DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Monday, September 12, 2016.
Buster’s. We Pass The Audition.

I often make it clear that the best roast beef poor boys come from restaurants (or bars) that cook the beef and make the gravy in house. That seems like a solid premise. But things are changing, as more and more of what used to be cooked-in-house food is being cooked at big commissaries, whose bags are slit open at the restaurant, the contents rewarmed, and it’s just put out here. Chef Warren LeRuth, who had a strong opinion against that procedure, accused commissary-based kitchens as being retail stores taking a restaurant markup on everything.

I generally go along with this idea. But today I had a roast beef from Buster’s in Covington. It’s in the space that once was the Acme Oyster House in Covington before the hurricane. I wasn’t wild about it at first, but I’ve been a few times lately and found a much improved restaurant. A couple of weeks ago I had a plate of excellent red beans with hot sausage. About a month earlier, I had the same dish, with the same result. So there’s consistency.

Today I get a roast beef poor boy. I didn’t ask anybody, but my guess is that the beef and gravy were prepared elsewhere. A texture thing, mostly. Too much gravy, but almost every shop makes that mistake. The sandwich was overstuffed and needed to be eaten with a fork and knife, which made me feel stupid. But still, I can’t say it was bad. I even took half of it home and had it a couple of days later. I don’t like leftovers, so this is really saying something.

You will experience much more of this as time goes by. But it’s still better than fast food. Only one Buster’s.

I perform the radio show, then immediately race to NPAS’s rehearsal spot. I meet up with Mike and Paula, who will audition with me in the performance of “Tumbling Tumbleweeds.” We deliver our well-rehearsed cowboy song, and Alissa Rowe, our conductor, makes only a couple of small changes in it. We will be in the show in October! Yip-ee-yi-oh!

Buster’s Place. Covington: 519 E Boston. 985-809-3880.

CremeDeLaCremeSquareEscaping The Noise. : One of the dirty secrets of the restaurant business is the real reason why restaurant dining rooms are so acoustically lively. The truth is that it’s hard to hear the people sharing your table, and be heard by them on purpose. Restaurant patrons who have to shout to be heard will leave the restaurant sooner than those who can talk at conversational volumes. Then the restaurant can recycle those tables to a new bunch of customers. Although the restaurant owners and managers may not be aware that this is what they’re doing, they have felt the everlasting vogue set by other restaurants. And so it is that the most often-used sentence in restaurants is “What?”

Here is a list of restaurants where the ambient sound is tolerable. I have ranked them according to a mix of pleasant background noise and the food and service the place accords. The dozen best of these lead the list. Another thirty-eight are selected by the same criteria, but they are listed in alphabetical order. I have left comments about some of the most interesting low-volume eateries.

Two more things. A lot of restaurants are quiet at times, and noisy at others. This has to do almost entirely with the number of people in the place and the time of day. Galatoire’s, for example, is intolerably noisy during lunch on Friday, but easy to talk and hear in at Sunday dinner. I will show these with a “Quiet Hours” note.

Thing Number Two: Any list of fifty best New Orleans restaurants by any criteria will be a list of very good restaurants. The ones near the bottom of this list are all excellent places to dine.

As always, I welcome suggestions of restaurants that ought to be included on this list–or left out.

1. FleurDeLis-5-ForLists Commander’s Palace. Uptown 1: Garden District & Environs: 1403 Washington Ave. 504-899-8221. The upstairs Garden Room is much louder than the main dining room downstairs. So where do most diners go? Downstairs.

2. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Clancy’s. Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 6100 Annunciation. 504-895-1111. The king of the 1980s Creole bistros, Clancy’s has small spaces, lots of glass, and a noisy bar. So don’t sit in the bar.

3. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Brennan’s. French Quarter: 417 Royal. 504-525-9711. As big a restaurant as the newly-restored Brennan’s is, most of the rooms are on the small side, and the windows and furnishings prevent noisiness.

4. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Dakota. Covington: 629 N US 190. 985-892-3712. When it’s full, the main dining room can be quite loud. But it usually isn’t, so it’s good.

5. FleurDeLis-5-ForLists La Provence. Lacombe: 25020 US 190. 985-626-7662. Big, beautiful, windowed, out in the country. . . perfect place to linger over a big dinner.

6. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Brigtsen’s. Uptown 4: Riverbend, Carrollton & Broadmoor: 723 Dante. 504-861-7610. High ceilings, doors and windows make Frank and Marna’s place look bigger than it is. Also intimate and usually quiet. But some nights, it can get a bit louder.

7. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Café B. Metairie 1: Old Metairie: 2700 Metairie Road. 504-934-4700. Having the tables scattered around the whole space keeps it quiet.

7. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Cafe Lynn. Mandeville: 2600 Florida St. 985-624-9007. Tables spaced well apart, with nobody kicking up a ruckus.

8. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists R’evolution. French Quarter: 777 Bienville (in the Royal Sonesta Hotel). 504-553-2277. Big, beautiful place with many handsome rooms. Never a problem talking here.

9. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Pascal’s Manale. Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 1838 Napoleon Ave. 504-895-4877.

10. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Carrollton Market. Riverbend: 8132 Hampson St. 504-252-9928. Small restaurant, small noise.

11. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Muriel’s. French Quarter: 801 Chartres. 504-568-1885. It’s either the brick wall is the magic of the resident ghost that make this a good spot for a dinner a deux.

12. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Apolline. Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 4729 Magazine St. 504-894-8881.

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Annadele Plantation. Covington: 71518 Chestnut St. 985-809-7669. In a 1850s building, it’s hard for noise to get a toehold. Beautiful place.

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Annunciation. Warehouse District & Center City: 1016 Annunciation. 504-568-0245. All the dining spaces are small, and this alone brings the noise down.

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Antoine’s. French Quarter: 713 St Louis. 504-581-4422. The tall ceilings covered with sound-unreflective mementos. Keep it down–unless it’s a private dinner for a hundred. Which can’t help but be noisy.

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Balise. CBD: 640 Carondelet St. 504-459-4449.

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Bistro Orleans. Metairie 2: Orleans Line To Houma Blvd: 3216 West Esplanade Ave. 504-304-1469.

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Bosco’s. Mandeville: 2040 La Hwy 59. 985-624-5066. Concrete floors ought to make it loud in here, but they don’t.

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Broussard’s. French Quarter: 819 Conti. 504-581-3866. The main dining room is very large, and when it fills, it gets loud. Best dining room–the one past the bar on the courtyard.

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Cafe Adelaide. CBD: 300 Poydras St. 504-595-3305. A big restaurant

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Chophouse. CBD: 322 Magazine St. 504-522-7902. The original home of the Bon Ton Cafe has brick walls and big windows, both of which keep the sound down. The greatest danger is from the musicians who are here most of the time. Depends of the repertoire.

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Coquette. Uptown 1: Garden District & Environs: 2800 Magazine St. 504-265-0421. Brick walls, high ceilings, much glass tones the dBs down.

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Court of Two Sisters. French Quarter: 613 Royal. 504-522-7273. The main dining room is outdoors. Have you ever been in courtyard with too lunch noise ?

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Cypress. Metairie 3: Houma Blvd To Kenner Line: 4426 Transcontinental. 504-885-6885. The rooms are small and reached through a mini-maze of hallways.

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Delmonico. Uptown 1: Garden District & Environs: 1300 St Charles Ave. 504-525-4937. The bar can get loud, especially when the piano gets going.

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Desi Vega’s. CBD: 628 St Charles Ave. 504-523-7600. The expansive dining room with its many windows make it less noisy than its brother restaurant Mr. John’s Steakhouse.

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Fausto’s. Metairie 2: Orleans Line To Houma Blvd: 530 Veterans Blvd. 504-833-7121. Even when it’s full, it’s not too loud. Smaller than it looks is why.

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Flaming Torch. Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 737 Octavia. 504-895-0900.

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Kenton’s. Uptown 2: Washington To Napoleon: 5757 Magazine St. 504-891-1177. The dining rooms and outdoor tables are well srranged.

. FleurDeLis-5-ForLists La Petite Grocery. Uptown 2: Washington To Napoleon: 4238 Magazine. 504-891-3377. A peculuiarity. It’s always full, but some night’s it’s good for talking. On others, it’s seriously loud. Best luck is had in the corners.

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Lakehouse. Mandeville: 2025 Lakeshore Dr. 985-626-3006. 1840 mansion overlooking Lake Pontchartrain. Outdoor tables are the best.

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Mais Arepas. Warehouse District & Center City: 1200 Carondelet St. 504-523-6247.

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists MeMe’s. St. Bernard Parish: 712 W. Judge Perez Dr. 504-644-4992.

