Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Crawfish Boil 2018: NOLA Restaurants

New Orleans is known for many things: Mardi Gras, voodoo, its rich history, and perhaps most importantly--its food. So if you're coming to New Orleans for the crawfish boil and you're looking for places to eat in the city, have no worries. We've collected a list of restaurants that show off the culinary legacy of the Crescent 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 overthink it. Stroll on down Decatur Street 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.

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.

Antonie's: Named by historian Paul Freedman as one of the "Ten Restaurants that Changed America", Antoine's has been a French Quarter institution since 1840. This famous restaurant was the birthplace of classic American dishes like Oysters Rockefeller (which is still on the menu today). Much like the city it has come to epitomize, Antoine's has had its ups and downs. It's been a financial success, received critical acclaim, and served as the culinary center of the city. It has also suffered through financial woes, been damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and struggled to make itself attractive to the tourist industry. In the last few years, however, Antoine's has had something of a rebirth under the leadership of fifth-generation owner Rick Blount. If you want to taste authentic Creole cuisine and experience a piece of New Orleans history, eat at Antoine's. 

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.

Toups Meatery Board 

Toups' Meatery: Located in Mid-City near City Park, Toups Meatery is one of the city's standout cajun restaurants. It's a meat-friendly menu includes duck breast, lamb neck, quail, and venison. Chef Isaac Toups, who appeared on the 13th season of Top Chef, really shines with his cured meats and charcuterie. If you're going to order one thing at Toups, make sure you get the Meatery Board which features head cheese, chicken liver mousse, cracklings, boudin balls, and homemade sausage. We recommend splitting it with another person. 

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. 

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.

Just a reminder: the 10th Annual DGA Crawfish Boil is March 10, 2018 at Maison Lafitte in Mandeville, Louisiana. We hope to see you there! 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Crawfish Boil 2017 Video!

Thanks to our friends at Trial Access, we've got this awesome recap video from last year's crawfish boil to share with everyone.

We had tons of crawfish, great music, and entertainment. If you missed out on last year's boil, no worries. This year's boil is just around the corner. Check out the rest of the blog for information on hotels, other events in the city, and the history of our Crawfish boil themed t-shirts from Dirty Coast. In the coming weeks, look for restaurant recommendations, bios of the bands, places to visit around the city.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Crawfish Boil 2018: Hotels

Just a reminder, the crawfish boil is being held at Maison Lafitte in Mandeville, Louisiana on Saturday March 10, 2018. Maison Lafitte is only about twenty minutes from our office.  So we won’t have to travel far, but most everyone else will. With that in mind, we figured it would be a good idea to make some hotel recommendations for our out of town guests.

Mandeville is on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. So we'll divide the recommendations depending on if you want to stay near the boil or in New Orleans. For anyone unfamiliar with the Greater New Orleans area, getting across the lake is a breeze thanks to the Causeway that cuts right across the lake.  

On the South Shore, New Orleans boasts a bevy of great places to stay. We recommend that visitors make their accommodations in the city as much of the trip to Covington is on the Causeway. And if you’re going to stay in New Orleans, you may as well stay in the French Quarter (especially if you’ve never been to New Orleans before). Staying in the Quarter is a unique experience and puts you right into the action.  Most of the city's tourist attractions are easily accessible and there’s always something going on nearby.

The interior of the Sazerac Bar 

Currently, our favorite hotel in the city is the Roosevelt. It's part of the Hilton-Waldorf Astoria luxury hotel chain and about 10 years ago it underwent a complete renovation that modernized the interior but kept its New Orleans charm. The renovation restored the hotel's iconic Sazerac Bar to its original 1940s decor. The Sazerac excels at cocktails in a historic New Orleans space where Huey "Kingfish" Long used to drink and meet with constituents. If you want a comfortable hotel that also exudes old school New Orleans, the Roosevelt is the place to stay. 

Interior of the Roosevelt 

Jamie likes the W New Orleans - French Quarter hotel. She and her husband have stayed there before and recommend it highly. Its restaurant, Bacco, is good, and the hotel is in a quieter part of the Quarter down on Chartres Street, but still only a couple of blocks from Bourbon.

The Royal Sonesta 

The Royal Sonesta Hotel is a good place to stay in the quarter. It is right on Bourbon Street which is a plus in many ways, although you will find it to be bustling, especially in early March.

The JW Marriott is on Canal Street, and is very close to the Quarter. Here you can be within easy walking distance of the Quarter without being surrounded by it.

For the wedding of Doug’s younger daughter the guests stayed at the Courtyard Marriott, down by the river walk. It is not in the quarter, but still close to the action.

Now, we'll cover some accommodations in the Mandeville/Covington area. Covington has the standard range of visitors' hotels, but we thought it would be better to recommend some places for guests who prefer a quiet location close to the boil. 


