Reveillon @ Cafe Adelaide.

ReveillonDinnerSquareThe restaurant in the Loews Hotel downtown is managed by the Brennans of Commander’s Palace, which installs the same kind of forward-looking Creole cooking found in the flagship, but in a more casual way. In fact, I think this menu exemplifies the state of the art of Creole restaurant cooking today. Which is to say a little over the top, particularly in this overemphasis on a few tiny scraps of herbs and the like. On the other hand, the cocktail in the middle of it all reminds us of what a great bar this place has. More to come. . .

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Diary 12|12|14: Wedding Festival, Pary 3: Rehearsal. Then Antoine’s.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 She is in residence at the Windsor Court Hotel, where she is a member of The Club. For a couple hundred dollars extra, denizens of The Club get to nibble and sip in accordance with the time of day, without limits or charges. Mary Ann loves The Club for both its luxuries and its history in our own marriage. We spent two nights at the hotel before departing on our honeymoon. The room we were given was the entire space which, two decades later, would be renovated into The Club. All of it, grand piano and all, was ours for those two nights. More to come. . .

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Chocolate Egg Nog

RecipeSquare-150x150 I was enjoying a cup of egg nog as we decorated the Christmas tree, with my family gathered around me. (I know it sounds corny, but we’re a pretty corny family.) I offered some of the nog to my daughter. She took a look at it and turned away. The nutmeg aroma got her, I think.

“What would it take for you to try egg nog, Mary Leigh?” I asked. She said that about the only thing would be if it were chocolate. I scoffed, then thought about it. I dug around and came up with a few recipes, notably one from the hand of Sharon Tyler Herbst. (She’s the author of a number of food books, including Never Eat More Than You Can Lift, a book of food quotations.) I fooled around with her recipe and came up with this, which I think works. But I’m not a chocolate maniac. More to come. . .

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Red Bean Omelette @ Camellia Cafe

500BestSquare The idea doesn’t sound right, but one bite will tell you that it is. The first restaurant to make it as a regular menu item was the Coffee Pot on St. Peter Street. It spread, but not rapidly, and not onto many menus. The Camellia Cafe has all the pieces in place (they serve red beans every day), and all you need do is ask to have their thinly-sliced ham and pepper jack cheese added to the mix. More to come. . .

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December 22 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de LaSalle, was born in Rouen, France (famous for its pressed duck, but that’s unrelated) today in 1643. LaSalle explored North America widely on behalf of King Louis XIV, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. He claimed the entire drainage of the Mississippi River for France, burying a silver plate saying so somewhere around what is now Venice, Louisiana. LaSalle is largely responsible for the fact that New Orleans has as strong a French culinary heritage as it does. We thanked him by naming a street and a few other things here for him. There’s more. . .

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December 23 In Eating

AlmanacSquare This is Bûche de Noël Day. Or, if you insist on speaking English Yule Log Day. It’s a French creation, however. Its origins were in a decree from Napoleon that people keep their chimneys closed to keep the cold air from coming in. That meant that the fireplaces could not be lit. To take the place of the burning logs, patisseries made these cakes in the shape of logs. More to come. . .

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The Delicious Kris Kringle Gift.

FoodFunniesSquare

The Delicious Kris Kringle Gift.

The problem is that it was left under the Christmas tree at the office, and stayed they throughout the weekend.

Click here for the cartoon.

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Reveillon @ Brigtsen’s

ReveillonDinnerSquareMore restaurants outside the French Quarter have joined the Reveillon celebration. Chef Frank Brigtsen’s matchless little bistro is the best of them. It’s more or less the same menu that in past years has brought great appreciation, with enough changes to allow for evolution. More to come. . .

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Diary: Wedding Festival, Part 2. Pelican Club.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Jude’s contingent of wedding guests from Los Angeles gather for a grand dinner tonight. A dozen people showed up at the Pelican Club, among them Brian and Joey, who were with us last night at Commander’s Palace. This dinner was originally planned for Commander’s, but getting a table that size that late was impossible. But I was relieved to move the venue to the Pelican Club, whose food is much more accessible and. . . dare I say it? I do. Better. More to come. . .

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Egg Nog

RecipeSquare-150x150 The best egg nog, frankly, is uncooked. But so many people are concerned about the possibility of problems from eating raw eggs that I’ve come up with an egg nog recipe cooked just long enough to eliminate most possible problems. It does produce a difficulty, through: you have to be very careful as you cook this to keep the mixture from setting. It’s basically a custard, and that’s not what you want. Recipe details. . .

