Thursday, May 10, 2018. Dinner At Ming’s In West End. Mary Ann suggested that she and I have dinner at Min’s today. She likes the look of the place, which is all that’s really necessary to catch her attention. I’d dined there a couple of time during the last five or six years, occupying a picturesque space near the New Orleans Marina. The building has been a number of restaurants over the years, enough opportunity for us to have had at least three Eat Club dinners over the years, although none of those happened during the Ming dynasty.
The dinners I had here in more recent times told me that Ming’s purveyed a style of cookery that was most popular in the 1970s ans 1980. That was before the general cooking style of most local Chinese restaurants began descending into a predictable list of the same old things. Part of that had to do with the shift of Chinese restaurants from interesting dishes with good service into a reliance mostly on take-out cookery. My theory about this is that Chinese restaurants in New Orleans would be a lot better if so much of their sales were on take-outs.
Ming’s seems to have escaped from this problem. The menu is large and interesting, and the dining room staff is helpful and cooked dishes that both look and taste better than that what you’d ever get from the heavy take-out operators.
We started out with pot stickers and shrimp toast, which shared the table with hot and sour soup and a gigantic tub of won-ton noodle soup. I thought we already had too much food by this point, but we went on to have Mongolian Beef, suggested by the server. That was my idea. MA added orange beef to the pile, but by that time we were well over the top. At least we covered a lot of ground on this visit. We also agreed that the cute outdoor decor kept its pleasantry indoors.
While we were in the neighborhood, we checked out the restaurant two doors lakeside. The marquee nearby displayed a new name: Lakeview Harbor. I’d heard that it was moving from its former Harrison Avenue location. I wonder when or if it’s going to happen.
Ming’s. West End: 7224 Pontchartrain Blvd. 504-333-6341.
The Jesuit Class Of 1968 Reunites.
I was barely out of the demographic in question when I starting saying that the most interesting time of a man’s life is when he is sixteen. When I turned seventeen, I held to that opinion for about another year, after which I felt that my most interesting slice of life was past. But I found that it was no less true. When I didn’t know what to do next in just about every situation I’ve found myself, I refer to what people I know who are seventeen are or were doing. At the very least, it always brought me back to a happy outlook.
Sometime in my twenties, I was invited to a great source of information for people who were trying to make life stand still. I ran into large table full of people at Commander’s Palace. I recognized most of these people because most were members of the 1968 graduating class of Jesuit High School. Somebody at the table recognized me for the same reason: I was a Jesuit near-graduate. I didn’t make the cut, mainly because I spent all my time working to make money, and very little on my studies. But I did recognize most of the people at the Commander’s table, because at Jesuit we wore name tags and knew all the other Blue Jays by sight.
This gathering was a reunion for the class of 1968. I was told by one of them that they had this reunion annually, that I should join them, and not to worry that I didn’t have a Jesuit diploma, because I was hardly the only former student who had this deficiency.
I’ve gone to almost every Jesuit reunion ever since. This year, we celebrated fifty years since the graduation. I still recognize most of the people there, and am interested in how their lives are going. This practice–attended by around fifty alumni in recent years and many more for this fifty-year landmark–is as enriching an exercise as I can imagine.
It required several exercises. The first was tonight, a stage event at the generously large home of one of the 1968-ers. I was there, and the place was boisterous. Some of the gang who have not attended the annual reunions for years were there, and happy to be. About the only lack was that only one teacher–a coach who led the very first class I had at Jesuit–was in attendance. But teachers had a long time to travel.
There were generous drinks and a buffet assembled by Chef Andrea Apuzzo, the caterer for the event. The best of the eats was the house-made fresh milk mozzarella in the insalata caprese. But not many people were eating. This was an evening of remembrance. And there would be more of it tomorrow.
I noticed that my theory about seventeen-year-olds was being proved moment by moment. Most of the stories we told one another were about major fiascos we experienced in the classroom. Everybody there had stores of rich craziness, or many of them. What a time to be alive it was, then and now.
More On This in Tomorrow’s Diary.
