DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Diary For Fri., 12/7/2018. Keith Young’s Steakhouse @ Lunch. Mary Ann’s birthday festival continues with another good meal, at lunchtime. Keith Young’s Steakhouse is an MA favorite, offering what she says is the best hamburger in town. It’s certainly the biggest, but it also bears the hallmark of Keith Young, who builds everything on his menu by hand and personally. MA gets it almost every time we find ourself at the ever-busy and best steakhouse on the North Shore.

I am equally predictable in my order at Keith Young’s place. Ever since he told me that he used the recipe in my cookbook for making oysters Bienville, I feel as if I should order them every time I dine there. I don’t need to persuade myself. I think Oysters Bienville is the best of all the classic baked-on-the-shell oyster dishes. My recipe in turn is based on the superb versions at Arnaud’s, Antoine’s, Pascal’s Manale, and the lost Tony Angello’s. I asked for an order of eight. That and a salad served as my lunch while Birthday Girl (today is also Pearl Harbor Day) demolished her burger.

We can take it easy through most of the MA Fest. Because of the high school state championship games, which are carried on my radio station, I have been given a four-day weekend, without my having to cross the lake or show up at my radio desk. I don’t stop working, though. Here was my chance to send out renewal notices to the subscribers of this newsletter. To say that the order poured in is no exaggeration. I don’t remember ever having so many subs come in so quickly. I must be doing something right. I wish I knew what it was.
Keith Young’s Steak House. Madisonville: 165 LA 21. 985-845-9940.

Diary For Sat., 12/8/2018. I have no radio show today or tomorrow, but I have much else to do. I have columns due for both the CityBusiness newspaper and Inside New Orleans magazine. At this time of year, that means it’s time for lists of the best new restaurant of the year, restaurants open on Christmas, and the like. All these and their like take much more time than one would imagine. Researching the data is much easier than it was in the pre-computer days. How did I get this sort of thing done in, say, 1982, when I was already doing this job for ten years? Answer: There were many fewer reviewable restaurants then. Also: I didn’t use up a lot of my time fooling around with a computer or the internet.

I shop for clothes the way most men do. When I need something, I go to the store where I have bought the garments before, walk right up to the place where those shirts or whatever are displayed, grab one my size, check out and leave. The process for women is very different: much longer and full of uncertainty.

I have wanted a navy blue blazer for months, and since I had the time to do the shopping, I went to the discount store Stein Mart. I needed two belts, and had them in hand two minutes after I entered the store. Walking to the checkout, I saw an unusual jacket hanging on the rack with two others of varying sizes. A man much bigger than me tried them on, but couldn’t fit any of them. I joked with him a moment, all the while looking at the remaining two jackets. Which were, I saw, not black but very dark blue. I tried one on: 42 Long. Perfect fit. The fabric was funny, but it was thick and warm inside–just what I wanted for the winter weather. Mary Ann–who loved the jacket–told me that it was a corduroy without the cords or wales. Sold! But things got better. The price for the Tommy Hilfiger jacket was just under $400, but I knew the Stein Mart discount would be absurdly low: $71. By the time I checked out, it was down to $44.95. Fantastic! Another reason it’s great to be a man. And how is it that my whole life has been so full of such wonderful turns lately?

I wore the jacket to a party tonight Uptown. Mary Toups, who organized the Jesuit Auction for a few years, had asked me to be part of the fund-raising, which I did with pleasure. I’ll do anything for the Jesuits.

The Toupses invited us to their annual pre-Christmas party at their house. The theme: making several big pots of turkey gumbo from all the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. The chef: her husband Tony. It was good last year, and even better this year. He made the soup without a roux, but achieved an appealing thickness by using lots of turkey bones and skins. The presence of a spicy sausage finished one lusty gumbo.

It was an exceptionally enjoyable affair, for an unexpected condition. Neither I nor Mary Ann knew more than a few of the other guests. After a few moments they were revealed as substantial, interesting people who pulled us into conversation all night long. A lot of the people had Jesuit connections, and a lot of them had kids, most of whom were in high school or college. A lot of meat there for talk. We wound up staying for over three hours, with only the cold, wet weather putting a damper on things. We hope they invite us again next year.




Gumbo Shop

The Gumbo Shop’s Reveillon has a strong following among locals, who keep it so busy this time of year that a wait for a table (they don’t take reservations) is inevitable. It’s a good idea to show up early (around 11 a.m.) or in the middle of of the day between lunch and dinner. Part of this popularity owes to the perennially low price for the Gumbo Shop’s Reveillon: $36 for the four courses. And you get lagniappe at the end: cafe brulot. The contents of the menu have not changed much over the years, and because of that and the low price, the Gumbo Shop has become an annual tradition for a lot of people.

Four courses, $36.

Shrimp and Artichoke Soup
Chicken Andouille Gumbo
Turtle Soup
Tossed Green Salad
Toasted pecan vinaigrette
Catfish St. Peter
Blackened catfish with crabmeat stuffing and New Orleans shrimp cream sauce
Crawfish Étouffée over Rice
Crab Cakes
Green peppercorn and crawfish sauce
»Roasted Half Duckling
Local rum and Louisiana citrus sauce
Homemade Pecan Pie
Chocolate Cheese Cake
Raspberry liqueur sauce

Hot Bread Pudding
»Café Brûlot

Gumbo Shop’s main dining room. The mural on the left depicts an early time in the restaurant’s history.

