In my world, Mardi Gras really starts with Krewe du Vieux, which is two short days away. So, in the meantime, I think I’m going to save it up; and by “it” I mean my tolerance for noise and proximity to other humans. The weather has been lovely for the last few days, and I think today calls for some communion with nature. Jean Lafitte National Park Barataria Preserve, on the Westbank, is especially beautiful in Spring, when the wild irises are in bloom; but I enjoy trips out there year round. The walking trails through the swamp are a nice place to calm the mind, and, personally, I need that this time of year. I just love that our nearest National Park is named for a pirate.
After your mind and soul are sufficiently calmed, it’s time for an early dinner. You are over here on the Westbank already, and lucky for you there is a Belgian bistro tucked into an unlikely corner in Gretna. Clementine’s does traditional Belgian Cuisine, with a couple of local concessions–note the Redfish there on the menu. Start with a cup of Onion Soup ($7), and some oysters topped with leeks and brie and broiled in the shell ($9). I think I’ll skip the savory crepes that are next on the menu, and have a dessert crepe later. Then for entrees, one must be a pot of mussels, how about “Moules Provencale” [fresh tomato, garlic, onion, with Belgian fries ($23)]. Also hearty for a winter evening is the “Carbonnades Flamandes” [Flemish beef stew made with Belgian Trappist beer, with Belgian fries ($18)]. Speaking of Belgian Trappist Ale, instead of wine, let’s pair our dinner with beer. A Westmalle Dubbel would be a hearty accompaniment to the stew, while a lighter Duvel would pair beautifully with mussels. And for dessert, Crêpe aux Pommes [Flemish Crêpe with caramelized apples ($8)].