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About

Eating my way through the Big Apple and around the world.

Always in favor of extraordinary flavor versus saving a few calories, I’m constantly seeking the best restaurants, recipes, and random little food finds. This blog chronicles my discoveries, most of which are located in New York City, the foodie heaven I am fortunate to call home.

I am an editor at Zagat, but all opinions on this blog are mine and have nothing to do with my employer.

I take my photos with a point-and-shoot Canon PowerShot SD850. Which goes to show that if you're passionate about photography but can't afford fancy camera equipment, you can still take quality photos.

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Or email me at:
mollymoker[at]gmail[dot]com

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the girl does what she wants to do

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31 May 2011

What to Eat at Jazz Fest in New Orleans

The main reason I was in New Orleans a couple weeks ago was to attend the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival. It’s one of the best music events in the country—12 stages showcasing everything from gospel to blues to rap, and of course, jazz—but it’s just as much about the food. Basically my heaven (although temperatures made me feel like I was in the opposite place).

What’s so awesome about the food is there are no corporate vendors—all of the stands are New Orleans-based restaurants and caterers, each selling something unique. No repeats! With about 70 catered food stands, that’s quite a feat. (Click through the vendor names for some interesting stories.)

I did my best to get to ‘em all, and made it through about a quarter of the stands. Enough chit chat—let’s get to it. Here are my top five Jazz Fest eats.

5. Alligator Sauce Piquante, Fireman Mike’s Kitchen. Although a little difficult to eat in sweltering heat, I couldn’t pass up the chance to try alligator stew. The gator chunks were chewy morsels, the sauce was spicy sweet, and the flavor was a nice break from the many fried and cheesy options that dominated the festival. If only I could have teleported myself to a cold snowy day in Wisconsin. 

4. Mango Freeze, WWOZ Community Radio. Definitely a festival favorite, this sorbet ball provided perfect relief from temps stretching to the 90s. The flavor was vibrant and tasted natural—it’s just mangoes, sugar, and water. What’s more, profits help WWOZ broadcast New Orleans music out to the world. Double win!

3. Cochon de Lait Po’boy, Love at First Bite. Fancying myself partial to seafood, I went with the soft shell crab po’boy. But after a bite of my friend’s pork, I immediately regretted my order. The meat was tender and dripping with natural juices. The catering company’s name is too true. 

2. Crawfish Monica, Kajun Kettle Foods, Inc. This is probably Jazz Fest’s signature dish, so popular that they’ve trademarked the name. They also sell 16 tons of it each year. Thin cream sauce covers spiral noodles and huge chunks of crawfish. A simple, classic dish. Try the recipe for yourself.

1. Crawfish Bread, Panaroma Foods. This was the very first thing I ate at Jazz Fest, and hands down, without a doubt, it was the best. Think cheesy, spicy, crawfish-stuffed, doughy garlic bread that melts in your mouth. I could have easily eaten only this all four days, but then, of course, I might not be here to tell you about it.

27 May 2011
Happy long weekend everyone! I hope you have yourself something delicious, like the soft shell crab po’boy I had at Jazz Fest. Of course, it wouldn’t be New Orleans approved without a healthy squirt of butter and hot sauce. Always choose both.

Happy long weekend everyone! I hope you have yourself something delicious, like the soft shell crab po’boy I had at Jazz Fest. Of course, it wouldn’t be New Orleans approved without a healthy squirt of butter and hot sauce. Always choose both.

23 May 2011
Breakfast isn’t just for bloodys and bellinis. At the Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone, mix master Marvin Allen whipped up his signature drink for me, the Pisco Sour. Barsol Pisco, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, bitters, and an egg white (see, breakfast appropriate)—all before 10 am. New Orleans, I miss you.

Breakfast isn’t just for bloodys and bellinis. At the Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone, mix master Marvin Allen whipped up his signature drink for me, the Pisco Sour. Barsol Pisco, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, bitters, and an egg white (see, breakfast appropriate)—all before 10 am. New Orleans, I miss you.

19 May 2011
Gin and cupcakes—what more does a girl need?
Well, this girl also needed a short rib sloppy joe with fried onions. After eating all day at Jazz Fest, I thought I was being conservative by ordering a sandwich instead of an entree. I even threw in a side of cheese grits, just in case (Just in case a short rib sloppy joe couldn’t sustain me). When the bad boy came out it was bigger than my head—and bigger than everyone else’s meals. And because I’m so embarrassed I have no photographic evidence what so ever. Sorry!
John Besh's new American Sector restaurant was nice. Secretive, peaceful back patio, great cocktail list (I had the Jezebel—Hendricks Gin, cucumber, mint, and ginger beer), lick-your-plate-clean comfort food, and fancy cupcakes. God bless Molly H’s dad, who proclaimed “we’ll have one of each!” Soul mates, I tell you. Clockwise from front: Strawberry shortcake (my fave), Meyer lemon with coconut meringue, chocolate with sugar cane icing and candied bacon, red velvet with cream cheese frosting, and devil’s food with Nutella. Um, yeah.

