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DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Coolinary Is Over and so is Restaurant Week. But that doesn’t slow down the flow of special dining events around New Orleans. This Friday, GQ Fins–the best seafood restaurant in the area–rolls out its annual Lobster Feast. It will run for only a scant week through September 22. Chef Michael Nelson has an assortment of lobster dishes, abetted by a number of long-time Fins dishes. The lobster dumplings, for example, show up at every festival where lobster plays a part. Fresh Maine Lobster plays the central role, one looked forward to by the restaurant’s regulars. Many of those diners start looking ahead to the lobster Festival well in advance.

Lobster dumplings.

Lobster dumplings.

The exact contents of these dishes is unknown until the evening of the Lobster Feast. Like everything on the menu at GW Fins, the menu is new every day. Here are some of the dishes that might show up:

Lobster Roll
On a house-made split bun with pommes frites

Lobster Carbonara
Fresh cavatelli pasta with vanilla poached lobster, cured egg yolk and gremolata

Lobster Salad
Two Dog Farms baby greens, radishes, tomato, dill, avocado green goddess dressing

Lobster Dumplings
Lobster butter

Lobster Bisque
Baked Maine Lobster, deviled crabmeat, curry Lobster Pot, steamed Lobster, clams and mussels in a thai coconut broth

GW Fins. French Quarter: 808 Bienville. 504-581-3467.
Open for dinner seven nights 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. Till 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturdays. Corner of Dauphine and Bienville. Complimentary parking is available at the Central Garage, a half a block away at Dauphine and Iberville Streets. Website: www.gwfins.com.

Eat Club Dinner @ Trenasse
Wednesday, September 26 2018

In the Hotel Inter-Continental. CBD: 444 St Charles Ave. 6:30 p.m. $85, inclusive of tax, tip and a wine tasting.
Reservations: 504-680-7000.

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

Compressed Watermelon
Blackberry gel, white chocolate mousse, vanilla macaron, raspberry dust, mint.

To attend this dinner, you must phone the restaurant’s reservation desk at 504-680-7000. 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!


White Chocolate Mousse

To me, this has become a relic of the 1980s. Back then people talked about it and the restaurants that served it incessantly, as if here were the greatest dessert ever conceived. In fact, I don’t think white chocolate mousse is nearly as good as dark chocolate mousse. But it does have a place, if only as a great matrix for strawberries or raspberries, or as good company for Champagne.

  • 8 oz. white chocolate
  • 2 oz. half-and-half cream, warmed
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 oz. white creme de cacao liqueur
  • Fresh raspberries for garnish

Layered brown and white chocolate mousse with strawberry compote

1. Melt white chocolate in a double boiler. Or do it in a microwave oven, using full power in 30-=second bursts, stirring between each burst until it’s just barely melted).

2. Rapidly mix the half-and-half into the white chocolate. Allow to cool, but not solidify.

3. In a separate bowl, whip egg yolks and 1 tsp. sugar until foamy. Set aside.

4. In a third bowl (completely free of any fat or yolk), whip egg whites until peaks form. Add the remaining sugar and whip into a stiff meringue.

5. Fold the egg yolk mixture into the meringue.

6. In yet another bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff. Add vanilla and creme de cacao.

7. Fold the white chocolate into the meringue, then add the whipped cream. Gently blend everything together with a wooden spoon. Spoon into white chocolate cups or dessert bowls and cool for several hours. Serve chilled, garnished with raspberries.
Serves six to eight.

AlmanacSquare September 12, 2017

Upcoming Deliciousness

Restaurant Week: September 10-16. Fettuccine Frenzy: Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays through September @ Middendorf’s.

Today’s Flavor

Today is Fried Shrimp Day. Even though, to my palate, frying is a) the most boring way to cook s hrimp and b) one of the most boring dishes of any kind out there. But I am out of the mainstream in believing this, so forget I said it.

Still, let’s look at these things. Seems to me the batter ought to be on the light side, that the shrimp ought to be in the range of medium (25 to 35 count to the pound), and (of course) that they be fresh, Louisiana wild-caught shrimp. That last qualification is not merely cheering for the home team. We really do have the world’s best shrimp here, and although you can spend less on the farm-raised Asian shrimp that have taken over local supermarkets, you pay for it in flavor.

