep in mind this recipe is about as original as the pecan pie recipe written on the side of a bottle of Karo syrup.)

Ingredients:
A 5oz box of vanilla Jell-O Cook and Serve Pudding (The Nancy speaks: “The big box!!! Yes, Stephanie Leanne…Cook and Serve pudding comes in sizes. Read the box carefully or you wander home with instant pudding.”)
1 bag of Jack’s Vanilla Wafers (Nancy: “You can get other brands.  It just won’t be as good.”)
4 or 5 Bananas
3 Cups of Milk
½ Cup of Sugar
1 Beaten Egg
1 Container of Cool Whip (Writer’s Note: This is one of the few times in life I find Cool Whip to be an acceptable substance to ingest.)

Directions:
1. In a pretty 8-inch crystal bowl, alternate between slices of bananas and vanilla wafers.  While doing this, do not eat more than 5 or 6 vanilla wafers. You will need all of them. Justify eating 10 vanilla wafers by telling yourself that it was OK because you only ate the broken ones.
2. Make the pudding according to the directions on the box, but add the sugar and the egg. This makes the pudding into more of custard.
3.  When the pudding is ready, pour it over the bananas and vanilla wafers. Place in the refrigerator until cool.
4. Top with Cool Whip.  (Try not to wonder if the body can actually digest Cool Whip.)
5. Give to man you want as a future husband.

The Magnolia Recipe

Ingredients:
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
1 3.4-ounce box Jell-O instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups heavy cream
1 12-ounce box vanilla wafers
4 cups sliced ripe bananas (about 3 large bananas)

Directions:
In a medium bowl (or using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment) whisk together sweetened condensed milk and water until blended. Add pudding mix and continue to whisk into fully incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until set, about 3 hours (or you can leave overnight).

Once pudding has set, whip heavy cream in a large bowl with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold pudding into the whipped cream until completely blended. In your serving bowl (or individual serving jars), begin layering vanilla wafers, then bananas, then pudding.  Repeat 3 times, or as many times you need/like to fit your desired serving dish. Garnish pudding with additional wafers or wafer crumbs, cover with plastic wrap and chill for an additional 4 hours.

Do you see what I am talking about?  They didn’t even cook the pudding. What a travesty.

La Reyna Friday, Apr 26 2013 


La Reyna

Authentic Honduran specialties at La Reyna include a pupusa (top) and paella served with fried plantains.

Published April 19

Tired of the same old Mexican food? Then continue your journey towards the Equator and head to La Reyna for some authentic Honduran cuisine. This family-run restaurant is located at the end of a strip mall on Perkins near Siegen and has been introducing Baton Rouge to fresh home-cooked Central American fare since 2008.

The interior of La Reyna is nondescript. It’s clean, with colorful contrasting tablecloths and drinks served in plastic tumblers. Many photos and travel advertisements for Honduras hang on the walls.  Food is served in mismatched dishes. Locals speak Spanish and read newspapers while they wait for dinner.

Start your meal with a pupusa, a grilled cornmeal pancake stuffed with pork crackings, cheese and spices that is served with a spicy slaw of pickled cabbage, onions, and peppers. It has a simple, clean flavor that does not disappoint.  Or try a pastelito–a delicious fried meat pie.

La Reyna also offers some harder to find entrees.  Paella, a Spanish rice dish is piled high on the plate, with slices of fried plantains sticking out like petals on a flower. The delicious dish is filled with beef, chicken and shrimp. They also have chicken slow cooked in a mole sauce.

La Reyna has something to offer people who aren’t looking to eat red meat. The restaurant might very well make the best fish tacos in town. Well-seasoned grilled fish is served in flour tortillas with tomatoes, onions, peppers and shredded cabbage.  For those wanting a twist on the more familiar Mexican food, try the Honduran enchiladas, which feature a sliced egg and shredded cabbage, or the Honduran tacos, which also feature cabbage and red onion.

Traditional Honduran fruit drinks are also available and are served mixed with water or milk.  Or try a hibiscus flower drink—a spicy cold tea.  For dessert, order a freshly made banana shake.

