Monday, February 28, 2011

Mardi Gras In New Orleans is a VISUAL DELIGHT + Shrimp Creole

Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday or the day before Ash Wednesday - is on March 8th this year, but the party in New Orleans has been going on for weeks.

More than thirty tribes of Mardi Gras Indians are festive highlights as they parade through their respective neighborhoods. They combine African dance with stylized and inventive Native American inspired costumes. The multi layered "Indian Suits", decorated with beads, sequins and exotic feathers, can take a year to make and can weigh more than 100 pounds! Although most Mardi Gras Indians are African American, the "Creole" ethnicity has a genetic history formed from French, Spanish, African and Native American Indian ancestors. (photo by Mark Lacy courtesy of H.C.Org.)

Mardi Gras' royal colors are 
purple, green & gold.
(Photo by Alina Oswald)
Carnival Parades, organized by Krewes (the oldest started back in 1857), fill the streets of New Orleans between Twelfth Night, January 6, and Ash Wednesday, March 9, with the pace picking up the two weeks prior to Mardi Gras. Two traditions mark the beginning of the Mardi Gras season: the Masked Ball of the Twelfth Night Revelers and the Ride of the Phunny Phorty Phellows along St. Charles Avenue. However it is the final four-day Mardi Gras weekend when celebrations reach their peak. The two "super-parades," are the Endymion Parade on Saturday and the Bacchus Parade on Sunday. Mardi Gras, literally Fat Tuesday in French, is an official state-wide holiday (although it is only observed in the southern half of the state). The Tuesday parades include many high school marching bands. 
In addition to the Krewe Parades, there are "Walking and Marching Clubs" and "Truck Parades" made up of individuals driving their flatbed trucks decorated and manned by family and friends. Many New Orleanians don flamboyant costumes or bizarre make-up to wander the streets of the French Quarter during the festivities. The city-wide party ends promptly at midnight on Mardi Gras day, when the police start clearing the streets and city workers start cleaning-up the huge mess. For the clubs and Krewes, Mardi Gras celebrations officially end when the Court of Krewe Rex attends the Ball of the Mystick Krewe of Comus and congratulates their Court. Mardi Gras Krewes from Zulu to Rex are private, by invitation only clubs, all have royalty: Kings, Queens, Dukes, Knights and Captains and supposedly all memberships are open to all ethnicities. One thing is certain, no-one is left out of the celebrations because everyone is invited to the "Big Party" in the "Big Easy" during Mardi Gras.

On elaborate floats, costumed Krewes throw beads to the crowd. (Photo courtesy of The Times-Picayune)
I lived in New Orleans, Louisiana for a few years and the Carrolton Mardi Gras Parade route passed with-in a half-a-block of our house in the Garden District. Everyone ends up with so many plastic beads, coins and trinkets that you are very aware of the heavy weight you wear home. I will never forget the TV newscaster saying after Mardi Gras week was over that ONLY five people had been crush to death under the floats that year!?! Whoa. Mardi Gras is crowded and it's basically a drinking festival, many people over indulge, everyone is yelling "Throw me something mister!" so for the few seconds those beads are in the air, they are the most valuable commodity on the planet, meaning people will fight and push to catch as much as they can. With that said, I can see how people literally get thrown under the bus. I went to my first Mardi Gras when I was 18 years old. I don't know if this is still the case, but the crowds in the French Quarter were so dense at that time, you did not decide where to go, the tide of humanity just pushed you down the street. What an eyeful that day was for my young eyes - people are very uninhibited on the balconies of Bourbon Street during the revelry of Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Since last Saturday, February 19th, the following Mardi Gras Parades have moved through the streets of New Orleans: Krewe du Vieux, Lil Rascals, Oshun, Cleopatra, Excalibur, Eve, Atlas, Choctaw, Adonis, Pontchartrain, Nemesis, Olympia, Sparta, Caesar, Pygmalion, Carrollton Alla, Dionysus and Rhea. 
The Krewes yet to parade are: Thor, King Arthur, Barkus, Ancient Druids, Babylon, Muses, Chaos, Hermes, Krewe d’Etat, Selene, Orpheus, Morpheus, Centurions, NOMTOC, Iris, Tucks, Endymion, Isis, Okeanos, Mid City, Thoth, Bacchus, Napoleon, Proteus, Orpheus, Zeus, Zulu, Rex, Elks Orleans, Crescent, Argus, Jefferson Trucks, Elks Truck, Grela and BES.

