With EatLafayette kicking its campaign into high gear this year - Robert Mondavi Wines has joined The New Fly Lafayette Club as a title sponsor - The Independent has stepped up its effort to steer diners to locally owned establishments as well. Now in its eighth year, EatLafayette has more than 60 participating restaurants for the campaign, which ends Aug. 15. Every week day during EatLafayette, The Independent will spotlight a Dish of the Day; on Wednesdays, our Dish of the Day also becomes the Dish of the Week and is published in the print edition, along with other features spotlighting the local industry. Read more about The Independent's ongoing EatLafayette coverage and how to participate here.
2Paul's Angus Beef Brisket Salad
The salad starts with a bed of crisp Romaine, pecan-smoked chopped Angus brisket, apples and red raisins and is then topped with balsamic-marinated chargrilled asparagus. Add a drizzle of 2Paul's housemade horseradish remoulade dressing to create a combination of fresh and savory in an enormous serving. 2Paul's prides itself on its "Oklahoma smoke and Louisiana spice" and offers barbecue seafood and meats in salads, sandwiches and sides. For EatLafayette 2012, the restaurant is offering buy one rack of ribs and get the second one half off. It is located at 2668 Johnston St., next to Albertsons, and is open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Elizabeth Rose
2Paul's Radically Urban Barbeque
2668 Johnston St. Suite C-4
Charley G's General Manager Courtney Vincent serves up the restaurant's wood-grilled mahi mahi with Robert Mondavi Private Selection 2010 Pinot Noir, proving that white wine is not essential for fish. The fish is accompanied by a baby bay shrimp sauté and summer vegetable succotash with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. "The smoky flavors of the mahi cooked over our wood-burning grill is complemented by the fruit flavors and crisp acidity of the pinot noir," says Vincent, who worked at Emeril Lagasse's Delmonico in New Orleans before joining the Charley G's staff. The mahi mahi is one of two second-course options for the restaurant's EatLafayette special, a two-course meal for $20. For the other éntrée, Charley G's offers a panéed chicken fettuccine maque choux, a boneless chicken breast with cream sauce, corn and tasso, which Vincent paired with the 2010 Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay, noting that the creaminess in the pasta accentuates the wine's buttery flavors. For the first course, customers can choose either a southern Caesar salad or seasonal soup. Charley G's has been serving Lafayette diners since 1985 and is located at 3809 Ambassador Caffery Parkway. The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. It serves dinner Monday through Saturday, offering live piano music Thursday through Saturday. - Elizabeth Rose
3809 Ambassador Caffery Parkway
Fresh Is As Fresh Does
Farmers markets are a key ingredient to tasty food.
Early to rise may have you early to bed, but in the restaurant business it can net you the freshest and tastiest éntrées on your menu - if you're one to patronize farmers markets.
"We get first crack at it," says Mary Tutwiler, co-owner of the Saint Street Inn. "The earlier you get there, the better off you are."
Tutwiler checks out farmers markets in the area at the crack of dawn and for good reason: The produce is "utterly dead fresh and in prime condition and for cheaper than I can buy anywhere else in town, and I get to come back here and cook them and they taste better than anything I've eaten," she says. "Why would I not want to do that?"
The local produce Tutwiler purchases includes tomatoes, watermelon, cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, squash, blackberries and blueberries. Also, the beef and eggs are local. And the herbs - oregano, green onion, parsley, basil, sage, lavender and French sorrel - are just steps away from the kitchen and partially frame the restaurant.
"I'll be making dinner and literally run outside and cut some basil," says Tutwiler.
David Richter, who directs the Acadiana Farmers Market, says "the only way you can sell at our farmers market is if you raised the produce yourself."
The AFM has been around since 1970, but Richter says until recently the produce was mostly purchased by individuals. "For years, we never had the restaurants come to us, and now they're starting to," he says, adding that Pimon Thai was one of the first to buy from the market; now they're lining up for basically one reason: "The flavor," Richter says. "They'll tell me that, Oh that squash I had fixed, the costumer went wild over it because of the flavor.' A lot of the stuff you buy from the wholesale has been refrigerated for a long time and it loses its flavor, that real homegrown flavor."
Richter says produce loses value and flavor the longer it sits in a truck. Tutwiler couldn't agree more.
"This stuff has been picked the day before, has never been refrigerated, it hasn't sat in a truck and traveled across the country or sat in somebody's cooler," she says of fresh produce. "The minute you pick a vegetable or a piece of fruit, it starts dying. The sugars start changing to starch. The cellular walls start breaking down; flavors start disintegrating. I am getting the freshest produce I can buy," she says. Another motive, Tutwiler says, is larger in scope.
"I believe in supporting the land and the people who are firsthand working with the land building up the quality of the land - keeping us supplied with food without which we would die," she says. "I'm not a farmer myself, but I'm doing my best to support the farmers and to keep the earth and the land healthy."
Manny Augello, Jolie Louisiana Bistro's executive chef, says along with the "general health factors of just knowing where the food is grown, who grows it for you, what goes into it, you have a relationship with these farmers who really put a lot into our local food," says Augello.
It's a relationship that can be formed by anyone at all of the local markets, including the Freetown Farmer's Market.
"The way we see it is why would we go and get our product off of 18-wheelers with food that is flown in with a massive carbon footprint from all over the country," Augello says, "when everything we could possibly want is here."
And what he gets here can be found on Jolie's menu for the week, and it's based on what's fresh at Acadiana Farmers Market and the Hub City Farmer's Market when he drops by on Saturdays. "I scope it out and see what to expect for the coming week," he says. "I plan our weekly menu based on that."
Check back with The Independent each week to see what terrific dishes EatLafayette restaurants are creating from local farmers markets. - Dominick Cross
Acadiana Farmers Market
Tues., Thurs., Sat., 5:30-10 a.m.
801 Foreman Drive
Freetown Farmer's Market
Wed. 2-7 p.m.; Sat. 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Hub City Farmer's Market
Sat. 8 A.M.-noon
427 Heymann Blvd.