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Best of New Orleans #8


Root’s menu isn’t just one of the most eclectically adventurous in New Orleans, it’s one of the most adventurous anywhere

Chef and co-owner Philip Lopez's menu is all over the map, in the best way possible.

Every day during the month of August, we’re highlighting one restaurant from our recent ranking of the 31 Best Restaurants in New Orleans. Today’s restaurant, Root, is #8 on our list.

This Central Business District gem serves cutting edge modern American fare under the helm of chef and co-owner Philip Lopez, who opened the restaurant in November 2011 to near-universal acclaim. His menu is all over the map, in the best way possible; the legendary charcuterie board includes everything from beef heart bresaola to cochon de lait porchetta and Catalonian-style butifarra, appetizers include aloo gobi and sweet tea country-fried chicken wings, and entrees include Cohiba-smoked scallops, black lacquered duck, and Korean short rib clay pot. Root’s menu isn’t just one of the most eclectically adventurous in New Orleans, it’s one of the most adventurous anywhere.

Here's our complete ranking:
#31. Maurepas Fine Foods
#30. Boucherie
#29. Mother’s
#28. Luke
#27. The Joint
#26. Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse
#25. Mahony’s
#24. MiLa
#23. La Petite Grocery
#22. Gautreau’s
#21. Coquette
#20. Parkway Bakery
#19. Clancy’s
#18. Dooky Chase
#17. Drago’s
#16. Emeril’s
#15. Redfish Grill
#14. Jacques-Imo’s
#13. Bayona
#12. Camellia Grill
#11. Domilese’s
#10. Willie Mae’s Scotch House
#9. SoBou
#8. Root
#7. Herbsaint
#6. Domenica
#5. Cochon
#4. Peche
#3. August
#2. Galatoire’s
#1. Commander’s Palace


Basic New Orleans Red Gravy (Creole Sauce)

New Orleans Red Gravy, or Creole Sauce as it is also known, is not your typical "gravy." Ready in less than 30 minutes, this sauce is packed with tomatoes, onions, and Creole spices, plus my own little secret touch!

I only learned about Red Gravy a couple years ago, but it has become one of my favorite new condiments. That's right, it can be used a a gravy, or sauce, or as a condiment.

You'll see once you try it. This Creole sauce has so much delicious flavor guys. I mean SO. MUCH. FLAVOR. It's great in fish, chicken, pork, with rice, potatoes, veggies or just dip some bread in it.


New Orleans Shrimp Creole Recipe

New Orleans Shrimp Creole Recipe
By Ann
Try a spicy, zesty, delicious taste of New Orleans for dinner this evening. Shrimp Creole is a classic New Orleans recipe loaded with flavor, it is simple to create, and this is quite possibly the best shrimp creole you will taste outside of Louisiana.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

● 3 TBSP Olive Oil
● 2 cups Onion, finely chopped
● 1 Celery Stalk, chopped
● 1 cup Bell Pepper, chopped
● 8 Garlic Cloves, minced
● 1 (28oz can) Diced Tomatoes
● 1 (28oz can) Crushed Tomatoes
● 1 tsp Salt Free Seasoning Blend
● 2 Bay Leaves
● 2 TBSP Sugar
● 1 tsp Salt
● 1 tsp Pepper
● 1 cup Vegetable Stock
● 2 lbs Raw Shrimp, peeled
● 4 TBSP Flour

Directions:

● Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
● Add onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic sauté until soft.
● Add crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes, bay leaves, salt free seasoning, sugar, salt, pepper ans vegetable stock. Reduce heat to low, and cook for 30 minutes cover for the first 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
● Place the shrimp and flour in a Ziploc bag shake to coat, set aside in refrigerator.
● Add shrimp to the sauce on the stove after the 30 minutes of cook time are up. Cook an additional 7 to 8 minutes, until the shrimp start to turn pink.
● Let stand 4 to 5 minutes to allow the shrimp time to cook.
● Serve over long grain rice.
● Refrigerate leftovers.


