Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Crawfish Boil 2016 Recap

While Mother Nature certainly gave it her all in trying to rain out the crawfish boil, nothing could keep us from holding the 9th Annual Douglas Green Associates Family and Friends Crawfish Boil. The weather seemed especially fitting to this year’s theme of Strange Things Happen Below Sea Level, as rain threatened to close roads all around the North Shore (especially those below sea level). Yet we endured and wound up having a lovely time.

Maison Lafitte proved to be the perfect venue for the boil with plenty of tables for eating and listening to the music provided by Benny Turner and the Real Blues, a longtime boil favorite, and first timers The Mighty Pelicans from Austin, Texas. Benny delighted us with his soulful blues. He wandered amongst the crowd, schmoozed with the guests, and even took a seat at various points. The Mighty Pelicans, a group of Louisiana expatriates living in Austin, dazzled the masses with their own spin on many New Orleans classics. Playing to a hometown crowd for the first time, they proved that they could hold their own with the local bands. After all, who doesn’t like a good rendition of Iko, Iko?

Meanwhile, here’s a few photos for everyone who couldn’t make it out or just want to remember the good times.

Maison Lafitte’s new pavilion kept everyone out of the wet weather (even though it wasn’t really raining). We look forward to be back there next year. Plus we wanted to show off the awesome sign. 

Annie really enjoyed her cupcake (and possibly that crayon)—one of many crawfish boil traditions that we look forward to continuing next year. 

 Benny Turner doing his thing under the sign (hey, we really like the sign).

This image best sums up Benny Turner’s performance and the whole boil itself. We hope to see you there next year.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

How to Peel Crawfish

Just a reminder, the 9th Annual DGA Family and Friends Crawfish Boil is THIS SATURDAY, March 12, 2016.  

Where: Maison Lafitte, 402 Lafitte St., Mandeville, LA 70448

When: 12:00 P.M.-5:00 P.M. 

In anticipation of the boil, we thought it would be a good idea to offer a refresher on how to eat crawfish. Peeling them can seem daunting, but with a little bit of practice it's no big deal at all. After a few dozen, anyone can become a crawfish peeling pro. So read up and then on Saturday you can eat 'em just as fast as you can peel 'em. 

Today we'll show all of ya'll how to peel a crawfish.  The process is relatively simple, and a well-coooked crawfish should give even inexperienced folks little trouble.  
Before you start peeling, remember that crawfish boiled live typically have curled tails, such as the one in the image above.  Those that were dead when they went in the boil (there’s always a few) have flat tails and mushy meat.  You can toss those suckers into your pile of shells if you like.

You might have heard of the twist, pinch, and suck method of peeling crawfish.  This refers to twisting off the head, pinching the tail, and sucking the head.  This is the basic method we’re going to learn, although sucking the head is entirely optional.  Most crotchety Cajuns suck the heads to put newcomers off their crawfish, but there’s also a culinary reason to do it and I’ll explain that at the end.

Although these colloquial terms are wildly inaccurate in terms of a crawfish’s anatomy, the two basic parts you need to know about are the “head,” the main body of the crawfish, and the “tail,” the segmented abdomen of the crawfish. 
To start peeling, grasp the head in one hand and the tail in the other. 

Next, twist the head and pull it away from the tail. 

At this point, you can pinch the tail and pull out the meat with your teeth, but that takes some crawfish experience.  Being new to peeling crawfish, you will have more success if you peel the first segment of the shell off of the tail. 

You can then flip the tail over, use your thumb to pinch the tail at the base, and then pull out the meat.

Last, but not least, you can suck the head.  The reason to do this is that most of the fat is in this part of the crawfish and it doesn’t always come out with the tail meat.  Like crabs, crawfish fat is extremely tasty and it holds a remarkable amount of flavor. You also get a good taste of the spicy boil from sucking the head.

See you Saturday! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Crawfish Boil 2016 Eats: New Orleans

Now that we’ve covered some places to go in the French Quarter, it’s time to get down to it. Where are you going to eat in New Orleans? We’re going to guide you to some of the best dining spots in the city.

Café Du Monde: We’re starting off with the obvious, but sometimes what’s obvious is best. It’s New Orleans, it’s beignets, don’t over think it. Stroll on down Decatur and stop when you see the famous exterior. Go in, order the beignets, and blow powdered sugar on your friends and family. Enjoy a café au laut and watch the world go by. If you walk out of there and you’re not covered in powdered sugar, you’ve done it wrong.

Follow the sign, delicious food waits inside. 

Green Goddess: If you want eclectic modern New Orleans cuisine go no farther than the Green Goddess. Make sure you keep your eye out it’s tucked away in a narrow alley just off of Bienville Street. The unassuming exterior masks the culinary creativity within. The menu changes with the seasons and takes a global approach, fusing Louisiana classics with ideas from around the world. Benson and his wife Liz swear by the food and the cocktails (especially the cheese plate).

Killer Poboys: Nestled in the back of the Erin Rose Bar is one of the best kept secrets of the New Orleans culinary scene, Killer Poboys. The Poboy is a traditional New Orleans sandwich consisting of some kind of protein, generally roast beef or fried seafood served on New Orleans style French bread (there’s an entire festival devoted to them). Done right, the poboy is a blank canvas for culinary innovation. And Killer Poboys does them right.

Inside the French Quarter Camellia Grill. 

Camellia Grill: There are two locations of the Camellia Grill, the original in Uptown and a newer location in the quarter. The menu is straightforward diner food, done right. Order a couple of burgers, some fries, and a chocolate freeze to drink. Dessert, though, is where the Camellia Grill shines. Order the pecan (pronounced pe-can NOT pee-can, pronounce it wrong and risk our wrath and mockery) pie and enjoy the best pie you’ll ever eat. The secret? They warm it up on the grill, next to the burgers. No, it’s not healthy, but you’re in New Orleans so who cares?

Déjà Vu Bar and Grill: Open 24/7/364, Déjà Vu is the place to go if you’ve been out all night drinking and need some good, filling food. They serve breakfast all day including southern staples like biscuits and gravy. Their menu includes burgers, seafood, and a host of Louisiana classics. Benson also vouches for their beer selection.

Peche: New Orleans chef and restaurateur Donald Link has been on a roll these past few years. In 2006, he opened Cochon, an ode to Cajun cooking, located in the Central Business District. In 2013, Link decided to conquer the New Orleans seafood scene with Peche. The James Beard Foundation named Peche the Best New Restaurant in America in 2014. We've eaten there several times and the menu highlights Gulf seafood at its absolute best. 

So much gelato, so little time. 

La Divina Gelateria: And we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend at least one dessert place. La Divina makes all of their gelato in house and from scratch. The owners, Katrina and Carmelo Turillo lived in Florence and loved taking late night walks and getting gelato. So they decided to study how to make gelato and brought it over to Louisiana. They opened in February 2007 after being delayed several years by Hurricane Katrina. The shop has four locations, including one in the French Quarter. So if you’re talking a late night walk, stop in for some of the best gelato outside of Italy.

          The crawfish boil is just around the corner.  We hope to see you there!