Oysters With Choucroute And Mornay Sauce
* Red Bean Edition

Oysters With Choucroute And Mornay Sauce

RecipeSquare-150x150 This dish unites two things that don’t sound like they belong together until you think about how good pickles and fried oysters taste on an oyster loaf. I’m just replacing the pickled cucumbers with pickled cabbage (“choucroute” is the lighter, softer French version of sauerkraut). And panneeing the oysters with a complicated crust instead of just frying them. With a little Mornay sauce on top. I thought I’d created something original, then learned that a classical French dish with the odd name “oysters Hambourgeoise” is somewhat similar. If oyster shells aren’t easily available, use gratin dishes. Read entire article.

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Meat Sauce Pizza @ Happy Italian

500BestSquare The idea of a pizza topped with the kind of meat sauce popular among pasta-lovers sounds like a natural. A slice of Lenny Minutello’s meat sauce pizza removes all doubt as to its goodness, but still leaves us wondering why hardly any other pizzeria serves it. The Happy Italian’s invention begins with a handmade crust run through a conveyor-belt oven (!) whose cooking surfaces are made of granite (!!). The result is a superb and unique pie, one more filling than most. So split the small one two ways. It’s at its best when you it in house. Read entire article.

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September 1 In Dining

AlmanacSquareToday is the beginning of the oyster-eating season. Not that any dedicated oyster-eater has abstained from eating the succulent bivalves throughout the warmer months. Indeed, I pick up the pace in the summer, because raw oysters are refreshingly cold.

Felix-OystersR

The idea that oysters should not be eaten in months without an “R” began, like most of our oyster culture, in New York City. New York’s harbor once teemed with oysters. Before refrigeration, delivering oysters to places where people ate them was an open invitation to pathogens in the oysters, and people got sick. The prohibition against raw oysters in non-R months was not a tradition, but an actual law. The advent of refrigeration, especially when it began to start on the oyster boats, solved that forever. Read entire article.

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Dinner In Hell

FoodFunniesSquare

Dinner In Hell.

It’s a lot like dinner on Earth, except that the food never gets cold. Both other annoyances persist. For example. . .

Click here for the cartoon.

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Irish House Stays Coolinary

Today, August 31 is the last official day of the annual Coolinary promotion for the eighty-eight restaurants participating. Tomorrow everything becomes uncertain, as the Coolinary either switches off completely or makes the transition into the We Live To Eat Restaurant Week. The WLTERW (a new name is needed desperately) is nearly identical to the Coolinary, with the same menus. The problem is that no information is avaiable as to which restaurants are going straight from Coolinary into WLTERW, because not all of them will. More on this tomorrow, after I…

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Travel Diary 8|17-29|2015: A Box Of Trains.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Mary Ann awakens early to take me to Union Passenger Terminal, where the first of my four trains leaves at nine in the morning. This is the Sunset Limited, Amtrak Train Number One. That’s just an identifying number, not an accolade. But the Sunset does have claims to fame. It bears the oldest train name in America, in continuous use for over a hundred years. The train crosses the Mississippi River on what for a long time was the longest railroad bridge in the world. The Sunset’s bridge over the Pecos River gorge in West Texas was at one time the highest such. Not far away, the second transcontinental railroad in America was made whole with the pounding in of a silver spike.
More to come. . .

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One-Two-Three-Four Cake

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RecipeSquare-150x150 This is the simplest cake recipe of them all. One cup butter, two cups sugar, three cups flour, four eggs–hence the name. Just measure everything exactly (scraping off the tops of cups of flour and spoons of baking powder, for example), and have patience and faith in the recipe. I recommend Swans Down cake flour, made by a New Orleans company. By the way, this mix makes fine cupcakes. An dif you have the shell-shaped molds, you can use this formula to make madeleines. Have one with a cup of tea and you’ll start remembering weird things in your previous life

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Paneer Seenk Kebab @ Nirvana

500BestSquare The idea sounds strange: the house-made, fresh white cheese called paneer is cut into cubes and strung on a skewer, roasted in the super-hot tandoor oven, and served with a very spicy collection of condiments and herbs. Eat one cube, and you won’t be able to stop, despite the aggressive but pleasant burn from the pepper. It’s big enough to split as an appetizer, but you might not want to. Read entire article. More to come. . .

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August 31 In Eating

AlmanacSquare National Squid Day reaches its tentacles around our dining and cooking today. As fried things go, few are as appealing as a pile of fried calamari. It seemed to be made of two different animals, the golden rings crosscut from the bodies, scattered with the fried spiders from the head section. When fried lightly and sent out immediately afterwards, they’re impossible to stop eating. Read entire article.