La Reyna’s prices are very affordable – Entrees run between $6-$10. They also have 8 daily lunch specials, ranging from taco plates to stewed pork priced between $6 and $8.50. 13213 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA. (225) 768-1315 or lareynarestaurant.com

The Triumphant Return of the Dairy Queen to Baton Rouge Friday, Apr 26 2013 

The Triumphant Return of the Dairy Queen to Baton Rouge

Dairy Queen in Baton Rouge

Published April 15, 2013

When I was 6 years old, my mother ran into my room and said, “Ronald Reagan just called. Unless we go to the Dairy Queen right now and have a banana split, space aliens are going to attack earth.” I had been charged with saving our planet. So I did what any dutiful young American would do—I put on my shoes and went in search of flying saucers and banana splits. The Dairy Queen and I saved the world that day.

Yes, it is a fast food chain, but the local Dairy Queen in Clinton, Miss., had a heart and a soul that McDonald’s and Burger King could never possess. Our Chihuahua, Buddy, would ride in the car with us to get a take-out quart of soft serve and faithfully guard the container all the way home. Then he would sit in the pocket of my father’s robe and wait patiently for him to share.

Every December 26th, my mom would present me with a banana split with candles for my birthday. This ridiculous concoction was never long for this world and barely made it past the photo-op of me blowing out my candles as they teetered in a soupy mixture of chocolate syrup, pineapple, strawberries and cream.

Eventually my tastes became more sophisticated and I traded my beloved banana splits for a new concoction called a Snickers Blizzard. Dairy Queen just made our family happy. When we cleared out my grandmother’s house after we moved her to a retirement home, I found an entire kitchen drawer filled with Dairy Queen’s signature red plastic spoons with the emblem of an ice cream cone pressed into the handle. As I threw them out along with plastic bags filled with dryer lint and boxes of Harlequin historical romance novels, I imagined the high point of most days for my grandmother had been sitting in her recliner while eating parfaits and reading soft-core porn that featured poorly written facsimiles of Scarlett O’Hara.

The return of Dairy Queen to Baton Rouge fills a nostalgic culinary need in me. The burgers still have that great char-grilled taste and the magical item known as a dip cone is still on the menu. Children can watch while their ice cream cone is turned upside down and coated with chocolate sauce that miraculously dries to form a protective coating in about 15 seconds. I like to think that—in spite of the fact that today’s children are over-stimulated and extraordinarily savvy—being handed a chocolate-covered ice cream cone makes them smile.

On my most recent trip, I ordered a banana split Blizzard. And when the cashier brought it out, I made him turn it upside down to ensure its thickness. Baton Rouge’s Dairy Queen can be found at 3444 South Sherwood Forest Boulevard. (225) 636-2140.

Ask the Bartender Friday, Apr 26 2013 

Ask the Bartender
In an age where college kids tend bar for extra money and any slob with a rag and a beer opener in their back pocket can call himself a bartender, Lynn Burgett stands apart and embodies the persona of the old fashioned barkeep. Lynn greets customers at Galatoire’s Bistro Baton Rouge by leaning over the bar and shaking their hands. Making the perfect handcrafted cocktail for guests isn’t enough; he needs to know the history behind the drink. He is part master craftsman, part mad chemist and part psychiatrist.
The Good Feast is proud to offer the services of Lynn to Country Roads readers in the form of the column called “Ask the Bartender.” For his first outing, Lynn would like to introduce one of his favorite drinks.

The Moscow Mule

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The Moscow Mule is traditionally served in a copper mug made by Cock ‘n’ Bull, topped with ginger beer and a lime squeeze. I love the story of the Moscow Mule and what made this the breakout cocktail for vodka circa 1941 by John G. Martin of G.F. Heublein Brothers, Inc., an East Coast spirits and food distributor, and “Jack” Morgan, President of Cock ‘n’ Bull Products, a ginger beer producer and proprietor of the Cock ‘n’ Bull restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.

The story goes that John G. Martin purchased an original Polaroid Land Camera in 1947—the first camera of its kind during this period. With his new camera in hand, Martin developed a brilliant marketing scheme to jump-start the sales of his new account, Smirnoff vodka. Martin would travel from bar to bar taking pictures of a bartender or bar manager holding a Moscow Mule mug in one hand and a bottle of Smirnoff in the other. He’d give them a copy and take a second photo to the next bar showing the popularity of the drink and selling them on the next “drink craze”. The bar owners would bite, another photo was taken, onto the next bar and so on. The cocktail made its way from the East Coast to the West with its strongest foundation in Hollywood during the 1950’s where it is reputed that stars and starlets had their own Cock ‘n’ Bull mugs behind the bar with their initials engraved upon the copper mugs. The Moscow Mule slowly faded in the late 1960’s, but was never forgotten.

