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And Another Sea Day. . .


By Mary Ann Fitzmorris. Though I have enjoyed many hours of obscenely competitive ping pong with ML aboard ships, I am not a cruise person. I do not play trivia, see shows, linger in bars, or dig small spaces. I use cruise ships to get me to ports. So when I think I’m getting off a ship and I’m not, it’s disappointing on its face, but if it is next to an already scheduled sea day, it borders on traumatic for me.

One sea day is tolerable, two is too much, (though I highly recommend a “crossing”, as Cunard calls its transatlantic)

The day after the squall was a regular scheduled sea day. I was dying to get back to Avonlea for more of the delightful adventures of Anne in her green gable, but I also enjoyed the company of the people traveling with us. And Tom and I had to find the adorable Rufinia Dinio, who was way too kind to us (and effective) the first time we bothered her to pull dining reservations out of thin air.

Note: the staff aboard the Norwegian Dawn was the most outstanding I have encountered in thirty cruises, and that is saying something!)

Tom and I lingered in the midship pub for lunch, where I bypassed corned beef and cabbage in favor of a hot dog. So many in our group were genuinely excited about this hot dog, I had to try it. (Yes, I know, it was a cruise ship-get both!! . . .No.) The hot dog was, a hot dog. Maybe I needed a few beers before and after to feel the thrill.

Actually, the food at the pub was my first glimpse of ship food, which looked like ship food-not even remotely tempting to me.

It turned out that the specialty dining restaurants were quite good. Dammit! My usual cruise-imposed eating moratorium did not hold. (Detailed reviews upcoming.)

The restaurant was the most exciting thing that happened on this day at sea. I enjoyed visiting everyone, and slipping back to the room for an occasional trip back to Avonlea. And every time I passed the idle ping pong table, I felt a pang of missing ML.

Diary: The Spread Of North Shore Breakfast. 10-29-2018. My daughter Mary Leigh is in town for a few days to gather here necessaries for an extended job in St. Louis, MO. She has been working on a museum-like project that fell on her in such urgency that she didn’t have time to pack, let alone for a farewell to her old dad.

Spicy, spicy eggs benedict.

Our long-cherished venue for such a meeting was always a Saturday breakfast, just the two of us. And here we were again. It was an offbeat version of that meal, taking place at Mande’s in Mandeville, just off the Causeway.

Although Mande’s is a perfect location for dining within view of the lake on the North Shore, it has often kept a low profile. Breakfast and lunch are about everything, even though the main dining room is spacious and would make for a good dinner spot.

As things are now, the most prominent service Mande’s offers is breakfast. The last time I was there was about ten years ago, but I remember it because included some fancy eggs I’d not seen the likes of. It involved hot sausage, roasted potatoes, hollandaise. Kind of a spicy Benedict. I have since found this same idea in many other breakfast joints.

My appreciation of my daughter’s work in recent times fills me with so much pride that I sometimes forget that to such a beautiful, thoughtful young woman takes I come across for what I am–a somewhat eccentric old man. What a jump from our four-year-old breakfasts to her brilliance now!

Mande’s. Mandeville: 340 N Causeway Blvd . 985-626-9047.

RecipeSquare-150x150

Susan Spicer’s Cream of Garlic Soup

Susan Spicer, the brilliant chef-owner of Bayona, has been a friend since before she became a chef. She has one of the surest senses of taste I’ve ever encountered. This soup has been on all her menus since her earliest restaurant days, and with good reason: it’s irresistible. It’s not all that complicated to make, however, as you will find out if you try. A great garnish is to fry a few morsels of garlic in butter and float them on the surface of the soup.

Susan Spicer's garlic soup.

Susan Spicer’s garlic soup.

  • 2 lbs. onion, peeled and roughly chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 2 cups garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 1/2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 bouquet garni (parsley stems, thyme sprigs and bay leaf)
  • 2 cups stale French Bread, torn into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • Salt
  • White pepper

1. In a one-gallon, heavy-bottomed pot, sauté onions and garlic in butter and oil. Stir frequently over low to medium heat until they turn a deep golden brown–about 30 minutes.

2. Add chicken broth and bouquet garni and bring to a boil. Stir in bread cubes and simmer 10 minutes, until bread is soft.

3. Remove bouquet garni and puree soup in blender carefully. Strain back into the saucepan. Heat and whisk in more chicken broth or water if the soup is too thick. Add half-and-half. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves six to eight.

