April 23 In Eating

Gnocchi with Crabmeat and Prosciutto

Soft-Shell Crab with Pecans

Crabmeat Au Gratin

Crabmeat Au Gratin

Boiled Brisket of Beef

Boiled Brisket of Beef


Boiled Brisket of Beef

Until recently in New Orleans, the favorite method of cooking brisket is to boil it. Now smoked barbecue-style brisket has taken over, and the good old boiled brisket has faded. It has a wonderful by-product: the beef broth that comes from the boiling. In many cuisines, this is done mainly to derive a stock for making soups our sauces; the meat is often discarded. But despite the long cooking time, the brisket still has a lot of flavor, and makes a great match with boiled cabbage, carrots, and potatoes. Serve it with any of the many variations of horseradish sauce you can come up with.

Boiled beef gives us the ultimate stock for making vegetable soup. Which is great with some brisket floating around in the bowl. Be sure to save it if you’re not ready to make the soup today. It freezes and stores easily.

  • 4 to 6 lbs. choice brisket, preferably the butt end
  • 1 large onion, cut into eight pieces
  • 1 medium turnip, cut into chunks
  • Leafy tops of 1 bunch celery
  • Stems of 1 bunch parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
  • 2 bay leaves, broken in half
  • 2 cloves (not essential, but it makes the kitchen smell good)
  • 2 Tbs. salt
  • Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup Creole mustard
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce (or ketchup)
  • 1/2 cup prepared horseradish

1. Bring two gallons of water to a boil in a large stockpot.

2. Trim all huge slabs of fat from the brisket, but don’t be too severe about this. Cut it if necessary into two or three pieces to fit your pot. (It’s okay if it sticks out a little bit.) Put it into the water (no need to wait for it to boil). Add all the other ingredients. Cover the pot.

3. When the pot comes to a boil, lower it to the lowest possible temperature. Simmer for four to six hours, or whatever it takes for the brisket to pull apart when clutched with tongs. Skim off the scum that may rise to the surface.

4. Remove the brisket and set aside. Strain out the vegetables and discard, but save the beef stock for other uses–notably vegetable soup. The stock can be kept in the refrigerator for about a week, or it can be frozen almost indefinitely.

5. Slice the brisket it or serve it in large cubes, but cut against the grain with a sharp, non-serrated knife. The meat will be falling apart and easy to eat. Serve with boiled cabbage, potatoes, and carrots.

6. To make the sauce, blend the three sauce ingredients. Serve cool.

Serves eight, with leftovers for sandwiches or to add to vegetable soup.

Diary, 4|11, 12|2018: Brilliance At Borgne, And From The LPO

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Wednesday, April 11, 2018. Dark And Unfamiliar. The, Brilliance In Food And Music! The drive home last night from the Best Chefs event was nostalgic and creepy at the same time. During the six years when most of my life was staged in or around the University of New Orleans, I knew all the buildings, restaurants (very few) and private neighborhoods. I have had very little occasion to return to those parts since I landed my first big job, well away from UNO. The whole area has become foreign territory now. I felt this especially cold as I drove around what used to be a toilet factory. The lights were low, few cars shared their portions of Franklin Avenue and Lakeshore Drive, and I had to study the road marker to know exactly where I was. It was the first time I’d driven the entirety of Lakeshore Drive in decades.

Tom’s Guide To the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Food appeared not long after after the Festival itself did. The event made a splash from the outside, with the vast amounts of food being doled out. A lot of people supposed they could sample all the food and drink. I always tried to do that myself, but now know that it’s impossible. The radio station asked me to write and record a twenty-one-part guide to the best eats. No problem. I started in on that project today. As usual, everything else that could possibly loom has done so, but that’s media for you.

Thursday, April 12, 2018. Borgne Again. Mary And and I were deep into the perennial discussion as to where we will go for dinner tonight. The meal will have to fit between a restaurant dinner and a more leisurely sampling from the meny at Borgne.

That restaurant, on the ground floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, is the outlook of Brian Landry. He’s brilliant enough to carry the place conceptually, without reference to Chef John Besh, who is keeping a low profile these days.

We started with some broiled oysters–sort of in the direction of the omnipresent, but with a denser topping. We finished those off quickly in favor of a gumbo for MA and crawfish bisque for me. We finished it off with a banana case with caramel and a little chocolate.

All the way through the eating of all this, I kept thinking that, despite my enjoyment of this kind of cooking (very much Southeast Louisiana in style), we almost never eat at Borgne. I resolve to fix that in the near future. This is too good an eatery for such a disguised (which is to say “hotel”) restaurant.

nd all that discussed and acted upon, we are off the the Orpheum Theater for an evening of classical music from the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, who are fresh back from Carnegie Hall. MA and I have added the LPO to be among our most enjoyable non-food entertainments.

Borgne. CBD: 601 Loyola Ave (Hyatt Regency Hotel). 504-613-3860.

Diary: 4/8-9-&10/2018 A Weekend Of Substitution. Best Chefs.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Sunday, April 8-9, 2018. Demoted Singer. Chicken Pannee With Two Sauces. The Wagners–who usually lead the singing at St. Jane’s ten o’clock Mass, but were supposed to be absent today–left me to be the cantor. But they showed up, so I was just the usual singer in the loft. It’s just as well, since we have not run a rehearsal. But then I hear that the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra performs its performances with only two rehearsals.

In the afternoon, Mary Leigh came in from Meridian. She didn’t take the train as I did two days ago, but drove in normally to greet her dog Bauser. We have been taking full care of this rescue animal for months while ML works on a big project out of town. When the Marys are in town, a dinner at La Carreta is inevitable. The three of us set a family record in the eating of choriqueso, a boat of queso dip into which has been stirred a generous amount of chorizo. The three of us put down four servings of the delicious, spicy stuff.

The Marys take the whole afternoon and evening working on the colors of ML’s house, now in its earliest stages. While they worked on that cheerful project, I spent most of the day working on our tax return. I haven’t yet seen a figure in this calculation that either scares or gladdens. But the negative numbers have a way of materializing from nowhere. My fingers are crossed.

Monday, April 9, 2018. The Best Of Its Kind Is Also The Least Expensive. ML hit the road back to Mississippi, leaving MA free for lunching with me. We head over to the familiar tables of New Orleans Food & Spirits, the resto where I usually eat my Monday red beans. But I’ve had many beans in the last week, so I ask the manager if I could have the panned veal with angel hair pasta and two sauces. That’s the Wednesday special, but they allow it, what with our frequent-customer status. This is not only a steal at twelve dollars (including a salad) but is the best version of this dish I can think of.

