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DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Diary 9/9/2018: Nice Price On The The Cool Water Ranch? A neighbor of ours sold his house recently paid a price many times than we paid for our admittedly more rustic house. This will no doubt have the Marys scouting around for other real estate ideas. I hope that won’t bring an end to our living here. I always loved our old country-style cabin.

Whatever happens, one element of the old place remains. Mary Ann will not allow me to launder my clothes, unless she’s out of town and there are no other choices. Even then, she keeps up the clotheswashing, which she views as her job. I never had a problem with the task, having been a single guy from 1970 to 1988. But I must say that it feels good to have someone you care for show her care for you.

Until I became married, I not only washed all my own clothes but ironed it, too. It struck me as an extravagance for me to contract someone to press my shirts. But once I started doing it, I couldn’t believe how much time and energy the practice saves.

More recently, I founds a new wrinkle-avoiding method. I noticed that LL Bean’s button-down shirts are as wrinkle-free as they say. Indeed, all one needs to do is take the shirt out of the suitcase, give it a sharp shake, and put them on. About three-fourths of my shirts are in that category now. Just in time for the Millennials to become even less formal in their dress when dining out.

I wonder if I will need to have my tuxedo with me when the Eat Club cruise takes place next month. Now, if you wear a shirt on board, you might be the best-dressed person on the ship.

Our friends the Billeauds met us for Sunday brunch at Ox Lot Nine in downtown Covington. It’s MA’s favorite restaurant for brunch, mainly for its atmosphere. I like the way it looks, too, but between the copen kitchen, bar, tile floors, and the singing duet just inside the front door, it’s very loud in there. Sometimes I wonder whether restaurants pay any attention at all to the cacophony. It’s almost all I can think of when the place gets revving–even though the old-style jazz the musicians play and sing.

Speaking of which, MA discovered that the evening music in the interior courtyard of the Southern Hotel is still on the bill on Sunday evenings. We have very much enjoyed this in the five or so times we found it in progress. My only complaint is that while the bar is making decent cocktails, there is no food to be had at all. MA remedied this by going to the nearby Acquistapace grocery store, there to find a great collection of charcuterie, so we made up an antipasto from salumi and ate it through the evening.

The musician–whose name I didn’t catch–is a highly listenable pianist. He is accompanied by an equally adept young woman with a mellow and sultry vocal quality. It took me awhile, but I persuaded them to let me get up there and sing a couple of tunes: “As Time Goes By and “Misty.” them.

Mary Ann is very pleased by all this. She seems to get more turned on by jazz vocalists every time we encounter one. We plan to make this a regular Sunday evening entertainment. I hope the management can add a little food aspect.


Abita Springs Stuffed Quail

Abita Springs, where I live, is famous for its Quail Farm. In honor of that, I submit this quail dish, which I recommend as an appetizer in a meal in which you’ll be having a seafood entree. It works best if you debone the birds, but this is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Some butchers will do it for you. If deboning is a challenge, you can butterfly the quails and put the stuffing underneath each half. In that case, it will cook a bit faster, so adjust accordingly.

The fried eggplant underneath the quails is optional but makes for a grand presentation.

  • Stuffing:
  • 1/2 lb. andouille or smoked sausage
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. marjoram
  • 1 cup chopped chicken
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs
  • 8 quails, rib and back bones removed
  • 4 slices lean bacon
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tbs. Creole seasoning
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • ~
  • 1 green onion, tender green parts only, sliced thinly


1. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté the andouille, bell pepper, green onion and basil until the sausage is lightly browned. Pour off any excess fat.

2. Add the chopped chicken and the stock and bring to a boil. Stir lightly to combine. Reduce the liquid over medium-high heat by about one-third.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bread crumbs to make a thick stuffing. Cool the stuffing in the refrigerator until cool (but not cold) to the touch.

4. Cut the bacon slices in half. Fry the bacon until it begins to curl, but not turn crisp. Drain and blot with a paper towel.

5. Stuff each of the quails and set on a roasting pan, breast side down. Drape a half-slice of bacon over each quail, like a saddle. Roast for 10-12 minutes on the top rack of a preheated 400 degree oven, until golden brown. (If you have a convection oven, use it.)

6. Slice the eggplant into eight rounds about 1/2 inch thick. Combine egg and milk in a bowl and dip eggplant into it. Combine the flour and Creole seasoning and dredge the eggplant.

7. Heat olive oil in a skillet over high heat and sauté the eggplant until golden brown. Drain eggplant and keep warm.

8. Place an eggplant round on each plate, and top with a quail. Garnish with sliced green onions.

Serves eight.

AlmanacSquare September 11, 2017

Upcoming Deliciousness

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


This is the anniversary of something that made your blood run cold in 2001. Enough said. But only five years later on this date, a major American victory was won in Afghanistan, as its President Hamid Karzai cut the ribbon on a new Coca-Cola bottling plant.

