Posts Tagged ‘Bacon’

Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro – Lafayette, LA

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 by virginia


Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro was probably the nicest restaurant we went to on our Louisiana/Texas trip. We had eaten pretty casually while in New Orleans and were in the mood for something a little more upscale when we got to Lafayette. We hoped that J would be on her best behavior, but we also figured that it wouldn’t be too crowded on a Wednesday night so in case she did make a scene, she wouldn’t bother too many people.

The restaurant itself is in a beautiful space. There’s a big bar in front when you walk in, and the large room is split in two by a staircase to the upper level. The ceilings are tall and appeared to be painted tin with lots of intricate details. The hostess didn’t bat an eye when she saw us walk in with a baby, and after we settled J into a highchair, she brought over crayons and a coloring sheet – a good sign that this was a kid-friendly bistro.

After placing our order, we were presented with an amuse bouche made from beets. It had the consistency of an airy mousse and was savory and sweet at the same time. The amuse was a nice little spoonful to whet our appetites.

Beet amuse bouche

Amuse bouche featuring beets

The bread was sort of a flat, chewy loaf, served warm with flavored butter. After all the french bread we ate in New Orleans, it was a welcome change of pace. J was pretty content to only eat this bread for her meal.


Flat, chewy loaf of bread

We decided to share an appetizer to start. After two false starts (we tried to order bone marrow first, and then the rabbit bites, but they ended up being out of both), we finally settled on bacon wrapped dates stuffed with ricotta and pistachios. It’s a pretty classic salty/sweet combination, further enhanced by the rosemary-port glaze on the outside of the bacon. However, I wished the bacon was a bit crispier, as it wound up being more chewy. The ricotta in the middle added a nice creaminess that should have acted as a counterpoint to crispy bacon. Nevertheless, it was a nice little snack, and one that I may try to replicate at home.

The dates

Bacon wrapped dates stuffed with ricotta and toasted pistachios

For our entrees, I selected the Zapp’s Crawtator crusted drum while Josh chose the crispy duck. As usual, we swapped plates halfway through. The drum, which is a meaty local fish, was completely covered with crushed Zapp’s potato chips. The chips were still in good-sized pieces though, which I found a bit surprising, and the crust also wasn’t as crispy as I would have preferred. The Cajun seasoning on the chips were subtle and worked well with the mildly flavored fish. There was a crawfish cream sauce on top, which is what originally sold me on the dish. I was expecting something similar to etouffee, but it was more creamy and bisque-like, which wasn’t a bad thing. The dish came with a choice of a side and we opted for the duck fat fingerling potatoes. Although they looked a bit pale, they were actually well seasoned and pretty flavorful. It was a heavy dish overall though, so even though I did enjoy it, I was glad that we went halfsies.

Zapp's Crawtator crusted Louisiana drum with crawfish cream sauce, and a side of duck fat fingerling potatoes

Zapp’s Crawtator crusted Louisiana drum and a side of duck fat fingerling potatoes

The duck had gorgeous skin that was perfectly rendered and crispy, as advertised. The meat inside was tender, and the pecan-orange agro dolce was appropriately tangy and sweet. There wasn’t a lot of sauce covering the meat, which let the flavor of the duck shine. The grits on the side were a bit firmer and not as creamy as I prefer, but they had a nice sweet corn taste to them.

Crispy duck with sweet cream corn grits

Crispy duck with sweet cream corn grits

Overall, we were pretty happy with our dinner at Jolie’s. It was upscale food with a Creole twist, and I like that they support local farmers and the farm-to-table ideals. Although there were minor execution problems, I think the dishes were well thought out and interesting to eat. The restaurant is on the pricier side but in line with the quality of food we received. Starters and small plates mostly ranged from $11-$14, and there were lots of entrees between $20-$25. Service was great; everyone was friendly and attentive, making sure our water and wine glasses were always filled. It was just a pleasant meal in general, and a restaurant that I would recommend to visitors.

Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro
507 West Pinhook Rd.
Lafayette, LA

Country Pancake House and Restaurant

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010 by virginia

We were in NJ one weekend and went for brunch with Alice at the Country Pancake House and Restaurant in Ridgewood. It’s sort of like a homestyle diner, with a massive menu and even more massive portions. There’s a huge list of breakfast options, with many different kinds of eggs, omelettes, waffles, frittatas, etc., and, of course, pancakes. There are also multiple lunch/dinner options, with sandwiches, burgers, chicken, even seafood and steaks. Since it was still early, we decided to stick with the breakfast items, though there were so many choices that it was a bit overwhelming. We finally made our selections and settled in to munch on the basket of chocolate chip cornbread that they brought us.

