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alt=”DiningDiarySquare-150×150″ width=”150″ height=”150″ class=”alignleft size-full wp-image-44737″ /> Diary 9/5/2018–Jimmy Collings Pays A Rare Visit. WE. After five days in each direction, hosting the radio show from the Cool Water Ranch, I show up at the studio. There to meet me is Jimmy Collings, an interesting figure in the New Orleans world of bars, restaurants, hangouts, and the development of cocktails. He was there just as a revived trend in drinking began to spread. Jimmy is something of a character, always ready with a joke or a gag as well as a good drink.

Over the years, Jimmy often turned up on my radio show, waiting to report on the latest position of the cutting edge, usually from the vantage point of the bar. He worked at Forty-One-Forty-One and then Clancy’s as the bartender in the early years of both places. But he was probably best known during his stint as bartender and manager at River Shack Tavern. The Shack became the best known of his operation, being an old former grocery store, bar, and music club. A renovation at the old joint revealed layers of businesses that went back at least fifty years.

Other attractions included the world’s tackiest ash trays and least comfortable barstools. Much of this stuff is still installed for your enjoyment. Some ten years ago he moved to his own combination bar, café, and joint whose location can be described accurately by saying that it’s on the corner of Hickory, Dickory and Dock streets. The Shimmy Shack’s center is the vault from a short-lived savings-and-loan owned for a time by the late Saints owner Tom Benson.

Jimmy finished the program with his own banter. Meanwhile, he is still considered by many to be the best mixologist in the New Orleans area. Among his edible offerings, the thing to get is the hamburger whose ground beef is mixed with hot sausage. It’s one of the best burgers around.

It was fun to swap jokes with Jimmy this afternoon. It’s been a long time. And once again we see that there’s always something interesting to be heard in the first hour of my radio show, at 3 p.m. on WWL-FM HD3.

Rivershack Tavern. Jefferson: 3449 River Road. 504-834-4938.

Shimmy Shack. Harahan: 1855 Dock. 504-729-4442.

Restaurant Week @ Coterie

The Coolinary Season came to an end a couple of weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t linger on. This new restaurant Coterie is carrying forth with Restaurant Week, which is exactly like Coolinary, except that the prices are a little lower, and there’s a lunch aspect. Below is the dinner price, which at $26 for three courses is a teriffic bargain. Also noteworth is that the number of choices is unusually generous. Restaurant Week is underway now, ends on September 16.

Coterie NOLA. French Quarter: 135 Decatur. 504-529-8600.

FIRST COURSE

1+1+1 Charbroiled Oysters
One each: Rockefeller, Bienville, and Char-grilled
or
Two Cajun Eggrolls
Crispy fried egg rolls stuffed with crawfish, smoked andouille, corn, and cheddar jack cheese, avocado ranch dipping sauce
or
3 Boudin Balls
Traditional Boudin, with Cajun seasoned pork and rice, panko breaded and fried, served with sauce remoulade
or
Chicken & Sausage Gumbo
Rich country-style gumbo made with chicken and andouille sausage

SECOND COURSE

Blackened Redfish
Redfish fillet lightly coated in olive oil and blackened seasoning
or
Shrimp Pasta
Sautéed Gulf shrimp and tasso tossed with linguine in a creamy Alfredo sauce finished with diced tomatoes, Parmesan and Romano
or
Taste of New Orleans
Three of the city’s most enjoyed dishes, all prepared in house: crawfish etouffee, chicken & sausage jambalaya, and gumbo
or
Shrimp & Grits
Creamy southern corn grits and gulf shrimp, topped with a savory sauce made with amber beer and Worcestershire

THIRD COURSE

Bread Pudding
or
Beignets
or
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

$26 For Three Courses

Price does not include drinks, tax or tip.

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.

FIRST COURSE
Braised Lamb Carbonara
Bucatini, lamb debris, black eyed peas, poached egg

SECOND COURSE
American Red Snapper
Crispy potato rosti, ham hock gravy, arugula salad

THIRD COURSE
Boudin Stuffed Rabbit Loin
Cornmeal spoon bread, vinegar braised collard greens, rabbit reduction

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

RESERVATIONS
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!

AlmanacSquare September 6, 2017

Upcoming Deliciousness

Restaurant Week: September 10-16.

Fettuccine Frenzy: Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays through September @ Middendorf’s.

Annals Of Dark Days

Today in 2005, New Orleans suffered a low point in its history. Uncontrollable flooding of over eighty percent of the city caused by Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge and the levees it pierced had the city in complete chaos. Fires and looting were going on all over town. Mayor Nagin ordered everyone who was still in the city to leave. More than a few continued to hold out in the French Quarter, however, and would continue to do so. Johnny White’s Bar stayed open. Elsewhere around town, new horrors unfolded moment by moment. One piece of good news: the first restaurants in the area to reopen did so, on the North Shore.

Today’s Flavor

It’s National Fresh-Cut French Fry Day. Perhaps the most convincing proof that popularity has a way of settling on mediocrity is that over 99 percent of all French fries served in America–in homes as well as restaurants–start as frozen, pre-cut potatoes.

It’s understandable. Preparing fresh-cut fried potatoes is not easy. We have learned this in our own kitchen, where our kids clamor for fries whenever they detect a weakness in our hesitancy. For a long time, we blanched the fries in boiling water for a couple of minutes, set them aside to dry, then fried them in rather hot oil. We kept coming up with greasy, limp fries unless we took them out when they’d just begun to brown, let them cool, then drop them into even hotter oil for a few seconds.

