Diary 1|20|2015: Doctor Saves Another Of My Days

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 When I went to the doctor today, it was to investigate a few issues that proved to amount to nothing. He said that all my numbers are perfect, with my weight loss so impressive that he wonders whether there is something wrong with me. I tell him how I did it, and he says that was the right way. More to come. . .

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Masson’s

Masson’s was a big, rambling restaurant that looked elegant through the 1960s and 1970s. That was when, year after year, it won the Holiday Restaurant Award, the equivalent at the time of today’s DiRoNa and James Beard awards. The certificates covered the better part of the wall separating the main dining room from the bar, and they wanted to make sure that you knew it.

I wish I still had a copy of Masson’s menu from those days. There would be no better illustration of how far we’ve come. It was corny even in the 1970s (hopelessly so in the 1980s), but nobody (not even the Massons, I believe) knew this. More to come. . .

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Shrimp Toast

RecipeSquare-150x150 Shrimp toast is a wonderful Chinese appetizer that few restaurants do well. The best I ever had came from Kenny Cheung, who for years operated the now-gone Peking in New Orleans East. I once walked into his kitchen and saw an entire sink full of fresh shrimp he’d just bought. He beamed at me and said, “Not many Chinese restaurants peel fresh shrimp for shrimp toast!” It is much simpler to prepare than the finished product would have you believe. It is delicious served with Chinese plum sauce, which can be found at any large supermarket. Recipe details. . .

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Shrimp Toast @ China Rose

img src=”http://nomenu.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/500BestSquare2-200×200.png” alt=”500BestSquare” width=”150″ height=”150″ class=”alignleft size-medium wp-image-41045″ /> Shrimp toast is one of those new-wave dishes that began appearing in Chinese restaurants in the mid-1970s. Made well, it’s delicious: a toasted slice of white bread on the bottom, piled with a mixture of finely-chopped shrimp with enough egg to hold it together. The whole thing is cut into sixths, sprinkled with sesame seeds, then deep-fried into pyramids of nearly-fluffy shrimpiness. I’ve always liked shrimp toast, but what most Chinese places put out is terrible. The China Rose’s version is not only good appetizer eating, but enough for two or three people. More about this dish. . .

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January 27 In Eating

img src=”http://nomenu.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/AlmanacSquare5-200×200.png” alt=”AlmanacSquare” width=”150″ height=”150″ class=”alignleft size-medium wp-image-41047″ /> It is National Chocolate Cake Day. It’s no longer enough to make just chocolate cake anymore. It must be Chocolate Suicide cake. Or Death by Chocolate cake. Chocolate Devastation Cake is at Arnaud’s. Chocolate Suicide Cake, Brennan’s. I’m relieved that no Chocolate Genocide Cake has been put on any menu. Then there’s Better Than Sex chocolate cake, a Bing search for which brought up three and a half million leads. Are there that many people who hold chocolate cake in greater regard than a roll in the hay? There’s more. . .

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What Your Cat Has Been Trying To Tell You.

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What Your Cat Has Been Trying To Tell You.

He’s eaten enough of your leftovers to have developed a taste for certain seasonings.

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Olivier’s Departs. . . College Inn Chef Opens New Shop

EatingNowSquare-150x150 Olivier’s restaurant on Decatur Street published a simple statement saying that the restaurant has closed. No reason given. If I had to guess, I’d say that it probably has something to do with real estate issues. The restaurant originated on Dreux Street in Gentilly in 1980, taking over an old restaurant bar called the Canopy. Armand Olivier Jr. created the menu, with his sons taking over when the restaurant moved to the French Quarter in 1989. I always found the place very good, with an old style of cooking, attributed to three previous generations of the family. People visiting New Orleans found Olivier’s to be as ideal a rendering of Creole cooking as could be had. Which is exactly what it was. More to come. . .

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Diary 1|19|2015: Mexican Find Of The Month.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 The more of the menu I read, the more it sounds like La Carreta Pumped Up. The names on the dishes may be the same, but the dishes themselves are two or three steps up in terms of interest, ingredients, presentation, and everything else except price. If I were not opposed to the word “authentic,” I would use it now. More to come. . .

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Stonebreaker’s Spinach-Artichoke Dip

RecipeSquare-150x150 This spinach and artichoke dip is the great one they made at Steve Stonebreaker’s restaurant in the late 1980s. Steve was one of the original football Saints. He operated a very good grilled-rib restaurant in Metairie Recipe details. . .

