Ever since my first trip to New Orleans, I have discovered that I enjoy Creole and Cajun style food. There is just something kind of corny about the name Howe’s Bayou, and I refrained at first from trying the restaurant out, but we finally did. I mean the name is cute, but does it deflect from their attitude, was my initial concern. I have to admit that it was fine, and this restaurant has been around in Ferndale, Michigan for some time now.
One of the house specialties is Braised Short Ribs, and I am a major fan of this dish, but I declined in pursuit of their Louisiana offerings. The appetizers were interesting like Andouille encrusted Oysters and “Gator Ball” which were sautéed Alligator sausage with peppers and onions. Then there is the Crawfish Etoufee which is a spicy stew laden with crawfish as well as Jambalaya, a dish of chicken, crawfish and Andouille sausage. All of these are good and spicy with the heat that one would expect, perhaps not the same as being in the French Quarter, but a worthy substitute. We finished off our meal with Bread Pudding with a Bourbon Sauce, and it was good, but ever since I was spoiled by that dessert at Commander’s Palace with their warm Whiskey Sauce, all others unfortunately pale in comparison. Let me add that even with our memories of New Orleans, we have returned to Howe’s Bayou for repeats of their offerings.
With all of that spicy food and heat, I was studying the wine list, and settled on a wine that tends to be found all over and it is always a safe bet. We had Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2000. While Kendall-Jackson has a vineyard in Sonoma County, this wine carries the California appellation as the fruit is harvest across the state and blended year after year for a very similar and safe taste. The late Jess Jackson bucked the trend of vineyards and terroir to create a wine that is probably one of the largest selling wines in the country. There are times when I find this wine to be the top Chardonnay offered at a restaurant and I will naturally veer to it, if there is no reason not to, and some restaurants tend to favor “names” over nuance, and when that is the case, I will opt for the “name” as well. All in all, just another great memory of wine and food, and wine can be enjoyable in almost every setting.