New Orleans Food & Spirits. Harvey: 2330 Lapalco Blvd. 504-362-0800. || West End & Bucktown: 210 Hammond Hwy. 504-828-2220. || Covington: 208 Lee Lane. 985-875-0432.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018. The Best Chefs Of Louisiana. Some seven or eight years ago, I was asked by the American Culinary Federation’s very active New Orleans chapter to act as emcee for its annual fundraiser and honoring of its most distinguished members. I have performed that function almost every year since then. Not only that, but I sing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” backed up by the big band that plays through the event. How that became part of the program I don’t really know, but I like doing it.

Three years ago, the Best Chefs Of Louisiana moved to the Lakefront Airport in Eastern New Orleans. A great move. The Terminal has a big, wide, round atrium, and the whole place has an Art Deco look. Also here are dozens, perhaps hundred of parking spaces. The only problem with the space is that its acoustics are very loud, especially with New Orleans Spice’s big band.

Although there is a competitive aspect to the Best Chefs event, the focus is on restaurant legends whose fame nobody disputes. This year the group included the late, revered Frank Davis, Frank Brigtsen, Jo Ann Clevenger, Daniel Bonnot, Jean-Luc Albin, Andrea Apuzzo, and Kevin Belton. Kevin also acted as auctioneer and emcee, but that’s his ebullient style, and I gladly let him take those roles. Also acting in that capacity was Eric Paulsen, who is often my fellow emcee at many events. Frankly, they didn’t need me at all. My main function, really, was to tour the eroom and shoot the breeze with the hundreds of attendees, and talk to the young chefs who were showing off their new dishes by cooking them right then and there. As always, with all these chefs showing off their gifts, the eating was terrific.

April 12 In Eating.

April 12 In Eating.

AlmanacSquare April 12, 2017

Days Until. . .

French Quarter Festival–April 12-15
Jazz Festival–April 27-May 6>

Today’s Flavor

Today is National Licorice Day. Most licorice on the candy rack contains no actual licorice. The natural licorice flavor–similar to those of fennel or anise–comes from the root of a European plant. It contains, in addition to the distinctive taste, a compound called glycyrrhizin–the sweetest natural substance on earth. It’s being used in a new kind of artificial sweetener that hasn’t quite been perfected yet. Licorice is more widely used in drugs and herbal medicine than in cooking. I’ve only encountered actual licorice root once in a dish: the deconstructed oysters Rockefeller at MiLa.

Today is also Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. For most people, that’s a trigger for childhood memories. For me, it conjures up the lunch counter at Woolworth’s on shopping trip with my mother.

Grilled cheese sandwich

Those sandwiches were good, but I preferred the version served in the school cafeteria, made by putting a slice of cheese on a hamburger bun and baking it until the cheese stuck the two halves of the bun together. Once in a great while I make a grilled cheese sandwich at home, when I have some interesting cheese to do it with. Not standard Cheddar, which released too much grease when melted. Something like Gruyere, or raclette, or Jarlsberg, or Fontina, or even the aggressively aromatic tete de moines, grilled on bread with some texture and nuttiness. . . yes!

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

Licorice is the liver of candy. And you can quote me on that.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Eatonville is a small farming hamlet in northwestern Pennsylvania, a twenty-seven-mile drive through the picturesque rolling hills from Scranton. It’s nestled in a valley cut by Bowman Creek, just above its confluence with the Susquehanna River. Mountains rise 700 feet above the valley floor on both sides. Eatonville isn’t isolated, though: there’s an airport two miles north. You won’t need it to get some eatin’, though; Marsha’s Sugar Hollow Diner is less than a mile away. This has been another in a series of Gourmet Gazetteer places whose names begin with “Eat.”

Edible Dictionary

lardo, Italian, n.–Solid fat, uninterrupted by lean streaks, taken from the rear ends of pigs and then cured much the same way as any other Italian salume. That means that its brined and seasoned with salt and vinegar. It’s sliced exactly as prosciutto or salami would be, and eaten as is, or on crusty slices of bread. It’s a product of Tuscany, particularly a mall stone-quarry town called Colonnata. It differs from other salumi in that people who like lardo are bonkers about the stuff. It becomes an obsession. If the subject comes up, it will take fifteen minutes to review all the ways in which the stuff is incredibly delicious. It is indeed pretty good. And both expensive and hard to find in this country.

Food Festivals Through History

In ancient times, this day began a seven-day festival in honor of Ceres, the goddess of growing grain and of motherly love. She gave her name to the words cereal, as well as to the first-named asteroid. Her festival, which began being celebrated in the third century B.C.E., was called Cerealia. I wonder if Kellogg’s and Post ever thought of bringing that back to life. Seven days of revelry about cereal! (Hmm. I guess we’ve answered that question.)

Music To Eat By

On this date in 1969, Simon and Garfunkel released The Boxer, the only national hit that made reference to a certain kind of New Orleans-style sandwich. It’s in the first line.

Deft Dining Rule #51:

If you arrive at a restaurant less than a half-hour before closing time, and the dining room has only a few people who are finishing up their meals, find another place to eat.

The Saints

This is the feast day of St. Zeno of Verona, one of many patron saints of fishermen. He died today in 371.

Food Namesakes

Jean-Francois Paillard, a French classical music conductor, was born on this date in 1928. (A paillard is a thin, grilled slice of meat, in case you didn’t catch the food connection.) . . . Yung Wing, the first Chinese student to graduate from Yale University, arrived in the United States today in 1847. . . Howard Baker Sr., former Tennessee governor and U.S. Senator, was born today in 1902. . . William Cookworthy, a Quaker minster and pharmacist in England, got his life cooking today in 1705. He invented the first porcelain that didn’t have to be imported from China to England. . . Guy Berryman, the bassist with the group Coldplay, was born in Scotland today in 1978.

Words To Eat By

“My mother was a good recreational cook, but what she basically believed about cooking was that if you worked hard and prospered, someone else would do it for you.”–Nora Ephron.

Words To Drink By

“Champagne and orange juice is a great drink. The orange improves the champagne. The champagne definitely improves the orange.”–Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Meat Pies

Meat Pies

Oysters Casino

Diary 4/6/2018-Train To Meridian.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Friday, April 6, 2018. A Mini-Vacation. A few weeks ago I mentioned to Mary Ann that I needed a short vacation. She became an advocate for that idea, while not including herself in the break. Instead, her idea was for me to be a sort of demi-traveler whose itinerary would appeal to almost nobody but me.

