Saturday, April 2, 2011

Springapalooza - Fishapalooza

Truth be told, I don't approach Lent as a season of asceticism or deprivation. In my corner of the world, Lent coincides with the wobbly and unpredictable emergence into springtime. An often three-steps-forward, one-step-back dance of hope, stoicism, and the practicality of various outerwear options. Is today the day I can put away my winter coat for good? Is the morning chilly enough I should opt for that wrinkle-free rain jacket I can stuff into my bag by the end of the day when temps are in the upper 60s? Do I dress for the predicted outdoor weather, or the HVAC realities of my downtown office building, which are frequently at odds with each other?

Spring celebrations come in many forms here in the Queen City. It snowed Wednesday on “Fountain Day,” when the Tyler-Davidson Fountain was turned back on for the season. I celebrated by getting a warming grilled cheese and tomato soup from Tom + Chee, who are back on the Square for the season!

Be forewarned that T+C's Fountain Square offerings aren’t as extensive as what you can get at their Court St. location across from the county courthouse, where they have a full kitchen. But you can always get some mighty fine grilled cheeses and soups from their Fountain Square booth. They announce each day’s specials for both locations on their facebook page.

Opening Day wasn’t much warmer, but was certainly better attended. Rather than compete with the baseball crowds and the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade that day, earlier in the week I sampled one of Lunch on Main’s gourmet hot dogs, the Aristocrat, with horseradish coleslaw, fried onions, and bbq sauce. Quite a dog!

Now I have to go back and try their new Conquistador Dog, announced with the wit I’ve come to know and love from their quote-filled facebook page: "Today, I consider myself, the luckiest man on the face of the earth" – Lou Gehrig, after eating the new Conquistador dog at LOM. That's right - there's a new hot dog to help celebrate Opening Day! The Conquistador - 1/4lb dog, homemade black bean/corn salsa, shredded lettuce, sour cream, shredded cheese and tortilla strips."

But what about the fish, you ask? My Friday turned into a fishapalooza indeed!

The New Orleans To Go food truck has been back at 5th and Race several days a week lately (typically Wed.-Fri. – stay tuned to their facebook page for updates). As my faithful readers know, I’m a huge fan of the food served up by New Orleans native Toya and her husband Randy, who runs front of house, er, truck, and greets every customer with his broad, impish smile. Their offerings change daily, which I love, because I just keep getting to try more of Toya’s amazing cooking. I’m never gonna say I’ve had her best dish, because I’m always ready for more. However, this crawfish etoufee-smothered tilapia over seasoned rice I had Friday was one of the most staggeringly delicious things I have eaten in the past year.

New Orleans To Go also has plans in the works for a special Crawfish Boil. Although they haven’t yet announced all the details, they’re talking boiled crawfish, cajun corn, fried fish, shrimp and crawfish etoufee, at $25 per person, prepaid, May 6 in NKY. Stay tuned for confirmation, but Eggy wants to be in the NOTG Clubhouse for this!

From the Gulf Coast to the East Coast, I picked up a couple of lobster roll “kits” from Lobsta Bakes of Maine in Newtown Friday after work.

Good thing I called to reserve them, because owner Kevin Smith told me he’d sold out of them this week. A native of Maine, Kevin is serious about lobsta rolls, down to the authentic buns he gets from Maine.
Kevin told me he was trying to get more buns to fill more orders this week and that some of his customers said they’d be happy for the lobster salad even without the buns. Yes, the lobsta salad is that good. But even more #winning on one of those buns :)

I’m sure Kevin will be offering more lobsta rolls in the weeks to come, but I do recommend you call ahead and reserve. Your best bet for staying on top of what he’s offering when is to sign up for the weekly Lobsta Bakes of Maine e-newsletter – just look on the left-hand column of Lobsta Bakes website to join. This venerable seafood monger has much more to offer than lobster, and usually gets his carefully sourced fish and seafood shipments in on Thursdays (they’re closed Sunday and Monday). In addition to fresh seafood, Lobsta Bakes offers some prepared items, including chowdas and seafood quiches, and if you’re looking to make a dish at home that calls for fish/seafood stock, you can find the real deal here, especially if you call ahead.

He’s also kicking off his first open-to-the-public Lobsta Bake of the season April 9 in Newtown’s Moundview Park. It’s a prepaid event, at various price points depending on which entrĂ©e you select (lobster, king crab, filet mignon, or ½ chicken). These go on through the summer and fall, and I’m determined to get to one of them this year.

Before I sign off and delve into the cioppino I also bought from Lobsta Bakes last night, I want to send out a big Eggy hug to three of my dear blogger friends who have suffered losses this week. Chickory, who always inspires me with her art, photos, and wit, lost her mother (and wrote a poem that brought me to tears). Aunty Belle also lost Granny Cracker this week . . . and gained a tribe baby. Aunty, you asked for comfort food suggestions to celebrate Granny’s passing – the foods I’ve mentioned in this post all comforted me because they were unquestionably made with love. I send that karma forward to you, knowing your clan will celebrate Granny in high style. And to Shamy, who lost her beloved Jake, but is continuing to cook her way through her sorrow, I know you’re not exactly the hugging type, but I wish you well and am glad you’re still blogging, my friend.


Aunty Belle said...

gracious Eggy!

That is some line up--wow. Admit I ain't never had a lobsta bake--that'd be first on mah list when git up your way.

Thanky fer yore sweet condolences. Granny Cracker is my Mama--an' all who done lost their own mama know mah sorrow. AN' yes, new 10 day old tribe baby is a wonderful consolation.

Big Shamu said...

Thank you for your words of comfort. My best hugger had to go and I have to admit my arms feel so empty.

darkfoam said...

yeah, we had snow this past monday too. seems we are hobbling our way to spring too.
you know, it's not easy photographing food. you do it well. this looks all delish. at least i'm not starved for once while looking at this :)

Jenny said...

wall of rain here Friday. It was no April Fool's joke, just reality. Blech.

I always love your food posts and how nice of you to honor those of our bloggy community who suffered loses this week.

Jen said...

Is it weird that I've never had a lobster roll? I'm starting to think that I've been deprived of good seafood most of my life.

Dani said...

Ate at a taco bus the other day in Tampa. Made me think of you.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

What an impressive line-up. I could eat fish everyday.

Loved your story of how to dress in springtime. So true.

moi said...

I'm glad to see I'm not the only person who puts potato chips on her sandwiches. Yeah, buddy.

S.B. and I used to hold a massive craw fish boil every year. Flew them in live overnight right from South Louisiana. We should start doing that again . . .