Celebrate Bastille Day In A French Bistro

The Flaming Torch dates back a couple of decades, including a long time when they actually cooked with flaming torches. Now it’s a modern French bistro, and like all such restaurants it celebrates Bastille Day–the French equivalent of the Fourth of July in the U.S. The owner and artist of the restaurant is the charming Zohreh Khaleghi, who presents five courses of French food and French wines. Some of the dishes tonight are rarely seen in New Orleans anymore. I may have to wax my moustache for the proper gallic touch.

Read On...

Diary 6|25|2015: Return To Franklin.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 I grab a seat at the bar, where the same bartender is there with the same slightly confusing advice as to whether I should get the hanger steak or the bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin. I didn’t catch his words exactly, but it was along the lines of, “Well, the beef is good if you’re in a beefy mood, with the essence of cattle with that hanger steak kind of gamy quality. On the other hand, that pork tenderloin is extra porky with all that bacon, and the chef doesn’t overcook the pork, so it has that special flavor from pork that’s still a little pink.” It was about ten percent in the direction of talking in a foreign language, but his advice was good enough that I had no trouble in deciding on the pork. I like servers who give their wares some thought, which this guy clearly had. More to come. . .

Read On...

Porterhouse Steak For Two @ Ruth’s Chris Steak House

500BestSquare They don’t sell a lot of these forty-ounce slabs of prime beef at Ruth’s Chris, but that seems to be fine with them. Even at the lofty price they charge (last time I looked, it was gaining on $100), the profit margin isn’t great. It takes a lot of time and attention on the part of the broiler chef, and is a little difficult to serve. But this is the finest steak on Ruth’s menu, a bone-in job carved up in the kitchen to make it easier to dig into. If you want to be certain you’re eating a prime filet mignon here, get this. The porterhouse always has a large filet on one side of the bone. Read entire article.

Read On...

July 2 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Today is National Anise Liqueur Day. Anisette–a generic name for that spirit–was once very popular around America. Its anise flavor is what most people identify as like licorice. Many other liqueurs have it–notably absinthe and its many substitutes (Pernod, Ricard, and the locally-produced Herbsaint). You also find that flavor in Greek ouzo, and Italian Strega, Galliano and Sambuca. Those have largely supplanted the generic anisette in bars and homes. Not only do they make interesting cocktails, but they’re often used in cooking. The most famous dish with anise liqueur as an important flavor is oysters Rockefeller. Around New Orleans, the sauce is almost always doused with Herbsaint. More to come. . .

Read On...

Why Baskin-Robbins Never Got Into Ice-Cream Trucks

FoodFunniesSquare

Why Baskin-Robbins Never Got Into Ice-Cream Trucks

It wouldn’t be energy-efficient. And it might cause traffic backups.

Click here for the cartoon.

Read On...

Diary 6|24|2015: Tiroditos. Aunt Sally. More Tiroditos.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 The waitress tells us that one of the appetizer specials is tiroditos of red snapper, served with avocado, micro-herbs, citrus juice, and popcorn. (Popcorn is a common garnish for ceviche in South America.) I tell her that she will not believe it, but this is the second time today I have been offered that same dish–right down to the minor ingredients. She almost gasps audibly. I’m amazed, too, given that the tiroditos idea is decidedly in the bet-you’ve-never-heard-of-this category for adventuresome chefs.
More to come. . .

Read On...

Castillo’s

ExtinctSquare-150x150Carlos Castillo was a unique character. He was knowledgeable on many matters, and maintained a small library of books on many abstruse topics next to his table in the dining room. He could talk for a long time on the history of Mexico and its cuisine. And give you full dogma about how authentic Mexican food needs to be cooked, down to the tiniest details. More to come. . .

Read On...

Nouvelle Pompano en Papillote

~~~
RecipeSquare-150x150 There are few worse travesties than the pompano en papillote found in traditional New Orleans restaurants. It starts with the best fish there is–one so good that sauces tend to detract from, not add to, the flavor. Then this great fish goes into a parchment bag with the gloppiest kind of light-roux, white-wine, three-or-four-seafood sauce. What comes out is anonymous, if rich. Read entire article.

Read On...

Claypot Subgum Tofu, Chicken Or Shrimp @ Five Happiness

~~~
500BestSquare Chinese claypot-baked dishes are offbeat and delicious, and the one they make with tofu, subgum vegetables (an assortment of many vegetables) and chicken or shrimp at the Five Happiness is a particularly good one. It’s also on the lighter side, and when the proverbial hunger creeps up a few hours later you can feel good that you’re losing a few ounces. Read entire article.