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Spumone @ Angelo Brocato

500BestSquare The most consistent dish served in New Orleans, Brocato’s spumone (they prefer that spelling to “spumoni,” which is how it’s spelled elsewhere) is exactly the same in appearance and flavor to the first wedge of it I had in my teens. Like spumone the world over, it’s made by layering different flavors and colors of ice cream. (Neapolitan ice cream is its first cousin.) What makes Brocato’s version special are the flavors (pistachio, lemon, strawberry, and torroncino) and the texture (the ice cream is whipped halfway to soufflee stage). More about this dish. . .

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January 26 In Eating

AlmanacSquare The goodness of Australia’s wines is largely due to a paradox. The soil in most of Australia is among the oldest and poorest in the world. Without nearby volcanoes and new mountain formation, the soil’s nutrients have largely been washed out over the eons. However, that’s a good thing for grapevines, which produce the best wines when under stress. More to come. . .

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Tables For Sale.

FoodFunniesSquare

Tables For Sale.

This used to be a funnier joke in the days when maitres d’hotel were still often found in restaurants. (And when there were restaurants like the one depicted here for them to work in.) But this is indeed the way it worked.

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Diary 1|17, 18|2015: Roast Beef Versus Meatballs.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 MA and I both are in the mood for a roast beef. Against my instincts, we split a large. It’s so good that I wipe out my half without much difficulty. It’s been a long time since I’ve finished a sandwich that size.And that was after we put away an order of their medium-thin fried onion rings, which are more than a little good. More to come. . .

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Seafood Gumbo

RecipeSquare-150x150 When I was growing up, my mother made gumbo every week, usually twice. She made chicken filé gumbo on Wednesdays, and seafood okra gumbo on Fridays. They tasted utterly different. Her special touch was that she sauteed the okra before adding it to the pot, thereby avoiding the texture problems that some people have with the innards of okra. Recipe details. . .

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Seafood Gumbo @ Liuzza’s By The Track

500BestSquare Known for its well-worn neighborhood joint environment as well as for its food, this Liuzza’s (there’s another one, unconnected) serves gumbo the way I wish everyone did. They make the roux and seafood broth the day before, but they leave out most of the palpable seafood–shrimp, crabmeat, and sometimes oysters. Those go into the pan only when an order is whipped up. That keeps all the seafood firm and vividly fresh. I wish everyone did this. More about this dish. . .

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January 23 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Today is National Confit Of Duck Day. A confit of duck is made by cooking duck pieces–most commonly leg quarters–in the fat rendered from the duck skin. Originally, this was a way of preserving duck meat. After it was cooked, it remained in a jar with the fat, and could hold up that way for months, without refrigeration. When it was time to eat it, the duck was broiled or baked, and the fat that saturates it makes it crisp on the outside, in sort of the same way bacon becomes when cooked in its own fat. Meanwhile, the inside of the duck leg becomes extraordinarily tender inside, and almost melts in the mouth. There’s more. . .

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The Next Hip Restaurant Concept.

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The Next Hip Restaurant Concept.

This one is long overdue. But there will be some confusion if it ever arrives.

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Diary 1|15, 16|2015: Pressure. Stars. Bosco’s. Chateau du Lac.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Chateau du Lac’s cooking is unusual in that Jacques buys a lot of his food from offbeat sources. He is a big fan of Australian meats–not just the expected lamb, but also beef and fish. I think about that tonight while trying to decide between two salmon entrees. What makes the difference is that one of them is a salmon steak–the kind shaped like a horseshoe. More to come. . .

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Creole Gratin of Oysters and Artichokes

RecipeSquare-150x150 Creole Gratin of Oysters and Artichokes

This recipe, created by Dave Carlson, came in second in an oyster-cooking competition a few years ago, sponsored by the Louisiana Seafood Marketing Board and Drago’s Restaurant. It’s a measure of how good the competition was that something this delicious would only come in second. (I thought it should have won.) Recipe details. . .

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Sirloin Strip Steak @ Keith Young’s Steak House

500BestSquare The double-cut strip at Keith Young’s is trimmed of almost everything that might get in the way of enjoyment, even for the steak dilettante. For those who know good beef when they see and taste it, satisfaction is complete. I usually order steaks with sauces or sizzling butter, but there’s no need for that here. Keith himself mans the grill, and takes care of business. It comes out better when you get a big one (strip or filet) and split it. More about this dish. . .

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