Friday, August 31, 2007

Cafe 641 Pre-Season Notes #2 (Wide Right)

The 599 people (official attendance was determined by counting the number of left-over Cafe 641 menus) who joined Olindo Mare (pronounced Oooohlinnnndoooo Maaaaaaaaaaray) and other spares in the Superdome last night were treated to the following:

PREMATURE UNFURLING: Ms. Rita did all she could to convince Ol' Man Benson to wait on dropping his 2006 NFC South Championship banner until September 24th when it might actually be seen by more than 53 people. But Benson gets what Benson wants.

SUPERB BALL STRIKING: Missed in the fury of boos that followed Mare's 3rd consecutive field goal miss was the former Dolphins' kicker's oversized quad muscles. Said Chef's youngest brother, "Damn. Mare strikes a mean ball."

COSTUME MALFUNCTIONS: Chef knew he was in for a long night when his pre-season stache slipped his lip after getting wet in the rain AND when the emergency spirit gum vial spilled all over his forearm and hands, gluing them together AND when his beautiful daughter kicked over a $7 Budweiser after only one sip.

HOT PINK & GOLD SPOONS: Chef worked overtime to create the perfect tribute for an 11-year-old Who Dat from Section 635. Ms. Cliette traveled to Jackson, MS this summer to scout and photograph the Black and Gold, with father Mr. Clio and brother Clio III. Her reward: a custom Cafe 641 hot pink and gold spoon that was missing its last coat of gold paint (sorry Ms. Cliette).

Another of these tokens went to Cafe regular Jon's daughter, who turned out for both preseason games and was louder than most on her row. After Proud Mary led the Cafe in a 4-finger salute at the close of the third quarter, the youngster climbed seven rows to ask:
"Chef, if I leave before the end of the fourth quarter, can I still keep this spoon?"

"Bless you child."

Proud father, Jon, who is a lover of all things Deuce Upside Your Head, reminded Chef that he created a musical tribute to the Saints and Cafe 641 just before driving all night to attend the NFC Championship debacle in Chicago. Jon has been asked to re-assemble his band for a 30-minute performance up and down the escalators following each home game.

EMPTY TABLES: Chef received an unwelcome text message midway through the first quarter: "the restaurant is not very crowded -- hope the food is good" Sure, reservations were suspended due to the light turnout, but most disappointing was the no-show of a chef from John Besh's new restaurant, Luke, who had been given two complimentary seats in Cafe 641. We don't care that your boss competes on Iron Chef. You want anymore free tickets to the Cafe, then we best be eatin' free at your swanky kitchen.

BEAR SIGHTING: While climbing down from the Dome heights, Chef ran into the usual rival fans at the escalator traffic jam, thanked them for traveling from Miami, and then stopped, mouth gaping. There, standing in front of him was a true to life Bear fan, grinning in a white "NFC Champions" t-shirt. After fighting off an initial urge to break off the tip of a golden spoon and spear the animal, Chef politely thanked him for his patronage and inquired if he might be hungry. Bear fan said, "Sure, I could eat." "Good," Chef continued, handing the stupid grin a menu. "Then maybe you could help me figure out how the hell you supposed to cook up that sorry piece of meat that runs your offense. Every Rex Grossman recipe put to work in the Cafe test kitchen tastes like shit."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hollis Thomas Partners with Cafe

Hollis Thomas fat jokes are played out.

(Not really. But, after Deuce backed away from a Cafe 641 partnership, Chef knew of only one other Saint interested in restaurant endorsement deals.)

In its final tune-up for the regular season, Cafe 641 announced today that Chef will unveil a Hollis-Lite section of the menu, dedicated to trimming off HT's final few pounds before Sept. 6. Thomas' mouth was full when Chef contacted him with the endorsement package, but it sounded like a "yes," and there was a lot of enthusiastic gesturing.

Menu contributions are now being accepted through Wednesday, August 29. Winning dish contributors who also stagger into Section 641 during game-time on Thursday will be awarded with a commemorative pre-season Golden Spoon.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pre-Season Writing Assignment

Most visitors to Chef's modest test kitchen find only Bon Apetit or Food & Wine Magazine on the bar. But today, on a tip from his old man, Chef turned to the pages of Sports Illustrated for pre-season inspiration.

Alexander Wolff gives readers a monumental writing assignment (this one's even better than the January 07 feature, left).

Archie You Know Who

After voluntarily removing himself from Saint's pre-season television coverage, Archie Manning discovered via certified letter this morning that his weekly luncheon reservations at Cafe 641 were being canceled until September 7, 2007.

Chef reviewed the standing reservatioLinkn with kitchen staff and decided that Archie posed too great a risk of compromising Cafe 641 test recipes prior to the season opener in Indianapolis.

Eli has not yet been removed from the reservation list, as he is no threat at all.

Berto has successfully petitioned for a revision to this post's title.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Solace in Theatre

Still woozie from the blow of Deuce Mac signing with McAllister's Deli over Cafe 641, Chef turns this weekend to the rejuvenating power of theatre (oh, yeah and a pre-season game with the Bengal Tenderloins).

Shine Productions sold out its premiere of "Bless Ya Boys" last night in Chalmette. After two weekends in St. Bernard, the show moves to Le Chat Noir for a seven-week run.

Chef recommends catching this one with da Yats, if only for the chance for a pre-show dinner at Rocky & Carlo's and the chance that a Chalmette staging may give a little shout out to St. Bernard's native son Fleur-D-Licious.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Deuce Cuts Like a Knife

Chef can't lie. It hurts more than a little to see Deuce suite up for McAllister's Deli this week with his new signature sandwich.

