Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Favorites

It's been a while, I know, accept my apologies the madness of the holidays overtook me and the combination of the holidays & being underemployed has left my wallet on the light side, making dining out less of an option. So while I haven't been anywhere new on the list, I thought with the end of the year upon us, I would recap some of my favorite drinks, foods, places of 2010. Many of the places are in my Nola, since that's where we spent most of 2010 and one hails from our home in Richmond, VA. Without further ado my 2010 faves!!! Oh and I should mention that for the most part they are in no particular order, so what popped in my head first!!!

Abita Strawberry Beer- "Ripe, red Louisiana strawberries are harvested at the peak of the season in the early morning chill. The scent of the juicy red Ponchatoula berries fills the air as they're picked and pressed for Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager. The end result is a light, crisp lager with just a hint of strawberry sweetness." "Strawberry Harvest Lager is a wheat beer made with real Louisiana strawberries, picked late in the season when they’re at their sweetest. This brew has earned quite a reputation in a short time, causing the brewery to up their production year after year. When this brew is found, emails and phone calls fly to friends informing them of the store’s location." Trust me when I say Ponchatoula Strawberries make the world a better place. When it's season, everyone stocks up on Abita Strawberry Beer and when it gets toward end of season, you stockpile to get you through until next season. And if you're like me and missed the end of season last year, you pray that a friend will take pity on you and share theirs to get you through until next season- Thank you Nikki!!!

And while we're talking Ponchatoula strawberries let's discuss the Ponchatoula Punch:, from Coquette, Strawberry Infused Vodka, Amaretto, Lemon & Soda. " Coquette is a French bistro located in the Garden District, Coquette serves bistro fare with a focus on local fresh ingredients with a menu that changes daily. The bar features seasonal house infused spirits, signature cocktails and an eclectic wine list."

If you ever have or ever plan to make a trip to New Orleans for Jazz Feast, you know or will learn the Jazz Feast experience is as much about the food as it is the music. And when the locals discuss Jazz Feast usually the first question you hear is what'd ya eat? Now, I don't eat seafood but I know the reigning favorite seafood dish is the Crawfish Monica at Jazz Feast, but my personal can't wait to eat is the  COCHON DE LAIT PO-BOY. "Cochon de lait literally translated is milk fed pig. It's actually roasted pork. The whole pig is slow roasted on an open pit. It's fork-tender, juicy and seasoned perfectly. Then, it's put on French bread to make one of the best sandwiches you'll ever eat. Look for it at the Love at First Bite booth" My mouth is watering just thinking about it!!!

Sometime in early spring 2010 I attended the Louisiana Road food Festival and fell in love with the Natchitoches Meat Pies! To be honest with you I had heard folks talk about meat pies and had always turned my nose up, until I tasted. "The Natchitoches meat pie is a regional dish from northern Louisiana, United States. It is one of the official state foods of Louisiana[1].Ingredients include ground beef, ground pork, onions, peppers, garlic, oil, and a pie shell. Natchitoches meat pies are often fried in peanut oil because of the oil's high smoking temperature. A number of restaurants in the historic district in Natchitoches serve meat pies, and frozen pies are available from grocers in northern Louisiana.

This has a savory meat filling in a crescent-shaped, flaky wheat pastry turnover. It is similar to a Spanish picadillo beef empanada. Varieties are throughout the colonies of the Spanish Empire. The Natchitoches meat pie is nearly identical to the traditional ground beef empanada of Argentina." Thank  you Wikipedia for the description!!!

Next stop on my list is the Cafe Con Leche at my favorite restaurant in Richmond, VA. Kuba Kuba, I love everything about Kuba Kuba- it's got a great neighborhood feel, wonderful wait staff and the food is consistently delicious. And then there's the Cafe Con Leche- iced or hot it's all good- but treat yourself and get it with the sweetened condensed milk. Wish I had one now!!!

I couldn't make a list of 2010 without including my amazing fries dipped in Peanut Butter, served up at Leons Full Service in adorable downtown Decatur, GA. I think about them often!!!

Speaking of yumminess in the Atl, my new favorite cocktail: The Grapefruit Rosewater Martini served up at Cafe di Sol in Poncey Highlands area of Atlanta. I'm not a huge fan of grapefruit, but dare I say this drink was darn near perfect. It's on my must have again soon list!

While we're still in the Atl, let's talk Flip Burger Boutique on Howell Road- O.M.G. so good it's almost a sin. "Fine dining between two buns" is right on. The burgers are amazing.. a must try even in a town full of top notch burger restaurants! Oh and do yourself a favor and order the Onion Rings also!!!

I'll be honest, I was never a fan of Grits. That is until I tried the Grits at Refuel

It's tough to narrow down what you love the most, when you live in great food cities, and I could go on forever about the foods, drinks & places I love. But in the interest of keeping your interest I'll just touch on a few more spots in New Orleans.

Chef John Besh's (who I'll admit I have a TOTAL crush on) Luke on historic St. Charles Avenue has the best Croque Madame et Frites. Shawna, swears by the Shrimp & Grits at Luke, so much so that she's nearly stopped ordering Shrimp & Grits from anywhere else!
Start off with a Champagne Au Peche and you'll be enjoying my favorite brunch cocktail.

If you are looking for heaven in the form of an Almond Croissant, look no further than O'Delice French Bakery, uptown 6033 Magazine Street. I. DIE. just thinking about it.

