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Author: Elizabeth Manshel Created: 1/30/2009 5:19 PM
Bio to come....

Donuts, donuts, get your hot glazed donuts - that is what I have been dreaming about ever since I took the dare and got in line at one of our most popular local donut haunts, the Donut King here in Mandeville. Now don’t get me wrong, I love donuts! My problem is I have no self-control when it comes to those light and airy fried dough treats from heaven.  I work hard to keep the things that tempt me in my life at bay such as potato chips, especially Zapp’s Crawtators, (which, by the way, I can eat an entire family size bag in one sitting) and fresh loaves of French bread with real butter. However, the donut temptation was in check until they moved to their new location on Hwy. 59 and 1088.  Did they have to put it so close and add a convenient drive thru?

After talking to many of my friends and doing an incredibly unscientific poll, I started to realize that donuts are an important part of many of their lives. Each of them has a favorite donut place, a favorite donut and a funny story to go along with...

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            I hope you don’t mind that I am going to climb on my soap box this month and talk to you about supporting our local independent restaurants.  Please do not misunderstand me and think I am going to bash our ever-growing number of national chain restaurants that are popping up in strip malls all over the northshore. Instead, I would prefer to focus on the benefits to you and our community when we support our local restaurants. 

            A domino effect occurs when you patronize one of our fine neighborhood eateries. An effect that I am sure you have never even taken the time to ponder. The truth is, when you spend your money in local establishments, or “keep it local”, you are helping to promote positive community development through the recirculation of local dollars. Civic Economics, an economic analysis and strategic planning firm, released a study on the economic impact of local business vs. chains in the West Michigan economy in September of 2008 and they concluded that” local restaurants...

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             Inside an old train depot in downtown Covington is one of the northshore’s best dual personality restaurants. By day, Lola is a bustling sandwich shop that serves homemade soups, sandwiches and salads. By Friday night, it transforms into a quaint contemporary creole bistro. The owners are Keith Frentz and Nealy Crawford-Frentz. Two young and talented Johnson and Wales trained chefs who were just recently honored at Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine’s 8th annual “Chefs to Watch” awards last month. 

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            In the heart of downtown Covington, there is a neighborhood café with the most apropos name, Mattina Bella (beautiful morning). Inside this historic building, you will find a smiling Riccobonno family member there to greet you when you walk through the door. However, if you look closely you will notice a true blue, big family business. The owners are Vincent and Debbie Riccobonno. Their two sons Vincent, Jr. and Michael run the kitchen and three of their daughters, Teresa, Andrea and Gabrielle work in the front of the restaurant.

             The restaurant business is nothing new to Vincent; he grew up in the business. You can say it is in his blood and now his children’s blood. His grandfather was the owner of the famous Rick’s Pancake Cottage in Mid-City. Vincent’s first job was at Rick’s and from there he went on to work with his mom at her place, Rick’s Café, in Gretna for eleven years until it closed. After spending ten years working at Beau Chen country club he went to work with his cousins back on the southshore at the Peppermill and helped them rebuild after Katrina. 

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After tasting some of Maria Compagno’s luscious homemade limoncello late last year, I decided to try my hand at making it myself. As usual, this simple idea turned into one that eventually started to have a life of its own! First, I needed some nice lemons, preferably homegrown. Hmmm… whom should I call? Will McCaleb of course, if you are ever in need of anything within Louisiana or Mississippi he is your man. Within 24 hours, he had 78 gorgeous Plaquemines parish Meyer lemons delivered right to my door. 

The original recipe only calls for 6 to 8 lemons and I did want to make a FEW extra bottles for friends and family, but never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would have anything short of a small distillery going on in my kitchen for the next several weeks!

The recipe is “easy”. Carefully peel the lemons not cutting into to pith (the tart white part) and soak the peels in grain alcohol for a week. “Easy”, if you use a new peeler, go slowly, and try not to do over 50 lemons at a time! Easier still, if you do not leave town for an additional week, let the lemon peels soak longer in the alcohol than recommended. By the time I actually got around to adding the simple syrup and the extra alcohol to “cut” the overwhelming lemon flavor I had 27 bottles of limoncello!

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Are you ever on your way home from work and just want to pick up a good pizza? Or do you ever have one of those nights when the kids are a little wound up and you just want to take them out for a very casual dinner where they can get up from the table and play some video games while you sit back and order yourself a cold one? If you answered yes to either of these questions, or if you are just looking for an easy place to go to get a quick bite of good Italian food in the Mandeville area, then Coscino’s is the restaurant for you.

Coscino’s is a 5-year old family run business and when I say family run, I mean it! Everywhere you turn there is a Coscino! First, there is Jamie, the “Godmother” who is the owner and the apparent head of the family. Then there is Mike, her husband, who you can catch performing on stage with his guitar on Thursdays during open mic night. Running the front of the house is Jamie and Mike’s daughter, Danielle and managing the kitchen is their son, Jeremy. 

Jeremy is...

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The other night at one of my dinner groups the question was posed to us, “What is your simplest pleasure?” It only took me a moment to realize what gives me the greatest pleasure in life is to spend time with my family, especially my mother. Many people may claim their mother as their best friend, but I truly regard mine as my closest of confidants, the keeper of my fears and my dreams. She is the reason I watch the clock every morning with anticipation until the hands reach 9am. (I am not allowed to call and wake her before then, and trust me you do not want to call before then!), I can’t wait to talk to her every morning, even if I have absolutely nothing to say.

As an adult I now see just how much of a positive and profound influence my mother had on my life. She was always the one to stand up for my sisters or me, even if it was to the principle of our school. She would be the one organizing PTA groups, sitting on some board or committee, sewing all three of us matching Christmas outfits and...

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I do not know about you, but all of the depressing daily news about our economy and the ludicrous spending bills that are being passed to help “fix” the problems have been enough to make me reach for boxes of samoas, tagalongs and frozen thin mints instead of getting myself motivated and going out for a delicious and healthier lunch.  I have been in a bit of a funk since all of this began, and eating out has just not been as enjoyable as it once was. This was something that had to be rectified as soon as possible, but how was I going to escape this dark, sugary world? I decided to have lunch at one of my favorite restaurants on the northshore, knowing that this would jolt me back to my senses.

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