Mardi Gras World
builds the floats all year long!

MARDI GRAS WORLD designs and builds the floats for the Krewes of Mardi Gras. It is located at 1380 Port of New Orleans Place, New Orleans, LA. Phone: 504-362-8211. Tours costs $18.50 and is open daily from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Of course it is closed on Mardi Gras! 

Speaking of 
Alcohol Consumption:
A report from the World Health Organization was released on February 11 on the world's drinking habits and according to their findings, Americans don't actually drink that much, relatively speaking.  Americans do drink — a lot! — they just don't drink as much as Europeans and Russians do. Or even as much as Nigerians, for that matter. Based on just the alcohol content of their drinks, the report shows Americans imbibed in an average of 7.5-9.99 liters of alcohol per person during a two year period between 2003 and 2005. Nigerians, Argentineans and Australians drank an average of 10-12.49 liters, whereas Russian and many Europeans drank 12.5 liters and up of alcohol.

(source: World Health Organization)

Next Weekend
Have Your Own,
Mardi Gras
Masked Ball
Per mask, 1 - 143 masks. $3.35
Item #: APR183EA
In Stock


Price (USD)
Per piece, 1 - 29 pieces.

Item #: APR190EA
In Stock

Price (USD)
per dozen

Item #: APR033DZ
In Stock

Price (USD)
Per dozen, 1 - 29 dozen.

Item #: JLR090DZ
In Stock

Crown and Robe

Quantity  1- 23 crowns.
Per crown,

Item #: HAT093EA
In Stock
Price: Per robe.                          $23.10 
Item #: APR170EA
In Stock


Shrimp have always been plentiful in the Gulf of Mexico, near South Louisiana, and rice is the crop of choice for water laden fields. The Creole culture embraced shrimp and rice as two of their main food groups. Shrimp Creole is a classic dish to come from this combination. 

- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion – chopped
- 1/2 cup celery – chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can of stewed tomatoes
- 1 (8 oz.) can of tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
dash of Tobasco sauce
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- 1 pound shrimp – small, peeled, deveined
- 1/2 cup bell peppers – red or green
cooked rice, regular or basmati
Heat oil in skillet or dutch oven. Sauté onion, celery and garlic over medium/low heat until tender; approximately 10 minutes.
Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, sugar, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Simmer on medium/low heat, uncovered for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking.
Mix cornstarch with water in small bowl. Stir into tomato mixture.
If serving immediately, add shrimp and pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes, more or less, until shrimp turn an opaque pink.
You may also prepare tomato mixture ahead, freeze, and when ready to eat, thaw, bring to a simmer -  add the shrimp and peppers; cook until done.
Serve over rice cooked according to package directions.
Serving Description: large individual pasta or soup bowl full
Servings: 8
Container: large skillet or dutch oven, sauce pan
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

During Mardi Gras,
locals party with a
The King Cake is a 

 New Orleans pastry with a small plastic baby hidden inside. The person who gets the slice with the baby has to host the next year's party. Decorate the cake with purple, green and gold icing. Note: Be sure to tell everyone about the baby, before they begin eating it or if this tradition is too worrisome for you use a gummy bear instead!

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water

  1. Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  5. To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
  6. Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10x16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  8. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. 
  9. Frost while warm with the confectioners' sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water & food coloring.
  10. or Order a King Cake via Mail order!

      1. Mail order King Cakes

    The Economy Package is for the no frills approach to enjoying Mardi Gras. None of the fancy throws, just a delicious 2 pound Gourmet King Cake, a plastic Mardi Gras baby, and a Taste of Mardi Gras flyer. The King Cake will serve 15 - 20 people.   
    Price: $17.99 

March 1, 2011 starts Armory Arts Week in NYC. The Thursday issue 3/3/2011 will be dedicated to all that is going on. The public access doesn't really start until Thursday. Here is a link to see what is happening before then:
Until later,


ARTSnFOOD, All rights reserved. Concept & Original Text © Copyright 2011 Jack A. Atkinson under all International
intellectual property and copyright laws. Images © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Prince William's Betrothal, Peetie the Bird + Luzzo's Food for Italians

ART - Now Showing:
Jennifer Rubell and HRH
at Stehpen Friedman, London!

