01 February 2009

Excitement and relocation

Hello, all! So, I've got exciting news... I bought a domain name. From now on, I'm just Passionfruit Butter. No .blogspot or anything. Incidentally, this makes it easier for you to visit and easier for me to tell more people about it. As of right now, it is COMPLETELY under construction: I'm using a pre-made layout, and while I'm not in the least bit satisfied with it, I'm keeping it until I can figure out something better.
See y'all there!

30 January 2009

Should I be more disturbed or giddy at the sight of this?

I don't even know what these are. I'm guessing they're actual ROMAINE -- it's starting to click that all this time, the Romaine I knew was only the heart. So maybe this is the whole behemoth of a body... I think, sadly, I am sheltered when it comes to produce.

29 January 2009

Anthony Bourdain proves to Mario Batali and the rest of the world that his heart is not made out of stainless steel.

My latest box of chocolates

Malted milk palet d'or: Luscious little coins of milk chocolate ganache infused with malt and coated in a shell of the adorable printed chocolate you see here.
Avery: My personal favorite, this is a ganache of chocolate (mixed milk and dark) and caramel, swirled on, covered in a thin layer of chocolate, and topped with a succulent flake of salt from the Avery mines here in Louisiana.
Gianduja crunch: I keep making a mental note to send in a request for something creamy and hazelnutty, but since there's nothing of the like currently at Sucré, this is what I always get to satisfy my hazelnut-chocolate craving. What's inside are caramelized cacao nibs, hazelnut gianduja, and something crispy -- essentially a crunchy, wafer-y, dense inside, coated in dark chocolate.
Bolivian palet d'or: A monthly staple, this is plain and simple bliss. Silky dark-dark chocolate ganache that's thisclose to being a liquid (so yummy), swathed in a matching outer layer of Bolivian dark chocolate.

Gianduja crunch
A space formerly occupied by the Crown: One of Sucré's more popular chocolates is the Magnolia, which is distinguished by the flawless pecan half that tops each one. I've tried it and, while it is of a lovely quality, never really fell in love -- I like nut flavors but am despicably and involuntarily deterred by nuts themselves (how many times have I tried to enjoy snacking on almonds!). That said, this Mardi Gras-time special is really just wonderful, and I wish they'd carry it year-round. The inside is silken pecan ganache starred with bits of caramelized pecan, and it's all inside that cute little dark chocolate crown. It's yummmyyy and Southern.
A space formerly occupied by the Wedding cake: In case I wasn't obsessed enough with weddings as is (totally impractical, as I'm not even finished with high school), I tasted this for the first time this month. Predictably, I fell in love, not only with the wedding association but also with the flavor: the inside is smooth, creamy white chocolate, infused with the flavoring of lightly toasted almonds, and it's all housed in this utterly adorable white chocolate sculpture that looks like a wedding cake for a mouse.
A space formerly occupied by the Gianduja crunch

Meunière: This is another Sucré classic, and while I don't love it enough to stock up on it every month, I do find it quite delicious and I was inspired to get it this month. It's named after sauce meunière, a New Orleans native brown butter sauce. Sucré's version is a brown butter and white chocolate ganache inside of a dark chocolate fleur de lis, New Orleans' symbol. I like to eat it in TINY nibbles (wait, what am I saying? I like to eat all good chocolate this way) so I can look at the pretty ganache on the inside.
Je ne sais pas.

As I was packing up this lovely little mint-colored box of joy, my eyes fell upon the passionfruit and I realized I'd totally forgotten to get one of my favorites. To me, of course, this was cause to get an entirely new and additional box:
The green ones are Sicilian pistachio, recently remodeled so that they're taller and more square shaped. This means that the ganache filling (white chocolate infused with pistachio flavoring and, thankfully, a hint of cinnamon) is denser and more abundant.
The yellow ones are Passionfruit, which, if you couldn't tell, now comes in the same proportions as the Sicilian. This one, though, is initially more subtle, and when you first bite in, it tastes and feels like any top-notch dark chocolate ganache. But don't be fooled. Wait for it... and ah, yes, after a second, you get this yummy pang of passionfruit, enough that you are pleasantly surprised but not overpowered.

