Swedish Chef

A Simulacrum of the Blues

Simulacrum for the Blues

the moon slips through a keyhole
insinuating home where
the nearness of you seems
very faraway from
what the tangible songbird
unmoved by the waves
of starlight decides to sing

the door, the d'or
the sense of place
slowly pull the cork
inhale rubies
not only because of
thirsty mind listening to
gypsy strings as dusty roses
gather in the effortless
edict to shower infinity
with the fragrance of
this single place
defended by nothing
but the naked truth
blossoming according to
the many meanings of home
which can only be heard
by stuffing this galaxy of words
back into the bottle
sealed with the drying scents
of rubies, rose petals and redacted
poems that should never make the voyage

what if
home is the funhouse
mirror made to scan
the pixels
that give me the simulacrum of life
wired to my nerves signaling
invitation to share
the fancies and fever dreams
within the circumference
of my skies
if these smoke signals
of the buried telegraph
unspool cables 40 leagues
beneath the sea
can you still see the smoke
that gets in my eyes

4. (is my lucky number)
the strangest yet most
mundane invitation
how I heard you
existed like a transmission
trailing a theoretical comet
in a cryptic declaration left behind
that resonated
modernist keys in a quark of sound
bent by refracted light shining
from a lost book of heretics
who were alchemists
of the improbable who
listen to Bob Wills on the
transistor radio caught in the desert
when no other radio station comes in

wholly unexpected though
I shoulda known
80 protons isn't the kind
of thang a person denotes
unless they're into quicksilver
Mercury the sure messenger
the accomplice of 49ers
& alchemists
operates like a spy
deep inside the labyrinth

My device had run out of the
hogulating privilege
of energy for the night
on my way home at the tail end
of a tale that isn't
a Ned Washington lyric
one electric thought crossed
my mind simply to say hello
somehow summoning
"the annotated scrawls in the margins
where my heart is tattoed
by a palimpsest
that describes
the circumference of your skies"

that particle waving hello in quotes, well...
that's what I said
to myself in the car driving home
listening to jazz not my WWOZ
reigning over the rain in New Orleans
but still
left of the dial radio KMHD
thinking well...not much
of a howdy in them there words
that's no Ned Washington tune
either, but then life as a song is
distilled note by chromatic note
once we know the melody
so that the lyrics make the sail shudder
in a light wind beneath the inevitable
moonlight that offers a jangling key
just enough light on
this dim night
to send this invitation
to a simulacrum of the blues

6. (repeating 3 times... inevitably)
in the background a page from
a novel by Cortazar drops the needle
the plaintive trumpet of a dead man
carves marble from the wing-beat
stating the motion of the wave vs
eternity as Clifford Brown plays
"(I Don't Stand) The Ghost of a Chance (with You)"

is a hurdy gurdy man spinning
vanished music beneath
the old steel bridge where
a yellow rose beckons
in a secret garden behind
hopscotch chalk bright
as the periodic table and
a dumpster filled with
forgotten promises
that only seem to matter to
the protons that vibrate
whether a door, a desert, a radio
plays sunrise softly
but backwards so that here
the moon reigns

describing a magnetic chaos
that gathers inevitability like thunder
to set the stage for
the improbable neutron
stage left entrance
a cloud of 120 required
the surreal rest of the gang
is already here riffing
"Stella by Starlight"

a poem is a crazy way to say hello
even if as a neutron swept into the
magnetic quark of a lost signal
echo of the desires for a lyric
very nice to meet you
under these circumstances
when a simple melody will do
a songline that helps the heart
navigate how to wish upon a star
perhaps as a quark I should explain
we all come in flavors certainly
I am strange but aim to be charm

meeting a stranger wearing
the curated labyrinth
that defends the heart requires
wings that do not melt beneath
the savage sun
for the trick of the light
to smile without regard
for the shadows that gloam
where my attention strays
like a kitten playing with string
theory in a world where the
simultaneous is but a simulacrum
of this one chance to say hello
who knows if this galaxy of words
will ever find a home
amidst this floating world

a simulacrum for the blues

by chefcdb 7.26.14 pdx

Swedish Chef

A Nocturne for Nowhere

A Nocturne for Nowhere

there are daze when the hours of mercy evaporate
the slow drip of hope that nourished
the water from the deepest aquifer runs dry
and old vines that know their horizon like
the back of my hand
dig deeper, ignore the burning skies, return
to their wily tricks, summoning intense fruits
wrapped in puckered skin, waiting to be
pressed into the juice that rivals Time.