Read On...

July 1 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Today is Canada Day, that country’s equivalent of the Fourth of July. Is there Canadian food? Yes. A good deal of the beef we eat is Canadian. Most of the lobsters that turn up in our stores and restaurants come from Canadian waters, which produce the greatest number of homards in the world. Also setting a standard of excellence are the mussels from Prince Edward Island (often noted as P.E.I. mussels on menus.) Their scallops are good, too. On the West Coast, Canadian salmon and halibut are classy enough that they’re widely distributed. One culinary horror story has been expanding from Canada lately: poutine. That’s French fries topped with brown gravy and cheese curd (something like rubbery ricotta). Yuck! Read entire article.

Read On...

What Does The Pillsbury Doughboy Have To Worry About?

FoodFunniesSquare

What Does The Pillsbury Doughboy Have To Worry About?

Perhaps that little giggle of his hides nervousness about the dangers that are as closes as his bed.

Click here for the cartoon.

Read On...

Diary 6|23|2015: Nathan’s In Slidell Revisited.

One of the sales guys at the radio station asked me whether I would voice commercials for Nathan’s in Slidell. I am unusually lucky to have veto power over which commercials are on my show. I also have total control over what I say in the spots. It’s been quite some time since the last time I dined at Nathan’s, and I felt I’d better take a look at the place before getting behind it again. We arrive in Slidell at what I suspect is the worst possible time. Dinner…

Read On...

Dozen Most Underrated Restaurants

CremeDeLaCremeSquare-150x150
Rated by whom? That’s a problem. Very few real critics are out there giving ratings of New Orleans restaurants. Most ratings now come from readers, each of whom have a different system, so that three stars can mean anything from very good to terrible.

So maybe we’d better rename this endeavor The Dozen Most Under-Appreciated Restaurants. The meaning is clear. These are the eateries whose cooking, service, wine and other indexes of excellence are much better than their reputations or volume might imply.
More to come. . .

Read On...

Creme Brulee

~~~
RecipeSquare-150x150 Creme brulee appeared in New Orleans in the early 1980s (Arnaud’s served the first one), and over the years it supplanted the once-universal caramel custard. It’s now on almost every non-Asian menu. The difference between creme brulee and caramel custard is that the former is made with cream and has the sugar crusted on top; the latter is made with milk and has sugar caramelized into a syrup at the bottom of the baking cup.

Creme brulee must be baked very carefully and slowly, or it will not reach its proper perfect semi-flowing state. You can’t do it in standard custard cups; much better are shallow (an inch or so deep) glass or ceramic ramekins or au gratin dishes. They also have to be straight-sided, so there’s no thin rim of custard to burn when you blast the sugar topping. Read entire article.

Read On...

Double-Cut Pork Chop @ Nola

500BestSquare The double-cut pork chop–an item absolutely unknown to New Orleans restaurant menus until about ten years ago–has become one of the most popular entrees around town. There are many good ones, and if you think you’ve found the best, by all means keep eating it. But consider the one at Nola, Emeril’s most casual restaurant. Two aspects of it appeal greatly. First, the crusty, Creole-seasoned exterior. Second, the highly reduced, almost sticky pork glace that blend with caramelized onions to make the sauce. I like the garnish, too: Bourbon-flavored sweet potatoes, and shrimp and pecan relish. The best dish in the house, and the best pork chop in town. Read entire article.

Read On...

June 30 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Today is National Ice Cream Soda Day. This sounds like one of those hot dogs-apple pie-baseball kinds of things, but when’s the last time you had an ice cream soda? Even ice cream parlors rarely have them anymore. The reason: the lack of the kind of soda fountain making an ice cream soda requires. It mixed carbon dioxide with water, then shoots it in a thin, string stream into the other soda ingredients. And that you don’t see too much since around 1980.

Here in New Orleans, an ice cream soda is very likely to be a nectar soda. The flavor “nectar” is unique to this city. A pink syrup best known these days as a sno-ball flavor, it blends the flavors of almond and vanilla with a little citric acid to produce a distinctive and delicious hybrid. Read entire article.

Read On...

Existential Dining #540w8.

FoodFunniesSquare

Existential Dining #540w8

The setting is World War II, Pacific Theater. Otherwise, it sounds a lot like now.

Click here for the cartoon.

Read On...

Diary 6|20, 21, 22|Up To, Away From Father’s Day.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Restaurateurs are telling me that Father’s Day–once only a joke based on Mother’s Day–has become almost as busy a dining day as Mother’s Day. At least in terms of customer counts. Mother’s Day still creates the biggest one-day influx of dollars of the year. Moms want to see a big feast in a fancy place. Dads have an appreciation for watching the budget, and prefer less formal restaurants. Steak houses, seafood joints, Mexican food, Vietnamese. . . that’s what fathers like. Especially when it’s time for the ultimate irony: the dads’ paying of the bill. Mary Ann says. . . More to come. . .

Read On...

Rocky & Carlo’s. St. Bernard Parish: 613 W St Bernard Hwy. 504-279-8323.

