Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Big Easy

Cajun Kate’s
Booth's Corner Farmer's Market
Naaman's Creek and Foulk Roads
Boothwyn, PA
(484) 947-891

On a typical Friday night, after a long week of work, I like to head out to have some drinks to unwind/celebrate making it to another weekend. This is a tradition I value highly, as I don’t imbibe during the week. However, once in a while, there is something to do that is more desirable than unwinding with a couple of beverages. One thing that I will ALWAYS choose over imbibing is the food at Cajun Kate’s (well, not to mention we stopped and had a couple of Kenzingers at a bar for happy hour beforehand).

Cajun Kate’s is not a trip to be taken lightly. You literally cross into Delaware, and then sneak back up into Pennsylvania, only to realize you are now in the heart of Delco (Delaware County). For those of you not familiar with Delco, it is our own little slice of backwoods, with New Jersey-ish “flair” - kind of weird and backward. Enter Booth’s Corner Farmer’s Market.

It is a large warehouse with no windows, and few doors, very non-descript from the outside. But oh, what wonders to behold on the inside. As I had seen and recently heard on my last trip, the Amish run the market, and they do so with a (cast) iron fist. There are all kinds of stores/little stands inside, and you can literally buy anything - from a vintage Marlboro wall clock, to a puppy with fleas (flea market?), to farm fresh produce and homemade pickles. In short, it is awesome.

There is one stand inside that sets the market apart from any other flea market I have ever visited; and Cajun Kate’s is it. I will gladly drive here ANY TIME from Philly, in order to gorge myself on whatever masterpiece Don is offering for the day. Catch #1, they are only open on Fridays and Saturdays. Catch #2, playing musical chairs for a seat. First let’s start with Don. He is there EVERYTIME I go to eat, and he runs the show. I mean, the guy was Sous Chef at Emeril’s NOLA restaurant for three years. He KNOWS his Cajun Cuisine, and man, does he make that food sing! Not to mention, the guy cares deeply about food - from the quality of what he puts out to ensuring a quality experience of each individual customer, Don doesn't miss a beat. Although the process of ordering might be high paced and a bit stressful, you have to consider the madness going on in that tiny kitchen and how they try and take the time to address everyone in line and make sure they are taking good care of every single customer. That is a big deal, and one that many places seem to overlook when the going gets tough. Not at Cajun Kate’s.

I have been going there for over a year, unfortunately not as often as I would like, however, I do get there whenever possible. Until last week, I had only heard about the softshell crab po’ boys but it was my mission to make eating one a reality. I am on the weekly mailing list, which is both a blessing and a curse, because I find myself evaluating what my plans are for the weekend based on what special they are offering that particular week. I am a HUGE fan of the fried oyster po’boy specials, and the smoked brisket is to die for. Literally. I would want Kate’s to cater my wake, so that everyone who hadn’t yet tried it knew why I was such a fan of their food, and would get to taste that mac and cheese.

So back to the Po’ Boys. The bread is a light, airy slightly crunchy baguette, and it is slathered with a “mayo” that I believe has some herbs and spices in it, although I am not sure of the specifics. One thing of which I am sure: I always get an extra side of it, because it is so damn good. On the sandwich, they pile lettuce, tomato, pickles and your ingredient of choice. Here is the best part, you can’t go wrong. Go ahead, pick anything they offer, and try it on the po’boy. Every time, I guarantee you, it will be the best “insert protein here” po’boy you have ever had. Now, about that softshell crab. I have been making a valiant effort to ensure that none of our ocean dwelling soft cartilage friends died in vain this season, and this was the best use of crustaceans I have sampled to date. The crabs are battered and fried, crispy and delicious, with just the right amount of breading. They were light and crunchy and when mixed with the humble ingredients of the po’boy, well, it was all I could ask for (which is saying something). Don’t be afraid to throw down a healthy dose of the Crystal hot sauce (a No’leans specialty they provide) onto your sandwich. It plays wonderfully with the mayo sauce.

We also had the pleasure of trying the smoked brisket gumbo. All I can say is “wow.” The bottom is loaded with rice, and the smoky, rich, meaty gumbo, with huge chunks of smoked brisket, was unlike any I had ever had before. It was outstanding. But what about that mac and cheese I had mentioned earlier?

Oh don’t worry, I certainly did not forget about it. Truth be told, we bit (copied, stole, attempted mimicry – whatever you want to call it) it in our preparations for our Memorial Day BBQ extravaganza. However, we could not hold a candle to the amazing sweet creole tomato glaze that they masterfully prepare at Cajun Kate’s. The usual special is two generous triangle-wedges of deep-fried mac and cheese, with a blend of 4 cheeses, tasso ham, and crab meat. The glaze is offered on top or on the side. I go with it drizzled right on top. With its thick, crunchy outer shell and tender (but firm) hot pasta, salty ham, chunks of crab and cheeses inside, it is seriously the best mac and cheese ever. I mean, come on, it’s deep fried. God, I wish I was eating some right now (and it’s not even noon).

To finish, we had an order of beignets with powdered sugar. Although I am not a dessert guy, they were delicious, if not a bit heavy after I had consumed a po’boy, mac and cheese wedge, and a healthy dose of brisket gumbo. When you go, and although I wish I could be selfish and have this place to myself, be ready to stand in line. Unfortunately (for me), this place is well known, and people come from all over to get a taste of the bayou. If you need to, you can get your order to go and eat at the bench around the corner next to the Auntie Anne’s pretzel shop, but I urge you to wait it out for a seat at the bar, so you can embrace the hectic masterpiece (and funky jazz background) that is the kitchen at Cajun Kate’s. Just bring an appetite, and cash.

1 comment:

Scott from Mermaid said...

I never got to the part about the food.. you totally lost me when you compared Delaware County to New Jersey.