Midnight Menu +1

Ray Cannata has eaten at over 750 New Orleans restaurants, so he knows a thing or two about hanging out. Margo Moss has turned Ted's Frostop from a greasy spoon into a considerably less greasy but not quite silver spoon. When the sun goes down on The NOLA Brewing Tap Room in the Irish Channel, Ray and Margo entertain members of New Orleans restaurant community. Their guests bring along a friend, a +1. Anything can happen.

After Midnight

A blog dedicated to feeding your appetite with a little more of what was on and off the Midnight Menu +1

KRE CONFIDENTIAL: Inside the Krewe of the Rolling Elvi




You’ve seen them in parades. You’ve gasped at their jumpsuits and marveled at their hair. You’ve swooned at their songs as they croon with their perfectly upturned lips, and you’ve smelled the sweet scent of engine oil and pomade as their scooters roar past—but do you really know who are The Krewe of the Rolling Elvi? 

You may know them as New Orleans’ most outrageous krewe, but in this first-ever exposé, KRE Confidential draws back the curtain on these unforgettable hound dogs and heartbreakers. See who these sequined superstars really are when they’re not wearing their blue suede shoes. But watch out—you might just find yourself falling for one of these hunka’ hunka’ burning loves!

The Krewe of the Rolling Elvi: the King is dead. Long live the Kings!

Learn more about my latest book at: http://www.amazon.com/KRE-Confidential-Inside-Krewe-Rolling/dp/1514864819/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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Satisfying the Pizza Nazi

The Man Who Ate New Orleans thing -- its roots can be found in my quest for the perfect slice of pizza, 10-15 years ago in jersey.  Anyone who has spent any time in North Jersey, or the neighborhoods of New York City's outer boroughs, knows the joy of blue collar, NY-style Italian pizzerias.  But not all are the same, and as I lunched out I began to notice an alarming trend toward a thicker, drier, crunkier style.  Before there was UrbanSpoon or Yelp, I started keeping a personal list of pizza places, rated by 26 criteria, to help me navigate.  (Money taped to the walls was a plus.  So was sliced sausage, rather than crumbled balls of it.  When you folded a slice in half to eat it, did a little orange grease drip off your wrist by the count of 12.  If not the slice wa slikely too dry......).  I grew up in a half-Italian family, lived my first years in a heavily Italian NYC neighborhood (Great Kills, Staten Island), and loved to eat, so maybe I got a little obsessed.  Soon my friends nicknamed me the Pizza Nazi (after Seinfeld's Soup Nazi).

All this is to say, while I am definitely no food critic, I have had strong feelings about Italian food since long before New Orleans revolutionized and improved my diet.

And while there's no place I know with better food overall than New Orleans, Italian is clearly not a strength here if you are used to NY/NJ. 

Well, let me revise that statement.  "New York" Italian has not been a strength here.

Before 1892, when Ellis Island got its first face lift, more Italian immigrants came to New Orleans than to New York.  It was a smaller city (less intimidating to the rural immigrants), with a climate much closer to what they were used to, more Catholic, bigger port, etc.  So Creole Italian food has deeper roots than even New York Italian.  Creole Italian is as legitimate and authentic as its Yankee counterpart.  It is just that New York Italian is what I was used to.  And so Creole Italian, while superficially similar, just never seems quite right to me.

This is sort of like some Southerners can be with barbeque.  Take someone raised in Memphis and feed them the best Carolina (or Kansas City) BBQ on earth, and they will have problems with it.

OK, all this is preface to say, if you are from NY/NJ and have been disappointed by the attempts at NY-style Italian in New Orleans, I get it.  One answer is to lighten up (I'm learning slowly!) and enjoy the wonders of the Creole style, which can be awesome in its own right.  But I have better advice than that -- there ARE some place that this Italian New Yorker has found and loves.  Places that would thrive in the Bensonhurst Brooklyn, or Hoboken, IMHO.  Given that New Orleans sophisticated pallet does not extend well to this genre, they are mostly NOT the most popular New York Italian places (that frankly disappoint me, and many other Yankee transplants).  They are smaller, humbler venture, but awesome.  Here in my opinion are some of the best:

* NINOs: Gritty little dive on Carrollton, Uptown.  Pizza by the slice, and the best veal, chicken or eggplant parm this side of Jersey.  Nino is from Sicily, opened his first pizzeria in the heart of Italian Brooklyn, and he is a true master.  If you catch the owner when he is there, and he likes you, he may even offer you a bonus cup of chianti ina  go cup.

