Pinching Tail, Sucking Head, Biting Tongue

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From New Orleans to New York this has been a phenomenal week of eating. Last week was my first post-Katrina visit to New Orleans. I had to see for myself how the recovery is going, where the city is at. I’m happy to report I fell in love all over again with this incredible place. Along with the amazing food – crawfish, gumbo, oysters and etouffee – I had the privilege of sitting down with some of the city’s top hospitality leaders, people involved with grassroots initiatives from shrimping to farming, and others involved in the rebuilding and construction trades.

I am so grateful for the willingness of people (everyone from bartenders, to cabbies, to chefs, to servers, to store clerks) to share their personal stories, their observations of the accomplishments the people have made, as well as their views of the challenges that remain. Many of these stories were lost in the media coverage most of us saw. I’m eager to share them with you.
There is more (so much more) to come on the New Orleans trip. For now, I’ll say it was so moving to be there that each night after I returned, I dreamed of New Orleans. The air, the feel of the place, the sense of the soul of the city so permeated my being, it was as if I had been enchanted. Everywhere, waking or dreaming, I saw reminders of being there. I’m looking forward to sharing the stories, just know it’s a place that will still captivate you in ways that few places do. Plan a visit and belly up to a big crawfish boil where you’ll learn how to pinch tail, suck head.

Or, if a crawfish boil is not your style, try Cochon. This Warehouse District restaurant is winning accolades for its Cajun and Southern style food. Read about my evening at Cochon, here.

Although I was delighted to learn our return flight was canceled. I tried to contain my glee as others in line were worried about missing connections, trying to get home to family they were away from on business and so forth. How lucky I was that I had the luxury of heading back into the city to knock off a few more items on my “next time” list.

Off to NYC for “I Love Offal” Dinner

It was a quick turnaround in Boston before heading down to New York for a dinner at the new Astor Center. Chef Chris Cosentino of Incanto in San Francisco came out to prepare a “Head to Tail” dinner for an enthusiastic crowd of diners. You may recall that this dinner was my Valentine’s gift; some girls get a chocolate heart, I got a beef heart – prepared tartare puttanesca style, to be specific.

If you’re not familiar with offal or the head to tail concept, this quick clip of Chef Chris Cosentino preparing and discussing the “Head to Tail” dinner will give you a brief overview. You’ll also see me stuffing my face, not a new sight for many of you. (Thanks Jonah!) The evening was a revelation in terms of the food itself, the concepts behind it poignantly shared by Chef Cosentino, and the event itself.

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The state-of-the-art Astor Center includes a kitchen with a camera and a sound system that enables the chef to speak to the diners and the host. In our case, we were lucky to have Michael Ruhlman (author, journalist) guiding us through the meal and engaging the chef during the preparation of each course.

More on this dinner soon, just wanted to get a quick update out. Special thanks to Caleb for making this all possible!

There was an insanely good lunch at Momofuku (winner of a Golden Clog Award!) in between – more on that soon, too. There’s something either very right or very wrong about food so good that you have animal-urges to roll around in it…

~ by jacqueline1230 on March 6, 2008.

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