Zuppardi’s Apizza Truth be told it could be years before Rushmore lands another pizza outfit with the pedigree of Zuppardi’s. They cleaned house last year and we cried like schoolgirls when we found out they were not in this year’s lineup. So we made do with Gus’s Fried Chicken which was our first stop. Gus’s cooks their bird in hot fat for 20 minutes or til the meat reaches 180 degrees. By our calculations that is over-cooked but you’d never know it if you were the eater. Gus’s is famous and with good reason; their fried chicken is superb-yes it could be more diligently seasoned-but it’s still a lovely meal. We grew up on Salt Lick barbecue out of Driftwood, Texas and have lost count on how many times we’ve eaten there. Now that we live in New Orleans where there is no good barbecue we really appreciate it when a Texas outfit rolls into town so we can wallow in brisket and hotguts sausage. We chatted with the pitboss John who has been on the smoker at Salt Lick since 1991. He loves to talk about his craft and after a quarter century of cooking meat with fire we reckon he’s well versed in the lore of the pit. We spotted a propane tank near the massive smoker but he assured us they just use it to start the wood fire, no shenanigans like tempering the heat in the pit with liquid fuel. Whew. Central Barbecue in Memphis drew our attention as we walked by. The pitboss flung the doors to the cooker open and was eager to show off a few dozen racks of pork ribs he was cooking. Unfortunately he was not running a stick-burner and had opted to use a liquid gas fired pit with a small compartment that burned a little wood. His ribs were fine but tasted like ham, not true barbecue. We strolled around for awhile listening to Jon Bon Jovi on the hi fi and taking in the sights of Spanish Plaza where the party was held. Rushmore needs to get back to the French Market next year as it is ground zero for foot traffic in New Orleans. Spanish Plaza is pretty and an argument could be made that it’s a better venue but if you want hordes of people you’ve got to get in the French Quarter somehow. We filled in the cracks and crevices with a big dollop of custard from Abbot’s out of Rochester, New York. They’ve been around since 1902 and are generally regarded as the best custard maker in the US. With good reason. It’s the finest we’ve ever eaten and we’re old school custard hounds who have circumnavigated America on our hunt for the best.One of the highlights of our eating year comes each spring when Stephen Rushmore produces his NOLA FoodFest fete. It’s one of the best parties of the year and when you say that as a New Orleans resident it carries a good bit of gravitas. We throw hundreds of food festivals annually and they are without fail pure gold. But NOLA FoodFest is one of the best. But this year there was a problem: no
Next year we’re keeping our fingers crossed that NOLA FoodFest will see fit to bring in T-Jim’s out of Cottonport, Louisiana.
We bet their blood boudin and best-in-the-state cracklins would be a big hit in the Big Easy.