Gothamist simply adores New Orleans, but as tried and true New Yorkers, we know we could never live there full time. Sure, we're huge fans of overindulgence in every sense of the word, but after a week at Jazz Fest, gorging on beignets, fried oyster po boys, crawfish bread, and beer, we're ready for a detox week at the spa. So how can New Yorkers get a taste of the Big Easy without hopping on a plane? Enter Crawfish NY, brainchild of husband and wife team Chris and Lizzie Bicknell. Crawfish NY, which has catered many private parties in the past, recently opened themselves up to the public, throwing the first of what they hope to be an annual crawfish boil this past weekend at Harper Mansion in Gramercy.

2005_04_food_rawcraw.jpgSo what's in a crawfish boil, exactly? Chris was kind enough to show us the works, set up on the mansion's back patio. Several enormous pots simmered over propane flames, while huge plastic bins of crawfish, shipped in fresh from New Orleans, sat waiting. Along with copious amounts of Zatarain's crab boil seasoning and chili flakes, Chris added the traditional (corn, potatoes, garlic, onions, and sausage), along with the less traditional (artichokes, mushrooms, and asparagus). Inside, groups gathered around tables decked out with red-checkered tablecloths and a layer of newspaper, eagerly awaiting the arrival of a fresh pot of crawfish. Drinking plenty of Abita beer and hurricanes made the time pass a little more quickly, but each time Chris appeared with a pot hoisted on his shoulder, the crowds cheered.

2005_04_food_pot.jpgChris and his helpers dumped out the steaming crawfish and their accoutrements onto the tables and we dove in. Now a crawfish boil is social by nature, and Gothamist chatted with the other folks who were enthusiastically chowing down at our table. Some were from Louisiana, and they took the time to show us more efficient crawfish-shelling techniques, others were first-timers to the crawfish experience, and seemed somewhat squeamish about coming face to face with the little critters, and still others of us went from table to table, hunting down pieces of the coveted spicy, juicy sausage, which so nicely complemented the salty crawfish.

2005_04_food_cookedcraw.jpgAfter each round, Lizzie came by to clear off the newspaper and give us a fresh pile. Having grown up in Maine eating lobster, crawfish were somewhat of a natural transition for Lizzie. After about three rounds, Gothamist had eaten our fill, and were definitely ready to wash our hands, but we had satisfied our New Orleans craving, at least for a while.

Crawfish NY can help you throw your very own New Orleans-style crawfish boil for a group of 40 or more, and will even help you with details like finding a venue (if, like most of us, you don't have a large outdoor space) and providing appropriate music. If you're looking for variety, they'll do a shrimp, lobster or crab boil too, and they tell us that they make a "killer" gumbo. We say bring it on.

Thanks again to Lizzie and Chris for bringing a little New Orleans to us -- we think it'll hold us over until our next visit. Full photo gallery at Sweet Blog o' Mine.