Fried shrimp and oysters.

The coatings used for basic fried shrimp fall in four categories. The most common is seasoned flour, with corn meal or corn flour (or a mix of the two) being next most popular. A certain number of shrimp fryers prefer bread crumbs; this works particularly well if the shrimp are large and butterflied, so they come out more or less panneed. Finally there’s tempura, the Japanese style of coating the shrimp in a batter made with flour and eggs. It gets puffy when it fries. (Eaters tend to either love or hate that last style.)

Fried shrimp can go beyond the basic, and that’s when they begin to hold my interest. They can be coated with the likes of pulverized nuts or coconut or even a semi-stuffing made of crabmeat or tasso mixed with cornmeal. Or wrapped with a piece of bacon, which also hold in place a wad of peppery cheese. Many such are served with a sauce, usually with a sweet-savory aspect.

There’s one more issue as regards fried shrimp: why do most restaurants in the upscale category believe that leaving the tail on makes them more valuable? Answer: it’s all for looks.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez

If you have some really nice, big, fresh shrimp, and you fry them, I’m going to come over and hit you over the head with a black iron skillet until you see the light.

Gourmet Gazetteer

There are two small places in Arkansas named Strawberry. Both of them are a little over a hundred miles from the Arkansas state capital, Little Rock, but in nearly opposite directions. Strawberry in Johnson County is in the north central part of the state, eleven miles north of Lake Dardanelle, a reservoir on the Arkansas River. Strawberry is the spot where the Little Minnow Creek comes pouring out of Pine Mountain. Nobody lives there now. This is lush, well-forested area on the east side of the Ozarks, very picturesque. A hundred ninety-seven miles east is the more populous Strawberry, in Lawrence County. That one is in the northeast part of the state, in a scenic area of rolling hills, caves and meandering streams. It’s a small town at the junction of State Highways 25 and 230. The restaurant there is the T&W Shake Shop. The flavor of the shake should be obvious.

Eating Around The World

Today is National Revolution Day in Ethiopia, recalling the overthrow in 1974 of Emperor Haile Selassie. Although the thought of Ethiopia usually brings up the image of starvation in the minds of Americans, the cuisine of that country and its neighbor Eritrea is interesting enough that it’s very popular in the cities where it’s taken hold. Washington, D.C., for example, has dozens and perhaps hundreds of Ethiopian places. New Orleans has two–Nile and Abyssinia. To make a long story short, the cuisine has aspects of Middle Eastern and Indian food, with many unique aspects as well. A flat bread called injera is used to scoop up the thick stews. Ethiopian eating is distinctive as it is ancient.

Music To Make Toast By

Today in 1964, a one-hit wonder band called the Newbeats had a Number Three hit with a song called Bread And Butter. “I like bread and butter,” it said, “I like toast and jam. That’s what my baby feeds me. I’m her lovin’ man.” The lyrics go on to make a pretty obvious sexual double entendre, but apparently we were too innocent in those days to believe that’s what they meant.

Edible Dictionary

lobster Americaine, n.–A curious turnabout, this is regarded as a French recipe. But even in France it has this name, meaning lobster in the American style. The sauce is very rich, with a bigger flavor than the similar, better-known lobster Thermidor. The sauce seems to contain cream, but it doesn’t. The thickness and richness comes from shellfish veloute, with butter emulsified into the sauce at the end. The sauce also contains enough tomato to become an unambiguous orange color. The lobster itself usually comes with the shell cut open and the claw and knuckle meat removed from the shell. The dish is also rendered “lobster armoricaine,” probably because that’s how it was spelled by Graham Kerr–“The Galloping Gourmet,” one of the earliest hosts of a television cooking show, even preceding Julia Child when he went on the air in 1960.

Food Namesakes

Mathematician Haskell Brooks Curry was born today in 1900. . . American League Most Valuable Player in 1943, Spud Chandler, was born today in 1909. . . Rap singer Bizzy Bone was born today in 1976. . . Writer James Frey opened The Big Book today in 1969.

Words To Eat By

“Never eat Chinese food in Oklahoma.”–Bryan Miller, former restaurant critic for the New York Times.

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