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Friday, November 19, 2010

Laissez les bons temps BEAUSOLEIL!!!

Take Away - Shrimp and Risotto Fritters

A new restaurant is always a welcomed addition to Baton Rouge.  Since 2005, the population (and traffic) has skyrocketed rather quickly while the (non-chain) restaurant selection has taken a little longer to catch up.  However, the latest endeavor by a few seasoned restaurateurs will absolutely go a long way in helping balance the karma of population with food selection.  Jeff Conaway and Nathan Gresham, formerly of Galatoire's Bistro, and Michael Boudreaux and Kenny Juban, both of Juban's Creole Restaurant, have combined forces to bring a real restaurant contender to the Red Stick...

With Beausoleil, there commeth a food destination that offers three extremely important qualities to this fat man: 1) excellent food, 2) reasonable prices and 3) a comfortable spot to place my rather large rear end.

When translated into classic French, Beausoleil means "lovely sun."  In Cajun French, it means "sunshine."  Either way, this restaurant is providing a new ray of light to the Baton Rouge dining scene.

Jeff's wife (and our friend) Camille, was nice enough to invite some friends from the 4th floor of the Capitol to taste some of the trial run treats that the restaurant had to offer on opening night.

Stephen and Colleen Waguespack with Kristy Nichols

The tasting menu included: Fried Oysters with creamy truffle vinaigrette; Duck Confit and baby arugula in phyllo with goat cheese; Mussels Bienvielle; Crabcakes with a spicy aioli; Fried Green Tomatoes topped with a tasting of hogshead cheese; Escargot in puff pastry with brie; Shrimp and Risotto Fritters and fresh pork and duck cracklins.

Melissa Sellers, Kyle Plotkin, Anna Dearmon and Jeff Conaway

Nial Patel and Camille Conaway

Did I just type fresh pork cracklin?  Yes.  In fact, upon your seating at this unique establishment, you will not be greeted by standard bread and butter that has seen the refrigerator one too many times.  No sir (or ma'am)!!!  Instead, you will be treated to a tasting of warm pork cracklin.  Sugar bust that!

The lunch menu is not extremely long (which I like), but certainly runs the range of options.  Some examples of choices are:  Grilled Leg of Rabbit over stewed collard greens then finished with a garlic confit bacon jus ; House-made Biscuit with Boneless Fried Chicken Breast topped with country sausage gravy; Fried Mississippi Catfish topped with a rich tomato court-bouillion stew served over rice and (thankfully) Grits and Grillades.  Also...the side dishes range from Duck Confit Hash to Crispy Onion Rings to Bacon.  I'm not kidding.

Hogshead Cheese atop Fried Green Tomatoes
Warm Cracklins

Dinner takes it to the next level with Grilled Jumbo Shrimp over roasted bell pepper risotto with andouille gravy; Marinated Grilled Flat Iron Steak with frites and chimichurri butter or Flattened and Grilled Chicken Paillard with bacon lardon, crispy shallot rings and sliced tomatoes with lemon caper beurre blanc on a bed of baby spinach.

Escargot in Puff Pastry with Brie

In total, it is like several of New Orleans' better restaurant concepts formed a cult and fled to Baton Rouge where no one would ever find them. . . 

Well, we did. . . Since its opening, Beausoleil has been a packed spot for people looking to eat.  However, seating happens rather quickly and the food is definitely worth it.  The bar is a great place to wait as well, since there is no real barrier between the bar, the high top tables and the rest of the restaurant.  Thus, you feel like you are already a part of the flock, even while wetting you beak. 

So, friend, my advice to you with regard to this French Fulgor is to eat early and/or eat often.  Either way, just get there and eat.  It's gewd.

Will be getting Jeff and/or Camille to get me this recipe for the Shrimp and Risotto Fritters ASAP.  Thus, standby.... 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tranquility brought me back!!

Take Away - Broadwell Smoked Brisket
I acknowledge that it has been too long since a new entry and recipe.  Truth be told, I have been a bit busy and neglected the site.  However, a recent visit to a friend's family "place" (coupled with the food that we ate) was enough to breathe life back into thekingfishmenu.  The commeth of the recent cold spell inspired a tribute to the last days of pool life, BBQ and the dawg days of summer..
James Melchers launching his wife's dog into the pool at Tranquility

Jay Broadwell and I became friends shortly after were introduced a few years ago by our buddy, Zach Materne.  A group of us used to sit out on Zach's porch every Tuesday (Stoopday) evening and solve the world's problems over a few beers.  Though the event became extremely well attended, we eventually fell out of practice.  These days, Jay and I see each other most frequently when we tailgate together for Saints games.

