“How spoiled was I?” asks Martin, founder of the Crescent City’s roving, reservation-only Mosquito Supper Club. During Mardi Gras, Martin and her partner, Effie Michot, will be taking over the local butcher shop Cleaver and Co. from Feb. 6 through 15 for their “Carnival Residency.” And this time, the duo’s supper club plans to offer lunch and breakfast, too – including those very same pancakes and biscuits Martin remembers from childhood.
Another morning-menu highlight? Michot’s family recipe for couche couche, mashed-up cornbread drizzled with cane syrup and milk. Michot, who hails from Lafayette, Louisiana, and Martin will also be brewing pots of coffee and spinning records from their personal collections. “We’d be there cooking anyway,” explains Martin, “so if you want to come by and talk to us, we’ll feed you.”
Martin hopes to dispel some myths about Cajun cooking, namely that everything is spicy and blackened. Nor is she a fan of the twirled-up and nouveau: “I don’t want to be deconstructing gumbo. I want to make the food I ate growing up.” She’s sourcing it in much the same spirit, taking “local” to a whole new level. When shrimp are in season, the chef buys them straight off her family’s boat, which trawls Lake Boudreaux and Rabbit Bayou. Martin recently shopped Lafitte, Louisiana, for the crab cakes and stuffed crabs she’ll be serving during her Carnival Residency.
Breakfast will be a la carte, ranging from from $3-$8 per item, and the $15 lunch specials range from smothered chicken to slow roasted pork shoulder, accompanied by sides such as pickled okra and jambalaya. Of course, gumbo’s on the menu every day and served, naturally, with potato salad. “You always eat gumbo with potato salad,” Martin declares, “no questions asked. Bite of gumbo, bite of potato salad.”
Dinner’s pricier (those hyper-local ingredients don’t come cheap), but $75 buys a lot: a five-course meal that might consist of shrimp boulettes, crab cakes, crawfish etoufee, oyster soup, and tart a la bouillie pies.
“We’re cooking so much because of the feeling of Carnival,” explains Martin. “It’s: Can’t stop, can’t stop. Wait! I’m starving. Where can I go?” At a time when New Orleans is packed with tourists, and everyone’s favorite places are crowded, the Mosquito Supper Club will be stationed two blocks off the parade route, offering not just real-deal food, but the kind of laid-back atmosphere that encourages people to get up, walk around, talk, and dance. Though the supper club will be closed for both Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras, on the latter day (Fat Tuesday), Michot and Martin plan to dress as mosquitoes and hand out food to those lucky enough to find them.
The Mosquito Supper Club will be at 3917 Baronne Street, inside Cleaver & Co. from Feb. 6 through Feb. 15. Stop by for breakfast from 9 a.m. ”“ 11 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. ”“ 6p.m. Dinner will be served Saturdays and Sundays at 8:30 (reservation only).
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Eve Abrams is a radio producer, writer, and educator who makes stories in her adopted hometown, New Orleans.