Diary 1|21|2015: Eat Club At Andrea’s.

DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Chef Andrea Apuzzo, to his credit, is a man who can forget the past and insist on moving ahead, and trying to make everything good. After a year of cajoling, leading up to the thirtieth anniversary of his restaurant, I finally caved in and we went ahead with an Eat Club dinner for the first time in three years. What pushed me into it was the news that Chef Christiano Rossit–whose food I have enjoyed in other restaurants, notably Mr. John’s Steak House–is the chef de cuisine at Andrea’s these days. I have suggested for years that Andrea hire such a talent and get out of the kitchen, and spend his time during service visiting tables and glad-handing his regulars–something he does so well as to make him endearing. More to come. . .

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Seafood Lasagna

RecipeSquare-150x150 Lasagna is all about layering, and nothing in that concept says that red sauce, meat, or even cheese needs to be between the pasta. Emboldened by that thought, I make this lasagna out of the seafood in season. It is necessarily rich. It’s also better made with fewer layers than a standard lasagna. It works best as a preliminary course–say, before the osso buco. Recipe details. . .

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Dry-Aged Sirloin Strip Steak, Doris Metropolitan.

500BestSquare In a time when dry-aging of steaks is practiced by fewer and fewer steakhouses, Doris Metropolitan makes bold statements in its glass-walled aging room. It’s right inside the entrance filled with rib roasts, short loins, and strip sirloins covered with a thin, dried-out, perhaps even moldy coating that is the hallmark of dry-aged beef. The flavors that gives the beef are the ultimate for many steak connoisseurs, but it’s not for everybody. More about this dish. . .

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January 28 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″ /> Like many dishes, lasagna is named for the container in which it is made. In this case, it’s unappetizing. The Greek word from which lasagna descends meant “chamber pot.” The first versions were baked in large, deep dishes. The ingredients and their assembly probably evolved from the many layered, baked casseroles (Greek moussaka is the most familiar) that are still found in the Balkans. Lasagna as we know it–with its layers of cheese, meat, and sauce–is probably not much more than a hundred years old. There’s more. . .

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Lingering Flavors Of Seasons Past.

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Lingering Flavors Of Seasons Past.

They bring back memories of the happy times, even as you’re about sick of thinking about them.

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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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