there are daze when the kindness of strangers
seems rare, or fleeting, or forsaken
once the music wanders away from the hands
the knife that waits in a howling wind where
tumbleweeds gather with the locusts gnawing
upon the yesterday of somebody's dreams

they say so long do these daze
when the blood soaks into the roots
of the tree that no longer desires
revolutions, fires, droughts, plagues of the impatient
ones who stand their ground like ghosts
destroyed by machinery that cashes hatred into
bullets, or worse, or less

for less than these daze have we summoned
the band to play it again, to play it with feeling
on the creaking decks of the tumbling Titanic while
we can yet imagine the quaint idea of icebergs
before the deluge before we knew that
water and history are implacable and never ask
who is to blame just rolling, rolling down
the river where one fine day we assemble
the ghosts who bent their plowshares into
remote control devices that wed the objects
of desire into a smithereens pixels the ghosts
used to haunt themselves until we had less

than a field of sunflowers beside a battleground
than starfish or coral reefs bleached like bones
than a stone hurled at a tank while rockets burst
like futile sexist remarks aimed at the girl
who questions her gaze in the mirror then rather
than to give less she closes the tempest of chattering
cold pixels for a walk beneath the stars expanding
dark matter accelerating the spaces before the fire
winks out in an elaborate ruse of who cares

if the moonlight caresses her skin the same way
the tides are pulled and waves retreat in a pulse
a tango a timeless crescendo that asks only
that we dance shall the heartbeat of salty oceans
dripping from a tear be not torn from Time rather
conjured defiantly by refusal by a feckless disdain
for those who only chase the capture the rapture
the caricature the demand that she spits upon

are you dancing despite what the stars say about
the daze of our demise?

On a lonely hillside buried in Time I hear
the rustling of old vines perched on the edge
of Nowhere, sheer cliffs where the righteous chased
the ancient ones across the wind strewn rocks
only the cypress trees remain as witnesses to
the violence, which back then was intimately laid
in flashing metal across a field of gore that blossomed
from those ancient enough to say yes to secrets
despite that liturgy of certainty held by the wealthy invaders
who hold to be true the most sincere belief
that avenging metal screams louder
than moonbeams, or cow horns, or the vortex
spun from woven Words harvested by hand, or
a fear of Other that led to the killing fields timeless
with self congratulating idiocy masquerading as heroic
repeated like a terrible puppet show that mocks
the silent bestiary of the Unseen, the goddess,
the fertile horn of cornucopia, the true meaning
of bravery in a doomed universe expanding with dark matter

there is a wine from this lonely hillside vineyard
growing upon rocks, silence, and ancient prayers
from a language that blood never silenced, even though
fluency as the currency of conversation has evaporated
beneath the blood soaked cypress, this wine tells secrets
unlike the privilege to rule with remote control
the ancient ones whisper of trances dances romances
bred in the bones if you lose fear of the
immense silence that takes many shapes

this cup I offer you to drink from it
it is the longing to heal from the catharsis
the rupture in Time brought by those in need of Rapture
for their impatient fires for glitter, gold, and glory
left dumb the language of silence, the embrace of the
buried saga of love hewn to each season
yet this humble wine is no trophy, no blessed
commodity sold like a bride in India or Indiana to
the yoke of expectations that demand the dominion
to exploit pleasure as the handmaiden of surrender

never go dancing with dunces who demand such
while giving less than the taste of blood language
singing into a heartbeat universe
who merely give lip service to this wine of stony silence
who cling to the lit window shuddering
in the heaving tilt of a midsummer night
while moths that should
aim for the moon settle for the burning bulb of
this insomniac, this ancient tango, this moonbeam
misbegotten in a Time of melting woe

won't you come dancing beneath the ice cold glare
of the stars no matter what they say
about the daze of our demise?

the daze that we, and these moths, beat our oars
ceaselessly against the dictatorship of Time
permits us the voyage to Nowhere that love
lies abandoned but not forsaken once the old whispers
rustling like contraband through the cypress the gnarled
old vineyards that transmute rocks into the ineffable
laws of vows exchanged between roots and the Host
of the Unseen dancing as bacteria, or magic,
beneath the edicts of Minerva who knows many an alias
but just one essential promise that we use this wisdom
as we feel it upon our skin rustling with secrets
beneath the quavering moon that circles our dreams
like a shepherd of these amniotic fluids of wine, of
ReBirth, of the resilience of blood language that
haltingly we learn to speak in respect of the silence
that inhabits us in many shapes, sibilant as waves
or muttering clouds promising the petrichor of the
scented earth after a cleansing rain that soaks
the skin not the pixels inflamed with glittering glory
damaged by needing to want rather than giving the need
something less than it wants but ever so much more
than the panting parts of what our wanting deserves

