Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Road Trip to New Orleans, Minnesota

Do you ever get that deep down hunger for some Cajun dinner? You rush out the door in search of someone with the requisite skills to cook it up, and at that point—if you live in these parts—a gust of snow hits you in the face reminding you of how you’re about 1102 miles from New Orleans. South Minneapolis just isn’t south enough. Last night, however, instead of just curling up on my front porch letting the snow make little eddies around my head, I headed north, all the way up to the town of Circle Pines, Minnesota. While you ponder that seemingly counterintuitive response, why don’t you listen to one of my favorite Professor Longhair tunes:

No need to send the white coats over to the Balluff house. I’m not going through some sort of cabin fever. Unless you’re talking about a Louisiana cabin. A Cajun dinner and “Big Chief” met me in Circle Pines last night at Bistro La Roux. Chef Tim Glover opened the place last year to be able to serve Minnesota during all four seasons in combination with his bright green food truck called Cajun 2 Geaux. He hails from Houma, Louisiana, and it’s an understatement to say he knows his stuff.

Chef Tim overseeing a pot

My table started with fried green tomatoes, to which Chef Tim adds a little honey, a perfect sweet and savory combination. This was followed by Jambalaya, jalapeno cornbread, crawfish and shrimp etouffee, a catfish platter with gouda grits and greens, and finally a plate of beignets smothered with about a half pound of powdered sugar. 

Said Jambalaya

This incredible dinner was served with a soundtrack that included, along with the above tune, such New Orleans staples such as “Joe Avery’s Piece,” “Do Watcha Wanna,” and Professor Longhair’s hit, “Mard Gras In New Orleans.” 

There isn’t a time of the year when I don’t have an ache to visit New Orleans. It isn’t that I’m one of those who believe I am living in the wrong place. I love Minnesota, and it is very likely you will be able to find me living here all my years. But I do love to trek to New Orleans on a regular basis, and the food is definitely one of the biggest draws for me. Last night, I walked out of Bistro La Roux with a pleasantly stuffed belly into cold air to see the diamond snow on a Circle Pines parking lot lit up by that big beautiful full moon in the northern sky. This was not a New Orleans scene by any stretch of the imagination. But Chef Tim had somehow given me that feeling inside that I get when I’m down in Louisiana. And I’m not talking about the pain of overindulgence. It’s that feeling that there isn’t any peace that couldn’t be brokered over a meal like that, that people are good and I’m lucky to be living in the world right now. It’s an invincible feeling that with such magical food my ability to play New Orleans music is unlimited. Frankly, I had a Louisiana buzz going. 

Minneapolis folk, make the drive. You could call it a New Orleans road trip. But this one only takes twenty minutes.

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