To rectify the sometimes infrequent visits, Jay and his wife Anne invited a group of regular tailgating friends to Jay's family "place on the water."  All I had to hear was the word "water," and I was in... so I did not quite catch everything that Jay said when he invited us.

I heard something about about "at Tranquility" and "outside of Slidell."  Thus, I assumed we were heading to some sort of waterfront neighborhood area.  Neither Mollie nor I minded that we would probably be in cramped quarters with so many people staying at someone's family camp.  We were obviously in for a surprise....

Mollie and I arrived at Jay's on a Friday evening, after first thinking that we were totally lost.  We passed a neighborhood or two, but could not find the house number.  My GPS kept telling me that the neighborhood was supposed to be in a certain spot, but all that was there was a large iron gate with no house in site.  Finally, we called Jay. He told us to pull up to the iron gate. . .

As it turns out, "Tranquility" is not a neighborhood.  Tranquility is over 200 acres that Jay's family owns.  Upon that acreage, there sits an iron gate at the front of the property.  Behind that iron gate winds a very very very long driveway.  At the end of that driveway sits a very impressive 4 bedroom house.  Next to that impressive 4 bedroom house sits an EXTREMELY impressive brick pit that is certainly capable of cooking a full size pig.  This was the start to a good weekend.

It was not until later that I truly realized that the impressive 4 bedroom house was actually not the main house at Tranquility.  The larger main house revealed itself the next morning when I stepped out onto the balcony of the "pool house" in which we were staying.  To say the least, the place was not tiny, and it came complete with tennis courts, gardens, extremely strange looking chickens, riding trails, motorcycles and a shooting range.
Jay Broadwell taking a break from brisket preparation
Jena showing off her shooting skills

Captain Materne losing control of his vehicle
However, to be honest, it was the food and the company that made the weekend.  Eighteen of us (plus four dogs) swam, shot, rode boats and bikes, cooked, drank and ate.  The menu consisted of everything delicious and nothing good for you:  crawfish pies, shrimp pasta, red rice with mushrooms, hashbrown casserole, macaroni and cheese, emergency quesadillas (late night), Jenna's fantastic bacon biscuits and.....some of the best brisket I have ever tasted!!

I am not really sure how everyone actually functioned after eating the amount of food that we cooked. I can only surmise that the adrenaline from running and swimming around the adult theme park fueled the the group's appetite beyond normal capacity.

By the time the Saints game kicked off on Sunday afternoon, the guns and sounds of ATVs had silenced, as everyone began to settle into somewhat of a food coma.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I give the weekend an 11. 

The latest addition to the Materne family was still going at kickoff
Trooper Bruce having a good time on his birthday weekend

Before we get to the recipe, I have to thank Jason Van Haverbeke for taking all of these fantastic pictures.  Mollie and I are actually planning on using a picture he recently took of us as a holiday card.  I truly wish we would have thought of using him for our wedding.  Jason's company is VH PhotoGraphix, his website is and his contact information is

Broadwell's Smoked Brisket
  • Untrimmed select brisket (size does not matter)
  • Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Cayenne Powder
  • Pam
  • Seasoning Salt or Tony Chachere's
Trim some of the fat from the brisket until it is around 1/4 of an inch.  Score both sides with 1 inch wide lines. Work a generous amount of Worcestershire sauce into the meat. Thereafter, layer (in this order) a coating of garlic powder then onion powder then cayenne powder.  Utilize the Pam for adhesion. Note:  The Pam will bubble, but it is not a problem.  Finish with seasoning salt or Tony Chachere's.  Thereafter, manually work all of the wet rub into the score lines so that both sides of the meat are evenly coated.

Smoke fat side down over indirect heat for 1.5 hrs per lb using water logged mesquite and water oak (Jay says that the ideal temperature for smoking is below 150).  Thereafter, place the smoked meat in a pan with 2 inches of water.  Cover and cook at 220 degrees for three to four hours until tender. Slice thin against the grain using water as marinade.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Beverly Hogs 90210

Take Away - Cochon de Lait Sandwiches

Today is September 2, 2010.  To many, that may seem like just another day in the year of our Lord, 2010.  However, to those of us who were not in a coma during the 1990's, the numeric significance of today is a little more important....I'll explain more. . .