Directions

Place beans in a large bowl and cover with 6 cups (1.5L) cold water. Add 2 tablespoons (30g) kosher salt and stir until dissolved. Set aside at room temperature for 8 to 16 hours. Drain and rinse.

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil or lard over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add andouille and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery. Season with salt and cook, stirring, until vegetables have softened and are just starting to brown around the edges, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add cayenne pepper, sage, and a generous 10 to 12 grinds of fresh black pepper. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beans, along with enough water to cover by about 2 inches (roughly 6 to 8 cups), ham hock (if using), pickled pork (if using), thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce to a bare simmer. Cover and cook until beans are completely tender, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. (Older beans can take longer.)

Remove lid and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has thickened and turned creamy, about 20 minutes. If the pot starts to look dry before the stew turns creamy, add a cup of water and continue simmering. Repeat as necessary until desired level of creaminess is achieved. Discard bay leaves and thyme stems. Season to taste with hot sauce, a few teaspoons of cider vinegar (if using), and more salt and pepper. For best texture, let cool and refrigerate overnight. Reheat the next day, adding a little water to loosen to desired consistency. Serve red beans over steamed white rice.


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Flambé is a technique used to burn off the alcohol out of a dish while maintaining liquor and liqueur flavors. The best alcohols for flambéing are liquors and liqueurs with high alcohol content (80-120 proof)—cognac, dark rum, triple sec, Cointreau, brandy, bourbon, whisky, and kirsch.

4 Flambéing Tips:
1. Use a liquor or liqueur with high alcohol content. You need to use one that has 80-120 proof.
2. Use a large skillet. Your skillet needs to be large enough to hold your ingredients and handle high heat. Stainless steel and cast iron are best.
3. Light quickly. If you wait too long, your food will absorb more liquor than desired.
4. Use a long handle lighter or long handle match. When flambéing, you want to be safe. Using a long handle lighter or long handle match will give you a safe distance from igniting the fire. If the fire gets too large, use a lid large enough to cover the skillet and suffocate the fire.


Best of New Orleans #8 - Recipes

I'm Chuck, and this is my personal web site that's gotten out way of hand over the years. It's been a huge, labyrinthine and delightfully overgrown compendium of knowledge about New Orleans and Louisiana cuisine and culture , and lots of other fun and fabulous stuff dedicated to the enjoyment of great food, drink and music, and to the preservation of New Orleans culture . I've tried to slim it down a bit to make it less unwieldy, and I warn you that a lot of this stuff is outdated (but not the recipes!).

When you're visiting New Orleans and southern Louisiana , remember these things:

1. You don't need a full 8 hours of sleep a night -- there's too much fun to be had to waste it sleeping.

2. In Louisiana alcohol, butter, cream and big piles of fried seafood are still good for you.

You're probably mostly here for this:
The Creole & Cajun Recipe Page: Woild-famous! Fo' true!

Radio! I'm doing radio again, although streaming internet radio, as of March 28, 2020. Please enjoy my program "Safe at Home" streaming live (when you get to hear me mess up!) on Saturdays at 1pm Pacific time. A slightly edited version (in which you do not get to hear me mess up!) is then uploaded a bit later to Mixcloud for streaming on demand, at your leisure.

My old radio shows: "Down Home" (KCSN, 1998-2008) and "Gumbo" (KCRW, 1988-1998). A little museum of my 20 years in L.A. public radio. Old playlists, etc.

Looka!: A weblog featuring musings on cocktails, food, music, New Orleans culture and much more. Kinda dead (or undead) these days aren't blogs dead? (I'm old school and still say "weblog." I'm still not a fan of the word "blog," which was originally coined as a joke.)

Cocktails: An index of 350+ new, classic and original cocktails. There's much fine drinking to be done here.

I'm on Twitter, where I swear about politics too much (seriously cutting down on that, now that the Orange Shitgibbon is gone), Instagram, and older photos on Flickr but I don't really post there anymore.

"Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans" : A 4-cd box set celebrating the joy and diversity of the New Orleans music scene. Produced, compiled and annotated by Chuck Taggart (hey, that's me!), with liner notes by Mary Herczog (former author of Frommer's New Orleans) and myself. Released by Shout! Factory. Sadly out of print now (although I was thrilled that it remained in print for a dozen years!), but worth having if you can find it. Ahem, if'n I do say so myself. There are usually some used copies on Amazon or eBay. Also, it seems as if you can listen to most of it on Spotify!

Bands: My old Uncle Tupelo, Wilco and Son Volt pages. (Also, don't miss Factory Belt, the world's most exhaustive Uncle Tupelo fan site.)

Tip Jar! Everything you find on this site is free. Your tips help keep it all going and are greatly appreciated. I happily accept contributions via Paypal, or if you're feeling particularly generous, you can buy me something. Thanks!

About this site: Credits, dedication, origin, history, the early funny stuff, zzzzzz, etc.

The Gumbo Pages web site is ©1994-2021 by Chuck Taggart.
All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.

This means that you may not copy my writing onto other web pages or anywhere else without my specific written permission. If you do, it's called "stealing" and "plagiarism". However, quotes of passages of reasonable length, properly attributed, may be considered fair use. You may also link to the site. I'm really tired of finding entire articles of mine from here copied and pasted as someone else's work, or with no attribution. People who steal my stuff and pass it off as their own will be étoufféed and served to Dr. Lecter, with a nice Chianti. (I'm serious. Please don't do it. Thanks.)


New Orleans Doberge Cake

This was a cake that was subtly rich and lighter than the original, and better suited to the New Orleans climate. But its inventor recognized that "dobos" wouldn't fly in New Orleans. She thought it should be "Frenchified" to fit the city's style. And so the name "doberge" was born.


The business was first known as Mrs. Charles Ledner Bakery and was based in her home. Eventually she moved to a store front. A heart attack caused Beulah Ledner to sell the bakery, the name and the recipes to the Joe Gambino family in 1946. The agreement forbade her from operating another bakery in Orleans Parish for five years. But she could not stay away, and 2 years later opened another business in a neighboring parish (ie county) called Beulah Ledner Bakery. Beulah Ledner worked until she was 87 and sold Beulah Ledner Bakery in 1981. She died at 93, her culinary legacy intact.

Gambino's Bakery is another icon of New Orleans, more famous for the doberge cake than Beulah. Many think that it originated there, but now we know better!

No one knows the original recipe except for Gambino's , but here is a recipe we found on the Internet that my best friend Heather has made with good success. The only difference is that an authentic doberge cake has a poured glaze icing, not a spread on one:

2 cups cake flour sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs separated whites beaten until stiff
1 cup buttermilk
2 squares unsweetened chocolate melted
1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract

2-1/2 cups evaporated milk
2 squares semisweet chocolate
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
5 tablespoons flour
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
1-1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

3 cups sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
2 ounces bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300.
Grease and flour 2 round cake pans.
In a medium bowl sift flour, soda and salt 3 times.
Cream margarine and sugar in a large mixing bowl then add egg yolks one at a time.
Gradually alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk then add chocolate and mix well by beating about 3 minutes.
Fold in the three beaten egg whites, vanilla and almond extract.
Bake 45 minutes.
Allow cake to completely cool then split each layer into thirds to make six thin layers.
Put milk and chocolate in a saucepan and heat until chocolate is melted.
In a bowl combine sugar and flour.
Make a paste by adding hot milk chocolate by tablespoons to the sugar and flour and then return to saucepan.
Stir over medium heat until thick.
Add 4 egg yolks all at once and stir rapidly to completely blend.
Cook 3 minutes longer.
Remove from heat then and add butter, vanilla and almond extract.
Cool and spread on cake layering as you go.
Do not spread on top layer.
Combine sugar and milk in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil stirring constantly.
Reduce heat and simmer 6 minutes without stirring.
Remove from heat and blend in chocolate.
Add butter and vanilla and return to medium low heat cooking 2 minutes.
Place in refrigerator to cool.
Beat well and then spread on top and sides of the cake.

