Last week I went to New Orleans for a day trip with my friend Peggy. We were focused on our mission to find the best “food to go” that COVID restricted New Orleans cafes and markets had to offer. Although the restaurant options are limited because of the pandemic, we found several places that satisfied our pent up desires to binge on caffeine and carbs. We even found time for a visit to the museum and the park in between. It’s amazing what two determined foodies can accomplish in three hours with New Orleans as their playground.
Our first stop was at Bywater Bakery. The community walk up window was perfect and the choices of fresh baked goods glimmering like jewels in the window were dazzling. I settled for the super sized blueberry coconut scone. I initially doubted my ability to consume it even when Peggy and I agreed to split it but I somehow managed to eat most of it without too much help from my partner in consumption.
Bellegarde Bakery* was our final stop before heading home. We were determined to bring home some of the specialty hand crafted breads and baked goods from this world class bakery. Bellegarde uses only fresh stone milled flour to produce and bake baguettes, ciabatta, pitas and other breads daily. The bakery is also making pastas with their stone milled flour. I opted for the spinach casarecce because of the unusual shape and because it peaked my curiosity. I learned that casarecce literally means “homemade.” The pasta originated in southern Italy, and is especially popular in Sicily. The casarecce looks like short twists of narrow rolled tubes. Supposedly, it is best when served with typical Sicilian sauces made with ingredients such as eggplant, basil and tomatoes, fish and other seafoods, or with pestos such as a pistachio pesto.
I roasted cauliflower florets and used ideas from a Milk Street recipe to make this pasta dish. It is earthy and has lots of texture and bursts of flavor thanks to the anchovies, walnuts, lemon and capers. These bold ingredients were lovely compliments to the Bellegarde spinach casarecce or any other short pasta that you may choose.
* After I wrote this introduction, our beloved Bellegarde Bakery announced that it would be closing. The owner and the community are not yet sure if this is temporary or permanent. We are filled with sadness for the loss of passion and commitment to providing access to real fresh food that Bellegarde offered our region. We hope that they will be able to find and follow their dreams again in New Orleans.