DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Diary, Monday, 6/26/2018. The Beautiful Roast Beef Poor Boy On A Monday. It’s the beginning of nearly a week in which I am truly alone. The Marys are visiting the Los Angeles Branch of the Family, leaving me with Mary Leigh, who has been keeping late hours herself with her museum project. I haven’t eaten anything significant all day. When I struck out to supper, I find that all the restaurants I considered were closed for the usual Monday absence.

I had particular hopes for Gallagher’s Grill. The buzz about Pat Gallagher’s new location in Mandeville (which bears the number 527 as one of its address elements) has inspired a rave among the customers. But neither the Mandeville nor the Covington Gallagher’s is open

But a few blocks up the road, something good turned up. Di Martino’s location was open. This would mean a choice from among an Italian dinner, a smaller amount of New Orleans specials involving grilled and fried fish, and a modest assortment of New Orleans sandwiches. (DiMartino’s originally opened as a specialist in muffulettas.)

But I learned a couple of years ago that DiMartino’s makes an unlikely but excellent roast beef poor boy. They bring to bear an excellent loaf of bread for the occasion. It has that distinctive torpedo shape, is covered with sesame seeds, and is big enough to feed a very hungry eater. I can only eat half if it.

What’s more, this is one of the few makers of roast beef poor boys that actually delivers on a promise of not overloading the sandwich with gravy. The way a standard roast beef falls apart with the application of the gravy is the least appealing aspect of the sandwich. DiMartino’s has all the proportions in line, creating the most beautiful of roast beef sandwiches.

I devour half of the poor boy. At home, I wrap the remaining half for the second assault in a day or two.

All the above winds up being the most exciting part of the day. Unless I account a brief attack by the dog Barry against Bauer, Mary Leigh’s dog. The two don’t get along. Fortunately, the death of the dog Susie leaves Barry puzzled as to what his role should be. The only clear tenet is that all food must be eaten, and not necessarily by its maker.

As has always been the case, the leftover roast beef poor boy from Monday is still in the refrigerator. On my way home from the radio station, I am moved to stop at Bistro Orleans.The menus there are always changing, and the details can be heard in my voice on the radio commercials. So I figure I’d better check it out. And I find a few new dishes in the past department. One of these is a bowl of angel hair pasta with a lightly-creamy, spicy, tinge-of-garlic quality. It’s finished with a crab cake on top. This is so good that I eat almost the entire bowl of pasta and all its companions, especially that crab cake.

DiMartino’s. Covington: 700 S Tyler St. 985-276-6460.

AlmanacSquare June 30, 2017

Days Until. . .

Fourth Of July

Today’s Flavor

Today is National Ice Cream Soda Day. This sounds like one of those hot dogs-apple pie-baseball kinds of things, but when’s the last time you had an ice cream soda? Even ice cream parlors rarely have them anymore. The reason: the lack of the kind of soda fountain making an ice cream soda requires. It mixed carbon dioxide with water, then shoots it in a thin, string stream into the other soda ingredients. And that you don’t see too much since around 1980.

Here in New Orleans, an ice cream soda is very likely to be a nectar soda. The flavor “nectar” is unique to this city. A pink syrup best known these days as a sno-ball flavor, it blends the flavors of almond and vanilla with a little citric acid to produce a distinctive and delicious hybrid.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Pricklypear Creek runs some ten miles through the rolling ranch country fifty miles east-southeast of Austin, Texas. As the name implies, this is dry country, with no small number of pricklypear cactuses growing. Both the flat pads and the fruits are edible. (I have a big pricklypear cactus and turn the fruits into jelly every year.) Pricklypear Creek falls into Barton’s Creek, a tributary of the Colorado River (the one in Texas). The nearest restaurant to the confluence is in Smithville, four miles away. It has the inviting name Zimmerhanzel’s Bar-B-Que.

Edible Dictionary

mellorine, n.–mellorine, n.–A substitute for real ice cream, made with fats other than that of cream. What makes ice cream creamy is the milkfat (also known as butterfat) that makes up 30-40 percent of heavy cream. Ice cream can be made by adding unsalted butter to a mix of whole milk instead of cream, without seeming peculiar. In mellorine, the fats used can be anything from animal fats to vegetable oils. This brings a distinctly different flavor and mouthfeel to the product. It was created in the late 1940s and was at its peak of popularite in the late 1950s. That mellorine is now only rarely even heard of is evidence that the “good old days” weren’t all that good.

Food Inventions

Today in 1896, James Hadaway received a patent for the first electric stove. Electric stoves are roundly derided by those who cook with gas, and there’s no doubt that gas is preferable. However, those of us who are forced by circumstances to cook on electric stovetops soon learn to adapt to its operating quirks. I am one of these unfortunates, and I’d say that I cook as well on an electric element as I could on gas. The worst problem: skillets and saucepans must have absolutely flat bottoms. As for electric ovens, I prefer them to gas.

Deft Dining Rule #188

The best table in most restaurants is the one that’s most isolated one in the main dining room, especially if it’s next to a window.

Music To Drink Martinis By

Frank Sinatra’s career went into high gear today in 1939, when he made his first appearance with the Harry James orchestra. Harry James discovered a lot of great talent. He was also the great-uncle of Clark, the Gourmet Truck Driver, a regular visitor to my radio show.

Annals Of Food Research

The Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act were signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt. It was the first time any serious standards were brought to bear on the food supply in this country. Although its effect was overwhelmingly salubrious, it did ultimately remove from the market certain gourmet items that involve an above-average risk. A modern example of that would be raw milk and cheeses made from it.

Eating Around The World

Today in 1755, the government of the Philippines–which was more or less controlled by that of Mexico and, in turn, by Spain–declared that all Chinese food vendors owned by non-Catholics (which would be most of them) must close. It was the Far Eastern version of the Inquisition.

Food Namesakes

Shirley Fry, an Australian tennis player who won her share of the major tournaments, was born today in 1927. . . On this date in 1967, Cookie Rojas pitched in relief for the Phillies. Afterwards, he could say that he’d played all nine positions on the team. . . Frankie Lymon of the rock group the Teenagers was born today in 1942. Later they would make Sprite out of his namesake fruit.

Words To Eat By

“Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos.”–Don Kardong, writer and running enthusiast.

Words To Drink By

“Man being reasonable must get drunk;
The best of life is but intoxication;
Glory, the grape, love, gold–in these are sunk
The hopes of all men and of every nation”
–Lord Byron.