Sunday, April 8-9, 2018. Demoted Singer. Chicken Pannee With Two Sauces. The Wagners–who usually lead the singing at St. Jane’s ten o’clock Mass, but were supposed to be absent today–left me to be the cantor. But they showed up, so I was just the usual singer in the loft. It’s just as well, since we have not run a rehearsal. But then I hear that the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra performs its performances with only two rehearsals.
In the afternoon, Mary Leigh came in from Meridian. She didn’t take the train as I did two days ago, but drove in normally to greet her dog Bauser. We have been taking full care of this rescue animal for months while ML works on a big project out of town. When the Marys are in town, a dinner at La Carreta is inevitable. The three of us set a family record in the eating of choriqueso, a boat of queso dip into which has been stirred a generous amount of chorizo. The three of us put down four servings of the delicious, spicy stuff.
The Marys take the whole afternoon and evening working on the colors of ML’s house, now in its earliest stages. While they worked on that cheerful project, I spent most of the day working on our tax return. I haven’t yet seen a figure in this calculation that either scares or gladdens. But the negative numbers have a way of materializing from nowhere. My fingers are crossed.
Monday, April 9, 2018. The Best Of Its Kind Is Also The Least Expensive. ML hit the road back to Mississippi, leaving MA free for lunching with me. We head over to the familiar tables of New Orleans Food & Spirits, the resto where I usually eat my Monday red beans. But I’ve had many beans in the last week, so I ask the manager if I could have the panned veal with angel hair pasta and two sauces. That’s the Wednesday special, but they allow it, what with our frequent-customer status. This is not only a steal at twelve dollars (including a salad) but is the best version of this dish I can think of.
New Orleans Food & Spirits. Harvey: 2330 Lapalco Blvd. 504-362-0800. || West End & Bucktown: 210 Hammond Hwy. 504-828-2220. || Covington: 208 Lee Lane. 985-875-0432.
Tuesday, April 10, 2018. The Best Chefs Of Louisiana. Some seven or eight years ago, I was asked by the American Culinary Federation’s very active New Orleans chapter to act as emcee for its annual fundraiser and honoring of its most distinguished members. I have performed that function almost every year since then. Not only that, but I sing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” backed up by the big band that plays through the event. How that became part of the program I don’t really know, but I like doing it.
Three years ago, the Best Chefs Of Louisiana moved to the Lakefront Airport in Eastern New Orleans. A great move. The Terminal has a big, wide, round atrium, and the whole place has an Art Deco look. Also here are dozens, perhaps hundred of parking spaces. The only problem with the space is that its acoustics are very loud, especially with New Orleans Spice’s big band.
Although there is a competitive aspect to the Best Chefs event, the focus is on restaurant legends whose fame nobody disputes. This year the group included the late, revered Frank Davis, Frank Brigtsen, Jo Ann Clevenger, Daniel Bonnot, Jean-Luc Albin, Andrea Apuzzo, and Kevin Belton. Kevin also acted as auctioneer and emcee, but that’s his ebullient style, and I gladly let him take those roles. Also acting in that capacity was Eric Paulsen, who is often my fellow emcee at many events. Frankly, they didn’t need me at all. My main function, really, was to tour the eroom and shoot the breeze with the hundreds of attendees, and talk to the young chefs who were showing off their new dishes by cooking them right then and there. As always, with all these chefs showing off their gifts, the eating was terrific.