Diary 9/2/2018: One Of Us Winds Up In Los Angeles Again. A Possible Tropical Storm On The Horizon.
Correction: Last week’s diary contained a confusion resulting in an error. I said that Desi Vega–he of Mr. John’s Steakhouse and other classy eateries–was married into the Santopadre family. That is not so. My confusion swapped Desi with Rodney “Smilie” Salvaggio, who is Mr. John’s son-in-law. Smilie is also involved with the steakhouses, was my problem. I apologize to all of these first-class restaurateurs, all of whom I have known for years as I get older with all the time.–Tom.
Mary Ann is running short of airline buddy passes. She has a lot of friends who worked for airlines, and they are allowed to give the passes to friends. MA has done a lot of worldwide traveling through that budget. But she told me a couple of weeks ago that she is coming to the end of those passes. We’ll see about that.
The schedule of Saturday’s radio show was peculiar. An LSU football special covered my usual noon-till-three Saturday spot. I wound up on the air from three until six, which in turn brought a new array of listeners. It’s oddity of radio that when few people have any idea who I am, that’s the best time to attract them. There was hardly a break in the calls Saturday.
The main topic devolved onto inviting friends to come over to your house for dinner,or go to a restaurant for the same purposes and with the same people. My thinking is that we don’t do that nearly often enough.
The second hot topic inquired as to what you might eat if you were handed $500 to spend on dinner. Of course, a good many people just dismissed the idea, because they would use the $500 for something more useful. But once we were past that boring alternative, we were building some pretty fabulous dinners. Surprise: an unusually large number of would-be high rollers said that they would need some advice on the wines.
MA and I went for to a real dinner after the show ended. Tomorrow she will head out to Los Angeles, where our son and grandsons live. Although she’s getting to be a world traveler, what she enjoys most is visiting our progeny.
She and I had dinner tonight at Forks and Corks, which despite the name is a restaurant I find very agreeable. Dinner started with a cocktail whose liqueurs included Drambuie, Campari, and a few others. A little strange, but not bad–although liking the flavor of Drambuie is absolutely essential, not for anyone.
The food included a grilled shrimp salad) for MA, and an unusual and somewhat hard to eat chicken Parmigiano. A little too much going on, I thought.
Owner Osman Rodas owns Forks & Corks. But more on his mind is the moving of his first restaurant Pardo to a deeply renovated restaurant on LA 22, in Mandeville. The old and the new restaurants are so different that its clientele will probably turn over. It didn’t look like much from the outside during construction, but the place has come a long way. It still has a bit to go before the ribbon is cut.
Eat Club Dinner
When we first discovered Trenasse a few years ago, it was hard to believe that a casual hotel restaurant could be this good. Beginning with a magnificent study of oysters, our dinner proceeds through dishes that blend Creole and Southern dishes, many of which are quite original.
Hour-Long Oyster Reception
Rockefeller, Bienville, garlic butter, gratin, smoked gruyere & panetta, Intercontinental, cold smoked Gulf oyster duke’s vinegar, thyme, chili, horseradish crème, micro arugula.
Braised Lamb Carbonara
Bucatini, lamb debris, black eyed peas, poached egg
American Red Snapper
Crispy potato rosti, ham hock gravy, arugula salad
Boudin Stuffed Rabbit Loin
Cornmeal spoon bread, vinegar braised collard greens, rabbit reduction
Blackberry gel, white chocolate mousse, vanilla macaron, raspberry dust, mint.
Trenasse. CBD: 444 St Charles Ave. 504-680-7000. To attend this dinner, you must phone the restaurant’s reservation desk at the number above. Payment is made at the restaurant the night of the dinner. Credit cards are preferred. Attire is casual. Most guests are seated in tables of six to eight, with Tom Fitzmorris moving from table to table. If you’re like to sit with your friends, show up early to get the seat you’d prefer. If you can’t make it, please let us know a day ahead. See you there!–Tastefully yours, Tom Fitzmorris.
September 4, 2017
The three-or-four-day Labor Day weekend begins later today, depending on what time you get off work. Labor Day is Monday, traditionally the last day of summer vacation, and the date of the last barbecue of the year in the northern states. Here in New Orleans, we keep on going with the outdoor grill until it just gets too cold and rainy for it to make sense–sometime in late December.
My fondest memory of a Labor Day picnic is of a day in 1960 or thereabouts. I was about nine or ten, and my extended family–including several aunts, uncles, and cousins–gathered on the lakefront, near the London Avenue Canal. We all went swimming in Lake Pontchartrain, descending into the water down the steps of the seawall. The water was clear enough that we could see crabs walking on the bottom.
