Jolie's James Beard Preview
A menu inspired by summer in Louisiana heads to New York City.
by Erin Z. Bass
Last week, I was invited to a special dinner at Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro (included in our Where to Eat in the South in 2012 list) in our hometown of Lafayette. The restaurant’s chef, Manny Augello, will be cooking at the prestigious James Beard House in New York later this month and is fine tuning his menu (printed below), inspired by summer in Louisiana, with special preview dinners before the big day. I arrived at 7 p.m. and was greeted by the familiar faces of several other journalists and bloggers in town. We were all escorted to a beautifully set table, and the multi-course meal paired with wines began.
First up was a series of four hors d’oeuvres that will be passed around at the James Beard House. They were all delicious, featuring Louisiana ingredients like choupique caviar (named for the Cajun word for “bowfin”), tasso, Louisiana blue crab, Zapp’s potato chips and fried rabbit livers. We heard the chef wanted to serve the liver as an entree but was told New Yorkers might be afraid of that much liver, much less rabbit. After tasting the dish, topped with Sriracha wild honey glaze and pickled onions, I don’t think diners will have any trouble popping these in their mouths.
Dinner followed the same Louisiana theme, with the star being hog’s head cheese over roasted corn grits and topped with a poached egg, all served in a mini cast iron skillet (pictured above). Again, a dish like hog’s head cheese may have some diners a bit wary, but the smooth consistency of Augello’s version tastes similar to the filling in boudin and pairs wonderfully with the grits. And who wouldn’t want to eat something served in their own cast iron skillet?
For dessert, Ruston peach cobbler with shortbread crumble and the chef’s signature buttermilk ice cream finished off the meal. Wine pairings, starting with champagne for appetizers and progressing to French whites and reds during dinner, ended with a Moscato. A sweet finish to a distinctly South Louisiana meal that is sure to have James Beard dinner guests raving even more about the state of Southern food.
Adds the chef, “Those were the dishes we feel represent the rich culinary traditions and unique ingredients of South Louisiana. Through our menu, we celebrate our history, the chefs that have evolved it and, most importantly, our farmers and our ingredients.”
Best of luck to Augello (pictured on the right) as he heads to New York on May 30. It looks like there are still a few spots left for dinner if anyone wants to join him. Price is $130 for members and $170 for the public. Click here for more details. Jolie’s will also be holding another preview dinner on May 19 at 7 p.m. Cost is $150. Call 337-504-2382 to reserve a spot.
LOUISIANA FARM-TO-TABLE DINNER MENU
created by Chef Manny Augello, with wine pairings by Sommelier Chelsie Lovell
Grilled Watermelon with Champagne Vinaigrette, Bowfin Choupique Caviar, and Belle Ècorce Farms Feta
Tasso Ham Cheesecake with Creole Tomato Glacé on Zapp’s Spicy Cajun Crawtator Potato Chips
Fried Green Tomatoes with Tasso Ham Tartar Sauce and Louisiana Blue Crab (pictured at top)
Fried Rabbit Livers with Sriracha–Wild Honey Glaze and Bread-and-Butter Pickled Shallots
Paired with: Champagne Taittinger La Francaise Brut NV
Hog’s Head Cheese with Roasted Corn Grits and Poached Yard Egg
Paired with: Louis Jadot la Dominode 1er Cru Savigny-les-Beaune 2009
Crispy Quail with Roasted Figs, Balsamic–Cane Syrup Vinaigrette, Sugar-and-Spice Pecans, and Fried Chèvre (pictured)
Paired with: Joseph Drouhin Cote de Nuits-Villages 2008
Smoked Boudin with Pork Cracklings and Summer Tomato–White Bean Cassoulet
Paired with: Domaine Saint-Damien La Louisiane Gigondas 2009
Ruston Peach Cobbler with Shortbread Crumble and Buttermilk Ice Cream (pictured)
Paired with: Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d’Asti 2010
Photos by Denny Culbert of www.ShootEatRepeat.com. Culbert lives in Lafayette and is affiliated with the Southern Foodways Alliance. His most recent project gathered stories behind North Carolina’s barbecue culture aboard The Barbecue Bus.