Diary 9/1/2018–Three Breakfast Places. Mary Ann didn’t get away to Los Angeles as scheduled at four in the morning, leaving the two of us to have breakfast. Trouble was, we drive to three breakfast joints and find all of them full. She didn’t want to wait for tables to come open, because that would endanger her next airplane boarding. I finally get her to join me at Mattina Bella, always on our A-List.
Then a new force appeared on the horizon. Gordon–one of the tropical storms developing in the past few days–has become tenuous, trying to encroach upon Louisiana’s and Mississippi’s air rights–along the same route that Katrina traveled in its own way in 2005. Tropical storm Gordon is unlikely to grow to the size of Katrina, but its threat will grow through Labor Day Weekend.
MA does finally board her airplane soon after breakfast is finished. I don’t have a radio show today, so I head home. I don’t escape work, however. There’s another new glitch in my computer. This wouldn’t have bothered me years ago, when I’d just work it out. But the older I get, the more difficult such tasks become. Thanks goodness my son Jude is out there, with his strong knowledge about data.
Labor Day Monday, 9/3/2018. The report from MA is that Bennett–our youngest grandson, some four months old–is holding his own with his two-year-old brother Jackson in the cuteness department. Two brilliant sets of blue eyes, for instance. Engaging smiles. It’s no wonder that MA is compelled to cross the country to hang with them more often than might seem seemly.
I take the whole day off. The computer problem drives me nuts. My daughter Mary Leigh is easily persuaded to join me for lunch at La Carreta, one of her favorite places. For several years, she and MA lunched there almost every Sunday noon. Sometimes they let me join them. I always suspected that I was brought in to make the ordering of two boatloads of quesadilla (cheese dip with spicy Mexican sausage) seem reasonable.
I think La Carreta is pretty good, but I find the place inconsistent. There’s an advantage in knowing where wavering dishes show up. They indicate that somewhere on the steady menu are dishes that are much better than standard. You’ll never find a great meal in a mediocre restaurant, but something magnificent might be lurking in the ordinary eatery.
In this case, the dish is on the menu as “Saul’s Favorite.” Saul (pronounced sah-ool) is one of the owners of La Carreta. The authentic Mexicanness in this dish is that half of it is covered by frittata-style scrambled eggs, Also here is some grilled beef fajitas, chilpotle sauce, and a few other extras. This is almost always good, but today it’s totally delicious. I don’t leave a scrap of it. Meanwhile, Mary Leigh eats her usual mega-salad.
At home, I make an attempt to figure out what’s up with the computer, and screw it up.
Elsewhere in my world, Jude and his son (my grandson) Jackson visited an exposition of a bunch of World War II-era ships. The two run around and through the insides of many vessels. In one of the most enjoyable times during our respective boyhoods, Jude and I spent the night with all the other Boy Scouts on several occasions in the enormous USS Alabama, which is parked next to Mobile Bay. I wish I had been there with them.
La Carreta. Covington: 812 Hyw 190. 985-400-5202.
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.
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.
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!–Tastefully yours, Tom Fitzmorris.
September 5, 2017
Restaurant Week: September 10-16.
Gourmets Through History
Today in 1638 was the birthday of Louis XIV, king of France for fifty-two years. “The Sun King” built the Palace at Versailles, which set a standard that continues to be copied by autocratic rulers around the world. The regal court also defined the French aristocracy’s ideas of high living, hauteur, and corruption. As a rare good result, French cuisine rose to previously unimagined heights. Louis demanded feasts that would last all day. From that came the new idea of serving food in courses. Table etiquette became important, with forks emerging as de rigueur tableware for the first time. All of this was The Sun King’s strategy for keeping the rest of the nobility off balance, and so to enhance his power. It worked.
Annals Of New Orleans Hangouts
Today in 1964, The House Of The Rising Sun climbed to Number One on the pop music charts, where it would remain for three weeks. It was a dark song that began:
There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it’s been the ruin of many poor boy
And God, I know I’m one.
The original House Of The Rising Sun was a brothel that operated at 826-830 St. Louis St. from 1862 (when New Orleans was occupied by Union troops) until 1874, when it was closed due to complaints by neighbors. It was next door to the Hermann-Grima House. It was named for Madame Marianne LeSoleil Levant (the last two names mean “rising sun” in French). The British invasion group The Animals–led by Eric Burdon–performed it. When the song came out, there was no business by that name here, but there is now–a bar at 333 Bourbon. I’m concerned about those ruined poor boys in the song. Was the gravy burned, the meat tough, the mayonnaise curdled, or what?
jicama, [HIK-eh-mah], Spanish, n–A root vegetable that from a distance looks like an onion. Closer up, it resembles a turnip. Cut into it and it begins to resemble an underripe potato. It’s not related to any of those vegetables, however. It’s native to Mexico (its name is Aztec), where it’s a member of the pod bean family. The texture of a jicama–which is almost always served raw rather than cooked–is the very definition of crispness. The classic way of serving it is to cut it into matchstick-size pieces, giving an effect similar to cole slaw. (Jicama cole slaw is very popular in the Southwest.) The flavor is not big, but very pleasant. Closest thing to it may be water chestnuts.
Shake City is 150 miles up the Pacific coast from San Francisco, fifteen miles from the town of Mendocino. It appears on the USGS map at the point where McMullin Creek runs into the Noyo River, which flows to the ocean. But nothing’s there except for the valley’s sparse woods. An abandoned railroad right-of-way passes through. Pretty countryside. To satisfy the need for a milkshake in Shake City, trek five miles east to the town of Willits, where is found the Willits Cafe.
Annals Of Funny Cookbook Authors
Justin Wilson died today in 2001. The Cajun comedian evolved into a Cajun cook, and one of the earliest and still most-watched television chefs. His cookbooks remain best-sellers.
Annals Of Beef
Today in 1867, a small herd of cows entered the first railroad cattle cars, and took a train trip from Abilene, Kansas to Chicago. This was the beginning of Chicago’s business as the major beef-packing town in the United States. Although the Union Stock Yards are now gone, Chicago’s renown as a steak town remains. (Although New Orleans is, I’d say, on a par with it for our quality of steak-eating.)
Food In The Movies
Today in 2008, a new comedy film called I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With premiered, written and directed by one Jeff Garlin, who was also the star.
Jerry Rice caught his 127th touchdown pass today in 1994, setting the record. . . Blind track star Graham Salmon (who possesses a rare double food name) was born today in 1952. . . Daniel Mace, Tennessee Congressman, was born today in 1811. . . Former Arkansas governor Francis Adams Cherry was born today in 1908. . . Frank Farina, Australian soccer pro, kicked off today in 1964.
Words To Eat By
“Food, love, career, and mothers: the four major guilt groups.”–Cathy Guisewite, creator of the just-ended comic strip “Cathy,” born today in 1950.
“When I saw the dancing chicken, I knew I would create a grand metaphor—for what, I don’t know.”–Werner Herzog, film director, born today in 1942.
Words To Drink By
“It’s like gambling somehow. You go out for a night of drinking and you don’t know where your going to end up the next day. It could work out good or it could be disastrous. It’s like the throw of the dice.”–Jim Morrison, lead singer for The Doors.