The route we came up with was about 200 miles each way, from New Orleans Union Station to Meridian, Mississippi. In Meridian, I would meet up with our daughter and have lunch. Then she would show me the projects she is undertaking in her work, and take me on a drive around Meridian, which is more striking an environment than I would have guessed. I have traveled this route a number of times before, but I don’t remember the hilly geography.

Lunch was at a restaurant that has interested me for years. Weidmann’s (pronounced “wade mans” claims to have been in business since 1870. I have a taste for old restaurants, and I’ve looked at this one several times from the vantage point of a sleeping car on a train. Today, I finally had lunch there.

Weidmann’s was founded by a Swiss immigrant who came to America as a chef aboard a transatlantic steamship. That would have been around the time when being Swiss was a strong resume item for anyone breaking into the newfangled restaurant trade. As time went on, ownership changed and the concept of Weidmann’s did so as well. There seems to have been five generations of owners from then until now. The current menu is quite modern, in the realm of an upscale Southern bistro. Specials include quiches, seafood ranging from fried platters to saucy originals. Steaks and chops, big salads and poor boy sandwiches, muffuletta and the like. All of it would be very familiar to New Orleans diners.

I arrived at Weidmann’s after orienting myself to the neighborhood, parts of which looked like rough territory. That was merely the working side of the tracks–never a place for local color. The large train depot looked new, which was reassuring. With my daughter’s instructions, I found Weidmann’s right away, but early. I scored a table in the empty room–one that would shortly be filled with local people ready for a pleasant Friday lunch.

We ordered more or less the way we would at home, after a snack on housemade peanut butter. Then came fried green tomatoes, an immense salad, and a very curious rendition of quiche with black eye peas. ML–in her typical ordering style–had an oversized cheeseburger. By now it was clear that if you eat at Weidmann’s, you eat a lot of food.

ML gave a tour of Meridian, which impressed her more than she was expecting. She will be working there another few months before returning to New Orleans, but she sounded as if remaining long-term would not be a bad idea.

She returned to work as I walked to the train station. I was due to board the southbound Crescent at about 3 p.m. But at the station the man running the place said that the Crescent to New Orleans, having gotten caught up in heavy freight traffic on the main lines in the vicinity, was running two hours late. This projection grew hour by hour, until the best guess was that it would leave at something like six-thirty. There was nothing to be done at the station, and the book I’d brought to read didn’t fill the time agreeably.

Once we finally resumed rolling, I worked my way through four sleeping cars into the diner. It was nearly empty. The waiter–who knew my name because he lives in New Orleans and listens to WWL Radio–started me off with a green salad, then followed with a surprisingly avant garde entree of squash gnocchi in a buttery sauce studded with fresh herbs, one of which was kale. I accompanied this with two glasses of red wine. I needed it.

The train pulled into New Orleans after several dull hours. It was puzzling to tell where we were along the road, and when we arrived in New Orleans Center City, it was a few minutes before midnight. This meant that indeed I had gone to Meridian and returned home to tell about it later the same day.

Only a train buff would question the worthiness of this funny little vacation. But I don’t think even I will ever do it again–unless my daughter decides to move to Meridian. For that purpose, the train still beckons.

April 10 In Eating

April 10 In Eating

Diary 4-4-2018-About Meridian

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Thursday, April 5, 2018. A Mini-Vacation. A few weeks ago I mentioned to Mary Ann that I needed a short vacation. She immediately became an advocate for that idea, while not including herself in the break. Instead, her ideas were travelettes that would appeal to almost nobody but me.

“You should take the train to Meridian for a day or two and have dinner with Mary Leigh while you’re there,” MA said. Mary Leigh is our daughter. Meridian is where ML she is engaged for her employer with a large design project. The train is the Crescent, Amtrak’s stretch of rail from New Orleans to New York City, with points in between like Atlanta, Hattiesburg, Birmingham, Laurel, Charlotte, Picayune, Washington, and Slidell. All served by the same train! And you don’t have to go to Baltimore to go to Meridian!

I think I’ve made it clear in this journal that I like trains. The Crescent is one of the three trains working out of New Orleans, and the one that I travel least often–even though it’s the best of the three in terms of track smoothness.

This plan has me doing something I’ve not done on a train before: to take a long-distance round-trip run in just one day. I’ll depart in the early morning from Union Passenger Terminal (next to the Superdome). After having breakfast in the diner, I’ll get off the train when it stops in Meridian in the late morning. ML will meet me and she’ll show me what she’s been doing here for the past few months. We’ll have lunch in what she says is the hottest restaurant in Meridian–a place that reminds her of Antoine’s.

In mid-afternoon I will re-board the Crescent for New Orleans. I will have dinner in the diner, if it’s offered, and we will reach the end of the line at around sunset. I will pick up my car and drive home. All in one day.

This is the only time ML and I will have the opportunity to take such a quick tour. I hear that her work in Meridian is impressive, and I’d love to see it.

The Amtrak website, which claims to plan and sell tickets, is so confusing as to be worthless. So I just went to the terminal and bought the tickets directly from the clerk. He says that he has been working at the terminal for over thirty years. That’s a solid ticket if I ever saw one.

Tickets firmly in hand, I head to Metairie for dinner at Porter and Luke. The waiter turns me on to the redfish on the half-shell–a nice, fresh fillet of red with minimal saucing, but good anyway. When I was about to dive into the salad (which could be freshened up a bit) a guy I know in the restaurant business landed on the other side of my table. His eatery is one of my personal favorites, a place I would attend more often if I didn’t have so many other restaurants to visit. As for my friend, he turned to the people with whom he was dining and predicted exactly which dishes I would recommend if they asked me. It all came down to just two dishes, both of which are not only good but unique.

My friend then asked me if his restaurant should have a cookbook. Absolutely they should, I told him, but if he’s asking me to write it, I must beg off. I already have too many projects in hand to take this one, although it would be an impressive job and might even make me a few bucks. But one can’t do everything.

Almanac: Thursday, April 5, 2018.

AlmanacSquare April 5, 2017

Days Until. . .

French Quarter Festival–April 12-15
Easter —April 1
Jazz Festival–April 27-May 6>

Legends Of New Orleans Dining

In 1910 on this date, one of the most important New Orleans restaurateurs of all time was born. Thirty-six years later, Owen Edward Brennan founded Brennan’s. He was later joined in the business by his siblings Adelaide, John, Ella, Dick, and Dottie, and then by his sons Pip, Ted, and Jimmy Brennan. What came out of that combination was a style of grand dining that dominated the high end of the scale for decades. In its evolved form, it still does.

Owen E Brennan, the founder of the Brennan family restaurant business.