Kelly Crow reports that during artist Jennifer Rubell's opening at London's Stephen Friedman Gallery, Bianca Jagger splashed a glassful of red wine across one of the artist's $25,000 blank canvases with a protruding whisky spigot. Auctioneer Simon de Pury saw Ms. Jagger's gesture and threw his red wine on another, so did designer Marc Newson. Ms. Rubell, watching nearby, encouraged the interaction and audience participation. It is a reason she is one of the art world's new favorites. (She is also the daughter of major Miami collectors Don and Mera Rubell - see the Feb 3. issue of ARTSnFOOD ie: Rubell Family Collection.) 
Her show, titled "Engagement", is about the mania surrounding England's Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton. The show's main work is a lifelike wax figure of the prince modeled to match the pose he assumed during last month's televised announcement of his engagement. The artwork is made so people can step into the place where Ms. Middleton would be and slip their ring finger into a oversized, faux sapphire-and-diamond ring which Ms. Rubell has stitched onto the "prince's" sleeve. The effect is equal parts satire and awkward Madame Tussaud near-miss likeness of Prince William. Women and children have done most of the mugging alongside the prince, but every once in a while a man slips on the ring. One male poser, made for an unusual couple, he was an octogenarian in a pin-striped suit. This work, also titled "Engagement" is priced at $125,000.
Rubell is known for creating clever installations that always invite participation. Last year at a Brooklyn Museum gala, she carved a series of cheese sculptures of her own head and suspended them underneath heated lamps so they would melt onto a huge pile of crackers on the floor below. Gala guests ate it up! (The "Engagement" exhibition runs through March 5, 2011 25-28 at Stephen Friedman Gallery, Old Burlington Street, London W1S 3AN  T: +44 (0) 20 7494 1434)  (Source: The Wall Street Journal)

Quakes stops New Zealand's "Scape" Biennial again!

Feb. 24, 2011 breaking news: "Due to the extraordinary circumstances of the recent earthquake, SCAPE will not be going ahead as planned 4 March – 17 April. The SCAPE Team of staff and trustees, and their families, are safe and have been able to get to a secure place. Our thoughts are with our friends and neighbours who have suffered loss at the hands of this tragedy." 
The New Zealand city of Christchurch has been struck by a second major earthquake in five months. The 6.3-magnitude quake, which struck at lunchtime on February 22 caused at least 118 fatalities, with many more people unaccounted for and widespread destruction. This second disaster comes just two weeks before the rescheduled opening of the public art biennial “Scape”, which was postponed last September until March 2011, after the first earthquake. No new plans for the Biennial have been considered at this time. (source: The Art Newspaper & SCAPE)

At the Whitney:
"Singular Vision"
12 Rooms with only 12 Works of Art
Paul Chan - Digital animated projection dealing with the World Trade Center tragedy among other concepts.

This exhibition features only twelve works, each in its own room. The works will change every three months for a year. This luxury of space is a curatorial experiment to focus on only one work of art at a time. I have seen a tremendous amount of art in galleries and museums, most art gets only a few seconds of my time as I stroll past. When I stop and study a work, it is truly fascinating. This exhibit forces everyone to look. "The Wait" by Keinholz, "Tenrife" by Grosvenor, "Walk, Don't Walk" by Segal and Paul Chan's projection all take time to check out and deserved a room of their own. If a piece is less than stellar, this presentation technique seems to emphasize that fact, also. 

