Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Bugs, Bitters, Bacardi
Perhaps things get blurry, what with a Bloody Mary Bar open every morning at the Monteleone--a feature it seems every hotel needs. But let's get right into day 3, and note there's no Best Food Non-TOTC Edition section for today's write up as what we had was mostly meh--perhaps the idea of Cafe du Monde is better than the lost in puffs of sugar reality? Or maybe it's because their coffee seriously burned my tongue (horrors!).
Day 3, Friday, July 27
It's NOLA. It's sweating weather. And there's a good drenching with some lightning every day; this day it's all done by noon. Well, not the sweating.
Quote o' the Day:
"What did I drink that made my pee smell funny?"
Event o' the Day:
The Bacardi 150th Anniversary USBG Hand-Shaken Daiquiri Competition made me like daiquiris more than ever before, although I still hate having to type the trickily spelled name. This party featured some yummy tuna tacos, with the tortilla shells pleasantly fried, plus poor young things in red dresses that looked like tightly wound windowshades about to pull up--there was no way for the outfits to be flattering even on super-slender, non-Bacardi-consuming models. But those bat belts they wore were Adam West cool. And, as part of the event, Bittercube let 10 people at a time make their own bitters, preferably one that would work with a rum-based drink. At events like this, it's easy to become bossy/pushy--simply talk more quickly and louder than everyone else, and soon your herb/spice choices are part of the mix. Supposedly we'll get a mailed sample of the bitters we helped concoct soon. Can't wait. It's like cooking for your cocktail's pre-goodness.
And if I'm allowed a second event of the day, and it's my blog, so I'm allowed what I want to, it's our visit to the media Lagniappe Room. That means a little something extra, but as with most of TOTC, a little goes a long way, and this room was like walking into a minibar. Which was free. And maxi, or it was like that great episode of Lost in Space when the Robot grew giant and Will had to go inside to fix it, then get out before it shrunk to normal, not fit for a boy to be inside, size (tell me someone else has seen this and I didn't make it up?). Plus there were free bags to carry all your loot, and stirrers and matches and mixes and shirts and and posters and keychains and olives and cocktail cranberries posing as cherries and bitters bottles so tiny you could smuggle one out in your nostril and still have room to breathe. Here's what that looked like back in the room. Even better, it got back home after riding in our suitcase through 2 plane changes.
Surprises o' the Day:
You can jog in New Orleans in July and not die. You simply won't do it again.
I'll drink your green kale smoothie...as long as there's Tito's Vodka in it. Thanks, Vistamix!
The Audubon Butterfly Garden & Insectarium, or the ¡Insectaria! as we like to call it, is fun and not just for kids, although it's a crazy science turn on for the pre-teen set. You do not get to see the worm from the mezcal, but you get to see pretty much everything else. Do not go if you get the creppy-crawly hebbie-jeebies easily. Take photos of butterflies up close so they look like Son of Mothra.
Here's a semi-random picture of a huge tableful of oysters. Just to point out it was that kind of an event. Ile de Ré Fine Island Cognac is quite lovely, btw, but I'm not sure cognac goes with oysters.
There's something called crispy Armenian bread that's like a flatbread. What's no surprise is it's not so good burnt. (Sorry, Carmo, which tired very hard but didn't succeed quite enough.)
You can make seriously charged ice cream--say a Ramos Gin Fizz ice cream (now that egg does double duty) and mezcal chocolate ice cream. Or perhaps that was all an end of the day dream.
Best Food TOTC Edition:
We didn't take as much advantage as we should have of the media events in the Vieux Carre Room, high atop the Monteleone with views of the mighty Mississippi and most of NOLA. But this afternoon we hit the Taste of Italy Media Luncheon presented by the Spirit of Italy, which is evidently a typically handsome Italian guy telling you how special Italian spirits are while showing you slides of gorgeous Italian locations, all of which you want to visit on your next vacation, which has to be to Italy. We had cocktails made from Amaro Lucano, Luxardo, Distillerie Moccia, Distilleria Nardini, Pallini, Toschi, and Distilleria Varnelli--a lusciously vowelly mouthful of drinks.
But then there was an amazing buffet, too, starting with the ever present oysters, but also a lovely primavera pasta with fresh parmigiano grated atop, some redfish en croute, melon and prosciutto, etc. This was not your usual free spread, not in the least. We get to sit next to Amy Stewart from yesterday's presentation, too, and then ride in an elevator with Dale DeGroff, who hums his way to his floor. Oh, sorry, I'm dropping names, aren't I.
And as for a perfect bite, in the Angostura Bitters’ tasting room we enjoyed channa on bara (chickpeas on what else but fried dough--perhaps the savory island version of beignet?) at a Taste of Trinidad.
Other Drinks Consumed Not Mentioned Above:
Sure we tried the recently imported to the US Edinburgh gin (smooth), and some St. Germain drink we missed the name of (it's that kind of party, TOTC), and some Abita at Carmo to be New Orleans-esque, but what I really need to talk about was my time at the Craft Distillers Tasting where so much was good I would have denied me Satan right there on the spot for only something approaching the godhead could man these stills. At the Anchor Distilling table I told them I knew and loved the Junipero Gin so I didn't need to taste it and the guy's eyes lit up. "Well, try this," he says, pouring me something that smoked as it fell into my glass. OK, it didn't smoke, but it was lovely, a new hops-flavored spirit. Beer-loving me heartily approved. Speaking of the beer-spirit nexus, esteemed brewers from New Holland, Michigan are aging whiskey in old beer barrels, and that certainly works if it seems backwards (and they admit it). And then there's Corsair Distillery, that features nifty Reservoir Dogs inspired t-shirts and a wonderful range of liquor, from gins to a red absinthe (you do taste the hibiscus, plus red means it's not green like everyone else's) to a Ryemageddon that is sure to please any rye lover and if you're not one you will be by your second sip.