Diary 2|21, 22|2015: Checking Impastato Cellars. Mama Is 103.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Today would be the 103rd birthday anniversary for my mother. My sister Lynn finds a couple of old photographs of Mama Aline and send them to me and my other two sisters. None of us had ever seen these before. One of them captures a particularly wistful moment. A young Aline–thirty-something at the oldest–sits on the wood-board gallery of a camp at Little Woods, waving at somebody. Was it us? Our extended family (the Gremillions, not the Fitzmorrises) often rented a camp for a week or two. We could go swimming in Lake Pontchartrain then, and the water was so clear that you could watch crabs traveling in their unique sideways motility along the two-feet-deep bottom. Uncles, aunts and cousins often shared a camp. Those were halcyon times. Many other camps are visible. Back then, they ran cheek by jowl along the lakefront from the Lakefront Airport all the way past the end of Hayne Boulevard at Paris Road. More to come. . .

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Fury’s. Metairie: 724 Martin Behrman Ave. 504-834-5646.

#26 Among The 33 Best Seafood Eateries

Some restaurants are time machines. They show us what it was like to eat dine out in the days before everything was artisan this or that. When if you didn’t live in the neighborhood, you wouldn’t even know about the existence of that restaurant’s neighborhood cafe, and they wouldn’t know you. Where nearly all the customers are regulars. And–best of all–how the kitchen cooks the way it did before restaurants could buy everything pre-cut, pre-seasoned, and maybe even pre-cooked. Not to mention probably frozen. Fury’s is a restaurant like that. Its customers remember all those time-machine qualities, because they themselves were around back in those days. More to come. . .

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Heaving Apple Pancakes

RecipeSquare-150x150 The Original Pancake House–an old chain of breakfast places scattered around the country–makes better pancakes than I’ve had anywhere. Not only are their straightforward flapjacks excellent, but they make a line of specialty pancakes that move into territory hitherto unknown for most people. The best and most unusual of all the Original Pancake House’s pancakes is its apple pancake. It’s baked, not griddled, and comes out about an inch thick . It’s bubbling with superheated apples, releasing a marvelous cinnamon aroma. The recipe is a secret, but knowing well what the final product is like I’ve come up with a close approximation. Read entire article.

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Beignet Sticks @ Fat Spoon Cafe

500BestSquare Why has nobody thought of this before? Beignet dough is made normally, but instead of being cut into a pillow, the same piece of dough yields four long sticks. Everything else is normal: the frying, the powdered sugar, the cafe au lait on the side. This is perfect, because who, really, can eat three beignets of the standard conformation? Of course, the old-line places couldn’t get away with replacing the classic beignet. But if the sticks (or much smaller squares), were available more people would order them than the big pillows. Read entire article.

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February 27 In Eating

AlmanacSquare It’s Italian Beef Daube Day. That’s a thorough a blend of Creole and Italian cooking as you’re likely to find. Daube is a French method of cooking beef (usually tough cuts) that renders it tender to the point that it almost falls apart. In New Orleans Italian cooking, the beef is sliced after being pot-roasted, and then simmered some more in a Sicilian-style tomato ragu. All that’s served with spaghetti. It was once widely served around New Orleans, but has become a rarity in restaurants. In homes, it’s mostly the older generations that still cook it. I like it because it gives a use for eye of round, a beautiful-looking cut of beef that needs all the tenderizing it can get. Read entire article.

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Where Is This Place?

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Where Is This Place?

The problem has never been that coffeehouse coffee is too strong. Quite the opposite, don’t you think? And the idea of free refills. . . ! Be still, my heart!

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Diary 2|20|2015: Charting A New Book At Tommy’s.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 I have not eaten at Tommy’s in a long time, even though it’s only a block and a half from the radio station. Most of my recent experience with Tommy Andrade’s expert restaurant complex is at Tomas Bistro across the street. Indeed, he asked why I wasn’t there.

The only way I can prevent Tommy from bringing to my table a bottle of very good wine–Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label, in this case–is to shoot him as he approaches. We’ve been friends too long for that. So I am disappointed to learn that Bookman doesn’t drink, or at least is not drinking tonight. This doesn’t prevent me from having a couple of glasses. More to come. . .

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Grand Isle. Warehouse District: 575 Convention Center Blvd. 504-520-8530.

#27 Among The 33 Best Seafood Eateries

The original idea here was to offer the feeling of being in the Louisiana wetlands, and to cook what one might catch there. Specifically, you are reminded of the fishing camp in the real town of Grand Isle–one of the several ends of the earth on the Louisiana Gulf Coast. That have evolved over the years into a menu much like you’d find in a good, funky New Orleans neighborhood place, but served in a squeaky-clean, hotel-restaurant kind of way. More to come. . .

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Crabmeat Imperial

RecipeSquare-150x150 Crabmeat Imperial is an old local favorite that has fallen on hard times. It’s as good as ever–about the only way one could dislike it would be to dislike crabmeat–but few restaurants serve it. I like the very simple way it’s prepared at the Bon Ton Cafe, the city’s oldest Cajun restaurant. The crabby flavor fairly explodes in your mouth. This is my variation on their recipe. Read entire article.