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Mosca’s. Westwego: 4137 US 90. 504-436-9942. The bar is always louder than the dining rooms, because it fills up faster.

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar & Fish Grill. French Quarter: 1327 St. Charles Ave. 504-267-016.

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Namese. Mid-City: 4077 Tulane Ave. 504-483-8899.

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Nuvolari’s. Mandeville: 246 Girod St. 985-626-5619.

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists O’Brien’s Grille. Gretna: 2020 Belle Chasse Hwy. 504-391-7229.

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Peppermill. Metairie 2: Orleans Line To Houma Blvd: 3524 Severn Ave. 504-455-2266.

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Rib Room. French Quarter: 621 St Louis St. 504-529-7045.

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Steak Knife. Lakeview: 888 Harrison Ave. 504-488-8981. I haven’t seen this excellent Lakeview steakhouse full in a long time, but even when it’s busy it’s good for catching up with friends.

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Tomas Bistro. Warehouse District & Center City: 755 Tchoupitoulas. 504-527-0942. Beautiful French-Creole cafe, with thick brick walls and waving wall coverings.

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Tony Angello’s. Lakeview: 6262 Fleur de Lis Dr. 504-488-0888. I guess that the small number of tables per square food explains the quietude.

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Tony Mandina’s. Gretna: 1915 Pratt. 504-362-2010.

. FleurDeLis-4-ForLists Trenasse. CBD: 444 St Charles Ave. 504-680-7000. A long dining room spreads the sound out.

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Water Street Bistro. Madisonville: 804 Water. 985-845-3855. Except at Sunday brunch, not usually full enough to blow out your eardrums.

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Windsor Court Grill Room. CBD: 300 Gravier. 504-522-1994.

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Zea. Kenner: 1325 West Esplanade Ave. 504-468-7733. I’ve never liked the music here, but the rest of the sound is kept under control.

. FleurDeLis-3-ForLists Zea. Slidell: 173 Northshore Blvd. 985-273-0500.

RecipeSquare-150x150

Slow-Cooked Chuck Roast

What could be more home-style than this? An inexpensive cut of beef, cooked until it practically falls apart in an insanely flavorful gravy. Here’s the way I make this at our house. Everybody loves it.

Chuck steak, ready for a long simmer.

  • 1 chuck roast, about four or five pounds
  • 2 Tbs. black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, cut up
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Top two inches of one bunch of celery
  • 3 large carrots, cut up
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. marjoram
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 Tbs. flour

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

1. Coat the chuck roast with salt and pepper generously on both sides. Heat the oil in a heavy Dutch oven or deep skillet, and brown the chuck over medium-high heat on both sides, until well browned.

2. Remove the beef and hold aside. Add the onions and garlic, and continue cooking until the onions are soft and browned at the edges. Add the celery, carrots, thyme, marjoram, Worcestershire, and wine, and bring to a boil. After one minute, add three cups of water (or beef stock if you have it). Whisk in the flour.

3. Return the chuck to the pot. Spoon some of the pan contents on top of the meat, and cover the pot. Put it into the oven at 325 degrees and cook for two and a half hours, or until the meat falls apart when touched with a fork.

4. Remove the pot from the oven. Uncover and allow to cool. Serve with boiled carrots and potatoes, cooked separately.

Serves six to eight.

500BestSquareClaypot Curried Catfish With Glass Noodles @ Kim Son

DishStars-4
This city’s longest-running Vietnamese restaurant has a number of dishes not often seen even in other Vietnamese places. This is one of them: a covered earthenware pot baked in the oven with a brothy sauce made with Thai-style red curry and a horseshoe-shaped steak of catfish. (It may well be Vietnamese catfish, which is something I usually avoid for trade reasons. But in a Vietnamese restaurant, it seems right.) Noodles fill out the bowl, but it remains almost as much a soup as anything else. The same fish, more or less, is made with chicken. Both versions are almost laughably cheap, yet leave a lasting impression.

Kim Son. Gretna: 349 Whitney Ave. 504-366-2489.

This is among the 500 best dishes in New Orleans area restaurants. Click here for a list of the other 499.

AlmanacSquare September 16, 2016

Days Until. . .

