FRICASSÉE CAFÉ AND BAKERY
Not much linguistic good has come from portmanteaus. I challenge you to say appletini with a straight face. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
At Fricassée in Carencro, I swallowed a coffee urn of pride when I ordered the pastalaya, knowing full well that I was perpetuating the notion that such naming was taxonomically acceptable.
You’ve probably had this dish in some variety — pasta, chicken, sausage, meat grease and corn. It’s flat-standard operating Cajun fusion fare. But at Fricassée, pastalaya is a three-dimensional showpiece, flexing indulgent depth of flavor. They roast the damn corn, for chrissakes. The bowtie pasta absorbs the unctuous smokiness of the chicken and andouille like the moon taking on the light of the sun. They must have cooked an entire awardwinning jambalaya and picked out every grain of rice like sand in a reverse mandala ceremony.
Pro Tip: Your dad will pick up any tab so long as you forget your wallet. When he agrees to cover your bill, go ahead and order the pistachio cake. He’ll forgive you.
Fricassée Café and Bakery is located at 3823 N. University Ave. in Carencro
JOLIE’S LOUISIANA BISTRO
Mr. Crawford. At the bar. With mezcal.
Though he swore otherwise, Jolie’s bar manager Chadwick Crawford tried to kill me. I had come for but one cocktail — a mezcal and maraschino variation of the Blood and Sand called Blood and Fire — and walked out a simmering broth of Crawford and company’s latest line of five seasonal spirit offerings.
Were it not for the flanking support of two attorneys, I’d have collapsed. The menu is a clinic on balance, which in retrospect I should have guessed considering Crawford’s invitation to me thatched words like “quotidian” and “vicissitude” into his whetting menu description without getting all mealy mouthed. Check out the White Queen. A winter citrus drink if there ever was one, it juxtaposes spice and spirits cold with a jut of makrut lime and allspice syrup. The yuletide vibe is sealed with a sprig of thyme.
Pro Tip: Got friends with better paying jobs? Become a food writer and meet them for the drinks. When they get to sample off-the-menu delights like goat cheesestuffed dates, they’ll regret choosing wealth over art. Or at least you’ll be drunk enough to tell yourself that.
Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro is located at 507 W. Pinhook Road in Lafayette
EMERGE: AN ARTISAN JUICERY
How to cleanse a bachelor party
The weekend before I finally tried Emerge, I hit my bachelor party like a bowling ball in a barrel of whiskey. Come Monday morning, my blood had thickened to a stop, and I had gained eight pounds in foreign proteins. I needed a cleanse.
Most folks will throw cayenne pepper in an decanter full of apple cider vinegar and scald their insides out. Appetizing, I know. But relax, you don’t have to do that to eat and feel good about yourself. Emerge’s veggie wrap is exactly the sort of medicine you need.
It’s well documented how much I hate wraps, but I have to hand it to the folks at Emerge; theirs is not one I’ll merely tolerate. I celebrate it. They forgo the limp uselessness of a cold wrap “tortilla” and replace it with a veggie roll-up of dehydrated tomatoes, avocado and bell pepper, which cradles a crisp and wholesome bundle of farm-raised arugula, carrots and a zesty, creamy vegan dressing. The sunflower seed paté that serves double duty as a base and a condiment in the wrap’s interior should win its creator a MacArthur grant for discovering a meatless source of umami.
Pro Tip: When bachelor partying in Northeast Texas, bring a vegetable.
Emerge: An Artisan Juicery is located at 1321 W. Pinhook Road in Lafayette