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Cutting Edge

The Savvy Gourmet continues to offer a great variety of cooking classes. In September, home cooks and wannabes may tour the farmers' market with Chef Corbin Evans, hone their knife skills with Chef Zac Robertson, learn chocolate secrets from Pastry Chef Meg Roen, cook with self-proclaimed Italian Grandma Stephen Hassinger ‰ the list goes on. Check out Savvy Gourmet's Web site,, or call 482-3726 for more information.

Mac Attack

A new McDonald's restaurant opening late next month under the name Chef Mac's (1515 Poydras St.) is looking to compete with the CBD's quainter in-and-out breakfast and lunch joints. In addition to the burgers and fries sold at every McDonald's, Chef Mac's menu offers soups, salads dressed with Newman's Own dressings, pizzas and panini sandwiches. A handful of selections were specifically designed to appeal to New Orleanians: the muffaletta panini, the Cajun slaw sidekick to every sandwich, bananas Foster cheesecake, bread pudding and Community Coffee's New Orleans Blend coffee. Perhaps the most unexpected feature at this one-of-a-kind McDonald's is that it comes with its own head chef, Walter Groote, who has cooked previously in Houma, Thibodaux and Lafayette.

A Matter of Taste

In other mega-chain news, last month Starbucks baristas began pre-icing iced coffees by shaking them in clear plastic vessels martini-style before actually pouring them over ice. The idea, according to a company press release, is that "through shaking the beverages become aerated, bringing out a variety of distinctive flavors for a light, frothy drink with an incredible new taste." "An incredible new taste" might be going a little far, but the baristas will also custom sweeten the iced coffees as they shake, which truly is an improvement upon the half-inch of undissolved sugar that tends to collect at the bottom of iced coffees all over town. Other cafes should consider adopting this simple formula. A manager at an Uptown Starbucks told me that customers may also request milk in their shaken iced coffees, but I've since had difficulty convincing a couple of baristas that adding milk is in their job descriptions.

Late, Grape

This Wednesday, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., is the summer's final wine tasting at RioMar (800 S. Peters St.,525-3474). Rickilane Banks will guide participants through a tasting of some "big, bad" red wines from around the world; Chef Adolfo Garcia will supply the tapas. The cost is $35.


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