In other memorable moments, today in 2005 the levee breach on the 17th Street Canal–responsible for the a large percentage of the flooding in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina–was finally closed permanently after only twelve days. All that was left was to drain the eighty percent of the city still flooded in depths measured by feet.

Namesakes Of Classic Dishes

Today in 1930, the volcano on the Italian island of Stromboli, just north of Sicily, began throwing boulders weighing a ton or more some two miles. Stromboli is always smoking, and because of that there’s an inside-out pizza named for it. The crust is folded over the usual pizza ingredients with a hole punched in the top. When it comes out of the oven, the hole has steam issuing from it, reminding anyone who knows Stromboli of its distinctive quality.

Namesakes Of Restaurants

Today is the birthday, in 1862, of William Sidney Porter, who wrote hundreds of short stories under the pen name O. Henry. Even though his main productive years were a hundred years ago, his name still has enough of a ring that a now-extinct New Orleans chain of hamburger and seafood platter places has borrowed it, with only a slight punctuation change.

Today’s Flavor

Today is National Steak Tartare Day. Steak tartare is raw ground beef mixed with onions, mustard, capers, seasonings, egg, Worcestershire sauce and a few other things at the whim of the maker. It is delicious. Best made with sirloin or round steak, the best steak tartare is chopped very finely by hand. Grinding it in a meat grinder not only gives it a less interesting texture, but introduces the greatest threat of contamination. Then it’s mixed with the other ingredients on a cutting board, preferably tableside, in the view of the diner.

The name comes from a legend–probably not true–that the dish originated with the nomadic Tartar warriors, who put pieces of meat under their saddles as they rode, thereby smashing the meat into a paste. However, in France–where much more steak tartare is eaten than in this country–it’s most often called steak Americaine. (Also steak cannibale.)

Steak tartare is one of those raw proteins that the fine type on menus warn you about, citing health risks. However, it’s much safer to eat steak tartare than to drive a car. Still, as a result of those concerns, steak tartare has become very hard to find in restaurants. Which is a shame, because it’s a great dish. Before the storm, the best in town was at Arnaud’s, where the used the recipe made famous at New York’s “21.” In its golden years, the Sazerac in the Fairmont Hotel did a magnificent preparation of steak tartare, usually orchestrated by Tommy Andrade, who can be founds at Tommy’s in the Warehouse District. Maybe we can get him to make it for us someday.

Tuna tartare has become much more common than the beef version. It’s universal in sushi bars and found widely in contemporary restaurants of other kinds. Although most of the seasonings in the beef version are not used. It’s mostly finely-chopped tuna, with maybe a little wasabi and soy sauce.

Although this isn’t exactly steak tartare, for a long time the Camellia Grill had a sandwich of raw ground beef, onions, and raw egg called the Cannibal Special. It was the ultimate supper before a night of major imbibing.

Deft Dining Rule #1003

Never offer steak tartare to a dining companion. Let him or her ask you for it.

Music To Eat Shrimp By

Today is the birthday (1902) of Jimmie Davis, former Louisiana governor (twice), and composer of country songs. . . In 1967, jazz pianist and singer Harry Connick Jr. was born in New Orleans.

Edible Dictionary

Charcuterie at the Extinct.

charcuterie, [shar-koo-TREE], n., Frnch–The generic name for the entire range of smoked and cured meats, including what we would now call deli meats, sausages, hams, and pates. Most are served cold or at room temperature, either on their own or with accompaniments like bread, crackers, or fruit. The word is a compound of the French words for meat (chair) and cooked (cuit). Despite that, much charcuterie isn’t cooked at all, but cured. Originally, the art of charcuterie was designed to preserve meats for long periods of time. After the advent of refrigeration, the techniques were kept, because practitioners had found many of them enhance the flavors of the meats being preserved.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Pie Creek begins to flow from 5800-foot slopes in the rugged, often snow-topped Rocky Mountains in the Clearwater National Forest. In five miles it descends 3000 feet, which must make for quite a cataract of water in snowmelt season. At that point it flows into Kelly Creek, a prime spot for trout and fly fishing. This is in wilderness area at the base of the Idaho panhandle. The nearest city of any size is Missoula, Montana, 114 miles east. The nearest place to eat from the mouth of Pie Creek is the Cedar Inn Miners Shanty in the town of Pierce, fifty-one miles west.

Food And Drink Namesakes

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Brandywine in 1777, during the Revolutionary War. Brandywine is in Pennsylvania. There was neither brandy nor wine produced there. It was the biggest battle of the Revolution, but the British won. . . College track star Marty Liquori was born today in 1949. . . James Cutler, who really should have made or sold kitchen knives, was born today 1883. He became famous for the Cutler Mail Chute, still seen in old hotels, although not used in many of them anymore. . . David Roe, British professional snooker (billiards) player, shot his break today in 1965. . . Chiliboy Ralapelle, South African rugby player, hit the ground running today in 1986.

Words To Eat By

“A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.”–Tenneva Jordan, American author who wrote mostly about motherhood.

Words To Drink By

“A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems.”–Paul Erdos, mathematician.

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