New Orleans Gourmet
A pop-up jazz brunch. As spontaneous as scatting, clarinetist Evan Christopher and his jazz quartet, including Joe Ashlar, Don Vappie and Ocie Davis, appear at Clever Wine Bar for brunch once a month. The Sunday we were there, the short menu featured spring vegetable lasagna, roasted chicken salad sandwiches, fresh fruity kabobs and luscious coconut cream crêpes, courtesy of caterer Wakin’ Bakin.’ There’s no cover, and brunch is a bargain: $15 includes your first cocktail—a bloody mary, mimosa or my favorite, a crisp poinsettia of cranberry juice and champagne. No reservations needed; follow Clever on Facebook to get the date of the next brunch.
Whimsical cupcakes. We were charmed by the Sesame Street characters piped fresh at Petite Cupcakes & Events in Gretna. Our happy dozen included Elmo, Oscar the Grouch and Cookie Monster with a mini cookie in his mouth, all thickly frosted on moist yellow cake. Petite Cupcakes also offers:
- Specialty flavors like Cookies & Cream
- Seasonal treats: for Mother’s Day, we love the tart lemon cupcake with delicate raspberry icing
- Cake pops and “push-up” cupcakes stacked in canisters and perfect for picnics
- A daily 10% military discount for service members and their families. The bakery’s founders include Navy and Marine spouses, and it’s located between the bases at Belle Chasse and Algiers
Tomato brulée. Thick slices of golden tomatoes are broiled with tart Manchego cheese and a touch of spiced sugar, giving them a caramel crust. The tomatoes are then sprinkled with paprika-dusted almonds and served with Romesco sauce that cleverly links the flavors together in our new favorite starter at Green Goddess.
Revving up. The much-anticipated opening of Restaurant R’evolution is just around the bend, and Chef John Folse graciously gave us a preview of the fantastic custom kitchen, accented in a burgundy-cherry “Revolution Red,” that includes a smoker and glass-door coolers; overlooking it all is the chef’s table. We were also wowed by:
- The Market dining room, where geese, whole hogs and deer legs will be on the rotisserie.
- The adjacent Royal Sonesta courtyard, which will make room for edible flowers and citrus and sassafras trees that Folse and Chef Rick Tramonto will harvest the leaves from filé powder.
- The magnificent cypress-floored wine cellar, which Wine and Spirits Director Molly Wismeier will stock with more than 10,000 bottles. We’re especially eager to try examples of Pineau des Charentes, a bright aperitif made from a blend of Cognac and fermented grape juice and skins.
Mild-mannered lasagna. The turkey lasagna at Langenstein’s grocery is bold only in its size (easily big enough for two), and this is why we like it: fluffy ricotta, gooey mozzarella, broad sturdy pasta and lots of ground turkey. The tomato sauce is mild and sunny, and lets the fruit speak for itself.
Eat Fit. You’re going to eat well and still fit into that bikini this season, thanks to Ochsner Health System’s new Eat Fit program. Ochsner’s own registered dietician, Molly Kimball, oversees the program:
- In restaurants. Ochsner is partnering with local restaurants to add yummy plates low in calories, fat and sugar. Think: Commander’s Palace’s dazzling Caribbean shrimp salad with roasted coconut, mangos and plantains glazed with honey vinaigrette. So far, Café Adelaide and Muriel’s are also on board.
- At the office. Ochsner has teamed with The Fit Gourmet Chef Dione Duhon, who prepares satisfying, healthy meals like Louisiana shrimp tossed in charred tomato sauce over whole-wheat pasta or barbecued chicken topped with Parmesan and goat cheeses. Sign up for the Eat Fit Plan to get custom eats delivered to you, daily.
- At home. Go online for healthy recipes, courtesy of Eat Fit partner Rouses supermarkets. Here’s one to get you started:
Black Bean Brownies
Courtesy of Ochsner Healthy System and Rouses Supermarkets
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained very well
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup Splenda®, or 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Truvia®
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. In food processor, blend black beans until smooth. Add the eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, vanilla extract and sugar, and process until smooth. Add half the chocolate chips and pulse a few times or stir, so that the chips are mixed in. Transfer the batter to the baking pan, and sprinkle the remaining chips on top of the brownies.
Bake for 35 minutes at 350˚F, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Yields 15 brownies (about 3 grams of fat and 122 calories each).
Clever Wine Bar, 3700 Orleans Avenue, (504) 483-6360, www.cbwines.com
Get Evan Christopher’s schedule at www.clarinetroad.net
Petite Cupcakes & Events, 2766 Belle Chasse Highway in Gretna, (504) 233-3020, www.petite-cupcakes.com/
Green Goddess, 307 Exchange Place, (504) 301-3347, www.greengoddessnola.com/
Restaurant R’evolution is slated to open June 4 at the Royal Sonesta, 777 Bienville Street, http://www.revolutionnola.com/
Learn more about Ochsner’s Eat Fit program at www.ochsner.org/eatfit/
You can reach Anne Berry on Twitter @AnneBerryWrites.