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Recipes From Exodus.

Recipes From Exodus. Manna wasn’t his only specialty. Moses had a few other tricks up the sleeve of his chef’s jacket. Hey. . . does this work for hard-boiled? Click here for the cartoon.

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Carrollton Market Does The Coolinary

Officially, the Coolinary for 2015 ends this weekend. But the end of August doesn’t mean the end of summer doldrums in restaurants. If you call some of the best Coolinary restaurants we’ve presented here for the past month and a half, you’ll find many summer specials are still out there to be enjoyed. Carrollton Market is a misnomer. It’s a full-fledged gourmet bistro, with the most illustrative open kitchen in town. The nine stools in front of the cooking line allows you to get a good look at the food…

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Crab and Brie Soup

RecipeSquare-150x150 This is the signature soup of Dakota Restaurant in Covington. But calling it a soup is a stretch. It’s so thick that you could turn a spoonful upside down and it might not come out. I’d recommend serving it only when you can afford to put a lot of lump crabmeat in it. It’s very rich. Read entire article.

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Shrimp Pil-Pil @ Vega Tapas Cafe

500BestSquareGambas al Pil-Pil @ Vega Tapas Cafe

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Pil-pil is a combination of hot paprika, garlic, and olive oil that hails from Portugal. (It’s also known as “piri-piri.”) It’s very good with shrimp, creating a dish that’s vaguely reminiscent of New Orleans barbecue shrimp. This has been one of the most popular small plates at Vega, which specializes both in tapas and Mediterranean eats like this.

Vega Tapas Cafe. Old Metairie: 2051 Metairie Rd. 504-836-2007.

This is among the 500 best dishes in New Orleans area restaurants. Click here for a list of the other 499.
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August 28 In Eating

AlmanacSquare It’s National Cornbread Day. Cornbread has a distinctly country, home-cooked identity. When you start talkin’ ’bout cornbraid, ya gotta git yersef into a Southern draaaawwwwwl. I guess that’s why we only rarely see cornbread in restaurants. Or it could be that restaurants can’t buy ready-made cornbread of any quality. It must be baked on site. But why not? It’s simple enough: cornmeal, flour, baking powder and soda, eggs, milk, oil. Unless you want to get ambitious an add cheese and jalapeno peppers and the like. Which is not a bad idea. Read entire article.

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Why Everybody Is Out Of Wedge Salads.

FoodFunniesSquare

Why Everybody Is Out Of Wedge Salads.

Something happened to the delivery of the iceberg lettuce. You wouldn’t believe what hit it.

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Delmonico Has A Taste Of Summer, $45.

SummerSpecials2015All three of Emeril’s New Orleans restaurants rolled out their summer menus in July, leading the charge into the distressingly slack weeks of August and September. This is, of course, great news for avid diners. Each of the restaurants offers a different menu, but for the same price: $45 for four courses. Also available is a wine-pairing option for $25 extra. They’re not officially in the Coolinary, but the idea is the same. The menu is subject to change. Indeed, it’s really just a sampling of the kinds of dishes that the Taste Of Summer menu will show. More to come. . .

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Chow-Chow

RecipeSquare-150x150 Chow-chow, a condiment widely used throughout America (although not to the extent that it was, say, fifty years ago), was made by Zatarain’s and other companies until the hurricane. Zatarain’s appears to have left chow-chow out of their product line when they returned. Rex, the other local brand, is still out there, as is the very chunky Crosse & Blackwell version. For some reason, in recent months people have asked me about Zatarain’s chow-chow often. Here is a recipe that at least approximates the stuff. Use it on sandwiches or as a relish for vegetables. Read entire article.

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Rotisserie Chicken With Roasted Corn Grits @ Zea

500BestSquareRotisserie Chicken With Roasted Corn Grits @ Zea

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Zea is a locally-based chain operated by the Taste Buds–Gary Darling, Hans Limburg, and Greg Reggio, all chefs. The menu is eclectic, but the finest work on it is very basic. Rotisserie-roasted chicken is not only simple, but certainly the best way to cook a chicken. It stays moist, as the juices that would otherwise break loose stay on the surface of the chicken, and intensify the flavors. They make three versions: one a French-style garlic-scented bird, another Italian-style pesto-coated, and a relatively simpler barbecue-seasoned job. All are excellent. They come with a choice of eight or so side dishes, of which the most notable is the stone-ground yellow grits, rich with cream and cheese, studded with corn kernels stripped off cobs roasted on the grill first. The prices are very low. The only problem is getting a table, which is especially challenging in the Zea in the Clearview Mall.

