Last night was D.'s 30th birthday (and the anniversary of our very first date). I've been addicted to a great website - http://www.nolacuisine.com/ - for some time now, and used some of the inspiration from Danno's recipe archive to create D.'s birthday dinner. I made seared filets topped with fried oysters and bearnaise sauce, with asparagus and good rose champage to offset it (please excuse the camera phone pics!). Danno's recipe archive is amazing, and you should definitely check it out if you like Cajun and Creole dishes:
Dinner started off with charbroiled oysters ala Drago's. We sat outside on our front porch with a bottle of Vouvray and 14 charbroiled oysters, with a bowl full of crusty French bread and a whopping huge citronella candle (which, for the record, DID NOT WORK, since my legs are covered with mosquito bites). D. was in rapturous suspense as he went to work on his oysters, and I'm pretty sure we'll be making a trip to Drago's soon. Originally, D. is from Kansas, so fried oysters and charbroiled oysters...well, hell, oysters of any kind...are new to him. Let's just say he's a convert. Here's the official recipe:
I used fresh parmesan instead of romano, and somewhat coarsely chopped the garlic. I added a little cayenne and some kosher salt (which I firmly contend that any southern cook needs!), and the results were great. If you ever have the luck to visit the Big Easy, a trip to Drago's in Fat City (Metairie) is a must. I'm just sayin'.
The Vouvray story is actually mildly funny. The wine selection came from a great article I had read in Food & Wine about wines from the Loire Valley. I had difficulty finding good and unshucked oysters filets in uptown, so I took a deep breath and entered the forbidden zone: Whole Foods. Generally, I detest Whole Foods. The food selection is great, but the prices are hideous and the customer base generally consists of yuppies with cloth shopping bags who fancy themselves hippies, at least until they hop into their gas-sucking Range Rovers. But yesterday's experience was surprisingly pleasant - the staff were really helpful and nice, and I walked out with two gorgeous filets and 14 oysters (and a new oyster knife, since mine were misplaced somewhere in Ft. Lauderdale). On my way to the counter, I noticed a cute lil' display for Vouvray, and I immediately thought of this article:
Food & Wine is one of three magazines to which I actually subscribe. Far from its pretentious name, it's full of really fun, creative recipes, and I've learned a lot about wine from it. They also sponsor the South Beach Wine & Food Festival every year, which is a lot of fun. Some people get starstruck by meeting actors...I was almost a babbling mess when I met Anthony Bourdain (whose quote on bearnaise titles this blog), Paula Deen and Jame Oliver.
So Vouvray, oyster knife, oysters and filets in hand, I made my way to the counter to check out...where the funniest thing happened. Have you ever seen "Reality Bites"? Remember the scene where Lelaina (Winona Ryder) is cut off financially by her parents, who are hoping she'll grow up and accept responsibility for her life? Her dad gives her a gas card and his wife's old BMW, and she promptly uses that gas card to pay for gas for random strangers in exchange for cash to pay her rent and credit card bills.
Vicky: All right, we're just trying to pay bills here, OK? So Troy, if you've got any money...
Lelaina: Money? Oh but whats money to an artist? To a philosopher? Its just green coloered paper that floats in and out of his life likfe snow. Its not anything you actually have to I don't know, work for, is it Troy?
Troy: No not if you have daddy's little gas card.
Where am I going with this? I SAW THIS HAPPEN AT WHOLE FOODS YESTERDAY! This intensely vegan early-twentysomething was rampaging through the check-out lines looking for cash in exchange for use of Daddy's Whole Foods card (no doubt her graduation gift from Tulane). She was desperate - "I have to pay my phone bill and rent." Like most late twenty-somethings, I'm dependent on my check card, so I couldn't help her out. But all I could think about was:
Troy: I'm gonna turn on the tv and there Bryant Gumble will be and he'll say, 'Today we have with us the Pulitzer-prize winning documentarian Lelaina Pierce. Lelaina, after your first film, 'Why Barbie is Bad', you seemed to have forgotten all about your best friend, Troy Dyer.'
Lelaina: Troy... who? What was that name again? Oh, right through the heart!
Troy: I'll probably be working at Whole Foods you know, playing warehouses and hanging around places like the Radio Shack screaming that I used to know you and you'll be there in the lights and all beautiful and shit.
Lelaina: Oh, Troy, no no no no no, that would never happen. They'd never HIRE you at Whole Foods.
Dinner was really good, and despite my worries, the bearnaise actually came out pretty well. Hooray! See? He's a fan.
I also made D. a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting - if you want the recipe, let me know. I tend to amp up the carrot presence in the cake, and I usually omit raisins and nuts. I like the carrot to speak for itself. We actually just had some of the cake for breakfast with poinsettias (champagne and cranberry juice)...very decadent, right? But it was worth it, easily.
I really hope I fit into my black suit for Monday's business trip to D.C...that's now somewhat in doubt, after last night. Heh...