Owen E. Brennan’s first business was the Absinthe House, which he opened in 1943. He was a congenial host, and the place became a celebrated hangout. A running joke was that people would go to the Absinthe House to complain about Arnaud’s. Owen duly reported this to his friend Count Arnaud Cazenave. Count Arnaud came back with a fateful challenge: “If you think you can do it better, why don’t you open a restaurant yourself? No Irishman can serve French food!”

Owen leased the Vieux Carre Restaurant (across the street from both the Absinthe House and Arnaud’s) and opened Owen Brennan’s French & Creole Restaurant. Brennan’s was a success from the outset. Its freewheeling style–calling the food French cooking, but serving whatever sounded good to the customers–changed the way first-class dining rooms operated. It did so well that the landlord insisted on a piece of the business when the lease came up for renewal. Owen told him to stick it, and found a new location on Royal Street.

A few months before the new Brennan’s was to open, Owen attended a dinner of La Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, a gourmet society of which he was a member, at Antoine’s. He ate and drank well. He died in his sleep that night. He was only 45. He left a legacy of hospitality that lives on in all the Brennan restaurants, and those owned by people who worked in them. I wish I had met him.

Owen E Brennan, the founder of the Brennan family restaurant business.

Legends In Winemaking

Today in 1994, Andre Tchelitscheff died, ending the most influential career in the history of California winemaking. Born in 1901 in Russia, Tchelistcheff worked in the French wine business before going to California as Prohibition ended. At Beaulieu Vineyards he pioneered methods of winemaking and wine marketing that made them what they are today. Tchelitscheff planted French grape varieties and blended wines in a French way, but used American oak barrels for aging. He also was the first to use cold fermentation, and developed methods for protecting vines from disease and frost. His laboratory and wine library was the most respected source of information about viticulture for decades. When you drink a Napa wine especially, you are benefiting from Tchelistcheff’s legacy.

Legends In Seeds

W. Atlee Burpee, who founded the seed company that bears his name, was born today in 1858. His company sold seeds nationwide by mail order, and the varieties of plants whose seeds he sold became dominant just by that fact.

Legends In Dairy

Today in 1881, Edwing Houston and Elihu Thomson received a patent for a centrifuge that separated cream from raw milk. It made possible all those creamy soups and sauces we love so much. Cream–is practically a sauce unto itself–is a magic ingredient. So much so that restaurants overuse it, sometimes winding up with too many dishes that taste the same. When you find more than fifteen percent of a restaurant’s non-dessert menu made with a substantial amount of cream, you are in a restaurant with a failure of imagination.

Today’s Flavor

In honor of Owen Brennan, whose grand Breakfast at Brennan’s redefined the upper limits of the meal, today is Fancy Poached Eggs Day. Most of the egg creations on Brennan’s menu were French classics revived by Chef Paul Blange. It shortly became clear that the ones people liked most were poached eggs (which few restaurants offered in the 1940s) set atop some flavorful food (ham, crabmeat, creamed spinach), and covered with hollandaise. From that came the endless variations we find today in any restaurant that serves Sunday brunch. The restaurants love such dishes: few menu items carry as low a food cost percentage as do eggs.

Deft Dining Rule #168:

If you want to see how good a breakfast chef is, ask for coddled or shirred eggs. If they make either without question, you have a winner.

Annals Of Salt

On this day in 1930, Mohandas Gandhi took a group of his followers to a salt flat and began collecting salt from the ground, in defiance of a British rule that all salt had to be bought from England. He was arrested immediately, but scored a moral victory.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Codfish Park is on the easternmost tip of Nantucket Island, one of the most picturesque places in America. It’s a small but wealthy community of vacation homes, across the road from the Sankaty Head Golf Club, the nearest place to dine. Codfish Park is just north of the bigger town of Siasconset (or “Sconset,” as the residents call it. There’s a terrific French restaurant there called Chanticleer. In 1983, I bicycled all the way around the island–an extraordinarily scenic ride–and later in the evening had a marvelous dinner at Chanticleer.

Edible Dictionary

eggs Benedict, n.–Poached eggs set atop grilled ham on some kind of biscuit or toast, with the entire stack topped with hollandaise. Eggs Benedict are universal in restaurants serving brunch or fancy breakfasts. Many variations on the idea exist, enough that some menus show a category of “benedicts” or even “bennies.” Many other ingredients have been used in lieu of the ham, ranching from other meats to fish to vegetables. How the dish was created is a subject of dispute, with several authoritative sources each telling a different story. Most agree that eggs Benedict became popular early in the 1900s. Several different people named Benedict have been put forth the person who was present at its invention. Food writer Elizabeth David says that it descended from an old French dish made with salted, dried codfish. The main data worth knowing are a) the bread on the bottom needs to absorb the water from the poached eggs without getting soggy, and 2) the hollandaise has to be flavored with a touch of red pepper.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

Non-iodized table salt is the purest salt in the history of salt-making. I can’t think of a reason not to use it.

Food Namesakes

Alberto “Cubby” Broccoli, the producer of the James Bond movies, was born today in 1909. Not only does he have a food name, but one of his ancestors actually created the vegetable by hybridizing cauliflower. . . Gregory Peck was born today in 1916. . . Daniel Bakeman was the last surviving soldier from the Revolutionary War when he died today in 1869. . . The Lord of the Satsuma Clan, which lived on the island of Kyushu in Japan, invaded Okinawa on this date in 1609.

Words To Eat By

“Without butter, without eggs, there is no reason to come to France.”–Chef Paul Bocuse.

Words To Drink By

“Bad news isn’t wine. It doesn’t improve with age.”–Colin Powell, former Secretary of State, born today in 1937.

Steak With Lobster Perigourdine

Steak With Lobster Perigourdine

Seared Scallops with Artichokes

Toney’s Stuffed Macaroni

Diary 3|30|2030 Blackout In The Steak House. House Flipper.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Wednesday, March 28, 2018. Mary Ann takes delivery on her missing car. What a deal! It cost us a mere $1774 for the wheels to be out of action. The cause of the problem was water spilled into the shifter which, we learn, is operated by an electrical gizmo that is sensitive to inundations. I will remember that. But it might not apply to me, since throughout my entire life I’ve driven only manual transmissions. As in clutch pedals.

In the meantime, the Marys are busy readying themselves for the closing tomorrow of Mary Leigh’s first house. That has been exciting for the Marys, because they view it as the first chapter in a business of their own. It’s a great match. Mary Ann is a negotiator–the kind you hear about on television who flips real estate for a living. ML, in the meantime, is a a deft designer, carpenter and builder. She does it all, including welding and painting. You’d never know she has these skills to look at her: a slim, young, energetic blonde. While she works on her house, she is also working full-time on a project in Mississippi that will go on for a couple of months. I’m proud of her.

