by Kate Heyhoe
After a yeast dough rises once, it's punched down to create a bread with better texture, flavor, and crispy crust. Like a warm muffaletta loaf, New Orleans is rising again.
Before Katrina, New Orleans' Bourbon Street had gotten beyond raucous, with crowds too large and wild for the pleasure of many locals and tourists alike. At least on some nights. Not to suggest anything good has come from Katrina. When I was there two months ago, my cabdriver was still waiting for aid, still without a home since Katrina. And Bush had the gall to return to the city that month, act like a hero, and crassly add insult to injury. (Can anyone possibly be more out of touch with the people?)
But New Orleans' food, spirit and cocktails are as good as ever, and instead of elbowing one's way down Bourbon Street (or being elbowed ourselves), we could walk with an occasional zigzag around other happy strollers. It was more European and less amusement park in atmosphere. And compared to Europe, it's closer and very affordable.
My tip: Go in July for Tales of the Cocktail, a five-day event that celebrates New Orleans cocktail culture. Expert mixologists, classic cocktails and sparkling cuisine are on the menu, with walking tours of the French Quarter, specialty seminars, and unlimited cocktail parties and luncheons. (Dates are July 16-20, 2008, and it happens annually in July).
Legendary bartender of New York's Rainbow Room and author of The Craft of the Cocktail, Dale DeGroff says Tales of the Cocktail is "considered by many to the premier cocktail event." Anne Tuennerman, festival founder, keeps the event as lively and enticing for amateurs as it is for connoisseurs (she also formed the New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society to preserve New Orleans' dining and drinking history and is an expert on all things Sazerac). TalesOfTheCocktail.com pours out all the glorious details of the event.
By the way, the historic Hotel Monteleone offers discount rates. It's where I caught pirate Captain Jack Swallow, a living replica of Johnny Depp, coming off duty and walking home in double-lidded eyeliner, dreadlocks, and bulky leather boots, with his wife in t-shirt and jeans and baby in pink Sesame Street stroller. New Orleans is not without its eye-popping contrasts, something that thankfully has not changed.
Tales of the Cocktail website.
Cuisinart has launched a new Green Gourmet cookware line of anodized clad pans with an aluminum alloy core, and get this, a ceramic-based nonstick interior that is indeed truly nonstick and safe.
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You don't have to travel oversees this summer to tingle your taste buds. Let the world come to you, and this month, it's coming from Wales.
Pâté (and Wales) may not be the first thing that jumps into your head when thinking about cool summer meals, but Patchwork Pâté has solved my quest for a quick and easy lunch or no-cook dinner al fresco, served simply with sliced baguette and an arugula salad from our garden. This lovely pâté is now made in America by a Welsh company that's long on tradition. It was started by a mother of three to supplement the family income, and is still made from her original recipes.
For 25 years, the Patchwork Traditional Food Company's handmade pâté has been winning awards in Europe. Organic chicken livers and real butter ensure a sinfully rich product, with seasonings that are both rustic and refined (and no artificial anything or preservatives). It really comes to the rescue when you want easy, quick and satisfying, and any little dabs leftover glide smoothly on a Vietnamese-style Bánh mě sandwich.
I've not tried all six flavors, but I can recommend the Brandy & Herb, and I'm about to pig out on the Welsh Dragon's Pâté with venison and chilli, though the Tequila and Cranberry may just be the perfect cocktail bite, or maybe the Triple Sec and Orange. (Hard to decide!) Look for Patchwork Pâtés in specialty and gourmet markets.
Patchwork Traditional Food Company website.
Copyright © 2008, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created June 2008
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