Absinthe Suissesse (and another fabulous dinner at Café Adelaide)
Things are a little different around Café Adelaide now — there’s a new chef in town. Danny Trace is off to Destin to take the Exec Chef gig at the new Commander’s Palace (and On the Rocks Bar!) that’l forthcoming, and now heading up the kitchen at Café Adelaide for the last few months has been Chris Lusk, among other things a former sous chef at Commander’s in the Garden District. He blew us away from the outset with the meal he served us during Jazzfest (which, um, I haven’t written about yet … but I’m getting to it!). You’ve undoubtedly heard me sing the praises of Café Adelaide enough — let’s get right to the food porn.
We began with an extended sojourn at the Swizzle Stick Bar, where as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago we started with a lovely morning cocktail, the Absinthe Suissesse:
1-1/2 ounces absinthe (substitute Herbsaint or pastis if you can’t find absinthe near you)
1/2 ounce orgeat
1 egg white
1 dash orange flower water (optional)
2 ounces heavy cream
1/2 cup crushed or cubed ice
Serve either shaken or blended; old traditional method is to shake vigorously for 15 seconds with crushed ice, or blend with cubed ice. Serve in an Old Fashioned glass.
In his classic tome Famous New Orleans Drinks and how to mix ‘em, Stanley Clisby Arthur gives an entirely different recipe for the Absinthe Suissesse. I’m far more used to the one above, which is what you’ll get if you order them just about anywhere in New Orleans. However, apparently if you ordered one in 1937 you were likely to get the following, which is … well, not one I’d care to drink, but certainly interesting!
(Stanley Clisby Arthur 1937 version)
2 ounces absinthe or absinthe substitute (e.g., Herbsaint)
1 ounce dry vermouth
1 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces charged (sparkling) water
White of one egg
1/2 ounce white crème de menthe
Mix the sugar with the sparkling water, vermouth and absinthe. Add the egg white. Fill the glass with cracked ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a wine glass in which there is a cherry with crème de menthe poured over it.
This is strange indeed. I may have to try it one day; then again, I may not, as I am not a fan of crème de menthe in the least.
Now. Off to the table, and off we go …
This was our amuse bouche, a “Crab & Corn Dog”. A crab claw was dipped into the same batter used for their fabulous new appetizer, the Shrimp and Tasso Corn Dogs — a thick corn batter spiked with ground smoky-spicy tasso ham — and quickly fried, along with some greens and lots of five-pepper jelly. Nice way to kick us into gear. And wait ’til y’all hear about the actual “corn dogs” …
Oh, look! More drinks! This is their signature cocktail, the Adelaide Swizzle, in nice little servings on what Ti calls the “trouble tree.” Old New Orleans Crystal Rum, fresh lime juice, Peychaud’s Bitters, soda and a secret ingredient (“Which some of the cocktail geeks have already figured out,” said Ti at Tales last year, giving me and Wes a playful stink-eye). Very tasty, very summery, very refreshing, very New Orleans.
Shrimp Rémoulade Salad, which my sister Marie had and which I didn’t get a bite of, but it looked good.
Wes’ starter — Breaux Bridge BBQ Crawfish Shortcake, with toasted garlic, crushed lemon, Abita beer cream and classic New Orleans BBQ sauce over a savory shortcake biscuit. We’d had this a few months ago, and oh boy … good. Good good good.
My starter — Louisiana Blue Crab & Sweet Corn Waffle, with andouille-seasoned shrimp, roaster oyster and melted leeks with Creole meunière sauce. This was fantastic. I love waffles in savory dishes (which reminds me, Wes, how long has it been since we’ve been to Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles? TOO LONG!). The Gargantuan shrimp was gorgeous, with a smoky flavor from the andouille seasoning, and the rich, tangy, buttery sauce was perfect for sopping up with the waffle. The corn and crabmeat topping reminded me of one of my favorite maquechoux dishes ever, by John Besh, that was enriched with crabmeat, but this had a lot more crabmeat and harmonized really beautifully with the rest of the dish.
Let’s have a closer look at that waffle, shall we?
Now, for my main course:
Andouille-Crusted Tenderloin of Pork with New Orleans Rum-glazed amarillos, Louisiana red beans and toasted jasmine rice with saffron Bocage honey & charred cilantro vinaigrette. The flavors in this dish bridged the gap between New Orleans and Latin America — what could be more New Orleans than red beans ‘n rice, along with andouille and pork, but with the amarillos (sweet fried plantains, with a local touch on the rum glaze) and the cilantro vinaigrette’s perfumey herbal characteristics complementing the lovely local honey … again, lots of harmony on the plate, and really refreshing juxtapositions of flavor. And it’s fun to eat!
This monster was Wes’ entrée — Whole Fried Trout with Corn and Crawfish Hash and Watermelon Caipirinha Sauce. I almost got this just from the description of the sauce, but the pig won out. He was glad he went for the fish, though. He’ll have to go into more detail in the comments later on, as it’s late and my feeble attempts to wrest a comment out of him while writing a post at 10:48pm netted me “It was really good,” and “Don’t hit me up at bedtime!” (I had a bite. It was really good.) Later on he said it may have been the best trout dish he’s ever had.
Chocolatey cocktails came out before dessert — not sure what they were called, but they were chocolatey and creamy and yummy. (Now that I think back, I think it was the White Chocolate Martini, with Godive white chocolate liqueur and Nocello walnut liqueur from Italy.) Not the kind of stuff I would order in a bar, but they were good with our onslaught of dessert. We should have all split one, of course, but we ended up getting three. (Of course.)
Blueberry Shortcake, with pastry cream and nuts and tons of blueberries. This was extraordinary.
Bourbon Pecan Pie, a classic, with caramel and chocolate sauces, and vanilla ice cream.
Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with bruléed turbinado sugar, a chiffonade of mint and a Cointreau-rhubarb coulis. This one was mine. Deep rich chocolate flavor, cake not too dense, coulis delightfully tart and citrusy … another great dish.
Finally, I love old-school stuff like this:
Da leftovuhs go in da Swan. (Da good kinda swan, not da scary Dharma Initiative kinda Swan.)
Once I finish recapping Tales we’ll get back into Jazzfest coverage (“It ended nearly THREE months ago, you lazy bastard!” … “Yeah, I know, I know, shut up.”) More Adelaide food porn will be forthcoming.