Friday, March 30, 2018. The Closing. All went well and all the checks were written as my wife and my daughter (the Marys) close on their purchase a house that they will renovate and move into in–you would think–the next few minutes.

The Marys want to celebrate with dinner at Fleming’s Steak House, the new chain next to Lakeside Mall. MA in particular likes Flemings for its handsome environment. They both like the happy-hour menu, in which abbreviated versions of Fleming’s dishes are sold. This suits the Marys’ tastes perfectly.

However, not long after we arrived came a series of problems that would punctuate the service and food. Around town, power was going out unpredictably. On and off went the lights at Fleming’s. It was harmless enough for most, but I know of one man (me) who was in the men’s room when the lights went out totally. It was like being in Carlsbad Caverns when they turn the lights out. Total blackness. Not even a little green light on somebody’s telephone shone. I was right in the middle of an empty space when this happened, and didn’t know which way to move, if anywhere. Fortunately (and somebody could really have been hurt) the lights came back on in about two minutes with no ill effects.

But the lights kept going off and on, without blackness. You just couldn’t read the menu, or or know whether you were eating a crab cake or stuffed shrimp. The staff seemed to lose its orientation, in every sense of the word. We began hearing people talk about how great Ruth’s Chris Steak House is. But it’s likely they were having the same problems. The news guys were saying it was area-wide.

As for the food, I started with a lobster bisque that had a certain mass-production quality but otherwise is palatable. I have a New York strip that is grilled accurately and nicely trimmed. The price is in the low $50s, which is the going rate for steak houses of this caliber. The Marys split a filet mignon and an order of creamed spinach. I found the latter a little runny.

The electric problems kept coming, but they could not be blamed on the restaurant. I hope this is not a harbinger of the Marys’ big undertaking.

Fleming’s Steak House. Metairie: 3064 N. Causeway Blvd.. 504-799-0335.

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine

An Unparkable Car, A Decrease In Culinary Enthusiasm.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Sunday, March 25, 2018. Zea. Covington: 110 Lake Dr. 985-327-0520. Here’s how the situation stands right now. MA’s car is still being worked on. So far, the mechanics are incapable of getting the car’s transmission to leave Park. The parts are allegedly en route, but what’s causing the problem is still a mystery. The car cannot move.

ML is in town to arrange the final pieces to close on the house that she will be buying later in the week. It’s a modest home, but for her to have bought a house with her own money at age 25 impresses me and everyone else who knows her.

The Marys head out to lunch in the afternoon. It’s a pretty day, and the view of the Bogue Falaya River is attractive. This creates a big waiting list for The Chimes, the Marys’ favorite restaurant and my least favorite. But every time I think Chimes is out of my life, it appears again. We wait outside for over an hour, until I throw in the towel and go somewhere else. The Marys continue to wait.

The nearest restaurant that suits me is Zea. Zea and Chimes have competed with one another for our business for many years. Main differences: Chimes has a great view and outdoor tables, and Zea has a pleasant but ordinary dining room. The food at Zea is incomparably better. But the latter issue is a matter of taste, while the atmosphere preference is indisputable.

Readers who have put up with this issue in this department for years have read it all before, for which I am sorry.

But Zea is in the middle of its annual seafood (read: Lent) season. That always brings forth a half-dozen or more new dishes, all of them from the seafood department. Tops on that list is the Asian fried oysters that appear at Zea every year at this time. That is the best dish on Zea’s menu, and I wish they offered it year-round. It being Sunday, the soup du jour is the tomato-basil bisque, long a favorite of mine. And a few other dishes we’ve spoken about in this space a week or two ago are as good as ever.

Whatever is jamming the tables at Chimes is having no visible effect on Zea. This says to me that eating great food may be decreasing in its importance to New Orleans. I have been increasingly worried about this in the past couple of years. I can’t decide whether it’s a fleeting thing, or a look at the future. People just aren’t as enthusiastic about eating well.

5-Star Back Issue 3/30/2018 |57157


Just Because
By Mary Ann Fitzmorris

The weekend just passed was the tenth Hogs for the Cause event, a wildly successful fundraiser ($1.45 M this year) to fight against pediatric brain cancer. That number was matched by 85–the number of teams who entered their works in the competition for prizes like “High on the Hog” “Whole Hog” and many others. Fun is the real theme of this event, as proven by the clever play on words everywhere.

The all-star celeb team–it won Whole Hog title–had a roster that included Chef Tory McPhail (from Commander’s Palace), Justin Kennedy (Parkway Poor Boys), Chris Montero (Napoleon House), Mike Brewer (City Pork in Baton Rouge) and Jared Ralls (La Boca).

Some other fun names: Silence of Da Ham.
Deuce Bigaleau Pork Gigolo
Smokey and the Bacon
David Hasselhogs
Swine Spectators
DeSwine Intervention
and of course. . .
Make Pork Great Again

Some of these teams came in massive expensive rigs, but Silence of Da Ham won Whole Hog with a homemade pit constructed with cinder blocks donated by Lowe’s.

It’s impossible to really eat one’s way around such an event, but so much fun to try! We went Friday night. Perfect! Less crowded, and the glorious weather included a breezy night with ideal temps.

The parade grounds seemed more spacious at the lakefront than in City Park. We started with a favorite barbecue place in town, Central City BBQ, but got a bacon and jalapeño tamale with a barbecue sauce so spicy I choked on it.

The next stop was a few stalls down. I was lured by a fat crusty slab of brisket, glistening with ribbons of meat fat. Is it just me, but who doesn’t love animal fat? This was a disappointment. The meat had crossed over into too crusty.

Moving on, bacon on a stick was so promising that everyone else beat me to it. I should have waited, because I couldn’t remember what it was or where it was when I tried to go back. Neuske’s bacon was featured throughout the festival. This is a superior product, a great start to any dish. And most of the offerings Friday night included this delicious bacon.

Wandering among the choices I looked for something different. It was Friday in Lent after all, so I tried a seafood jambalaya. Oysters, crab, shrimp and crawfish were plentiful in a plentiful portion of very mediocre seafood jambalaya.

Reeling over my bad choices, my bracelet was running out of funds and I still hadn’t found anything I wanted to finish. My mind wandered to something Tom has often said about me; I have a knack for ordering the wrong thing. I was determined to regroup.

Cubano croquettes sounded interesting. Finally, something I wanted to have more of, though the smaller portion for $3 worked.

I passed the appealing bacon-wrapped pork tips. And the a booth with several interesting choices, including ham balls? (Yes, that was the name.) An enthusiastic customer gave me a testimonial. The balls included pimiento cheese and homemade pepper jelly.

