SANTA FE, N.M. — We begin with a news bulletin. If The Prez shuts down the southern border, as he threatens, the United States is only three weeks away from NO AVOCADOS!!! What?! No avocado toast? What has the world come to? (Don’t ask.)
“Time begins on Opening Day,” famously wrote the other Boswell, Thomas, late of the Washington Post.
Sorry, Tom. Fake news! Wrong!
Time ends on Opening Day. There is no clock in baseball. Only balls and strikes, outs, innings and runs. There is no time in baseball. That’s the point. It’s why we love it.
I note this as my old pal Mikey the Magician called for a bite of lunch the other day to celebrate Spring, Lent and Opening Day. “Time to get some étouffée, Tommy, let’s go,” he exhorted as he raved about the fantastic Mardi Gras Crawfish Boil and Fais Do Do he’d enjoyed at The Cowgirl Hall of Fame a few weeks past.
How could I decline? Like me, Mikey is a good lapsed Catholic and a lover of all things New Orleans, meaning great food ‘n drink and better music. (I mean what else you need?) And Cowgirl Hall of Fame’s selection of Cajun-Creole specials at this time every year is irresistible.
First, spoiler alert: I love the Cowgirl. I’ve always loved the Cowgirl. Why? The live music (often), the cowboy saloon atmosphere (always), the colorful clientele belly-up-to-the-bar, totally family-friendly with a kids’ playground in the back, al fresco seating on the front patio and lots of sunshine. Exactly where we parked ourselves.
Also, speaking of New Orleans and things French, the Cowgirl and its friendly staff is notorious for its rather Parisian service. That is, one is ignored for as long as possible and then one’s patience is well rewarded.
This Opening Day, our man evidently hadn’t got the word and was more than prompt, and beyond excellent in his banter and service.
I love the Cowgirl’s Huevos Rancheros ($10.50), the Cowgirl Burger ($10.50) and their Chicken Wings ($8.50), but today it is Cajun-Creole.
Leading off, we had to have a cerveza and some good greasy stuff … Cajun Popcorn Shrimp ($7), which are not greasy at all! Au contraire! Tender little shrimp, beer-battered and flash-fried with a spicy cocktail sauce. Yes! A hit! Bring me a crate of them. One man on base.
Next up, a little sturdier appetizer fare, and I am a sucker for them, in the form of Mississippi Catfish Fingers ($7), cornmeal-dusted and fried, served with a sauce tartar. Another hit! That’s two on and nobody out, and our cleanup hitter for the day, here comes the Big Boy, the one we’ve been waiting for! Crawfish Étouffée ($17), sauteed crawfish tails smothered in a rich roux-based sauce on a bed of rice, served with baguette – we had corn muffins – or over Jambalaya for $2 extra. Go with the rice and cornbread, as we did, and maybe another cerveza and a bit more chat about America’s two greatest “inventions,” baseball and jazz. Total Nirvana, and a three-run jack! Home run!
It may not be the Napoleon House or Acme Oyster House in N’awlins, but the Cowgirl Hall of Fame is decidedly close enough and a sublime way to celebrate Lent, Spring, baseball and great food!
Journal North restaurant reviews rate eateries on a scale of one to four stars.