the wine pressed to your lips is a secret shared
with places Unseen and heartbeats of those who fought
the cruelties of Time and who won the well worn song
if not the war that counts corpses and dominion though
Nowhere cannot be captured by the greedy anymore
than a field of sunflowers holding the shock of death
than the wind surrenders its songs rustling in old vineyards
than the ocean delivers her waves to the conquistador who
rides in the name of Nonsense puffed up like a flabby muscle
incapable of love but thrusting for dominion so we escape
beneath the moonlight with this elixir, this manifesto
that sings beyond the tomb of tomorrow
that belongs only to the wind
the moonbeams the waves that urge us to mock
the calculating entropy of the rickety heavens
to get down all in it with the blundering moths
and in the uncertain gaze of this moment
to know this is how we say yes to who we are
in this hurtling rocky place named Nowhere
while daring to dance beneath
the icy glare of the naysayer stars

by Chris DeBarr 7.21.14 pdx

This poem is dedicated to the many who might be Unseen
unless I say their names: to Hart Crane,
to Randall Grahm for the wines and for a photo he took
of the cliffs of Minerve yesterday on his trip to France,
to the winemakers of Minervois always it has been my pleasure,
to the Occitan who speak from the land of yes...

Swedish Chef

eating dirt

eating dirt

I dream of a land big and true
40 acres and a mule
into this dreamworld I burrow
knowing how far yet I have to go

the only thing that may surprise you
is that on this land you won't see me
for am I not the farmer, nor the mule
to see my home quite serene all you do is dig below
just dig below

for I have given my earthly robe to this dirt
a gleam of bone, a trace of a smile warm as the sun
working with microbes to fix this show, to catch what all
goes floating by. Return these songs, this fleck of pain
to a land just below, just below

given as good as good can get, relinquish
wanting as much as a heart can make, surrender
fear of the pain is worse than death, grow

turn this dirt in your hands
let the crumbled pieces expose
that thing you never dreamed before
listen here's the song I sing
there are no words left to know
there are no words left to know

for all I do is to take this dirt & chew upon the hurt
yea verily, just chew upon the hurt

simply put I'm eating dirt
that's true, who knew, that this would be the thing to do

yet the song is so sublime, and no...
this is not death, nor even the sound & fury of the dying
all I do is seek to lose
what was, inside of what will be
to do this requires nothing more & nothing less
than a healthy dose of eating dirt inside out

for all I do is to change the hue of hurt & woe
back into the elemental truth, that Spring soon comes
and versed in these we send forth our tender chutes & shoots
to conquer the indifference of the noisy few who point & shout
about what's of little consequence when all you do is eat the dirt

ah, my latest work is not too flashy
simple stalks of milkweed transmitting this news
like a radio of dirt, just in time for something wobbling
a passing royalty visiting a scruffy patch for chewing earth
like nectar, monarchs sail towards the refuge of "if we only knew
what it means to miss...knowing how to eat dirt..."

--a metamorphosis blues
by Chef Chris DeBarr
PDX 3/5/2014
first take poetry

Swedish Chef

The Heliosphere of Mardi Gras

The Heliosphere of Mardi Gras

I have detected a new phenomenon, a ripple in the waves of Nature emanating from my beloved city of New Orleans. I believe there will be ample evidence all year round to prove that my brand new theory matters, bringing enough cosmic funk to trigger these sensitive infrared machines known by astronomers & tin foil scientists. I hereby propose that we recognize there is a magnetic bubble filled with, well...the preferred phrase of physicists calls them "energetic particle accelerators" (who zoom about in a growing collective frenzy of costumes, masques, shiny baubles & absurdist half-fast walking clubs) have created what can only be dubbed The Heliosphere of Mardi Gras.

We already have a heliosphere for our solar system, which is the principal reason astronomers held a yard sale to give away the planetary status of Pluto for a box of Cracker Jacks & a decoder ring. These astronomers have measured the faint yet persistent magnetic pull of our veritable Helios, the Ancient Greek symbol for the Sun, and discovered that our old majestic Sun rules a pile of space rubble extending quite a ways beyond the wobbly elliptical orbit of Pluto. Today's modern astronomers see more of these rocks than could Clyde Tombaugh, the avid self-taught Kansas kid who had built his own telescope & published esoteric findings before being hired by the renowned Lowell Observatory to search for & discover Pluto on Feb. 18, 1930. This new breed of astronomers gave their field of space rubble the name: the heliosphere, which grooves as predictably as a bunch of Grateful Dead fans on 'shrooms, operating under the magnetic force shield of the Sun binding this tribe of touring Space-heads, of which Pluto held no more importance than the guy recording tapes of each show from the girl in the tie-dye t-shirt who sold space cakes and bracelets to stay on tour. The heliosphere of the Sun is just a bunch of meteorites, faded comet dust, and a trippy belt of cosmic debris that decided such an eternal life following the distant Sun was about the same as waiting for another version of Casey Jones to 'watch your speed.'

