Back-to-Back Bowl Games in the Big Easy

With one game left, the Saints can still make the playoffs with a win on Sunday against the Bears, provided Minnesota and Washington both lose on Sunday. It’s a long shot, but possible. If this unlikely scenario plays out, the Saints will face the Seahawks in Seattle for the first round of the post season—-a rematch of week 5, when the Saints ended their atrocious four-game losing streak to start the season.

Playoffs or not for the Saints, there will be no more pro football in the Big Easy for the rest of the ’07-’08 season. Now it’s bowl season, baby; and with 3 college football bowl games in the Superdome, there’s still plenty more football to go. The New Orleans Bowl was last Friday, December 21, with Florida Atlantic stomping Memphis. Then there’s the Sugar Bowl on January 1st between Hawaii and Georgia, and the BCS Championship game on January 7th between Ohio State and LSU.

According to Yahoo! news, the Superdome will be the first stadium ever to host three bowl games in the same season. Analysts estimate that by the end of the Championship game almost $500 million will have been thrust into the New Orleans economy.

No doubt, this is an exciting time for the city, with tens of thousands of visitors, hotels booked solid, millions of tourism dollars and, of course, LSU playing for the title (so much for bowl games on neutral territories).

photo courtesy of hamron, used under this Creative Commons license

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Saints Defeat Cardinals and Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

The Saints are back to .500 after beating the Cardinals yesterday afternoon 31-24. The Saints controlled the game for the most part, but not without the occassional turnover, sloppy drive and defensive lapse. Drew Brees was phenomenal, passing for 315 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Saints are holding onto their playoff hopes, in the middle of the wildcard race with a record of 7-7. Also, props to Aaron Stecker for running the ball extremely well, without the help of injured running backs, Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush.

The Giants, at 9-5, are basically a lock for the first wildcard position; but the 7-6 Vikings, 7-7 Saints, and 7-7 Redskins are all fighting for that last playoff spot. The Vikings play the Bears tonight on Monday Night Football, so put on your Saints hat, get to your favorite bar, and start rooting against those “Scandinavian seafaring worriers.”

WHO DAT!

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Bank Robbery at the Capital One on Carrollton

According to WWLTV, at around 11:30am, Thursday morning, four men in masks with AK-47’s robbed an armored car that was stopped in front of the Capital One bank on Carrollton (between Oak and Zimpel). The suspects parked their car in the middle of Carrollton to block traffic and create a diversion. Then gunfire was exchanged with the armored car drivers and guards from the bank, and in the chaos, shots were fired into the bank. The suspects then escaped in a different vehicle with an undisclosed amount of money. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt.

I walked into my house after work yesterday with no idea about what happened. Immediately my roommates start going off about the robbery because it occurred at the bank right next to my house! They heard the gunshots and described the scene as having “SWAT guys everywhere.”

Crime in New Orleans? Not a very shocking concept. However, this incident was shocking to me for a few reasons:

  • It happened during lunch time on Carrollton, with tons of spectators.
  • It was a calculated, well-planned crime, unlike most of the crime around here.
  • And, finally, I use the bank’s ATM and walk my dog in front of and around the bank regularly.

Check out the stories from WWLTV and NOLA.com.

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Review: Philip Chan’s Asian Cajun Bistro

Asian Cajun Bistro is an exciting, dynamic place to eat. The dishes are exotic, fusing elements of traditional Asian concepts with spicy Louisiana flavors. And the menu is enormous.

With so much to choose from, my girlfriend and I ordered an assortment of smaller dishes. We started with fried green tomatoes with crawfish and lump crab meat in a creamy bĂ©arnaise sauce, which was prepared with limited Asian influence, but was still excellent. Then we had two dishes from their small portions menu: fried calamari with a really spicy chili cocktail sauce and seared tuna over seaweed salad with a sweet sesame sauce—-both perfectly cooked and extremely flavorful. We also ordered tofu fried rice. I’m a MEAT guy, but my girlfriend wanted tofu, and it was actually really tasty—-not your mundane, run-of-the-mill fried rice.

Asian Cajun has mastered the art of sauce-making. That’s why the menu is so extensive and the food so creative—-it’s all about the sauce. In addition, items on the menu have a wide range of prices. You can order $15-$30 entrees if you want, or you can sample a few different appetizers or small portions for $7-$10. Your options at Asian Cajun Bistro are virtually limitless; you can try something new and have a totally different experience every time you go.

Asian Cajun also offers a fairly large wine and sake selection, as well as daily lunch specials. Reservations advised Friday and Saturday night.

