DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Diary: Tuesday, June 12, 2018: It’s another one of those evenings when I can’t seem to think of a place to dine that will suit my tastes, my time, and other matters. When it gets down to this level of consideration, I probably will be headed in the general direction of the Causeway, where there are many restaurants, but too many I’ve already reviewed often enough.

Today this situation brings me to Bistro Orleans. I haven’t been there in six months or more, the menu has changed a bit, from a big menu to begin with. And I improvise commercials for the place now and then, which makes me keep up to date on what’s up over there.

During my study of Bistro Orleans, I found something I couldn’t remember from previous visits. It’s an appetizer made by stuffing good-size mushrooms with pockets filled with thick creamed spinach, feta cheese and herbs. They run this under the broiler, and in the end it leaves the flavor, texture and substance I look for in a good appetizer. It’s something I’m sure I’ll have again here.

Bistro Orleans. Metairie: 3216 West Esplanade Ave. 504-304-1469.

Saturday, June 16,2018: Hustling My New Cookbook. Mary Ann has set up a a very busy day for me. It begins at seven in the morning, when I depart for the South Shore. I walk eight blocks from the radio station’s garage (how handy it is that I have this twenty-four-seven resource) to the corner of Carondelet at Julia. There we find the current location of the Crescent City Farmer’s Market. Here’s would here I will be selling and autographing copies of Tom Fitzmorris’s New Orleans Food, the third publication since 2006.

Except for blazing temperatures, the weather was good, inviting more people than I expected to come buy and take a look at my book. Commensurate with that, we sold more books than I expected. I was in the mood for clowning around, and many laughing people wound up buying.

From there I returned to the radio station, where I had ninety minutes before it was showtime. My office there is as cold as a meatlocker, but that’s just what I needed. A three-hour show ensued, with a good flow of callers and commentators. But that’s the way it usually goes on WWL.

Mary Ann and I next considered how we would celebrate Father’s Day tomorrow. Or, perhaps, tonight, when the crowds wouldn’t be as strong. I suggested Forks and Corks in Covington. We’ve been regulars there since the place opened a few years ago, but haven’t been there lately. I expected no less than what I found last time, even though there have been a couple of chef changes.

The outcome of those evolutions have resulted in the best food I’ve had here in years. We started with a Midwestern-style soup made tihe a variety of peppers, shreds of tortilla chip, hard-to-identify cheeses and spices. This was so fine a concoction that I considered having a second cup of the stuff.

Instead, I checked out what the kitchen is up to as regards swordfish. Two recent developments considered before in this department continue to be solid: The sword itself is a superb fish, clean, with a great texture and a lighter color than most people imagine. This was served with a risotto in a creamy sauce, and resulted in a competition between this and the aforementioned tortilla soup. All around and at $30, this is an outstanding order for anyone who likes fish even a little.

Meanwhile, Mary Ann went after a shrimp salad and I think she liked it. Her mind is still on other the scenario for the dog Susie.

Forks & Corks. Covington: 141 TerraBella Blvd. 985-273-3663.

RecipeSquare-150x150

Marinated Baby Artichokes

If you can think ahead about a week or two, you can serve your family or guests these eminently tender, succulent baby artichokes. After marinating for a long time, the leaves become completely edible. With all the oil, this is messy to eat, but good. The recipe comes from Chef Andrea Apuzzo at Andrea’s, and the cookbook he and I wrote together, La Cucina Di Andrea’s.

  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 6-8 baby artichokes
  • 2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Pinch white pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 1 broken bay leaf

1. Bring a gallon of water to a boil with the vinegar.

2. Trim the outer two layers of artichoke leaves. (Put them in a food storage bag and freeze them for the next time you want to make artichoke soup.)

3. Put the artichokes into the boiling vinegar-water. Boil for about twenty minutes, or until the inner surfaces of the artichoke leaves are tender. Plunge artichokes into cold water to stop the cooking.

4. Cut off the top ends of the artichokes, along with any excess stem. (The first inch and a half or so of the stem is good to eat.) Slice the artichokes in eighths from top to bottom.

5. Put the artichokes and all the other ingredients into a large jar or airtight container. Make sure there is enough olive oil to completely cover the artichokes. Gently shake the container to distribute all ingredients evenly.

6. Store the container in the refrigerator for one week to marinate. (It gets even better if it marinates two or even three weeks.)

Serves six to eight as antipasto.

