• Big Easy does it in Manchester with this trio of New Orleans inspired dishes

Big Easy does it in Manchester with this trio of New Orleans inspired dishes

19 April 2017 by Neil Sowerby

ÉTOUFFÉE, Po’ boy and Muffuletta – a holy trinity of New Orleans favourites you can now sample in Manchester. A chance to go big on the Big Easy.

OK, maybe Crazy Pedro’s April pizza special ‘I Wish I Was In New Orleans’ is a spot of wishful thinking, but it is a twist on the classic Italian-American sandwich, invented by a Sicilian back in 1906 at the Central Grocery in The French Quarter, Viva the Muffuletta – a large, round flattened loaf, similar to focaccia, housing olive salad, mortadella, cured meats and provolone.

Our own Manc maverick dough-toppers have adapted it, using Pedro’s classic pizza sauce, mozzarella, mortadella, sliced ham and salami on a stone-baked base, finishing it with Boscoli olive salad.

As ever, the April special will be available either by the slice (£3) or an oversized 16 inch pizza (£15) at the original Crazy Pedro’s on Bridge Street, and at the new Crazy Pedro’s NQ on Short Street. 

The Northern Quarter is also home to self-styled ‘All American Eatery’ Alabama, bringing American brunch to Newton Street. Above the old Roadhouse, it’s  run by the folk from the nearby Whiskey Jar. Among all the bacon, bagels and waffles you’ll find, on the lunch menu, Étouffée, a Cajun and Creole cousin of the gumbo.

Damn tasty this combo of Cajun-spiced king prawns, slow cooked vegetable stew, lemon-infused orzo pasta with lemon and thyme buttermilk biscuit.

Even more famous in New Orleans is the Po’ Boy and New Orleans-style Chorlton bar Henry C serves up a range of these bounteously filled sandwiches – featuring shrimp, beef brisket or veggie – even more of a bargain on ‘Fat Tuesdays’, when the po’boys and cocktails all cost just a fiver.

So what is a Po’Boy? The back story’s great – two street car conductors called Bennie and Clovis Martin opened a restaurant in the French Market. Later when their former colleagues went on strike and the bosses called in strikebreakers from New York, the pair pledged to feed the strikers until the dispute ended. Whenever they saw one come by they would say: “Here comes another poor boy.”

To make one you need softish loaf wider than a baguette, a solid ‘boat’ to carry gravy, garlic mayo and any number of fillings. Slaw’s pretty essential, too, and Henry C make a mean red cabbage one.

To accompany, ask for the house cocktail, a ‘Ramos Fizz’. It’s how the bar, run by Joe White and Sophie Robson (ex-Gorilla), gets its name. Back in 1888 at the Imperial Cabinet Saloon on Gravier Street, Henry C Ramos invented this mixture of gin, lemon juice, lime juice, egg white, sugar, cream, orange flower water and soda water. Joe and Sophie’s twist on the cocktail is the Almond Ramos, where you get almond milk and maraska from sour cherries.

So while the Manchester Road bar strip in Chorlton is hardly Bourbon Street, grab a Ramos and a shrimp Po’Boy and dream.