The key indicator that gives proof to a heliosphere revolves around magnetism. Now that I have moved from New Orleans faraway from actual physical contact with Mardi Gras madness for the first time in 25 years, I've constructed a tin foil helmet sporting colorful whirligigs that spin in synchronized rotation to the evidence of magnetic contact with fine citizens I know who are deep in the throes of catching throws or simply breathing in the psychedelia of the Carnival strewn streets of the Crescent City. These Nola citizens remain under strict orders from me in the name of Science to precisely record when each reveler suddenly starts pounding marimbas outta trash cans, or shaking a stanky leg with the active boogaloo synchronized participation from real members of the NOPD. I have it all documented on Facebook & Twitter & a carefully annotated Big Chief notebook detailing the exact moments for every magnetic Nola contact compared to the rpm velocity of my tin foil whirligigs.

During Muses on Thursday, Feb. 27, just as one of my best friends caught a coveted leopard print high heel shoe, my whirligigs nearly sent me soaring across the Willamette, like Sally Field in The Flying Nun. Fortunately, after my recent knee surgery I was tethered to both a walker and an inert growler of particularly obnoxious IPA, which maintained just enough force of gravity that kept me from floating like a manatee in a Marc Chagall painting. I'm dead certain that the fine citizens of Portlandia are thankful they did not have to encounter such a weird specter, even though in Nola under similar circumstances, I probably would have gone unremarked as just another Lucky Dog vendor taking a short cut back to the hot dog barn.

The facts are irrefutable. The magnetic force of Mardi Gras clearly extends a defiant 'won't bow down' force far beyond the typical repercussions that normal American cities can radiate. Why Atlanta is unable to co-ordinate their collective moments to emanate any useful joyful signal, which we witnessed in the unfortunate Snowpocalypse; instead, The City Too Dumb to Care attracted the opposite reaction, with which my whirligigs measured to an appalling fail; thus, I have a corresponding theory of negativity very deserving of the sobriquet, Inverted Collapsing Schaudenfreude. Yes, it is as painful as it sounds....

While my official paper includes exciting corroborating proof from the bottle on how gravity and magnetism work together in a ribbon theory where there are portals where magnetic strength emerges from the center of the earth's geologic pressures to, essentially, put a bow around places, latitudes & longitudes that are both breathtakingly pretty and where they can handle the high proof octane of strong grog in the quest for Science. In the final analysis, a select few cities & seas are simply more magnetic & charming than others, and the Earth has bestowed honor & legends upon these sacred locales. Obviously...'nuff said!

So please welcome my latest discovery of celestial principles, encompassing a pie chart illustrating the range of magnetic cities, now forever known as The Heliosphere of Mardi Gras! I think this groundbreaking work may be worthy of a Nobel Prize in astronomy, or at least a couple of free drinks at Pal's Lounge!!! Thank you, yes, thank you to the Nobel committee for their prompt recognition. Most of all, a heartfelt thank you to you, to all my Mardi Gras maniacs back home for inspiring this crucial environmental research by being the best darn "energetic particle accelerators" that you each can be...I proudly share this Nobel Prize with all of thee!

Happy Mardi Gras, y'all!!! Do everything I would do & ever so much more! Keep sending me data, photos, tweets and more silliness than you think I can stand. Me and my tin foil whirligigs are eager to spin until we're dizzy from chasing all the glitter coming all the way out West to PDX...thank you! Be simply unforgettable....

Swedish Chef

Anatomy of Cauliflower

I believe it was Mark Twain who said that "cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education," which is botanically true in that the great white flower is related to the cabbage family, and of course Twain is wittily referring to the reputation this Chou-Fleur has for looking like brains. Cauliflower is one of my very favorite Winter vegetables, so this year at Sere we featured it 3 ways.

I had an idea for New Year's Eve to feature tiny "cauliflower steaks" as an amuse-bouche, which we did with truffled bagna cauda. Marko really liked the premise and created a huge, genuine cauliflower steak, which is cut across the grain to show the "arms" of this Winter flower, which we roast, gently coat with Very Old Dutch Gouda, then pan roast again to caramelize & deepen the flavors. We serve this beautiful "steak" with kasha-- buckwheat that's been toasted and gently cooked with small dice of veg and herbs, greens grown locally (as in my backyard local!) by my dear friend, Zoe of Planet to Plate, wilted in a very hot skillet, and finally a rich red beet/fennel sauce. We like serving forth vegetarian food that is rich, satisfying & seductive to even the most ardent meat-eaters. Our Cauliflower Steak did all that...

We began our foray into cauliflower with a rich Cream of Cauliflower Soup, which didn't rely on potatoes nor really even that much cream. After all, cauliflower is white and when puréed in a background of beautiful vegetable broth, roasted garlic, and some heavy cream the result is magnified flavor, not a watered down barely hinting at cauliflower soup that is really a shitty potato soup. Not on our watch! We garnished this velvety liaison of sexy Wintry terroir with a "confetti" of tiny brunoise of fried potatoes, crispy leeks and cauliflower "debris" roasted with Bengali spices. To complete the garnish we made a scallion oil that sparkled with the hint of green we crave in wintertime. That was a gorgeous soup, but next up is a Moroccan carrot soup we have in mind, coming up very soon.

