Day Four – In Which Our Hero Collides with the Local Flavors

OK, so I’ve been told I am somewhat demanding when it comes to food. I was looking forward to Vincent’s, an old school Italian place and especially the bracialoni , a roll of veal around stuffing and touted by Gumbo Tales as the New Orleans Italian dish to have. So, of course, we had some.
IMG_0810Vincent’s is old school. Green, red and white, Jerry Vale on the sound system, second generation run. All I wanted and more. The breadsticks and softened garlic-scallion butter on the table to start was a superb touch. The Rose of Sicily (a breaded deep fried artichoke heart draped with shaved parmesan in a garlic olive oil was quite tasty and the parmesan was good quality. The crabmeat stuffed mirlton (chayote) in a white sauce was also quite good and I got a sense of mirlton’s taste (subtle) and texture (like the pepper in a chile relleno). The duck carbonara was loaded with bacon and duck in a homemade wide pasta. Even the blue cheese vinegrette on the salad was good, a touch sweet from balsamic, and Gorgonzola blue cheese.

Bracialoni

Bracialoni

But the bracialoni. The veal was tender and well cooked. The angel hair pasta the dish sat on was cooked al dente. The stuffing contained some tender artichoke leaves and chunks of heart, which was a nice surprise.  But there is something about New Orleans bread that when put into stuffing stays a little too moist for my tastes. The sauce, however, was sweet. Too sweet. It was a beautiful looking sauce and quite clearly intended to be sweet, but a little too much for my tastes. The dish is a good one and I am eager to get home and make it. Some rose veal, panko breadcrumbs and my own marinara sauce. I’m sure it will be everything and more. I’m totally ill equipped to critique gumbo, but I do have some experience with Italian red sauce so I feel I can weigh in here.

During the day, we spent some time walking around, first on the levee, looking at the Mississippi and then through some more neighborhoods. We stopped at the New Orleans Arts Council show where Cindy was helping out, selling donated books to help fund the local library. Had a good soft shell crab po’ boy, some boiled crawfish, also good and spicy, and, a watermelon-limeade. I chatted with the woman who was making it, muddling chunks of watermelon and slices of lime in a silvery cocktail shaker. At the end, she added some sugar and a lot of ice and converted me. That was damn good and going to be on my drink list all summer. Plus, my hands smelled of crawfish all day and what could be bad about that?

Oh yeah, I had a nectar flavored sno cone ball. “What flavor is nectar?” I asked the girl who was making it. “Old style cream soda,” said her father. Vivid red in color, it was cream soda, thick and sweet and vanilla and good.

The art, by the way, was colorful and exuberant and extremely good quality. Even the photorealist paintings with dark backgrounds somehow had a vibrancy of color that was so so different from what I see in New England. There was music, of course, a good singer with an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar accompaniment loud enough to follow us around the park. Jazz Fest, coming next week, plus Easter, had kept some vendors at home, getting ready, and probably some browsers as well. But it was a warm afternoon and what could be better than that?


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