AlmanacSquare October 31, 2017

Upcoming Deliciousness

Halloween — Tomorrow Night
Thanksgiving — Nov. 23

Observances

Tomorrow night is All Hallows Eve, the night before All Saints Day. An old, old holiday that dates back to the pagan Celts, perhaps before the time of Christ. The food connections now mostly involve candy, but. . .

The largest group of current New Orleans restaurant customers are from the first generation never really forced to grow up–the Baby Boomers. We didn’t get over Halloween, and so many of us go out in search of some pleasure to replace the bag of candy we still, down deep inside, feel should be coming our way today. That puts us in restaurants. It started last Friday, where at Galatoire’s the downstairs dining room was filled with people in semi-costumes. A group of women will hold their annual Witches’ Dinner tonight at Clancy’s. Things would really be bad if they didn’t. And many restaurants have special menus, decorations, and other fun. It’s an interesting and unique night for dining out.

Today’s Flavor

Today allegedly is National Candy Apple Day. But they tell kids not to eat candy apples they find in their trick-or-treat bags. Just as well. What a perverse thing to do to the perfection that is an apple.

One a more interesting note, today is National Quail Day. Quail is a dark-meat bird, easily raised on farms, and not particularly expensive. The birds are so little and cute and have such a gourmet reputation that most chefs get pretentious in preparing them–not always to good effect. But the pinnacle of quail cookery is simple: debone the bodies, butterfly them, season them well, and just grill them over an open fire.

But what we usually get instead is quail stuffed with something. This allows the quail to look like it actually has a substantial enough torso that perhaps a restaurant can get away with serving just one quail as an entree. But one quail is nothing but an appetizer, no matter what you do to it. Especially since the food value of eating a quail may be exceeded by the amount of work required to eat it.

The stuffing can be good, but not usually. That’s because it usually involves seafood. I may be off your beam on this, but I believe that seafood and poultry do not go together well. The effect is particularly distressing in the case of a seafood-stuffed quail, because there’s not enough of either seafood or quail to make a statement without the other getting in the way.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that quail are better cooked and served unstuffed, two at a time. The best quail chef in New Orleans–Pat Gallagher of Gallagher’s Grill in Covington–has always served them that way.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Cornville, Maine 04976 is in the central part of the state, fifty-five miles west of Bangor. It’s in a rolling part of the state where farms long ago gave way to woods, but there are still quite a few large plantings in the area. Cornville is a crossroads community of such farms, with a spread-out population of about 1200 people. It has a long history, having been settled in 1794 and incorporated four years later. I’ll bet the holiday season is pretty around there. You have to drive five miles into Skowhegan to eat in a restaurant. We recommend the Golden Eagle.

Edible Dictionary

Northern Spy, n.–A crunchy, tart, mostly-green apple that has been largely replaced in markets by the Granny Smith. Northern Spies taste better, but they’re more fragile, both in growing and in supermarket distribution. They are prone to some diseases, and have thin skins that bruise easily. In the apple-growing areas of the Northeast and Midwest, however, they are still often seen in roadside stands. As they ripen, parts of the skin turn a light, rosy red. They make it into a lot of apple products–applesauce, apple butter, and cider notably.

Deft Dining Rule #10

When entertaining visitors from out of town who have never or rarely been to your city, always take them to a restaurant with which you’re familiar. Better still, to a restaurant where you are known. It will be a better evening than one even in a much better restaurant about which you know nothing.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

The most essential use for expensive kitchen shears will not be revealed until the first time you try to butterfly quail.

Food In Science

Carl Von Voit was born on this date in 1831. His life work was determining how the body uses food, and how certain foods have particular effects on the metabolism. He would have been the first to be able to write nutritional analyses on the sides of food packages.

Roots Of Our Food Culture

The Louisiana Purchase was ratified by Congress today, the United States doubled in size, and New Orleans became an American city. . Whew. If that hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t have had had FEMA to help us after the hurricane. And we wouldn’t have that buffet restaurant in Metairie called the Louisiana Purchase.

Music To Eat Wherever You Want By

This is the birthday (1944) of Texas writer, musician, comedian and counter-culture hero Kinky Friedman. He had a minor hit in the early 1970s with We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To You. It begins with his exclusion from a lunch counter, and gets increasingly irreverent and political. It has elements of a protest song, but with humor.

