Friday, May 29, 2009

New Orleans: Michael Stern

Jane and Michael Stern coined the phrase Roadfood over 30 years ago to describe food “from the highways and byways”, or as they put it so succinctly at a recent roundtabe, Roadfood is food “that is true to itself and true to its location.”. Regular contributors to Gourmet magazine with a series of successful books under their belt and an almost cult-like following on the web, the Sterns now have a talk show on NPR.

Michael Stern took some time out from the New Orleans Roadfood Festival to talk about Los Angeles Roadfood, greasy eats, and one of his favorite guilty pleasures.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Orleans: Fais Do Do

The fais-do-do was held at The Bayou Barn, a giant barn in Baritaria. There was boiled shrimp, potatoes and corn, bread and jambalaya on the main buffet. The spices had plenty of time to soak into the shrimp, so it was very flavorful, even though it's harder to peel than crawfish.

There were boiled crawfish, which could have used a little more spice, but were tender and delicious. I think they were turning the later batches over so fast they weren't as spicy.

I had the most fun throwing the live ones to the gators that lurked at water's edge, waiting for a handout, no pun intended. One woman sidled up to me and said, "They can run faster than you can, you know." But they can't make fast turns, so remember that if you are ever being chased by an alligator. And they can't climb trees. Or drive cars. Or shoot guns. Come to think of it, I am way scarier than a gator.

Crawfish have many uses. Like freaking people out.

The setup:

The attack!!!!

There was also a pig roasted over green oak. I didn't know green wood burned, but what do I know. The pig was 2 years old, had been cooking since 6am, and his name was Fred. The meat of the cochon de lait was sweet and succulent. It may have been my favorite thing on the menu.


There was a zydeco band, dancing and fun.

They had a Roadfood jingle contest. We were supposed to work in groups, but between eating, drinking, playing with alligators and chasing people around with live crawfish, time got away from me.

Bob wrote this one up on the spur of the moment:

Crap fast food just ain't for me
Tates like the floor of a factory
And Ronald McDonald you're no friend of mine
'Cause I like food thats made by hand
From the salt of the earth
and the fat of the land
Get some Roadfood, and Buddy, you're doin' fine

I tried some "swamp water" which is made from lots of alcohol, orange juice, pineapple juice, and I swear to God, snowball syrup. As the buses drove us back through the dark swamps, I was grateful I didn't discover the swamp juice until the very end of the night.


Orange juice (2 quarts)
Margarita mix (1 bottle)
Peach Schnapps (1/2 bottle)
Malibu Rum (1/2 bottle)
Pineapple juice (2 quarts)
Triple Sec (1/4 bottle)
Vodka (to taste)
Praline flavored snowball syrup concentrate
Blueberry flavored snowball syrup concentrate

The Roadfood Report

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Get on There Boy! Seeing Double Paula Deens

Melanie Hutsell as Paula Deen - with Paula Deen. The Robert Deniro meets Robert Deniro sketch is getting a run for its money.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

There's No Biz like Sno Bliz

We stopped at Hansen's Sno Bliz for shaved ice treats. What's the difference between a sno cone, a sno ball and a sno bliz?

According to, a snowball is defined as "hard, crunchy, grated ice is doused with moderate amounts of syrup..." A sno ball "looks like a snow cone but feels more like actual snow than hard ice chunks." It is often topped with condensed milk.

Sno Bliz is the home of the sno ball, where they invented the machine that shaves the ice into flurries as light as air. They still use the original machine.

At Sno Bliz they layer ice and syrup to make sure the ice is fully saturated. When I asked the difference between a snowball and a snow bliz, they said, "well, it is our brand name." They also have a flavor called "bliz" that most people liken to tart strawberry. I love that they have a size called "baby duper".

There are special flavors including "cream" flavors, "plain" flavors, and "tart" flavors, including cream of almond, cream of marshmallow, cream of blueberry, spearmint, banana and bubblegum. To make it simple for the Roadfood special event, the choices were narrowed to only three: Strawberry, Tart Satsuma and Cream of Nectar.