In Covington, one of the best B&Bs is Annadele's.  Annadele's is a lovely plantation home near Old Covington.  The grounds are charming and the rooms nice. Doug’s eldest daughter had her wedding at Annadele's.  The restaurant is also usually pretty good, and would be a nice place for breakfast if you stayed there. 

There's also the Southern Hotel in Covington.  It's located in the heart of downtown Covington and houses one of our favorite local restaurants, Ox Lot 9.  The restaurant also has a great bar that makes fantastic cocktails. The rooms are spacious and there's a spa located within the hotel. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Crawfish Boil 2018: Band Announcement!

We're thrilled to announce that this year's DGA Family and Friends Crawfish Boil March 10, 2018 at Maison Lafitte in Mandeville, La–  will feature local New Orleans funk-rock band, Flow Tribe.

Flow Tribe 

The band consists of members: 
K.C. O'Rorke – vocals, trumpet 
John Michael Early – harmonica, vocals, keyboard, and washboard 
Russell Olschner – drums 
Chad Penot – bass, vocals 
Bryan Santos – guitar 
Mario Palmisano – guitar 

The band formed in 2004 from a group of friends from Brother Martin High School. Penot's back porch served as their primary rehearsal and hangout space. Like most high school musical ventures, the band broke up once all the members went off to college. In 2006, Hurricane Katrina brought all six men back home. They devoted themselves to rebuilding efforts, but also sought to contribute to the city's rebuilding in their own way – through their shared love of music. Early recalled that "We thought about our love of the city's music, the history, the culture. We were just a bunch of 18 and 19-year old kids, rebuilding our parents' houses during the summer... and we knew the only way we could contribute on a bigger level was with music."
The band soon reformed and hit the road. They played shows for music lovers and displaced Katrina survivors across the South. Their musical style, a blend of different New Orleans musical genres, found a wide audience amongst exiled New Orleanians and people from different parts of the country. 
The cover of Flow Tribe's latest album-Boss 

Since 2006, Flow Tribe have been a fixture in the New Orleans music scene while also touring across the country. They've appeared on The Real World: New Orleans in 2010. They've played at the Voodoo Music Experience, appeared on the main stage at Jazz Fest, and at just about every other major festival in New Orleans. They describe their music as "backbone crackin’ music”—a "gumbo" of funk, rhythm-and-blues, rock, bounce, hip-hop and zydeco. Flow Tribe cite Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima and Kermit Ruffins, R&B and funk classics of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, and hip-hop hits released by Cash Money Records in the 1990s and 2000s, as some of their influences. 
They've recorded four albums: Pain Killer (2012), At Capacity Live: Live at Tipitina’s (2013), Alligator White (2014), and Boss (2017). If you want more information or examples of the Flow Tribe's music check out their website here. And make sure you come see them at this year's Crawfish boil! 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

DGA Dining: Tasting Counter

Tasting Counter in Somerville, Massachusetts is nestled in a large commercial building. There’s a brewery a stone’s throw away. A little paper sign hangs on the interior door pointing down a short hallway. The big wooden sliding door that guards the restaurant doesn’t open until 5:45—15 minutes before the 6 o’clock dinner seating. The restaurant has two seatings for dinner from Wednesday-Saturday. (It also serves a three course lunch.)  The unassuming setting masks what lies beyond. Tasting Counter has only twenty seats, forming a rectangle around the kitchen. Since its opening in 2014, Tasting Counter has garnered an impressive array of awards. In 2015, the Boston Globe named it the Restaurant of the Year. In 2016 and 2017, Boston Magazine declared Tasting Counter the best Fine Dining Restaurant in Boston. We are happy to report that the restaurant lives up to every accolade.

Interior of Tasting Counter 

Tasting Counter employs a ticketing system. You pay for your entire meal in advance and select a beverage pairing—wine, beer, sake, or non-alcoholic. You note any food allergies or dietary restrictions and leave the rest up to Chef Peter Ungár and his staff. What follows is a nine-course tasting menu with pairings that is heavy on local and sustainable ingredients. The menu is a fusion of perfectly executed classical French technique and Ungár’s interest in Asian flavors. The staff at Tasting Counter move quickly and with purpose. In such a small space, they have to. Ungár himself works alongside his wife plating and presenting dishes to the guests. Before each course, the sommelier explains the origins of the wine. Then Ungár or another chef on his staff explain the dishes. The portion sizes are just right. Oftentimes tasting menus feature portions that leave you bursting halfway through. After nine courses at Tasting Counter we were full, but comfortably so. The clientele were largely couples in their 30s and 40s, celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones. The atmosphere is welcoming with a relaxed dress code.

Enough talk, let’s get to the menu.

Welcoming Bites
Smoked lobster puff
Onion, duck liver, sourdough
Yellowtail, yuzu kosho, wakame
Casa di Baal Oro di Baal, NV

The duck liver managed to be light, which is difficult to do with liver. The yellowtail was a burst of acid.

Sea Urchin
Bay scallop, parsnip, vanilla bean, sunchoke
Conestabile della Staffa Il Bianco 2016

Served in a sea urchin shell with a perfectly prepared scallop, this was a wonderful mix of seafood and earthiness with the parsnip and sunchoke.