That left me two dollars which I was happy to just leave on my bracelet, but the conveniently placed popcorn booth was a great last stop. They were happy to give me a $2 portion for the road.


Escargots Bourguignonne

This is the classic snail appetizer with garlic butter. There are more adventuresome sauces out there, and some of them are really delicious, but nothing beats having the snails sizzling in this fragrant butter, except perhaps having a loaf of hot French bread to dip into the sauce.

During my broadcast from Gallier Hall every Mardi Gras, Archbishop Amann visits with us for a few minutes. I always ask about the rules for Lenten eating, especially as it regards unusual foodstuffs as alligator, turtles soup, and snails. The Archbishop says that we are allowed to treat escargots as seafood, even when the snails live above ground. So now we know.


  • 24 snails, from France
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 3 Tbs. freshly-chopped garlic
  • 2 Tbs. freshly-chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbs. Herbsaint or Pernod liqueur
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice, strained
  • A pinch of white pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

1. Take the snails out of the can and rinse off the liquid in which they were packed. Divide the snails among four small ovenproof dishes. (If you have those six-pocket snail dishes, put one snail in each pocket.)

2. Combine (at room temperature) all the other ingredients and mix well. Divide among the four baking dishes, right over the snails.

3. Put the dishes into the oven on the top shelf and bake for eight to ten minutes, until the sauce is bubbling. Also warm the French bread while this is going on.

Serve immediately with French bread and, if you like, a chilled Chablis.

Serves four.

AlmanacSquare March 29, 2017

Upcoming Deliciousness
French Quarter Festival–April 12-15
Easter —April 1
Jazz Festival–April 27>–/h5>

Today’s Flavor

This is Wild Rice Week. Wild rice is indeed wild, but it’s not really rice. Although it is now being cultivated, the plant is exactly as the Native Americans found it for centuries in the bogs in Minnesota. The long distance of its relation to true rice is obvious when you eat it. It has a nutty flavor more like that of oats or barley than rice. But, really, it has a taste all its own. It’s most often served with game, and for decades any restaurant that served duck served wild rice with it. More often than not, wild rice in a restaurant is combined with regular rice, for the usual reason: wild rice is very expensive. It cooks quickly–just twenty minutes or so in a steamer.

Today is alleged by some sources to be National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day. Chiffon cakes are an American invention, and get their spongy, light consistency by incorporating beaten egg whites into the batter. Yawn.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Celeryville, Ohio is in the north-central part of the state, on the south side of Willard, in a large area of farms, mostly growing corn. However, they historically did grow a good deal of celery in the area, hence the name. The popular restaurant is the 224 Varsity Club, with a menu ranging from steaks to pizza, and a sports bar.

Science In Food

Biologist Charles Elton was born today in 1900. He was the first to use the term food chain, describing the deep interdependent relationships among plants and animals in nature, and how critical those relationships are to all living things. He thought of it as an energy flow, with plants taking up energy from the sun to produce food for herbivores which are then food for carnivores (to oversimplify the food chain a great deal).

Edible Dictionary

crookneck squash, n.–The most common of the summer squashes gets its name from its odd but nearly universal seventy-five-degree bend in the narrow stem end. It’s yellow with a tinge of orange, and usually has little bumps all over. The entire vegetable is edible; there’s no need to peel or seed them. You want them to be firm but not rock-hard. Soft squashes are over the hill. The best way to cook them is with steam. A little garlic-and-herb butter helps them taste like something.

Deft Dining Rule #233:

Dishes with colorful names are divided into two categories: the delicious and the terrible. There is no in-between. The very fact that it has an unusual name means the dish makes a big flavor statement.

Food At War

On this day in 1943–right in the middle of World War II–meat, cheese, and butter began to be rationed in the United States. The weekly ration for meat per person was 28 ounces. That was more of a hardship then than it would be now, because the American diet then was more meat-based. A large percentage of the American public now eats far less than 28 ounces of meat a week, by choice. Seafood eaters fared well during rationing. Fish and shellfish never were rationed, even though they were in shorter supply.

Roots Of Creole Cooking

Adrien de Pauger landed at what would become New Orleans on this date in 1721. He laid out the original street plan of the French Quarter. For his efforts he has a street named after him in the Marigny. A curiosity of a rough layout of his drawing is a note pointing to the block of Royal between Conti and St. Louis Streets. It says, “Good but expensive breakfast joint here.”

Annals Of Soft Drinks

Today in 1886 druggist John S. Pemberton began advertising a new brain tonic and intellectual beverage (as he called it), made from kola nuts and containing a cocaine precursor. He named it Coca-Cola. He did not make much money with it, because before the stuff hit really big, Pemberton sold the formula to Asa Candler, who was the marketing genius.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

If you add Coca-Cola or anything like it to a recipe, you may be doing so just so you can say, “Oh, yes, I make my ham glaze with root beer.”

Music To Eat With Your Man By

Today in 1918, actress and blues singer Pearl Bailey was born. “I don’t like to say that my kitchen is a religious place,” she said, “but I would say that if I were a voodoo priestess, I would conduct my rituals there.” Pearly Mae was a frequent performer at the Blue Room of the old Fairmont Hotel here. In her honor the hotel named its twenty-four-hour restaurant after her. The restaurant outlived its namesake by a few years, but ultimately closed. After the Waldorf-Astoria arm of Hilton took over the old Fairmont and re-renamed it The Roosevelt, the space where Bailey’s once was was turned over to Chef John Besh, who installed his Italian restaurant Domenica there.

Words To Eat By

“Food history is as important as a baroque church. Governments should recognize cultural heritage and protect traditional foods. A cheese is as worthy of preserving as a sixteenth-century building.”–Carlo Petrini, the founder of the Slow Food Movement.

Words To Drink By

“Popularity, I have always thought, may aptly be compared to a coquette—the more you woo her, the more apt is she to elude your embrace.”–John Tyler, tenth U.S. President, born today in 1790.


Kebabs Are Everywhere, From Anywhere.

I once knew about a restaurant whose menu was half Mexican and half Greek. It was no better than this sounds.

Click here for the cartoon.

Gratin Of Crawfish Tails

Gratin Of Crawfish Tails

Hogs For The Cause 2018.


Escargots Bourguignonne

This is the classic snail appetizer with garlic butter. There are more adventuresome sauces out there, and some of them are really delicious, but nothing beats having the snails sizzling in this fragrant butter, except perhaps having a loaf of hot French bread to dip into the sauce.