Finally in our trio of cauliflower gems, I made a snail dish that had been on my mind for awhile. Making 'bacon fat' profiteroles (using half butter and half smoky bacon fat we gather from Nueske's killer applewood bacon), I marinate the escargot in parsley & garlic -- the usual conveyors of flavor to these garden critters I love to cook simply-- then gently heat those snails up in a cauliflower cream we infuse with different herbs and finish with goat cheese to purée. The parsley and garlic slough off into the cauliflower and dance with the secret tastes of the herbs, then are cradled onto the fork by the profiteroles. I jokingly say that this dish is like God the way the bacon, especially the bacon, and the infused herbs work inside the flavors: in other words, you can't see Him, but you can always taste His goodness! Ah, well if comparing bacon to The Big Kahuna gets my soul in trouble, well, all I can say is that I am a Southern boy who loves my pig, and had to sneak it into e garden of eatin'!

So this entry is notebook fodder for my memories & database, as Spring has definitely sprung in Nola and these are the very last daze you can taste this trio of cauliflower pretty, pretty. It was quite a glorious trip into the brains and anatomy of cauliflower this winter, but we have more vegetable to reveal their secret inner lives of great flavor. Stay tuned, or run the heck over to Serendipity tonight to get the last of a beautiful tribute to an under appreciated white flower of Winter.
Swedish Chef

Ready for Spring?

Hello again. Sorry it has been such a while since I wrote a blog. Writing wise, I've been playing with Twitter (my handle is @chefcdb so follow me if u wish!) and learning about Facebook for Serendipity. Gradually writing up our recipes too, with the help of my longtime chef de cuisine, Marko, so we have been busy behind the scenes. Marko just returned from an epic trip to India, inspired & feisty, and we are contemplating our Spring menu changes.

It has also been an intense winter, learning how to make the most of our Mid-City following for the restaurant, adapting to the neighborhood now that I am a resident of Esplanade Ridge, and learning to ride a bicycle. The hours are long when you start a new place, and so in all this season of transitions and tests, finding the hidden pool of words I use to mediate this world of cooking, love, and work got set aside, as I have been getting settled into the proper depths to reflect our sense of breathing space for Serendipity.

Spring has been delayed a bit this week before Easter, with what amounts to chilly blasts to we tropical fleurs of Nola, but if you were in the true Frozen North, you'd laugh at us huddled & bundled up against 50 degree temps. Nonetheless, this week is a time of reflection for me, and look for a few more frequent & smaller puddles of words to splash around in joyously celebrating our love of cooking, and a few more words about wines as well.

As a lifetime reader, it takes turning the page to see the rest of the story, right? Sometimes in life, it can be a crazy process to see the pages turn in your own life. I am feeling the optimism of this blossoming season, and will bring you more freshly cut fleurs & words from my kitchen to you very soon. It's a promise...
Swedish Chef

A Neighborhood Joint...

When we designed Serendipity, we had a few set ideas that we wanted to showcase about our style of dining here in New Orleans. First off, we wanted to make a glamorous BUT AFFORDABLE place, with great cocktails & an adventurous wine list. Ed Diaz has brought his classic punch riffs & timeless sense of the role of booze in New Orleans dining to a stunning & beautiful bar. Just like at Bar Tonique, the sun never sets on his exquisite hand-crafted cocktails that share nuances of how ice, old school spirits, and flourishes of bartender alchemy (bitters, phosphate, fizzy in house tonic water, etc) can elevate a drink into elixirs of sheer pleasure. Most of our Serendipity cocktails are just $8, and believe me -- they will get you focused on living life properly with that relaxed, New Orleans vibe of appreciating the finer things in life.

A good cocktail does indeed ease you into the meal, and my job as the chef of Serendipity is to seduce you with unexpected magic at the table. I love creating our precisely just-so creative food, but again, we strive to make it affordable. I sometimes worry that because writers always talk about my relentless, thoughtful sense of adventure that folks will think that we are expensive. They see we have white tablecloths & think that we might hook a vacuum hose to their wallets or purses, thus we get saved for 'Special Occasion' Dining. Now I love having fun with my guests on their Big Night Out (whether a birthday or anniversary, etc), but we believe in keeping our prices reasonable so that when "you just don't feel like cooking" that night you can slide into Serendipity for an entertaining bite and a stress busting glass of wine. We don't mind cuz we aim to really be 'a neighborhood joint' that makes life easier & more fun for our people.

