Just when New Orleans officials and the owners of Jimmy’s Music Club were beginning to find some common ground, the city’s independent alcohol board on Tuesday afternoon surprised both of them by rejecting Jimmy’s appeal, essentially offering the club two routes: City Council or the courts.
As the weather gets a bit warmer and steamier this week, I’ve been turning my attention more to foods that leave us feeling a bit lighter and healthier. Fortunately, we’re headed into that perfect time of the year when the Creole tomatoes and similar fare will be very affordable and readily available.
I was fortunate enough during JazzFest to do what I love most (at least professionally) — work in a creative kitchen with other inventive folks, tweaking the menu a little each night and leaving room for whatever inspiration happened to hit. While I was limited mainly to pantry work (salads, saucing and desserts), there was still plenty of back-and-forth about what might work and we could each throw out ideas for possible use. The creative spigot was wide open, even more so when things got busy. It was delightful.
I’ve unexpectedly had the opportunity lately to spend a lot more time in the French Quarter, since I’ve been helping a friend during JazzFest. This gave me the chance earlier this week to pop into the Louisiana Music Factory to see Beausoleil and Zachary Richard, as well as wander around aimlessly. I think that’s the best way to see the oldest part of our city – without a schedule or plan. Tours are fine to get a sense of how things are laid out, but I also think a completely unstructured day is a lot more fun.
I mentioned in last week’s column some of my ideas about pairing various beers, wines and foods together, and already I’ve gotten a few questions. They mainly involve how someone knows certain things go together before they spend a fair amount of money during a trip to the store. Pretty much anyone who cooks even semi-regularly is willing to experiment and improve, and I’m one who has been lucky enough to make a fair living doing so.
When three officers from the New Orleans Police Department’s Uptown-based Second District opened a donut shop in Mid-City, they thought they heard every cop-and-donut gag in the book.
Now that they’re planning a new location on Tchoupitoulas — much closer to the station where they all worked — they know to expect a whole new round of jokes.
The latest openings around Uptown include celebrated New Orleanian Wendell Pierce’s fresh-food convenience store, a pie and quiche specialty shop on upper Magazine Street, and two Vietnamese restaurants on Maple Street and nearby on South Carrollton.
I’ll finally be getting an opportunity in the coming month or so to do what I enjoy most – coming up with menu items to pair with beer at a dinner or other special event. While I never think of myself of actually going “to work,” it is at times like these that I really feel like I’m being paid for something I’d be doing anyway. It’s one of the ways in which the culinary, art and musical worlds are very similar to each other.
A new bakery and a new casual French bistro have opened on Magazine Street, and the commercial building that houses the Big Top performance space and the Mais Arepas restaurant has been sold, according to recent reports.
I’ve got to give a tip of the hat to my fellow columnist Jean-Paul Villere for his recent piece about real estate and which neighborhoods around the city are next in line for gentrification.
Restaurants and other food operations usually follow but can sometimes lead the redevelopment of neighborhoods. Indeed, New Orleans East and some other areas are still sadly lacking in full-service grocery operations. But this summer’s planned reopening of the Circle Food Store will be a beacon in Treme, and the original Juan’s Flying Burrito on Magazine was one of the landmarks in the comeback of the Lower Garden District.
A new performance space hopes to open on Freret next month; the late-night pizza at Dough Bowl on the edge of Tulane’s campus now has new owners, and Dat Dog’s Magazine Street location will celebrate its grand opening Wednesday.
With the assistance of perfect springtime weather, the Freret Street Festival drew a record 23,500 people on Saturday afternoon, officials said. Saturday’s attendance far exceeded the estimate of 15,000 in 2012, said Andrew Amacker, president of the Neighbors United community group, who conducts crowd counts every year.
One of the things we’re still working out in the new shop is staffing – how many people to bring in at what times of the day and how long they’ll be there. It’s a difficult balance, since you want professional, experienced folks – and those kinds of employees want and deserve a reasonable wage. But when some parts of the day are stronger than others, some have to be sent home and that makes no one happy. If good staffers don’t get enough hours, they go elsewhere in a hurry.
One of the main issues faced by any budding restaurant operation can be the most challenging, controversial and oft-criticized or loved aspect of the entire business. It is the pride or bane of the place, often within the same day, and it is the post on which the entire hat of the business rests.
It is, of course, The Menu.