Summer ends 6

Food Calendar

This is National Wild Rice Day. Wild rice is only distantly related to true rice. The important food varieties are native to northern North America. It’s the state grain of Minnesota, which grows more of it than any other state. It was historically the preserve of Native Americans, who still do most of the growing and collecting. Wild rice is not always wild anymore; after decades of trying, methods of raising it in paddies are now in use.

wildriceWild rice has a distinctive, nutty taste, with little starch. It’s traditionally served with fall dishes like duck and game. Because it’s expensive to grow and harvest, wild rice is only rarely served pure. It’s usually with true white or brown rice. The flavor and texture makes white rice much more interesting, and probably better than either the rice alone. Having the white rice in there also makes wild rice easier to eat. Wild rice won’t stay on a fork.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

Wild rice almost always needs to be washed before you cook it. Just let it soak in a bowl of water for a few minutes, and stir it to loosen the little particles of chaff. Drain, then start with new water.

Deft Dining Rule #869

The higher the percentage of wild rice in the rice pilaf, the better the restaurant.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Goose Lake is about as far east as you can go in Iowa, seven miles from the state line at the Mississippi River. It’s closer to Chicago (156 miles) than it is to Des Moines (201). It’s a fair-sized farming town of 235 people, surrounding by rolling fields of corn and soybeans to the horizon in all directions. The actual lake for which the town is named is a mile west, and is so shallow that it dries up completely in droughts. It’s more of a marsh than a lake. But this is what geese love, so it’s well-named. O’Brien’s Pizza And Millennium Grill is the place to eat, right in the center of town.

Annals Of Getting There

General Motors was founded today in 1908 by William C. Durant. It makes me wonder what the restaurant world would be like without automobiles. They would certainly be more concentrated geographically. Restaurants of the 1800s in New Orleans were almost all in the French Quarter or along the main rail lines (such as St. Charles Avenue). To travel far required a horse. The drive-thru wouldn’t exist, nor would most fast-food places. Doesn’t sound so bad, really.

Food On The Air

Today in 1993, the sitcom Frasier premiered on NBC. The main character was a pompous radio psychiatrist played by Kelsey Grammer, who created the role on Cheers. In the series, Frasier and his brother Niles were portrayed as gourmets and oenophiles–or, to be more accurate, food and wine snobs. In one episode, they decided that Frasier’s producer was mentally ill because she ordered a white Zinfandel. Also in the series was a foppish restaurant critic whose radio show came on before Frasier’s. Why are my kind always portrayed as fey jerks? What? Oh.

Edible Dictionary

Bermuda onion, n.–A good bit on controversy surrounds the Bermuda onion, but most would agree that it’s a mild, rather sweet, pale yellow onion, as big around as a standard yellow onion but flattened, like a Christmas tree ornament, at the top and bottom. They originally came from Bermuda, and from the Canary Islands before that. They took hold in this country as a result of large plantings in Texas. Those were the forerunners of Vidalia and Maui onions. Because of their sweetness, Bermuda onions are often served with lox and bagels. Sometimes, however, red or purple onions are used for that. As a result, it’s widely thought that a Bermuda onion is a red onion. Not technically, it isn’t.

Food Namesakes

Pro football player Todd Weiner kicked off his life today in 1975. . . Basketball pro Ron Brewer had his Big Tipoff today in 1955. . . Bilinda Butcher sings and plays guitar for the British band My Bloody Valentine. She was born today in 1961. . . Film director and writer Jules Bass was landed into the world today in 1935. . . French composer Nadia Boulanger (her last name means “baker” (came out of the oven today in 1887.

Words To Eat By

vitamina“A vitamin is a substance that makes you ill if you don’t eat it.”–Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, the Hungarian scientist who isolated Vitamin C and discovered many of its benefits. He was born today in 1893.

Words To Drink By

“Work is the curse of the drinking classes.”–Oscar Wilde.

FoodFunniesSquare

The Latest On Chocolate And Coffee.

This supersedes the results of the last study before this, but not the one before that.

Click here for the cartoon.

#####################################

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Saturday, September 10, 2019.
Tumbling.

My life resumes its oneliness as the sun rises in the east over Lake Pontchartrain. Mary Ann barely made her five-thirty flight to Los Angeles, and then only after begging the airline to accept her her highly miscellaneous standby documents. I don’t know how she does it, or why I’m the one with the hypertension instead of her.

When I arrive home I take a two-hour nap. I meet with Paul and Mike, two fellow singers from NPAS, to rehearse “Tumbling Tumbleweeds.” Our audition before Alissa the conductor is this Monday. I’m still having trouble with the last two notes, but I’m improving.

