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architecture

Sweet Pilgrim

Sweet Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, Greenville, Mississippi

Sweet Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, Greenville MS
croissant

La Boulangerie, Surviving Boring Pastry, Straight?, And Viennoiserie

A visit to La Boulangerie on Magazine, now that Donald Link's group has taken over:

La Boulangerie, New Orleans LA

Link purchased the bakery from the original owner Dominique Rizzo back last November, and the purchase included recipes. Skip forward to April, and the Times-Pic did an article entitled, 'How Donald Link Ticked Off Uptown New Orleans by Buying a Bakery'.

"I have seen threads on Nextdoor.com about murders, zoning changes, The Advocate's damned red bags," wrote Julie Graybill, secretary of the Faubourg Marengo Neighbohood Association, in an email. "But nothing has triggered the passion and outrage of NOLA citizens as much as the changing of the menu items at La Boulangerie."

There was even an article in April as to whether the prices had gone up. It's not uncommon to see the harsh on Yelp, but it's there in abundance.

Out here are the little cafe chairs, but inside is a big swath of booths (though paired with what I think are Poitoux bistro chairs).
La Boulangerie, New Orleans LA

It's so much more commercial inside, and the Simon art is gone.
La Boulangerie, New Orleans
Pralines were very good
Pralines, La Boulangerie, New Orleans LA

Know how when you bite into pastry like this you just want to live in those flaky layers (and sometimes you do, because there are flaky layers all over you)? Not so much here. I don't know what it's missing, but there's no delicious buttery wonderfulness going on.
Peach Danish, La Boulangerie, New Orleans LA

the croissant is okay
Croissant, La Boulangerie, New Orleans LA

very heavy-handed almond croissant. I could have eaten small bites of this for 15 meals it was so heavy, but I didn't want to waste the calories on something that wasn't delicious. Just not great.
Almond Croissant, La Boulangerie, New Orleans LA

paris-brest was almost flavorless (also: a little bit of salt here would have done a world of good)
Paris-Brest, La Boulangerie, New Orleans LA

Paris-Brest, La Boulangerie, New Orleans LA

Ugh, so negative! Disappointing especially because La Boulangerie is right on Magazine, so easy to drop into (after the initial craziness of finding a park), but it's just not the bakery you have to go to that it should be. And it should be, because Donald Link knows what he's doing (although: maybe a bakery is just such a different animal?) yet food from this day seems to fall short and the interior, too slick.

Even the replaced chalk menu board looks straight out of Fast-Casual Depot. Yawn.

The fact that so many people are upset about La Boulangerie of all things reminds me of the time I was shopping for -- I think it was a sports Wacoal online, maybe at Macy's. The reviewer talked about how it wasn't made as well as other Wacoals, how their quality has gone down and the elastic didn't do whatever the elastic was supposed to do etc etc etc and ended with "buying this was the worst decision of my life." Truly, if the purchase of a disappointing undergarment is the worst decision of your life, you're still doing pretty good.

I survived college on Top Ramen. Having to shrug off a boring peach danish shouldn't be too hard.

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In France, straight croissants are always made of butter, but they may also be made into the traditional crescent shape. If a croissant is made from margarine or the like, it must be crescent shaped and cannot be formed straight. As the New Yorker put it in Straightened-out Croissants and the Decline of Civilization:

Why is a croissant shaped that way, anyway? The first truth is that they are not, necessarily. As veteran visitors to Parisian bakeries know, the superior, all-butter croissants are already commonly articulated as straight pastries—or, at least, as gently sloping ones—while the inferior oil or margarine ones must, by law, be neatly turned in. This sometimes leads those who expect clarity and logic, rather than complexity and self-cancelling entrapment, from French laws to think that the straight croissants are all butter and the curved ones are reliably not. The truth is that a butter croissant can be any shape it chooses, on the general atavistic aristocratic principle that, butter being better, it creates its own realm of privilege.


That article above was written part due to the change at British grocer Tesco to only offer straight croissants. The Telegraph, of course, did its own piece.

“With the crescent shaped croissants, it’s more fiddly and most people can take up to three attempts to achieve perfect coverage, which increases the potential for accidents involving sticky fingers and tables.”


