My girlfriends have been pestering me to cook them something since I’ve been home, and to appease them I decided to make one of their favorites, an easy no-bake cheesecake. I usually put this together in a 9×13 pan, but instead of trying to coordinate six schedules to get together and eat, I decided to make minis in aluminum loaf pans.
One thing I love about keeping this blog is that it makes me actually think about what I’m putting in my mouth. Revisiting some of my favorite Baton Rouge eateries with a more objective eye can either leave me slightly disappointed or remind me why I love a place. I hope that my readers learn something by keeping up with First Bite (like in the Jamaica or crawfish bisque posts) and learn to think about what they’re eating as well! Now, on to the sushi…
Tsunami is one of my favorite sushi restaurants in Baton Rouge (though to be fair, I think I’ve only visited 3). Though not nearly the first sushi restaurant in the city, it was the first place I tried sushi and I think played a major role in bringing sushi en vogue in Baton Rouge. The bar scene and rooftop Mississippi River view draw crowds in the evenings (or, they did a few years ago; the party may have moved elsewhere by now) and they have great happy hour drink and sushi specials. I love going in the late afternoon when the restaurant isn’t very busy and taking a table by the large windows overlooking the river, which is what I did Thursday.
I noticed recently that Baton Rouge has an abundance of Greek/Lebanese restaurants, including Albasha, Roman’s Cafe, and Serop’s Cafe, each with at least 4 locations around the Capital City. To my knowledge, Serop’s is the oldest, having been around since 1979. But somehow, I’ve never visited one. Spencer and I decided to drop by the location nearest us on Perkins Rd. today for lunch.
I thought it fitting to start my Baton Rouge reviewing with my favorite fast food joint in town. Raising Cane’s has 4 menu combos, all iterations of the one item they serve: chicken fingers.
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Crawfish bisque is a notoriously labor intensive Cajun delicacy. More a gumbo consistency than other thick, creamy seafood bisques that may immediately come to mind, what makes crawfish bisque special is the stuffed crawfish heads floating in the soup. My bisque making experience was basically a 2-day process (actually spanned 4, but could have been condensed into 2) which began with our Mother’s Day crawfish boil. We filled 2 gallon size zip-top bags with crawfish heads and refrigerated them until I was ready to clean them.
Cleaning crawfish heads is quite possibly the most disgusting task I have ever performed. Not sparing any of the details (misery loves company!), on Day 2 I had to scrape the yellow “fat” from the crawfish heads, which according to some sources is worth its weight in gold. This is what people are hoping to extract when they suck the heads of crawfish. Next, a gentle tug on the crawfish’s walking legs removes them and most of the internal organs. After a quick scrape with the back of a spoon to remove any leftovers, the crawfish’s “face” is snapped off. What’s left is a hollow tube perfect for stuffing.
Last Atlanta post in the queue! For my graduation luncheon, my family and I visited JCT Kitchen for some yummy Southern style bistro food. With a large party, we had to eat off of their special event menu, which proved to be nearly as good as their regular menu.
We were able to choose from:
- Tomato Soup; Fried Grafton Cheddar
- JCT Salad; Green Beans, Romaine, Spiced Pecans, Apples, Buttermilk Dressing
- Springer Mountain Fried Chicken; Macaroni and Cheese, Garlicky Green Beans
- Shrimp & Grits; Tim & Alice’s Red Mule Grits, crusty bread for sopping
- Sweet Water Battered Fish & Chips; Fries, “Sweet & Sour” Apple Slaw, ooo-eee sauce!!
- Ginger Bread-Pudding; Meyer Lemon Curd
- Georgia Pecan & Apple Fried Pies; Caramel, Cinnamon Ice cream
I tried to get photos and first bites of everything, but a girl’s gotta eat too! Many photos and family first bites after the jump.
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This next and final post on my Jamaica adventures (happily) consists only of things I tried. We’ll start off with…rum!
I had the opportunity to go on a tour of the Appleton Estate for a look at how rum is made. However, I think most people on the tour (including myself) were most looking forward to the tasting at the end. We started out by seeing the old methods of extracting cane juice from sugar cane and separating the brown sugar and molasses. We then got to see their “new” distillery and aging rooms. We were able to taste 5 or 6 different Appleton products, all of which were very good and quite strong. Appleton makes their own versions of a number of alcohols you may be familiar with, such as Coco (Malibu), Rum Cream (rum version of Bailey’s), and a coffee liqueur (comparable to Starbucks’?). An interesting tidbit: Check your bottle of rum for where it was made (Latin American country or elsewhere) and whether there is a number on the bottle. Latin American countries may list a number like “12″ to signify that the average age of the rums in the bottle is 12. However, countries on the British system, such as Jamaica, would list 12 signifying that the youngest rum in the bottle is 12 years old.
The evening after our Mother’s Day crawfish boil, I was craving a dessert and we’d run out of fresh strawberries! There wasn’t even any ice cream or candy in the house! After searching around, all I could find was a crisper drawer full of apples. With the help of my 75th Anniversary Joy of Cooking cookbook, I found a few short recipes for sweetening up apples. The one I originally wanted to make was for Honey Apples, but unfortunately my parents didn’t have any cider vinegar on hand. Instead, I modified a recipe for Sauteed Apples and Bacon, which luckily had a side note included in the case of omitting the bacon.
This recipe was very short and easy. Simply slice the apples, melt a few tablespoons of butter in a saucepan, and sauté the apples until they reach your desired level of softness. Then sprinkle with brown sugar and let it get nice and caramelized. These apples would have been great with a side of vanilla ice cream, but since we were out, I had to settle for a leftover shortcake cup (from the strawberries) and a dollop of whipped cream. Yum!
Mario and I FINALLY had a chance to visit the new hotspot in town, Varasano’s Pizzeria, for my last meal in Atlanta until ~August. Varasano’s is located at the bottom of the posh new high-rise Mezzo, and as many posh places require, you must valet park at the parking deck. I’m not sure if I should give this away or not, but we talked to the attendant and he told us we didn’t have to valet and could park ourselves in the back of the deck. Score! We went in and were promptly seated, which was pretty nice for a Friday night in Atlanta. Mario wanted to order his usual pepperoni pizza, but had to order the “house special” Nana’s (Mozzarella & Tomato Sauce with a Secret Blend of Italian Herbs), and add pepperoni. I decided to try the New Haven Clam with Clams, Mussels & Garlic in a white sauce. I also added mushrooms.
I made it back home in time for Mother’s Day, and I thought that our Mom’s Day meal was definitely a fitting “Back in Baton Rouge” post: CRAWFISH!
It has been such a long time since I’ve had boiled crawfish, so I was really excited when my mom said that was what she wanted to eat on her day. We bought these freshly boiled from Baton Rouge seafood staple, Tony’s Seafood. I was a little disappointed that my dad didn’t make them himself like usual, but Tony’s did an excellent job.
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