Beat the Heat With What You Eat
Dang, it’s hot outside! But the blistering heat never stops New Orleanians from searching for excellent eats. Food that doesn’t up the body temperature further is much appreciated. Thankfully, local restaurateurs make a wide variety of hot weather–appropriate choices available to diners. So hit the town and discover these way-cool foods that are especially delightful in hot and humid conditions.
GAZPACHO at VEGA TAPAS CAFÉ
It’s easy to taste why chef Glen Hogh’s Creole Tomato Gazpacho With Jumbo Lump Crabmeat and Cucumber Sorbet scored the prestigious Golden Fleur De Lis Award for Best In Show at this year’s New Orleans Wine & Food Experience. This cool and light soup showcases traditional Spanish and New Orleans elements and brims with a rich, sophisticated gusto. Diners at Vega’s stylish digs in Old Metairie enjoy a nice selection of cold tapas, from Beet Carpaccio, thinly sliced roasted beets with goat cheese croquettes and Louisiana cane syrup vinaigrette, to Rare Pepper Steak, seared beef in peppercorn vinaigrette over a sun-dried tomato couscous, to Creamy Carp Roe Dip with Louisiana Caviar, pita bread and traditional garnish.
HUMMUS at BYBLOS
With two full-service restaurants in Metairie and Uptown and a deli in Metairie, these superb outposts for Lebanese cuisine crank out fresh, zippy, velvety hummus, a cool meld of mashed chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon juice—the Middle East’s version of America’s chips and dip. With fruity olive oil pooled in carved-out centers and colorful spices speckled on top, this gorgeous presentation begs to be delved into with pita bread. Try the smoky baba ghanoush as well, a mousselike roasted-eggplant dip equally as pungent. And with belly dancing at the gorgeously hip Uptown location on Thursday nights, things heat up even further.
CRABMEAT MAISON at GALATOIRE’S
Serious crabmeat aficionados rave about this sublime, crave-worthy take on the beloved crustacean at one of the French Quarter’s most venerable Creole institutions. Silky hunks of perfect, sensual lump crabmeat are bound in a diaphanous dressing that combines capers, mayonnaise, green onions and lemon juice with just a touch of Creole mustard. The result is nothing less than superb. The Shrimp Remoulade—the poster child for top-notch New Orleans appetizers—is another heavenly way to enjoy seafood in the summertime, especially when coupled with the boisterous, lively atmosphere that only Galatoire’s can deliver.
GELATO at LA DIVINA GELATERIA
I scream, you scream, we all scream for gelato, and this hot spot boutique crafts a plethora of wildly inventive and intense concoctions of the classy cousin of ice cream. With 24 varieties of luxurious homemade artisanal gelatos, such as Earl Grey Tea with Biscuits, Grapefruit Campari Sorbetto, Dark Chocolate, Blueberry Basil, Dulce de Leche, Carrot Ginger Mascarpone, Strawberry Balsamic Sorbet, Crème Brûlée with chards of crispy burnt sugar, and Aztec Chocolate, with cinnamon and cayenne, you’ll easily find one (or 10) to love.
GUACAMOLE at EL GATO NEGRO
Get ready to plunge those crispy, so-worth-the-weight-onthe- hips tortilla chips into some of the freshest, coolest, most authentic guacamole this side of the border. Chunks of mellow avocado are prevalent throughout this creamy Mexican dip, so get anchored to a bowl and tear into one of the best homemade snacks in the French Quarter. El Gato’s excellent guacamole goes perfectly with its innovative specialty house drink, a honey tangerine margarita, crafted from fresh tangerine and lime juices that are hand-squeezed every day. When you’re in an adventurous mood, sip on the intriguing carrot margarita, made with pure carrot juice, lime, tequila and triple sec. It’s an interesting and awesome take on vegetable juice.
CHICKEN SALAD at CAFFE! CAFFE!
Yes, chicken salad is definitely tried and true, but isn’t that what great relationships are made of? Falling in love with the taste and textures of chunky chunks of white chicken breast meat, Blue Plate mayo, finely chopped celery, crunchy walnuts and salt and pepper—all carefully hand-mixed together and served over fresh iceberg, romaine lettuces and baby greens, garnished with tomato wedges and alfalfa sprouts—is not an inconceivable notion. Topped with an incredible house-made poppy seed dressing that could make paper taste good, this joyous chicken salad is simple yet utterly satisfying. For another great choice, check out the Avocado Salad, featuring sliced avocados, gorgonzola cheese and a blissful homemade mango dressing. Get it topped with either Caffe! Caffe!’s tuna or shrimp salads, or try any of their cold salad mixes on seven-grain wheat bread, dressed with lettuce and tomato. Your lunch may start off innocuously enough, but it will develop into a lunchtime habit every time you’re in Metairie or Mandeville!
CEVICHE from RIOMAR
Four different kinds of tasty ceviche offerings daily, all with tantalizing, vivid flavors, make RioMar a serious destination for those who love marinated seafood salad with Central and South American roots. Diners can select their ceviche Peruvian style, with tomatoes, onions and cilantro; Mixto style, featuring shrimp, fish, squid and tasty charred peppers; Panamanian style, rife with fish, lime and habanero peppers; or Ecuadorean style, with shrimp, tomatoes and citrus juice. Located in the Warehouse District, RioMar is one of the most fun and sexy dining atmospheres to frolic in during the oppressive heat. Their cold tapas, such as the marinated olives and the Boquerones, white anchovies in vinegar, deserve a try as well.