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Ian McNulty: How local can you go? From trash fish happy hour to wild game cook out, events aim to expand notion of eating local.

Advocate photo by SARA ESSEX BRADLEY -- A soft shell crab special at Cafe Degas, one way to access local food during the Eat Local Challenge.

Just where is “local?” In the food world these days, the answer is everywhere, from grocery store ads to restaurant menus to the rapidly growing ranks of grassroots brands and homegrown suppliers. But for as much as local food has become common parlance, and in some settings the industry standard, the Eat Local Challenge can still shake… Continue reading →

Bites in Brief: Primitivo dials it back to basics on O.C. Haley; chefs set the table for gale at French Market

Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty -Primitivo opened on O.C. Haley Boulevard in Central City this week.

As barbecue pits blazed over the weekend at Memorial Day parties, the coal-fired oven at Primitivo (1800 O.C. Haley Blvd., 504-881-1775; primitivonola.com) got its first trial by fire, serving test-run dinners of a menu built around the age-old traditions of grilling, smoking, curing and roasting. Primitivo officially opened May 26 as the latest project from… Continue reading →

I Eat La.: The fine art of layering and balance: Sweet and Smokey Glazed Shrimp and Creamy Risotto

Advocate photo by Teresa B. Day -- Sweet and Smoky Glazed Shrimp over Creamy Risotto

That perfect balance of smoky and sweet is divine, but a little tricky to achieve. First, be careful to add a smoky flavor that is mild and understated. Then, let the sweet aspect enhance the way the smoke warms the flavor of your dish. Last, mix in a little vinegar to make it all come together… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Tails of summer: Great recipes just in time for crawfish season

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Crawfish Chajitas

Summer is crawfish season, and we’re able to get tails at a reasonable price, so let’s make a pot of Crawfish Étouffée, or a tasty Crawfish Spread, or maybe Crawfish Chajitas. This classic étouffée recipe is easy enough for a novice cook. Take the time to have all the ingredients chopped and measured before you start; after that,… Continue reading →

First Farm to School conference set May 27

The state’s first Farm to School conference will be May 27 at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, 6400 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge. Hosted by the LSU AgCenter and Pennington and funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm to School grant, the conference is free to anyone interested in Louisiana students learning about local food and farms,… Continue reading →

Welcome to the neighborhood bar: Verret’s in Central City

Advocate photo by J.T. BLATTY -- Bartender Wayne Jolla mixes a drink at Verret's Lounge. 'It’s a melting pot,' he says. 'Everyone comes in here.'

Wherever you’re from, whether New Orleans or elsewhere, chances are there was a bar in your neighborhood like Verret’s Lounge — before the neighborhood got too expensive for a bar like Verret’s. Even before stepping into this under-the-radar, Central City drinking spot, the Verret’s vintage tilted martini glass marquee exudes a sense of instant familiarity.… Continue reading →

Festival’s pop-up shop stocks everything you need to cook like a Greek

Photo by A.J. Sisco -- Diane Chronis shows off some of the food items available at the gourmet grocery during the Greek Festival.

Succulent slow-roasted lamb, seasoned with Greek spices. Grilled goat burgers. Gyros drizzled with tzatziki sauce. Fried calamari. It’s no secret that the New Orleans Greek Festival is a mecca for outstanding Mediterranean food. But you can enjoy the vibrant flavors of this festival throughout the year, in your own home, with a little help… Continue reading →

What’s Cooking: From deep roots, chef branches out

Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty - Chef Nick Lama shows off old family photos that will decoate his new restaurant Avo in Uptown New Orleans.

Sicilian heritage and New Orleans cooking are so closely entwined that in some settings they’re practically one, and Nick Lama’s family roots reach deep into this tradition. But for his own first restaurant, Avo (5908 Magazine St., 504-509-6550; restaurantavo.com), the young chef is working from a different intersection than the familiar Creole-Italian. “My idea… Continue reading →

Pieces coming together for unique Jack & Jake’s Public Market in old New Orleans schoolhouse

Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty - The butcher shop at Jack & Jake's Public Market will offer Cajun specialties, including boudin, alongside other cuts of meat.