Now that we are opening for weekday lunches from Mon-Fri, we can show y'all what we mean by being 'a neighborhood joint' for Mid-City & for my entire beloved city of New Orleans. We will expand our ideas of fun lunches, often with the notion of 'having a picnic' guiding my inspiration. Sandwiches, cool salads, reliably entertaining soups, and who knows what else we might put forth for a lunch. It seems that Mid-City has kept its blue collar sensibility intact, so we look fwd to meeting our neighbors in the shops, offices, and stores that dot the maps in Mid-City. We simply want to keep our American Can location popping & buzzing & ready to restore a bit of happiness in a hectic working week. Check out the lunch menu on our Facebook.com/SerendipityNOLA site for all the lowdown on lunch...and much besides as we grow our neighborhood joint.

I also really enjoy getting with our guests to explore the marvelous worlds of terroir & great wines from real vineyards. We have begun to find some killer wines from here, there, and everywhere...a beautiful New York Finger Lakes Cab Franc & a spot-on super dry Sparkling Riesling from Pfalz, Germany lead the charge of stunning, eclectic beauty on our list. Delicious wine is such a boon companion because balanced yet unexpected wines reveal such great flavors next to our food. The sense of adventure that we bring here @Serendipity makes life fully lived in Technicolor pleasure--at least, that's my aim as a chef & lover of libations. We want to bewitch, charm, reveal the daring, and tell the sweetest secrets of fun dining. Fine dining we leave to the stuffed shirts trying to extract 'money for nothing' but the privileged. We dig our Nola, in all its noisy, crazy, spectacular extravagances that color our ordinary days so unforgettably. We are gonna keep bringing that sense of joy to the table, plate by plate, sip by sip, so that together we can celebrate our beautiful city.

So for sure, when it is a special event like New Year's Eve (...and by all means, see the previous post & come swing in the New Year with us!) we go ruthlessly big, and on any given night, if you are hankering for 'The Show' we can do that! But honestly, I dig just as much that sense of why not head to Serendipity for some soul refreshment rather than just settling for pizza or casual mediocrity. My babies, if you wise...we can stretch those dollars just as far as a pizza place without much trouble, so come on bye on a weekday for supper or lunch. I gotcha on that too, so don't be fooled by thinking I'm a fancy chef. We cook for the people of New Orleans and all those visitors who love our beguiling city.

Just wanna make sure you know that we are serious about serving as 'a neighborhood joint' for Mid-City & Bayou St. John. Come see us at 3700 Orleans Ave (next to the public library in the American Can Bldg) or give us a call at 504.407.0818 if ya feel like making a reservation...See y'all this week for lunch or our regular suppertime mischief!

Open for lunch Mon-Fri from 11:30-2:30
Supper starts at 6 pm, but the bar opens at 5 pm, with supper until 10 on weekdays, until 11 pm on Fri & Sat and (for just awhile, after tonight's Sunday ends) closed on Sundays.

Thanks for all the support! I was just stopped this afternoon by a veteran Nola cop, not cuz I was in trouble (thankfully!) but because he recognized me from being on Chopped. He said I was among the most creative chefs he'd seen on the show but he liked it even more that I represented the spirit of Nola so well. Gotta tell you, it perked up my spirits, not to be recognized from a TV show, but because my passion for cooking in New Orleans made me stand out! That was a mighty fine compliment, and it's that fire for making the citizens of Nola happy, satisfied, and proud that motivates me everyday! I am a lucky so&so because my krewe believes in our food & our city together just as much, and with them riding shotgun alongside me there's no shortage of pleasure we can create for dedicated New Orleans diners! Try us...
Swedish Chef

Our Bomb Ass New Year's Eve Menu

So in our mercurial & inspired way at Serendipity, we have decided to enjoy putting on lunch every weekday, from 11:30-2:30, starting this Monday. Enjoy our creative, jazzy style for a lovely meal Mon-Fri. Come & getcha some...

I just posted the lunch menu on our Facebook page Facebook.com/SerendipityNOLA

So over here at my blog, I felt like showcasing our New Year's Eve menu:

New Year's Eve Menu

1st Course

Roasted Oyster & Absinthe Chowder
--fennel, parsnips, & rutabaga, creamy soup, "super kill"olive oil


Satsuma Filled w Crabmeat, Oceanic Champagne Gelée, Seaweed Glitter, Pickled Ginger

2nd Course

Steak Tartare, with truffle emulsion sauce & petite salad of flowers & greens

Snails & Exotic Mushrooms in Bacon Fat Profiteroles, w Cauliflower-Garlic Cream

3rd Course

Spice Islands Rabbit Confit
Indonesian Spices & Satay Sauce, Jasmine Rice 'Grits,' with Pickled Vegetables & Sambal


Black 'Squid Ink' Paella w Chorizo & Clams, with Saffron Shrimp

--Serendipity Palate Cleanser, a surprise sorbet...