Chocolate chip cornbread

The cornbread was sweet and fluffy, lightly toasted on the outside, and chock full of chocolate chips. They were a tad on the sweet side but still a pretty tasty way to start off the meal.

The restaurant also has a pretty extensive juice bar, so Josh decided to get a glass of cantaloupe and carrot juice. It was bright orange and a little frothy on top. Taste-wise, I thought the carrot flavor was stronger than the cantaloupe flavor. It was pretty refreshing though, with the natural sweetness of the vegetable and fruit shining through. I felt healthier just drinking a little bit of it.

Cantaloupe and carrot juice

For breakfast, I chose the country corned beef hash platter, which was a huge pile of corned beef hash topped with three poached eggs. It came with a side of home fries, but I substituted french fries, and two giant pancakes (I selected chocolate chip). The amount of food I got was just ridiculous, and there was no way for me to finish it all.

Corned beef hash, three poached eggs, french fries

The eggs were all perfectly poached, soft on the outside and runny on the inside. The corned beef has was nice and meaty, with not too much diced potato filler. It wasn’t overly salty, and when I mixed it with the egg yolks it became rich and velvety. The french fries were crispy and a little seasoned, just the way I like them.

Nicely poached eggs with runny yolks

The chocolate chip pancakes that came with my platter were the size of dinner plates, and there were two of them. They were light and fluffy and studded with lots of chips.

Chocolate chip pancakes

Both Josh and Alice chose the country spirit platter, which came with three eggs any style (they opted for over easy), bacon, sausage, ham, home fries, and pancakes. And no, it wasn’t a choice between bacon, sausage, or ham, the platter came with all three. They both also opted for blueberry pancakes, which were just as large as mine.

Blueberry pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs, ham, home fries

We barely made a dent in our platters though, and all around us, everyone was getting huge doggy bags to go. After we had eaten our fill, I combined all of our leftovers and ended up taking home four eggs, four pieces of bacon, two pieces of ham, one sausage, about a pound of home fries, a huge pile of corned beef hash, and a huge pile of french fries. On top of that, we had four pancakes left over, three blueberry and one chocolate chip. This amount of food lasted me the entire week. I ended up eating some of it for lunch and some of it for dinner.

Despite the insane amount of food we each received, everything was well prepared and properly cooked. All of our eggs were appropriately runny, the bacon was perfectly crispy, and everything was served hot. To top it off, our platters were under $10 each. How can you beat that?

I feel like there’s some sort of Man vs. Food challenge in here somewhere. Adam Richman – if you’re looking for a place to visit in the northern NJ area, the Country Pancake House and Restaurant definitely fits the bill!

Country Pancake House and Restaurant
140 East Ridgewood Ave.
Ridgewood, NJ


Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 by virginia

Josh and I are fans of brunch but we’re not big fans of the stereotypical “brunch scene.” We prefer low key places, preferably with cheap drink specials, that serve reliably good food. We also don’t wake up that early on weekend mornings so having a place that serves brunch late is also important. Occasionally, however, when we go out with a large group of people, we end up going to brunch places we normally wouldn’t attempt on a typical weekend. Such was the case when we were in a group of nine and tried to get a table at Jane in Greenwich Village during prime Sunday brunch hours.

In our defense, we had made a reservation for brunch knowing full well what the scene is like there. In their defense, half our party showed up late. However, they kept us waiting for well over an hour after that, and it didn’t appear that our table would have been ready at the designated reservation time regardless of whether or not everyone showed up on time. To make matters worse, it was pouring rain and there really is no space to wait inside the restaurant. There’s an awning outside but that was packed with people as well. Our table finally freed up, and we were led downstairs away from the main dining room. I honestly didn’t mind because it was a bit quieter downstairs and the tables are further apart.

We were pretty fed up at this point and quickly ordered a round of drinks. Josh and I both got bloody marys, and Jane makes one of the best versions that I’ve had. It’s tangy and spicy with lots of horseradish mixed in, and packs a decent alcoholic punch.

Spicy bloody marys

Next we attacked the bread basket while we looked over the menu. There were pieces of a crusty Italian bread, a cranberry and walnut wheat bread, and some peppery crispy crackers. The bread came with a sweet strawberry butter that I really enjoyed slathered on everything.

