You've done great.
Affirmations and gratitude and a recipe for a Bloody Mardi.
It’s been…well, it’s been a minute. I suppose it’s appropriate that the last newsletter came on the heels of Hurricane Ida—in many ways, it’s felt like time has stood still since the storm hit. I have vivid memories from those first few weeks after, but October through December are a blur of work and layered exhaustion with little opportunity to catch my breath.
I know I’m not alone in those experiences; in talks with friends in hospitality and in creative fields, the general consensus seems to be that we’re all very tired. Exhausted, really—beyond words or any constructive sympathies. But here we are, all of us still scrolling, at the dawn of a new year. And you know what? We’ve done great.
You’ve done great.
Those words have been ringing in my head since I first heard a dear friend and fellow photographer say them last summer, on a hike through the edge of Acadia National Park in Maine. Katherine wasn’t offering them to me, or to Rémy, she was simply telling us about recent portrait sessions, where she had instructed her subjects to offer that exact encouragement to each other, noting how such a seemingly simple phrase now carried so much emotional weight. Still, I heard it as personal affirmation, and have tried to remind myself that simply surviving the last several months is enough. I’m reminding myself of that again, here, but also passing on that same encouragement/reminder to you.
And with that: Welcome back to TBA. We’re easing back into newsletter-y things this week with a simple request, a way to kick up your next bloody mary, and a few bites of miscellaneous news.
Join Me on Yelp?
Tourism will be ramping up in the coming weeks, and visitors will inevitably turn to to the internet for help in picking the places they patronize. Most of us rave to our friends about our favorite spots, but now’s not the time to keep those hidden. Take a few minutes this week to list out a few of your top recs, find those businesses on Yelp or Google, and leave a review! Many only receive ratings when something goes wrong, so let’s share more about all that goes right.
The Bloody Mardi
Rémy and our friend Molly created this twist on a classic as an entry into a friendly competition at a party over the weekend. “A bloody mary is my favorite drink because it’s the only one that comes with snacks,” says Rémy, “and this one tastes like Mardi Gras in a glass thanks to the spicy chicken.” The Popeye’s is the easy win, but it’s the Tabasco and Tony’s salt rim that really makes this bloody sing. It’s a full grab-and-go meal for the parade route.
4 Tbsps. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. Tabasco, plus 1 oz.
1 Tbsp. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
1 lemon, sliced into wedges
32 oz. tomato juice
8 oz. vodka
1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cucumber, peeled
1 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 celery sprigs
8 pickled green beans (or other pickled veg)
4 Popeye’s spicy chicken strips
Mix the kosher salt and 1 Tbsp. Tabasco, then spread onto parchment-lined pan and bake at 250°F for 30 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated. Once cooled, transfer to a small plate, breaking up any clumps. Stir in the Tony’s.
Run a lemon wedge around the rim of four go cups, then roll them in the salt mix and fill with ice.
In a blender, mix the tomato juice, vodka, vinegar, cucumber, celery seed, black pepper and Worcestershire with 1 oz. of Tabasco. Blend until smooth, then taste and add more of the hot sauce and seasonings as desired.
Pour the mixture into each cup, then garnish with celery, pickled green beans, and a skewer of Popeye’s!
What’s in the Pot?
Gumbo—not because it’s gumbo weather (for the next 24 hours?), but because I killed a couple wood ducks last week on my first solo attempt to hunt them. They’re small but pack a lot of flavor, so I roasted the birds whole, then cooked them down to make stock and used Upperline’s duck and andouille recipe as a guide. I recently learned that Best Stop has been stocking local Rouses with their andouille, so I used that instead of my usual order from Jacob’s in LaPlace. It’s delicious. I think we’re gonna need to take a deep-dive on the different styles of andouille in a future newsletter.
Mardi Gras is back! So are mask mandates. But also: king cake, crawfish, and strawberries. Let’s keep focus on the wins, y’all.
For the calendar: Bayou Yacht Club is hosting a boat parade and makers market on Saturday, February 5. Krewe of Chewbacchus will roll that night, but if you’re not ready to lean into parade season, consider heading down to Venice to catch the final weigh-ins at this year’s Nutria Rodeo.
Back to king cake: Author Matt Haines and photographer Randy Krause Schmidt recently published The Big Book of King Cake, which digs into the history of the beloved Carnival treat and profiles 75 favorites baked here in NOLA. Matt is also teaming up with chef Martha Gilreath of Nolita for a workshop at NOCHI on February 22!
Completely unrelated to food, but a schnauzer named Bayou from Port Allen was crowned “Best in Show” at December’s American Kennel Club National Championship.
Speaking of dogs: Before the holidays, I held a repeat of 2020’s Pup Portrait event in the home studio, and I’m sharing an insta gallery of a few favorites because I think we could also use a little more doggo this year.
Happy New Year!
Seriously, y’all: you’ve done great. Thanks as always for reading, and even more for supporting our local businesses!