DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Diary 9-19-2019: LPO Symphonies, Copper Vine Dinner. Two weeks ago, MA and I went to the Saenger Theater to see and hear the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra as it accompanied the movie and music of Star Wars. That was good, but more interesting was the dinner MA and I took before the movie. It was taken at a new restaurant called Copper Vine, in the building where Maylie’s Restaurant stood for over a century, at the corner of O’Keefe and Poydras. The Copper Vine is a wine bar, offering wines not only by the bottle and glass but also parts of bottles or glasses.

Copper Vine is attached somehow to Walk-On’s, the national chain restaurant and bar next door. But what appeals most to the whole setup is the remembrance of Maylie’s, for those who remember it. I was a regular customer at Maylie’s in the 1970s. Even though Copper Vine is nothing like Maylie’s–the menus are totally different–it wouldn’t take a lot to bring the old classic back to life here. My fingers are crossed.

The best way I know to revive or preserve an old restaurant is to dine there and spread the words. So there we were. It was busier than it had been a couple of weeks ago, with a Millennial crowd, young and hip. A little loud, too.

As we did last time, MA and I split a bowl of popcorn, there for the taking in lieu of an amuse-bouche. Then came a platter of fresh-cut French fries fried in duck fat, with grated Parmesan cheese and sent with an aioli. We devour that quickly. I had the seasonal soup: a chilled tomato and basil soup. Very tasty, even though the chilly temperature was a surprise.

When eating soups, I always check to see if it needs some Tabasco. This one didn’t, but the waiter had to make a trip to the kitchen to pick up a little ramekin of the hot stuff. Once again, we see the folly of not having small bottles of Tabasco (or something similar) on the table all the time.

Mary Ann’s entree was a Cuban sandwich. She said it was good, and I confirmed that with a taste of my own. I thought that the sandwich wasn’t totally in the Cubano style. Not enough pork and not exactly Cubano bread–which is a lot like New Orleans poor boy bread.

The best dish on the table was gnocchi with crabmeat. That’s a good idea I don’t remember having seen before. The pasta-and-potato dumplings that make this different from other small lumps of pasta were elegant in their texture, and not overwhelmed by starchiness. Well executed.

Mary Ann says this is the best new restaurant of the year so far. I wouldn’t say that, but I would say other nice things. MA also thought that the prices here were very agreeable. Since we seem to be spending a lot of time in the neighborhood of the LPO’s Orpheum Theater, it’s nice to have an affordable, efficient restaurant nearby. And if it becomes Maylie’s, the prospect is very agreeable.

Copper Vine Winepub. CBD: 1009 Poydras St. 504-208-9535.

Eat Club Dinner @ Trenasse
Wednesday, September 26 2018

In the Hotel Inter-Continental. CBD: 444 St Charles Ave. 6:30 p.m. $85, inclusive of tax, tip and a wine tasting.
Reservations: 504-680-7000.

When we first discovered Trenasse a few years ago, it was hard to believe that a casual hotel restaurant could be this good. Beginning with a magnificent study of oysters, our dinner proceeds through dishes that blend Creole and Southern dishes, many of which are quite original.

Hour-Long Oyster Reception
Rockefeller, Bienville, garlic butter, gratin, smoked gruyere & panetta, Intercontinental, cold smoked Gulf oyster duke’s vinegar, thyme, chili, horseradish crème, micro arugula.

FIRST COURSE
Braised Lamb Carbonara
Bucatini, lamb debris, black eyed peas, poached egg

SECOND COURSE
American Red Snapper
Crispy potato rosti, ham hock gravy, arugula salad

THIRD COURSE
Boudin Stuffed Rabbit Loin
Cornmeal spoon bread, vinegar braised collard greens, rabbit reduction

FOURTH COURSE
Compressed Watermelon
Blackberry gel, white chocolate mousse, vanilla macaron, raspberry dust, mint.

RESERVATIONS
To attend this dinner, you must phone the restaurant’s reservation desk at 504-680-7000. Payment is made at the restaurant the night of the dinner. Credit cards are preferred.