Moscow mule recipe
1 ½ oz Smirnoff Vodka
3 oz ginger beer. Ginger ale can be used in a pinch
Lime wedge
Glass Highball or a copper mug if you have it

Build the cocktail in a glass with ice. First add vodka. Top with ginger beer and squeeze the lime over the cocktail. Then gently stir. I prefer the copper mug as it complements the citrus and ginger notes in the cocktail.

About Lynn:
“I’ve been tending bar for over thirteen years and traveling the country for seven of those as a bar trainer. The epitome of my passion is the history behind the handcrafted cocktail, the use of fresh super-local ingredients and the techniques used to procure a variety of unique concoctions.”

If you require Lynn’s services, you may find him at Galatoire’s Bistro Baton Rouge on Perkins Road where he holds court as head bartender.

Have a libation related question for our resident bartender? Email cherrythedivebargirl@gmail.com

The Corruption of the Eggs Friday, Apr 26 2013 

The Corruption of the EggsImage

It is the day after Easter. Which means a gigantic rabbit has completed his yearly visit to my home and left too much chocolate candy, wayward plastic Easter grass all over the floor, and more than a dozen pastel-colored eggs in the refrigerator. Eventually, the chocolate will be eaten and the grass will blow under the sofa, but the last development is more of a call to action. It is time to take the purest of the pure—a hard-boiled egg—and corrupt it with mayonnaise and spices.

The day I moved back home to Louisiana, my mother showed up on my doorstep and presented me with a deviled egg tray. She said, “You are back in the South. You will need one of these now.” I secretly scoffed at this. I took one look at its scalloped edges and branded it as a completely non-versatile kitchen instrument and placed it in the back of the cabinet.

About a month later, I was invited to an impromptu board game party and the only things in my refrigerator were a collection of condiments and a dozen eggs. So I did what any good southern belle would do, I got out my special tray and went to work. Before the first game of Yahtzee was complete, all of the eggs were gone.

Deviled Eggs

My dyed then deviled eggs minus the signature tray. Unfortunately at the time of press, it was discovered that a southern belle of lesser means had absconded with my crystal platter.

True, recipes for deviling eggs exist on the Internet, but no one uses them. They simply make them just like their mama did. I could never imagine showing up to a family gathering with some kind of fancy modern deconstructed deviled egg. People would whisper about how my years spent in New York City had left me with an intolerable amount of elitist snobbery that needed to be beaten out of me.

So while I will not post a recipe for deviled eggs, I will make some suggestions as to how to spice up the old family recipe.

1. Make your eggs look pretty by piping the filling back into the egg white by using a pastry bag with a large stainless steel star-shaped pastry tip.
2. Add some spices into the mix. Pick from sriracha, horseradish, habanero, wasabi, curry powder or chipotle. Sometimes adding just a little minced onion can really do the trick.
3. Top or add a protein: crumbled bacon or sausage, prosciutto or leftover Easter ham. Go the shellfish route and add some shrimp or crawfish or go high end with a little caviar on top. (Stay away from chicken and other fowl! It is too “mother and child” and there is something a little incestuous about it.)
4. Add avocados to the yolk mixture to make them even creamier.
5. Take a healthier route: use only 2/3 of the egg yolks and substitute non-fat Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise.

If you still have an inclination for an elevated deviled egg, I suggest the bayou eggs at Restaurant IPO in downtown Baton Rouge (421 Third Street).  They devil theirs with crawfish and tasso and then top them off with perfectly fried oysters.

And now for an Easter story from my misspent youth.

In second grade, my family moved from Clinton, Mississippi to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  It would be an understatement to say things were different there.

My first Easter in Florida, I received my typical offerings from the Easter Bunny: candy, a chocolate bunny, a ceramic figurine, and a stuffed animal. The next day I returned to school to find the rest of the children had received cash, entire outfits, and video games from the Easter Bunny.

I was in shock. I went home and asked my mother if I had been bad. Why had the Easter Bunny slighted me?

Her reply, “You are still being serviced by the Mississippi Easter Bunny and the Mississippi Easter Bunny is poor! He doesn’t have all that Walt Disney World money like the Florida Easter Bunny does. The Mississippi Easter Bunny does the best he can with his limited resources.”

Important lessons about economics were learned that day, and I secretly wondered if I would be considered a Florida resident the next time the Easter Bunny hopped by the house.