Now, we all know I am a fan of short cuts. Don't get me wrong, taste is critically important to me, but if I can find a way to get excellent results with a little less work, I am all over that. So in my laziness, um, I mean, thriftiness, I have created a "doctored" version that Heather teasingly calls my Faux-berge cake.


The Best New Orleans Happy Hours

Although New York may be the city that never sleeps, New Orleans is not far behind. This city of cocktails and cuisine gets partying as soon as the work day ends and well before dinner commences.

Happy hour is the perfect way to try the best of what New Orleans has to offer in libations and nibbles and have money left over in your po’boy and beignet budget. New Orleans is a city that does hospitality well and that is extended with aplomb to those hours that could be discarded as a way to keep servers and bartenders occupied but, in the Big Easy, those chasing the deals at happy hour are treated with the same honor and respect as the high rollers coming in for dinner an hour or so later.

Play the game right and you may be able to get a few happy hour experiences in one day and never have to buy a proper dinner.

Start with the Arts District

Pizza from Domenica

Start your happy hour experience with the deal that keeps on giving at one of two locations of Domenica, a casual Italian restaurant known for house-made charcuterie and wood-fired pizzas from local star chef John Besh. At either the Arts District location in the famed Roosevelt Hotel or on Magazine Street (Pizza Domenica) in the Garden District, enjoy half off pizzas (and these are pretty big ones with many unique toppings) and half off beers and wine by the glass…all Italian, of course. Hours vary between locations and by season but usually 2-5 PM or 2-6 PM is the sweet spot. You won’t need dinner and may even have leftovers for lunch the next day. Your total tab will be about $14.

If you are at the Roosevelt Hotel location, walk to another couple of excellent happy hours, starting with the quietly hip lounge at the Q & C (Queen and Crescent) Hotel. This is the first hotel I stayed in during the first of many visit to New Orleans and I always go back for the happy hour classic of a New Orleans-born French 75 and french fries. This pairing of the Champagne and Cognac of the cocktail with the fattiness of the fries (with two sauces) is a perfect balance and a bargain at $7 during happy hour when other drinks and nibbles are also on special.

From the Q and C, the Compere Lapin is not far away in the Arts District. This restaurant from James Beard Award-winning chef Nina Compton features star bartender Abigail Gullo, who makes it even more interesting with classic cocktails and wines by the glass for $6 Monday-Friday from 3-6 PM. A cocktail class from a guest bartender on Mondays with $5 Caribbean-inspired snacks like conch croquettes and spiced pig ears allow you to try cuisine from one of New Orleans’ top restaurants for a song.

Imbibing in the French Quarter

Happy Hours in the French Quarter mean keeping it all in the historic heart of New Orleans while not breaking the bank. Kingfish on Chartres Street has a huge extended hours happy hour (2-7 PM) and you’ll find all beers and wine by the glass half off and cocktails like a Daiquiri (classic NoLa-style) or a Prohibition Punch at $5. Classic bites like boudin balls, chicken and sausage gumbo or pork cracklins are only $5.

The Brennan Family and their restaurants are well known for the history of Commanders Palace, Brennan’s and The Palace Café…and they all have happy hours. In the Quarter, Brennan’s is known for their Champagne Happy Hour with deals on bottle prices and Champagne cocktails with a Champagne sabering show every Friday at 5 PM. Bubbles at Brennan’s is Monday-Thursday at 7 PM and Friday beginning at 9 AM. Dickie Brennan’s Tableau has a balcony overlooking the action at Jackson Square and happy hour is every day from 2-5 PM with $5 menu items like steamed mussels and sweet potato and bacalao brandade fritters….even the twisted Tabasco caramel corn. $5 drinks like Aperol Spritz and Dark and Stormys make for a creative couple of hours.

The Bombay Club flies under the radar in the French Quarter yet offers a bargain of a happy hour every day of the week. $4 buys boudin rangoons, black-eyed pea hummus or Cajun poutine and $6 is good for cocktails including a classic rum and lime juice daiquiri (famous in New Orleans) called “The Midtown” or “The Churchill” Martini. Abita or Dixie beer is $4, too. 4-7 PM weekdays and 3-7 PM weekends.