French Quarter: 630 St Peter. 504-525-1486.

All the Reveillon menus can be perused here. We’ll feature one every day throughout the Reveillon season, which runs in most of the Reveillon restaurants until December 31.The snowflake ratings are for the Reveillon menu, not the restaurant in general. Dishes marked with the snowflake symbol are my recommendations.

AlmanacSquare December 11, 2017

Upcoming Deliciousness

Reveillon Dinners. Nightly, now through December.
Eat Club @ Drago’s In Lafayette. December 12.
Broadcast From The Roosevelt. December 13.
Christmas December 25.
New Year’s Eve: December 31.

Today’s Flavor

It’s Shepherd’s Pie Day. A casserole with layers of ground beef, mashed potatoes, and cheese, it has roots in Greece and the Balkans. There, dishes like moussaka show family connections. In Britain, where the dish is most popular, it’s called cottage pie. There, it’s often made with lamb or mutton (as you would imagine it would be, given the name).

Shepherd’s pie made with prime rib @ the Rib Room.

In America shepherd’s pie is best known as a dish in the regular rotation in the school cafeteria. Some love it, some hate it. I was in the first category, and have managed to infect the rest of my finicky family with this taste. We start with a layer of corn or squash or something else crunchy on the bottom, then the ground beef (cooked with onions and celery), then mashed potatoes, then a crust of Cheddar cheese. We make it when we have too much ground beef or mashed potatoes in the house. My recipe is here.

Edible Dictionary

oiseau sans tete, French, n.–Throughout Western Europe, restaurants serving a traditional menu often have a dish or two that seems, from the name, to be made with some small, unidentified bird. In fact, these are slices of veal or beef that have been rolled around a stuffing of ground meat, sausage, or pate. They’re tied with string, browned, and sauced, and when the process is finished it’s easy to see why they’re called “birds without heads.” These dishes are delightful–unless you think you’re getting a real bird. “Veal birds” is how the idea is usually rendered in English.

Deft Dining Rule #772:

You should never be able to finish an entree of shepherd’s pie, moussaka, or lasagna without being made uncomfortably full.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

Dishes baked in layers
Draw many naysayers
But aroma persuades them
And savor parades them.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Rabbit Hash, Kentucky overlooks the Ohio River, some twenty miles downstream from Cincinnati. It makes much of itself as a quaint, historic little town, founded in 1831. Among other things, it was a stop on the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. Rabbit Hash is famous (enough to have an answer about this on Jeopardy) for having as its mayor a black dog named Junior. All this comes from the town’s amusing web site. The center of the town is the Rabbit Hash General Store, which has its own web site. It has been a working store since the town’s founding. You may as well get a snack there, because all the nearby restaurants are across the river in Rising Sun, Indiana, and there’s no nearby crossing.

Dining In The House Of Windsor

Today in 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated the British throne so he could marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. She meant more to him than being a king. Not to gainsay that, but we are intrigued by the gourmet possibilities of being a monarch. The expression “eat like a king” is no myth. Even if a serious king had no budget for fine dining, he would still eat as well as he wanted to. What restaurant would present a check to a king? Or fail to show him the utmost hospitality?

People with elevated places in society are commensurately well treated. A physician friend says he finds it ironic, given his substantial success, that he should constantly receive free dinners, bottles of wine, trips, and other offers from companies wooing his attention, patients and friends of patients. The higher up one goes, the easier it is to go even higher, and to enjoy life even more. That thought has never failed to get me going in the morning.

Annals Of Cheese

James Lewis Kraft was born today in 1874. He founded the Kraft Cheese Company, which renamed itself Kraft Foods in the 1940s. His flagship product was an inexpensive processed cheese with a long shelf life. He named it “American cheese.” At first, the public rejected it, but after Kraft sold six million pounds of the stuff to the Army, a taste for it grew. The Depression increased its popularity even more, because of its low price and nutritional value. And it remains everywhere.

Food Namesakes

Rabbit and white beans at Arnaud’s.

Our list is dominated by music people today. David Gates, the lead singer of a soft-rock 1970s band called Bread, came out of the oven today in 1940. Tony Basil hit Number One on the pop charts with her song Mickey. . . Today in 1946, the Kay Kyser Orchestra had a top hit with Ole Buttermilk Sky, sung by Mike Douglas, who’d be a talk show host later. . . The creamy-throated vocalist Sam Cooke was shot to death today in 1965. . . Apple, the Beatles’ recording company, signed its first outside act today in 1967. The group was called Grapefruit. . . Sir David Brewster, the inventor of the kaleidoscope, was born in Scotland today in 1791. . . Justin Currie, a singer and songwriter from Scotland, was born today in 1964.

Words To Eat By

“Many are the ways and many the recipes for dressing hares; but this is the best of all, to place before a hungry set of guests a slice of roasted meat fresh from the spit, hot, seasoned only with plain, simple salt. . . All other ways are quite superfluous, such as when cooks pour a lot of sticky, clammy sauce upon it.”–Archestratus, ancient Greek writer on food and drink.

Words To Drink By

“I hate things that are diluted—I mean, you don’t mix Jack Daniel’s with Coke. That’s a sin!”–Nikki Sixx, bass player for Motley Crue, born today in 1958.