Should we really be calling them viennoiserie, though?

Legend has it that crescent-shaped rolls were made to celebrate the defeat against Turkish forces at the siege of Vienna in 1683, since the crescent emblem signalled the Turkish flag. Indeed, the pastries are still known as viennoiserie in France.

Culinary mythology claims they were brought to France by Marie-Antoinette as a 14-year old bride hankering for comfort food from her native Austria.


Today’s croissant is believed to have its origins in a Viennese bakery opened in Paris in 1838 by Austrian artillery officer August Zang. He served the kipferl, which became known as a croissant, meaning crescent, because of its shape.
art

Once in a Millennium Moon

Downtown Shreveport: the Once in a Millennium Moon (2000-2001) by Meg Saligman and ~2500 others is one of the largest publicly-funded murals in the US. It covers 25k-30k square feet. From her site: "Painted for the new millennium, it portrays the cycles of life in a Louisiana context."

Cotton Street and Marshall Street:

Once in a Millennium Moon Mural by Meg Saligman and 2600 others, Shreveport LA

Once in a Millennium Moon Mural by Meg Saligman and 2600 others, Shreveport LA

Once in a Millennium Moon Mural by Meg Saligman and 2600 others, Shreveport LA

Once in a Millennium Moon Mural by Meg Saligman and 2600 others, Shreveport LA

Once in a Millennium Moon Mural by Meg Saligman and 2600 others, Shreveport LA

Once in a Millennium Moon Mural by Meg Saligman and 2600 others, Shreveport LA

Once in a Millennium Moon Mural by Meg Saligman and 2600 others, Shreveport LA

Once in a Millennium Moon Mural by Meg Saligman and 2600 others, Shreveport LA



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Another of Meg's group-centered installations, this time for a visit by Pope Francis


shreveport

Shreveport Day

We stayed at the Sam's Town Casino Hotel on our last visit to Shreveport -- casino hotels are usually larger (this room was 500 sq ft) and nicer than a lot of competitors, and if you're traveling on a weekday, they're so much less expensive to book (they get a great deal more business on the weekends, so staying on a Wednesday, for instance, will often save $200+/night). And staying at a casino generally doesn't mean you'll even see the casino floor -- walk in the door, go to the hotel desk, up the elevator, voila. Just a hotel.

Sam's Town Hotel and Casino, Shreveport LA

Sam's Town Hotel and Casino, Shreveport LA

Sam's Town Hotel and Casino, Shreveport LA

Av had a lot of work/visiting to do, so besides swimming, we walked over to Sci-Port, their children's museum, which was so terrific. Every year, we'll keep a membership at one of the science museums and love taking advantage of the ASTC Passport Program, which means we've gotten in free via reciprocal to lots of children's and science museums
Sci-Port: Louisiana's Science Center, Shreveport LA

Sci-port was terrific. It was clean, bright, and everything worked (if you go to a lot of museums for children, you know this isn't always the case). Loved the theming.
Sci-Port: Louisiana's Science Center, Shreveport LA

Sci-Port: Louisiana's Science Center, Shreveport LA

Sci-Port: Louisiana's Science Center, Shreveport LA

So Strawn's was for breakfast, and Southern Classic Fried Chicken (I don't see their website, so here's their Yelp) was lunch.
Southern Classic Chicken, Shreveport LA

Just a quickie fast food kind of place (it's a small chain of something like three restaurants here in town), and it was pretty good!
Southern Classic Chicken, Shreveport LA

One of the days we went to Southern Maid Donuts -- maybe this was on the way out of town -- it's so perfectly retro
Southern Maid Donuts, Shreveport LA

Southern Maid Donuts, Shreveport LA

Their website notes that Southern Maid was the only commercial Elvis ever did. In any case, they haven't changed much since. That's cool.
Southern Maid Donuts, Shreveport LA

Southern Maid Donuts, Shreveport LA

This wasn't my favorite bite of doughnut in the whole world, but it was okay.
Southern Maid Donuts, Shreveport LA