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Crabmeat Imperial @ Michael’s

500BestSquare Crabmeat Imperial is an old, rich dish, once common in white-tablecloth restaurants all over town. The Nouvelle Creole culinary revolution in the 1980s brought it to the edge of extinction, but a few chefs thought it good enough to keep alive. Michael Frederic was one of those. He also had a unique recipe for the dish, taking it easy on the mayonnaise and replacing that richness with a gratin-like bechamel. It’s a good thing it’s small or else your palate would blow a fuse. Lots of crabmeat, though. Read entire article.

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February 26 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Today is allegedly National Pistachio Day. The best use of pistachios in New Orleans is the dipping of the ends of cannoli in them at Angelo Brocato’s. Which, like most makers of ice cream, makes bright green pistachio flavor. (It’s the green part of spumone, too.) That flavor is so delicious that I wonder why it’s not more often used. As in pistachio sno-balls. Pistachio bread pudding. (I think I’ll try that myself.) Or in savory dishes. Indeed, I couldn’t think of a non-sweet use of pistachios, other than eating them right out of the shells. (Remember when there used to be gum machines filled with red-shelled pistachios? I can’t remember the last time I did, but it has to be twenty years.) Read entire article.

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Farm-To-Farm, The New Goal In Eating.

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Farm-To-Farm, The New Goal In Eating.

We all know that the less distance that food must travel between where it’s grown and where it’s consumed, the better the eating.

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Diary 2|18, 19|2015: It’s Finally Over. Make-Good At Arnaud’s.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 It’s another cold, wet night. Arnaud’s has the finest insulation against the chill in our drafty city. You enter through two sets of French doors, then walk a rod down a passageway to a spot where you turn left to enter the French 75 Bar, or face forward to report your presence to the hostess, or turn right to enter the main dining room, into which no cold blasts can penetrate. Mary Ann is not a fan of the grande dame restaurants that I love. But we agree completely on the beauty of Arnaud’s. It’s not just an antique, but a well-cared-for, brilliantly designed collection of dining spaces, all of which more resemble the restaurants of Europe than those of our European city. Even Mary Leigh–who may have the most discriminating eye for great design in our family–says that she loves the place. More to come. . .

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Seither’s. Harahan: 279 Hickory. 504-738-1116.

#28 Among The 33 Best Seafood Eateries

The fact that the parking lot is surfaced with oyster shells should tell you something. It’s the first of many impressions that this is an old-style, close-to-the-water combination seafood market and cafe. It’s like the joints and the people you see after driving a hundred miles into the Louisiana wetlands, except that it’s in Harahan, which is only slightly remote from the city. All the freshness and sense of place that this implies are indeed borne out in the cooking. More to come. . .

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Sauteed Sea Scallops with Squid Ink Pasta

RecipeSquare-150x150 Sea scallops are the big ones–the bigger, the better. See if you can locate “diver” or “day boat” scallops, which have not been processed for shelf life. The squid ink pasta sounds exotic, but shouldn’t be too hard to track down in specialty stores and gourmet markets. You can swap out the major ingredients in this dish and still get great results. Normal, unflavored pasta in big pieces (penne, bowties, or corkscrews), cooked al dente would be fine. For that matter, there’s no law that says you have to use scallops; this would work well with shrimp, crawfish, lump crabmeat, or even big flakes of white fish. Read entire article.

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Lemon Ice Box Pie @ Clancy’s

500BestSquare All of Clancy’s desserts are understated and simple. No flaming, no spun sugar, hardly even any layers. This nice little tart is the restaurant’s most talked-about ending course. Simple, but perfect: a lovely little pie with a rich custard and the ideal lemon component to balance off the sugar. Very good with a glass of Sauternes or Auslese. Read entire article.

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February 25 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Enrico Caruso was born today in 1873. just in time to become one of the first stars of recorded music. In Italian restaurants across America, dishes are named after the famous operatic tenor, but they differ from place to place. No one classic dish bears his name. Caruso was such a hearty eater that there really ought to be such a dish. Searches through cookbooks turn up a wide range of namesake Caruso dishes with sauces including everything from cream to prosciutto to spinach. More to come. . .

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A Rising Tide Of Coffee Lifts All Frothed Milk.

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A Rising Tide Of Coffee Lifts All Frothed Milk.

Besides, don’t you know that the white fluffy layer at the top keeps the espresso brew hot? Don’t we all have the right to hot coffee?

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Diary 2|17|2015: Mardi Gras Is Cold. Crescent City Is Hot.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 The Crescent City Steak House filled up the moment the door opened for Mardi Gras service. Now, at two-thirty, it is not only full in all its dining rooms (there’s one in back of the bar, and another one upstairs), but about twenty people stand at the bar, another twenty cluster inside the entrance, and another twenty or more stand in the parking lot. But they always save a table for me. As soon as I sit down, I circulate among the waiting people and invite the ones I know to join me. This year we host Clark, the Gourmet Truck Driver and his wife. Dr. Tom David, a retired veterinarian for horses who is also an oenophile. He always brings an interesting bottle of something big, old, and rich to share. He is there with his wife. And one more couple and a single who have attended Eat Club dinners in the past. More to come. . .

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Joey K’s. Uptown: 3001 Magazine. 504-891-0997.

#29 Among The 33 Best Seafood Eateries

It’s a classic New Orleans casual menu that stops short of being a cliche. They take all of the cooking seriously, something best seen in the daily specials. Many customers know exactly which day to be there for what. Portions are almost grossly oversize, and if that’s not enough, they have an all-you-can-eat catfish deal that runs every day. Despite that, seafood in general is a strong suit here. More to come. . .

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