Beginning this week, my Saturday show on WWL Radio moves to middays, where it was during most of the years since Katrina. This will make for fewer pre-emptions for my show during the LSU football season. But fewer is not all. My show ends not at three, but at two p.m. Next week we go only until one.

I take another nap (I have been up since four this morning). I have dinner at Thai Chili.The lady running the dining room by herself is very friendly. When I ask if she will change the channel omn the television from a boxing match to anything else, she gives me Fox News. I guess that’s a little better than a fracas of fisticuffs.

Another friendly face appears in the dining room. It’s Vicki Bayley. Every time I see her anywhere, the same thing happens: She is so beautiful that for a moment I don’t recognize her. Vicki’s amazing career includes several years as general manager of the Fair Grounds, opening Mike’s On The Avenue not once but twice, renovating and opening Artesia in Abita Springs, where John Besh first became famous. She’s also a mommy.

She tells me how fabulous I look. This weight loss of mine is getting more such comments than I’ve ever heard in my entire life. I know I’m not that good looking. Then a friend tipped me off to something I should have known: when a woman compliments a man, it is likely that she is shopping for nice words about herself. Still nice to hear, though.

Vicki, who is a good friend of Mary Ann, finds the Wedding Non-Day Massacree story fascinating. How did she know about it? I can’t tell it fast enough. Everybody seems to know already.

Lately Vicki has been working on a private-dining enterprise in the Jax Brewery. I went to one of her events a few months ago, and thought that the space–with a view of the river–is very nice. She told me where Chef Mike Fennelly is. Sounds like he’s doing more visual art than cooking these days.

She came to my table a few minutes after my entree arrived. It’s pad thai, the national dish of Thailand. It is not one of my favorite Thai dishes. In fact, I’d say that the broad range of Thai-style pasta dishes are not really to my taste. The pasta was like a linguine, served in much too great a portion. The flavor of the sauce and its vegetables is very good–Thai Chili is not shy about loading up the plates with pepper.

The pad thai was strictly for research purposes. One of the drawbacks of doing what I do for a living is that I have to eat dishes other than my favorites.

Saturday, September 10, 2019.
Thai Chili, Too Much Linguini.

My life resumes its oneliness as the sun rises in the east over Lake Pontchartrain. Mary Ann barely made her five-thirty flight to Los Angeles, and then only after begging the airline to accept her her highly miscellaneous standby documents. I don’t know how she does it, or why I’m the one with the hypertension instead of her.

When I arrive home I take a two-hour nap. I meet with Paul and Mike, two fellow singers from NPAS, to rehearse “Tumbling Tumbleweeds.” Our audition before Alissa the conductor is this Monday. I’m still having trouble with the last two notes, but I’m improving.

Beginning this week, my Saturday show on WWL Radio moves to middays, where it was during most of the years since Katrina. This will make for fewer pre-emptions for my show during the LSU football season. But fewer is not all. My show ends not at three, but at two p.m. Next week we go only until one.

I take another nap (I have been up since four this morning). I have dinner at Thai Chili.The lady running the dining room by herself is very friendly. When I ask if she will change the channel omn the television from a boxing match to anything else, she gives me Fox News. I guess that’s a little better than a fracas of fisticuffs.

Another friendly face appears in the dining room. It’s Vicki Bayley. Every time I see her anywhere, the same thing happens: She is so beautiful that for a moment I don’t recognize her. Vicki’s amazing career includes several years as general manager of the Fair Grounds, opening Mike’s On The Avenue not once but twice, renovating and opening Artesia in Abita Springs, where John Besh first became famous. She’s also a mommy.

She tells me how fabulous I look. This weight loss of mine is getting more such comments than I’ve ever heard in my entire life. I know I’m not that good looking. Then a friend tipped me off to something I should have known: when a woman compliments a man, it is likely that she is shopping for nice words about herself. Still nice to hear, though.

Vicki, who is a good friend of Mary Ann, finds the Wedding Non-Day Massacree story fascinating. How did she know about it? I can’t tell it fast enough. Everybody seems to know already.

Lately Vicki has been working on a private-dining enterprise in the Jax Brewery. I went to one of her events a few months ago, and thought that the space–with a view of the river–is very nice. She told me where Chef Mike Fennelly is. Sounds like he’s doing more visual art than cooking these days.