During my broadcast from Gallier Hall every Mardi Gras, Archbishop Amann visits with us for a few minutes. I always ask about the rules for Lenten eating, especially as it regards unusual foodstuffs as alligator, turtles soup, and snails. The Archbishop says that we are allowed to treat escargots as seafood, even when the snails live above ground. So now we know.


  • 24 snails, from France
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 3 Tbs. freshly-chopped garlic
  • 2 Tbs. freshly-chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbs. Herbsaint or Pernod liqueur
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice, strained
  • A pinch of white pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

1. Take the snails out of the can and rinse off the liquid in which they were packed. Divide the snails among four small ovenproof dishes. (If you have those six-pocket snail dishes, put one snail in each pocket.)

2. Combine (at room temperature) all the other ingredients and mix well. Divide among the four baking dishes, right over the snails.

3. Put the dishes into the oven on the top shelf and bake for eight to ten minutes, until the sauce is bubbling. Also warm the French bread while this is going on.

Serve immediately with French bread and, if you like, a chilled Chablis.

Serves four.

Two Tonys And Two Sinatras.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Friday, March 23, 2018. Two Tonys, And Many Others. After a little driving around aimlessly, I satisfy an urge to have dinner at Two Tonys. There’s something about the family-style Italian restaurant that appeals to my appetite. I’m not the only one with this hunger, and the restaurant is nearly full. I am consigned to the nether reaches of the dining room, but that doesn’t seem to bother me.

The menu at Two Tony’s covers a lot of territory, and trying to decide what to eat is time-consuming. I wind up getting an appetizer of fried calamari and manicotti, with a house salad in between.

This is the first time I’ve has fried squid in quite awhile. I think about that and decide that this is not my action or inaction, but the disappearance of calamari from most Italian menus. Whatever the motivation, I wind up with a very large pile of fried spiders. (That’s what a long-ago girlfriend used to call squid.) I couldn’t come close to finishing it off, but not because of a lack of edibility. There was just too much for one person.

Owner Tony Montalbano spies me during the middle of the manicotti, and offers an unusual alternative. “If I had known you were here, I would have offered you something a little more sexy,” he says. The reference, of course, is to Two Tony’s large selection of dishes made with veal or or seafood or chicken and a number of appealing sauces. What I have in the manicotti is essentially an Italian enchilada, with red sauce and a couple of cheeses. It has been a long time since my last manicotti. It’s an item seems like an antique, and it seemed right at the moment.

Saturday, March 24, 2018. The Sinatra Guy. No Change @ Domenica. Mary Ann wants to attend the concert at the Orpheum Theater tonight. The main attraction is. . . Frank Sinatra. Or as close as we will get anymore to Old Blue-Eyes. Steve Lippia is one of many singers these days putting forth imitations. As a Sinatra copycat myself, owning as I do some fifty or Sinatra sixty albums, I am intrigued. For about two minutes, the two of us agree that this guy has captured almost every nuance of the real Voice. He is backed up both by the LPO and a very substantial big band as he puts forth a two-hour show.

Lippia lives mostly in Las Vegas, where he has a lot of steady work at this endeavor. He has an interesting and effective way to perform. He tells his own story, not Sinatra’s, even as he sings exactly like Sinatra. I like that idea, because even if a singer nails the Sinatra sound perfectly, he’s still an imitator, and there’s something false about that.

Mary Ann doesn’t express these exact thoughts, but for someone who is not especially wild about Great American Songbook–particularly when I am the singer in the shower–she loves this performance. The guy on the stage is really terrific.

We are now up to about a dozen LPO events a year, and we have developed a post-concert eating regimen. It is almost always in Domenica, John Besh’s Italian pizzeria and Italian trattoria. The menu seems to be the same as in past visits there, even though Alon Shaya has moved on. Since I don’t know much about the issues between Shaya and Besh (and, frankly, I don’t want to know any more), I will drop the subject. We have a pizza and a spicy plate of Calabresi pasta. It’s already pretty late, and we head for home.

Domenica. CBD: 123 Baronne (Roosevelt Hotel). 504-648-6020.

Muse’s Eggplant with Seafood (Eggplant Vatican)

Diary 3/21/2018. Loud Shouts @ Briquette.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Tuesday, March 21, 2018. Briquette Again, Screaming. I dine for the third time at Briquette, one of the newest restaurants in the rapidly growing Warehouse District. It’s operated by A. J. Tusa, who has several restaurants in the area of the Convention Center. Briquette is certainly the best of Tusa’s restaurants, with a handsome dining room and an interesting menu of Creolisms.

Two aspects of Briquette stand out. The chef spent a few years working with Gerard Crozier, who was one of the best French chefs in the history of New Orleans dining. Crozier was one of those rare cooks who seemed to have a genuine touch of magic in his cooking. Every time I asked him for a recipe, he was generous with the formulae, even letting me watch through the process. But for some reason the recipes never came out quite like they did when Gerard was doing the cooking.

The other impressive side of Briquette is that on any given night they’ll have a half-dozen or more whole finfish available. Several of these are sold as whole fish. Of these they not only have a selection of species, but enough specific specimen to make the place come across like a really good-looking fish market.

I begin with the kind of orange, thick soups the restaurants around town have thrown at us a lot lately. I welcome this in wintertime. Tonight’s soup is made of tomatoes and fennel. The featured whole fish was swordfish, which I am always ready to sample.

In the middle of all this an alarm went off with a screaming but cartoonish effect. It was the kind of alert that make you wonder whether to bolt for the door–but you don’t, because if it’s a false alarm, someone might accuse you from running out on the check.

But then you see that the staff is trying to turn this thing off, but neither succeeding nor chasing after anyone. Finally, the chef emerges from the back rooms. He steps up to the yelling unit, and immediately quells its attack upon your eardrums. If you ever need to have a problem checked in a restaurant, ask for the chef. He or she is likely to be the only one who really knows what’s going on.

The swordfish is delicious, as it always has been during the past couple of years. I get no discount or coupon for having put up with the painful alarm (it broadcast its problems for at least three minutes) and continue running up a $75 pre-tip bill.

Somewhat irregular happening like this keep Briquette in the semi-amateur state, through which most restaurants pass when they’re new. When they get things together, this will be a good place for visitors to New Orleans will find some good Creole eating before or after their meetings and expositions.

Briquette. CBD: 701 S Peters St. 504 302-7496.

