Diary 4|17|2015: SoFAB Gala. Dinner At Purloo.

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Part of the SoFAB complex is a restaurant called Purloo, operated by Chef Ryan Hughes. It’s a Southern restaurant, as opposed to Creole or Cajun–although a good bit of those southerly cuisines are on the menu too. Hughes has turned up in a number of restaurants here over the years, but during the past two years, while waiting for SoFAB to open on Haley, he held pop-up dinners around town. Now he’s open on a normal schedule, and the coolness quotient of the idea of the place and its immediacy next door to SoFAB has attracted a good deal of attention. You need a reservation on weekends. More to come. . .

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Mayonnaise

RecipeSquare-150x150 At some point, you have to make your own mayonnaise, if just to say you can do it. It’s less convenient than opening a jar of Blue Plate, but I think you’ll agree that it adds something to a sandwich or a salad. ¶ As for preservatives–forget them. You have enough acid to keep it fresh for days or even weeks in a sealed jar. The whole point of making your own is to make it fresh. Refrigerate after making, and if you don’t use it fast enough and it starts looking or tasting funny, pitch it and make a new batch. Read entire article.

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Panneed Chicken With Fettuccine Alfredo @ Peppermill

500BestSquare Those of us in the Baby Boom generation grew up eating “pannee meat” and loving it. That’s why, when we Boomers came of age, restaurants suddenly found that panneed anything suddenly sold like crazy. Especially when served with fettuccine Alfredo on the side–something we didn’t get when we were kids. (All pasta was served with red sauce before about 1965.) ¶ The Peppermill has always been a great source of all the variations on this theme. Their panneed chicken is as good as such a thing gets. The pasta is thicker than optimal, but the sauce is just right, neither too creamy nor cheesy. Read entire article.

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April 24 In Eating

AlmanacSquare This is National Prosciutto Day. Prosciutto is dry-cured ham. Dry-curing takes much longer, and creates a much more intense flavor, than the brine curing more commonly applied to hams. To make prosciutto, salt is applied to the outside of skinned pig legs, usually with the bones still inside, and hung up to dry for as much as a year. ¶ In the old days, that was done outdoors. Now prosciutto makers have big warehouses whose walls allow free movement of air from outside through the hanging hams. The word derives from a Latin word that means “all dried out,” which it is after all that time. ¶ The best prosciutto comes from Parma and San Daniele in Italy, but much prosciutto is made in this country. Its flavor is very intense; it should be sliced as thin as possible, and used sparingly. ¶ Classic uses of prosciutto include wrapping melon slices with it, stuffing it into veal and poultry concoctions, and standing alone as antipasto. Read entire article.

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Beverages In Hell.

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Beverages In Hell.

No caution about hot liquids on the cup.

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Diary 4|15|2015: Middle East Food, North Shore.

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The North Shore restaurant market has either too much of something or hardly any at all. It is too rife with Mexican restaurants, sushi bars, Thai cafes and breakfast specialists. Trey Yuen is so dominant of the Chinese category that none of the few other Chinese places amount to much. You can get a great steak, but only on LA 21. You can get a good poor boy, but only on or near LA 22. A great hamburger is difficult to find. New Orleans-style neighborhood restaurants are rare. More to come. . .

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Cafe Adelaide. CBD: 300 Poydras Street. 504-595-3305.

The dining room of the Loews Hotel is a kicky, casual branch of Commander’s Palace, with the service standards of the mother ship and an accessible, interesting menu. ¶ A visit here begins with one of the best bars town, with an imaginative program of creating new and old cocktails with fresh juices, house-made mixers, and great care. ¶ The food is more rustic than at Commander’s, with ingredients and techniques that have a homestyle quality. Cafe Adelaide does a brisk lunch business, but at dinner it’s a good place to remember, because it usually has tables available. More to come. . .[divider type=""]

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Spicy Garlic Mayonnaise

RecipeSquare-150x150 Somewhere in Provence there is a newspaper whose name is “L’Aioli.” That lucky town gets to wake up every day to “The Garlic Mayonnaise.” Sounds like a good place to live. Closer to home, chefs have extended the aioli concept to include all sort of other flavors. Here’s my contribution to the overload. This is not only tasty as a dip, a squirtable condiment, or even a sandwich spread, but it’s also a very pretty color. Thinned with a little water, it makes a wine-friendly salad dressing (no vinegar). Read entire article.

