Eats 7-11-12

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.

Oysters Rockefeller

This dish features a seafood favorite: oysters, something Poor Boy's Riverside Inn is famous for. For its Oysters Rockefeller, the restaurant creates a mélange of savory and salty seasoning combined with spinach atop freshly shucked and steamed oysters. Then Poor Boy's bakes the oysters with the Rockefeller sauce on top of rock salt in dozen or half-dozen portions. For its EatLafayette special, order two regularly priced entrées and receive a free order of Crabbies (the restaurant's French bread baked and smothered with cheesy crabmeat) and sweet potato beignets with orange-hazelnut sauce for dessert. - Elizabeth Rose

Poor Boy's Oysters Rockefeller and Oysters Bienville

Poor Boy's Riverside Inn
240 Tubing Road, Broussard
(337) 837-4011

2-8 oz fresh/frozen spinach packages (boiled & chopped)
2 cups chopped green onions
1/4 lb bacon finely chopped
2 T Herbsaint absinthe liqueur
1 T minced garlic
2 oz Herbsaint
1 cup celery
1/4 lb butter (unsalted)
1-2 oz can anchovies (chopped fine)
1/4 cup of parsley (finely chopped)
salt, red, white & black pepper to taste
2 dozen oysters
2 T chopped red bell pepper (optional)

1. In a medium saucepan over high heat cook bacon until brown and crispy.
2. When crispy, add Herbsaint and simmer for four minutes.
3. Turn down heat to low. Add all ingredients, stir well, cover, simmer until veggies are soft.
4. Shuck two dozen oysters, wash, then par boil them.
5. Rinse two dozen of the shells, put the oysters in, then cover completely with Rockefeller sauce.
6. Put rock salt in a large platter, place oysters and Rockefeller on top, then bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Food for a Cause

EatLafayette restaurants feed local health clinic volunteers
"We're really grateful that we live in a place where people are so generous." - Renee Bennett

Renee Bennett, the volunteer coordinator for the Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic, is charged with the task of welcoming area restaurant workers into the clinic every Tuesday and Thursday when EatLafayette restaurants donate meals to the clinic for the volunteer nurses, doctors, pharmacists and dentists.

"It's an investment in both ways," says Bennett. "We serve many patients who are employed in the restaurant industry, so the restaurants are helping their own staff." The LCHCC is open 48 weeks a year, offering free health care for the working uninsured. Every Tuesday and Thursday, LCHCC hosts an open clinic that requires 45 to 50 volunteers to treat patients or assist with the medical paperwork - and the food providers play a key role because most of the volunteers come to the clinic directly from work. That means their evening meal would fall by the wayside if it weren't for the donated dinners.

Bennett describes the kitchen at the clinic as a gathering place full of "camaraderie and kinship." She says many of the volunteers intentionally patronize the restaurants that donate to the cause because of each restaurant's continued generosity. The EatLafayette restaurants feeding the medical volunteers are Antlers, Bailey's Bistro, BJ's Pizza, Blue Dog Café, Coyote Blues, Don's Downtown, Hub City Diner, Joey's, Judice Inn, Old Tyme Grocery, Pete's Family Sports Grill and Poor Boy's Riverside Inn. "The lifeblood of volunteering is goodwill and hope, and we're thankful for their generosity," says Bennett. "We're really grateful that we live in a place where people are so generous." - Elizabeth Rose

Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic
1317 Jefferson St.
(337) 593-9208

Freshest Ingredients

Healthy Eating

There is a good reason Lafayette earned the Tastiest Town in the South title from Southern Living. This city is home to some of the best cooking in the country and the world, as Lafayette residents can attest, but we're located in a state that boasts one of the highest heart disease rates in the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lafayette Parish has up to 231 deaths from heart disease per 100,000 people, and some estimates blame heart disease for one in four deaths in Louisiana.

Sandra's Café's chicken spaghetti with carrots and salad  Photo by Elizabeth Rose

Sandra's Café and Health Food Store
Here in Lafayette, we know how to eat well, and we may end up paying the price for it - but some local restaurants are looking to change that. Sandra's Café and Health Food Store General Manager Jason Feria, who is from Puerto Rico but most recently lived in Los Angeles, says it's been a challenge since moving here to stay on the healthy straight and narrow. But he also says it's fun to help his customers make the transition from gumbo and étouffée to healthier options, teaching them they don't have to forgo taste to lead a healthier lifestyle. Sandra's offers plate lunches (with a host of organic vegetable choices), which Feria says are the business's main draw, made from the "cleanest possible ingredients," like hamburger steaks from grass-fed beef and hormone-free, free-range chicken shawarma - but also serves up the classic shrimp and grits. The café serves plate lunches with no salt, low salt, dairy-free and soy-free options and is looking to expand the plate lunch menu to cater to other food allergies. The store sells items for "every possible intolerance and allergy," according to Feria, including gluten-free. Feria compares eating habits to stalactites: "They're formed one drop at a time - it's the same thing with our bodies. How we live each day is how we live our lives."

Oil Center Health Foods and Whole Wheatery Eatery
The mother-and-daughter duo Jean and Jamie Goodman took over the established Oil Center Health Foods and Whole Wheatery Eatery in 2009 and have since expanded the menu to include plate lunches created by the New England Culinary Institute-trained Amanda Malone. Malone devises a new menu every month for the rotating plate lunches (ranging from Greek to Thai) and always offers a vegetarian and meat entrée Monday through Friday. Jean Goodman, who admits she has not always been health-conscious, says the light plate lunches have allowed her to improve her health and lose weight - and she shared a story of a customer who lost 45 pounds by eating the café's lunches instead of fast food. "I can eat here and not worry about salt, because I have problems with hypertension," says Goodman. "I think [healthy eating] is a trend that's going to continue well into the future. Healthy eating can be just as tasty without too much salt or too much fat. You feel better when you eat better, and you look better, too." Most of the plate lunches are under 500 calories, and all but one of the sandwiches are under 400 calories apiece, including what Goodman calls their signature: The Bible Sandwich, a whole wheat pita stuffed with homemade guacamole, white cheddar, alfalfa sprouts and diced tomatoes, clocking in at 340 calories. For the sandwiches, they make all of the fillings in house, including the hummus, guacamole, and tuna, chicken, egg and pimento salads. Oftentimes, the eatery also offers gluten-free plate lunches like eggplant Parmesan or pasta. Goodman never uses processed foods of any kind, working the menu around local and fresh ingredients, and employing savory herbs to create Malone's "masterpieces" instead of masking them with salt or fat. "We wanted to show people that they can eat healthy, and it's not all tofu," says Jamie Goodman. They serve lunch every day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays, and the store is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (when they serve sandwiches for lunch). - Elizabeth Rose

Sandra's Café and Health Food Store
111-C Rena Drive
(337) 988-0108

Oil Center Health Foods and Whole Wheatery Eatery
326 Travis St.
(337) 232-7774