~~~
Rocky’s is as intense and unreconstructed a piece of whereyaat culture as exists. It’s an old bar and cafeteria-style restaurant serving poor boys (both familiar and unspeakable varieties) and ridiculously overloaded homestyle platters, without a hint of delicacy. Watch other diners carefully, and see some offbeat but quintessentially local tastes express themselves. (Example: baked macaroni and cheese drenched with brown gravy.) This is not brilliant food. But it’s hard to imagine New Orleans without Rocky & Carlo’s. More to come. . .[divider type=""] More to come. . .

Read On...

Lemon Ice Box Pie

RecipeSquare-150x150 I have no idea where I got this recipe, but I’ve had it so long that I think of it as mine. I thank whoever gave it to me. (Another mystery so familiar to those of us who save everything.)
Read entire article.

Read On...

Burning Man Roll @ Little Tokyo

500BestSquare One of the best of the large specialty sushi rolls, the Burning Man is made with spicy tuna inside the rice layer, with peppered, seared tuna, avocado, green onion, and hot sauce on the outside. The roll is probably named for the summer music and cultural event in the deserts of Nevada, but it’s otherwise of uncertain origin. I can’t find any mention of it outside New Orleans. It’s a specialty of the several Little Tokyo sushi bars, as well as a few other Japanese restaurants that spun off the Little Tokyo chain. What I like about it particularly is that it has no crispies, no crab salad, and no crab stick. It leaves a pleasant little burn in its wake. Read entire article.

Read On...

June 29 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Today is Veal Chop Day. Veal chops were very hip in the 1980s. Every restaurant that served them found its customers raving about the dish. This popularity faded in the 1990s, and now veal chops are uncommon except in Italian restaurants, and not all of those serve them. One reason for this, beside the fading vogue, is the high cost.

The standard veal chop is cut from the rib roast. It’s analogous to prime rib in beef. Two relatively new varieties of veal chops are sometimes seen. Veal racks come from the far-forward end of the rib cage. They have small “eyes,” so are usually served two or three at a time. Also making more appearances than previously are the veal T-bone and veal porterhouse. Both contain parts of the tenderloin and strip loin, separated by the bone. I think veal tenderloins and veal strip steaks are underappreciated. I prefer them to rib chops–if they’re cooked properly.

Veal chops need. . . More to come. . .

Read On...

We’ve Had This Table.

FoodFunniesSquare

We’ve Had This Table.

And the funny thing is that there are many others just like it in restaurants around town.

Click here for the cartoon.

Read On...

Diary 6|18, 19|2015: Kin. Desi Vega’s.

Thursday, June 18, 2015. Kin, A Tiny But Fine Broadmoor Restaurant. My friend, dermatologist and groomsman Dr. Bob called Monday to see if I’d like to join him for dinner tonight. We are both baching it. His fiancee is out of town, and MA is, of course, two thousand miles away in her Eden-like hotel. The restaurant Dr. Bob suggests is Kin, a new, much-discussed bistro in the unlikely location of Washington Avenue near Earhart Blvd. The place is too new for my guidelines, but Dr. Bob has a knack…

Read On...

Ristorante Del Porto. Covington: 501 E. Boston St. 985-875-1006.

For me, all Italian food falls into two categories. There’s the cooking that blows me away every time I go to Italy, or to a few restaurants in this country. And then there’s everything else. I like the food in the latter category, but not nearly as much as I like the former. In New Orleans we only occasionally get the memorable stuff. Even when it appears, it has a way of morphing into Category Due. Del Porto is the only restaurant in the New Orleans area that has managed to keep that amazing, herbal, rustic, robust style of cooking over the long term. More to come. . .

Read On...

Peach, Raspberry and Almond Torte

RecipeSquare-150x150 This is a great dessert I adapted from a similar item served at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. (They host a food writer’s conference every year, which is why I was there.) All of the fruits needed are in season right now, but other fruits can be substituted in their seasons. It’s It’s terrific as is, with a zabaglione or custard sauce, or with ice cream. Read entire article.