Asparagus and Crawfish with Glazed Hollandaise

Asparagus and Crawfish with Glazed Hollandaise

March 26 In Eating

Diary: The Chef’s Soiree Dodges The Rain, Feeds Us Well.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Sunday, March 18, 2018. Chef’s Soiree Is Beautiful. It rained yesterday, and the forecast was for rain again this afternoon. At the time, in the place, and in the intensity to take a lot of the pleasure out of the Chef’s Soiree, the most important culinary event on the North Shore all year long. Even though the Soiree will go rain or shine, and many large tents were set up, the weather was heading right at us an hour before the gates would open.

But then we get lucky. A rainless slot between two large lobes of precip lets the sun come out. The gates open up, and a block-long, twenty-people-wide blue sky and sunshine showing on the radar. Within five or ten minutes, we were all smiling and on our way to our favorite chefs’ portable kitchens.

Chef’s Soiree.

In a phenomenon that recurs every year, everybody headed straight for Pat Gallagher’s stand. Pat has been at the Soiree since it was founded 33 years ago. And his reputation–even as he moved from restaurant to restaurant over the years–is that he cooks the best food on the North Shore. So his lines are always long, from his steaks to his miraculous soup, until he sells everything he has. Which is a lot of food.

The main goal of the Soiree is to raise funds for several organizations that help young people in trouble from an assortment of family and lack-of-family situations. However, I am the guy who eats the food surpluses generated when Mary Ann takes took too much of something. I also carry plates of food that MA can’t seem to get enough of. Speaking to other friends here, these functions are handled widely by other husbands. It’s a lot of fun, and potentially a very large meal.

Perhaps that’s how the Soiree became so popular. There’s a great deal of food, most of which involves beautiful shrimp (we’re in the middle of the season), rice (with interesting admixtures), pasta, and sauces. The wines are on the light side, and the spirits are made into a variety of cocktails. A Mustang will be raffled off. Persistent bands play throughout the event. You run into lots of people you know. The promise of the previous sentences is fulfilled by two people–Denise and Michael Wagner, who have performed at the Soiree since its first iteration, and who also organize the choir that I sing with every week. (This is, of course, another example of my thesis that only 500 people live in the New Orleans area.)

The Soiree keeps going for two hours, even when a somewhat foreboding cloud formed over the gathering. The food and drinks seem to be endless. Every ticket available was sold, everybody is deliciously stuffed, and the Youth Service Bureau will be able to keep and expand its many programs for people who need them.

Honey Lamb en Brochette

Strawberry Shortcakes

The Road To Jacmel Inn.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2018. The Road To Jacmel Inn. Mary Ann has been interested lately in dining along the I-55 corridor between Laplace and Hammond. Secifically, she was thinking about Middendorf’s in Manchac and Jacmel Inn in Hammond. She might also have had Baton Rouge on her mind. MA doesn’t hesitate to drive that far and beyond if she’s in the mood. I used to take drives like that myself, but it would seem anathema now.

We checked off Middendorf’s a couple of weeks ago. Tonight Jacmel enters the picture. MA and co-owner and Paul Murphy share numerous ideas. And she likes the restaurant, its menu, and the staff. Her favorite part of Jacmel is that it has a substantial ourdoor dining area. Although it’s too rainy and chilly to dine out there tonight, she likes the idea of the place.

We certainly did some damage to the food. MA liked the look of the house-made hogshead cheese. That was part of a charcuterie board, which also includes chicken-liver pâté, and a country-style pâté. MA loves all that sort of thing, and so do I.

But she has a stronger love for crab cakes. She waxes axiomatic when she tell what kind of crab cake is the best. Namely, the kind with the big crabmeat lumps and a thin crust, all being held together by a round of pan browning with a bread-crumb exterior, as opposed to the usual crab stuffing that gets all its cooking from being deep-fried.

The cavalcade of dishes include the crab cakes, then sweet potato gnocchi, and a clear soup with collards and ham. Perfect on a cold night.

The dominant note in my order is a thick pork chop with a crusty, spicy exterior. That is good and tender, but the best item in front of me is agnolotti–tiny stuffed pasta, like miniature ravioli, stuffed with a light cheese and wild mushrooms. This is not only delicious but very subtle and elegant.

This is already too much food, and we tone down the rest of the dinner. Paul showed off a few wines he like these days, giving me more wine that I could really accommodate.

On the way home, one of us remember the time early in our romance in which I left my credict card at Jacmel. Now I can’t go there without worrying about doing it again. I still say MA is going a little overboard about that.

Jacmel Inn. Hammond: 903 E Morris. 985-542-0043.

A Taste Of La Petite Grocery.

Friday, March 16, 2018. La Petite Grocery. Nobody is available for dinner with me tonight, and attending a St. Patrick’s parade somehow fails to attract me. So I found myself rolling down Magazine Street, with twilight still bright enough that I can get a view of the ever-overloaded Magazine parking problem. And there I see La Petite Grocery.

The Grocery is descended from the old Von De Haar grocery, which in its day (the 1940s through the 1970s) was the place where gourmet cooks would visit for its excellent comestibles. In th 1990s, a group of restaurateurs bought it and turned it into one of the best gourmet bistros, with some heritage from the by-then-extinct Peristyle restaurant. The modern end of this story has Chef Justin Devillier–who had come more or less with the Peristyle group. He took over the kitchen in 2007, when he bought the restaurant, insuring a bright future.

I have long considered a five-fleur rating for the grocery, but it’s never quite that. My main problem with the place is the loudness of the dinng room. This makes it a good restaurant for dining solo, but trying to keep a conversation going without raising your voice–which makes things worse–is difficult.

The food however, has been consistently good. The French character of the menu has me starting with an absinthe cocktail (the Grocery was one of the first New Orleans restaurants to return absynthe to its bar). From there I dine like a Millennial person, starting and sometimes ending with finishing that way too. The steak tartare is one such dish; it is also very welcome these days, in which the dish is really, really rare in both senses of the word.

I didn’t have the tartare today, but I was interested in a dish involving the wedge-like flatiron steak. It was another encounter with the too-chewy steaks so many restaurant have put before me, although the flavor–which reminds me a little of liver–was enjoyable. On the otherhamd, I was disappointed by the once-superb fresh-cut fries.

The restaurant was busy (it almost always is), and to accommodate myself I too a seat in the bar. The two women operating that zone were very knowledgeable about the restaurants wine stock. I asked for something offbeat (a big Italian wine by the glass, and she offered many good options.

These staffers were very busy all night long, and it was a long wait before the second of my two courses emerged from the kitchen. Frankly, I’ve had better meals at Chef Justin’s other restaurant, Balise the CBD. I’ll get MA to come with me next time and we’ll see whether all of the above is a fluke.

La Petite Grocery. Uptown: 4238 Magazine. 504-891-3377.

Juiced, Peppered And Blasted Hanger Steak

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