Baton Rouge, LA
|Pepper Jack Crab Dip|
Say what you will about BP and the oil spill that affected the Gulf in April 2010, but it should definitely be noted in your assessment the effort put forth after the fact. As part of their very extensive and highly ambitious campaign to promote gulf seafood, BP put together the Gulf Coast Seafood and Tourism Bash, strategically held to coincide with the Allstate Sugar Bowl and BCS National Championship games, happening this week in New Orleans. The event featured gulf coast seafood at official football galas and pregame parties, as well as vacation giveaways to prime gulf coast destinations.
As a part of the overall bash, I was privileged to be a part of the Dine Around event held Friday night. A mixture of state and local officials, bloggers and media people boarded two coach buses for a culinary tour of the city. A typical New Orleans party atmosphere was present immediately upon boarding the bus with music blaring and dancing in the aisle. An NOPD police escort promptly delivered us to our first destination, Borgne restaurant.
Named for Lake Borgne, this is the latest addition to Chef John Besh’s growing arsenal of great eateries. Its focus is to celebrate the great coastal seafood of Louisiana, and that’s the only seafood you’ll find here, because thankfully, it’s all they use. Also, the restaurant features a menu with an Isleno influence, something that as a former president of the Canary Islanders Heritage Society of Louisiana means a lot to me. Borgne is located next to the Superdome in the Hyatt hotel, and welcomes you with a spacious and welcoming atmosphere. My favorite aspect of the décor are the many references to the lake and its surrounding communities, and the columns made of wire mesh filled with polished oyster shells. Of course the real highlight is the food, and as we have come to expect Besh does not disappoint. Alongside his executive chef Brian Landry, Besh offers some very tasty items. I sampled a variety of things, from the rich, decadent oyster stew, meat pies with white bbq sauce, duck poppers with jalapeno and bacon, and fried oysters amandine everything was excellent. I look forward to making a trip back there very soon.
So then back to the party bus and off to our next stop, Café NOMA. Located in City Park at the New Orleans Museum of Art, Café NOMA’s food has an artistic flare that matches its environment. We were treated to beautiful appetizers of yellowfin tuna tataki, deviled shrimp with truffled eggs, crabmeat caprese, and Citron oyster shooters. Lt. Governor Dardenne gave some remarks regarding the Louisiana seafood industry, we had more drinks, and it was off to the final destination of the tour.
We traveled back to the French Quarter and were deposited around the corner from Muriel’s Jackson Square, where a jazz band greeted us. Upstairs at Muriel’s more drinks and food were flowing. Fried oysters with remoulade, seafood beignets, mini crab cakes, and chilled jumbo gulf shrimp were just some of the tasty items being passed around.
While it was impressive to meet some big name Louisiana people like Chef Besh and Lt. Governor Dardenne, the real star of the evening was the food. Food that featured the best seafood anywhere, Louisiana seafood. I’m sure being raised eating it makes me a bit biased, but I’ve eaten lobster in New England, crabs in Maryland, and clam chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, and nothing compares to fresh seafood from the gulf. And if there’s anyone out there who doesn’t think New Orleans isn’t resilient and isn’t back better than ever, you obviously weren’t there this weekend.
Happy New Year!
We are excited about 2012 and have resolved to make this year a great one, getting back to focusing on the local food scene and keeping this blog updated. On that note, we are looking for folks who love food and have a knack for writing to keep us on track with new posts. Email us at email@example.com if you’d like to be considered as a contributor!
Look for reviews and info coming soon on some great new restaurants in the area as well as some long standing favorites. Also, we will soon be introducing recipes and food tips to enhance your culinary experience!