Sunday, 26 February 2012

Jambalaya and Roxbury Road: a Few Hours in Columbus

Da Levee on Urbanspoon

Well, it's Oscar night and I haven't quite yet found the motivation to cook up anything "blog worthy." I do, however, want to let you know about a great dining experience I had last night in Columbus following my haircut experience at Phia Salon in Columbus. As I noted in a previous post, Lauren and I won haircuts following a whirlwind tour of the salon during January's Gallery Hop; in sum, the staff is wonderful and I especially loved seeing a sense of camaraderie and desire to learn from each other. (And the haircut was just what I needed.) For dinner, I headed over a few meters away to Phia's next door neighbour, Da Levee, a culinary cultural hotspot that claims itself as "bringing fast, hot, delicious Cajun Creole food to your neighborhood." Outside of the French Louisiana course I took while at Albion, I can't say I'm an expert of Cajun/Creole cuisine, but I can say yesterday was only my second time and I once again enjoyed it.

As I step foot into Da Levee, I can't help but think of The Princess and the Frog (minus the voodoo magic). With the spirit of New Orleans lining the walls in beaded and masquerade form, it feels as though you've just been transported from central Ohio to the South and there's nothing hiding or denying those spicy comfort flavours. Up on the blackboard right outside the kitchen is a revolving menu which is posted every day on Da Levee's Facebook page. The food is incredibly filling and very economically friendly. Can't decide what to order? A "pick 2" option may be the best way to go and coupled with a drink, you're looking at a great meal for under $10.

Depending on how hungry you actually are, though, a single plate may be more than enough to share. The last time I was at Da Levee (which had to have been last year), I went with a "pick 2" option. As I came up to the counter, I asked head chef and owner Justin what the popular dishes for the day were: Red Beans and Rice with (Andouille) sausage, and the Sausage and Chikin' Jambalaya. I wasn't feeling the andouille last night, and so I went with the full order of the jambalaya. Piled up on a bed of some of the best onions I have ever eaten (which Justin told me is slow-cooked to get to that state), I was presented with a healthy helping of rice and protein. Oh yes, and I can't forget the Magic Bread that's served with it!

It's certainly been quite some time it seems since I last had Cajun/Creole food (primarily because I'm not a huge fan of spices), but especially with the chilly evening spice was most certainly welcome to my palate. And if the jambalaya isn't spicy enough for you, have no fear; an array of hot sauces are available to boost up the heat index. Onto the magic bread, I've got in the above photo a piece of the slow cooked onion, some of the shredded chicken, a piece of spicy sausage and to top it all off the rice. A form of "new world paella" in many respects (click here for differences between the two dishes), the boldness of the rice's flavour especially screams NOLA to me, again here in central Ohio. And after making it past the halfway point on the plate, well... clearly I was hungry enough to finish it all off. If I get a chance, I hope to make it back to Da Levee soon, if only just to gear up in preparation for the conference I'll be attending in New Orleans in early April.

From the spice and heat, I made sure to stop by Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams on the way back to my car. This time around, I went with Jeni's Lime Cardamom Frozen Yogurt and her Roxbury Road (click here for more on this delectable winter edition flavour). As always, on their own each of these flavours are great--smooth, creamy and able to convey the individual ingredients in a harmonious manner. Together they form a dynamic duo of flavours that compliment each other very well. And with that said, hunger creeps in; I better stop here before it takes over and I'm back in the kitchen. (Though I suppose that wouldn't be an incredibly terrible thing..) For more photos from last night's visit to Columbus, click here.

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