Shrimp Remoulade With Two Sauces
I think remoulade sauce is one of the most useful and enjoyable flavoring agents that money can buy. I like it so much that it’s the very first recipe in my cookbook.
Which reminds me. . . The new, third edition of Tom Fitzmorris’s New Orleans Food is now in bookstores throughout the New Orleans area, and can be ordered on line. The main difference between this one and the two that came before are the we’ve taken a lot of photographs of the dishes in the books, and revised the cover.The price is at about $30, depending on the vendor. I hope you enjoy it. . .and both kinds of remoulade.
There are two kinds of remoulade sauce served around New Orleans, and everybody has a distinct favorite. My preference is for the orange-red kind that’s utterly unique to our area. White remoulade sauce, made with mayonnaise, is actually closer to the classic French recipe. It’s good enough that in recent years I’ve taken to making both kinds of sauces, and letting people take their pick.
What they have in common is the main active ingredient: Creole mustard, a rough, brown, country-style mustard that has a bit of horseradish mixed in.
The shrimp for shrimp remoulade should be medium size–about 25-30 count to the pound. If you’re making only the red style of remoulade, a good trick is slightly to under-boil the shrimp, then marinate them in the rather acidic sauce. That will finish the “cooking,” in much the same way the marinade of ceviche does.
The word “remoulade,” is an old French dialect word that refers to a kind of radish that hasn’t been part of the recipe for centuries.
- Leafy tops of a bunch of celery
- 5 bay leaves
- 3 cloves
- 2 Tbs. Tabasco garlic marinade
- 1 large lemon, sliced
- 1/2 cup salt
- 3 lbs. shrimp
- Red Remoulade Sauce:
- 1/2 cup chili sauce (bottled) or ketchup
- 1/2 cup Creole mustard
- 1 Tbs. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbs. lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp. Tabasco
- 1/2 tsp. pureed garlic
- 1/2 cup green onion tops, finely sliced
- 1 cup olive oil
- White Remoulade Sauce:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup Creole mustard
- 2 Tbs. lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. garlic-flavored Tabasco
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup green onion tops, finely sliced
1. Bring a gallon of water to a boil and add all the ingredients except the shrimp. Boil the water for fifteen minutes, then add the shrimp. Remove from the heat immediately, and allow the shrimp to steep for four minutes, or until the shell separates from the meat easily.
2. Remove the shrimp and allow to cool enough to handle. Peel and devein the shrimp
3. To make the red remoulade sauce, combine all ingredients except green onions and olive oil in a bowl. Add the oil a little at a time, stirring constantly, until all oil is absorbed. Taste the sauce and add more mustard or chili sauce to taste. Stir in green onion tops.
4. For the white remoulade sauce, just blend all the ingredients except the green onions. Then add the green onions last.
5. Place the shrimp on a leaf of lettuce, sliced avocados, sliced tomatoes, or Belgian endive leaves. Drizzle half the shrimp with one sauce, half with the other. The sauces can also be served in pools for dipping.
Makes eight appetizers or six entree salads.
May 14, 2017
Days Until. . .
New Orleans Wine And Food Experience May 25-27
Greek Festival May 25, 26, 27
Today is National Buttermilk Biscuit Day. To which I say, preheat that oven, let’s make a batch. Buttermilk biscuits are so wonderful and so easy to make that I wonder why anyone buys those biscuits in a can or a mix like Bisquick. The perfect recipe for biscuits requires only three ingredients: self-rising flour (three cups), butter or shortening (six tablespoons), and buttermilk or regular milk (a cup and a half). Mix the first two with a whisk until the lumps are gone. Add the milk and lightly blend until no dry flour is left. Spoon the dough on a greased baking sheet, and bake at 450 degrees for about fifteen minutes. Butter ’em up and enjoy!
