Dinner Lab: Clash of the Crawfish
There's no better way to say goodbye winter and hello spring than to do it like the Cajuns: eating your weight in crawfish with people you've never met before. Clash of the Crawfish is Dinner Lab's annual event, bringing the taste of New Orleans to the rest of America. St. Louis has a fair amount of boils so it's not so foreign to us, but I imagine the eaters up in Boston expressed a lot of "How the fahkkk do ya eat these things?" The event was held at Create Space in the Loop, an eclectic space full of little shops from local artisans and vendors. Owner Julia Li and her team are about to launch their own Generator Program, "a creative entrepreneurship incubator dedicated to empowering, growing, and sustaining creative businesses with the potential of national growth." Make sure to check them out the next time you're down there.
I got to the event early to take some action shots of the cooking and was greeted at the entrance by the Wayfarer Coffee Co. stand that I didn't know existed. I don't claim to know much about coffee, but their descriptions made it all sound so good, I couldn't resist. I got a glass of their slow-drip iced coffee, something akin to speed, apparently, because I was bouncing off the walls after that. I also got a bag of their Kenyan - fruity and citrusy - to take home.
Out back, chef Lulu set up her three enormous pots and got to work on the crawfish. The broth was almost blood red due to the sheer volume of cayenne she used. This would soon become abundantly clear to the diners.
Aside from the crawfish, Lulu made a watermelon salad that was so clutch. It was the only thing that saved my mouth from melting.
She also made a meat pie and red beans and rice. Both were great.
Here's the money shot: the trays of crawfish boil. Whole heads of garlic, mushrooms, sausage, potatoes, corn, and, of course, crawfish, were brought out on lunch trays and devoured. Mouths were burned, colons were destroyed, but everyone loved it. These were some of the most flavorful crawfish I've ever had. Well worth the pain.
You've missed out on the Dinner Lab boils, but if you feel like impressing your friends, you could go to Seafood City, buy a bunch of live crawfish and Zatarain's spicy boil, then make them at home. It's easy. But you probably won't do that because you're lazy and want someone to cook for you.
I have to give a shout out to my friend Emily here - she managed to eat more crawfish than I've ever seen one person eat in a single sitting.