Gypsy Grub

A fine food enthusiast travels the world, and her own backyard in search of the best eats.

Month: October, 2012

New Orleans

Nearly as soon as I returned home from Europe, I quickly hopped on another plane headed for Mississippi. Yes, it does seem rather strange but I was ready to experience a different side of food, and life and visit a very dear friend. I learned many things from this trip; that eating fried foods kills your palate, and your stomach, that there are hardly any fresh produce in the south, and that I probably will never return.

One of the things I truly appreciated about the South was the hospitality. You don’t realize how cold people are in California until you go to a place where everyone treats you with such kindness and warmth.

On a day trip to Louisiana I was eager to try some alligator. Now, let me begin with saying that I am not a meat eater. I do not enjoy the thought or taste of meat, or the way it feels in my stomach. However, I do eat it on occasion because as an aspiring food critic I need to know how everything tastes and feels even if I do not enjoy it. But this meat was completely different. It was the most delicious protein I had ever tasted. So buttery it literally melted in my mouth. I have now dubbed alligator as my favorite, and the only meat I will gladly eat.

gator

On the same day trip I stopped into the famous Cafe du Monde, and had the pleasure of trying some beignets. The Cafe was outside and it was most delighting to see the whole floor covered in a thick coat of powdered sugar.

Blue Bell Ice Cream was another favorite I encountered. For some reason their ice cream tastes more fresh and whole (though not as amazing as the ice cream in Dingle).

icecream

Bon Appétit magazine declared this praline shop to have the best in the United States. So naturally I popped in and tried some. Pralines are a staple in Louisiana but I did not find them to be of any great flavor or importance.

m

I have declared this Aunt Sally’s Creamy Sugar and Spice Praline to be the best in the south. Unlike the ordinary ones it has a very complex flavor profile, including a bit of spicy Tabasco sauce.mm One night my best friend and I decided to go to a small restaurant she had been dying to go to called Two Sisters. As soon as I walked in I knew what to expect, there were gruesome stains on the ceiling and I felt like there was a thick layer of dust on the floor. Nonetheless she insisted we ate there, and I very unwillingly agreed. I could not bring myself to order anything, but tried bites of hers in an attempt to immerse myself in the ‘culture’. I have always had a hatred for the thought of fried green tomatoes because of the movie. These were as expected; greasy, and sour.

fgt

Gumbo is a traditional dish of Louisiana and I did enjoy it more than I had anticipated. I have made Gumbo myself in Culinary School but this was thinner and richer than mine. While in Louisiana I also fell in love with Catfish. This Gumbo is accompanied with fried Catfish which is always good no matter how it is cooked (it seems).

gumbo

My first experience with a po boy had to be documented. On my way along the roads of Mississippi I stopped at a stand called Fro Stop. Though it was unimpressive, there were many things I noticed that were very different from anything I had experienced before. With po boys (unlike where I am from) the bread is always hard, and stale. You can choose to have your po boy “dressed” or “undressed” which ultimately means with or without condiments and vegetables. This particular po boy is dressed, and the meat inside is crab, of course it was very fried.

pb

On my way to the airport I decided it was time for a sweet treat. I happen to be quite afraid of flying and think it necessary to sooth oneself with goodies once in a while. I popped into a bakery called Paul’s Pastry Shop and was elated. I got an assortment of different goods and all of them were absolutely fantastic. The baker said their most famous were their smallest cookies. They looked like sugar cookies to me, coated with a thick colorful icing. The flavor was far from sugar cookie, it was complex and even gourmet. I was instantly taken back to the pastries of Europe and all their grandeur. The cookie itself was sweet, rich and a bit salty, the icing that topped it was wonderful and hardly sweet. If you are anywhere near the boarder of Mississippi and Louisiana I encourage you to drive the long ride just for a tiny cookie at Paul’s Pastry Shop!

yaya

Cafe du Monde

http://www.cafedumonde.com/

800 Decatur Street, New Orleans 70116

(504) 525-4544

Paul’s Pastry Shop

http://paulspastry.com/

1 Sycamore Road Picayune, MS 39466
(601) 798-7457

Last Day in the U.K.

England is where I want to be. My American life seems utterly dismal compared to my quaint British one. I had a beautiful time visiting Europe and cannot wait to return as soon as possible.

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My mother met me, and we had our last tea right near Trafalgar Square. London had the buildings and sidewalks all prepared for the Olympics, and we sat and sipped on English Breakfast Tea and pondered our lives.

