There’s a theme on this blog: love. You all know me, you know I’m more about spreading the punchpocalypse than the love, but in this city, in this community, it’s hard to avoid. It’s overwhelming.
Monthly Archives: December 2009
A gigantic part of the culture of this city is our love of great food in abundance. Fried this, smothered that. Washed down with a beer and a “How ya mom an dem?” around a shared table. It’s usually how I roll. I may have a picky palate, but it is in no way refined. I eat about 5 things: beef, pizza, sushi, hot sandwiches and spaghetti. Those are my things. I have no idea how to cook and basically no interest in doing so.
I have a number of my own reasons for that.
1. I find if I’m not good at something the first time, I usually don’t try again. And I’m a horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE cook. Terrible. TerriFYING.
2. My life is too busy to even try to learn how, therefore, I dine out pretty much every meal.
3. I have attached my own stigma to cooking and view it as a domestic chore rather than sensational joy. I do not care about the chemistry of cooking or the art of food’s creation or design.
I have no patience, I guess.
This is why I’m lucky to live in a city where people actually DO care about it. I came from Austin, where choices are limited: pizza, bbq, Mexican food. That’s about it. While I enjoy a city where eating flour tortillas at every meal is lauded and encouraged, it does nothing for my appreciation of exquisite and harmonious food combinations.
However, I do love a good get-together, and even moreso when I have some level of involvement. So it was with great excitement that Sara from The Grill Room at the Windsor Court hotel DM’d me one afternoon and asked for my help in organizing a foodie tweetup. My first thought was “This is a great opportunity” and my second was a very dramatic “dun dun duuuuuuun”. If you don’t know my history with The Grill Room, ask me next time you see me and I’ll fill you in on all the sordid details.
But, common sense regained, I replied almost immediately with a solid YES. I recruited the help of Susan Whelan (@nolamaven), now dubbed “the Google of New Orleans”, and invited a group of thoughtful, smart, well-traveled locals to join in and give their opinions on some food and wine offerings.
Last night (finally!), after what seemed like forever, we all gathered in a tiny private room in the back of the restaurant and prepared to be wowed.
And we were.
I had the chance in the past year to meet and get to know Chef Drew Djezak on a personal level, well before I tasted any of his food. He is an amazing and funny person who is loved loved loved by his loyal staff. So, while there is some personal bias there, there is no doubt that the man is a skilled and brilliant artisan.
We dined on samples of pork belly, “pho” noodles with foie gras in a ginger broth, parmesan gnocchi, Texas venison, scallops. For dessert: pumpkin cheesecake, fried pies and deconstructed apple pie, visions from the very visionary, awesome and (bonus) hilarious pastry chef Shun Li. This is not your grandparent’s standard Windsor Court fare. It’s not even MINE. There is definitely a new, young, modern twist on established dishes. I mean, c’mon: DECONSTRUCTED APPLE PIE, people.
So, on top of all the delicious food, we were treated to wine pairings by Sara K. So far, I’ve described this team from Charleston as brilliant, awesome, visionary, skilled. Let’s add another adjective to that pile, shall we? I’m going to have to make this one up, though, as I couldn’t find one in my personal lexicon to satisfy my description. Sara is a very Kasparovian sommelier. That’s right, I’m comparing Sara’s wine pairing strategy to that of undisputed chess genius Garry Karaspov. Also, because her arrangement of clean wine glasses last night reminded me of a very intense chess match. Against herself.
But, also because when she started talking about pairings (and again, this is something I know very little about), she had definitely done the math. She’s traveled the world and knows the vintners and vineyards personally. She had stories about every single wine, multiple lists behind every single taste and incontrovertible reasons for every single pairing. I will tell you that requesting Sara for a pairing – which is not offered on the menu, but will not be declined – will leave you feeling smarter and your head spinning. One, because the wine is that tasty and potent and two, because of the sheer amount of knowledge she contains and can rattle off at any moment.
If you are a true wine connoisseur or are even just interested in wine, she’s your go-to certified sommelier in town.
I have a growing affinity for The Grill Room. Not only for what it once meant to me, not only for the staff that I have grown to consider friends, but because of the reason I love this city: these places are our future.
As we grow up, as our tastes are refined, as we become adults, nay, GROWN-UPS in a city that allots an abundance of time for play, places like this are becoming our places. They aren’t the hamburger or pizza joints that, while we all love, we can’t continue to live on. These are places that we are growing into. And they are growing into us.
Sure, we can still have our playdates, our fun foods, but we can also have a place like this to go: get dressed up, spend a little more, drink fine wines, eat finer foods, and live like a grown-up.
I love that idea. I love the idea that this kind of new experience is growing on me. That I’m growing up. That I’m changing and that it’s all with the help of this culture.
I loved last night and I thank the Windsor Court and everyone that joined in. It may seem silly, but I feel different today than I did yesterday.
I didn’t even know I could do that.
My life is so amazing right now.
I have never been so grateful to exist. ??The decision to move back here after 10 long years away was an easy one. It was made in about half a second. It just FELT RIGHT and now I know why: because it is right. ??It's the smartest move I have ever made. ??I've had some personal heartbreaks this year. ??My uncle committing suicide and the relationship with the man I was about to marry falling completely apart are the two biggest knock-downs. ??I didn't think I'd get up from either. But, I did. Something always kept me going.
I mean, I have an ok job and I'm doing alright at Tulane, but what keeps me motivated and active and energetic is this city and its people. ??All of you. You guys keep me going every day. You all inspire me to be a better person than I've ever been. ??To work harder, get smarter, live like a warrior. You and this city both inspire me to "be awesome or leave" (to borrow a quote from @sheri_nola's rad kids).??
I work hard, I play hard, and I dedicate everything I do to sustaining the things in this city: technology, art, culture, education, music, history, legacy, love. ?? These things that I immerse myself in. These things that I desire, yearn to be a part of…and sometimes need. ??None of these things would exist without the people I know. ??Sure, tech, art, culture…all that would still be around, but my urge to actively help sustain it wouldn't be. ??You people that I know, you people that I call friends…if you think I'm talking to you right now, I am…you're the ones who move me. ??These words are for you.
In almost everything that we do, every event we attend, sponsor, promote, donate to, whatever, there is a valuable return. ??We see our progress in action, we make change, we influence. ??I think that's brilliant. ??I love being a part of it.??But, I also think that having fun and letting ourselves relax without an agenda is valuable, too. ??What better way to do that than with a party? With that said, I invite/remind you about the Merry Mayhem party tomorrow night at the Foundation Room. ??I invite you all, friends. ??Friends I know well, friends I hope to know better, and friends I haven't even met yet. ??I invite you with no agenda and no responsibilities but to show up and have fun with me and my two best friends, Sheri Nola and Liz Money.
We've put this event together as a fun party at the Foundation Room, but more and more I feel like I want to bring everyone together and thank you all individually for continuing to inspire and challenge me.
I hope hope hope to see you there. ??Every year, from now on.
Thanks for everything. ??You will never, ever know how much you've done for me.
With all the love and respect in my heart,
Details are here:
Sponsored by the extremely generous and always MINDBLOWINGLY AWESOME Will Scott of Search Influence (@w2scott and SearchInfluence.org) and Robby Moss of Hartwig Moss Insurance (@hartwigmossins and hmia.com). ??You guys are the best.