One day we tried lowering the temperature of the oil. I started at 325 degrees, with a fistful of fries that had not been blanched, but were just sitting in cold water since they’d been cut. (You must do this, or the starches start turning brown.) The fries took a long time to brown, but ultimately they were absolutely perfect: crisp, not greasy or soggy, soft on the inside. I kept going with the oil at that temperature, disregarding the fact that whenever I added a new batch of potatoes the oil temperature dropped by quite a bit. But then it recovered before the potatoes were even close to being cooked, and that gave the fries a good long frying. I suspect that the effect is the same as frying twice, but in one long step instead of two short ones. I also learned that one must limit the number of fries in the pot at one time to a little less than you might be inclined to put in there.

One other thing: when you buy the big, white, russet potatoes for this, scratch the skin with your fingernail. If you see any hint of green, put that potato down and find some that go from brown right to white under the skin. As for the oil, I generally use canola oil, but corn oil worked perfectly on one batch.

Annals Of Food Stores

Despite predictions that it would fail, the first Piggly Wiggly opened on this date in 1916 in Memphis. It was unlike any other grocery store of that time in being self-service. Shopping baskets, open shelves, no clerks to shop for the customer–unheard of!

Food Inventions

Today in 1899, Carnation Evaporated Milk was introduced by Eldridge Amos Stuart in Kent, Washington. He saw a demand in places where fresh milk was unavailable. He specifically was thinking about prospectors heading for the Yukon. Evaporated milk has over half the water boiled away from it, which makes it shelf-stable in a vacuum can. The process has the added effect of producing a much richer liquid, imitating some of the qualities of cream, but at a lower price. Many of us in the Baby Boom generation remember evaporated milk as our parents’ coffee creamer of choice; that preference has largely faded.

Stuart took the name “Carnation” from a brand of cigar; he thought it was strange for a stogie, but perfect for creamy canned milk. We cannot bring up Carnation Milk without republishing, for the zillionth time, a bit of doggerel allegedly written about it a century ago:

Carnation milk is the best in the land
Here I sit with a can in my hand
No teats to pull, no hay to pitch,
You just punch a hole in the son of a bitch.

Fortunately, this appears to be just an urban legend.

Gourmets Through History

Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, was born today in 1757. Lafayette was a French nobleman who felt it his duty to assist the Americans in their revolution, and did so with such ardor, never accepting recompense, that he is one of only six people ever to have been named an Honorary Citizen of the United States. He is also the man who is honored by all the things named “Lafayette” in New Orleans and Louisiana, where he is particularly admired because of the area’s French heritage. He gave up his titles and participated in the French Revolution, a thankless task in those insane times. (He ultimately spent years in prison and lost everything.) He was a man of refinement. I think there ought to be a restaurant in New Orleans named for him, but to my knowledge there never has been.

Edible Dictionary

poularde, French, n.–A fat female chicken, bigger than a poulette (fryer) but not as big or as old as a hen. It’s not often done anymore, but classically a chicken was spayed to become poularde. Like many neutered animals, it began putting on weight after the procedure. This made her especially suitable for roasting. The word is no longer common in restaurants (although I remember when it was). But it seems the kind of thing we maybe ought to bring back.

Deft Dining Rule #306:

You’re not in a great French restaurant unless a sauce spoon appears in your place setting at some point during the meal.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Wisconsin boasts two Squash Lakes. One is in the northeast corner of the state, twenty miles south of the Michigan state line. That one looks more like a horse’s head than a squash, really. It’s in a mix of farmland and woodlands, with hundreds of other small lakes in the vicinity. The most promising place to eat is Era Dining House, on Catfish Lake Road in Eagle River, three miles north. The other Squash Lake is a forty-mile drive southeast. It’s a good deal larger, with three lobes, the northern one is shape like a dog’s head. Its shores are dotted with docks, so the fishing must be good. Four miles west on US 8 is a restaurant called Ulterior Motives. Three more miles the same road has a junction with US 51, which you can drive all the way down to New Orleans.

Annals Of Scotch

Joseph Kennedy, the father of President John F. Kennedy and his brothers Bobby and Teddy, was born today in 1888. He led an almost impossibly lucky life in politics and business, always seeming to be in the right place at the right time. His family’s fortune came from the liquor business, and even through Prohibition it somehow managed to thrive–by bootlegging, it has been rumored. Kennedy is sometimes credited with making Scotch whisky popular in this country.

Food Namesakes

Sir Edward Appleton was born today in 1892. He discovered the layer of the atmosphere that reflects radio waves, thereby allowing long-distance transmission of shortwave signals, as well as those of stations on the AM band now. . . The pop-rock group Bananarama had a Number One hit today with Venus. . . Roger Waters, composer and bass player for Pink Floyd, became another brick in the wall of humanity today in 1943. . . Country singer Mark Chesnutt was born today in 1963. . . Bob Lemon was named manager of the Yankees for the second time today in 1981.

Words To Eat By

“Reagan promised everyone a seven-course dinner. Ours turned out to be a possum and a six-pack.”–Jim Hightower, populist politician and Texas Agriculture Commissioner.

Words To Drink By

“A man may surely be allowed to take a glass of wine by his own fireside.”–
Richard Brinsley Sheridan.