If you visit New Orleans, a visit to Antoine’s in the French Quarter is a must for the collections of Mardi Gras memorabilia that decorates the walls of the oldest restaurant in New Orleans. Although it may be pricey for a meal, dropping by the Hermes bar on Monday through Friday from 4-7 PM means you can experience the same nostalgic immersion into Mardi Gras but at $4 for a house brand glass of wine or cocktail or a $2 domestic or $3 domestic beer. Like cocktails and a show!

Head uptown to the Garden District and indulge in one of the most unique cocktail specials in the city knownfor cocktail specials. The legendary Commander’s Palace continues the tradition of the multiple martini lunch with a selection of four martinis available with the order of an entrée for only 25 cents. That is not a typo. A half a dollar gets you two drinks…and cut off. The food is fabulous, the setting splendid and the cocktails are crazy at this price!

Freret Street, bordering the historic and acclaimed Tulane University, has come into its own as a food and cocktail mecca recently which means happy hours have popped up, too. Cure is a popular craft cocktail bar that features a long list of classic cocktails for only $6 during the hours of 5-7 PM Monday-Thursday and 3-7 PM Friday-Sunday. Sazeracs, Moscow Mules, classic Daiquiris, Champagne cocktails, Negronis, Manhattans and more all made by some of the best mixologists in the city.

More into beer? Try the Freret Beer Room for $2 local draft beers and $5 house wines and interesting food including a $6 wedge salad and $1.50 deviled eggs. Happy hour is every day from 3-6 PM.

My favorite discovery on Freret Street is Wayfare for a happy hour of both killer cocktails and sumptuous food at bargain prices. Daily from 3-6 PM try a Pork Belly Old Fashioned or a Pear 75 for $5 paired with duck fat pommes fries or beet fries for $4. A huge meat and cheese platter is $14. Wines by the glass are also $5. Two can eat and drink for about $30 and have food to take home.

Last but not least are the famed oyster happy hours of New Orleans. There are many but I have whittled it down to my favorite three, each a bit different and each a must try when in the Big Easy. Gulf oysters are plentiful here and they make up the menus of seafood joints around town and there are lines down the street outside of popular name like Acme in the Quarter

Oysters at Superior Seafood

Instead of lining up there, put your name in at Superior Seafood uptown on St. Charles Street at Napoleon and wait for a deal so good everyone in town shows up at one time or another. This is a bustling fun bistro with a live piano player and 50 cent raw oysters from 4-6:30 weekdays with 2 for 1 frozen drinks like a French 75 or daiquiri, half-price bottles of wine and $3 beers. While waiting, enjoy the low key happy hour next door at Fat Harry’s Bar.

The happy hour at another of John Besh’s restaurants, Luke, is a white table cloth, uniformed-waiter affair and actually takes reservations. With a beautiful seafood bar, freshness is obvious here and the raw oysters are served elegantly at only 75 cents each with fried oysters at $1.25. Cocktails are beautifully made and half off as is beer and wines by the glass during the daily happy hour from 3-6 PM. If you fail to make a reservation, get there early.

Samuel’s Blind Pelican is practically a stop on the famed street car line on St. Charles Street. Happy hour is every day of the year…yes, every day, including Christmas and the Super Bowl! From 4-8 PM, buy one alcoholic drink and get a dozen raw oysters for $3…that’s 25 cents each. And chargrilled oysters are 75 cents each with the same drink-per-dozen caveat. Chargrilled oysters are another world altogether, smothered with butter, breadcrumbs and cheese and grilled under a broiler…eat the oysters and mop up the sauce…wash it down with that alcoholic drink you bought. I suggest a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, slightly oaked Chardonnay or a local beer. In New Orleans, there is a reason the hours between work and dinner are happy.

Barbara Barrielle is a long-time publicist, writer, actress and producer. She writes about travel, wine, food and entertainment. She is published regularly in major newspapers, magazines and online travel sites. As a producer, Barbara has a feature film, BREAK NIGHT, in distribution and three more going into production. She is also completing a documentary on the wine country fires of 2017 and their effect on the wine industry and the people who work in it.


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