Diary 6/6/2018: What with a variety of inspections at the Cool Water Ranch and the sudden appearance there of an unexpected dog, things are hectic in what is usually a calm environment. I am trying to distance myself from the goings on of the Marys, who don’t like my meddling in their affairs. The only calm in the neighborhood comes from the Chuck Will’s Widow birds in the woods nearby. This is a big bird often heard–only at night–but rarely seen hereabouts. The call is similar to that of the whippoorwill, to which it’s related. It started early this year and seems to be going strong lately.
I heard the Chuck’s widow this evening after a spectacular dinner at Delmonico. I have harbored a desire lately to eat at Emeril’s most traditional restaurant. But St. Charles Avenue around Erato Street has been a mess for over a year, making parking there difficult. Delmonico has free valet parking, but not enough parking attendants understand how to drive a manual transmission, often resulting in a major mechanical problem. This happened with Mary Ann’s car (but not at Delmonico) not many months ago, and cost $1900.
Four greeters stood at the front door at Delmonico. I didn’t expect that any of them would notice my presence, but two of them recognized me immediately. Another figured out who I was upon seeing the reaction of the others. And all this without a reservation.
The dinner that would begin almost immediately was like something out of a five-hour many-course gourmet society extravaganza. Emeril’s restaurants have long been marked by extra courses that appear here and there along the way.
So I put in an order for a glass of Grüner Veltliner, an Austrian wine not especially well known, but one that I thought would match up with much of what the kitchen had in mind. It was good with a boulette made from jalapeno peppers, sour cream, and boudin. It continued to make me happy in tandem with what I thought was a pair of oysters Bienville. It proved to be a slightly different kind of baked oysters, with a hot sauce cream zinging the works up a good bit.
Now came a modest cup of turtle soup, which was being featured as the soup du jour. Next, a dish I actually asked for: a plate of beets ruffled among a variety of differently-colored specimens, with sauces that were both rich and sweet. That aspect needed to be pedaled back a bit, I thought. It also could be been split for two people in lieu of a salad.
Somewhere in any dinner at Delmonico, two house specialties must be considered. One of these is charcuterie, which Emeril’s chefs have made into a major specialty longer than most other restaurants have. Emeril has long been an adherent to the idea of a chef’s making all his own works from scratch–even things like ham and Worcestershire sauce. The other big skill here is in selecting and aging steaks. For a time, this was to become the main focus of Delmonico. It still is, but not so exclusively as it was when Emeril took over the 1895-vintage restaurant. But the best steaks remain there.
But that wasn’t the direction of my own dinner went. On the menu was one of my favorite dishes, crabmeat Retick. With a history that goes back to the New York Stock Exchange (this Retick guy was the President of the NYSE in the late 1800s), it’s a large amount of crabmeat baked with an assortment of sauces, bacon, and a little tomato and mustard. I couldn’t pass it up, nor could I refrain from eating the whole thing–which is big enough for two.
After all these preliminary courses, I finally went after an actual entree. The best fish in the house tonight is swordfish, which has lately been excellent every time I order it. That happened again, with a platefull of crunchy vegetables in the cruciferous category. Meanwhile, that Grüner Veltliner from an hour ago was still standing up against the food.
The four waiter/hosts that have been looking over my table since I arrived seem genuinely sorry that there will be no possible eating of dessert after all these courses and food. But one of them does have some very nice chocolate-studded cookies to give me for the Marys at home.
As the evening of eating ends, I’m visited by Anthony Scania, the chef de cuisine and the most involved tastemaker at Delmonico. His being there has made Delmonico perhaps the steadiest element in all of Emeril’s restaurants. (Or, perhaps, I may be expressing my preference for steady-state restaurants.) This is my kind of restaurant. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of restaurant that the Millennian generation seems to prefer. (That would be the nearby Emeril restaurant Meril.)
Delmonico. Garden District & Environs: 1300 St Charles Ave. 504-525-4937.
Leruth’s Green Goddess Dressing
Warren Leruth was regarded by gourmets as probably the greatest chef to work in New Orleans in the last half of the 1900s. Before and after he ran his magnificent restaurant in Gretna, he was a consultant to many food companies, and developed countless recipes for commercial products. One of those was the Green Goddess dressing for Seven Seas. Here’s the version of that he made in his restaurant.