Zea. Harahan: 1655 Hickory Ave.. 504-738-0799.

||Kenner: 1325 West Esplanade Ave. 504-468-7733. ||Lee Circle Area: 1525 St Charles Ave. 504-520-8100. ||Metairie: 4450 Veterans Blvd (Clearview Mall). 504-780-9090. ||Covington: 110 Lake Dr. 985-327-0520. ||Harvey: 1121 Manhattan Blvd. 504-361-8293. ||Slidell: 173 Northshore Blvd. 985-273-0500.This is among the 500 best dishes in New Orleans area restaurants. Click here for a list of the other 499.
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August 27 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Today in 1940, the Nestle Company registered a trademark for Toll House cookies–the original chocolate chip cookies. They rolled out the chocolate chips a few months earlier, and saw that it would be a huge new product for them. The cookies were invented at a 1709-vintage inn (and actual toll-collecting point) on the road from Boston to New Bedford, Massachusetts. In the 1930s, Ruth Wakefield, who owned the inn with her husband, made a batch of cookies with chunks of chocolate in them. They were so popular that Nestle made a deal with her: if she would turn over the rights to the recipe, she would get all the chocolate she wanted for the rest of her life. After awhile, to save people the trouble of chopping chocolate bars, Nestle created the familiar chocolate chips. Read entire article.

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Where The Binge Begins.

Where The Binge Begins. On the other hand, the amount of tequila used by a lot of restaurants to make those margaritas demands a bathtub of margaritas for something like this to happen. Click here for the cartoon.

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Arnaud’s Does The Coolinary.

SummerSpecials2015Arnaud’s has a few attention-getting programs going on this summer. One of them is wine corkage fee amnesty. All summer, bring your own wine, and pay nothing to have it served at Arnaud’s tables. But they also have a full-fledged Coolinary menu. one a bit larger than they have put forth in the past. Three courses for $39, every night except Saturdays. More to come. . .

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Fettuccine Pontchartrain

RecipeSquare-150x150 I’m not sure who did it first, but the combination of Louisiana crabmeat lumps with fettuccine and an Alfredo-style sauce is inspired and irresistible. This one takes it another step further, with a soft-shell crab (or even better, a buster crab) on top. It makes a good appetizer or entree. By the way, the thinner the fettuccine, the better this dish is.
Read entire article.

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Enchiladas With Mole Poblano @ Panchita’s

500BestSquareEnchiladas With Mole Poblano @ Panchita’s

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Panchita’s reminds me of the Mexican restaurants we had around New Orleans before the slick Tex-Mex chains began moving in. We’re finding more of those in recent years, but they tend to be out in the suburbs, with limited menus. Panchita’s chicken enchiladas with mole is a marvelous plate of food–and that’s before you think about the absurdly low price of it. Mole, you probably know, is the bitter chocolate-based sauce, with several dozen other ingredients like sesame oil, chili peppers, and many spices.

Panchita’s. Riverbend: 1434 S Carrollton Ave. 504-281-4127.

This is among the 500 best dishes in New Orleans area restaurants. Click here for a list of the other 499.
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August 26 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Today is Stuffed Flounder Day, celebrating the signature dish of the West End seafood restaurant community. The hurricane laid a quietus on West End. No signs remain that restaurants were ever there–let alone a dozen of them in one block. Almost all of them featured a whole flounder, cut with a half-dozen or so slits across its upward side, and fried or broiled. You could get it stuffed with crabmeat dressing if you liked. If you were lucky, you got what the fishermen referred to as a “doormat”–a really big one, so called for the flounder’s habit of lying on its side on the shallow bottom of the lake or Gulf. Read entire article.

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The Hamburger Has Its Limits.

FoodFunniesSquare

The Hamburger Has Its Limits.

But many people don’t understand what those limits are.

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Diary |9|22, 23|2015: Restaurants Return To Scant Staff.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Broussard’s. Marc Preuss, who runs Broussard’s with his parents Chef Gunter and Evelyn, has sent out the word that they hope to be operating again on Conti Street within a couple or three weeks. They had a little damage to flooring in one area, and tree in the courtyard fell. Like all other restaurants int eh area, they are having trouble tracking down all of their employees.

Most interesting to me about the Preusses’ plans are that they’re talking about changing the menu to something a bit less gilded than what they were known for, and perhaps opening for lunch. In other words, the restaurant will move downscale. As much as I enjoyed Broussard’s as it was, I believe this is a very good plan. I expect that many restaurants will take this opportunity to respond the the adjusted needs of their customers with less ambitious, more affordable menus. More to come. . .