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Crab Cake @ Mr. B’s Bistro

500BestSquare I have never had better crab cakes than the ones served at Mr. B’s. The idea is simple: enormous lumps of local blue crab are held together with a bare minimum of other ingredients. It gets a thin crust of bread crumbs before it’s toasted in butter in a hot pan. A bit of ravigote sauce adds what little tang is needed. Another great dish from a restaurant that does the standards better than any other restaurant. Read entire article.

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April 23 In Eating

AlmanacSquare This is National Picnic Week. It’s a wonderful day for a picnic in South Louisiana, the only place in the world where a picnic might well include boiled crawfish. Perhaps even boiled there in the park, now that everybody seems to have one of those gas-fired rigs. The word “picnic” comes from the French expression “pique nique,” which roughly translates as “picking at little things.” That’s what you do, of course. The funny thing about picnics is that you wind up eating more than you would at a formal dinner, especially if ribs or burgers are in the offing. That potato salad will come and get you, too.
Read entire article. National Picnic Week. It’s a wonderful day for a picnic in South Louisiana, the only place in the world where a picnic might well include boiled crawfish. Perhaps even boiled there in the park, now that everybody seems to have one of those gas-fired rigs. The word “picnic” comes from the French expression “pique nique,” which roughly translates as “picking at little things.” That’s what you do, of course. The funny thing about picnics is that you wind up eating more than you would at a formal dinner, especially if ribs or burgers are in the offing. That potato salad will come and get you, too. Read More. . .

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It’s That Time Of Year.

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It’s That Time Of Year.

You get up in the morning and it’s still dark outside. You hear a rustling sound. And here they are, the regular customers.

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Diary 4|14|2015: Blaze Pizza. Florentine At Fausto’s.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 The Radio Round Table features a visit from Erik Veney. He was the chef who made Muriel’s as good as it is. He’s the creator of the crepes stuffed with goat cheese and topped with crawfish, which has become a signature dish at Muriel’s. Erik left Muriel’s for a stint as the chef de cuisine at Stella!, during the years when that restaurant was one of the top three. But Stella! died at the same time the old Brennan’s did, and with comparable fireballs. Erik came back to Muriel’s just as Chef Gus Martin moved from Muriel’s to Dickie Brennan’s restaurant group. More to come. . .

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8115 Jeanette Street

ExtinctSquare-150x150The converted, stucco-clad house a half-block off South Carrollton Avenue on Jeannette will probably make it onto this curious list. At least six restaurants operated there in the time since it was last somebody’s home. The first of these, opening in 1989, was Shigure, a sushi bar. The small rooms were handsome but clearly residential, and a very tight fit for restaurant dining room purposes. That would prove to be a condition that every subsequent occupant had to wrestle with. The rooms were finished with dark, varnished wood, giving it a distinctly non-Asian look. More to come. . .

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Crawfish Bisque

RecipeSquare-150x150 Crawfish bisque–one of the greatest dishes in all of Cajun cooking–is not like any other bisque. It’s not creamy or thickened with rice, as in the classic French style, but made with a dark roux. Most of the ingredients, even the crawfish, are made into a rough puree, which further thickens the soup. This may seem like a long, involved recipe, but there are no great challenges in it. What comes out is something unforgettable. Serve it with crawfish boulettes, instead of those wretched stuffed heads. Read entire article.

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Crawfish Bisque @ Bon Ton Cafe

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500BestSquare Making crawfish bisque is a lot of work, and requires fresh crawfish in the shell for it to be made perfectly. That’s why you only find it on restaurant menus during crawfish season (Thanksgiving through the Fourth of July, in a good year). ¶ Crawfish bisque is such a specialty at the Bon Ton, however, that they keep it on the menu year-round. Frozen crawfish is used in the off-season. Despite that, it’s never disappointing. It’s made in the old style, very thick with a dark roux, big chunks of boiled egg, and stuffed crawfish heads. Big flavor. Read entire article.

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April 22 In Eating

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AlmanacSquare Today is Crawfish Bisque Day. In the opinion of many, no crawfish dish is better. It’s substantial enough that it can be served as an entree, although in restaurants it’s more often served by the cup as a preliminary course. ¶ The classic Cajun style veers far from the standard definition of bisque in French cooking. Instead of being thickened with cream or pureed rice, it’s made with a dark roux, pulverized crawfish tail meat, and crawfish stock. It’s thick, spicy, and aromatic. ¶ Stuffed crawfish heads are considered by many eaters as sine qua non. (We stick by our dictum that stuffing and unstuffing the heads is a pointless waste of time, and recommend using crawfish boulettes, made with the same stuffing, instead.) Read entire article.

