mardi gras!
cajun/creole recipe round-up

Happy Mardi Gras, friends!

If you've been following this blog for long, you probably already know that creole and cajun fare, along with it's culture of origin, holds a very special place in this former resident's heart and tummy.  This time of year, that's doubly so, and I remain connected to the Mardi Gras revelry by cooking, sharing, eating, studying, and learning even more about the cuisine with which I am so enamored.

Though, in the States, most heavily concentrated in South Louisiana, Mardi Gras revelry can be found in cities all over the country.  Never ones to refuse a good party, residents of our our current stomping grounds, Austin, and surrounds, enjoy King Cake and crawfish as much as the next state, and the foods of its sister state are finding their way into the Central Texas food scene in a big way.  You could discover some of those gems at this link from the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide, A Creole Crawl in the Heart of Texas.  (The guide, in its entirety, will be updated this coming March, so be sure to check back for the newest suggestions in town, in Creole/Cajun fare, as well as over 80 other local categories.)

We've been cooking up a storm, too!  A few storms, in fact, but nothing like that hussy, Katrina, which so changed the landscape of South Louisiana.  But you can't keep a good thing down, and the charm, romance, and culinary culture of the Big Easy, as well as both the genteel plantations, and the rustic cajun countryside, endures.  And how!  Recent visits to the city, as well as off-the-beaten-path journeys along River Road,  left us just as joyfully satisfied as any time pre-storm, and we had the pleasure of eating our way through city, and country as well.

Below, find our round-up of links for our favorite haunts and beloved eats celebrating Mardi Gras, as well as every other day of the year.

Creole Seafood Gumbo (pictured at top), and tips for the process,as well as Creole Barbecue ShrimpShrimp Remouladeand a favorite feast, the Traditional Shrimp Boil for Two.

Fresh seafood is the first order of our visit anytime we get close to the Gulf, and shrimp is eaten, and toted home in big coolers to be stashed for the lean days when it can't be found in these parts, or any parts, for that matter.  We eat as much as we are able to, fresh, and store the rest.

We hit the surrounding areas from Laplace, the home of 'world famous' andouille and made Butter and Beer Braised Pak Choi with Tasso and Andouille, Cracklins Cornbread from our booty gathered at Poche's Market, near Lafayette, Fresh Butter Peas with Andouille, after hitting the vegetable stand in Baton Rouge, and then we tried our hand at charcuterie, creating a traditional Hogs Head Cheese, (without the hog's head, however) Beef Daube Glace, and using both to explain the difference between Creole and Cajun fare, as best we can, anyway.

We headed into the Big Easy late last spring, and picked up a pint of creole cream cheese, a local product on the endangered list, having only one producer at the time.  We took that as a sign, and learned as much about the product as we could, then made our own.  It's a refrigerator regular in our home, now.  And we no longer need to make the trek to Louisiana for our favorites, because we've begun to make our own King Cakes right here in the middle of Texas.  And that's a good thing, cher.  We also stuffed ourselves with muffulettas, as well as perfect roast beef poboys, chargrilled oysters, crawfish bisque, beignets, and several other must-not-miss meals for which we'll one day share recipes.  Right now, we just remember.....and dream of more.

New Orleans has a way of making a girl, or a guy, thirsty, what with the heat and all.  (Yeah, let's go with that.)  And whether you imbibe in the usual suspects, the Mint Julep, the Sazerac, or Pat O'Brien's iconic Hurricane, or step out for a tasty, wholesome sweet, syrupy snow ball in the city, or perhaps in the quaint small towns along the path, we've got the skinny on the best places, the histories, the recipes, where available, of each.  And should you catch yourself in the city on a stormy afternoon, not a rare occurrence, carry you'self over to City Park, in the middle of town, and enjoy all that New Orleans has to offer at NOMA, the New Orleans Museum of Art, home to Brennan's Cafe, if you're hungry for sophisticated regional goodies, or simply a slow saunter along the floors, among the collections.  Who knows who you might run into there?

 It is always a joy to share the good times of South Louisiana through its food, history, libations, attractions, and we look forward to sharing more.....we'll be back there soon!

Meanwhile, our tummies will growl until we can't stand it, right alongside yours, cher, and we'll head into the kitchen, pull out some flour and butter.....and get to work!  Think we'll have etouffee for dinner. Or maybe jambalaya.  Or perhaps oyster stew. How about courtbouillon?  What's Donald Link having tonight?  John Besh?  Paul Prudhomme?  Oh, my........  I may need an intervention.

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