When Wolf and I began to design and manufacture our own cookware, we did so because we couldn’t find any products that met our standards. Many cooking professionals will explain that there are four main facets to making a great meal. A great recipe, fresh and flavorful ingredients, high-performance cookware and of course……the right Chef to bring it all together!
While recipes may be secretly handed down from generation to generation… and ingredients can be geographically restricted by season, most professionals will tell you that once they find the right cutlery and cookware… they stick with them.
A high-quality frying pan as an example can be relied upon to consistently perform at the same temperature time after time. Premium grade cookware is one of the secrets to consistently turning out excellent table fare. If the aforementioned, four main attributes meet over a flame… it doesn’t matter where you are, you may be in for a treat!
Several years ago I visited New Orleans for business. Now many people will tell you that New Orleans could be the epicurean capital of the U.S. when it comes to amazing food. The French influence on Creole cooking is nothing short of astounding. Whether it be Cajun boiled crawfish or Jambalaya….most people expect to be blown away by dishes born on the bayou. However, few expect to find authentic (and somewhat eclectic) Italian dishes served in downtown NOLA that are as good as those I have tasted in Napoli!
Not being new to visiting New Orleans, I chose The Roosevelt of New Orleans for my stay. This property makes you feel like you’re going back in time. Originally, it was founded as the Grunewald Hotel in 1893 and at midnight New Year’s Eve 1907, that lavish moniker was expanded by 400 rooms into what became The Roosevelt. The Blue Room and the Sazerac Bar became two of the hottest locations for entertainers to not just perform… but simply hang out. On any night of the week you could find Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles or Jack Benny, to name a few, holding court in one of the dark corners of those clubs.
While the historic significance and the friendly staff alone is worth visiting The Roosevelt, I come for one reason: The Domenica. I have enjoyed some of the best Italian dishes in this restaurant. However, you can’t simply step into the Domenica anticipating basic Italian recipes. While you can definitely enjoy one of the best wood-fired pizzas… don’t limit yourself or your imagination. Wolf and I always try to push our gastronome limits when we are in the presence of Maestros who direct their kitchen staff like a symphony.
Whether it be Squid Ink Tagliolini with blue crab and herbs or Tagliatelle with slow cooked rabbit and porcini mushrooms, you may never experience such a diverse and traditional menu with Creole influence again!
If I were to make one suggestion… it would be to experience the Stracci with Oxtail and fried chicken livers. I know what you are thinking. Oxtail and fried chicken livers?! Trust me; I would never lead a family member astray! It is no longer a regular menu offering so you will have to call a few days ahead to entice the Chef to make it for you during your visit. However, a few kind words and maybe even a bit of groveling… should be enough to ensure your taste buds will be forever spoiled.
As I travel around the world, I try to experience as many different things as I possibly can. We are in this world for such a short time; it would be a shame to skip over the best parts by accident. Our sense of smell and taste create some of the most intense sensory experiences we are capable of understanding. While our memories of beautiful scenery may fade over time, most of us can recall the tastes and smells of the kitchens of our youth.
One of the most common threads I recognized from kitchen to kitchen is that when accomplished cooks find cookware they can trust… they raise their game. They actually cook better. Their level of confidence in their dishes preparation increases. They don’t have to guess how a pot or a pan will react to heat. It is a repeatable outcome that makes it easier to anticipate how a roux will come together or a meat will brown.
The kitchen in the Domenica is no different. As my tour years ago revealed, these are professionals who rely on professional tools. As explained to me, “….if a pot or pan does not lend itself to our level of cooking; it becomes useless and has no place in our kitchen!” It is this same approach that Wolf and I have taken when we design our cookware.
As you travel the world yourself and explore the hidden jewels so frequently found in small cafés and brunchery’s, don’t be afraid to push your epicurean limits. It is only through such efforts that you will be able to secure those memories for decades hence. While you are at it… don’t be afraid to ask that Maestro in the kitchen to point out their favorite cooking tool!
The Roosevelt of New Orleans
123 Baronne Street
New Orleans, LA 701182