George Segal's 
 "Walk, Don't Walk"
A highlight of the 12 pieces is "Peetie the parakeet", blue and chirpy and part of Edward Keinholz’s The Wait, an installation from 1964–65. The installation is the figure of an elderly woman, constructed from cow bones, siting atop an upholstered chair with a very dead taxidermied cat in her lap. Dusty, nostalgic and colorless relics surround her. The bright blue and yellow Peetie is constantly in motion and the only sign of life, his cage is next to the elderly woman's chair.
Peetie will be given to the most appropriate applicant when the installation is put back into storage. The following artists are included in this installment of Singular Visions: Jonathan Borofsky, AA Bronson, Paul Chan, Sarah Charlesworth, Robert Grosvenor, Eva Hesse, Edward Kienholz, Ree Morton, Georgia O’Keeffe, George Segal, Gary Simmons, and Tom Wesselmann.
The Whitney is currently building a new Museum structure in New York's Chelsea Arts District and I have been told they will lease their upside-down, stepped Marcel Breuer masterpiece of architecture to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for its contemporary art annex. I hope this does happen, the Whitney building on Madison is starting to feel neglected. Currently there is no gift shop, no restaurant - just coffee service and something about the spirit of the building is missing. The administration's attention has already shifted to the new Chelsea venue. The Whitney is one of my favorite museums, I am looking forward to seeing the exciting things to come at the new Whitney. The current/old Whitney will be missed also, it was an exciting venue for new American Art in the heart of New York's Museum Mile.

Josh Owen's Time Lapse of NYC

NYC - Mindrelic Timelapse from Mindrelic on Vimeo.


Where do native Italians

eat in NYC?

Italian foods (pizza and great pasta dishes) are probably the most popular type of food sold in hundreds of restaurants in New York City, but where do people, who are from Italy, go when they want to eat Italian food? Many choose Luzzo's Restaurant on 1st Avenue at 13th Street. This small store front was a 100-year-old bakery which had a coal burning oven. Since there is a moratorium in NYC on any new coal burning ovens, Luzzo's bought the bakery, inheriting the "grandfathered-in" coal burning oven, for their Neapolitan style pizzas.
"Each patch of mozzarella 
is like a fallen cloud
from Heaven."
The pizza is prepared with fresh ingredients from Naples following traditional recipes handed down for generations. Great Neapolitan pizzaiolos (pizza makers) always cook with love and passion. At Luzzo's you might be fooled into thinking you're actually in Italy when you will hear Italian customers speaking their native language. Even if you have never met anyone who speaks Italian, this restaurant is one of those off-the-beaten-path jewels you will love finding in Manhattan. 
Reservations are recommended, often it is very crowded. Luzzo's is casual, family and kid-friendly, open late, accepts credit cards, offers take out, (the plaster walls, gregarious crowd, TV, music and servers make it) noisy, the spaces are tight with just enough room to squeeze past to your table and sometimes the service is as unpredictable as the Italian train system. They offer excellent wine by the glass and fabulous, authentic Italian food. Because of all of the above, people from Italy LOVE this place! 
Luzzo's 100-year-old Coal Fired Pizza Oven.

Luzzo's Restaurant
211 1st Avenue, 
(Btwn 12th & 13th St)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 473-7447 
Neighborhood: East Village
Tue-Sun, noon-11pm; Mon, 5pm-11pm


OLIVE MARINATE Marinated Olives $7
FRITTO DI CALAMRI Fried Calamari $10
PATATA A MODO NOSTRO Potatoes Gratin with Mozzarella Ham and Truffle paté $10
CARCIOFI GRATINATI Artichokes Gratin $10
PARMIGIANA DI MELANZANE Eggplant Parmigiana $10
ARANCINI DI CARNE Rice balls stuffed with Meat Ragú (4 pieces) $9
CARPACCIO DI BRESAOLA Carpaccio in lemon dressing $11
POLPETTINE Meatballs in tomato sauce $10
BUFALA E PROSCIUTTO Mozzarella di Bufala with Prosciutto di parma $11
MOZZARELLA PIZZAIOLA Mozzarella di Bufala, tomato sauce and basil $9
INSALATA DI POLIPO Marinated Octopus salad $12
PANZAROTTI NAPOLETANI Fried potato croquet (4 pieces) $9
SALUMI MISTI Mix of Imported Cold Cuts $14
FRITTO NAPOLETANO Mix Fried Neapolitan specialties $20

TRADITIONALE Marinated cherry tomatoes $7
ROMANA Speck and Goat cheese $7
CALABRESE Spicy salame and smoked Mozzarella $7

MINESTRONE Vegetable soup $7
ZUPPA DI FAGIOLI Neapolitan Beans Soup $7
ZUPPA DEL GIORNO Soup of the day $MP