Gin and cupcakes—what more does a girl need?

Well, this girl also needed a short rib sloppy joe with fried onions. After eating all day at Jazz Fest, I thought I was being conservative by ordering a sandwich instead of an entree. I even threw in a side of cheese grits, just in case (Just in case a short rib sloppy joe couldn’t sustain me). When the bad boy came out it was bigger than my head—and bigger than everyone else’s meals. And because I’m so embarrassed I have no photographic evidence what so ever. Sorry!

John Besh's new American Sector restaurant was nice. Secretive, peaceful back patio, great cocktail list (I had the Jezebel—Hendricks Gin, cucumber, mint, and ginger beer), lick-your-plate-clean comfort food, and fancy cupcakes. God bless Molly H’s dad, who proclaimed “we’ll have one of each!” Soul mates, I tell you. Clockwise from front: Strawberry shortcake (my fave), Meyer lemon with coconut meringue, chocolate with sugar cane icing and candied bacon, red velvet with cream cheese frosting, and devil’s food with Nutella. Um, yeah.

18 May 2011
Could there be a more New Orleans meal than this? Softshell crab—over pasta, asparagus, ham, and lemon—and beignets, served with salted caramel and chocolate sauce that we scraped clean with our spoons. It’s all from Coquette, a newish Uptown bistro and wine bar that was the most frequently recommended restaurant in all of my pollings. Even Matthew McConaughey is a fan.
Boy did we feast. House-infused vodkas, lots of seafood (I learned that it’s okay to have a crab starter and entree), a coffee liquor after dinner drink. The menu changes nitely, and not only do you taste the innovation, but you feel it, too, from the excited young staff. It was a delicious meal, and heading Uptown was a nice change of pace from the downtown chaos.

Could there be a more New Orleans meal than this? Softshell crab—over pasta, asparagus, ham, and lemon—and beignets, served with salted caramel and chocolate sauce that we scraped clean with our spoons. It’s all from Coquette, a newish Uptown bistro and wine bar that was the most frequently recommended restaurant in all of my pollings. Even Matthew McConaughey is a fan.

Boy did we feast. House-infused vodkas, lots of seafood (I learned that it’s okay to have a crab starter and entree), a coffee liquor after dinner drink. The menu changes nitely, and not only do you taste the innovation, but you feel it, too, from the excited young staff. It was a delicious meal, and heading Uptown was a nice change of pace from the downtown chaos.

17 May 2011

Green Goddess, New Orleans

Green Goddess is a place of wonder. “Healthy” cocktails (the trick is real fruit). Salads that sound sinful. And maybe most impressive: a sun-drenched sidewalk oasis tucked away on an almost silent pedestrian alleyway in the heart of the frenetic French Quarter.

We couldn’t have picked a better place for Cinco de Mayo lunch. That watermelon margarita? Best one I’ve ever had. (And I would know, seeing as it’s my signature drink and all.) Watermelon and lime (as in, they took a piece of both and threw it in the blender), Azunia tequila, and black Himalayan lava salt. Their take on the Pimm’s Cup was delicious and refreshing. New favorite place to drink in New Orleans.

And the salads! If you can get me to order a salad in New Orleans, well that’s pretty much a miracle. The top: Watermelon Mango Crab Salad (arugula topped with watermelon, mango, Laffitte blue crab, mango purée, chili salt, Honduran crema, and Saba); mine on the bottom: Strawberry and Blueberry Salad (arugula tossed in balsamic dressing, topped with candied pecans, honey goat cheese, roasted red onion, local strawberries and blueberries, and roasted Roma tomatoes). 

The tiny restaurant’s menu is probably the most eclectic I’ve ever come across. Just on the first page, I spotted all of these influences: Indian, Belgian, Honduran, Mexican, American, Creole, Hawaiian, Filipino, Cuban, Cherokee, Syrian, Southern, and Middle Eastern. The food perfectly complements all the eclectic, beautiful young hippies that are running this place.

Far and away my favorite new dining experience in New Orleans. Do not miss it. Infinite thanks to petitsbattements for the recommendation. 

16 May 2011
While strolling in the Marigny, my favorite neighborhood in New Orleans, we came across a tiny little house labeled “coffee.” I was jonesing for an iced latte, so we ducked in to find a place that did not feel like New Orleans at all. It was minimalist, blinding white—save for the namesake Orange Couch—and everyone was silently working.
The latte was awesome (and they’re known for their Vietnamese iced coffee and milkshakes), but the real surprise was the Japanese mochi ice cream they have overnited from Hawaii. It’s a ball of ice cream wrapped in a gummy rice coating, and it is amazing. The texture was chewy, like a gumdrop with an ice cream center. Loved our white chocolate raspberry and chocolate coconut flavors.
Help! Where can I find this in New York??

