Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Munchies: Gumbo Galore

New Orleans has been a bit gray and rainy lately, but that didn't stop Dan and I from stopping by the second annual Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival yesterday afternoon. From our apartment on Ursulines, we strolled a few quick blocks to the Jazz & Heritage Center on Rampart Street. Loud gospel-style jazz emanated from the open space behind the center, where, besides the large white tent containing the stage, lay several covered arts-and-crafts booths.

Although we were tempted to browse the interesting creations on display, being the foodies that we are, we made a beeline for the four food stalls, each of which offered a variation on traditional gumbo, among other delicacies. Our first stop was the TCA Brocato booth, where we each purchased a $2 sample cup of chicken and andouille gumbo. Less thick than the gumbo we're used to, this one nonetheless had a flavorful broth – and the sausage wasn't bad either.

Afterward, we each tried the seafood gumbo from Ms. Linda's Catering. As the lady filled our sample cups with white rice, steaming broth, and crab claws, I wondered if it would be skimpy on the seafood, but no, there were probably more tiny shrimp and pieces of crab meat in the little cup than there often are in the normal-sized bowls at tourist traps like the Gumbo Shop. Though it was indeed a tasty gumbo, the first one was still a mite better.

For our final tastes of the day, we shared a sample cup at each of the last two booths – The Praline Connection, a popular eatery in the Faubourg Marigny that was offering a tomato-based okra and sausage gumbo for which I opted, and Li'l Dizzy's Café, another Marigny joint that was serving an interesting Creole filé gumbo that Danny chose. Ultimately, our favorite selection remained the first one, but we still enjoyed the variety of flavors. How could we not? The sun might not have been shining, but the jazz music was incredible, our beloved Saints had won their 13th game just an hour earlier, and I even managed to find a unique Christmas present for my mom.

Now, if only I could finish the rest of my holiday shopping list. Sigh.

22 comments:

Matthew Delman said...

Grrr ... now you make me want gumbo. How dare you? :P

One of my travel rules is that I have to sample local delicacies whenever I travel. Before I moved to New England permanently, this meant I had to eat clam chowder every time I came here. I've also had Philly cheese steaks while in Philadelphia (it makes me sad that most people don't know the difference between a Philly cheese steak and a steak and cheese).

Now I'm going to have to travel to New Orleans so I can have gumbo. *shakes fist at Laura*

Bane of Anubis said...

Eck, gumbo! Crazy Cajuns!

Deb@RGRamblings said...

Those all look good! I love soup, all kinds of soup, lots and lots of warm yummy soup. :)

Laura Martone said...

Oops, sorry, Matt. *she says, grinning, not really sorry at all* I love sampling local delicacies when I travel. I, too, have to eat clam chowder and steamed mussels every time I visit New England. But, alas, I've never been to Philadelphia and have never, gulp, had a Philly cheese steak. So, therefore, I'm probably one of those people who couldn't tell you what it is exactly. Oops. Sorry again. *not really*

Oh, and if you're ever in New Orleans, look me up. I'll show you where the good gumbo's at. Now, put that fist away - it's yummy stuff.

Bane - Yep, that's me!

Deb - Ooh, me, too! Me, too! I love soup of all kinds... it's especially good on a cold, rainy day like today.

L. T. Host said...

Ok, showing my colors here-- what exactly is gumbo? It's like jambalaya, I've never really known exactly what it's supposed to be, even though I hear about it all the time.

Matthew Delman said...

A Philly cheese steak involves flank steak cut thin and sauteed, with mushrooms, onions, and peppers (red and green) sauteed in oil and served on a hoagie roll. With melted American cheese of course.

A "steak and cheese" is precisely that. Steak and cheese. Nothing else.

If you really want a fantabulous grilled sandwich though, head to my hometown of Binghamton, NY and pick up a spiedie from Lupo's S&S Char Pit on West State Street. You'll love it.

I'm currently debating actually ordering some product from their website actually. I didn't realize they shipped it out!

Becky said...

I love gumbo! Our first cat was named "Gumbo". Anything with okra is fine by me, but especially miss the wonderful seafood Gumbo that's so good there! Shrimp po-boy, gumbo... I told you to be nice to me..... (tapping my foot)...

BTW That first bowl looks like it has a finger floating in it LOL! (people Gumbo...?)

Laura Martone said...

