Louisiana flavor comes north

By Jim Stanford on June 22, 2012

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An authentic taste of New Orleans.

Hey, now. In New Orleans, even a queen dressed in red must be able to suck a crawfish head, as Art Neville sometimes sings. Jackson’s summer hatch will get its chance Saturday, when 307 Live presents its seventh annual Crawfish Boil.

Organizers Harper Hollis, Billy Cormier, Trey Davis and friends have ordered 1,000 pounds of the freshwater crustacean for the occasion. The crawfish will be seasoned, boiled and served with red beans and rice, boudin and more.

Stooges Brass Band will close out the festivities, capping a day of eating and music under the sun. The party starts at 1 p.m. on the Cutty’s lawn and runs till dark or thereabouts; Stooges is slated to take the stage at 7.

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Nora’s honored in Big Apple

By Jim Stanford on May 9, 2012

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From Fish Creek to the Hudson, folks know a good breakfast.

Nora’s, the rustic eatery in Wilson, received a James Beard Foundation award Monday night at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, New York. The restaurant was one of five chosen as “America’s Classics” for “timeless appeal, beloved in its region for quality food that reflects the character of its community.”

The Empire State Building was lit in orange for the occasion. Restaurant founder Nora Tygum did not attend, but her daughter, co-owner Kathryn Tygum Taylor, accepted the award on behalf of the family.

A crew filmed this video for the Beard Foundation in March. A starring role goes to Nora’s huevos rancheros, after a hot plate of which I always go home, as Kathryn says, fulfilled.

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in memoriam: Billy’s Burgers

By Jim Stanford on March 30, 2012

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Billy's burgers were known for being large, cheap and served on a toasted bun with mayonnaise and a side of waffle fries. Legions of tourists and locals came as much for the atmosphere and boisterous staff as the food.

Today is the last day of Billy’s Giant Hamburgers. The landmark Town Square eatery is closing after 28 years.

So devotees better move fast to down one last gut bomb, at least in the tiny nook with ’50s-style counter service that distinguished the place. The burgers may resurface in some yet-to-be-determined dining venture, possibly down the street at Teton Theater, but the character of Billy’s will disappear into history like a coating of burnt gristle scraped from the grill.

I worked in Billy’s my first winter in Jackson Hole. I had been hired that fall to wait and bus tables in the adjacent Cadillac Grille, but it quickly became obvious that Billy’s was more my speed. I only had been in the valley a few weeks when, on my first day on the job, Harrison Ford came in for a Billy’s burger. He sat with his back to the window and ate quietly. I knew I had come to the right place.

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Jazz Fest comes to Victor

By Jim Stanford on March 20, 2012

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Galactic arrived in Teton Valley to a spring snowstorm yesterday and enjoyed a day off. “Hanging in lovely cold Victor ID,” the band Tweeted.

Things will get considerably warmer tonight when the New Orleans funk ensemble takes the stage for a sold-out show at the Knotty Pine. The log cabin club will resemble a sauna straight out of Frenchmen Street in the Big Easy.

With an extra day of rest, band members could ride some of the nearly 2 feet of powder that has blanketed the Tetons, or delve into the Kansas City barbecue served by Knotty Pine owner Brice Nelson — “the best food we’ve ever eaten at a venue,” saxophonist Ben Ellman proclaimed during the group’s last visit in 2009.

Either way, the band is likely to come out roaring. On this tour Galactic again is joined by trombonist Corey Henry, along with singer Corey Glover, former frontman for Living Colour. The group just released a new album on Mardi Gras Day, Carnivale Electricos, featuring a host of guest musicians.

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skating away January drought

By Jim Stanford on January 9, 2012

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Even a first-time skate skier can glide easily by the Tetons.

Continuing our series on alternatives for a dry winter, now that the lakes are snowed over, another option has emerged for keeping active: skate skiing.

This is shaping up to be a season when a pair of skinny skis will come in handy. And one of the best venues for nordic exploring is Grand Teton National Park.

The inner Teton Park Road is groomed periodically for cross-country skiing, classic and skate. While investigating whether conditions were smooth last weekend, I came across a helpful phone number that has managed to elude me over the years: 307-739-3399, the visitor center desk. In this age of annoying automated menus, it’s a relief to be able to speak with someone.

Although the road was supposed to be groomed, the park staffer warned that it was pretty rough, based on his experience. That’s to be expected; after all, the park is a wild place and not a nordic center.

And thanks to the rain that fell before New Year’s, a hard crust has formed over much of the snow in the valley, so skate skiers can cruise wherever they like — a phenomenon that usually doesn’t happen till spring.

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