Diary 9-26-2018–Spectacular Eat Club Dinner @t Trenasse.
Eat Club dinners have been sparse during the past few years. But there has been one exception to that: four dinners staged by Trenasse. That’s the casual restaurant in the Hotel Intercontinental in the CBD. It’s a new bird, having appeared on the scene about three years ago. Most hotel restaurants tend to be unimaginative–just there for the needs of the people staying in the hotel. But this one easily stands on its own, with an eager staff both in the kitchen and the dining rooms, all with a style of its own.
Our dinner launched itself with my favorite course in an ambitious New Orleans restaurant: oysters baked, grilled, or melted on hundreds of half shells. A quartet of chefs stayed busy for an hour shucking and topping pan after pan of aromatic bivalves. The Eat Club claimed in the past that it can mow its way through limitless numbers of oysters. It confirmed that claim tonight. The familiar fancy oyster dishes–Rockefeller, Bienville, and garlic butter–were everything they claimed to be, interspaced with a number of complete originals. Among these was a new flavor that didn’t even need to be served neither hot nor ice-cold, but cool,with a loose salad dressing with sprigs of baby greens. I think I could have put away a hundred of these myself.
By the time we had dispatched the oysters, I had visited most of the Eat Club tables in the main dining room. This allows me to check on the general happiness of our forty or so diners. I found quite a few of our longtime Eat Clubbers, some of whom I haven’t seen in years–mainly because we haven’t put on many dinners lately. They seem to want me to get back to work on this.
The first entree was very much liked: braised lamb with big thick pasta strings, them tied up into the classic, creamy, eggy Roman style called carbonara. In this the lamb fell apart into debris, but retained the meatiness of the dish while the poached eggs held it all together.
The next course involved large fillets of American red snapper, one of the best fish in local waters. I’d say they overgrilled this a bit, making me chew more assiduously. Now came a rabbit roast, with a boudin-centered plug inside cylinders of the tender, fatless rabbit with a good bit of red pepper from the boudin.
By the time we reached this point, two matters were clear. First, this was destined to be a very large dinner. I was sated by the time we reached the rabbit. Second, the lady who ran the wine cellar seems to have been given the cue to start playing some of the best wines in the cellar. Most of these were big Pinot Noirs or Cabernets, and the wine lovers in the room were making glad comments about how superb the winer were getting. I knew something unusual was goin on when the Reislings were replaced by a genuine Sauternes–a wonderful sweet white from Bordeaux that I haven’t encountered anywhere in many years.
The Sauternes came with the pressed watermelon, which I found less than brilliant–the only negative I had anywhere in this marvelous evening of dining. Meanwhile, my tour among the guests revealed zero dissatisfaction–even among a few guests who have a record of complaining a lot in past dinners. The whole place was awash in happiness. And the record of meals I’ve had at Trenasse continued to hover close to perfection. This is certainly one of the most reliable bistros around.
Trenasse. CBD: Hotel Intercontinental–444 St Charles Ave. 504-680-7000.
Shrimp and Scallops Stroganoff
Chef Willy Coln–now retired and living happily in Slidell–created this dish to serve as a light, seafood-based dish for his Oktoberfest celebrations. The time was the the 1980s and 1990s, and there were few German restaurants or Oktoberfest celebrations anywhere in New Orleans.
After trying this dish out, Willy thought it had great possibilities, either in the fall season or not. Although this is an incredibly rich dish (from a good bit of butter and cream,) the flavors of the shrimp and scallops are not overwhelmed. The dish is served over rice, which makes the scoop-up-every-drop sauce go a bit farther. The “Stroganoff” reference owes to the large amount of sour cream in the sauce.
- 3 Tbs. butter
- 24 medium-large shrimp, peeled
- 16 large, dry-packed sea scallops, sliced in half crosswise
- 1 cup fish or shrimp stock
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. fresh or dried dill
- 1 cup sour cream
- Juice of one lemon
- Salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 cups cooked rice or orzo pasta
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it bubbles.
2. Place shrimp and the scallops in the pan and saute briefly, until the shrimp turn pink.
3. Add all the other ingredients, along with salt and pepper to taste, and allow to come to a simmer.
4. Reduce slightly until the sauce thickens enough to cling to the seafood. Add the pasta to the pan and toss to coat. Do not add Parmesan cheese!
September 27, 2017
Oktoberfest Begins On Wed. & Thurs. @ Middendorf’s
Halloween, 34 Days Until
This is Corned Beef Hash Day. That’s made by cooking chopped corned beef, potatoes, onions and a few other ingredients in butter until you have a tight, minced stew. It’s most often found in restaurants as a component of a fancy poached egg dish at breakfast. It’s not often good in such places. Many make the dish with canned hash. Always ask first before ordering corned beef hash, which can be delicious if made fresh. Few restaurants have it anymore, and the dish may be moving into culinary extinction.