* COTE DU SUD: Yes, the FRENCH place on Maple, Uptown.  High price point and all.  BUT for some mysterious reason they offer pizza.  $18 for a large pie with meat feeds three Cannatas for dinner, and is excellent.

* RIVISTA:  Seriously!  The little bakery on Magazine, Uptown.  The co-owner was the #2 chef at Commanders, and when they make eggplant parm every few weeks, its one of the best lunches in town.

* PIZZA DELICIOUS: Bywater.  Probably the only one of the list most people expect.  Also, the best.

* SLICE: Uptown Magazine, and St Chas. near the Circle.  Most things on the menu are great, but not all are authentically NY Italian.  The slices are.

12/23/14 EDIT: I need to add CIBO on Carrollton (next to Mona's).  No Pizza, or veal, but a VERY authentic NY Style Italian menu by a guy who just moved here from Brooklyn.  I LOVE, LOVE the chicken parm.

And one more that comes with qualifications: SUGAR PARK on St Claude in the Bywater.  The last time I was there (three years ago!) the pizza was very New York, very good, and inexpensive.  I just don't know if its still the same as it used to be.

Hope there are some decent ideas for you.



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In Praise of the NY Bagel

When I was a little kid, my aunt (a cop who lived in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn) used to take us for bagels at some Orthodox or Hasidic Jewish deli in what must have been Crown Heights or Midwood.  At the time I didn't appreciate the bagel's awesomeness, and saw it as mostly a delivery system for cream cheese. 

Now I have been away from this quality of bagel for 9 years now.  Last night my good friend Danielle, straight off the plane, brought us a big bag of bagels she had bought at a Jewish deli in NYC a few hours before.  I just polished off my 4th one in less than 24 hours.  In the throws of ectasy I realized something.  It is so easy to take for granted some of the real joys of life.  Fish don't know they are in water, as the cliche goes, and New Orleanians don't really know how awesome their po boys and oysters etc. are.  I am constantly amazed at how many locals are bored by some amazing New Orleans cuisine.  The bagels today showed me how that can happen.

I solemnly vow never to take a bagel for granted again. New York Bagel, I bow before your awesomeness today!  Thank you for making my early years so great, even if I didn't realize it.  After I've been dining on the magical New Orleans dishes for 40 years, I hope I never start to take them for granted.  I'll remember the bagel!



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Dislike : Like

shorts on men : shorts on women
musicals : jazz
Garth Brooks : Johnny Cash
chains : local
cars : motorcycles
Favre : Brees
Brady : Manning
Brady Bunch : Partridge Family
Father’s Day : Halloween
Mother’s Day : Easter
Phantom of the Opera : Scooby Doo
malls : shops
fast food : local food
TV remote controls : TVs
pines : live oaks
magnolias : Japanese magnolias
NASCAR : roller derby
processed meats : whole meats
big brands : small brands
big churches : small churches
big business : small business
vitamin pills : veggies
hot dogs : food
Macy’s Day Parade : Mardi Gras
4th of July : Bastille Day (Fete Nationale)
races: parades
elevators : stairs
decks : porches
highways : trains
planes : ferries
pecan pie : mince pie
apple pie : pumpkin pie
mayonnaise : mustard
grape juice : wine
mashed : sliced
baloney : prosciutto
color white : black
plastic : wood
cement : bricks
driving : walking
gyms : walking
walking fast : walking slow
recorders : flutes
pigeons : wild monk parrots
carpet : wood floors
sports films : sports
chicken : lamb
floods : blizzards
cereal : bacon & eggs
Robert Moses : Jane Jacobs
all store bought cookies except Oreos : Oreos
preseason “football” : NFL football
Dick Clark : Alan Freed
Frankie Avalon : Dion
frozen yogurt : ice cream

ray cannata

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