Dude couldn't even wait a full day after rejecting a handsome offer from Cafe 641 (which promised exclusive life-time naming rights, signing bonuses and contract guarantees) before signing with the deli franchise.

The Cafe is looking for emotional closure on this one, Who Dats, so Chef leaves the competing offer sheets for you to judge:

McAllister's Deli: originated in Oxford, MS and located in sites as exotic as West Monroe, LA.
Cafe 641: promised to re-brand itself "Deuce Upside Your Head Cafe"

McAllister's Deli: allowed Deuce to name his own sandwhich
Cafe 641: offered Deuce the opportunity to re-name the first born of every season ticket holder

McAllister's Deli: turned Deuce loose in a test kitchen to create new sandwhich
Cafe 641: offered Deuce the unprecedented chance to design an entire game day menu

McAllister's Deli: outfitted Deuce in McAllister's Deli logo for advertisements
Cafe 641: presented Deuce with a custom tailored, black and gold chef jacket and waxed applique mustache

McAllister's Deli: serves its signature Famous Sweet Tea and Chocolate Loving Cake at every friggin' location
Cafe 641: serves Coach Payton's Playoff Punch with New Orleans Rum Reggie Rum and Deuce Juice AND Deuce Upside Your Head Cake at every friggin' playoff game

McAllister's Deli: asked Deuce to turn down the heat on his first sandwich creation
Cafe 641: delivered 48 cases of Louisiana Hot Sauce, 12 cases of Tony's, and 2600 Golden Spoons to Deuce's Milsap's dorm room

Maybe Chef can't see through the tear-smudged eye black, but damn if Deuce Mac's love don't cut like a knife.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Cafe 641 Pre-Season Notes #1

Looking for post-game analysis? Go talk to the Chicks in the Huddle.

Want to know about Robert Meachem's pre-game rituals? See the comments on Canal Street.

All the Chef can provide is a few pre-season observations from Cafe 641 . . . (BTW Section 635, we ain't in mid-season form yet either, but this too shall pass):

1. Nick the Cat Burgular's 2006 work on the Cafe 641 sign is still present at the top of the Upper Terrace. A nice cat-sized bite is still missing from the sign that Nick borrowed last season after a Saints loss.

2. Hulk Hogan was in good shape (pictured above left) after following a careful offseason training regimen of Jack Daniels and screaming into a paper bag. The Hulkster entered the Cafe as usual during the opening bars of the National Anthem clutching a Bloody Mary.

3. No sizable dents in the Cafe's season-ticket holder seats thus far -- 80-85% of key seatholders have returned, and there's a rumor that seats previously held by brokers have turned over to Who Dats.

4. The Smoker's Lounge is open for business behind Row 43. Chef observed a 6-year-old taking his first drag off a Camel and teared up with emotion.

5. Section 640 is extremely fertile. The off-season produced one baby girl and another girl in the oven for mid-level Upper Terrace Who Dats. Congrats 640. (BTW . . . Mark and Kristen of Cafe 641? Where y'at?)

6. Mojo enters his senior year at Slidell High with a new job at Quizno's and a powerful command of his Who Dat mystique. Any guesses on what Mojo was muttering just before T-Palk found Meachem in the corner of the endzone? (3rd and 7 . . . Palko's going to heaven)

7. Cafe Who Dats were not happy about the $1 increase in Doam Foam draft, but found some solace in the 24 oz. cans of Budweiser for $8. (Chef was happy that he stashed a 40 oz. in his mustache.)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Turn It On

"You can't just turn it on and off."

"[I]t's still about the fundamentals and the energy and the enthusiasm and the want-to."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Who Dat Costumery

Vince Vance (and the Black and Gold Patrol) remind us that gris gris is less important than Who Dat fashion.

What separates the common Who Dat from the Raider Nation, Dirty Bird, Cheesehead, or Hogettes? It's not just costumery, it's the level of commitment.

While our Black and Gold toil away at Milsaps in 110-degree heat indices, Who Dats across the Gulf Coast assemble their gameday fashion.

Need hair advice? Check with Vince Vance.

Need eye black instruction? Vince Vance.

Prop suggestions? V to the Vance.

When we return to the Dome Friday night, it's not a meaningless pre-season game. It's Who Dat training ground. Mid-season form is the product of two-a-day workout regimens, and if you ain't started yet, pop the top on a Michael Lewis Budweiser, step out onto your front porch and let loose a little "Who Dat."

Monday night noise won't happen if we don't EARN IT.

Remind Them We're Still Here

Another reminder of where we've been. And who we are.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Pre-Season Casting Call

Think we'll see Kevin Dudley, Jason Fife, or Brett Bergstrom contributing any points after August 30?

Probably not. But pre-season is all about finalizing the roster, and if Chef learned anything from P-Diddy, it's the value of competition.

After pre-season game #1, Chef quickly dropped some versions of ground beef from the menu. But, that doesn't mean the Cafe won't have an impressive showing on Friday night with it's Bison-themed pre-season menu.

Chef announces an open casting call for Buffalo Bills-inspired recipes you'd most like to see in Cafe 641 this week.

MENU STATUS: A buffalo version of Rocky Mountain Oysters showed well in the practice kitchen this week and is likely to make a start.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Fire Up the Grill

If P-Diddy is using this pre-season evening in Canton to assess his new free agent acquisitions and rookies, Chef figures he ought do the same in the Cafe 641 test kitchen.

Tonight's sole offering comes from guest Chef LT:

Bacon Ben Roethlis-burger marinated in Habanero Heinz Ward Catsup.

It's a basic dish, yes. But it's starting point -- ground beef -- is a good reminder of what our DEFENSE must achieve this season.

Need appetizers? They don't get any better than these from the youtube investigative duo of Dilly-Berto.