If you have not yet noticed on the Caramelized critiques tab under "New Orleans," I'm a John Besh fan. His Southern roots and charismatic approach to cooking express an unusual variety in both his cookbooks and restaurants. Domenica in the historical Roosevelt Hotel proves Besh's authenticity and ability to go beyond the New Orleans norm.
When you think of New Orleans, you're quick to assume that creole is the only way to go. And sure, our first night at Mr. B's Bistro was nothing short of memorable and classic; Brenna and I were wearing bibs as we peeled the famous barbecue shrimp with Ashley's help, and the girls sipped dirty martinis while Alex and Spencer washed down their gumbos with whiskey on the rocks. Yet John Besh takes you out of the box, introducing modern Italian dishes that stray from typical New Orleans fare and simultaneously impress your taste buds.
I just had to get back to New Orleans. My roommate, who is from Nola, spent her Spring semester in Sevilla, Spain, and a reunion was much needed. Little did we realize that the New Orleans Food & Wine Experience would coincidentally lie on the same weekend as my visit!
|Beautiful asparagus gazpacho|
I'm so thrilled I got a taste of Austin's infamous Food & Wine Festival that takes place every Spring at Butler Park. I'm saving up the big bucks for next April as my last Austin-y event before Graduation, but last night was a perfect introduction to the conglomeration of culinary talent here in Austin.
As you all know, I'm a huge fan of New Orleans. I cannot wait to visit next month. Somehow, Chef John Besh's PR rep came across my blog due to my constant chatter about New Orleans and my membership in the Austin Food Blogger Alliance. John Besh is the owner of over half a dozen restaurants throughout the city of New Orleans (including Domenica in the Roosevelt Hotel and Luke). I recently learned that he opened a second Luke Restaurant on the San Antonio Riverwalk, which I cannot wait to try when my friends and I road trip in the fall.
The event Saturday night celebrated and promoted John Besh's newest culinary appearance in the state of Texas. His Luke menu was presented in food stations on the roof of Whole Foods and, man, was it fabulous. A New Orleans band in the background, super friendly staff, a breezy April sunset, and addicting cajun food...I could not have asked for a better last Saturday night in Austin before Summer.
Enjoy the photos (sorry there are so many!) and check out John Besh's skills. They're pretty unbeatable in this cuisine.
|shrimp, cucumber, dill appetizer|
|shrimp boil with snap peas, potatoes, mushrooms and artichokes|
|peelin' em and eatin' em|
|freshly shucked oysters with crawfish potato salad, crawfish pasta|
|bananas foster masters|
With Superbowl Sunday this past weekend and Mardi Gras in full swing, I simply cannot get my mind off of New Orleans, Louisiana. I miss the city, its unmatched spirit and delicious diversity of food. I have not been back to New Orleans since early January, but I can still taste the savory flavors that Cochon offered us on New Years Day.
So now, in honor of this month's festivities in good ole Louisiana, here's a critique of the yummiest spot in town.
Cochon has been recognized as one of New Orlean's Top 10 restaurants for years now, so I had to give it a shot. I wasn’t disappointed.
Warning: If you are a vegetarian, do not go to this restaurant. Cochon means pig; and boy, does this restaurant hold true to its name. But you’ll leave happy as a pig!
Extremely laid back and rustic, the southern comfort was in the air. We were sandwiched between two other couples at a teeny-tiny wooden table—and while I was uncomfortable at first with how closely the tables were placed, I soon got over it. Because all I could focus on was the food.
Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, so please don’t judge! I had to order enough to sample for my wonderful readers, so let’s just use that as the reason why Alex and I ordered such a quantity for only two.
|yummy yeast rolls to start. | photo credit|
|wood-fired oyster roast | photo credit|
For starters, we chose the wood-fired oyster roast and smoked pork ribs with a watermelon pickle. I also had to get the pork & black eyed pea gumbo—why, might you ask? Well, it was New Years Day…so I had to eat black eyed peas for good luck!
|smoked pork ribs with watermelon pickle | photo credit|
|red fish "fisherman's style" | photo credit|
|dumplings and mac.|
Alex ordered the opposite: rabbit and dumplings. Served in a root vegetable and potato stew in a single-serve cast iron skillet, the dish was extremely rich. I couldn’t handle more than a bite, but Alex was satisfied. A side of baked mac and cheese casserole took us overboard, but we were happy. Very happy.
Needless to say, Cochon was a fantastic way to kick off 2013. I hope you try it on your next visit!