$46 dollars later, I am a happy foodie.

28 January 2009

Rémy Eats: Boucherie

In case you're just now seeing this, I went to Boucherie this past weekend, where I ate my first meal as a... food columnist. Wow. Bizarre to actually write that out, but it works for me.
Anyway, I posted a preview of my blog a few days ago, but it's finally up on Blake Makes. If you want to read the whole synopsis (psst... you do), head on over here. SO exciting!

Top Chef spoiler alert*

I am struggling to conceive of an adequate expression of the emotions I am feeling right now in a way that wouldn't offend anyone. I think the best analogy is a break-up.

Sure, at the beginning of the season, everyone** loved Jeff because, well, he was the hot one. It probably happened a little bit after Jeff whipped up that marvelous, glorious, innovative tomato sorbet for Gail's bridal shower that it dawned on us, one by one, that Jeff was married. We probably would have been upset by this news if we'd noticed in the first episode, when Jeff had little more significance to us than as eye candy, but we were truly crestfallen to be hit with the news after Jeff had begun to prove himself in the kitchen as a really solid talent.

Top Chef is as much a frothy reality TV show as it is a gourmet cooking show, so it would be appropriate for me to take a minute out to focus on that other aspect. In a nutshell, Jeff was characterized for his creativity. In the quickfire challenge when the chefs had to whip up a dish using only packaged, processed foods that would be found in the average pantry, I felt certain that most of those chefs were doomed, but for a couple flukes. Jeff proved me wrong with his very well-plated, interestingly conceptualized dish of deep-fried conch and a pina colada-esque blend of flavors. If making a colorful, memorable, genuinely tasty dish out of crappy packaged food on a VERY strict timeframe isn't a test of talent, I don't know what is. In any case, he was eliminated tonight for crafting a ceviche that was "too watery" and had "too much going on."

I will now stop with my elegy and focus now on my emotions. First off, tonight's episode was psychologically exhausting for me, as I was very sentimentally/emotionally/gastronomically tied up with each of the three men on the chopping block. Stefan is far too talented to be cut until the bitter end of the show, in my opinion. Fabio is admittedly not a genius and in fact committed a culinary sin in the way he cooked that venison, but he's so charming, and his personality is part of why I look forward to the show every week. And then there's Jeff... oh Jeff. Two weeks ago, I wrote down my fantasy Top Chef bracket, and Jeff was in the final three (with Jamie and Stefan).

It looks like I will have to re-write that.

What it comes down to is that I feel a bit of a void. He is the background of my phone (obsessive, yes, I know, but if everyone else gets the carte-blanche to obsess over Robert Pattinson, I think it's fair enough for me to harbor an irrationally extreme crush of my own)... but, again, as much for his looks as for his talent. After the show was finished, I looked at my phone and started faintly tearing up.

I'm taking that as a sign that my heart is involved in this show to an unhealthy degree.

It's bittersweet, for sure, considering that two of my favorite cheftestants are still in the running -- and, I'd speculate, on solid ground. I feel hopeless and upset at the injustice of the judging/elimination conditions (do they not weigh past successes/failures into their deliberation at all?) and think it's a travesty that Jeff didn't at least make it further.

But I guess you win some, you lose some... Because guess who's guest judging next week!?!

*: For the record, the melodrama in this entry is entirely intentional and mostly for the sake of rhetoric.
**: By everyone, I mean teenage girl Top Chef addicts everywhere.

Cochon: A Pig Field Folly

Essentially, it was a festivity assembled to celebrate food as art as well as the success of Prospect.1, which was coming to a close at the same time (last weekend). Mom and I arrived at the Brickyard, which looks exactly how it sounds: a large space of piled bricks, the remains of a former factory (was it molasses?) situated right by NOCCA. A man sat at a table right at the entrance, soliciting donations to save endangered pig species.