She came to my table a few minutes after my entree arrived. It’s pad thai, the national dish of Thailand. It is not one of my favorite Thai dishes. In fact, I’d say that the broad range of Thai-style pasta dishes are not really to my taste. The pasta was like a linguine, served in much too great a portion. The flavor of the sauce and its vegetables is very good–Thai Chili is not shy about loading up the plates with pepper.

The pad thai was strictly for research purposes. One of the drawbacks of doing what I do for a living is that I have to eat dishes other than my favorites.

Sunday, September 11, 2016
A Calm But Frantic Day.

After singing at St. Jane’s, I drive over to Mattina Bella for breakfast. I am reading an article in the New Yorker by a guy who operates a restaurant so much in demand that its few tables are booked until 2020. The chef-owner makes everything he serves himself, often from very offbeat ingredients–leaves, lichens, sticks…it gets more improbable as it goes along. The restaurant charges $450 per person. Among New York goodies, this is supposed to be among the fifty best restaurants in the world. I am once again convinced that New York chefs, restaurateurs and customers are less interest in deliciousness than they are about sheer novelty. Thank goodness we only have a little of that sort of foolishness around here.

While I read about that, Vincent Riccobono of Mattina Bella tells me that he has a new approach to crab cakes for one of his poached egg dishes. It’s loaded with crabmeat, as is his blue-crab Benedict. But the new cake also has a girdle of bacon running through it. I would say that this tastes great, but the bacon does get in the way of the crabmeat flavors. This urge to add bacon to everything grows. If only most of them were as good as this.

I was hoping to work on the lawn tractor, but I have neither the time nor the tools to fix the tire that is keeping it from working. The grass is getting embarrassingly high. But between the bad tire and the rain, what can I do?

I don’t like how quiet things get at the Cool Water Ranch when MA is not around.

RecipeSquare-150x150

Tuna Salad

I see nothing in the world wrong with the idea of eating a tuna salad made with good quality canned tuna. The classic French salade Nicoise is usually made with canned tuna in France. After much trial and error, I find that by leaving out a lot of the stuff that’s usually found in tuna salad (hard-boiled eggs, for instance), you get a better-tasting dish.

cannedtuna

  • 1 rib celery, leafy section cut off, coarsely chopped
  • 4 Tbs. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1 Tbs. buttermilk (substitute with more mayo if necessary)
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • 1/4 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 1 tsp. very tiny capers
  • 1/4 tsp. Tabasco jalapeno pepper sauce
  • 1 can solid tuna packed in oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

1. Combine all the ingredients except the tuna, salt and pepper in a bowl.

2. Drain the tuna, and add it to the sauce ingredients. With a fork, stir it in without breaking it any more than necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This is better if it’s made an hour before you eat it, and stored covered in the refrigerator.

Serves two to four.

500BestSquareLamb Chops @ Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak

DishStars-4
A handful of New Orleans restaurant obtain fantastic Colorado lamb chops from a long-running New Orleans meat purveyor. It’s so good that at any of the restaurants that carry it (Commander’s, Galatoire’s, and Antoine’s, to name three) its excellence will be obvious. At Galatoire’s new steak house this lamb chop is a feature, and it stands out a bit more than it would in the more sanctified restaurants. The cook it to crusty, even when it remains medium-rare in the center. The variety of sauces–particularly Galatoire’s great bearnaise–adds the crowning touch.

Colorado lamb chops.

Colorado lamb chops.

Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak. French Quarter: 215 Bourbon St. 504-335-3932.

This is among the 500 best dishes in New Orleans area restaurants. Click here for a list of the other 499.

AlmanacSquare September 15, 2016

Days Until. . .

Summer ends 7

Gourmets Through History

wmhowardtaftToday is the birthday in 1857 of William Howard Taft, the twenty-seventh President of the United States. He weighed over 300 pounds, a record for the chief executive. Big guys were common in those days of massive eating. Banquet menus from that time make today’s wine dinners look like snacks. Taft, after he finished his term as President, became the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Turning Points In Eating

marcopoloMarco Polo was born today in 1254. The explorer from Venice traveled widely in the Far East, establishing trade with those lands. The primary commodity: spices. Marco Polo is often credited with having brought pasta to Italy from China, but pasta was already there. Still, there was once a restaurant in Gretna (in the building where Kim Son is now) named for Marco Polo. Its menu combined Chinese and Italian food. Not a big hit.

