The last time that Zack Engel visited COOK he was behind the line helping his friend Erin O’Shea for her evening of Percy St BBQ. Post-class we exchanged our weird New Orleans stories over a couple beers. After a few crazy stories we decided that a new Orleans Style bash had to happen, complete with beads, oysters on the half shell, and plenty of Crystal hot sauce!Zack has a special place in his heart for NOLA because he lived there for three years while going to college; a formative time for most. While there he worked at John Besh’s Domenica a rustic Italian restaurant with a New Orleans twist. He fell in love with the food culture of Crescent City so we knew there was no one better to lead this class.
To bring us the true flavor of NOLA, Zack wanted some backup. So to his aid came the lovely Erin O’shea, and Zack’s good friend Brian Kane, the sommelier and manager of Zahav, to pair the right drinks for such a night.
The one thing you can always count on is that whenever we have members of the Zahav crew in the house, things will get wild one way or another.
And so we started our night with our ice breaker question of the day with Brian’s choice of: “Would you rather eat a spoonful of lard or get slapped publicly”
Just to give you some background last time Zack and Mike Solomonov where here doing a Federal Donut brunch class they decided to share with us one of their kitchen traditions.
A classic rock paper scissors game where the loser gets slapped in the face but instead of a slapp the loser gets to eat a spoon of lard! Zack lost…
Then we moved on to grilled oysters on the half shell with brie cheese on top – I loved this dish! Since the oyster wasn’t completely raw the result was that of an oyster that just melts in your mouth! Next up, Erin showed us the right way to make the perfect crepe, which was then filled with crawfish in a nantua sauce, a cream based sauce flavored with shellfish. Brian chose to pair the crepe with a New Orleans classic, the Sazerac. The Sazerac as we know it was introduced in NOLA around 1850, a modernized riff off of a French original. It consists of rye whisky, 1 sugar cube, Peychaud’s Bitters, Absinthe or HerbSaint (another NOLA original), garnished with a lemon peel and always served in a rocks glass with no ice.
The rest of the menu included a Fig glazed pork roulade with dirty rice.
And for a sweet finish we had Vietnamese beignets with brandy-lemongrass sabayon.
The high point of the night for me was definitely when Zack offered a pint container of his amazing dirty rice to whoever could drink a shot of Crystal hot sauce. The fact that 4 people got up and drank the shot like a champ astonished me! Like I said before, things go crazy with two “Zahavnicks” in the house.Over all, our NOLA experience at COOK was pretty on cue and at the end of the night we even got lucky enough to get flashed! As you can see below.