But the center of attention was rather a giant ball game going on. As it turns out, it was human foosball, with members of two opposing teams (Swine and Sausage) placed in rows across the field, each row of players connected by a rope that was manned by people on the sidelines, who'd pull towards themselves when they wanted to move their players. When a ball neared a player, that person would kick and squirm about (from the confines of his or her roping) and attempt to kick it towards the team goal.

And I ask myself, would this happen anywhere else?

In the background, a whole pig was being cooked by none other than Donald Link, who served up hot boudin and pork sausage in the meantime for hungry bystanders.

25 January 2009

Rémy Eats: Tales from a Teenage Gastronome -- Boucherie

My first official adventure as Rémy Robert, Teenage Gastronome was to Boucherie. Many New Orleans foodies are familiar with Iris, a beloved jewel of a restaurant that was located on Jeannette right off of Carrollton until it relocated recently to the French Quarter. As it happens, Boucherie has filled its spot.
My friend Lexie and I walked into the main dining room (adorably small and quaint, with a compact little bar in the back corner). A waiter smiled and greeted us immediately, and we took our seats at a small table near a window. The room was clean and well-lit, with just a couple of other tables of diners (I imagine it'll get much more popular as more people hear about it, but as of right now, it's still just a nebular little newcomer that's not on most radars).

Helloooo, everyone. This is just a little taste-test of my first full-length column (!), which should be up on Blake Makes later this week! Stay tuned on his blog and mine.

Galette des rois, or French king cake...!

I'll be the first to admit how lucky I am to live within ten minutes of La Boulangerie, an adorable French bakery that is so charmingly authentic that it inspires acute nostalgia.

It's Mardi Gras, which means that La Boulangerie, bakeries, and grocery stores citywide are producing their own variations on the king cake. Although I am a sweet tooth, I have zero tolerance for the cloying white icing that is glopped onto many of these- the kind of icing that just screams diabetes, that tastes of nothing except processed sugar... gross.

What I do love, however, is La Boulangerie's galette des rois, which bears so little resemblance to these garish others that it's humorous:
Its crust is that of a quiche in love: flaky, ecstatically buttery, brushed with a tasteful lick of sweetness. On the inside is a creamy almond filling like you'd find inside the best almond croissant in all of Paris. And instead of a plastic baby, lodged somewhere inside is a porcelain trinket. In the past, I've gotten everything from a little tile to an actually very beautiful navy-blue and gold-painted heart-shaped pendant, which I wore everyday on a silver chain until, sadly, it broke off and was nowhere to be found... sad.

I also stocked up on pastries to eat for breakfast this week. First, the almond croissant:
With something like this, there isn't much to say. It is everything a croissant should be, and the dusting of powdered sugar is just enough to get on your nose.

I also got two each of these scones:
The one on the left is apple cinnamon; the one on the right is white chocolate raspberry. Let me say first (underline this) that THESE ARE NOT YOUR AVERAGE SCONES. As a child, I had many a bad experience with that awfully dry variation of scones. I thought it made sense that these scones were to be eaten with tea, because their utter lack of moisture and personality required the heat of tea to detach the concrete glop from the roof of my mouth.
These, though... they're as fluffy and edible as cupcakes, but you can eat these for breakfast and still have it be socially acceptable! The white chocolate raspberry was a bit burned, as you can see, but I ate one of those for breakfast today and the inside is still as good as can be.

Laurel Street Bakery

These are the remains of the first bagel I had there:

I loved it so much I forgot to take a picture! Worry not, though; I went back just two days later (this was less than a week ago, and I've returned once since then) and remembered that time around to commemorate photographically... I'll be uploading photos soon, but until then, imagine: a freshly baked bagel, still piping hot out of the oven, less dense and insurmountable than every single bagel (even the ones I thought were good) I've ever had in my life. Instead, these seem to have a slight family history of brioche, as evidenced by the tender biteability and the tiny little crispy buttery pinpricks that freckled up all over the bottom as it was baking. Add to this a thin but thorough spreading of sundried tomato cream cheese (garlicky and savory and oh so housemade) and you've got all the makings for a perfect breakfast. Now I know why they call it the most important meal of the day.

...Thanks for waiting. Here's more adequate imagery.