‘New’ cuisine in NOLA proves tasty

Published 2:50 am Saturday, August 20, 2016

Offerings from Shaya, a new restaurant with an Israeli flair. Courtesy photo

Offerings from Shaya, a new restaurant with an Israeli flair.
Courtesy photo

We went to New Orleans recently for the Historic New Orleans Antiques Forum. But we started our journey with lunch at the new—Shaya. It’s Israeli and we love it! Alan Shaya was lured to New Orleans in 2003 and trained under another of our favorite chefs in New Orleans, John Besh. Shaya, who previously did Domenica’s at the Roosevelt, won a James Beard award with his Shaya, Best Chef in the South 2015. We have previously talked about his restaurant and since he won the best chef award reservations can be difficult to get. Therefore lunch.

We have not had a bad item there yet. I decided his wood roasted okra with oven-roasted tomatoes, tahini, and duqqa was the best item this day. I am eating grilled or roasted okra more and more. I think, except for using it in gumbo, that is the best way to do it.

So try this stepped up version of grilled okra.

Trim your okra and spike with two soaked wood spears to grill. Baste with olive oil. Or put them on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven—with some slices of cherry tomatoes. Plate. Add a spoonful of tahini and sprinkle with duqqa.

Duqqa, Dukkah, or du’ah, do’a (Arabic meaning to pound) is an Egyptian roasted nut and spice mixture that is usually eaten with your bread (pita) dipped in olive oil and then in the Duqqa.


1 cup almonds

½ cup sesame seeds

1/3 cup coriander seed

2 tablespoons cumin seeds

2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

Dried herbs: marjoram, mint, thyme—optional

Chili pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 350° and bake almonds about 5 minutes. In a dry skillet over medium heat toast sesame then put these in a bowl. In the same skillet toast the coriander and cumin, stirring until they begin to pop. Transfer to a food processor and finely grind. Add to the sesame. In a food processor finely grind the cooled almonds. Stir with spices and season with salt and pepper. Other seeds and nuts may be used as well.


In August many New Orleans museums are open for free if you are a member of one of the participating museums. So we started the afternoon at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and then we went to Longue Vue. The gardens are nice and well-kept but we could barely tolerate walking around. We spent about 15 minutes and retreated inside under air to await the house tour. The guide was a veteran of 22 years and gave a great tour of this 20th century home belonging to a wealthy New Orleans family. Mr. Stern made his money as a cotton broker and his wife was Edith Rosenwald, heiress to the Sears Co. The home was luxurious but Mrs. Stern had a sense of humor. She had sent the maid to buy some bird figurines from Woolworth’s and she used them at some of her formal dinners. She would leave the table and wait for someone to pick one up to see if they were Spode or similar. They would find the 25 cent Woolworth label!

The next thee days were spent at the Antiques Forum and we sampled some of the old favorite restaurants but we did two more new ones. New as in 26 years. We have been eating at Bayona off and on for most of that time. Susan Spicer still delivers. We had their ‘Coolinary’ menu which many restaurants do in the slow month of August. They have 26-cent martinis or Manhattans but I always go for my New Orleans cocktail—the sazarac. However, they do theirs with cognac instead of rye whiskey. It is a richer taste.

Offerings from Shaya, a new restaurant with an Israeli flair. Courtesy photo

Offerings from Shaya, a new restaurant with an Israeli flair.
Courtesy photo

My appetizer was one to repeat— roasted eggplant with sliced cherry tomatoes, cucumbers with dill and crèam fraîche. Here we are again with grilled or roasted vegetables.

For our dinner one night we ate at restaurant Lüke, which is one of John Besh’s earlier restaurants, his take on a French-German brassiere which he opened in 2007. We wanted to go because we remembered the restaurant having oysters on the half-shell but this time it did not. Maybe because it is August. We did have stuffed squash blossoms and my husband and I shared a hamburger. They are really good there but so big that one cannot eat all of one. They are served with lots of cheese and Benton’s bacon. YUM!! And they served us individual servings of fries—wrapped in a paper cone inside a silver tumbler.

These are three of the restaurants we visited but next week we will visit three old ones. There are so many places to eat that I have only touched the surface!