From the street it still looks like a schoolhouse. But inside the former Myrtle Banks Elementary at 1300 O.C. Haley Boulevard, the pieces coming together for the planned Jack & Jake’s Public Market augur a very different future for the historic Central City building. Slated to open within the next six weeks, this multifaceted project… Continue reading →

The Ice Creamiest: Need a new favorite ice cream? It’s pretty cool making your own

Photo by Cynthia Nobles -- Bananas Foster Sundae

Kleinpeter’s ice cream? Gone. Blue Bell? Bit the dust, at least temporarily. K&B’s paper gallons are relegated to history, as are those blue-and-red cartons of Brown’s Velvet Creole Cream Cheese. Now might be a good time to consider making your own. There are basically two types of ice cream… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Discovering delectable ‘shrimping opportunities’

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Shrimp Scampi on Noodles

I’ve bought some beautiful heads-on, wild-caught, fresh Louisiana fresh shrimp lately. I don’t mind peeling large shrimp (if it’s only a few pounds). I cooked these scampi-style and served them two nights in a row. I first served the shrimp on boiled noodles, then on a baguette for an appetizer and on grits. The grits recipe… Continue reading →

Tips for cooking pasta al dente

Associated Press photo by Matthew Mead -- Fusilli With Italian Sausage, Peas and Creamy Tomato Sauce

What’s the one ingredient you should always have in your cupboard? Dried pasta, of course. It’s the base of a zillion easy-to-make weeknight meals and the friendly playmate of 2 zillion ingredients, including leftovers. Pasta comes in all sizes and shapes, all of them designed with a purpose. Pastas in long strands — including spaghetti and… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge art, martini event to benefit orchestra

Grab your glasses. It’s time to judge some martinis. The Baton Rouge Symphony League will hold ART-ini 2015 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 21, at the Renaissance Baton Rouge, 7000 Bluebonnet Blvd. The art auction and martini competition benefits the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra. Guests will be able to bid on art,… Continue reading →

L’Auberge, Sullivan’s host Patron dinners

L’Auberge Casino Hotel’s 18 Steak and Sullivan’s Steakhouse will host Patron Tequila dinners. At 18 Steak, 777 L’Auberge Ave., Baton Rouge, the four-course mixology dinner will begin with cocktails at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 20. Hors d’oeuvres will be Maine lobster spring rolls with cilantro, house pickles and hydroponic bib lettuce. The first course… Continue reading →

Louisiana Culinary Institute offering leisure classes

The Louisiana Culinary Institute, 10550 Airline Highway, Baton Rouge, will offer a variety of upcoming leisure classes: Sauces to go with Everything, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m Saturday. Learn to produce the five mother sauces — tomato, hollandaise, veloute, béchamel and Espagnole. The class also will cover stock and broth production, food pairings… Continue reading →

A showcase of business start-ups also gathers dining pop-ups from across town under one roof

Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty -- Donuts done to the tune of maple bacon or salted caramel and chocolate are specialties of Upper 9 Doughnut Co., a pop-up in New Orleans.

Nimble by nature, the ranks of pop-up restaurants and their ilk are always changing. Some evolve into full-fledged restaurants, some move around as opportunities change and others simply fold. Behind it all, the ability of the pop-up mode to field-test different dining concepts and flavors — and the entrepreneurial drive of the people who… Continue reading →

‘A life in food’: It’s been a long career of big flavors, bold-face names, and though he may be down Joe Segreto isn’t ready to say he’s out

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Joseph Segreto recently closed his Italian restaurant Eleven 79, but after a long career in hospitality he still hopes to start another venture in the future.

Joe Segreto was born into the restaurant business, which is one reason he’s so reluctant to leave it. During his prime as a young man in the 1970s, he ran a French Quarter restaurant that became a magnet for celebrities who gilded his life with their stardust. That has something to do with it, too. And… Continue reading →

Houston's Restaurant in Metairie responds to customers' questions: Why shutting down? Moving to Baton Rouge? Lagging sales?

Houston's in Metairie isn't closing because of property or sales issues, and the decision is final, the restaurant said on its Facebook page this past weekend. News of the closing after Sunday's service sparked plenty of questions by customers. The announcement came this past Friday. Here's a sampling of some of the questions and answers Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Smoked Gouda and English Muffin Strata, casseroles perfect for breakfast

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Smoked Gouda and English Muffin Strata

I’ve had several requests for more make-ahead breakfast casseroles. With graduation and overnight guests visiting, these are nice to have in the refrigerator, ready to pop into the oven. This one is different because of the English muffins, and I think you will like that hint of smokiness from the Gouda cheese. This particular recipe bakes… Continue reading →