Written out in pure number form, today is 9/02/10 or 90210

Yes that's right, 90210!  To those of you who had even a portion of your youth occur during the 1990's, the theme song to a certain television show (which stimulated the obsession of every teenager in the country) may be running through your head at this moment.  And please, don't deny it.... 

Today is a day that inspires you to think back to your old friends at West Beverly High and the drama that inspired a nation to whip out tapered acid wash jeans, roll up its t-shirt sleeves and/or put on some flannel Tommy Hilfiger shirts and Z Cavaricis or Girbauds. 

I may sound crazy at this moment, but you know (if you think long and hard) that you can name about 10 things in your house from the 90's that should have been thrown away with Y2K. 

HOWEVER, deep down in places you don't like to talk about, you always wanted to have the chance to wear these throwback items again. Well, now is your chance. . .   

My friends Becker Hall and Rene Louapre were acutely aware that this day would come, and they have decided to take full advantage of its significance with a charity event that is not to be missed!!  It is called the Beverly Hogs 90210 Party.

Becker and Rene invite all of us to a 90's costume party like no other, and they have convinced the owners of Lucy's (New Orleans) to turn the upstairs into the Peach Pit After Dark.  I am not making this up.  Admission is free and Lucy's will be running drink specials with a portion of the proceeds to go towards Hogs For The Cause, a fantastic charity that raises money for pediatric cancer.  In fact, if you respond that you will attend the event on the following website, Lucy's will donate more money per head.

Let me tell you a little about Hogs for the cause.  In the latter half of 2008, Becker contacted Rene about roasting a hog.  This may sound like a spontaneous request, but Becker was waxing nostalgic for his college days when a cochon de lait (suckling pig roast) was a regular occurrence at his fraternity house during football season.  Coincidentally, Rene was already on the same page.  Being quite the chef, Rene was fully ready to once again feed the masses via el gordo cerdo.

Thus, the barrister and the investment banker struck a pretty simple and symbiotic win-win agreement.  Rene would cook the pig to feed the masses, and Becker would watch and consume massive amounts of alcohol.

A month later, the two started thinking about the uniqueness of the event and decided that they really should try to have a charitable ambition in mind and really evolve this idea into a non-profit.  Within days, Hogs For The Cause was created.
The name was unusual, but the cause noble.

In its first year Hogs for the Cause raised close to $10,000 for pediatric cancer patients.  Specifically, Becker and Rene were focused on Ben Sarrat Jr., who had just been diagnosed with a rare form of pediatric brain cancer.  Hogs donated all of the proceeds to the Ben Sarrat Jr. Fund. Along with an amazing response from attendees, Becker and Rene's relationship with Ben Jr. and the Sarrat family strengthened their education on pediatric cancer and became the the impetus to really progress Hogs For The Cause to the next level.

Rene (left) and Becker (right) with Ben Sarrat, Jr.

In its second year, Hogs reached out and included more of the community. The pig roast was opened to competitors from the city, state and region.  Over 27 teams competed for the title of Louisiana’s Pork Cook-Off Champion.  Teams were not only judged on their food, but also on how much money they could raise. The competitive desire to win led to initiatives such as one team creating a Lombardi Trophy made out of bacon and charging for people to take a photo with it.  Not a joke.  Hogs was able to raise close to $30,000.

Bacon Lombardi Trophy

Sadly, Ben lost his fight with his form of pediatric cancer a week before the 2010 event was to take place. However, the passing of their young friend only furthered Becker and Rene's resolve to do all they could to help families who are forced to handle such an immense burden.

The mission is now more defined and simple, to use Hogs for the Cause to help relieve the economic burdens imposed on families whose children are undergoing treatment.  Hogs now aims to become the premier funding source for pediatric cancer outreach services in the United States. In working towards this goal, Becker and Rene are shooting to raise revenues in excess of $300,000 in 2011. 

The 90210 event tonight will give Hogs a chance to warm up for their ambitious and fantastic 2011 fundraising season.  It will also give you a chance to really be a part of something fantastic whilst pulling out those "terrible clothes" that your wife has been telling you need to go in the garbage (sorry Mollie).

