Thursday, May 21, 2009

Top Chef hearts NOLA, we get it. Now can we have our own season?

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2009 at 11:44 PM

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The finalists from Top Chef’s season 5 arrived in town for a January taping session at Commander’s Palace, and as with many residents who relocated here, they seemingly have been unable to leave since. In anticipation of their appearance at NOWFE's Saturday Grand Tasting, Hosea Rosenberg and Co. get their latest local fete with tomorrow’s “special soiree” at Zoë, the W Hotel eatery at which no local I’ve ever spoken with has dined. (Seriously, anyone? The place could be Per Se and who would know.)

How much of a shelf life does Rosenberg have, anyway? What started out as unwrapped uni is now looking like canned albacore staying power. Top Chef is a great show, and Rosenberg may be a great chef, but he’s likely the least convincing of its quintet of champions. By the finale, when you could practically taste head judge Tom Colicchio’s disdain for Stefan Richter’s feigned indifference toward everything but co-competitor (and vocal lesbian) Jamie Lauren, there was zero chance of the season’s actual top chef being crowned as such.
Lauren, Miami Goldilocks Jeff McInnis and Leah Cohen — the Scarsdaler/Marisa Tomei wannabe, and Rosenberg’s erstwhile friend-with-benefits — are the evening’s supporting cast. (Memo to Bravo for season 6: Leave The Hills to those people who think an amuse-bouche is some sort of foreplay.)
Tapas will be provided by the Zoë kitchen, so if nothing else it’s an opportunity, sans commitment, to sample the nebulous restaurant’s wares. Alliterate away, Zagat:

The “beautiful, contemporary” setting and “creative”, “delicious” fare at this Contemporary Louisianan in the CBD’s W hotel make it a chic destination for the business lunch set; some sniff at its high-end “chain” trappings, however, calling it “mediocre” and “somewhat pretentious.”

Well, that really doesn’t help at all, does it.

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No Fair Housing in New Orleans

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2009 at 6:49 PM

Even though apartment complexes are legally obligated to meet federal physical disability requirements, an investigative report released today shows that isn’t always the case in New Orleans. In fact, Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center’s audit, “Access Denied,” reveals none of the 22 local apartment complexes GNOFAC examined, complied with the Fair Housing Act or the Fair Housing Amendment Act in terms of accessibility fo.

      Here are some of the report’s findings:

  • 32 percent of complexes had units with doorways that were not accessible
  • 42 percent of complexes had units that lacked accessible routes and/or passageways within the units.
  • 63 percent of complexes had units that lacked accessible electrical and environmental controls.
  • 89 percent of complexes had units with inaccessible bathrooms or kitchens.


     The report states that all of the audited sites were built after March 1991, when it became a requirement for apartment complexes with four or more units to abide by the Fair Housing Act and its amendments. Thirty seven percent of the units were completed before Hurricane Katrina, and 63 percent were constructed after the storm.

     The report does not name any of the 22 apartment complexes. To review the entire audit, click here. 

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The Saints Offense Won't be the Only Unit Making Noise this Season

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2009 at 6:15 PM

Brees stretching it out


Photograph by Jonathan Bachman


Considering how maligned the Saints defense was last year, it might come as great comfort to Black and Gold fans to hear that the new-look, Gregg Williams-led defense this year is off to a promising start.


Well, as promising as you can be playing with no pads in May.


All the talk among the media and most of the questions directed towards Sean Payton and Drew Brees were about the energy and "spirit" the new Saints defense showed in 11-on-11 drills. There was at least one tussle (between cornerback Jason David and offensive tackle Zach Strief after David knocked Skyler Green to the ground) and loads of contact throughout.


The other big difference from last year? Williams has his defense playing no dead balls. That is to say, if at any point a football hits the ground - whether it be incompletion, fumble or otherwise - Saints defensive players have been instructed to "scoop and score" or pick the ball up and try to return it. The theory is that playing past the whistle will help this defense focus on forcing and (more importantly) recovering turnovers. Last year, the Saints ranked near the bottom of the league in turnovers forced.

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The Green Goddess now open

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2009 at 4:15 PM

Chef Chris DeBarr opens his new restaurant Green Goddess today. An alum of Commander's Palace and formerly the chef behind the gourmet kitchen at Delachaise, DeBarr takes over the spot (307 Exchange Place) in the French Quarter long occupied by the vegetarian Old Dog, New Trick. DeBarr's menu is not vegetarian but is rather wonky, culling exotic ingredients and recipes from around the globe (maybe skip the explanation of Mexican huitlacoche). The menu is posted on his blog. He is still waiting on his liquor license, but expects to have it soon. The restaurant is not taking reservations, but he plans to do so for the tasting bar, when the restaurant is running on full steam.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Many Faces of a Wine Festival

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2009 at 11:58 PM

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Thanks to the way they proliferate across the New Orleans calendar, locals seem to have a pretty good lock on what a festival looks like. Most are outdoors and have at least one stage with musical performers. Someone will be selling food and drinks and there will probably be T-shirts for sale, possibly even an official poster.

But what does a five-day wine festival look like? In the case of the New Orleans Food & Wine Experience (NOWFE) now underway, it depends on the day.