Eating Around The World

This is Independence Day for most Central American nations. Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica all broke away from Spain today in 1821. There is without question a distinctive Central American cuisine. It has two sets of roots, in Spanish cookery and in that of the native pre-Columbian populations. It’s based on the foodstuffs native to the area: corn, chile peppers, and beans.

Each Central American country has its own particular dishes, and many of them have different styles of cooking on their east and west coasts. One items found in all of the countries is the tamal–cornmeal and a little meat enclosed in a banana leaf. But even that shows big differences as you move around the isthmus.

New Orleans has never had many Central American restaurants. The most persistent was Pupuseria Divino Corazon, a Salvadoran cafe in Gretna that is no longer with us. New Salvadoran restaurants have opened since the hurricane, notably the two locations of Pupuseria Macarena. We’ve occasionally had Nicaraguan and Honduran restaurants, even very good ones. Someday we’ll support them long enough for them to become permanent.

Today’s Flavor

In honor of the independence of the five Central American nations today in 1821, this is Pan-American Tres Leches Day. In any restaurant where you find it, tres leches cake can be counted on to be the best dessert in the house. Meaning “three milks,” tres leches is made by layering a firm yellow cake with marshmallow cream, then soaking the whole thing in condensed milk, evaporated milk, and fresh milk. A good deal of variation appears in the recipes. Not all of them use the marshmallow cream. Some use fresh cream instead of one of the milks. Coconut milk also shows up in some. Crushed fruit, rum, and nuts in others. There’s some dispute about its origins, but it seems to us that Nicaragua has the best claim. Tres leches is now found in almost every Central American restaurant in the United States. With good reason: it’s wonderful.

Deft Dining Rule #2

Eat it where it lives. To paraphrase: When in El Salvador, eat pupusas.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Fishville is nineteen miles north of Alexandria, in the center of Louisiana. It’s in the Kisatchie National Forest, and has long been a casual spot for outdoor recreation in the long summers. Many swimming holes are in the area, fed by numerous creeks, all of which are running streams with fish to be caught. Fishville is old enough to have once had a French name: Poissonville. The place to eat some fish is nine miles south of Fishville in Ball: Paradise Catfish Kitchen.

Edible Dictionary

Dijon mustard, n.–Strictly speaking, this is a prepared, smooth mustard made in the city of Dijon, in Burgundy, France. It is so highly through of, however, that similar mustards (often called dijon style) are made in other places. It’s made of crushed, dark-brown mustard seeds, verjus (the unfermented juice of wine grapes), a little wine, and/or wine vinegar. It’s used in as many ways as a mustard can be, but it’s perhaps best known as the starting point for two essential sauces: mayonnaise and vinaigrette.

Annals Of Candy

Today in 1995, the tan M&M’s were replaced by blue ones, as a result of a poll of M&Ms eaters that revealed a groundswell of interest in a blue piece. Interestingly, the tan M&Ms entered the pouch to replace purple ones in the 1940s.

Music To Drink Cheap Wine By

Jimmy Gilmer was born today in 1940. He had two rock radio hits, both with food/drink titles, that appeared six years apart. The first was Sugar Shack, in 1963. The second, with a completely different sound and under the name The Fireballs, was Bottle Of Wine. It blistered the radio in 1968.

Music To Drink Cognac By

Bobby Short, perhaps the greatest male American cabaret singer in history, was born today in 1926. For decades, he played in the Cafe Carlyle in New York City, a little club that was packed with his fans every night. I’m one of them. Short had a preference for the standards, rendered in a unique, sassy, jazzy way. He accompanied himself brilliantly on the piano as he sang with enough vibrato to shake leaves off a tree. He died in 2005, but his albums are still available. I’d recommend My Personal Property.

Food Namesakes

David Stove, an Australian philosopher, was born today in 1927. . . His countryman Terry Lamb, professional rugby football player, hit the Big Field today in 1961.

Words To Eat By

“Dessert is probably the most important stage of the meal, since it will be the last thing your guests remember before they pass out all over the table.”–The Anarchist Cookbook.

Words To Drink By

“A drunk was in front of a judge. The judge says ‘You’ve been brought here for drinking.’ The drunk says ‘Okay, let’s get started.'”–Henny Youngman.

FoodFunniesSquare

The Worst New Restaurant Concept In Many Years.

And it’s already out of business.

Click here for the cartoon.