Read On...

Hazelnut Semifreddo, Cafe Au Lait Ice Cream, Bourbon Sauce @ Patois

500BestSquare Throughout Europe, confectioners are forever playing with hazelnuts. It is slowly catching on here. If you need an example of why this is worth pursuing, sample this rich dessert at the bistro on Laurel at Webster Streets. The flavor dimension brought by the hazelnuts to the intensity of coffee-tinged ice cream is nice, the bourbon adds an interesting smoky snap. The popcorn is just a joke. Because hazelnuts lower the melting point of almost anything to which it is added, eating this has a unique cooling sensation beyond what you’d already expect from semifreddo and ice cream. Read entire article.

Read On...

June 26 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Roy J. Plunkett was born today in 1910. While working for DuPont, he discovered a new polymer that led to his invention of Teflon. DuPont saw the possibilities for cookware immediately and the first Teflon-coated pots and pans rolled out in the 1960s. Nothing sticks to Teflon, which is both its advantage and disadvantage. How do you make it stick to the thing it’s coating? To this day that remains a problem, and the flaking off of Teflon and other non-stick coatings vexes all who use them. From a cooking perspective, I find that there are better ways to keep most things from sticking. And that for many dishes you want the food to stick a little (as when searing meats). However, there’s nothing like a Teflon pan for cooking omelettes, or a Teflon muffin tin for making popovers. Read entire article.

Read On...

What Happens When The Tip Is Forgotten.

FoodFunniesSquare

What Happens When The Tip Is Forgotten.

Is it a result of the failure to fully appreciate the server? Or did the server call this creepy person into the situation? Remember when dining out was simple?

Click here for the cartoon.

Read On...

Creole Tomato Menu @ Muriel’s.

EatingNowSquare-150x150
For the past eight years Muriel’s has mounted a celebration of Creole tomatoes. Those big, red, juicy, local love apples form the core of a four-course, $48 dinner that runs through the end of June. It’s a natural, pairing tomatoes with everything from a softshell crabs to pork tenderloin, and even turning tomatoes into a dessert ingredient. More to come. . .

Read On...

Diary 6|17|2015: Velvet Cactus Is Prickly.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 I’m glad my daughter Mary Leigh and I get together for dinner at Velvet Cactus. As soon as I enter, it’s clear to me that the place is aimed at a much younger audience than my generation. The premises, the music, and the service style seem more appropriate for twenty-somethings–ML’s age. She is a fan of Americanized Mexican restaurants since she was a little girl, with a long memory of all the salsas in town. More to come. . .

Read On...

Eat. French Quarter: 900 Dumaine. 504-522-7222 .

Among the most delightful but least-discussed eateries in the French Quarter are the cafes catering to people who live there. That population has seen a long decline, as more residences become businesses. The result is that many of the old neighborhood places have shifted to the visitor trade, with the expected results. Eat has held off this unfortunate trend so well that it has a substantial following among both locals and people who visit New Orleans frequently. More to come. . .

Read On...

Red Snapper With Artichokes and Mushrooms

RecipeSquare-150x150 Redfish with a sauce of artichokes, capers, mushrooms, and butter appears on the menus of quite a few New Orleans restaurants. It’s delicious far beyond the promise of its description or even appearance. Trout, redfish, flounder, lemonfish, sheepshead, or striped bass also work for this recipe. So do really big oysters or shrimp. Read entire article.

Read On...

Crabmeat au Gratin @ Bon Ton Cafe

500BestSquare The Bon-Ton is best known for its crawfish dishes. With good reason. However, it is also one of the three or four best restaurants for the eating of crabmeat. They prepare it many different ways, but the star is their crabmeat au gratin. It’s the best version of that dish I’ve had anywhere. The crab is jumbo lump, comes out in a ceramic baking dish bubbling and aromatic, spooned onto your plate by the waitress. It’s very rich, but–and this is what’s so good about it–it’s not especially cheesy. Read entire article.

Read On...

June 25 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Today in 1987, President Ronald Reagan declared June 25 National Farm-Raised Catfish Day. Farm-raised catfish has the advantage of being available all the time at a consistent price. Restaurants love that, because wild-caught fish are so unpredictable. It’s pretty good, but the trend in recent years has been to allow the catfish to grow bigger and bigger, which for catfish is not an improvement. Also, some fish farms have environmental issues. Wild-caught fish from good sources is better. But rolled in corn meal, fried till golden, splashed with hot sauce. . . it’s a treat. Makes a good poor boy sandwich, too. More to come. . .

Read On...

1 2 44 45