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December 19 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Today is National Hard Candy Day. This is the time of year when my Aunt Una and millions of people like her set out bowls of candies in red and greens in celebration of the season. I liked the ones that had the preserves-like goo inside. Striped red or green peppermints–the kind many restaurants put out near the exit–also qualify as hard candies. How many may one have? They don’t cost much, but if everyone too a handful the bowl would have to be emptied several times a night. There’s more. . .

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This Year’s Fruitcake Joke.

FoodFunniesSquare

This Year’s Fruitcake Joke.

The Second Amendment appears to be involved.

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Reveillon @ Windsor Court Grill Room

ReveillonDinnerSquareThe Grill Room is the sole survivor of a golden era for deluxe, grand restaurants in the mid-1980s. For the past couple of years, its Reveillon menu has been excellent, save for a limited selection. Chef Daniel Causgrove, who took over the Grill Room’s kitchen during the past year, has fulfilled the two main requirements of the Reveillon: the menu emits a faint jingling of holiday bells, and the $60 price is an attractive price for this lovely restaurant. More to come. . .

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Diary 12|10|14: The Wedding Festival Begins.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 My son Jude and his soon-to-be bride often hang out with Brian and Joey, another guy-and-girl couple interested in finding and enjoying good restaurants. Especially Brian, who when he learned that the nuptials would take place not in L.A. but in LA, began agitating for a dinner at Commander’s Palace for the entire twelve-strong California contingent of celebrants.

I tried to arrange a table for this crowd at Commander’s. But tables that big are hard to come by on short notice this time of year. More to come. . .

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Calas

RecipeSquare-150x150 In a time prior to the emergence of my consciousness, men and women pushing carts through the streets of New Orleans sold these wonderful, aromatic rice cakes. They were so popular in the early part of the century that one of my oldest aunts was nicknamed for them. They have never been widely available in restaurants; the Coffee Pot on St. Peter Street has kept their memory alive almost single-handedly. They make a great breakfast or snack. More to come. . .

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Bread Pudding @ Creole Grille

500BestSquare Here is a standout among the hundreds of versions of New Orleans’s favorite dessert. You know this at first glance: it’s beautiful. The texture is perfect: very moist and custardy, no dry islands. The flavor is rich, vanilla-fragrant, and elegant. Finally, it’s big enough to split–a good thing in these dessert-averse times. More about this dish. . .

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December 18 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Today is Sweet Potato Day. Sweet potatoes are essential to the holiday table, but we never get tired of eating them down here in Louisiana. Not only do they taste good with Creole and Cajun food, but they’re a major local crop. Louisiana sweet potatoes are the standard of the business, like Vermont maple syrup, Idaho potatoes, and California artichokes. Sweet potatoes are the roots of a vine related to the morning glory… There’s more. . .

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You’ve Got To Get The Food To The Table Hot.

FoodFunniesSquare

You’ve Got To Get The Food To The Table Hot.

It gets harder when a draft from above fights with you. Ceiling fans, for example. And. . .

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Reveillon @ Richard Fiske’s Martini Bar & Restaurant.

ReveillonDinnerSquareRichard Fiske was the owner of the Bombay Club for many years, and set the style of that swinging eatery, with its great cocktail bar before cocktails became cool again. And live music in a New Orleans tone every night. Richard passed away last year, and when his wife and staff moved ahead, they left the old location and the name behind. It’s only a block away, in the pleasant dining room of the Chateau Le Moyne Hotel on Bienville and Dauphine. Remaining the same are the servers, the bartenders, and–especially important–Chef Nick Gile. He’s been with the outfit since before Katrin, and is responsible for most of the menu. He created new menus both for a la carte service and the Reveillon. More to come. . .

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Diary 12|9|2014: Eat Club Does Reveillon At NOLA.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 The food was exciting start to finish. In fact, this is one of the three or four best menus this Reveillon season. My four courses began with an oyster soup with Herbsaint and a few fried, floating oysters. Then a salad surmounted with a thick slice of daube glace–a semi-pâté, like hogshead cheese but with beef instead of pork. Very traditional this time of year in New Orleans. My entree was redfish court-bouillon, made with a tomato-dominant sauce. Here was another example of how seafood and tomatoes–usually not a good combination–sometimes goes over the top and becomes wonderful. Dessert was pecan pie bread pudding, a new idea that looks and tastes exactly what it sounds like. More to come. . .

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