Saturday, February 24, 2018. Semolina Revisited. My wife Mary Ann is headed back home after a week spent with our son Jude and grandson Jackson at their home in Los Angeles. MA and our daughter Mary Leigh devised a ridiculously complex program by which the three of us figure out how to bring us and out cars home. At one point, the strategy had me performing my radio show from the radio station instead of from my home studio. That was nixed when I discovered that I had no radio show on the schedule for the day.
The whole thing was closing in on a headache as I drove MA’s Audi across the lake. The MA’s car sounds terrible. Like it needs a wheel bearing. That has two aggravating problems that I recall from the last time this happened to me. 1.–The repair will be expensive. B.–If it’s not done soon, the danger of losing control of the vehicle is possible. Always something.
MA was not scheduled to arrive until late this evening. Neither ML nor I have eaten today, so are in food mode. The curse of Veterans Boulevard looms: few good restaurants of any kind, with a surplus of uninteresting chains. Many are the evenings when I drove up and down Vets looking for something excellent, and fail to do so without dodging into the surrounding neighborhoods. Besides, ML was dressed down.
She suggested that we have supper at Semolina. The one remaining location of that formerly widely-spread chain is in the Clearview Mall, across a hallway from its brother restaurant Zea.
Semolina had quite a run in its heyday in the 1980s. As the name implies (semolina flour is what is used to make pasta), it’s a restaurant with an over-arching culinary goal. Almost the entire menu is about pasta–but not the kind of dishes that we associate with pasta. The red sauce are few, replaced by concoctions as far apart from one another as pickles and bananas.
The restaurant was on waiting list when we arrived. A table became available soon enough, one served by a waiter who was helpful and prompt. We began with what they call a Mac-And-Cheesecake. The last word is misleading–this is not a dessert or even sweet, but a wedge of tubular pasta baked with a lot of yellow cheese. That’s right up Mary Leigh’s alley. We make this into a very rich mac-and casserole, as familiar as any American dish imaginable.
Her entree was chicken Parmesan with a side of marinara sauce. That resulted in the most conventional dish we would have. My entree goes in exactly the opposite direction: pad Thai, the famous rice-noodle dish of Thailand. From Semolina’s first day, this was not only the most memorable Semolina creation, but also its most popular dish.
I had my pad thai altered by asking for the shrimp to be omitted off. (I have a mild stomach ache.) It was as excellent as I remember, and this vegetarian version was very pleasant.
All this done, ML brings MA’s car to the airport. I am dismissed and sent home. I would have chauffeured her myself, but the two Marys have matters to discuss in which I am not invited.
Semolina. Metairie: 4436 Veterans (Clearview Mall). 504-454-7930.