Saturday, October 29, 2011

Satsuma season here, in more ways than one.

Crisp fall weather (yes we get it here too) means citrus season. The Jesuits brought citrus to the area known today as Plaquemines Parish. Satsumas (a sweet, easy to peel seedless mandarin) is a local favorite that does not ship too well and so its success is very much due to the farmers markets and roadside stands of the area.
Starting out as more green than orange and a bit tart in taste in late September, they sweeten when they become all orange by the end of October. In my mind, the arrival of satsumas kick off the one of the best seasons here in Southeastern La when citrus, seafood, mirlitons and greens are available.

Satsuma (3218 Dauphine) is now also a favorite restaurant in the city; Peter and Cassi Dymond took over Coffea (from founder Gwen who can now be found at the New Orleans Food Coop) and transformed an excellent "third place" to a first class restaurant as well. Foraging from farmers markets, farms, neighborhood yards and by comparing ideas with their fellow chefs in town, the menu is often changing but always healthy, tasty and exciting. Cassi seems to handle more of the inventory and staff managing, while Peter is seen doing the buying and foraging, although they both handle whatever comes up and clearly communicate and plan ahead of time, so the drama is invisible, which is unusual in small restaurants. They constantly evaluate and adapt as needed which keeps the place lively and interesting, like so many innovative small businesses.

The care that these two have taken to build their menu is also seen in how they built their staff. Everyone is courteous and warm and take the time to stop and have a chat, no matter how long the list of to-dos. Katie and Will are my two favorites, but the entire staff has the potential to be added to that list.
When I'm low on energy, I go there. When I have visitors to impress about the quality of life in New Orleans, I go there. When I want to have some good chat and see people, I go there.
Breakfast has been my time to visit, but now that they have added dinner from Wednesday to Sunday, I expect to be a frequent visitor at that time too. I had the honor to be invited to their sneak preview of the dinner menu this week and can vouch for another great addition. Prices will be between 10 and 14 dollars for entrees and is BYOB. BYA (bring your appetite) too.

Chicken breast

flank steak salad

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