CARPESE Mozzarella di Bufala and Tomatoes $11
RUCOLA Arugola, Apples and shaved Parmigiano Cheese $9
CESARE Classic ceasar salad $8
MISTA Mix Green salad and Cherry tomatoes in balsamic dressing $8
AMALFI Arugola, Walnuts, Cherry Tomatoes and Goat Cheese in balsamic dressing $10
MEDITERRANEA Italian Tuna, Green Olives, Beans and cherry tomato $11
INDIVIA Endive, Gorgonzola, Pear and Walnuts in lemon dressing $12

Le Paste
GNOCCHI ALL SORRENTINA Homemade Pasta with Mozzarella, Basil and Tomato sauce $15
BUCATINI PESTO E GAMBERI Pasta with Shrimp and Pesto sauce $15
SPAGHETTI GORGONZOLA E RUGHETTA Pasta with Proscuito, Gorgonzola and Arugola $16
PAPPARDELLE SPECK E PORCINI Homemade Pasta with Speck, Prcini Mushroom and Truffle Oil $18
PACCHERI AL RAGU NAPOLETANO Pasta with Italian Sausage, Baby Ribs and Meatballs in tomato sauce $16
LASAGNA DI CARNE Traditional Meat Lasagna $14
TAGLIATELLE BOLOGNESE Homemade Pasta with Bolognese sauce $15
SPAGHETTI CARBONARA Spaghetti with Eggs, Pancetta and Parmigiano cheese $15
RIGATONI ALLA NORMA Pasta with Eggplant and Ricotta cheese in Tomato sauce $15

Le Pizza       Pie sizes: 12 inches / 16 inches
1. BUFALA Tomato sauce, bufala mozzarella, basil $17 / $21
2. NAPOLETANA Tomato sauce, mozzarella, anchovies, basil $18 / $23
3. CAMPANA Tomato sauce, mozzarella, cherry tomato, shaved parmigiano, basil $15 / $23
4. FUNGHI Tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, basil $18 / $23
5. ARUGOLA Tomato sauce, mozzarella, proscuito, shaved parmigiano, arugola $20 / $25
6. SALSICCIA Tomato sauce, mozzarella, sausage, basil $18 / $23
7. TARTUFATA Tomato sauce, mozzarella, truffle, pâté, basil $18 / $23
8. CALZONE Tomato sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, mushrooms, spicy salami, ham, basil $19 / $24
9. DIAVOLA Tomato sauce, mozzarella, spicy salami, basil $18 / $23
10. 4 STAGIONI Tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, ham, olives, artichokes, basil $19 / $24
11. BRUTTA MA BUONA Tomato sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, sausage, olives, basil $19 / $24
12. MARTHA Mozzarella, prosciutto, truffle pâté, basil (no tomato sauce) $20 / $25
13. PICCANTE Tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, git cherry pepper, basil $20 / $25
14. 4 FORMAGGI Mozzarella, gorgonzola, ricotta, parmigiano, basil (no tomatoe sauce) $19 / $24
15. ORTOLANA Tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, basil $19 / $24
16. MICHELE Mozzarella, prosciutto, funghi and truffle pâté (no tomato sauce) $19 / $24
17. SALSICCIA E BROCCOLI Mozzarella, sausage, broccoli rabe, basilco (no tomato sauce) $18 / $23
18. SPECK Tomato sauce, mozzarella, speck, shaved, parmigiano, balsamic basil $20 / $25
19. EST Tomato sauce, mozzarella ricotta, spicy salame and basil $18 / $23
20. AGLIETTA Tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmigiano, roasted garlic and basil $18 / $22

La Quadrata
Old Fashion SQUARE PIZZA with choice of buffala or marinara (tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, basil) $17 / $22

'A Frusta
QUARTIERI Mozzarella, salsccia e broccoli rabe $15 / $21
SCAMPIA Mozzarella, ham, funghi $15 / $21
VIA ROMA Eggplant Parmigiana $15 / $21

Pizza Cono
CONO ANDRES Mozzarella, Mixed Green Olives, Cherry Tomatoes $11
CONO LUZZO Mozzarella, prosciutto, arugola, shaved parmigiano $11

Pizza Fritta
FRIED PIZZA stuffed with Mozzarella, Ricotta Cheese, Tomato Sauce, Ham and Black Pepper $17
Until later,
ARTSnFOOD, All rights reserved. Concept & Original Text © Copyright 2011 Jack A. Atkinson under all International intellectual property and copyright laws. Images © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.