The adults sat around drinking Falstaff Beer from cans. On one of those cheap round barbecue pits everybody had then, they cooked hot dogs, chicken, and hamburgers. We all had so much fun that when we packed up to go home, after what seemed like eight hours or so, my mother said to the patch of grass where we’d spent the last eight hours, “Good-bye! See you next year!” But we never did that again, and in a way I’m glad. A Labor Day picnic couldn’t possibly be better than that one.
This is National Frittata Day. A frittata is an unfolded omelette. The ingredients added to the eggs are usually incorporated into them rather than being enclosed by the finished omelette. They’re served flat on a plate when made for one person. Sometimes they’re made rather large, with as many as a dozen eggs, then sliced before serving. When made with cheese and the likes of bell peppers, tomatoes, and sausage, it becomes something like a breakfast pizza, with egg instead of the bread crust. The style began in Italy, but has spread into other cuisines.
The Old Kitchen Sage Sez
The best frittatas start on top of the stove and end in the oven. This is how restaurant chefs cook a lot of things, and it may be the biggest difference between restaurant food and home cooking.
Cone is thirty-seven miles by road northeast of Lubbock, Texas. It’s in the vast irrigated prairielands of the Panhandle, and is the headquarters for several enormous grain farms. It was an actual town in 1901, when it was founded by James Stanton Cone. It got a post office two years later, then a school, and by 1939 reached a peak population of 150. It declined after that to its present seventy. The nearest restaurant–Estela’s–is eight miles south in Ralls, which is also where the school is now.
Conchas–the Spanish name for seashells–is 166 miles east of Albuquerque, New Mexico int he northeast quadrant of the state. It is in one of those amazing places where a large expanse of blue water exists in the middle of the high (4000 feet) desert. Conchas Reservoir was formed by a dam on the Canadian River, and the town of Conchas is the headquarters of the state park there. You can go boating and likely come up with some good freshwater fish. If that doesn’t happen, pack a lunch: the nearest restaurant is thirty miles away in downtown of Tucumcari: Lacita.
Deft Dining Rule #130
Grits are delicious, but hash browns go better with an omelette.
Food And Sports
Eddie Price was born today in 1925. He was a major football hero during his years at Tulane. He went on to have a professional career with the New York Giants. After he retired, he opened a restaurant and bar on the corner of Broadway and Zimpel, near the Tulane campus. It was open twenty-four hours and was a major hangout for Tulanians in the 1960s and 1970s. Eddie Price’s was the place I ever played a pinball machine that would pay off. Eddie handed me the $5.75 I won on one of his nickel-a-play, no-flipper machines himself, in 1968. He was the father of the recently deposed mayor of Mandeville, Louisiana.
Dining On The High Seas
Today in 1985, after decades of fruitless searching, the wreck of the Titanic was found on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The discovery fired off a swell of interest in the luxurious ship. The dining rooms for the first-class passengers were alleged to have been magnificent. The cruise ships of today are much larger than the Titanic and incomparably more luxurious–to say nothing of being more egalitarian. The only ships on which the classes are kept apart now are the Cunard ships Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. The Queen’s Grill and Princess Grill passengers have their own dining rooms and even their own section of the deck. But even the hoi-polloi live very well on those ships.
Food In Show Biz
Meinhardt Raabe was born today in 1915, but he never got a lot bigger. He played the Munchkin coroner who declared the Wicked Witch of the East dead in The Wizard of Oz. He went on to work for the Oscar Meyer wiener outfit, portraying Little Oscar, the World’s Smallest Chef. He traveled around the country in the original Wienermobile in the 1930s. He wrote an autobiography, and he still turned up on television now and then. He also has a food name: raab is one of the words for the vegetable also known as broccoli di rape.
Great Food Disasters
Today in 1666, a baker who lived on Pudding Lane in London started a fire that spread to the entire city. It ultimately burned down over 10,000 houses, and became known as The Great Fire. Ironically, a pudding maker named Tommy Tucker who lived on Baker Street was one of its victims.
William Frye, who represented Maine in Congress from 1870 to 1911, was elected to life today in 1830. . . Jim DeMint, the current U.S. Senator from South Carolina, was born today in 1951. . . Grady Nutt, a comedian and Baptist preacher, made his mother smile today in 1934 by being born. This is the second day in a row we’ve had someone named Nutt in this department.
Words To Eat By
“He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart.”–C.S. Lewis.
Words To Drink By
“Whoever takes just plain ginger ale soon gets drowned out of the conversation.”–Kin Hubbard, cartoonist and humorist, 1868-1930.