Well, between the chicken and the doughnuts, we did a lot of walking. On the way back from Sci-Port, we walked along the river and saw this sculpture, simply titled 'Shreveport Roses'
Shreveport Roses, Shreveport LA

Downtown there were many interesting things to explore, but besides the murals (another post), loooooved the Strand Theatre
Strand Theatre, Shreveport LA

Strand Theatre, Shreveport LA

Strand Theatre, Shreveport LA
"Progressive Amusement for Progressive People"
various

This Week's Various

A writer at The Atlantic takes the leap, however long or short, between Frank Ocean and Nelle Harper Lee in Frank Ocean, Harper Lee, and the Reclusive Artist

But what about that invisible rubric? That is, why can’t Channel Orange be enough in the way that Mockingbird is? Is it because rather than keeping us almost entirely out of the empty room, as Lee did, Ocean chose to let us in through hints and ephemera? And more broadly, what are we owed by an artist whom we profess to love? Why does the quiet deliberation of one soft-spoken Southern Gothic artist with a widely adored debut inspire awed respect and deference, while another inspires bitter disappointment? How do we maintain an earnest interest in and desire for art we love, while respecting the autonomy of the person who creates it and the fact that creating anything at all is the most excruciating of human endeavors?

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Howard Finster, An Angel of the L-rd #10000, High Museum, Atlanta GA
Howard Finster's An Angel of the L-rd #10000 at the High

Smithsonian with These Letters Written by Famous Artists Reveal the Lost Intimacy of Putting Pen to Paper and the letter from Finster to a curator about an upcoming exhibit looks like one would expect.

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Butch Anthony's roadside museum in Seale, Alabama is featured on NPR's Morning Edition



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Fabulous Beth Ann Fennelly has been named Mississippi's poet laureate. Her 'Kudzu Chronicles' here. Go to track seven below for Claire Holley's 'Kudzu' song using words from Beth Ann's poem:



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Yes a million times to Cantor Fine Art and their emojis:













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Bon Appetit has come out with their list of Best New Restaurants 2016, and in the South category, there are four, all of which are in Louisiana (three of those, NOLA): N7, Josephine Estelle, Pop's Poboys, and Willa Jean (knew it was Willa Jean from the shot of the cookies with milk and beater!). Well deserved.

Willa Jean, New Orleans
...and of course we loved it!

...cookies that are crisp and caramelized around the edges, soft in the center, and studded with gooey pockets containing not one, not two, but three (very specific) varieties of Valrhona chocolate. The milk—cold and rich, infused with Tahitian vanilla bean—miraculously tastes as though one thousand cookies have already been dunked in it. And the kicker? The egg-beater whisk served alongside, onto which clings more raw cookie dough than any grandma, no matter how permissive, would ever let you sneak. Yeah: It’s like that.

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Casamento's, New Orleans
at Casamento's in New Orleans

At NPR: The Oyster's Mighty Comeback is Creating Cleaner US Waterways

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13 Obscure and Amazing Food Products We Buy on Amazon from Bon Appetit includes Talk o' Texas pickled okra

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Excited about the Take Me I'm Yours exhibit at the Jewish Museum in NYC (at which visitors can bring home pieces of art from dozens of artists, incl Yoko Ono, even) and their Kickstarter campaign, at which for a $250 donation, you can skip the plane tickets and they'll send you one of every piece of art


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Loved Stranger Things on Netflix so much. I'm going to be Eleven for Halloween and Av is going to be Dustin (I already have the Castroville Artichoke Festival tee for him). It was filmed in Jackson, Georgia, and one of the funniest things ever is it re-imagined as an '80s sitcom:




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At Bitter Southerner, The Godmother of Southern Cooking (with Gas) on Mrs. S.R. (Henrietta) Dull

Mary Frances, one of seven grandchildren, is now the keeper of the treasures of Henrietta's life, from photos with Walt Disney to handwritten notes attached with straight pins to first-edition pages of “Southern Cooking.” Open a scrapbook and Mary Frances dials back time, telling stories of white gloves, tomato aspic and Atlanta debutante parties, of Sis Hennie's Japanese Fruitcake on the sideboard at Christmas, of crisp corn pone at supper. And of war rationing, wringing a chicken's neck, beating egg whites by hand for angel-food cake, and the knowledge that before Sis Hennie was famous, she sold food to the ladies at First Baptist Church to support her family.