Basket of bread and sweet strawberry butter

Josh and I went halfsies on our entrees, choosing one from the “brunch” section of the menu and one from the “lunch” section. First was the Benedict Jane, which was poached eggs on crab and crawfish cakes with spinach and tarragon hollandaise. The eggs were poached pretty well, still runny on the inside, and the crab and crawfish cakes were pretty tasty. I also liked that it wasn’t drowning in hollandaise sauce, since we forgot to get it on the side. The accompanying roasted potatoes were pretty bad though, limp, soggy, and greasy.

Benedict Jane

Our lunch entree was the BLT & E, which was bacon, lettuce, tomato, and a sunny side up egg on a ciabatta roll with lemon aioli. The sandwich was absolutely fantastic, and exactly what I hope for in a BLT & E. The egg was nice and runny and the bacon was crispy. The lemon aioli really brightened up all the flavors. The accompanying rosemary fries were thin and crispy – way better than the sad roasted potatoes.

BLT & E - how good does that look?

While the food at Jane is passable for the most part, I still can’t get over how crowded it is during brunch and how long the wait is for a table, even with a reservation. The restaurant is packed to the brim and incredibly noisy, making it hard to carry on a conversation.  It’s also on the pricier side for brunch, with most options hovering around the $15-$16 dollar mark, although that does include one brunch drink (lunch items don’t include a drink). Additional drinks will cost you though, $12 for specialty cocktails and $11 for champagne cocktails. While I love the bloody marys they serve, the atmosphere and the wait is really hard for me to deal with. It’s worth checking out once in a while but it’s definitely not somewhere we frequent. I definitely recommend trying to get a reservation, and hopefully, they’ll keep it.

100 West Houston St. between Thompson St. and LaGuardia Pl.
New York, NY

Tahoe Day 2 – Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 by virginia

After a long, exhausting day on the slopes (10,000+ feet altitude really does get to you!), Claire and M still managed to put together a huge and lovely spread for the New Year’s Eve gathering we had at our house. There were about 20 of us altogether and there was so much delicious food that I couldn’t stop filling my fat belly. Claire really outdid herself in preparing some really interesting appetizers and I hope she’ll share the recipes!

As promised, she made pickled watermelon rinds wrapped in bacon.

Pickled watermelon rind wrapped in bacon

The pickled rind was sweet and sticky, tasting a bit like honey bbq sauce, and the bacon added a nice saltiness and smokiness that complemented the rind very well.

Close up shot of the pickled rind/bacon

Claire also made dates stuffed with manchego cheese wrapped in bacon. These were also sweet and salty and oozing nutty cheese from the center. I couldn’t wait to have one and ended up burning my tongue on the molten cheese!

Dates stuffed with manchego cheese and wrapped in bacon

Another interesting appetizer was roasted sweet potato pureed with orange rind and orange juice. The puree was placed on crackers and topped with smoked almonds.

Sweet potato puree with orange juice and orange rind on crackers, topped with smoked almonds

Surprisingly, however, one of my favorite appetizers was slices of brie on pita chips topped with clementine chutney. I don’t really like brie, and would typically not eat such a huge chunk of it at once, but combined with the chutney, it turned into something entirely different. It was creamy and sweet and just lovely to eat.

Brie on pita chips topped with clementine chutney

M made her specialty cheese gougeres, which were light, airy, and addictive.

Cheese gougeres

She also made a simple but awesome tomato bruschetta.

Tomato bruschetta

Other appetizers included cucumber slices topped with smoked salmon and a lemon/scallion mixture…

Cucumber topped with smoked salmon

And the same with pieces of crab.

Cucumber topped with crab

We also had garlic bread, which paired perfectly with our main course of spaghetti and meatballs.

Garlic bread

Sean was the one who made all the meatballs and the red sauce a few days before our trip. The sauce, which takes several hours to simmer, was really fantastic, and the meatballs were tender and flavorful.

Spaghetti with meat sauce and a meatball

The feast didn’t stop there – Claire went all out on the dessert. First was red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, which she placed on a cupcake stand and stuck candles in them in honor of her friend’s 30th birthday. The cupcakes were really yummy and moist.

Red velvet cupcakes

Next were huge platters of mince pies, which Claire had been preparing for over a year – that’s how long it takes for the fruit in the mincemeat to soak in alcohol!

Mince pies

And last, but definitely not least, we had slices of Claire’s Christmas pudding. It was also chock full of fruit and very dark and rich.

Christmas pudding

We all had a great time eating and drinking the whole night. Josh and I celebrated New Years twice, first by watching the Times Square ball drop on TV and calling our family on the east coast, and then celebrating with everyone at midnight Pacific time. It was hard to stay up but so worth it. Thanks very much to Claire for organizing everything, it was definitely a New Years celebration to remember!

