Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cajun Celebrations

My wonderful honey decided that he wanted to take me and a few friends out of town to celebrate my birthday.  The original plan was to go to Missouri for the ski trip that I've longed for, but Mother Nature was being a sissy about the whole situation and it was due to be approximately 60 degrees this particular weekend and I'm unsure as to how that would have gone.  Not well was my informed assumption, so we scrambled for another location in close proximity to celebrate my introduction into the time/space continuum.

Options were debated...Nashville, St. Louis...and we settled on New Orleans.  As much as I loathe large crowds of people, especially during the little known event called Mardi Gras, I managed to suggest that we go anyway.  And lucky for us that the celebrations last more than a month...

Friday night, upon arrival, it was mutually agreed upon that we were hungry.  I don't know if it was the drive or the atmosphere, but we were ready to do some culinary damage.  Being birthday girl, I was bestowed the honor of selecting our eatery for the evening.  While we strolled down Bourbon Street, I saw a sign and thought, Hey this looks good!  Obviously already successful and recognized for its cuisine, I was sure that Red Fish Grill Restaurant was going to be a good choice.  And the hostess was really pretty too...kind of had a Dita Von Teese thing going for herself.

So, in tradition of trying as much as we could, we started off with an appetizer that the four of us wanted to share.  After browsing the menu, we decided to go with BBQ oysters.  Touted as a Red Fish signature dish, the oysters are flash fried and tossed into a Crystal BBQ sauce and served with a house-made blue cheese dressing.  Now before I tell you what I thought of this dish, you must understand that I'm not a big fan of oysters.  Before this experience, I'd tasted oysters once upon the insistence of my love's appetite for them and his desire to broaden my experiences.  I ate that oyster but I did not enjoy it.  I'd heard that oysters are a natural aphrodisiac and, admittedly that may have further influenced my choice, but
amorous is far from what I felt after consuming my first raw oyster.  I also do not particularly enjoy blue cheese on any occasion.  There are a lot of things that I won't eat if I know what they are, and I know why the cheese is blue.

Now that I've digressed, back to the BBQ oysters.  Phenomenal.  Honestly, just wonderful.  I was pleasantly taken aback at the surprising spiciness of the Crystal sauce.  The blue cheese dressing was a perfect pairing to balance the sauce and it was just good enough that we were all going for seconds and thirds.  One of the members in our party got so creative as to make mini BBQ oyster poboys with the complimentary loaf they serve, after professing that he doesn't like bread.  I must say that his impromptu meal could have been added to the menu with little detraction from what was already available.
Paneed Pork Loin

Hickory Grilled Redfish
Next of course, were the main entrees and we ordered a variety of dishes.  I had the Paneed Pork Loin, he had the Hickory Grilled Redfish and our friends both had the Herbsaint Flamed Catfish. 

The Paneed Pork Loin is described as being served with a roasted sweet potato topped with toasted almonds, scallions and bourbon butter served with a Creole mustard reduction and an apple pink peppercorn chutney.  It was absolutely  incredible as to how good this was.  I'd always learned in food prep courses that you have to give a dish color to increase it palatable appeal.  The vibrant purples and oranges made the dish visually stunning and served to make me hungrier.  My only regret was that I'd filled up on the BBQ oysters and was unable to finish my meal.  I tried with everything in me though to get as much of it into myself as possible.  I believe the waitress attempted twice, in vain, to get it away from me, but I wasn't having it, nor was I letting her have my plate.

Herbsaint Flamed Catfish
I did manage to sample my companions' meals and they were just as scrumptous.  The Hickory Grilled Redfish came served on the half-shell, with tasso & wild mushroom Pontalba potatoes, topped with sautéed Louisiana jumbo lump crabmeat & a lemon butter sauce.  The picture above does the dish little justice, but what I lacked in photography skills is attested to by the taste and the speed in which it disappeared from the plate.

The Herbsaint Flamed Catfish comes served with crispy tasso ham, sautéed spinach, yellow split peas, and tobacco onion rings.  My friend pointed out her opinion on the deliciousness of the spinach and I had to agree.  Not too far removed from a vegetarian diet, I'd tried spinach served in every way imaginable and this side still sufficed to induce salivation.

To end the evening on a good note, I was presented with the option of a free item from the dessert menu in celebration of my birthday.  Torn between so many delectable choices, I picked a warm coffee liqueur.  No posting pictures of that one, I just look like a frequent imbiber.

When you visit the website you'll see the descriptions of the menu items and find that the head chef, Chef Brian Katz proudly serves the freshest seasonal ingredients as continued support of local farmers and fishermen from the New Orleans area.  Super bonus: you can actually get recipes for some of the dishes served at the restaurant if you are unable to make it to The Big Easy for the festivities...I'm certain that they'll be around whenever you are able to venture down, and they are one to put on the must-dine list. 

In all Big Easy tradition, Laissez le bon temps roulez!  and Happy Birthday to me!

1 comment:

  1. This food was awesome...and it served as a good coating for the rest of the nights festivities.