Manda Cooks: Homemade Caesar Salad


I’m usually not a huge fan of Caesar salad – to me, they’re usually sort of bland and generic and something I never glance twice at on a menu. But when they’re good, they’re REALLY good, like the Caesar at Sant Ambroeus. And usually it’s all about great dressing, because it’s hard to play too much with lettuce, hard boiled egg, and croutons. So I decided to make real, homemade Caesar dressing (using Bon Appetit’s recipe), complete with anchovies and raw egg — ick! But also, YUM, because it ended up being delicious. I made croutons using an olive breadstick from Bread’s Bakery, and added tomatoes and chicken for a little extra oomph and.. ta-da! Perfect Caesar salad!



A Weekend in New Orleans

Brett and I traveled down south to New Orleans for a friend’s wedding last weekend. Although the wedding was on Saturday, we went down on Wednesday night in order to have some free time to explore. And by explore, I obviously mean EAT! Our schedule was essentially as follows: wake up late and wander to brunch, plus coffee either before or after, wander back to our hotel to nap/recover from brunch, then find our way to dinner and drinks. We went off recommendations from a friend who went to Tulane and thoroughly enjoyed what NOLA has to offer — praline bacon, crawfish, and jack & diets to-go! A quick rundown below.

We had brunch on our first day at Stanley – an all-day breakfast spot right on Jackson Square. We shared the Stanley Classic and the Corned Beef Hash, plus (free!) refill after refill of iced tea. I wish I had a picture, because it was so good (especially the Corned Beef Hash), but the food didn’t last long enough! For dinner we went to Peche – one of the “best restaurants” in New Orleans. We shared Fried Bread (yes, that’s a thing), Crab Salad over Corn Puree, Crab and Jalapeno Capellini, Fig and Anchovy Toast, and Grilled Tuna. Delicious all around, but the Crab Capellini was a standout (picture below that doesn’t do it justice.) Before dinner we have drinks at the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel – I recommend the Southern Gentlemen, the perfect way to refresh and recover from the steamy streets!





On Friday we walked over to Elizabeth’s in Bywater. The walk seemed do-able when we looked at the map, but we were a little too hot and sticky by the time we arrived. Thankfully we made a full recovery with the help of A/C and Praline Bacon… and Fried Green Tomatoes and a Chorizo Burrito because, you know. Definitely worth the trek, but we Ubered back to our hotel afterward ; )  Friday night we took the Ferry across the river (canal? unclear.) to the gorom’s parent’s house for a Crawfish Boil… weirdly good, once we got over the creepy-crawliness of it all. To eat a crawfish properly, you twist off it’s tail, crack the tail shell, and then piiinch the meat out. It’s pretty funny, because you just toss the head/body and get the ittiest bit of meat out of the tail, but it’s fun! On our way home, we made a late-night stop at Cafe du Monde for beignets and coffee — going at night is definitely a smart move, as lines are down the block during the day (and you have to wait in the sun!)




Before the Crawfish boil, we had drinks at Pat O’Briens — famous for their Hurricanes, but we had our standard Jack & Diet / Tequila & Soda. They have a pretty patio and a fun piano bar, but a rowdy/noisy crowd (must be the Hurricanes!). And before we headed down to the Ferry, we made a quick stop on Bourbon Street just to say we did — we had the Shark Attack at Topical Isle, complete with a plastic shark and alligator… and whistle blowing, bell ringing, etc.



Saturday we Ubered to Hey! Cafe on Magazine Street (“Best Iced Coffee in the World!” so they say), and walked from there to St. James Cheese Company for lunch. After two days of heavy brunching, we wanted something a little less greasy but equally indulgent, and St. James fit the bill! We shared the Il Mostro sandwich (photo below) and the Parmesan Salad, plus a pickle plate and a glass of Rose. The place was packed with locals, which was a nice change of scenery from the French Quarter. The wedding later that day was HOT but fun, and the food was delicious. It was fully outside, but we snuck inside to escape the heat a few times.




Before we left on Sunday, we took an Uber to Stein’s Deli on Magazine Street in the Garden District. It’s a Jewish and Italian Deli opened by people from Philly, so it was a must-go for us! We bid farewell to NOLA the way only New Yorkers would — with bagels of course! Overall an amazing trip, with food, drinks and friends that made the heat and humidity bearable.