Galatoire’s Bistro–For Country Roads Thursday, Mar 28 2013 

April 2013. New dining traditions in Baton Rouge

Tennessee Williams once had a regular table at Galatoire’s. It stood by a window facing Bourbon Street where he watched the cavalcade of humanity that is New Orleans pass by. He loved the establishment so much he even had Blanche and Stella DuBois take a girl’s night out to Galatoire’s in the beginning of A Streetcar Named Desire.  The tables that line the windows at the Baton Rouge location face a parking lot.  While no good Southerner could ever imagine Williams sipping on a Ramos Gin Fizz as he watched patrons fumble for the keys to their SUVs, they would reluctantly admit that a sparkly new Galatoire’s by the interstate is better than no Galatoire’s at all. In short, the Baton Rouge bistro is the more practical, less frenetic Stella to the New Orleans location’s Blanche. But don’t dismiss the younger more practical DuBois sister—because she is not without virtue.

The bright tiled main area is almost a dead ringer for the New Orleans location’s dining room. It is a place for table-hopping, glad-handing, and networking. Bentwood chairs surround tables draped in white linen and offer the perfect place for holding court while enjoying a lunch that spills over into mid-afternoon. For most, Galatoire’s will always be a place for celebrations where patriarchs in blue blazers pat the recently promoted or engaged on the back, or where expense accounts pay for a decadent dinner. All of the traditional, French-Creole fare is available.  Large entrées that have stood the test of time swim in meuniere, béarnaise, and bordelaise sauces.  Unlike the original location, Baton Rouge will accept a reservation.  So the rite of passage of waiting in a line on the brick sidewalks of the French Quarter for a table to come available is no longer necessary.

Also the custom of having a waiter with tenure extensive enough to have earned a gold watch and a pension doesn’t exist at the Baton Rouge location. When dining at the new Galatoire’s it is important not to expect to recapture the Deep South soaked romanticism of old New Orleans. Instead, look to create new traditions.

Bypass the noisy hustle and bustle of the dining room and enjoy a more intimate experience in the sophisticated dark wood-panelled bar. This is also a way to sample some of Galatoire’s more interesting smaller dishes and imbibe some of their handcrafted cocktails or a bottle of wine from the extensive cellar—without breaking the bank.

For Galatoire’s reinvention and innovation does not happen easily. That’s why it was an unexpected surprise to see an inspired cocktail menu created especially for the Baton Rouge location. The showstopper of this new menu is a cocktail called the Old World Fashioned. An unlikely combination of Merlot, Bourbon, Angostura and orange bitters marry to form a warm spicy drink with a hint of sweetness.  The Grey Goose Cooler is a refreshing vodka and fruit juice cocktail that would pair well with the patio and a seersucker suit during summer months. Of course, all of the famed New Orleans favorites are about—like the Vieux Carre, Sazerac and Galatoire’s 209 Cocktail, a different take on a Pimm’s Cup named after its celebrated New Orleans address. 

After a round of drinks, start by ordering a couple of appetizers that are hard to find at most restaurants in Baton Rouge. The escargot is amazing and the extra butter sauce can be sopped up with the house French bread. Of course no one does oysters Rockefeller like Galatoire’s. Their crab ravigote is served on toast points and is a decadent way to enjoy Louisiana fresh crabmeat.  For the more adventurous, the duck crepe or the sweetbreads are appealing options. 

Or take the soup and salad route. The turtle soup au sherry or the French onion soup pair well with the Godchaux salad featuring boiled shrimp and jumbo lump crabmeat tossed in a creole mustard vinaigrette. In the summer months, bypass hot food all together and order the Galatoire Goute. This sampler consists of two classic Galatoire’s appetizers, the crabmeat maison and shrimp remoulade. 

Finish the evening by splitting some bread pudding dripping with banana praline liquor sauce or profiteroles filled with ice cream. Avoid the heavier chocolate dessert drinks and finish with the Baccarat cocktail, a beautiful combination of sparkling wine, Chambord raspberry liquor and Aztec chocolate bitters. 

Creating these new traditions makes walking out the front door and being confronted with the gridlock of Perkins Road instead of the foot traffic on Bourbon Street less of a shock to the soul, and the taste of New Orleans can still linger on the lips.

Details. Details. Details.

Galatoire’s Bistro
3535 Perkins Road
(225) 753-4864
galatoiresbistro.comImage

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