4th Course
Redfish "Amandine" w vegetable terrine & almond skordalia sauce, w smoky almonds, Rye Whiskey Brown Butter, OR

Duck Breast in Pomegranate Glaze with "Dirty Rice" Risotto (stuffed in piquillo pepper)
Duck Demimonde Sauce, Cracklins Powder Scattered...

5th Course
Medjool Dates Filled with foie gras mousse & roasted
Served with Luxardo Cherry Syrup


Sparkly Passion Fruit Semifreddo w Baba Au Rum

We are doing a 6 pm seating & a 9 pm seating, for $99 (which includes tax & tip, AND a delicious sparkling wine toast)

I also will definitely have vegetarian options at each & every course. If ya wanna know more, please gimme a call or leave a message with your email & I will discuss my veg ideas for this gala NYEve...gladly!
Swedish Chef

Bomb Ass New Year's Menu @SerendipityNola @chefcdb (Sneak Preview #1)

So I can only say tonight-- that I wrote at the end of 2nd turn this Saturday, Dec 1st, I put down some ideas for the New Year's Eve Menu. I know it's the best menu I've ever written and the exploration of new dishes is always exciting. It's still in more or less rough draft but I can give you the basic themes & flavors tonight. I still reserve to completely change my mind or tweak a dish...but in my free jazz spirit I will let you in on what's up!

We are open this Sunday morning at 11 until 3 pm...having a fling at our Sunday picnic ideas in lunch/brunch launch mode! C'mon bye for tequila-mango glazed shrimp 'Banh Mi' style poor boy. We got our Hawaiian BBQ Pork 'Sliders' on cornbread, with greens, and our Adriatic cabbage rolls stuffed with buffalo & pork in a red gravy infused with sauerkraut & bacon...and more. Our egg dish today is a frittata of Marciante's gator sausage with artichokes boiled in da crab boil with 3 cheese blend...

Four of the 10 dishes are from my repertoire (2 from GG, a Delachaise dish, and one of my first ever reviewed dishes from when I worked w Agnes Bellet a long time ago pre-Katrina. That dish I did at the last doomed incarnation of La Louisiane. It's a squid ink black paella with clams & chorizo, enriched by aioli which makes it gleam a lustrous black. Saffron shrimp & scallion oil. Colorful for sure, but that's the first black rice I ever did. I am glad to dust it off from the vaults. There could be variations on the squid ink paella litany of recipes that are delicious, but I am stoked to revisit mine for the first time in 8 years...
**see 'forbidden' black rice footnote at the end of my blog LOL 'the other black rice than opulent, glowing black paella.**

I just have had a few new dishes rattling around in my head that I can't wait to showcase. A few of them, like our rabbit confit we hook up from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, is something we been waiting to do at Serendipity since summer. Rabbit confit satay... From Banda islands, where nutmeg, mace, & cloves originate, we infuse a new way of thinking about whole spices in duck fat towards turning the fork tender bunny into a satay sauce. There will be a couple sambals & chile heat & pickled veg & of course-- rice! prob a red rice but even jasmine rice is great & we like using our homemade jasmine rice grits anytime we feel the urge. We have a slew of Rijstaffel dishes we aim to do as part of our Picnic program of lunch, brunch and festive to go food. I'm really looking forward to lunch & brunch taking off in the New Year. In the end, we will feature some really cool Big Feasting Patters that just have to feature a grain that may or may not be rice. Plans in the works, but back to...

New Year's Eve will have an early first turn that starts at 6-6:30 so you can make it to your party afterward well-fortified with an elegant 5 course menu. Then the last seating for midnight gets underway at 9 pm, but if you want make it to another nearby party by the stroke of midnight, we can do that, too even though I'd rather dazzle you at Serendipity.

The last course I made up tonight made me sigh for pleasure. Each course has two choices and I wanted something local & seasonal to kickoff the menu. I already had our Oyster & Absinthe Chowder in an opening slot. Marko asked me to consider hollowing out a satsuma "& go savory" he asked? You'll find out soon in the next installment...just thought I'd share my excitement...

By the way...
We are open this Sunday morning at 11 until 3 pm...having a fling at our Sunday picnic ideas in lunch/brunch launch mode! C'mon bye for tequila-mango glazed shrimp 'Banh Mi' style poor boy. We got our Hawaiian BBQ Pork 'Sliders' on cornbread, with greens, and our Adriatic cabbage rolls stuffed with buffalo & pork in a red gravy infused with sauerkraut & bacon...and more. Our egg dish today is a frittata of Marciante's gator sausage with artichokes boiled in da crab boil with 3 cheese blend...and I am pondering another egg dish poached over sweet potato biscuits...maybe we will see you this afternoon, or during our usual Sunday Supper service from 6-10 pm. If you read this blog, try & drop by for a visit mid-week in Mid-City. I have high expectations for brunch in our 'hood @Serendipity & we hope you will come out for one of our Friday lunches in December & beyond. We wanna add Thursday lunch soon, and I bet we open for New Year's Eve lunch Picnic, too, and maybe a few other lunch shifts that week between Xmas & New Year's Eve...

