quick bite: mardi gras at Sweet Cheeks

I am sure that title is going to mislead some people, but if you are looking for something other than food pictures you are going to be disappointed. Growing up in St. Louis, there was a lot of leftover French influence on our culture. Mardi Gras was certainly part of that. It is a much, much bigger deal there than it is in Boston. The foods associated with New Orleans can often be found in St. Louis, but rarely make their way to New England. So when one of my favorite Boston restaurants, is throwing a Mardi Gras party, I go.

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Hurricane

The dinner was excellent.  They served two classic New Orleans cocktails, the Hurricane and the Sazerac.  I had a couple of each.  Sweet Cheeks did not invest in new glassware for this party, so both drinks came in their traditional mason jars. To eat, they started with a cup of spicy gumbo.  The two hardest ingredients to handle in gumbo are okra and shrimp.  Okra can turn mushy and slimy and shrimp can get rubbery in a bad one.  This gumbo had no such issues and was even better than the one I had the last time I was in New Orleans.

 

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Gumbo

The main attraction was the crawfish boil.  Crawfish, shrimp, sausage, corn, and potatoes were flipped out of the pot at your table and along side three very small pieces of garlic bread.  If I had two complaints on the night, they would have been more bread and more sausage. There were only two little half sausage links in this massive pile of food and they were so, so good. I probably could have eaten six. The table next to me didn’t eat theirs.  Maybe they were getting an early start on lent, but I wanted to reach over and grab them. I decided against that.

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IMG_1500.jpgAfter polishing off about two dozen crawfish, a few shrimp, that little bit of sausage, some corn and five or six boiled potatoes, I got dessert. (side note: The only thing I couldn’t finish were the potatoes.  There were just too many of them I guess that is Irish Boston creeping in to Mardi Gras.)  It was King Cake.  Now I had never had King Cake before. I know it is traditional, but when I am in New Orleans I get bananas Foster every chance I get.  See my last post for more on flambéed bananas.  I really had a sweet tooth and I gobbled down my cake and washed it down with a Sazerac without taking a picture. For a minute I was pretty bummed out. I ordered another Sazerac.  I figured I could fix that problem more easily.  I asked the waitress if there was any chance that there was another piece of cake left.  To my good luck and yours there was.  It looked a little different from the first piece.  I think it was the ends, but at least I got a picture.

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Forgot to take a picture before I ate

One final thought.  My mother, who went to college in New Orleans, would never, when I was a kid, have allowed me to have two pieces of cake after not finishing my potatoes. However, these days she would encourage it.  Some things do change.

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Redemption
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Sazerac
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