It’s time to distract ourselves with food and good times again! Within days of attending the lovely Bucket Trade Wine Dinner, I gathered with some of my ladies night crew to indulge in a major way at DJ’s Rajun Cajun’s second Wine Dinner in their Garden District banquet room. A Cajun-style restaurant…New Orleans…naturally makes you think of Mardi Gras, right? Fat Tuesday is all about over indulgence and so it would have been fitting if this had been held on that day, because wow, did we ever indulge.
My friend and fellow Peru adventurer, DJ, opened up his much anticipated new restaurant, DJ’s Rajun Cajun last year. Another great addition to Old Towne. It has a fabulous patio which is a perfect spot in warmer weather to enjoy a Hurricane cocktail or two. For this dinner, however, we assembled in the lovely Garden District Banquet room, painted a rich and vibrant teal green and decorated with opulent gilded decorative pieces. The tables were decorated beautifully which made for grand welcome to what was to be a crazy over the top culinary journey!
Tonight was all about bubbles and while waiting for all the guests to assemble, we were poured a glass of Chloe Prosecco, a lovely start. We perused the menu for the evening and immediately assumed that the list was all about our choices. We were soon informed that, no, we were to have it all! And yes, we did. A veritable feast washed down with 5 different sparklers….
First course: a Smoked Tomato Bisque along with a Winter Salad composed of field greens tossed in a honey walnut vinaigrette and topped with baked pears and a goat cheese crisp paired with Opera Prima, Brut from Spain. A delicious and most generous start!
Second course: We crossed over the Atlantic back to the States to sip on a delicious glass of Mumm Napa, Brut Prestige from California to accompany another generous course of not only Pork Belly Bruschetta but also Deviled Duck Eggs! The bruschetta included a classic base of a baguette crouton then a layer of mascarpone followed by bourbon apples, caramelized onions and smoked Pork belly. Decadent indeed!! And we were only halfway through….
And then came the main course….an extravaganza! When was the last time you had quail, lamb chops, bouillabaisse, grilled polenta and roasted root veggies on the same plate? Well, the decadence continued… Not only did we enjoy a Fried Half Quail with Cranberry Dijon, but also Frenched Lamb Chops with a Jalapeño Mint Pepper Jelly AND a Bouillabaise with Shrimp, Mussels and Crawfish. But wait….it was paired with the real deal, a glass of Taittinger Champagne Cuvée Prestige Blanc. Worth the price of admission alone.
Did we need dessert at this point? Of course not, but we were on a roll…. Funnily enough I’ve never been a fan of Castello Banfi, Rosa Regale but it was a perfect match with the wild berries that had been soaked in it, atop pound cake with whipped cream. And in keeping with the theme of indulgence, we enjoyed a second dessert of candied figs with mascarpone cream, toasted pistachios, drizzled with a honey whiskey reduction. I think at this point we were all eating just fractions of the servings and drifting into a sparkling food coma…there are worse things that can happen to you.
DJ and Lance were in attendance for this grand feast, clearly enjoying it all as much as their guests. You have to love seeing people live out their dreams and DJ was far braver than I could ever have been by opening a second restaurant in Old Towne, his first being the very popular Wabi Sabi. It was most fitting when he asked the kitchen crew led by Chef Eric, to come out to much applause from all of us in attendance. It was quite a feat to prepare such a variety of food in such an opulent way and much appreciated. Did I mention the whole thing was only 50 bucks a person?! What a night!
On a personal note, you get to know people really well when traveling together and not only were DJ and Lance two of the easiest and most delightful people to travel with when we were in Peru, but their relationship is truly magical to witness. This wine dinner was tame compared to their wedding, an over the top fantastic New Orleans style celebration that closed the streets in Old Towne two years ago. Underlying the extravagance of both these occasions however, are two hearts of gold, living their lives with much generosity, kindness, good humor, really hard work, commitment to their community and of course, to having a whole load of fun. Let’s raise yet another glass of bubbly to all of that!