In Search of Spice … in New Orleans

by jadams

Travel & Play

We recently spent a weekend in one of our all-time favorite towns – New Orleans.

We probably couldn’t live there full-time without getting in over our heads, but 48 hours feels just right.

And, we managed to eat our way through a slew of dishes, focusing hardest on what’s hottest. You never know, members. There might be another En Fuego box sometime in the distant future. We are always game for a pepper or two.

If our March 2017 En Fuego box was right up your alley, here are a few excellent options to seek out some spice in New Orleans.

 

MOPHO

Neighborhood: Mid City

MoPho’s patio, image courtesy of MoPho

Plate Philosophy: It’s Cajun-Country-meets-Southeast-Asia here, with Southern riffs on classics like ramen, spring rolls, chili crab, curries and dumplings. Everything comes as spicy as you are willing to have it, and even the milder dishes will welcome Sriracha, slathered on like Heinz 57. We’d go back for both the Crispy Chicken wings, which are fried and seasoned with hot Thai chilies, lemongrass and spicy ginger, and the Gulf Shrimp Turmeric Curry with wok-fried noodles and pickled field peas swimming in a decadent, rich, India-styled broth.

Pro Tip: Don’t overlook the drink list. It’s as interesting and impressive as the main menu, with cocktails like the Viper, with ginger and galangal-infused vodka, vermouth, and blood orange, as well as a whole section of Boba-tea-inspired options, complete with both booze and tapioca bubbles or jelly.

 

MEAUXBAR

Neighborhood: French Quarter

Meauxbar, image courtesy of Rush Jagoe

Plate Philosophy: If we did indeed live in New Orleans, we’d count Meauxbar as an extension of our own living room, lounging there often, staying there late. Large windows face out to the foot traffic out on N. Rampart, adding an ever-evolving mural, and the philosophy of casual, beautiful comfort weaves throughout the food and drink menus as well. Delicious approachability is always at the forefront. You could start, for example, with Seared Pork Belly served over rice grits. They made us huge fans, thanks to the spicy addition of Korean Sambal sauce used as a punchy vinaigrette.

Nothing Beats The Bar: Meauxbar has an emphasis on that last syllable in their name, and while we absolutely implore you to eat here, we find it to be the cocktail list that attracts us most. There’s a super playful thing afoot. Last year, we were wowed by a corn cocktail, made with the milk of freshly husked kernels. Do you know how long it takes to express enough corn milk to service a busy cocktail bar?! No wonder it wasn’t back on the menu this summer.

The finished Chartreuse Snoball, image by Jenny Adams

This year, request the Chartreuse Snoball or make one at home. It’s an ode to the bartender’s first job at a Snoball stand, and it’s dangerously refreshing.

Chartreuse Snoball

Yields 1

3/4 oz. Green Chartreuse
3/4 oz. London Dry Gin
3/4 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
3/4 oz. Lime Juice
Shake and pour over packed shaved ice. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.

 CAVAN

Neighborhood: Uptown

Plate Philosophy: Executive Chef Nathan Richard has a Cajun drawl we could die for and some serious skills in a kitchen. His food is soulful, often touching on things he grew up eating––from charred oysters with crab butter to alligator, which makes an appearance “in-season,” every fall. It’s rustic, but there’s a level of refined elegance here, and while that all comes from his measured hand, incredible palate and keen sense of spice … the incredible setting of an old, 1800s-mansion house doesn’t hurt, either.

The Recipe We Had to Steal: Cavan has one of the best burgers in the city. It’s got that old-time griddle aspect that reminds us of a diner, dripping with American cheese. It’s served as a triple stack, with the third-rail bread slice in the middle of two beef patties. It’s damn fine, but it’s the sauce that slayed us. Richard makes a base like you would any homemade BBQ sauce. Then he pours all the ingredients from a classic Sazerac cocktail into the pan. There’s a punch of heat and fire from the whiskey, with light anise notes from the Herbsaint. It’s unforgettable … and not all that hard to make. He was kind enough to share his recipe. Make sure the next time you’re in New Orleans, you go by, thank him personally and order the original.

Sazerac BBQ Sauce

Recipe by Executive Chef Nathan Richard

Yields 3 cups

Ingredients:

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

½ yellow onion, whole cut in half and charred on grill

¼ cup green bell pepper, chopped

3 Tbsp. celery, chopped

14 ounces San Morzano tomatoes

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp. hot sauce

¼ cup raisins

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ oz. Herbsaint

½ oz. rye whisky

¼ Tbsp. bitters

½ oz. sugarcane vinegar

Instructions:

  • In a large sauté pan, brown garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Add charred onions, bell pepper and celery. Sauté for 1 minute.
  • Add tomatoes and brown sugar, worcestershire, hot sauce, raisins and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and puree in a powerful blender.
  • Strain mixture and put back in saute pan.
  • Add Herbsaint, whiskey, bitters and vinegar. Mix thoroughly. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.
  • Transfer to airtight container. Refrigerate until serving.

 


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