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Summertime blues or maybe not

Jun 26 2013

by Sean Rivera

Summertime in the South, most specifically New Orleans, often means evenings when the mercury hovers around the mid 80’s with matching humidity levels. As a native to the city, this time of year is almost a comfort, a simpler time to enjoy the charms New Orleans has to offer. Walking down the streets of the French Quarter in the evening draws an unmistakable silence that is as thick as the air. There is often a chance click clack from the carriage mules strolling through and a faint hum of laughter and conversation.

Tourism thus loses its appeal for most visitors during this time of year, and many of those who make New Orleans their home try to find some sort of refuge elsewhere. This quietness in the industry affects hotels and restaurants the most. However, just as there is a negative, there is often a positive. For locals and those tourists that dare to venture into the sauna that exists outside, its often the best time to eat at some of the most famous restaurants. For example, should you walk through the French Quarter and you happen upon most corners, there are a handful of prestigious restaurants with tables open. Yes, you can walk in without any reservations and get a table!

Because most of these restaurants are aware of the potential slowdown they often create special menus with special pricing to allure in those that don’t often venture into the French Quarter. There are many different websites that will provide listings of this information. However, in my opinion, I find it to be better to simply venture out and see what you come across after a wonderful Sazerac or two at some of the more standard establishments. The evening light will help guide your way until about 8 or 9 pm. So such a venture is surely to allow time for the suffocating heat to start to clear out, plus the breeze from the river will help to blow off some of the humidity.

Beyond the illustrious French Quarter, there are the many different corners of New Orleans that can also entice an evening meal. See, there are so many restaurants in New Orleans that you can literally eat out every day all year and probably only tap a couple layers of the immense onion that is New Orleans’ food scene. Some of these restaurants can be just as difficult to get a table as Galatoire’s, Brennan’s, K-Paul’s and Antoine’s.

When all else fails, and you simply cannot get out into the heat, but you certainly want to savor the delicious flavors that you are craving, a simple dish that reminds you of one of these restaurants can get you closer to the experience. One of the best dishes I remember having was at Galatoire’s a couple years ago. It was a crabmeat stuffed avocado. The crabmeat was jumbo lump and was tossed in a sauce that had a hint of spice, then combined with the creamy avocado, it was a dish that I still can taste every bite when I close my eyes.

Working in the kitchen after a hot day, I was inspired to re-create this dish as we had just received in a shipment of beautiful jumbo gulf shrimp and lump crabmeat. The avocados I had bought a few days ago were just starting to turn black and weren’t rock hard anymore. I had my ingredients at their peak, so I proceeded to create my take on this incredible dish.

As an homage to the Galatoire’s style Remoulade sauce, I mixed together some mayo, creole mustard, touch of horseradish, touch of chili sauce, and some various herbs and spices. I boiled the shrimp in a stock pot filled with lemons, onions, garlic, crab boil and celery, essentially a mini version of a crawfish or shrimp boil. Once the shrimp had cooled, I peeled them and tossed them with the crabmeat in the Remoulade sauce I had made. I popped them into the refrigerator to marinate and chill in their sauce.

I ended up getting caught up in the afternoon prep work for dinner service. So about 3 hours later, just before dinner service, I realized how hungry I was and that I needed to at least try my concoction. I sliced the avocado, stuffed and stacked as much of the shrimp and crabmeat Remoulade inside the avocado, I topped it off with one of the remaining boiled shrimp that my kitchen staff hadn’t devoured, and a few sprigs of microgreens. Remoulade sauce on the bottom and a drizzle of parsley oil in a vibrant shade of green to finish off the plating. I was only able to take a couple pictures before dinner tickets were able to start coming in and I need to eat this version of a time honored dish.

The flavors were not exactly as I had remembered them, but it was delicious all the same. Truth be told, there is something about having someone else prepare food for you that simply makes it taste better.

The seafood stuffed avocado was completely gone within a few minutes, but my memory will never escape me. I do look forward to an early August evening when I venture out to the French Quarter and I can order this dish to compare memory against the physical.

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