**I have made a zillion (or maybe 5 only that we've served to the dining public over the years, really...) 'forbidden' black rice dishes, with my favorite being "There is a house in New Orleans, they call the..." Seared Foie Gras, where I put a seared chunk of foie gras on sticky rice with a deglazed blood orange pepper jelly sauce. It's a visual of blood orange of "The Rising Sun" of Japan cuz I sear the luscious, decadent liver with a Japanese spice blend, called 7 spice togarishi -- which I first encountered in bullet sized shakers with dried orange zest, chiles, sesame seeds, and shiso or seaweed sometimes in quality sushi bars. When I plate it I get to pour the reduced foie fat, blood orange & pepper jelly sauce into the black rice, but it comes from under the rice in a crimson dark orange by the time I get it to your table...if I get hold of local blood oranges, then I might give this a whirl again...I would like to have a seared foie gras option on the menu for New Year's Eve...for a little something extra to get just cuz it's time to splurge...cuz "there is a house in New Orleans, they call The Rising Sun..,"**
Swedish Chef

Let the Picnics Begin at Serendipity

So we are launching our first lunch service this Friday, on Nov. 30 at Serendipity from 11:30-2:30. That's tomorrow, y'all! We are going to keep up these Friday lunches moving forward, and as a little lagniappe we will run the same menu on this Sunday, Dec. 2 for our brunch, with a couple of egg surprises, too from 11 am-3 pm. We will do the same Fri & Sun things next week, too.

I have always wanted to call our daytime service "Picnic" instead of lunch (and especially not brunch-- the more than four letter curse word that is the scourge of serious cooks, I jokingly say) because a picnic is a joyful escape from the routine, right?!! So let the Picnics begin @ Serendipity! Here is the menu we are gonna run:

Serendipity Picnic Menu

3 Sisters Stew
black beans, hominy, and winter squash together in a thick soup
finished with pumpkin seed & jalapeño molé $8

Cream of Cauliflower Soup
confetti of roasted cauliflower & potato, scallion oil $8

Crab & Corn Johnnycakes
little cornmeal "blini" carrying jumbo lump crabmeat
roasted red pepper/eggplant purée & wasabi caviar $10

Greener than Green Salad
Arugula tossed with honeydew melon,
Thai sweet & spicy pumpkin seed brittle,
chèvre & basil-ginger vinaigrette $10

Farmer's Market Salad
arugula, cannellini beans, duck sausage, fried baby artichokes &
grilled grapefruit wheels with a roasted garlic vinaigrette $13


Cochon de Lait/Lei 'Sliders'
Hawaiian BBQ Pork between cornbread
with Adobo-braised greens & homemade potato chips $10

Tequila Shrimp Poor Boy
Local shrimp tossed in tequila-mango glaze
with julienned vegetables & pickles, Sriracha aioli $12

Father Pat's Grilled Cheese
Cahill's Irish Porter (made w/ Guinness), organic pear butter, dark bread $9

Twice-baked potato $4 with Aged Gouda or Blue Cheese. Add Nueske's Bacon $5

Homemade potato chips: $3

Mashed sweet potatoes with orange & roasted garlic

***** ***** *******

Adriatic Cabbage Rolls
Filled with ground buffalo, pork, and rice in a 'red gravy'
with homemade sauerkraut & bacon $14

Bacon-Wrapped Grilled Shrimp & Fried Oyster Salad
Romaine lettuce, radishes, cucumber, yellow squash
& Remoulade dressing $16

Two Run Farm Sirloin Steak
Dry-aged beef from Mississippi ranch, grilled & sliced to order
Chimichurri sauce, with twice-baked potato & arugula $15

Turkey Necks & Grits
Turkey Necks Braised in Marsala Wine & Black Truffle 'Gravy'
Over Jasmine Rice Grits we grind in house... $14

Wintry Orecchiette Pasta
Tossed with wilted greens, Ribbons of daikon from Chef's backyard garden,
Carrots, white wine, grated pecorino cheese, & Greek olive oil $14

Alligator Sausage, artichokes in crab boil, 3 cheese blend
Artichoke leaves, lemon butter & arugula $12


Cookie Plate: variety of cookies baked in house $5

Chocolate & Almond Cake 'Bruschetta'
Grilled cake, topped with honey-whipped ricotta
& Luxardo cherries & chocolate $6

Sultan's Nest
pistachio gelato & absinthe ice cream
served under a "nest" of phyllo baked in
saffron honey & topped with whipped cream $8

Homage to Hubig's Pie
an interpretation of the
multifaceted glory of pie $8