Oyster Category

(food)porn ed. 2012 – Part 2

London Calling!

November 5-9, 2010

“The man who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world.”
– Oscar Wilde

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Only a month after we visited Italy, I had the opportunity to travel to London for business.

I pondered whether or not to make a 2nd vaca out of it for, oh I don’t know, a good two milliseconds or so.

Are you kidding? London?! Of course we were going!

Visions of medieval knights, architectural wonders built with bricks steeped in history, the Tube, and of course, British food (famous or infamous depending on who you talk to), filled my mind to bursting for weeks before our departure.

This girl was on a mission and wasn’t going to leave London hungry that’s for sure.

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For me, our weekend had to start with fish and chips. But where to go? There were literally hundreds of fish and chips places all over London.

After a little online elbow grease, we headed out to The Rock and Sole Plaice in Covent Garden.

It’s a small joint with the fryers right where you walk in and a tiny basement sit-down with walls adorned with groovy aquatic art. Family-owned for 130 years. They fry up all manner of fish from cod to plaice (flounder) to prawns. Malt vinegar, curry sauce, onion gravy, mushy peas and pretty much the lot you’d expect at a proper fish and chips place also garnished the simple straightforward menu board.

Seriously, this was what you call damn good fish fry.

Haddock and Chips with Mushy Peas

Haddock with Curry Sauce

Classic Cod and Chips

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We emerged from Rock and Sole – our clothes smelling wonderfully fried – and took a brisk walk through hip youthful Covent Garden under a slight drizzle.

We pretty much just let our eyes and feet lead us where they wanted to.

And it seemed all roads led to Trafalgar Square!

Yinka Shonibare’s “Nelson’s ship in a bottle” art installment

General Sir Charles James Napier

Whitehall to Big Ben

Admiralty Arch

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Despite the grey skies and sheen of rain on my cheeks, I was giddy.

And also ravenous for more English grub!

So after a quick change and chat with the concierge at the Cavendish, we were off to Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill which was just a few doors down.

Now don’t let the name fool you. “Bar and Grill” may conjure up images of loaded potato skins and Miller Lite, but Bentley’s is a veritable institution.

Opened in 1916 in the same Victorian building it occupies today, Bentley’s gothic facade speaks of a London from the past. But upon entering, Bentley’s gorgeous interior feels contemporary and undeniably British at the same time.

And the food – classic, crafted, local, and infused with pride.

Oysters sourced off the coast of Scotland – delicately sweet then refreshing like a salty spray of sea against rock

Pot of Wild Cornish Mussels – white wine, parsley, garlic, butter

Sole a la Meuniere for Two – butter, lemon, capers, parsley. Incredible.

Steamed Cavolo Nero

Local Cheeses – sheep’s milk, cow’s milk, bleu, fresh figs, arugula

I can truthfully say that I sampled English food from casual to classical all day today, and the exquisite flavors of fresh fish and shellfish, sweet thick butter, good salt, and creamy tart cheese lingered on my tongue all the way home.

Brilliant.

Spring in NOLA: Crawfish Boil to John Besh’s August

Another glorious morning in what was becoming like a second home to us. We couldn’t believe our luck as temps ranged in the 80s yet again and it was sunny as sunny could be!

Today, we were off to explore NOLA’s Magazine Street – famous for its eclectic shops. Maybe we’d find some gifties for our friendsies.

But of course, like a moth to flame, we ended up eating big time yet again. I hadn’t even planned on this or even heard about it. Promise!

Big Fisherman Seafood called to us like mystical Sirens out in the fog of sea…calling to us…hypnotizing us…come eat…crabs…oysters…shrimp…crawfish…

How could I possibly turn away from a place that has this sign outside of it?!

And has this kind of heavenly spread inside?

I mean…c’mon!

We had naught to do but get a pound of freshly cajun boiled crawfish and 2 cajun corn on the cobs; nevermind that we had no where to sit down and eat our snack with all its messes.

But you’re never too far from laid back hospitality in New Orleans. A casual (and kind of trendy) alfresco eatery across the street was kind enough to let us chow down at one of their tables as long as we cleaned up after and ordered a couple cokes.

How cool is that?

So that’s just what we did! And it was soooo worth it.

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But seriously folks, that’s not all.

Tonight we would dine at the place that was on my short list for must-visit fine dining restaurants in the States.

And John Besh’s August did not disappoint.

Our meal was superb, expertly prepared, and yet comforting like a good Nawlin’s meal should be. To top it all off, Chef Besh was super friendly and as his periodic visits to various tables throughout the place showed, an amazing host as well. You could really feel how much he cared and was passionate about the experience. Makes all the difference in the world, I’ll tell ya.

Oh yeah, and did I mention the food?

Redfish “courtbouillon”
Persillade crust, jumbo shrimp, blue crab, and sauce bourride

Hand-made potato gnocchi tossed with blue crab and winter truffle


Salad of heirloom beets, crab meat, cherry wood bacon, mizuna, and quail eggs with black-eyed pea croutons



P&J Oysters: crispy fried with Louisiana caviar “ranch dressing,” pepper seared with truffle spoon bread, horseradish crusted

“Breaded” speckled trout Louisiana crab, white shrimp, toasted almonds and sauce mousseline

Special: Goat three-ways

Napoleon of nougatine with Valrhona chocolate bavarois and salted toffee ice cream

Trio of gelee, chocolate, and pralines

The trip home in the dewy Spring night made for another amazing day in this magical place.

Spring in NOLA: Roadfood Fest 2011

The day finally arrived for one of the key reasons we decided on March for our visit to NOLA.

New Orleans Roadfood Festival!

I felt like Adam Richman from Man Vs. Food by the end of it, but it was worth it!

Here are some of this year’s highlights!

The Court of Two Sisters
Buttery, homey, and packed with crawfish flavor, Crawfish Louise is a truly unique dish!

Turtle Soup – slightly tart, deep and intense

Creole Delicacies Catering

Andouille Jambalaya

Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant

Flaky, savory, delicious Crawfish Pie

Johnson’s Boucaniere

Traditional Boudin Sandwich

Royal House Oyster Bar

Outstanding, smoky, meaty oysters!

Central BBQ

Although not a New Orleans spot, still a must-eat treat! The bark in and of itself was enough to travel to Memphis to scarf down!

Louis Mueller Barbeque

All the way from Texas, the brisket was smoked overnight in this bad boy.

And last but not least…

Dessert!

Plum St. Snoballs
The one and only Southern ice treat with flavors that this girl had never even heard of! Nectar cream, anyone?

My very first Snoball! Spearmint, Nectar Cream, and Condensed Milk (as per the nice man behind the counter’s reco)!

Sweet cherry and grape icy sugary bomb. I felt like Bart and Milhouse after the infamous Squishy “episode” they had together.

In my book, Roadfood Fest was a tasty success and some of these first-time flavors still linger with me to this day. Now, where to find nectar cream in Chicago…