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Coolinary: Fountain Lounge, The Roosevelt Hotel.

SummerSpecials2015I’m never quite sure what’s going on in the Fountain Lounge, off the magnificent lobby of the big old Roosevelt Hotel. The Fountain Lounge is the space where the Sazerac Restaurant was in its heyday. (Before that, the same spot was called “The Fountain Lounge,” so the hotel cannot be called uneconomical in its use of names.) Nowadays it comes across like a bar, with a substantial menu of cocktail lounge food. The Coolinary version of this is attractive enough: More to come. . .

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Creole Spring Omelette

RecipeSquare-150x150 This is my favorite omelette, light in texture but bursting with flavor. It’s best enjoyed in the spring and summer, when the ingredients are first coming into the market, and fresh basil is lush. Read entire article.

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Oysters With Fennel And Herbsaint @ Bistro Daisy

500BestSquareOysters With Fennel And Herbsaint @ Bistro Daisy

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The oysters are poached instead of fried or baked, and they’re sent out in a soupy sauce of their own liquor with fresh spinach, fennel, garlic, and bacon. A splash of the anise-flavored liqueur Herbsaint emphasized the fennel. Although most of that is present in many versions of oysters Rockefeller, this dish doesn’t have that flavor, and sure doesn’t look anything like it. What comes out is nearly a soup, reminiscent of the way mussels are served, but without the shells. After the oysters and vegetables are gone, you will need a spoon, or at least some bread so the juicy part isn’t left behind. A great appetizer in this fine new gourmet bistro.

Bistro Daisy. Uptown: 5831 Magazine. 504-899-6987.

This is among the 500 best dishes in New Orleans area restaurants. Click here for a list of the other 499.
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August 25 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Today is National Martini Day. Martinis went out of vogue in the 1970s, when everybody started drinking wine. But they’re too good to be kept down, and a new appreciation formed in the 1990s. In New Orleans, the Bombay Club kept the flame alive and continued to glorify the drink, putting some real effort into making them well.

Martinis are so popular that the name has become a synonym for cocktail. Anything served in a slant-sided martini glass is now called a martini. Some of these aren’t even drinks. Seafood martinis–shrimp, crabmeat, lobster, or crawfish in a martini glass with some kind of cold sauce–are especially popular.

The original martini, according to a number of sources, consisted of gin and white vermouth, stirred with chunks of ice. . . Read entire article.

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Some Dishes Are Meant To Be Eaten With The Fingers.

FoodFunniesSquare

Some Dishes Are Meant To Be Eaten With The Fingers.

And some are difficult to eat, no matter how you go about it.

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The New Tujague’s Age Embraces The Coolinary.

SummerSpecials2015
It’s been just a few years since Mark Latter transported Tujague’s into the present era of Creole cooking. Where once was a limited table d’hote menu that offered you a choice of “take it” or “leave it,” now the kitchen has a range as broad as that of any other Creole gourmet bistro. On the other hand, it would be wrong for a century-and-a-half restaurant to be entirely on the cutting edge. The menu for the Coolinary show how the current and trandtional styles are getting along. More to come. . .

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Cajun Seared Scallops With Near-Guacamole

RecipeSquare-150x150 Save this recipe for occasions when you find those sea scallops that are almost the size of filet mignons. Sea scallops that size are wonderful, and lend themselves particularly to pan-searing. In our part of the world, this verges on blackening, and that’s just fine, assuming the pan is really hot and you don’t let the scallops sit there too long. They should bulge after cooking.

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Oysters Al Areganata @ Ristorante Filippo

500BestSquareOysters Al Areganata @ Ristorante Filippo

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Baked oysters in the Italian style appear more than once on this list, representing different recipes. This is the most polished of them all. Phil Gagliano serves them sizzling in an au gratin dish, topped with the usual bread crumbs, garlic, Parmesan cheese, herbs, and a bit of pancetta. The aroma of this is marvelous, and the taste even better. Be careful eating: this is a real mouth-searer when it first arrives. And it’s also one of the few baked oyster appetizers of which one can actually eat a half-dozen and then move on to an entree. Maybe even a salad.

Ristorante Filippo. Metairie: 1917 Ridgelake. 504-835-4008.

This is among the 500 best dishes in New Orleans area restaurants. Click here for a list of the other 499.
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August 24 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Chef George Crum invented potato chips today in 1853. He worked in a resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. The chips were meant as an insult to a customer who complained that Crum’s fried potatoes were too thick. The chef sliced them paper-thin, fried them, and sent them out. The customer loved them, and so did the chef. And they took off in popularity from there. Few restaurants serve freshly-fried potato chips locally; more ought to.
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