May 17th, 2010
01:01 PM ET

'Treme' recap – Creole mustard, it goes on everything

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Janette DeSautel is forced to close her restaurant in this week's episode of "Treme," despite winning raves from out-of-town chefs and having a packed house every night. She's got cash-flow problems and despite trying to placate suppliers with Barq's root beer each time they come to collect, they put her on cash on delivery.

"I can't write rubber checks, and I can't cook without food," she laments to her sous chef. She also can't bring herself to ask the staff to work a week for free. DeSautel reluctantly packs up her knife kit and locks up for what may be the last time.

Creighton Bernette, meanwhile, has to make meatloaf leftovers, and he needs some Creole mustard. "I put Creole mustard on everything," he tells his wife. Apparently Blue Plate mayonnaise too. There's a jar of it on his counter. FULL POST

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Filed under: television • Treme
May 10th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

'Treme' Recap: Celebrity chefs can't outshine New Orleans food

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So chefs Tom Colicchio, Wylie Dufresne, David Chang and Eric Ripert walk into a bar. ...

Is this the beginning of a food awards joke? Nah, it's just the fifth episode of "Treme," when chef Janette DeSautel gets a surprise visit by four New York chefs referred to her struggling fictional restaurant by New Orleans' own "Top Chef Master," John Besh.

"We can't out-New York a bunch of New York chefs – we lowball them," DeSautel tells her sous chef Jacques. "We start with the sweet potato andouille shrimp soup. Then we get the rabbit kidneys out the freezer – they're tiny, they're going to thaw fast. We skewer 'em with some lardons of the Benton's bacon, then we hit 'em with sweetbreads and crawfish over grits." FULL POST

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May 3rd, 2010
03:51 PM ET

'Treme' recap: Barq's root beer and a coffee-fueled Crescent City

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It's Christmastime in New Orleans, but only John Goodman's in a festive spirit. Four months after the storm, things are far from 100 percent and it's fraying the nerves of the characters in "Treme."

Creighton Bernette (Goodman) has taken to YouTube for a Barq's root-beer fueled rant; Janette DeSautel's restaurant is forced to close for a night because the gas to the stoves won't stay on; Albert Lambreaux can't get his insurance money; and Davis McAlary loses a wheel and some musical equipment because of a "Cave of Mystery" pot hole on the West Bank.

The characters are surviving – in this episode, on coffee. They've chosen Cafe Rose Nicaud on Frenchman Street as the coffee stand of choice. While it is December, I suspect many of those patrons are drinking cold-brewed iced coffee. It's a year-round kind of drink in the Crescent City. FULL POST

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Filed under: television • Treme
April 26th, 2010
02:47 PM ET

'Treme' recap: The beignet wakeup call

Fried dough is delicious, but it won’t stop your baby's momma from getting all up in your face when you cheat on her with a stripper.

That's the food takeaway from the third episode of the drama "Treme." "Right Place, Wrong Time" touched on New Orleans’ fritter-like treats (from the suburban Morning Call) along with the city's tradition of open-alcohol containers.

Trombone player Antoine Batiste opened the episode by giving new meaning to the phrase "don't come a knockin'" - in this case 'cause the FEMA trailer is a rockin'. Returning home from his stripper dalliance, he tries to cover this after-dawn return with a bag of Morning Call beignets, but it backfires with his girlfriend, Desiree, who threatens to move to Memphis where her mother has evacuated the hurricane. FULL POST

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Filed under: television • Treme
April 19th, 2010
02:29 PM ET

'Treme' recap: Crystal Hot Sauce gets its due

Chicken made an appearance in the second episode of "Treme," but it was definitely not on the menu.

New Orleans musician Coco Robicheaux conducted a chicken sacrifice to kick off this episode of David Simon's HBO drama.

"Are we entering some sacrificial realm here?" Steve Zahn's character Davis McAlery asks Robicheaux, who's confidently stroking the neck of the rooster with a knife. "Why don't you play the next cut on that CD as I summon the spirits?" Robicheaux tells the deejay. A blood stain on the wall after the opening credits alludes to what's become of the bird.

While there were no magic pies in the second episode of "Treme," New Orleans products made cameos - namely Crystal Hot Sauce, which graced the kitchen counter of trombone player Antoine Batiste as well as the bar of Gigi’s Place, the haunt owned by Batiste’s ex-wife.

Baumer Foods, which makes Crystal Hot Sauce, was flooded out of its New Orleans factory by Hurricane Katrina. It had to move production of "No. 1 hot sauce of Louisiana" out of state for 18 months. It resumed production in Louisiana in February 2007, after reopening the plant upriver to a town called Reserve.

Hot sauce helps chef Janette DeSautel stomach the scrambled eggs she burns while cooking on a hot plate in the second floor of her ruined house. As "This American Life" contributor Cheryl Wagner documents in her memoir about post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, "Plenty Enough Suck to Go Around," second-floor camp stoves were a common thing in those months after Katrina, used to heat up ramen noodles and whatever else locals could smuggle in to their ruined city.

Here's a guide to the local products in episode two of "Treme":

Bunny Bread This white bread - locally made in New Orleans - has been a city favorite since 1966. Its New Orleans plant was closed from late August to early December 2005 because of Hurricane Katrina.

Crystal Hot Sauce Flooding forced Baumer Foods to move production of this New Orleans hot sauce out of state following the hurricane. A new factory opened 18 months later in neighboring St. John the Baptist Parish. Crystal is milder than that other Louisiana hot sauce – Tabasco – and the Baumer Foods sign is a familiar site along the I-10 corridor in New Orleans.
Community Coffee Here is a coffee so beloved that one Katrina evacuee in Houston bought out a grocery store’s supply and offered free cups of the coffee to other evacuees in the Astrodome in the weeks following the storm. The Baton Rouge-based company donated coffee to Katrina’s first responders.

Finn McCool's Irish Pub Not a product per se, this Irish pub in Mid-City New Orleans gets a shout-out via T-shirt in the second episode. The pub was inspiration for Stephen Rea’s Katrina memoir "Finn McCool’s Football Club: The Birth, Death and Resurrection of a Pub Soccer Team in the City of the Dead."

Steen's Cane Syrup Steen's Cane Syrup is Louisiana's hardcore answer to maple syrup. This Abbeville, Louisiana, company has been making 100 Percent Pure Cane Syrup since 1910. When Janette DeSautel’s sous chef presents her father with a sweet potato pecan tart sweetened with Steen's, you know DeSautel means business. Use it to make pain perdu, or if you’re really brave, drizzle it on your pancakes.

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