What’s Now in NOLA: Sept. 2018

New, notable and not to be missed in New Orleans

DINE

Recently I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to take a food risk, to step outside one’s comfort zone to explore, discover and uncover (like it or not) something different in flavor, experience or texture. It’s not always easy. Not everyone is willing or even interested. Sometimes we just like staying put, and that's OK too; comfort food is comforting, after all. 

Chefs are no different. Some like to stay in a familiar zone, while others (many) dip their toes in risk-taking waters when they create dishes that are twists on classics or cultural fusions. This is where Deep Fried Hard Crabs from Marjie’s Grill come in.

A platter meant for sharing and eaten lustily by hand (fastidious diners need not apply), boiled Louisiana blue crabs are rolled in a seasoned and slightly spicy wet batter before being dropped in the deep fryer to become dark gold and crisp. The batter clings perfectly to the crab shells, reminiscent of crunchy skin on fried chicken, and equally delicious, maybe better. The generous pile of crabs comes draped with spoonsful of a garlic-chili-herb mash that adds further depth and flavor. Juicy lime wedges are provided to squeeze over all, adding acidic citrus zip. 

Go in deep, plan to get messy; it’s worth it. Easily pluck crackly fried batter shards away from the shell to munch on between breaking, cracking, picking and slurping delicate crab meat. This dish covers so much culinary ground in texture and flavor, both singular and combined. Haunting, addictive, memorable...Marjie’s has a mysterious pull, and at night there’s a sexy sultriness that becomes a craving.

Vibe and food this good makes risk-taking easy. For those who fear getting messy, there are giant rolls of paper towels, plenty of finger wipes and fantastic Instagrammable moments. Notice the stares from other tables; they’re envious, they’re not risk-takers like you. I promise you’ll thank me later. —LG

Marji's Grill New Orleans

DRINK

It was a pivotal point in New Orleans history, right up there with the introduction of Peychaud’s bitters and the end of Prohibition. Prior to Sept. 26, 1949, the legendary Sazerac Bar was a men-only joint; women were allowed in only on Mardi Gras Day. But that all changed when the bar moved to the Roosevelt Hotel, thanks to owner Seymour Weiss, a showboat who knew the value of a good publicity stunt. When it reopened that early autumn afternoon, dozens of women decked to the nines descended on the bar for what would become known as the Stormin’ of the Sazerac, demanding equal rights…and a well-made cocktail. 

The annual observance continues Sept. 28 at 1 pm with a round of Sazeracs, followed by a spirited lunch; a portion of proceeds benefits the local branch of the women’s empowerment group Dress for Success. But you’ll find the bar open every day, to everyone. Stop in and raise toast to inclusion. —DB

Storming of the Sazerac Bar New Orelans

EXPLORE

As the city’s yearlong 300th anniversary celebration nears its culmination, museums citywide are mounting a number of tricentennial tributes.

The New Orleans Museum of Art held its first photography exhibition in 1918. A century later, NOMA has mounted Past Present Future, a three-part presentation that features vintage images included in the 1918 exhibit, along with recent photographic acquisitions and new works that have been endowed to the museum. 

African Heritage in New Orleans: 300 Years in the Making, on view at the Historic New Orleans Collection's Laura C. Simon Galleries of Louisiana Art, examines the influence of African peoples on the city’s evolution. In addition to its Louisiana History Galleries, the HNOC's main location offers New Orleans: Between Heaven and Hell, an interactive pen-and-ink work by British artist Robin Reynolds highlighting historical influences on the modern-day city, provides a sneak peek of the contemporary-minded Art of the City: Postmodern to Post-Katrina exhibit, due to open in 2019.

Bits and pieces of the past combine for a 300-year love letter to the city at the Cabildo in Jackson Square. Taking its title from the 1968 theme of the Rex parade, We Love You, New Orleans features more than 100 artifacts and ephemera spotlighting various aspect of Crescent City culture, from architecture (the construction of the Superdome) and amusements (Dorothy Lamour’s 1931 “Miss New Orleans” sash) to food (a Galatoire’s “keep bottle”) and music (Kid Ory’s trombone). Among the highlights is a poster from an early incarnation of Jazzfest, stunning Carnival costumes and a tricentennial-inspired Mardi Gras Indian suit. —DB

Jackson Square by William Woodrow

Lorin Gaudin
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