AM BLOG - Posted July 18, 2012 4:25 p.m.
Louisiana chef, artist make their way to the Panhandle
As I'm sure all of you know by now, I'm from
Once you hear me speak, you know I’m not from these parts. When I moved to
Amarillo nearly two years ago, I never expected to become homesick for a state
that is always one of the top rungs of every bad list (health, obesity) in the
country and one of the bottom rungs of every good list (education, healthcare).
In my state’s defense, however, we can
always count on Mississippi
rating worse than us, so at least I’m not from there.
For the first year of my residence here in Amarillo, I was content. My seafood and
crawfish cravings were at a minimum, and I had nearly forgotten about one of my
products: Abita beer. (By the way, if you’ve never
heard of it, shame on you. If you have, yet never tried it, shame on you
again.) The things I would do for a cold, sweating bottle of Abita…
When I returned to my hometown this past March, after a year-and-half
absence, I brought back not memories cherished with my family, (inside joke),
but two six-packs of Abita Strawberry, a seasonal delight that is fiercely
I savored those scrumptious suckers for three months,
taking the last sip of the last bottle in June in celebration of my old ball
and chain’s new job. I knew there was a reason I was holding out on that last
bottle, sitting all by its lonesome in my fridge, its fruity essence and deep
red hue putting its fellow, watery alcoholic beverages to shame. I won’t name
Enough rambling about myself, and let me get to the good stuff.
Good Stuff No. 1: Award-winning, New
Orleans chef, Emile
Stieffel, will be making his way to the Texas Panhandle at the end of this
month. On July 27, he will present “New Orleans Soul Food Cooking and Drinks”
to an audience at WTAMU’s University’s Alumni Banquet
Facility, courtesy of the Office of Continuing Education.
The program will offer cooking demonstrations, participation
opportunities, and best of all, tasting of Stieffel’s soul food dishes, such as
Catfish Court Bouillon, mustard and collard greens and mini muffalettas, which
originated in New Orleans.
If you’ve never tried an authentic muffaletta, then I
strongly urge you to take a bite of the zesty goodness. Once you go there,
there’s no coming back.
But that’s only the first portion of the class. The second half
will consist of a “Spirits of the Bayou” session where tasters can pair mini poboys with traditional NOLA beverages such as Southern
Comfort, Ramos Gin Fizz, Hurricane cocktails, Dixie
beer, and last but certainly not least, Abita. The three syllables resonate in
my head as I type out that paradisiacal word.
As soon as I heard Abita was on the menu, I knew I had to
interview Stieffel. Maybe he can tuck a case into the overhead compartment of
the plane during his trip here.
But having literally just gotten off an hour-long interview with
the N'awlins chef that included mouthwatering descriptions of Louisiana cuisine and history lessons on the
origin of these dishes, Stieffel said he is going to be on the lookout for
Abita Strawberry in the stores. (I was just informed the company’s warehouse no
longer has any in stock!) Now
that is what I call a true Southern gentleman.
More information to come on the New Orleans soul food program later this
week. Reservations are needed by Monday. To register, call the Office
of Continuing Education at 651.2037.
Drew Belle Zerby
After graduating from LSU in 2009, Drew
Belle worked as a page designer in north Louisiana
until moving to Amarillo
and joining AGN Media in late 2010. In her spare time, she loves to read,
travel and spout out useless movie trivia.