I chose the "nectar" flavor because it was new and exciting. They could only describe the flavor to me as "sweet". It was similar to cream soda. Bob ordered the satsuma, which was so startlingly tart it made you gleak. You could order it with or without condensed milk. Almost everyone chooses the condensed milk.

The Roadfood review

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New Orleans Roadfood Fest Day 1

OK, there IS a story behind this... Michael Stern of Roadfood

After the second line parade, the festival was all about the food. There were Budweiser booths, and the following participants (I checked off the ones I ate over the course of the weekend with an X):

Lasyone's Meat Pie Restaurant
Meat Pies X
Crawfish Pies X

Dunbar's Seafood
Famous Fried Catfish X
Potato Salad X

Cafe Reconcile
White Beans
Banana Foster Bread Pudding

Creole Hot Sausage Po-Boy
Creole Crawfish Sausage Po-Boy X

Saltwater Grill
Fried Green Tomato Shrimp Remoulade Po-boy
Crawfish and Spinach Boat

Tabasco Country Store
Gator on a Stick

Plum Street Snowball
Snowballs X

Deli at the Cellars
Shrimp Remoulade Po-Boy

The Que Crawl
Cochon de Lait Po-Boy X
12 Hour Roast Beef w/ Horseradish Cream and Pickled Red Onions
Fresh Cut French Fries
Duck Cracklins X

Dave's Cajun Kitchen
Seafood Gumbo
Smoked Turkey Legs
Red Beans with Smoked Sausage X

Chad's Bistro
Alligator Etouffe Over Creamy Grits
Shrimp Pasta
Fried Shrimp Balls X
Fried Artichoke Hearts X

Duck gumbo
BBQ shrimp and corn on the cob

Our first stop was Dave's Cajun Kitchen for Red Beans with Smoked Sausage. Or maybe I should call it the cup o' sausage. The entire sausage was a bit unwieldy for walking-around food, but still pretty darn good.

The crawfish sausage po'boy from Vaucresson was Bob's favorite selection.

Even though we didn't eat the shrimp, we took pics. I snuck in the second one piggybacking on Michael's photo.

Frying up the meat pies

The fries that came with the meat pies were nicely spiced and perfectly fried.

The crowd was happy...a good turnout, but not so crowded as to be uncomfortable.

The Que Crawl, a local lunch truck also known as "The big purple bus" did not put its duck cracklins on the board, you had to know to order them "off the menu." The cracklins were the standout of the festival for me, heavily spiced explosions of pure fat. The truck rocked, and not just because of all the cute boys working the truck.

Cochon de lait po boy with vinegar sauce and cracklins

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New Orleans Saturday: Roadfood Fest Po'Boy

Saturday the 1st annual New Orleans Roadfood Festival kicked off on Bourbon Street. The festival was timed to coincide with the 3rd annual Oyster Jubilee, which began around noon with the assembly of the world's longest oyster po'boy. Which begs the question, where is the world's longest shrimp po'boy and can I have some?

While we waited for the festivities to start, we stopped in at Cafe Beignet for a wake-up. It's no Cafe du Monde, but the coffee was good and the beignet were doughier, made with more of an egg batter.

Various local restaurants, from Acme to Galatoures participated, each building a portion of the block-long sandwich. Folks crowded around, and people with particular preferences made a point to reserve a spot near their favorite eatery.

I believe my first slice of sandwich was from House of Blues, and the second was from Zia's or Acme, which also loaded their po boy with shrimp. I was impressed that it was a free-for-all, and they were not selling the sandwich. I was even more impressed that there was no pushing and shoving; no wild feeding frenzy. The crowd was polite and patient. In fact, they were friendly and as happy as could be.

The group second-lined down to the Festival, one block over on Royal for the Roadfood Fest. Coincidentally, the brass band was the Storyville Stompers, the same band from our wedding. So altogether, this is the third time we have second-lined with them. But the fun was just getting started!