The abundance of April is upon us in the South. This year give thanks for our abundance by participating in the 2011 Harvest at Home through the month of April. You may have noticed signs for Harvest at Home in front of some homes around the city. Last year over 150 families participated in Harvest at Home and raised approximately 100,000 meals. Harvest at Home is a "non-event" which means that dollars that would have been spent by participants to attend a gala or event get repurposed instead to raising awareness and fundraising to combat hunger in our community.
Chef Donald Link lends his name to this year's Harvest at Home as the celebrity chef. He selected the onion as this year's vegetable and participants in the 2011 Harvest at Home get to try the featured vegetable in Link's recipe Pan Roasted Chicken with Olives and Onions. Participants get the recipe, and a reusable tote bag with The Spirit of Louisiana Cookbook, recipe ingredients from Whole Foods Market, Community Coffee, and other necessities for dinner. Visit www.no-hunger.org for more details and to participate.
If this year's 2011 Harvest at Home passes you by, be sure to check out the Nola Locavores' Eat Local Challenge. The Nola Locavores are challenging New Orleanians to eat only local food for thirty days in June. The goal is to familiarize people with a locally-based diet, so don't be intimidated or misled into thinking that you will be deprived at all: this is a celebration of the abundance of our area and anything grown, raised, or caught within a 200 mile radius of New Orleans is fair game. The first annual Eat Local Challenge features three levels of locavore-strictness: the Ultrastrict, the Bienville Rule, or the Wild Card and kicks off its 30 day stint on June 1st. For information about the challenge, the Nola locavore group, or where to find local products and participating restaurants, visit nolalocavore.org.
A new restaurant, Ste. Marie, at 930 Poydras St., also celebrates abundance. The team behind the French-inspired restaurant Patois, Uptown, (Leon Touzet and Pierre Touzet, along with Robert LeBlanc of LRG) have made a stunning, yet comfortable restaurant that manages to blend a sophisticated atmosphere with fantastic, adventurous comfort food. The setting is reminiscent of and inspired by the legendary Champagne houses of Paris, complete with a champagne tower that was custom made to house Veuve Cliquot bottles. When guests of the restaurant order a bottle of the storied champagne, they are encouraged to write a message on the empty bottle and leave it in the tower when finished, becoming part of the restaurant's history.
The walls are painted a luxurious, dark purple, with a large, hand painted detail of a Sanborne Map, that shows the downtown area of New Orleans, circa the 1870s.
In addition to the ambience created by the décor, the food is also inspired by a French touch. Chef Chris Foster is from New York City where he worked as Bobby Flay's Sous Chef at Bar American for five years before relocating to New Orleans. The food is classic Parisienne but with a sense of adventure: old favorites like Escargot, Fois Gras and delicate Sweat Breads with Farro rub elbows on the creative menu with huge Bistro-style Burgers and Steak and Fries.
Pi, Pizza and Pastas (814 South Peters St. in the Warehouse District) welcomes a second location bringing its late night pizza fix to Metairie (4300 Veterans Hwy., corner of Houma and Vets). Night owls with a craving for delicious pizza can dine in or place an order for delivery into the late morning hours Thursday through Saturday. Visit www.piepizzaandpastas.com for precise hours and a menu.