Attire is casual. Most guests are seated in tables of six to eight, with Tom Fitzmorris moving from table to table. If you’re like to sit with your friends, show up early to get the seat you’d prefer. If you can’t make it, please let us know a day ahead. See you there.

AlmanacSquare September 21, 2017

Days Until. . .

Last Day Of Summer: Tomorrow
Fettuccine Frenzy: Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays through September @ Middendorf’s.

Today’s Flavor

This is National Spinach And Artichoke Dip Day. We will live to see that stuff pumped through pipelines around the country, with terminals in every chain restaurant and supermarket deli. The popularity of “spindip” (the chain restaurants’ name for it) is only slightly explained by its appeal to the palate. A more powerful engine is that it’s inexpensive to make, and restaurants earn a stunning markup on each order. The presence of spinach dip on a restaurant’s menu speaks of a dearth of imagination in the kitchen–unless it’s also the kind of place where you’d conceivably eat a hamburger.

All that said, it must be admitted that a good version of spindip makes for tasty party food. Perfect for, say, watching a football game on television. The challenge in making it is to prevent the glop effect from taking over. I like it best when the leaves of spinach still are firm enough that you can feel them in your mouth while eating. It’s also easy to make spindip too rich. The cheese aspect particularly should be kept under control. I have the recipe we use here at the Cool Water Ranch later in this newsletter.

Deft Dining Rule #507

Ordering spinach dip lets the waiter know you’re an inexperienced diner and possibly an unskilled tipper. If you must have it, get the youngest person in the party to order it.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Veal, Georgia is a loose cluster of farmsteads, at the intersection of Roopville Veal Road and Veal Blackjack Road, some two miles from the Alabama state line. It’s about as rural a place as can be imagined, with rolling hills of planted fields interspersed waith enough woods to go hunting. When they’re not eating veal at home, Vealians go to Captain Billy’s Fish House, four miles away, also in the middle of nowhere.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez

If you have the time, it’s worthwhile to soak artichokes for an hour or two in a mixture of a quarter-cup of lemon juice and one quart of cold water. Do this after you’ve rinsed them but before cooking. It tenderizes the leaves and adds something to the flavor.

Edible Dictionary

chorizo, chorizo, n., Spanish–A sausage made from chopped pork and pork fat, made reddish in color by the addition of dried red pepper or paprika. Often (but not always), chorizo has a peppery flavor, sometimes very much so. The chorizo from Spain tends to be quite firm, from having been cured and dried. It also has a smoky flavor, but that comes from the paprika. It can usually be eaten as is. However, some kinds of chorizo–especially in this country–are uncured sausages made with fresh ground pork and a good deal of cayenne, and must be cooked. It’s much like the Creole-style chaurice (hot sausage), with which it shares a common ancestor a couple of centuries ago.

Food In Show Biz

Chuck Jones was one of the guys who directed Bugs Bunny, the Road Runner, and other Warner Brothers cartoons. He was born today in 1912. He must have been quite a gourmet, because I’ve seen his drawings of Bugs on napkins in quite a few restaurants. There’s a good one on the stairs at Arnaud’s, for example.

Comic actor Bill Murray was born today in 1950. Murray performed an unforgettable food bit in the movie “What About Bob?” in it he plays a nutcase who stalks his psychiatrist. The psychiatrist gives him a snack, and Murray goes into what could only be called a foodgasm.

Food In Literature

Today in 1937, J.R.R. Tolkien published The Hobbit. Hobbits were a race of small beings separate from but somehow related to humans. They lived quiet lives of peaceful indulgence. They ate six meals a day and enjoyed them enough that they could be called gourmets.

Food Namesakes

All of the birthdays today involve members of Congress for some reason. New Jersey Congressman Bob Franks was born today in 1951. . . Theron M. Rice, a Congressman from Missouri, was born today in 1829. . . Clarence C. Dill, a Senator from Washington, was born today in 1884. He put forth the Radio Act, the first regulation of commercial broadcasting, a desperately needed law in the 1920s.

Words To Eat By

“I’m a nut, but not just a nut.”–Bill Murray, born today in 1950.

Words To Drink By

“Wine is the most healthful and the most hygienic of beverages.”–Louis Pasteur.