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2009 at 11:00 PM

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While our monthly Green Matters goes to print this week, here's a brief news roundup.

  • Check out the short and sweetness of what President Barack Obama's newly laid out plans for future autos looks like (in simple terms).
  • Also on the Grist tip, America: We lost. The National Geographic Greendex ranks America as the lowest of sustainable or green consumers. Hooray.
  •  Water conservation: You down with that? Check your IQ here.
  • The Greater New Orleans Foundation awarded half a million dollars worth of grants to local environmental groups through its Environmental Fund. Follow the list at the bottom to see what those groups will be up to.
  • Also good news: The Hollygrove Market & Farm anticipates opening as early as June. Details to follow in the coming weeks. Get yo' pocketbooks out.

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Suck on this, Arizona!

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2009 at 10:09 PM

Super Bowl in the Superdome


Photograph by Jonathan Bachman


It's official, the Super Bowl is coming back to New Orleans. Man, 2013 can't get here soon enough.

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More on Pastor Raphael

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2009 at 3:43 PM

Through my job with the Gambit, I've been able to talk with a number of interesting people and ask them questions that most polite people wouldn't ask or wouldn't have the opportunity to ask. I'm lucky, and I feel very fortunate to have been able to spend some time with Reverend John Raphael, the spokesman for the anti-violence movement Yes We Care.

     When I first learned of Raphael — ex-cop who is now a Baptist minister fighting for his community — he sounded almost like a stock character out of a detective novel. But as I spoke with him, and he graciously gave me a lot of his time, I realized part of Raphael's appeal to his community is his ability to boil down a complicated problem like the continuing violence in African American neighborhoods and answer it with three simple words: Yes We Care. It's not that Raphael doesn't recognize or is unaware of the numerous factors contributing to this crisis, but he knows the crisis has to first be approached with genuine concern, or, as he would likely put it: Love Thy Neighbor. 

     Here's how Baty Landis, the founder of Silence is Violence, describes Raphael's method.

"I think it's very courageous of Pastor Raphael because he's not someone in my experience who is inclined to essentialize, reduce or categorize a very complex situation. But in this case, he decided to say the core of the crisis is black-on-black violence and the solution needs to come from within our community and there needs to be an outcry from African Americans about African-American perpetuated social and communal patterns of behavior."

     If there's one certainty when you're writing a profile, it's that there will be plenty of material you won't be able to use because of time and space. So in the interest of not wasting Pastor Raphael's time and in sharing some more of his story, after the jump, here's some more of my interview with John Raphael.

Continue reading »

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New Orleans Sports Scuttlebutt 5-18-09

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2009 at 12:43 AM

In many ways, Deuce McAllister's "down hill" running style was the archetype for his entire career. It wasn't his initial contact, though more often than not it was all that was needed,  but it was his second effort that made all the difference. Still, whatever the case, his impact was always felt.


For almost a decade the hulk-like kid out of Ole Miss carried the Saints and would be defenders past some of the most memorable milestones in franchise history. During McAllister's tenure we saw the Saints win their first playoff game ever in 2000. In 06' he and the Saints fell just one game short of the Super Bowl. And just this past season, he was apart of a Saints team that fell just 15 yards shy of putting up the most passing yards in NFL history.


Far and away the Saints most prolific running back, having amassed a franchise record 6,096 yards rushing and 55 touchdowns, its  McAllister's work in and around the New Orleans area that far exceeded his grit iron accolades and made him a local hero. His Catch 22 foundation has done does charity work in New Orleans and in his home town Mississippi for years. Just  recently it held a golf tournament to raise money for a children's hospital in the city.


But unfortunately , as we all know, football is a business and it can be just as brutal off the field as it is on the field. So it came as no surprise that McAllister, hobbled by multiple knee surgeries, was released after posting just 510 yards in his last two seasons.


Now, its Saints' running back Reggie Bush who's taken on the leadership role during this off-season. New Orleans is left wondering which tailback will step up and fill in the void that McAllister has left behind. The Saints currently have eight backs on their roster- Bush and Pierre Thomas being the most notable.  Deuce hasn't ruled out a possible come back to the Saints-however unlikely.


But with a stable of young thoroughbreds it seems clear that the Saints are moving in a totally new direction. So with McAllister searching for a fresh start elsewhere and the Saints young studs jockeying for position the only question seems to be  who among them will play with the same kind of passion and heart that McAllister displayed over the last nine years? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Gumbo in Print

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2009 at 10:54 PM

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Given their obvious professional interests, the food journalists who visited New Orleans last year for the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) conference must have had a heck of a time balancing the desire to check out local restaurants with the official schedule of seminars.

But during it all, a group of them still made time to collaborate on a project to create a lasting -- and charitable -- document of their time here. This collection of writers, photographers and food stylists collaborated on a book called "Room in the Bowl," which explores gumbo in literal and symbolic ways. The 132-page book is filled with the contributors' ruminations on and photos of the ingredients and experiences associated with gumbo.

Published by the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, the book is available exclusively through the museum's store or its Web site.

Contributors donated their work for the project, and proceeds from book sales benefit the museum and The Culinary Trust, the philanthropic partner of the IACP.

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum hosts a book release party and signing on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m., featuring several of the contributors and plenty of gumbo.

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