Some of the city's old-guard restaurants hold heralded places in Carnival tradition, and king cakes have been glittering extra brightly lately as chefs and bakers around New Orleans put their own stamp on its form and flavors.
But, when it comes to keeping people going through the long haul of Carnival, the heavy lifting often falls to much more humble fare from unsung suppliers. These are the grocery stores, the delis and the specialty caterers of New Orleans, businesses that work at fever pitch once the parade season reaches its prime time.
In Louisiana, home cooking requires a lot of artisanal skill. Whether it’s spending hours in the kitchen laboring over a pastry or hours alongside a black pot perfecting a roux, the Pelican State’s best foods are often labors of love. That’s what we’ll discover as we tour the state for our latest edition of Louisiana Eats!
We’ll also meet dozens of talented chefs at the Blackpot Festival & Cookoff held annually in Lafayette’s Acadian Village. This gathering of south Louisiana musicians and cooks draws in more and more attendees each year with its come-one, come-all hospitality and generosity of spirit. We’ll hear how community outweighed all the competition at this year’s cook off. And stir your appetite for roux, rice, and gumbo with author Stanley Dry. From North to South, we’ve got a real taste of the state.
The TV is now a fixture at many restaurants, and this weekend the Super Bowl previews will be everywhere. Food writer Ian McNulty has some ideas for forlorn Saints fans trying to duck the coverage during a casual meal on the town, or for anyone just fed up with football.
Water conservation and ecology are at the utmost concern to beverage makers like Great Raft Brewery and Cakebread Cellars. Andrew Nations has gone to great lengths to figure out ways to change the taste profile of Shreveport's water, and Bruce Cakebread has helped organize a group of winemakers to ensure that their family businesses will survive the ongoing drought in California. We'll join each of them on site as they focus their attention towards these environmental issues.
And once you hear Molly Kimball's advice about the benefits of a daily glass of wine, you'll be glad these beverage makers are so disciplined. New research suggests that a little alcohol is great for a healthy heart: a perfect pairing, if you will. Should that not be enough for a perfect pairing, then turn to Scott Gold for his take on what makes a bowl of chili great, a great companion on a cold winter night.
For Antoine’s Restaurant, the oldest restaurant in New Orleans, 2015 marks its 175th birthday. And, naturally, events and promotions will unfold through the year tied to its long history and deep well of tradition. But, even as it celebrates its past, Antoine’s is also using this anniversary to introduce changes that are aimed squarely at the future, and even at its very survival.
For the past twenty years Dana Cowin has been Food & Wine's editor in chief, but has keep a secret from her readers. Despite being surrounded by food nearly every single day, she never learned how to cook. But with the help of her friends, many of them famous celebrity chefs, Dana has mastered her mistakes in the kitchen and learned some invaluable life skills along the way.
We're also joined by Tony Abu-Ganim, one of the world's leading mixologists. He's seen the profession go from being a secondary job to a respected career during his 30 years behind the bar and joins us to talk about the hardships he's encountered along that journey.
And for a set of bakers with roughly five years of experience on their hands, the crew at Bellegarde Bakery is making quite a name for themselves. We'll join Graison Gill and Brett Guadagnino at their Broadmoor bakery for an early morning baking session.
Picture some friends sharing and sampling a progression of small plates and you have a very modern portrait of casual dining. But, in another example of how new trends at the dinner table often reflect old customs, you can assemble that same scene around Turkish flavors and see a very traditional view of social dining. That’s one on display in New Orleans these days at an Uptown eatery called Mezze.
Sadly, we also lost some very good friends of ours. Michael Mizell-Nelson and Rudy Lombard both championed Louisiana's foodways and worked hard to preserve many of our customs and traditions. We'll revisit them one as time before we turn the page to another calendar year.
Scholar Michael Twitty says that during the holidays, "everybody's stuff is all mixed up." He speaks from experience: Michael's connected to Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa celebrations that keep him busy this time of year. He's one of the many guests who'll sit at our table to discuss how their holiday traditions are kept alive and why food is often at the center of those traditions.