Today is also supposed to be National Chocolate Milk Day. I used to drink chocolate milk exclusively when I was kid. The habit lingers on in one circumstance only: when I make myself a bowl of hot grits with eggs and applesauce. There’s nothing like a glass of cold chocolate milk to cool one’s throat after swallowing some of that tasty lava.
Annals Of Cognac
Louis XIII, who ascended to the throne of France at age nine and took power at seventeen, was born today in 1601. He is best known today as the namesake of Remy Martin’s Cognac Louis XIII, the most expensive widely-available brandy. It’s contained in a Belle Epoque-style Baccarat crystal bottle. The bottle sells for between $1200 and $1400 at retail, and for well over $100 a shot in restaurants and bars. (This is why you should never say the words, “Bring me the best Cognac in the house!”) Louis XIII Cognac is made with a large component of hundred-year-old Cognac, although laws about such things disallow the naming of a specific vintage.
Sandwich, Massachusetts 02563 is the oldest town on Cape Cod, and one of the oldest in the United States. Since it was incorporated in 1639, its character hasn’t changed much. It’s a village by the sea (Cape Cod Bay), with a wide area of marsh between its downtown and the shore. Clams, mussels, lobsters, and scallops come out of the nearby waters, and are avidly eaten. Not much cod anymore, though, since the collapse of the cod population a decade ago. The 23,000 people who live there have quite a few charming restaurants to choose from, including the Belfry Inne, the Painted Lady, Dan’l Webster Inn, and the oddly-named Sandwich Pizza House. Other than the all-New England lobster roll, there doesn’t seem to be a distinctive local sandwich in Sandwich.
Paying For It
Today in 1995, the newly-redesigned $100 bill was rolled out. The picture of Benjamin Franklin was much enlarged, and off-center. It was the first bill to be redesigned, to make it harder to counterfeit. Not to spend, though. Not only can you easily find a drink for $100 (see above), but there may be thirty restaurants around town where you can run up a dinner check that high per person, without even ordering expensive wine.
Dining At Sea
The Queen Elizabeth was launched today in 1938. It was the biggest passenger ship in the world at the time. Which also made it, in all likelihood, the world’s largest restaurant. When large cruise ships are in port anywhere, they are the biggest restaurants in that place, serving as many as 3500 people at one time. In the 1960s the QE2 took its place in the Cunard fleet, not retiring until 2007. The next Queen Elizabeth liner launched on October 11, 2010, with Queen Elizabeth herself there to christen the ship.
Annals Of Beer
Today was the birthday, in 1722, of Samuel Adams, Revolutionary War hero, statesman, and beer brewer. He was the namesake of a beer created in 1870s. It faded away. The modern Samuel Adams beer was born in 1984.
Today in 1540, the Jesuits were founded by St. Ignatius Loyola, as Pope Paul III approved their order. The Jesuits loom large in my life, and I would be a different person were it not for them.
The Tonight Show began its nightly run today in 1954. Its format of ad-lib, unedited talk and performance makes it arguably the best show ever to appear on commercial television. Johnny Carson set the standard, of course, but its first host was also brilliant: Steve Allen. (By coincidence, this is also the birthday, in 1926, of Steverino’s wife, Jayne Meadows.)
The current Tonight Show aims at a much younger audience than any of those hosts did, with the audience all but screaming constantly. Host Jimmy Fallon has grabbed my attention to the show for the first time in years. He is the first host since Steve Allen to show any musical talent while still being able to get laughs.
Edible Dictionary: Creme Fraiche,
A thick, slightly sour dairy product whose flavor is somewhere between those of whipping cream and buttermilk. Originally, creme fraiche was the first squirt of milk from the teat of a cow. Because it was there longer than the rest of the milk, it was a little sour. Because it jiggled around more than the milk in the udder, it was thick. Creme fraiche now attempts to duplicate that flavor and texture. The most common way of achieving this is to beat together whipping cream with either sour cream or buttermilk (or both), then letting it stand at room temperature for a few hours. Creme fraiche is mostly used on desserts and fresh fruit, but it turns up as a garnish on everything from salads to soups.
Meat Loaf (real name Marvin Lee Aday) was born today in 1947. He only appears on Tuesdays. . . Greg Ham, a member of the rock group Men At Work, was born today in 1953. . . Olive Tell,an actress from the silent movie era, was seen for the first time today in 1894. . . British playwright Gordon Honeycombe emerged from the hive today in 1936.
Words To Eat By
“If I hear you’ve gone to Dinty Moore’s for that nasty corned beef and cabbage, Jiggs, I’ll brain you!”–Maggie, Jiggs’s belligerent wife in the ancient Art Deco comic strip “Bringing Up Father,” by George McManus.
Words To Drink By
“Beer is the Danish national drink, and the Danish national weakness is another beer.”–Clementine Paddleford, American writer, born today in 1900.