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Universal Cooking Rule #44.

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Universal Cooking Rule #44.

Good cooks have several process going at once, but never more than will cause the cook to lose track of what’s doing on the stove.

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Diary 4|13|2015: No Fried Chicken. Good Red Beans.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Mary Ann felt a hunger pang for fried chicken. It’s Monday, so that would mean the buffet at the Camellia Café, the nearest good restaurant to our house. I go along because the one dish that actually improves on a buffet steam table–red beans and rice–is cooked rather well there. Mary Ann always gets more fried chicken than she really wants, so I get a bite. But for reasons nobody at the restaurant could explain, the kitchen put baked chicken in place of the usual fried on the buffet. It wasn’t bad, but the fried chicken is a particularly crunchy-good version. When one gets her expectations revved up for something, not even the best possible alternative can hope to satisfy. More to come. . .

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Dozen Best Pizzerias

Pizza is so appealing that it has swept across the world. If you’re in a place without pizza, you are truly in a remote area. Unfortunately, pizza lends itself to so many shortcuts, commercialized versions, and cheap ingredients that there is far more bad pizza out there than good. New Orleans was not historically a great pizza town, but that has changed in the past few years. Since my last edition of this list a year ago, several superb new pizza specialists have appeared–most of them near the top of…

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Marinated Baby Artichokes

RecipeSquare-150x150 If you can think ahead about a week or two, you can serve your family or guests these eminently tender, succulent baby artichokes. After marinating for a long time, the leaves become completely edible. With all the oil, this is messy to eat, but good. The recipe comes from Chef Andrea Apuzzo at Andrea’s, and the cookbook he and I wrote together, La Cucina Di Andrea’s. Read entire article.

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Seraphine Salad @ Steak Knife

500BestSquare The salads at the long-running Lakeview steak specialist (which also serves just about everything else) have always been better than average. This one is for evenings when you want to literally graze. The Seraphine salad (I think it’s named for the Roth brothers’ mother) brings avocado, asparagus, hearts of palm, and artichoke hearts together with the greens. The house-made dressings are all good, but the best is the Roquefort, topped off with a little remoulade.
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April 21 In Eating

AlmanacSquare This is the anniversary of the founding of Rome in 753 BC. Its glories are so great that one is easily distracted from eating there, despite the presence of many restaurants serving the first great European cuisine.

It’s also National Romano Cheese Day. Romano cheese is a long-aged, hard grating cheese made from sheep’s milk–hence its tangy flavor. The best Romano cheese is Pecorino Romano, the exclusive appellation of a consortium of makers in a wide area in Italy (not just around Rome). Romano cheese has a long history, extending all the way back to the ancient Roman Empires. Although Parmigiana cheese has a more vaunted reputation in this country, there’s nothing like Romano–especially in the making of lasagna.

Today is also Chocolate-Covered Cashew Truffle Day. That must have been started by someone who makes such a thing. Read entire article.

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Dining Guide To Phoenix.

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Dining Guide To Phoenix.

There’s one aspect of the service that will make you wish you were back in New Orleans. On the other hand, we salute the presence of dress codes and tablecloths.

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Diary 4|11, 12|2015: Failed Rain. The Opera. Galatoire’s 33.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 I look through the window of the flagship Galatoire’s, and see that it is largely empty at sixish. Must be the rain. Even fewer people are at the steakhouse, but I expected that. MA has a crab cake that she says is superb. It certainly looked that good, but she didn’t save me a taste. That alone tells me all I need to know. ML has a salad. I get turtle soup, which is clearly the same as next door, and very good, at that. I have a very good. medium-rare, Pittsburgh-style strip sirloin, with New Orleans bordelaise. That’s butter, garlic, and olive oil. Next time, I will ask to have this made with the same garlic butter they put on snails. Otherwise, the steak was exactly what I had in mind. More to come. . .

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Cochon. Warehouse District: 930 Tchoupitoulas. 504-588-2123.

Cochon fills a niche that, in New Orleans, went begging for attention for decades. Inspired by the many small butcher shops found throughout in Cajun country (but rare in the New Orleans area), it cures and smokes its own meats and sausages. With that resource Cochon creates a unique menu. It’s related to but different from barbecue. This is home-style Cajun cooking, but the kind made from smoky-cured meats. There are seafood dishes, but they’re in the minority on the menu. The result is convincingly Cajun and distinctive, if not memorable. More to come. . .