AlmanacSquare June 19, 2017

Upcoming Deliciousness

Fourth Of July 18

Restaurant Anniversaries

Valencia-born Angel Miranda opened Lola’s on Esplanade Avenue today in 1994. Angel had attracted attention to his Spanish food in a restaurant called Altamira, in the vicinity of the 1984 World’s Fair. The neighborhood–now called the Warehouse District–is booming with restaurants. But back then business was sparse, and Altamira closed not long after the Fair did. And Spanish food was slow to catch on. Lola’s, however was a big hit. Angel passed away in 2011, but his restaurant still thrives.

Today’s Flavor

The consensus on the Internet is that today is National Dry Martini Day. That sounds good to me, although I prefer my martinis not so dry. It’s said that the original recipe for the martini was equal parts of gin and vermouth. This makes sense, since the drink is named for a major maker of vermouth.

However, now we see recipes like. . . well, I saw this at Morton’s. “Gin shaken with crushed ice in front of a vermouth bottle.” In other words, many martinis don’t have vermouth at all. Which seems wrong to me. I always ask for a little extra vermouth, in fact. But then I’m also a proponent of the idea that no real martini is made without gin.

Music To Eat Sugar Pie By

Today in 1965, the Four Tops had their biggest Number One hit with Can’t Help Myself, which is better known to many people by its first line, “Sugar pie honey bunch.” What is a sugar pie? Where can I buy a honey bunch?

Overeating In The Comics

Garfield, the fat orange cat in the comic strip drawn by Jim Davis, first appeared today in 1978. Garfield is an extremely dedicated eater, even a gourmet. I have never seen him turn down any food, no matter how unusual. Cat after my own heart.

Annals Of Ice Cream

On this date in 1987, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream created a new flavor, Cherry Garcia, with the blessing of the leader of the Grateful Dead. It’s cherries and chocolate in vanilla ice cream. Very good and rich, as Ben and Jerry’s usually is.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Snail Bay is in lower Lafourche Parish in southeast Louisiana, about twenty miles north of Grand Isle, the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. The bay is about a mile wide and two miles long, with Snail Bayou passing through from east to west. Just south of Snail Bqayou is Barataria Bay, one of the finest estuaries for oysters, shrimp, and fish anywhere in America. It’s also one of the places most endangered by the current oil spill. While most of this land has been eroding away as a result of rising sea levels and hurricanes, silt coming in from Bayou Lafourche makes the land around here a little more solid. If you find snails, in Snail Bay, you won’t want to eat them. The nearest restaurant is fifteen miles east by boat in Galliano: The Kajun Twist.

Edible Dictionary

chile con queso, chill-ee-cohn-KAY-so], Spanish (Mexican), n.–The literal translation into English is “chile peppers with cheese,” but there’s a little more to it than that. The cheese incorporates both white and orange cheeses (jack and cheddar) with cream, into which the the cheeses are melted to make a dip for tortilla chips. It’s also used as a sauce over a wide variety of Tex-Mex dishes, of which chile con queso is unarguably one. The quality criterion is to have the heat of the peppers and the richness of the cheeses to balance. The dip usually comes out hot and loose, but should thicken as it cools. Many restaurants buy chile con queso already made; indeed, you can buy it in jars at the supermarket. In recent years an ancestor of chile con queso has come across the Mexican border and become popular. In it, chorizo sausage is added to the cheese. This is known variously as queso fundido, queso flameado, and the Spanglish neologism choriqueso.

Food Namesakes

Salman Rushdie was born today in 1947. . . The Apple satellite, launched by India today in 1981, was the first to be stabilized in all three axes. . . Edward “Wahoo” McDaniel was born today in 1938. He was a professional football player, then became a pro wrestler. (Wahoo is the name of a very good Gulf fish.). . .Pro footballer David Pollack stepped up to the Big Scrimmage today in 1982. (Pollock is a fish in the Pacific used to make fake crabmeat, among other things.)

Annals Of Cereal

Cheerios was created today in 1941. They’re made predominantly of oats, and they taste pretty good, as cereals go. They work well as an evening appetite killer, which is what I use them for.

Sounds Like Food, But Isn’t

On this date in 1835, New Orleans gave the square of ground at the foot of Esplanade Avenue to the federal government for the building of the U.S. Mint. It operated until the Civil War, then again in the 1880s. The rumor that the city fathers thought they were getting a plant making after-dinner candies is not true. The Old. U.S. Mint is now part of the Louisiana State Museum, and after an excellent restoration some years ago, its grounds also host the French Quarter Festival and other celebrations. It’s a must-visit for numismatists.

Words To Eat By

“There is such a thing as food and such a thing as poison. But the damage done by those who pass off poison as food is far less than that done by those who generation after generation convince people that food is poison.”–Paul Goodman.

Words To Drink By

“How about slipping out of those wet things and into a dry Martini?”–Noel Coward.
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