So come join Becker, Rene, Brandon & Brenda Walsh, Kelly Taylor, Donna Martin, Dylan McKay, Steve Sanders, David Silver and Andrea Zuckerman as we jam to 1990's songs with the Lucy's Crew and raise money for an extremely noble cause.  And please, don't bring any of these people...

Doors open at 5 p.m.  For more information, email Becker at

Cochon del Lait Sandwiches (courtesy of John Folse)

This is totally cheating, but when you don't have a whole hog on works. Try this recipe with either pork butt or a fresh pork ham cut to size by your local butcher. Cooking times will vary depending on the size of the roast. Just remember to cook until fork tender. Cooking the pork one day in advance helps.

1 (5-6 pound) pork butt
6 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup sliced green onions
1/8 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp basil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 onion, quartered
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a small mixing bowl combine garlic, green onions, thyme, basil, salt and peppers. Using a paring knife, pierce eight (1-inch) holes evenly across the roast and fill each with an equal amount of seasoning mixture. Season the roast completely on the outside with additional salt. In a 12-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown roast on all sides. Add onions, celery and carrots. Cover pot, place in oven and bake 2½-3 hours or until fork tender. When the roast is tender, remove the cover and brown 15-20 minutes. The next day, slice meat and serve on bread for a delicious pork sandwich.

Monday, August 30, 2010

And the Beat Goes On....

Take Away - Commander's Palace Turtle Soup

As my 20's ran into my 30's, there are a variety of things that I have done and not done.  There are also a variety of things I still need and want to do.  I'm just glad that I decided to base out of New Orleans to do, not do, need to do and want to do . . .them all. 

Yesterday, a person living anywhere in the country could turn on any given channel to see recaps of what happened 5 years ago.  Everyone had a story about where they were, where they evacuated to, what sort of damage they had, etc.  I chose not to watch.  I no longer care to. . .  

Having the good fortune to return to the Crescent City, I can only say that I no longer want to focus on images of water, x-marks, sadness or drama.  I think that stories and recaps can be cathartic, but on this particular issue, they no longer are for me. 

I was taught that it is impolite to point or stare at a lady when she stumbles, albeit briefly.  One should simply reach out and help her back up if close enough to assist, and then act like nothing happened.  Thus, for me, there is no need to dwell on the cliché stories that brought me to the 5th year after my city took a stumble and began to collect herself anew.

Instead, yesterday, I looked at pictures of what I would have missed had I not returned to do my small part in assisting the lady to regain her footing.  I thank God for the opportunity to have these images of things that I was able to realize as a result of sticking with my lady after she got back on her feet.

Had I not stayed here, there are new people that I would have never been able to meet and friends that I would have missed out on...

There are Jazz Fests that would have been unheard and under-consumed....

There are Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day celebrations that would have been uncaught....

There are Superbowl Championship spawned French Quarter celebrations that would have been too impromptu to attend . . .

There is the love that would have been undiscovered. . .  

I would say that there are a great deal of opportunities, events, moments and images that would have been undocumented and unmemorable. . .


I'm just grateful that I was here to see, hear and touch them all.  I'm still proud to call it home. . .

Recipe side note:

Saturday night I went to dinner at Commander's Palace with my sister, dad and Mollie.  For an appetizer I ordered the trio of soups.  Saturday evening's trio included duck and sausage gumbo, soft shell crab bisque and Commander's famous turtle soup.  As I started on the turtle soup, it occurred to me that there is really nothing more traditional and delicious (recipe-wise) that I could have been eating in light of this 5th year anniversary. 

Turtle Soup

10 ounces (2-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 pound turtle meat, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup minced celery (4 stalks)
2 medium onions, minced (2 medium)
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups tomato purée
1 quart beef stock NOTE: If turtle bones are available, add them to the beef bones when making the stock for this dish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, as needed
1/2 cup lemon juice
5 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced parsley
6 teaspoons dry sherry

Melt 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until the roux is light brown. Set aside.

In a 5-quart saucepan, melt the remaining butter and add turtle meat. Cook over high heat until the meat is brown. Add celery, onions, garlic and seasonings, and cook until the vegetables are transparent.
Add tomato purée, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the roux and cook over low heat, stirring, until the soup is smooth and thickened. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Add lemon juice, eggs and parsley.
Remove from heat and serve. At the table, add 1 teaspoon sherry to each soup plate.