No trip to New Orleans would be complete without a trip to Commanders Palace- there's a reason this place is an institution- I'm just sayin. I have been to Commanders for brunch, lunch, dinner and I have to say the brunch is always my favorite.Although the 25 cent lunch martini's sure do make a good time. The Eggs Couchon De Lait is my brunch choice: Smoky braised pork debris over black pepper and rosemary biscuits with soft poached eggs, winter mushrooms & bourbon-bacon fat hollandaise. Don't forget to order the Bread Pudding at Commander's it may be the city's best! Never miss an opportunity to eat at Commanders- it won't disappoint!
When you find yourself strolling through the French Quarter go ahead  go down Bourbon and keeping going until you reach my favorite bar- Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar on the corner of Bourbon & St. Phillip. Do yourself a favor and order a big cup of HAPPY in the form of the Voodoo Daddy- it's a slushee or Slurpee all grown up and will be sure to leave you with a smile.

Which brings me to my almost favorite, Clancy's- a true uptown neighborhood establishment. Clancy's is tucked away in a neighborhood (my old neighborhood) and it's the stuff legends are made of. It's a true New Orleans experience, professional wait staff, stiff drinks & consistently five-star food. I always get the Boston Salad, the Stilton Filet & Lemon Icebox Pie.  Clancy's is a New Orleans classic. It's service and food rivals that of the any restaurants in the Quarter. Yet, its ambiance is as relaxed and comfortable as any neighborhood restaurant in Uptown New Orleans. Clancy's is a favorite place of locals and is off the traditional tourist track; but, well worth the trip.

And then there's Irene's, Irene's is sort of hidden in the French Quarter, on Saint Phillip. It's warm and always crowded, the crowd is eclectic. The atmosphere is truly New Orleans. The waitstaff is the BEST. By the end of the meal we had our waiters card, wine recommendations and hugs. And then there's the food- words fail to describe. We basically turned over the ordering to the waiter at his insistence and never has my belly been happier. I've never loved New Orleans more than when sitting in the quintessential New Orleans restaurant Irene's. Go & enjoy- just don't be in a hurry, you may make reservations for 8, but not get seated till 9- trust me it's worth it, sit, have a cocktail & enjoy the piano. This is the Big Easy.

You'll note there's not website for Irene's or Clancy's. These are old school establishments, you can google search them for reviews, but I say just GO and let me know when you do, I'd love to join you or at least hear all about your adventure!!

There area  so many other places I wish I could tell you about, but my memory & time don't always cooperate. What I've find is every city has an abundance of local places that showcase the spirit of that city, you just have to be patient and enjoy the journey finding your spots.

2010 was an incredible year, I can't wait to see what 2011 holds. Be safe out there and enjoy! Wishing y'all a New Year filled with good health, love  & great food!

Happy New Year Y'all!!!

Friday, December 3, 2010


Hey y'all!

Let me start off with an apology for the very very delayed posting. I'm still recovering for the Thanksgiving fest! Thanksgiving brought our family from Richmond, VA.  For those we don't know we have a brother Jon who is married to a lovely little lady Amanda and they have 4 AMAZING (so what if I'm bias?) kids, here's the line-up: Will 10, Grace 8, Ella 6, Jack 2. And of course Momma Shields also joined us in the Atl.

I tell you all this background information because these were our first official SPOTLIGHT guests. Now here's where it gets fun, we explained to Will, Grace & Ella our Atlanta food challenge and they jumped right on board. Will & Grace both love BBQ, so what better time to hit one of our 20 places to eat in Atlanta, Fox Brothers BBQ! And to add a twist Grace, 8 asked if she could write the blog review for Fox Brothers so I'm happy to post Grace's review:

"Fox brothers best food in Atlanta ribs yummy kids food corn dog and chicken fingers grilled cheese sandwich wow wow wow the service is awesome our waitress was so nice her name is Charlie I love that name!!! Fried pickle amazing you must come here!!!"
      Special guest!!


Pretty impressive for a first time review, right? I told you they were AMAZING kids!

Now that I've presented Grace's review, let me tell you my take on the Southern Living recommendation of the Fox Bros "Burger", here's the menu description:

"Chopped brisket topped with bacon,tomato, red onion,pickles, melted pimento cheese,and jalapeno may on buttered, toasted, sesame seed bun."

Now to be perfectly honest, I am not a pimento cheese fan, but as part of this challenge, we are trying the foods exactly as recommended, so here I go...

OMG- pimento cheese never tasted so good. The combination of the flavors made this "burger" were spot on! I would have never ordered this on my own, so thank you Southern Living! This sandwich is very hearty to say the least, I didn't even make it half way through- so if you don't have an extra heavy appetite I would recommend sharing or if you like to eat like the Shields- order a few different things from the menu to share. I doubt you'll be disappointed!

As Grace mentioned before, Charlie our server was super cool, very helpful and patient- even letting Ella go rogue with order of a salad with just lettuce, shredded cheese and ranch. Ella said it was the best salad she ever had! HAH.

If you are looking for good fun in a relaxed atmosphere check out Fox Bros. BBQ!(

Based on your experience we give Fox Bros. BBQ a solid four peaches.

Until next time- Happy Eating Y'all!

p.s. For those of you wondering what happened to Jon, Amanda & Jack during this review- they were enjoying a little R & R after a long day of traveling and family fun!