No worries, L.T. Gumbo is a regional delicacy, after all. Wow, but how to describe it. Hmm... there are so many different ways to prepare it, as my post indicates. But a traditional gumbo should start with a roux (a thick base made of flour and oil/butter). The best, for me, is when it's thick and brown - flavorful but not too spicy - and perfect over rice. Seafood gumbo is good - usually with crawfish, shrimp, crab meat, and oysters - but chicken and andouille (a kind of spicy sausage) gumbo is yummy as well. My hubby makes a terrific gumbo - he usually combines the seafood and sausage. Other ingredients might include celery, tomatoes, and okra (ooh, I love me some okra).

As Danny just said (when I asked him about the specifics), "It's the soup of the South - especially Louisiana." And it's mmm-mmm-good! (No matter what Bane says!)

Laura Martone said...

Thanks, Matt. I actually suspected that the difference was onions and peppers, but I wasn't certain. Sounds yummy - and totally diet-busting. I love ordering local delicacies, by the way - Dan and I have actually been known to order Giordano's pizza from afar! Great - now, I'm starving. ;-)

Oh, Becky, that's right! I forgot that your cat was named Gumbo - that's hilarious! Like you, I especially love gumbo with okra. Hey, speaking of okra, I just bought some - and I want to prepare it today, but I want to avoid the slime. Any suggestions? P.S. I AM being nice to you. I'm encouraging you to remember all the good food memories from your days in NOLA. It's not my fault you moved back to the PNW. So, phlbbt! P.P.S. OMG, you're right! It does look like a finger. Oh, wow, what did I eat yesterday? I could've sued TCA Brocato if I'd been thinking straight!

Becky said...

N.O. is such a foodie haven! As to the okra, I slice it into thin "coins" (cross section?), put it in a plastic bag with equal amounts flour and cornmeat (and salt to taste), shake until it's coated (the slime helps with this), then fry it in a (medium heat) skillet with just enough oil to coat the pieces, but not to soak... usually a few tablespoons. I guess this would be a saute rather than a fry?!? Anyway, cook until brown and tender. Yum!!!!! I guess it's kind of like you'd make fried zuchini. I could eat that everyday. My kids LOVE it too! Some family members put tabasco on it at the table. I just like it "plain". I'll be there at 7.... (I wish!)

Laura Martone said...

Thanks, Becky! I'll give it a go later. Mmm... I can't wait!

Oh, and of course, you're welcome to come over - anytime. :-)

Marguerite said...

You know, that gumbo all looks fabulous! Glad you got to sample so many different kinds. Seafood is my fave! I've never thought of gumbo as being a soup. lol

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I'm freezing right now, typing with cold fingers, and that gumbo looks so nice and hot and tasty! Yum! I'd be happy if I could just hold it for a few minutes! :)

Donna Hole said...

Good God, that's the grossest looking mess I've seen in a bowel in a long time. Eeeww!

White clam chowder; that's soup.

........dhole

Laura Martone said...

Hey, Becky! I did it! I made the fried okra tonight - next week's Monday Munchies will tell the saga. :-)

Hi, Marguerite! LOL! I don't typically think of gumbo as soup either, but most of the ones above had a distinctly soupy vibe. Seafood gumbo is my fave, too!

Oh, Shannon! I'm sorry you're freezing right now. It was pretty chilly on Sunday down here - and the gumbo was just the thing! I hope you get warm soon. :-)

Well, harumph on you, Donna. I love clam chowder, for sure, but there's nothing like good gumbo. Nothing. Even my hubby - the clam chowder aficionado - agrees, so there!

Becky said...

>> panic attack << I hope it turned out good!

Martha W said...

Oh, yummy! I always end up hungry when I stop by here on Mondays! *grin* So, now I am off to forage for a little snack... hee hee!

Laura Martone said...

Hi, Becky! The okra was indeed yummy - I'm just not certain I did it right. Course, it was my first attempt at anything but steaming it. I think the biggest problem is that I ate too much of it. Yes, it's indeed possible to overeat - even on yummy okra.

Yay, Martha! Food is a good thing - maybe the best of things. Enjoy your snack! Muhahaha!

Becky said...

Whew!

Laura Martone said...

Oh, Becky, you worry too much, my dear. ;-)

Becky said...

That's what I say about my mom, and what DH says about me LOL. I guess it's in my genes.....

Laura Martone said...

I have the same genes, methinks. Dan believes I worry way too much... about everything. And I say - "Well, both my grandmas did, too. Guess I got it from them."

Yoga helps. So does red wine. ;-)