I’ve never been to Louisiana or tasted Creole cuisine, but Erin’s (the chef) description of a ‘flavour junkie’s dream’, with influences of Caribbean, French, Spanish, Italian, and (from Wikipedia) even nuances of Native American and African was enough to tempt me.
Pop-Up dining is an inspired idea in dining, where a group of fun-loving foodies get together for a one-off themed dinner. I have attended several of these, and the food has always been jam-packed with flavour, cooked with total heart and served with utter warmth.
To the uninitiated (myself included), the muffaletta is simply a sensational sandwich. Then, I found out that muffaletta is THE sandwich of New Orleans. It is made with a muffaletta bread (flat, round sesame-topped Italian bread which appears to be a cousin of the focaccia), filled with olive salad, deli meats (capicola, salami and pepperoni) and provolone cheese. The marinated olive salad makes all the difference, the brine-y olive, pickled vegetables, salty capers concoction makes this sandwich truly memorable.
Shrimp remoulade, - Louisiana remoulade is a paprika-based sauce and here it’s paired with cos lettuce and blanched shrimp. It was bit too salty for my tastes, but having a piquant sauce works well with the green salad and sweet shrimp.
The Creole-style chicken and Andouille sausage jambalaya was a taste sensation. Erin had sourced the Andouille sausage from Havoc Pork (available at Farro Fresh). This was cooked using the ‘holy trinity’ base of Creole cooking, - celery, bell peppers and onions which were sweated before the addition of chicken and sausage, then rice and . The jambalaya was a perfect balance of sweet, savoury and spicy. I’m going to have to beg this recipe from Erin.
The Cajun-style rabbit gumbo had an impossibly difficult act to follow. This was cooked with a variety of mushrooms, but the generous use of rehydrated shiitake mushroom gave it too much of a earthy flavour.
We were served ‘"Mint julep" whoopie pies (chewy chocolate-mint sandwich cookies with a bourbon-vanilla filling).
Erin also made “Café au lait” which was a Café du Monde-style milky coffee pannacotta accompanied with a spiced brandy biscuit. The pannacotta was smooth, with the bitterness balanced out by the milky sweetness. Simply delicious.
We were serenaded by the very talented BB Bowness on banjo who completed the atmosphere of a perfect evening out.
I’m completely sold on the food of New Orleans and I can’t wait to try and make muffalettas and chicken & Andouille sausage jambalaya!