Home Cooked Anniversary Brunch

Sunday, May 17th, 2009 by virginia

After discovering that our anniversary would fall on a Sunday, and that none of the restaurants on our list of “top places to try” would be open, I tried to opt for a more sentimental route to celebrate our first year as a married couple. On our honeymoon, we spent eight days in Egypt and eight days in Greece, splitting our time exploring two ancient civilizations and eating many great things along the way. For dinner, I knew I wanted to try Kefi, a Greek restaurant on the upper west side that has received several good reviews and features a menu packed with items I love to eat. Trying to find an Egyptian restaurant in Manhattan for lunch, however, proved to be a more daunting task.

Yes, I know there are several Egyptian restaurants in the outer boroughs that have received rave reviews and have been touted by Robert Sietsema, for example, but let’s face it – we’re both too lazy to trek out of Manhattan on a Sunday morning. (Or any time, really. We need to get over that, as I know we’re missing out on a lot of good eating.) The only place that came up in my search online was the Horus Café on East 10th and Avenue A, which had standard Middle Eastern fare (kebabs, hummus, shawarma, etc.) listed on its menu. I must admit that I was intrigued by the “Cairo Falafel,” as the best falafel I’ve ever eaten was at the breakfast buffet at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Cairo. Egyptian falafel is made with fava beans rather than chickpeas, which I found to be tastier and more moist than versions here in the U.S. And fortunately for us, every falafel we had in Egypt was freshly fried, resulting in a smooth, almost creamy interior, with a hot and crispy outer layer. Many places shaped their falafel like miniature donuts, which presented even more surface area to crisp up.

Falafel donuts at the Carvery restaurant in Cairo

Falafel donuts at the Carvery restaurant in Cairo

I was hoping that the Horus Café’s falafel would be made in similar fashion. But, as Josh pointed out, there was nothing else that stood out on the menu, and the “Sizzling Lamb Fajita” served with tortilla, guacamole, salsa and sour cream certainly does not sound Egyptian. So instead, we decided to sleep in, cook up our own brunch and pop open a bottle of champagne that we’ve been saving.

When it comes to breakfast/brunch foods, I tend to favor the savory items. But, that doesn’t stop me from stealing bites of someone else’s french toast or pancakes or waffles, especially when they’re covered in fruit and whipped cream or contain chocolate chips. I like a combination of salty and sweet, so when it came time to pick the menu for our brunch, I opted for bacon, smoked salmon eggs benedict (minus the hollandaise) and waffles.

Bacon – a no-brainer. I just laid out the strips on our flat top griddle and cooked them until very crispy. Despite Josh’s protests, I wanted turkey bacon because I knew we would end up eating the whole package, and turkey bacon just seems healthier, even though it’s really not that much better for you. Believe me, I don’t have anything against regular bacon, but for this meal, the bacon was just a sideshow.

Turkey bacon cooking on the griddle

Turkey bacon cooking on the griddle

The smoked salmon eggs benedict were easy enough, and something that we’ve prepared many times before. We toasted english muffins in a 425 degree oven, poached a few eggs in boiling water with some red wine vinegar mixed in, and then layered it all together with some store-bought smoked salmon. We added a sprinkling of fresh dill from our windowsill planter, which really brightened everything up.

Eggs poaching in vinegar and water

Eggs poaching in vinegar and water

Now for the main event: waffles. We received a waffle iron as a wedding present and it’s been sitting in our cabinets ever since. I recently read about a waffle recipe via The Girl Who Ate Everything that I’ve been wanting to try, so this presented the perfect opportunity.

Shiny new waffle iron just waiting to be used

Shiny new waffle iron just waiting to be used

The verdict: so-so. I loved the texture of these waffles – they were light and airy and extremely crispy. However, even when drenched in syrup, they didn’t provide the sweet aspect that I was looking for, as the recipe doesn’t contain any sugar. And too much syrup made the waffles soggy, negating the crispy aspect that I loved so much. With a few minor tweaks, I think it could be a really great recipe. Just a side note – be sure to really butter up your waffle iron and get in between the grooves! I thought I used enough butter on the first batch and my waffles got stuck – fail!

Broken waffles

Broken waffles fail

But overall, it was a really satisfying and relaxing brunch for us eaten at our coffee table in front of the TV. We enjoy cooking and experimenting with recipes, and we didn’t have to deal with the crowds and the waiting that is often associated with the Manhattan brunch scene. And the bonus is that I didn’t have to feel embarrassed about wanting to order two different entrees to satisfy both my salty and sweet cravings.


A yummy home cooked brunch and unbroken waffles