Friday, March 30, 2012

Food Porn from an Airstream: Ignatius Reilly's Gourmet Street Food

Some chefs just get it.  Marcus Day is one of those chefs.  His cuisine is uncompromising.  Food and flavor before all else.  No shortcuts.  Handmade pastas, sauces from scratch, and creativity daily.  The story becomes even more remarkable because Chef Day does it all out of a vintage Airstream trailer.  And he has a name that came out of local literature: Ignatius Reilly's Gourmet Street Food.  For anybody living under a rock, Ignatius Reilly is the name of the main character in John Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces.  Ignatius Reilly is an educated, eccentric, but often slothful 30 year old living in uptown New Orleans.  And he loves to eat.  To know more, read the book.

Bolognese with Fresh Pasta and Parmesan
Marcus also clearly gets the overall Food Truck movement.  The idea of a concession stand on wheels is as old as traveling carnivals.  However, gourmet mobile eateries slinging restaurant quality grub at affordable prices... well that's what turns a trend into a revolution.

Chef Marcus Day's Ignatius Reilly's Gourmet Street Food
Social media has played a large role in the surge of meaningful mobile food vendors.  Chef Day has been on top of his branding from the beginning, posting pictures of dishes of Facebook and interacting with his customers on Twitter.  He also uses the channels to tell his fans where he is set up for lunch, dinner, and even brunch on the weekends.

Carrot Ginger Soup with Mint Creme Fraiche 
Ignatius Reilly's concept is fresh and local, to every extent possible.  His signature items are handmade pastas, carefully crafted soups, and specialty sandwiches.  The top photograph of the bolognese is perhaps Chef Day's signature dish.  Ever on the menu, the pasta with beef sauce and layers of Parmesan lives up to its permanent place on the menu board.  After one bite you can taste the freshness of the homemade noodles and the unique bolognese.  The latest dish that I've tried from Marcus is the above carrot ginger soup.  The delicious and nutritious soup is finished with a little butter to add that wonderful extra richness and then topped with a dollop of mint creme fraiche to just take it over the top. 

Eggs Cancienne: Poached Eggs, Grilled Don's Andouille, French Bread Toast, Fresh Cheese Grits, Tasso Hollandaise 
As I mentioned earlier, Ignatius Reilly's sets up for weekend brunch around Baton Rouge as well.  Make an effort to track him down any weekend and you won't be sorry.  The Eggs Cancienne represent a fantastic all around dish that would be worthy of any brick and mortar joint.  Chef's Day own spin on the classic Eggs Benedict, the tasso hollandaise is bright and rich and is simply superb with the cheese grits on the bottom.

Creme Brulee Pain Perdu: NOLA French Toast, Steen's Cane Syrup, Candied Pecans, Powdered Sugar 
Not to stop there, also found on the brunch menu at times is a French toast dish with some Louisiana favorites.  I could eat this creme brulee pain perdu for breakfast or dessert at any time and be completely content.

Everything that Ignatius Reilly's serves comes in containers made from recycled products which just furthers the notion that Chef Day has it figured out.  Next time you see his stainless steel Airstream around town, make sure to stop by, order some great food, and tell him hey.  You won't be sorry!

Ignatius Reilly's Gourmet Food Truck on Urbanspoon