Seaweed cure, black olive, black shallot, avocado oil, pomelo
Jasper Sisco Electronic Renaissance, 2015

This dish featured little blobs of black shallot dotting the plate. They were little flavor bombs that elevated the kampachi.

Gremolata Dumplings (they're under the foam) 

Gremolata Dumplings
Hen of the woods, soured cream, seaweed, preserved lemon
Forlorn Hope Dragone Ramato, 2016

The hen of the woods mushrooms, sourced locally, were surrounded by an uni foam that when merged with the preserved lemon created an acid, earthiness, and the sea.

Red Seam Bream
Green daikon, cultured butter, lime leaf, sake lees
L’Ange Vin Cuvée Bistrologie, 2015

The sea bream was perfectly cooked and the sake lees added a nice hit of umami.

European Sea Bass 

 European Sea Bass
Pine mushroom, macomber turnip, black olive
Sylvain Pataille Marsannay La Montagne, 2014

Sautéed white fish with lots of earthiness and the black olives were another little flavor bomb like the black shallot.


Pine nut and almond

This Korean tea and pine nut and almond cookie served as a palate cleanser before the meat courses.

Smoked Duck
Eggplant, red miso, rhubarb, serrano, black lime
Domaine Breton Nuits d’Ivresse, 2015

The duck had a nice smokiness while remaining perfectly pink in the middle with just a little crunch on the skin. Like the other courses it had a blend of acid and umami. I noticed a smile on Chef Ungár’s face when I pointed out how beautiful the plate was.

Artichoke, black truffle, hazelnut, sherry vinegar
La Distesa Nocenzio, 2015

The venison was pink in the middle and richly flavorful.

Quince custard, cranberry, yogurt granite
Milan Nestarec Forks and Knives, 2014

The first of two desserts was fruit-based and not particularly sweet (which is a plus).


Molasses, sunchoke ice cream
Cesar Florido Moscatel Especial

Of all the courses were served, I was the most skeptical about this one. Buckwheat is a grain and I wasn’t sure it would make a good cake nor did sunchoke ice cream sound appealing. I was wrong, the buckwheat was richly flavorful and the sunchoke ice cream was light.

Parting Morsels
Sunflower seed praline chocolate
Carrot chew, fennel sugar
Ginger and pistachio nougat

Who knew fennel sugar could be a thing? 

            Tasting Counter is a remarkable restaurant in unremarkable surroundings. The food is precise. Chef Ungár and his team pay close attention to texture, balance of flavors, and the service is warm and welcoming. It is a restaurant well worth your time and money.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Be a New Orleanian - A History of Dirty Coast Shirts

Those of you who follow our crawfish boil know that we at DGA have a special affection for local NOLA clothier, Dirty Coast Press.

It started out with a chuckle at our favorite Dirty Coast shirt, the Po-Boy Patent, a must-have for those who love good food as much as high stakes patent litigation!

Soon we were celebrating the boil with an annual round of Dirty Coast shirts. Before long we were basing the theme of every boil on Dirty Coast's apparel antics, and having custom shirts sent 'round so y'all can be as well-dressed as we are!

After many, many hundreds of shirts, Dirty Coast has decided to sponsor the DGA 2018 Boil, and has graciously offered a special discount code just for our friends! Not only will you get 10% off in the Dirty Coast webstore with the code DGABOIL2018, you'll also be entered into a drawing for 2 weekend passes to Jazz Fest!

So why don't you take a look at all the shirts we've featured in our past crawfish boils, which are obviously the best ones Dirty Coast has!

Soul is Waterproof reminds us of how no amount of adversity can beat the spirit of New Orleans.

We've been featuring live music by local bands at the boil for years, because in a place like New Orleans, you should always remember to Listen to Your City!

Anyone who's been to our crawfish boil understands what Louis Armstrong meant when he sang "I Know What It Means to love New Orleans," and anyone from NOLA knows this is the only time it's okay to pronounce it that way!

We love New Orleans because, as Dirty Coast reminds us, Strange Things Happen Below Sea Level. And for those who come to the boil, remember that strange things also stay below sea level!

Amidst the chaos of 2017 we decided to honor the bottom feeders that make our crawfish boil possible. Sometimes it's good to remember that it takes all kinds. It is, however, much better to have God Bless the Bottom Feeders when they're as delicious as crawfish!

And this year, of course, we will be striving to Keep Our Beds Fertile. You never know what the future will bring, but with loving care and affection we can make sure our beds are filled with the most... oysters in the world for a long time to come!

We hope to see you at the crawfish boil on Saturday, March 10th.

Those of you who come can pick up one of our limited edition specially printed Keep Our Beds Fertile shirts, but don't forget that Dirty Coast has a whole lot of other great stuff for locals and visitors alike.

As always, remember to Be a New Orleanian Wherever You Are!