Contact Info:
8400 Oak Street
New Orleans, LA 70118
(504) 522-4964
www.asiancajunbistro.com

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Review: Brunch at Dante’s Kitchen

Dante’s Kitchen is a quaint uptown cottage turned restaurant. There is a welcoming, cozy air both inside and out—-wooden floors, fireplaces, brightly-colored walls, and a lovely patio outside, surrounded by plants, flowers and a wooden fence.

Dante’s is open every day for dinner; but it’s extremely popular for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays (10:30am-2:00pm). I’ve had brunch at Dante’s a few times and it’s exquisite. The first time, everything on the brunch menu looked so good it literally took me a half hour to decide what to order. I finally decided on the “Debris and Poached Eggs on a caramelized onion biscuit, topped with a demi-glace hollandaise” and had no regrets. Since then, everything I’ve ordered or tasted has been awesome, as well—-from the Bread Pudding French Toast to the Seafood Cakes.

For the most part, the entrees are bold, rich and fairly heavy; but if you’re in the mood for something lighter (and healthier), the menu offers a variety of salads and sandwiches, too. The BLT is without question the best BLT I’ve ever tasted.

The entire menu is reasonably priced, with most dishes under $13. Reservations advised.

Contact Info:
736 Dante Street
New Orleans, LA 70118
(504) 861-3121
www.danteskitchen.com

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Review: Venezia Restaurant

Born and raised in NY, I take my Italian food seriously. When I walked through the front door of Venezia Restaurant, the first thing I noticed was the aroma. It smelled like “real” Italian, which is always a treat outside NY. I know I sound like the arrogant New Yorker who thinks everything about NY is so great, but come on—-when it comes to pizza and Italian food, nowhere else does it better…at least in this country.

Anyway, sitting in Venezia, enjoying the fine aroma of fresh tomatoes and garlic, and sipping on my tasty Peroni (a light, refreshing beer imported from Italy), I was extremely excited for the meal. As always, my girlfriend and I ordered a few dishes to share: to start, a stuffed artichoke, followed by chicken parmigiana and pork osso buco. The spaghetti and meatballs looked really good, so we ordered a side of meatballs to go with our sides of pasta.

 

After my favorable first impression, I had really high expectations for the food; but to be honest, the food fell a little short. The chicken parm was awesome—-good quality chicken, breaded and fried perfectly, with delicious marinara sauce (I’m very picky about my sauce!) It was one of the best chicken parms I’ve ever had, period. The meatballs were also very good–tender, juicy, well-seasoned. On the other hand, however, the stuffed artichoke and pork osso buco were sub par. The artichoke was actually cold when our server brought it out; and the osso buco, though cooked well, was bland and unseasoned.

When I weigh all aspects of Venezia, the overall dining experience was pretty good—-a little disappointing, but still good. I would hesitate before ordering a dish that didn’t include their excellent marinara sauce; but I would definitely go back for the ambiance, chicken parm, meatballs and Peroni.

Contact Info:
134 N. Carrollton Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70119
(504) 488-7991

 

photo courtesy of zero-g, used under this Creative Commons license
photo courtesy of eliazar, used under this Creative Commons license

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Japanese Food in Uptown NOLA

There are four places that come to mind when I want Japanese food in the uptown area–Mikimoto, Kyoto, Hana and Ninja. All of these places are comparably priced with solid sushi, appetizers and entrees. So how do you know where to go?

KYOTO:
As far as looks, Kyoto is has the nicest setting. It’s a great place to eat out with a group; and it has sort of become a double date spot for me and my girlfriend. It also has relatively inexpensive hot sake and Sapporo, so it’s definitely where I go if I wanna get wasted off some sake bombs. The servers get a tad annoyed if we bang on the tables when we take the sake bombs, but that’s understandable.

MIKIMOTO:
Mikimoto seats until 10:30pm (11pm on Friday and Saturday), so it’s great for a late night dinner or snack. It’s also the only one with a drive-thru window and delivery service…all open until 10:30 or 11pm. The service is very good and extremely fast for sit-down, pick-up and delivery. I’ve ordered delivery from Mikimoto dozens of times, and it’s almost always at my door in less than 25 minutes! As far as ambiance, the outside looks sketchy, but it’s actually rather nice inside. I’ve enjoyed the few times I’ve eaten-in; however, I choose Mikimoto mainly for take-out or delivery.

HANA and NINJA:
I rarely eat at Hana and Ninja because I am so fond of the other two. Hana and Ninja are both good, especially if you go for lunch when they have cheap specials. However, for both quality and service, Kyoto and Mikimoto are simply better.

photo courtesy of avlxyz, used under this Creative Commons license
photo courtesy of avlxyz
, used under this Creative Commons license

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Review: One Restaurant & Lounge


One Restaurant & Lounge is one of those places you don’t really hear much about; the sign in front is small, and to be honest, the first few times I passed it, I thought it was a clothing store.