While strolling in the Marigny, my favorite neighborhood in New Orleans, we came across a tiny little house labeled “coffee.” I was jonesing for an iced latte, so we ducked in to find a place that did not feel like New Orleans at all. It was minimalist, blinding white—save for the namesake Orange Couch—and everyone was silently working.

The latte was awesome (and they’re known for their Vietnamese iced coffee and milkshakes), but the real surprise was the Japanese mochi ice cream they have overnited from Hawaii. It’s a ball of ice cream wrapped in a gummy rice coating, and it is amazing. The texture was chewy, like a gumdrop with an ice cream center. Loved our white chocolate raspberry and chocolate coconut flavors.

Help! Where can I find this in New York??

13 May 2011
Pain Perdu from Café Adelaide in New Orleans
New Orleans has its own style of French toast (of course it does!) called Pain Perdu (recipe). The difference is it’s made with a stale French baguette, and it’s fried to a crunch, making it a cross between French toast and an elephant ear. Two great meals in one! 
In New Orleans, every nite before bed, I tell myself I am only having fruit for breakfast. And every morning, that does not happen. Happy weekend brunching!

Pain Perdu from Café Adelaide in New Orleans

New Orleans has its own style of French toast (of course it does!) called Pain Perdu (recipe). The difference is it’s made with a stale French baguette, and it’s fried to a crunch, making it a cross between French toast and an elephant ear. Two great meals in one! 

In New Orleans, every nite before bed, I tell myself I am only having fruit for breakfast. And every morning, that does not happen. Happy weekend brunching!

11 May 2011

Roux on Orleans, New Orleans

Anyone know what’s up with Roux on Orleans? Granted I was there on an unseasonably cold Tuesday night, but my business dinner was the only party in the entire dining room. Perhaps locals haven’t made their way over since it reopened in October, or maybe they’re turned off because it’s in a hotel (but a beautiful Old World French one at that). The ambiance was lacking, but the impeccably served four course local bounty menu for $38 was delicious (available through the end of the month). Chef Guy Sockrider started us with a lagniappe (a little something extra) of duck, then we continued on to crawfish beignets, creole tomato salad in aged balsamic and olive oil, fresh gulf white shrimp in a garlic chardonnay herb butter sauce, and white chocolate bread pudding, swimming in a pool of Makers Mark caramel (I swore this was straight up butter).

It was a delicious Creole meal that left me beyond satisfied. The only thing missing was the joie de vivre spirit of New Orleans.

9 May 2011

Cochon Butcher, New Orleans

You know a place is good when you’re visiting your favorite food city and the first meal you have is at a repeat restaurant. After last year’s Cochon meat miracle, I pretty much ran off the plane straight to Cochon Butcher for lunch. Butcher is Cochon’s next door, more casual sandwich shop/meat deli, but at the off hour of 3 o’clock in the afternoon on a Tuesday, the restaurant’s 10 or so tables were all full.

"Are you ready for a little snack?" the waiter asked when he set my plate down. Clearly he knows my bottomless pit stomach stretches even further down through my legs and into my feet here. Let me introduce you to the Carolina-style pulled pork sandwich with the most delicious smoky sweet barbecue sauce these lips have ever made out with. Topped with a heap of coleslaw, and sided with classic potato salad and spicy pickles. This in no way is my typical order, but from the moment I walk in the door, Cochon turns me in to a carnivorous maniac! I ate that whole sandwich in a couple minutes flat. And secretly wanted another one.

Drink and food go hand in hand in New Orleans, so of course I welcomed myself to the city with a tequila cocktail (yes, Butcher has a full bar) (and no, I do not feel awkward about drinking tequila alone at lunch). The Alcatraz was refreshing and simple (tequila, fresh lime, Steen’s syrup).

On the way out I spotted some unassuming wrapped cookies. One was called something like the Chocolate Chubby, and with a name like that I had to stock up for my hotel room (never mind that I just ate a quarter of a pig). On my walk back, I couldn’t resist having a little bite. It was then that I discovered the Chocolate Chubby is a liquidy brownie disguised as a cookie. There is no photographic evidence. The whole darn thing was gone just a few steps outside of the restaurant. People siting on sidewalk patios watched in horror as I licked the Saran Wrap for any remaining flavor.

Congrats Cochon enterprise, you’ve officially sealed your fate as my favorite restaurant in New Orleans.

Themed by Hunson. Originally by Josh