- 5 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
- 3 green onions, tender green parts only
- 2 large cloves garlic chopped
- 2 anchovies
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1 cup mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
- 1 cup sour cream
1. Put the parsley, green onions, garlic, anchovies, salt and pepper into a food processor and chop into a puree, stopping to scrape down the side of the processor bowl and top. Add two tablespoons of water and process until the mixture is nearly smooth.
2. Scrape the puree into a non-metallic bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Blend with a whisk until uniform in texture. Whisk in a little bit of water if needed to bring the sauce to a very thick but pourable texture. Refrigerate.
Makes two cups.
June 7, 2017
Days Until. . .
Father’s Day 12
Today is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day. This needs no explanation. A lady I once knew said, when I asked her if she wanted to go out for ice cream, “Sure! My three favorite things are chocolate, ice cream, and chocolate ice cream.” For some reason, that line burned itself into my memory. My daughter has the same taste. The best chocolate ice cream I ever tasted was the chocolate mousse ice cream developed during the reign of Gerhard Brill as chef at Commander’s Palace, in the early 1980s.
Music To Drink Wine By
It’s the birthday of Dean Martin, in 1917. A little-heard hit of his is That Little Old Wine Drinker, Me. Not only is it uncool to brag about drinking these days, but the commercial for Italian Swiss Colony Wines that inspired the song is almost completely forgotten. It depicted a little old Swiss guy answering the question of who makes Italian Swiss Colony wines, in the voice of Jim Backus: “That little old wine maker, me.”
einkorn, n.–An ancient ancestor of modern wheat, still growing in both cultivated and wild forms in the Middle East. Humans have been eating it since prehistoric times. They also appear to have made something like beer from it for as long as it’s been used for food. It’s very rarely seen these days mainly because of the difficulty of milling its big, well-hulled grains. If you even run into it, it may be in the form of bulgur–the cracked wheat that’s part of the recipe for tabbouleh, kibbe, and other Middle Eastern dishes. It may have a future in providing a grain that can be eaten by people with celiac disease.
Deft Dining Rule #181:
While ersatz food substitutes sometimes lead to major new flavors (chicory coffee comes to mind), almost all the time it drop in quality is greater than the drop in price.
Curry, New York is in the Catskills, 112 miles north of Manhattan. It was established in the 1890s as a farming town. As time passed, it became more a part of Catskill Park. The New Age Health Spa nearby is one of many resorts in area. There’s a restaurant right there in Curry, but with a name like Brooks’ Chestnut Wood it’s not likely to serve curry. (Or have any chestnuts in the woods, either. Those grand trees were wiped out in New York about a century ago.)
The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:
Everybody loves a good apple pie. So why do relatively few restaurants serve it? Are they afraid of not seeming hip? That would explain a lot about the Camellia Grill in modern times. The place does indeed have great apple pie.
Music To Eat Pancakes By
“When the sun’s coming up I got cakes on the griddle,” sang John Denver, whose song Thank God I’m A Country Boy hit Number One today in 1975.
Food Around The World
Today in 1914 the first boat passed through the Panama Canal. This was occasion for much rejoicing in this country, and particularly in New Orleans, whose port expected (and got) a great deal more traffic as a result. A transit through the Panama Canal is one of the highlights of cruising. The experience is nothing like what you’d imagine, and unforgettable.
Annals Of Banqueting
The Dinner of the Three Emperors was served today in 1867. The place was Paris (of course), at Cafe Anglais. The chef was Adolphe Duglere, one of the most famous French chefs of all time (a classic sauce is named for him). And the emperors were Tsar Alexander II of Russia, his son Alexander III (who would succeed him), and King William I of Prussia. At Tour d’Argent in Paris, the china and silverware used for that dinner are kept in the ancient restaurant’s mini-museum.
Teresa Brewer, who had a few hits in the 1950s and sounded like she was thirteen, was born today in 1931. . . Chuck Berry was charged with tax evasion on this date in 1979. . . Football pro Goose Gonsoulin made his first kick today in 1938. . . Child actor Jordan Fry was a Fry baby today in 1993.
Words To Eat By
“When he’s late for dinner, I know he’s either having an affair or lying dead in the street. I always hope it’s the street.”–Actress Jessica Tandy, born today in 1909, about her husband Hume Cronyn.
Words To Drink By
“I once shook hands with Pat Boone and my whole right side sobered up.”–Dean Martin, born today in 1917.
The Food Figureheads FIight For Supremacy Among Fast Foods
Click here for the cartoon.