That being said, when I finally had dinner at One, I was extremely impressed. The restaurant’s layout is a blend of classy and casual. The lighting is romantic; the black napkins really pop against the white tablecloths. As my girlfriend said, it’s a great place to bring a date. There is also a friendly, laid back element to the restaurant. The service was solid; and I enjoyed watching the chef work in the open kitchen, visible from most of the tables. I also enjoyed glancing over at the TV for a few downs of Monday Night Football throughout the course of the meal.

My girlfriend and I ordered a small array of dishes to share.

Appetizers:
“Herbed Gnocchi and Escargots in a Leek & Bacon Meuniere;” and “Pepper-Seared Scallops atop Roasted Acorn Squash, served with a Honey & Paprika Gastrique.”

Salad:
“Arugula & Roasted Beets Salad with Raspberry & Balsamic Vinaigrette, Goat Cheese and Candied Walnuts.”

Entree:
“Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Warm Beef Shoulder Rillete & Stilton Cheese Glacage Served with Dauphinoise Potatoes and Sauteed Vegetables.”

I order scallops a lot–perhaps my favorite seafood. These pepper-seared scallops were the best I’ve eaten in a while. They were cooked and seasoned perfectly, with the sweetness of the gastrique providing a delightful balance to the spice of the scallops. All the dishes we ordered were fantastic, but I will remember and talk about these scallops for a long time–this dish is a must order!

Contact Info:
8132 Hampson St.
New Orleans, LA. 70118
(504) 301-9061
www.one-sl.com

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Awesome Marinade: Kalbi Beef

This could be the best marinade I have ever tasted, so I wanted to pass a long the recipe. My mom inherited the recipe from a friend of hers who was born in Korea. The traditional Korean dish is called Kalbi beef, which usually utilizes beef short ribs. This marinade is so good, you really could use any type of meat you want as long as it’s cut thin, no thicker than 1/4 inch. Once you start mixing all these ingredients together, the aroma alone is enough to make your mouth water. It’s important to use high quality sesame oil and soy sauce–they make a huge difference in taste, as well as smell.

Here’s the recipe:

Fresh garlic, as much as you want, chopped or scliced
Fresh mushrooms, as much as you want, sliced
3-6 scallions, chopped
1 large onion, peeled & sliced
1 pear, peeled & sliced thin
2 kiwis, peeled & sliced thin

Combine these into a large bowl.

Then add:

2 cups soy sauce (good quality, or it will be too salty)
3/4 – 1 cup sugar
1 tsp. black pepper

Mix everything together, then add:

2-3 Tbs. sesame oil (good quality oils taste much better)

For best results, marinate the meat for 24 hours, but if you don’t have that long, it’s still good with only a few hours. Then start either grilling or broiling. If you grill, cover the grill rack with heavy foil & poke small holes for the fat to drip without losing veggies.

Enjoy!

photo courtesy of jetalone, used under this Creative Commons license

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Tulane Police Officer Accused of Raping Tulane Student

As a recent graduate of Tulane, this is one of the most shocking stories I have ever read. About a month ago, the Tulane Hullabaloo reported about a male Tulane student in his junior year who was allegedly tasered and raped by an officer of the Tulane University Police Department (TUPD). According to the article, A TUPD officer walked the student back to his dorm late at night and forcibly entered his room. When the student had a chance to get away, he tried but was unable to contact anyone. There was a struggle and the student felt a sharp pain in his neck. He awoke the next morning alone in his bed, naked and with two marks in his neck. If you are interested in more of the details, please check out the original story or editorial at www.thehullabaloo.com.

The creepiest aspect of this whole thing is the LACK of coverage it’s received. I would think a story like this should at least make the local news–if not the national news. Neither the Times Picayune nor NOLA.com reported on this story. The only publication that did cover this alleged rape was the student-run Tulane Hullabaloo; and its report was practically incomplete because every Tulane official questioned in the article was unable to comment on the accusation.

I don’t know if NOPD and TUPD are still trying to build a case, or if the charges were just dropped; but since no charges were filed and no arrest was made, from a PR perspective, I understand Tulane’s desire to keep this alleged rape quiet.
(No publicity is bad publicity… I’m not sure that stands in this case.) However, from the standpoint of student safety and awareness, I believe that the Tulane administration’s silence is extremely irresponsible.

photo courtesy of wka, used under this Creative Commons license

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