Discover more from The Bittman Project
Last Call for a Chance to Win the Bittman Sampler Box From Sitka Salmon Shares
Plus, a little armchair travel feasting in New Orleans
Today, we’ve got Kayla Stewart with some armchair travel dining, this time, to New Orleans for your Friday afternoon.
In the meantime, we’ve got a couple of hours left before our drawing for the Bittman Sampler Box from Sitka Salmon Shares. Two lucky subscribers will win a Bittman Sampler Box: 4.5 pounds of gillnet-caught sockeye salmon from Haines, Alaska, along with Pacific cod from Juneau, Alaska — a $130 value.
We’re giving away two Bittman Sampler Boxes this evening: Consider becoming a member today, since members will have three times the chance of winning over free subscribers. In addition, we’re giving away a month, free. That’s 13 months for the price of 12.
Membership affords special access to all content, seasonal recipe bundles, the Mark Bittman recipe archive, and members-only discounts on products like the Always Pan, Burlap & Barrel spices, New West Knifeworks, and more.
Thanks for reading and for your support.
What I Ate in New Orleans
I’m sort of ashamed to say that, prior to a recent reporting trip down South, I’d never had laksa, one of Southeast Asia’s prized noodle dishes. Imagine my surprise when my first experience with the dish was in New Orleans, where Creole and Cajun cuisine reign supreme.
Though those cuisines are the heart of New Orleans, the anatomy of the coastal city consists of growing immigrant populations, and a remarkable landscape of rich, diverse cuisines.
A bowl of laksa at Laksa NOLA
At the lauded St. Roch Market, chef Than Lin Regules shares her love of Burmese and Malaysian cuisine at Laksa NOLA through a wide range of rich, fragrant soups, generous noodle dishes, and street food favorites.
Because laksa is served across Southeast Asia in places such as Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia, the dish – which is often recognized through flavors of coconut milk and dried shrimp paste – can take many forms depending on where you are in the world. The restaurant’s interpretation provided a sorely needed comfort meal after a long weekend of work. Chunk egg noodles are submerged in a piquant coconut milk-based broth and flavored with shrimp and meat. Boiled egg, tofu, and bean sprouts round out the dish, along with chicken, since, the day I visited, they were out of shrimp. Turns out a curious condiment, a spicy apple blend sauce that’s both sweet and savory, really made the meal, culminating in a truly tremendous bowl of soup for a Monday afternoon.
Crab beignet at Loretta's Authentic Pralines
Loretta Harrison was a leading figure in New Orleans’ confectionery community. As the first Black woman to own and operate a thriving praline company in New Orleans’ French Quarter, her store, Loretta’s Authentic Pralines, has become a city institution. With two locations in New Orleans, Harrison broke barriers and helped transform the city’s sweets culture well into the 21st century. I’ve enjoyed many of the pralines at the shop, and after she passed away in February, I wrote about her life and work for Life & Thyme. I learned that Robert Harrison, one of Harrison’s children, is making good on a promise to his mother to continue her legacy, and the business continues to be one of the most beloved praline spots in town.
It’s not just pralines that made her a household name: She gets kudos for an array of creative confections including the sweet potato cookies, the rum-flavored praline, and the Mardi Gras cookie. Harrison flirted with savory flavors with New Orleans mainstays with her cheeseburger beignet and crab beignet.
During a leisurely walk through the French Quarter market, I grabbed a crab beignet, a sugarless beignet stuffed with a crab mixture, and served with a remoulade sauce. The bite-sized treat was perfect and was more like a mini-sandwich than a pastry.
Fried chicken and butter beans at Willie Mae's Scotch House
Do you know how confident a restaurant must be to offer butter beans as a standout side? That’s Willie Mae’s Scotch House for you – the nearly 50-year-old fried chicken joint that garners block-wrapping lines, even on weekdays. Biting into a piece of Willie Mae’s chicken feels almost religious – as if you're tasting a gift from above. And yet, the amiable staff, unassuming corner block location, and rousing mix of jazz and R&B music immediately place you in a sea of nostalgia back to an aunt’s or grandmother’s home. At Willie Mae’s, devouring exceptionally seasoned fried chicken, rich mac and cheese, flavorful butter beans in rice, a side that’s a meal in itself, it’s impossible to not feel right at home.