Rib Falls, Wisconsin is a crossroads community sixteen miles west of Wausau, which puts it in the center of the state. It is named for the Class III rapids on the Big Rib River, a favorite stream for avid canoe paddlers. It’s a tributary of the Wisconsin River, which flows into the Mississippi and down to New Orleans. All this is in a pretty landscape with gently rolling hills and large acreage of cornfields. If you’re hungry in rib falls, you have a choice of two sports bars with food: Don’s and the Cornerstore. They’d better have baby backs.
baking soda, n.–Baking soda is almost perfectly pure sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO³). Even the stuff you buy to deodorize your refrigerator is pure enough to use in a lab. Baking soda enhances the action of baking powder, but does not replace it. Baking powder is mixture of ingredients which, when combined with flour and wet ingredients to make a dough, have a reaction that produces gas and causes the dough to rise. Baking powder is made many different ways, but almost always includes a dry alkali (like bicarbonate of soda) and a dry acid (like cream of tartar). Baking powder has a shelf life, because the humidity of the air is enough for the acid and the base in it to react slowly and thereby lose its potency.
Deft Dining Rule #202:
The only real strawberry shortcake is made with what looks like a sweetened biscuit. The pre-made sponge cakes you see in the stores are used only by the laziest of cooks.
Famous Local Chefs
Today is the birthday, in 1928, of Chef Robert Finley. He headed the kitchen of Masson’s in Lakeview for most of its history. During its prime in the 1960s and 1970s, Masson’s was among the most celebrated of local restaurants, nationally as well as locally. Not only did Chef Robert cook excellent and original food, but he took in many budding cooks and turned them into skilled masters. The most noteworthy of those is Chef Dennis Hutley of Chateau Country Club and the extinct Le Parvenu. Masson’s is long gone, and Chef Robert passed away in 2009, but his dishes and proteges live on.
Dining With The Royals
King Louis XIII ascended to the throne of France today in 1610. The most expensive widely available Cognac is named for him. Coincidentally, his son and successor, Louis XIV, also came to the throne on this date at age four in 1643. When he took control of France in 1661, the Sun King (as Louis XIV was known) assembled a lavish royal court culture, which demanded cuisine at the highest levels. He would have liked his father’s namesake Cognac.
Through History With Beer
Today in 1932, New York Mayor Jimmy Walker led an all-day We Want Beer parade in Manhattan. There was another such parade in Detroit that day. The forces of Prohibition began to crumble, and it would be less than a year before beer returned to America.
The first patent issued for a dishwasher went to Joel Houghton of Ogden, New York on this day in 1850. It worked more like a modern clothes washing machine than a modern dishwasher. So, a lot of broken dishes.
Today is the feast day of St. Matthias, the Apostle who replaced Judas. He is the patron saint of alcoholics.
Music To Eat Red Beans And Rice By
Sidney Bechet was born in New Orleans today in 1897, and in 1959 died on this date, too. He was a major jazz pioneer, a self-taught genius whose techniques and compositions were so offbeat that he was constantly in conflict with band leaders and other performers. Playing saxophone and clarinet, he recorded his first sides just before his fellow Orleanian Louis Armstrong cut his. Bechet was internationally famous, especially in his later years.
Music To Eat Anything By
Frank Sinatra passed away this day in 1998. He was 82. “May you live long, and may the last voice you hear be mine,” he said at the close of his concerts in his later years. It still could happen, especially if you die in an American Italian restaurant. I wouldn’t mind having the last voice I hear be that of Old Blue Eyes.
Al Porcino, a jazz trumpeter, was born today in 1925. I suppose one single mushroom of the porcini variety would be a porcino. . . North Carolina Congressman Basil Whitener was born today in 1915. . . Honey Cone, a female singing group, had a gold record today in 1971, called Want Ads. . . Apple Corps, the Beatles’ business and recording company, was formed today in 1968. . . Salt ‘n’ Pepa, a two-girl hip-hop group, had a hit today in 1990 with the song Expression.
Words To Eat By
“Americans are just beginning to regard food the way the French always have. Dinner is not what you do in the evening before you do something else. Dinner is the evening.”–Art Buchwald.
We’ve known that in New Orleans for over a century.
Words To Drink By
“I think a man ought to get drunk at least twice a year just on principle, so he won’t let himself get snotty about it.”–Raymond Chandler.
Celebrity Recipes: Much More Interesting Than Other Things They Say.
Click here for the cartoon.