Barefoot – and Beyond – at Broussard’s
New Orleans is undergoing a culinary renaissance. You can find restaurants serving all kinds of cuisines here, which was pretty much unheard of in the past. In fact, some would say it’s more difficult to find places serving classic Creole cuisine nowadays.
While Broussard’s is not quite as venerable as grand dames like Antoine’s (celebrating its 175th anniversary this year) or Galatoire’s (already 10 years past the 100 year old mark), it is one of the traditional French Quarter Creole eateries, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. And I was lucky enough to be invited by my friends at Barefoot Wines to a luncheon there last week, as part of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience.
A slight turn here to tell you a bit about NOWFE. If you think you know wine and food festivals, just stop right now. In its 23rd year, NOWFE, spanning 5 days each May, offers not only its incomparable Grand Tasting lasting 2 days and featuring 1,000 wines from all over the world – along with bites representing this city’s great food scene, but many wine pairing dinners at top restaurants, seminars on food, wine and even other beverages, the much anticipated Royal Street Stroll and – wait for it- a Burlesque, pastry and cocktail after-party. And all of this partying raises over a million dollars to support local non-profits related to the food industry, so I invite you to come check it out – and soon.
Okay, back to Broussard’s. The air of elegance surrounds as soon as you walk through the doors, leaving the sometimes raucous French Quarter far behind. Like a few other wonderful old French Quarter establishments, Broussard’s opens to reveals a beautiful hidden courtyard. Thankfully, the folks at Barefoot have a love for the older New Orleans’ spots. The last time they invited me to lunch in New Orleans, it was at Antoine’s where we also began the meal with Oysters Rockefeller, a dish they created. Since its creation, it has become an American classic, with so many variations, though, it’s hard to keep track. And no surprise, Broussard’s had their own take on it – fried oysters (the first time I had seen that) bathed in a creamy, sumptuously tasty Herbsaint-scented spinach pureé. Yeah, Antoine’s famously says that the original version does not, never has had spinach in it, but you know what happened there. Broussard’s creamy spinach would have been great all on its own, but oysters are always a welcome treat. We enjoyed them, of course, with a glass of Barefoot Bubbly Brut.
The courses went on – an Oyster and Artichoke Bisque served with Barefoot Chardonnay; a Mushroom and Asparagus Pink Peppercorn Ravigote served with Barefoot Pinot Noir, which I always enjoy; Filet Mignon with a Jumbo Crabmeat Stuffed Portobello served with Barefoot Shiraz, and such a surprise for me, who says she doesn’t like peanut butter desserts – a Peanut Butter Mousse with Fudge Sauce (which I ate every bit of) served with three Barefoot wines from their Red Blend Portfolio – a Rich Red Blend, Sweet Red Blend and Rosa Red Blend. Yum!
Really lucky me, I happened to get invited back to Sunday brunch at Broussard’s, where, after a starter of Turtle Soup, a real old time Creole dish – Grits and Grillades, was fused with a more recent one – New Orleans style Barbecue Shrimp, to top the Grillades. For dessert – what else? Bananas Foster
Oh, and Barefoot, true to form, had parting gifts for us – a great Barefoot beach towel to help us enjoy the barefoot lifestyle, and a couple of bottles – one of which was the Barefoot Refresh Summer Red, which winemaker, Jen Wall, shared with me last summer during a visit to Healdsburg, and which I greatly enjoyed over ice (as they suggest) during the last leg of my packing. Big thanks to NOWFE, Barefoot and Broussard’s.