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Peaches Cafe, Farish Street, Jackson MS
Peaches on Farish Street in Jackson

Also at Bitter Southerner, Up All Night on Farish Street:

“Mississippi is not a state,” he says. “It’s a club.”

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The Hattie B's Hot Chicken supper at the James Beard house August 11:
Hors d’Oeuvre: Deviled Eggs with Pickled Ramps, Crispy Hot Chicken Skins with Tennessee Honey,
Beer-Boiled Peanuts, Benton’s B.L.T. Bites 


Dinner: Tennessee Tomato Gazpacho with Fried Chicken Crunchies, Fresh Cheese, and Pickled Green Tomatoes; Poppers and Pickles - Nashville-Style Hot Chicken Rillettes with Three Bean Salad and Pickled Watermelon Rinds, Ramps, and Okra; Sweet Tea Sorbet with Lemonade and Mint; Family-Style Hattie B’s Hot Chicken with Tennessee Speckled Butter Beans, Southern Braised Greens, Raw Corn Salad, Housemade Chowchow, Skillet Cornbread, and Bourbon Barrel Sorghum Butter; Banana Pudding with Torched Meringue


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Gore Vidal and Eudora Welty talking religion


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A bottle tree made by my friend Stephanie Dwyer, in Port Gibson, Mississippi
Bottle Tree by Stephanie Dwyer in Port Gibson, Mississippi

Bottle Tree by Stephanie Dwyer in Port Gibson, Mississippi

brennan's

Brennan's

Last summer, I was so excited to see the renovation of Brennan's.

Truth is, I was as excited to see the renovation as I was to sit down to have a meal. Av on the other hand...in fact, if anyone had asked Av what one of the best eating days of his life would be, he'd likely bring up the day we had brunch at Brennan's and supper at Doe's ten years ago. But that's been a while, and there's a new chef here (Slade Rushing). Is it all wonderful again? Is it better than before? And just, really what I want to see: is it pretty?

Brennan's New Orleans

Brennan's New Orleans

Vieux CarrΓ© room
Brennan's New Orleans

Well, yes. Yes to all of it. We were seated in the trellis room
Brennan's New Orleans

Brennan's New Orleans

Breakfast. I think this was a special -- daube. Deep and dark and, well, meaty. So Av was happy.
Brennan's New Orleans

None of the 'large' selections really appealed to me this day, so I had an appetizer for my main: egg yolk carpaccio -- grilled shrimp, crispy sweet potato, andouille vinaigrette
Brennan's New Orleans

He's happy.
Brennan's New Orleans

And since we kept things pretty small, we had room to share the praline Leidenheimer bread pudding with rye whiskey anglaise, chantilly cream
Brennan's New Orleans
Nice.

Our view
Brennan's New Orleans

and the famous turtles
Brennan's New Orleans

Brennan's New Orleans

We were invited to go up the steps and view all the changes they've made
Brennan's New Orleans

For starters, love always for these bowed doors
Brennan's New Orleans

Brennan's New Orleans

The King's room
Brennan's New Orleans

Brennan's New Orleans

Pineapple room
Brennan's New Orleans

The Queen's room
Brennan's New Orleans

Brennan's New Orleans

Brennan's New Orleans

Morphy room
Brennan's New Orleans

Brennan's New Orleans

Brennan's New Orleans

Brennan's New Orleans

Love it all.

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Hate to think that Ted Brennan, who owned Brennan's for so many years, passed away last week. It was in 2013 when the restaurant/business went through a big reorganization (sold via bankruptcy court with lots and lots of drama) and resulted in Ted being 'out' and cousin Ralph Brennan buying it and doing this massive renovation.

We were looking forward to dining at the new Ted Brennan's Decatur this summer, but its opening has been pushed back again, now to sometime in the fall. I've walked past where they're building it several times, and if it's open before, say, December, it will be a surprise. Sure it will be gorgeous, though, and longtime (old) Brennan's chef Lazone Randolph will again be in the kitchen. We'll be there.

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