Thursday, December 28, 02017. A Wrap On Christmas.
We have a social engagement running behind schedule. Chef Andrea seemed genuinely disappointed when, last year, he was out of the restaurant when our one-year-old grandson Jackson visited us. Andrea loves kids, and he wanted to feast his eyes on Jackson, as much as if the two of them were blood relatives, and with thorough sincerity.
Also at the table were my big sister Judy, who was looking very lovely. And my little sister Lynn and niece Holly. All of them are here because we have sort of a tradition to have lunch together between Christmas and New Year’s. Having Jackson–now two, and shortly to return to Los Angeles with his family–made the day special. But I had to leave in the middle of the lunch, because the radio show requires my attendance.
Jackson puts on some wonderful performances. He remembers the names of all the restaurants we visit, which tickles the owners tremendously. “Mattina Bella!” he said to a laughing Vincent Riccobono, who makes good pancakes. “Chef Andrea!” called up a big grin on the chef’s face. Everybody loves my blue-eyed grandson. This kid is a public relations marvel.
Friday, December 29, 2017. Wild Day In The Cold. Too much going on. The day began with an extra-early crossing of the bridge and an interview with Newell Normand, the former sheriff of Jefferson Parish. He is now the morning talk show host on WWL radio. He must have done some studying, because he sounds as if he’s had the skill down for many years. I was the interviewee, with Newell asking me where I’d recommend dining out on New Year’s Eve, three days hence. I didn’t bring up the matter that, like Dean Martin, I almost never go out on New Year’s Eve, because the restaurants are filled with amateur eaters and (in Dino’s case) drinkers.
However, that question comes up a lot on my own show, so I have enough answers to make it seems as in I know what I’m doing. That takes about an hour, during which Newell and I strike up a rapport.
That done, I penetrate the French Quarter for the annual Jesuit Class of 1968 reunion at the Court of Two Sisters. Parking on the Friday between Christmas and New Year’s packs the restaurants to the rafters. That is almost literally true, since we usually have our gathering on the second floor. I get a place to park only by getting on Rampart Street near the old Municipal Auditorium. There I find a small lot that dispenses parking tickets by machine. I’ll remember this for next year.
The usual conversation as to whether the Sazerac cocktail is almost identical to the Old Fashioned breaks out, but not for long. I have a joke to add. Seems that a new waitress approaches a table and asks whether the people sitting there would like a cocktail.
“I’d like an Old Fashioned,” says the patron.
“An old fashioned what?” asks the rookie waitress.
It’s a good stag party, with thirty-five Blue Jays in attendance. Pretty good for a bunch of guys looking ahead to the fiftieth anniversary of our common graduation. Which datum adds up to the fact that we are mostly in our late sixties.
There is one aspect of this I find very distressing, enough that I don’t feel comfortable about bringing it up hire and now.
Striking a happier note is Eddie Gros, who was a close friend when we were in the same class at St. Rita’s in Harahan. He’s a Jesuit priest now, with extensive accomplishments in Latin America.
I limit my Sazerac intake to one. I send back the osso buco that has become the standard entree at these gatherings. Osso buco gives me the gout, however, so I ask for something else. Which turns out to be a very pretty red snapper with a tasty, creamy white sauce.