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Duck Crepes with Lentils

RecipeSquare-150x150 I got this amazing little dish from Patrick Perie, an Alsatian chef who ran a couple of kitchens here before returning to France. Remember this next time you have a turkey or duck with leftover slivers and morsels of meat. ¶ The taste and look is decidedly French if you make crepes, as in Patrick’s original. But making crepes is a lot of work, often frustrating. The recipe also comes out well (perhaps better) if you use small, thin flour tortillas. They are filled with either smoked or roasted duck, mellowed with lentils. It makes a great appetizer or light lunch. Read entire article.

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A Necessary Element Used In Restaurants To Raise Prices

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A Necessary Element Used In Restaurants To Raise Prices

Even the ones that try to break away from the posture find that their customers insist on it anyway.

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April 20 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Today in 1862, Louis Pasteur proved the effectiveness of the process that bears his name. In glass jars, he sealed several liquids notable for their ability to turn truly foul. He then heated them to a high temperature, but below the boiling point, and held them for over a month. The liquids were as nasty as when they went in, but no more so. No fermentation or decomposition occurred. The first major use of pasteurization involved beer. Next was milk. Pasteur’s method doesn’t stop deterioration entirely, but slows it so much that these products, and many more to come, had what came much later to be known as a longer shelf life. Read entire article.

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Diary 4|10|2015: Queedle? Juggling Bananas Foster.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Last year, I finally discovered the identity of this bird. It’s a wood thrush, a yellow and white bird about the size of a blue jay. I got that data from an audio link on the internet. I still have never actually seen the bird. But I hear him, loudest in the early morning, taking most of the daytime hours off, then returning with a low-energy version of his song as the sun goes down. Welcome back, friend.

Also just back from faraway places with strange-sounding names are the Marys, who arrived last evening. They resumed their routines as timely as the Queedle-deep did. Mary Leigh begins a new job, working a few days a week at Sucre, the glitzy pastry and candy shoppes on Magazine Street and in the French Quarter. ML keeps extending her expertise as a baker. More to come. . .

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Cava. Lakeview: 789 Harrison Ave. 504-304-9034.

Cava just ended its first year in business, and Danny Millan must be breathing a sigh of relief. This is the first restaurant proprietorship in his long career, and he went through all the usual problems of launching a new eatery. The place was jammed at the beginning, creating issues of staffing, inconsistency, and noise. He worked his way through all of that, and now that the novelty-seekers have moved on to gripe forever in social media, Cava has leveled off with a strong regular customer base and very good cooking. More to come. . .

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Freshwater Trout Marigny

RecipeSquare-150x150 This is a variation on the local classic trout Marguery, with a lighter and easier-to-make sauce. For once, this is a dish that’s designed to be made with true trout, rather than the good fish we called speckled trout around here. (You could use specks, but I think rainbow or ruby red trout or even salmon would be better.) Read entire article.

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Oysters Cinisi @ Sal And Judy’s

500BestSquare Almost every Italian restaurant here has its version of baked oysters with bread crumbs, olive oil, garlic, and parmesan cheese. It’s a dish that’s such a natural that it’s almost always great. Some version are more creative than others, and Sal Impastato’s take is the most creative of all. Mixed in with all the usual ingredients is an oddly delicious one: Italian sausage. That goes better with the other flavors than you might imagine. It also makes it almost impossible for one person to finish an entire order. Spread it around! Read entire article.

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April 17 In Eating

AlmanacSquare phosphates, n., pl.–Bubbly drinks made with phosphoric acid, once widely used in soda fountains to add sharpness to the flavor of sodas. They were particularly popular in fruit-flavored drinks, such as cherry, orange, and lemon. Even before the soda fountain disappeared from the scene, phosphates went out of style. Some health authorities say that it causes problems in absorbing calcium in the body. Citric acid had largely replaced phosphates in bottled soft drinks, although they’re still used by some bottlers. Read entire article.

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Nothing Here But Us Leftovers.

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Nothing Here But Us Leftovers.

More often than not, leftovers can’t really be called food.

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Diary 4|7|2015: Day One, French Quarter Festival.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 I am broadcasting two radio shows from the French Quarter Festival instead of just one. The crowds are surprisingly large, and they begin at Canal Street. No less thick in the square itself. Indeed, they seem as great as the convergence we see on Saturdays and Sundays. That continues as I leave at six. The bands have only another hour to play, but the crowds seem to think it will go on all night. Marci Schramm, the executive director of the festival, says that at certain tunes during the next four afternoons, over twenty bands will play simultaneously. (In different places, I hope.) More to come. . .

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