Here my lovely mum is saying a sad goodbye to the beautiful tradition of tea time.last day in LOndon (9)

The next day I headed out to Heathrow Airport to catch my train home. I reluctantly dragged my luggage through security and was horrified when they threw out some home made strawberry jam. The jam had been a gift from the host of a B&B called Clearsview Farms. She was so sweet to gift me the jam, and I was upset when they had to toss it out.

I still had to wait a bit, and decided to have my last breakfast in London. Here is a yogurt parfait, topped with a generous amount of granola. It was surprisingly good, and I especially loved the raspberry puree at the very bottom.

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I also got a scone. It had clotted cream, strawberries and jam. It was nothing spectacular, and I didn’t eat much of it.

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And finally, a full English breakfast as a farewell to this beautiful place.

Breakfast (6)

I would like to thank every B&B that ever had me, and ever individual I ever met on my adventures. I loved every minute of my travels, and can’t wait to return!

Pied a Terre

Pied a Terre was a magical experience. I get chills up and down my spine every time I hear of a Michelin Star restaurant, and the opportunity to dine at one was amazing. I was not only in London (one of the greatest places in the world) but also at one of the best restaurants ever. It was truly an honor to dine there. Unfortunately the grandeur of the dishes are a little lost in these photographs. A little intrigue is lost because there is a method to plating food. Chef’s use the plate as a huge white canvas on which they serve small, artful proportions. The plating really does make a difference, however I chose to zoom in that the details of the food will be more emphasized.

PT LOndon (40)

This restaurant is like the genius next door. You could walk right by it, and not even know what you were missing. Thankfully, I had all the intention in the world not to walk by it. We were greeted and sat at a table of our choosing seeing as it was lunch and the restaurant was empty.

After a glimpse at the menu, I had already planned my meal. It started with an avocado foam adorned with cheese, sun dried tomatoes and currants.

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This is the appetizer. The presentation of each dish was so remarkable. The flavor that such small portions could demonstrate was unbelievable.All of the textures were perfect and seemed to sync perfectly with the flavors.

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Next was my daring plate. It was a mushroom soup topped with crispy bone marrow. When I saw it on the menu it repulsed me a bit, but sometimes the unexpected things give you the biggest gifts. And that is exactly what happened. This was a 10 out of 10 dish. Absolutely amazing, and fantastic in ever way. The mushroom was pronounced, but not too much as to overpower the creaminess of the soup. The bone marrow on top sat like a pillow on your tongue and filled the roof of your mouth with a crunchy buttery perfection.

PT LOndon (45)

My companion ordered the duck fat asparagus salad. It was very lovely, my only criticism would be about the asparagus. It had been boiled, where I thought it better suited if it had been blanched.

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Next, our waiter came around with a basket of freshly baked breads. I tried all of them, but my favorite by far was the rosemary cheese brioche.

This dish was also lovely. The meat was of the highest quality and cooked to perfection.

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I ordered the fish as a main. It was beautifully flavored and was light and uplifting. It had a mango puree as well as some very unexpected (but thoroughly enjoyed) fennel.

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Please notice the delicate plating on this and all of the dishes.

PT LOndon (49) I would like to emphasize a very important fact of hospitality here. Our service was not only amazing, but also thoroughly thought out. The menu only showed that we were to receive a three course meal, however we were surprised by “gratis” little bites throughout the whole experience.

This is one of those surprising little dishes that was presented to us. It is so delighting to be surprised from time to time. Here was a passion fruit orange crème topped with orange and mint. It was to “clear the palate” before the next dish.

PT LOndon (35) As I have said before I have a true passion for dessert. I picked this dessert because I saw it had “coconut foam” on the menu. And indeed it did. The flavors were fresh and a perfect mix of tartness and creaminess. It was mainly mango, with puffs of coconut, and sprinkles of passion fruit.

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My companion had this apricot dessert that was sadly forgettable, but nonetheless the plating was beautiful.PT LOndon (37)  Before we paid the bill came another delighting surprise. It makes such a difference to have small treats in an experience. I loved every minute of my meal at Pied a Terre, and look forward to dining here someday! My sincere compliments to the Chef.

PT LOndon (39)

If your anywhere near London and are interested in eating at this lovely restaurant you can visit their website:

http://www.pied-a-terre.co.uk/home

Or call in for a reservation!

020 7636 1178