Beverages In War (Sounds Like)

Today in 1917 the Battle of Beersheba was fought in what is now Israel, but then was part of the Ottoman Empire. A brigade of Australian horsemen conducted what is considered the last successful cavalry charge in world warfare history against the Ottomans, in the middle of World War I.

Food Namesakes

The comedy actor John Candy was born today in 1950. . . The rap singer Vanilla Ice (who has gone back to his great real name, Rob Van Winkle) began life in 1968 on this date. . . Actress and blues singer Ethel Waters was born today in 1896. . . American balloonist Charles LeRoux was stirred up into life today in 1856.

Words To Eat By

“A pasty costly-made,
Where quail and pigeon, lark and leveret lay,
Like fossils of the rock, with golden yolks
Imbedded and injellied.”–Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Words To Drink By

If all be true that I do think,
There are five reasons we should drink;
Good wine—a friend—or being dry—
Or lest we should be by and by—
Or any other reason why.
John Sirmond, French writer of the 1600s.

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And Another Sea Day. . .


By Mary Ann Fitzmorris. Though I have enjoyed many hours of obscenely competitive ping pong with ML aboard ships, I am not a cruise person. I do not play trivia, see shows, linger in bars, or dig small spaces. I use cruise ships to get me to ports. So when I think I’m getting off a ship and I’m not, it’s disappointing on its face, but if it is next to an already scheduled sea day, it borders on traumatic for me.

One sea day is tolerable, two is too much, (though I highly recommend a “crossing”, as Cunard calls its transatlantic)

The day after the squall was a regular scheduled sea day. I was dying to get back to Avonlea for more of the delightful adventures of Anne in her green gable, but I also enjoyed the company of the people traveling with us. And Tom and I had to find the adorable Rufinia Dinio, who was way too kind to us (and effective) the first time we bothered her to pull dining reservations out of thin air.

Note: the staff aboard the Norwegian Dawn was the most outstanding I have encountered in thirty cruises, and that is saying something!)

Tom and I lingered in the midship pub for lunch, where I bypassed corned beef and cabbage in favor of a hot dog. So many in our group were genuinely excited about this hot dog, I had to try it. (Yes, I know, it was a cruise ship-get both!! . . .No.) The hot dog was, a hot dog. Maybe I needed a few beers before and after to feel the thrill.

Actually, the food at the pub was my first glimpse of ship food, which looked like ship food-not even remotely tempting to me.

It turned out that the specialty dining restaurants were quite good. Dammit! My usual cruise-imposed eating moratorium did not hold. (Detailed reviews upcoming.)

The restaurant was the most exciting thing that happened on this day at sea. I enjoyed visiting everyone, and slipping back to the room for an occasional trip back to Avonlea. And every time I passed the idle ping pong table, I felt a pang of missing ML.

Diary: The Spread Of North Shore Breakfast. 10-29-2018. My daughter Mary Leigh is in town for a few days to gather here necessaries for an extended job in St. Louis, MO. She has been working on a museum-like project that fell on her in such urgency that she didn’t have time to pack, let alone for a farewell to her old dad.

Spicy, spicy eggs benedict.

Our long-cherished venue for such a meeting was always a Saturday breakfast, just the two of us. And here we were again. It was an offbeat version of that meal, taking place at Mande’s in Mandeville, just off the Causeway.

Although Mande’s is a perfect location for dining within view of the lake on the North Shore, it has often kept a low profile. Breakfast and lunch are about everything, even though the main dining room is spacious and would make for a good dinner spot.

As things are now, the most prominent service Mande’s offers is breakfast. The last time I was there was about ten years ago, but I remember it because included some fancy eggs I’d not seen the likes of. It involved hot sausage, roasted potatoes, hollandaise. Kind of a spicy Benedict. I have since found this same idea in many other breakfast joints.

My appreciation of my daughter’s work in recent times fills me with so much pride that I sometimes forget that to such a beautiful, thoughtful young woman takes I come across for what I am–a somewhat eccentric old man. What a jump from our four-year-old breakfasts to her brilliance now!

Mande’s. Mandeville: 340 N Causeway Blvd . 985-626-9047.

RecipeSquare-150x150

Susan Spicer’s Cream of Garlic Soup

Susan Spicer, the brilliant chef-owner of Bayona, has been a friend since before she became a chef. She has one of the surest senses of taste I’ve ever encountered. This soup has been on all her menus since her earliest restaurant days, and with good reason: it’s irresistible. It’s not all that complicated to make, however, as you will find out if you try. A great garnish is to fry a few morsels of garlic in butter and float them on the surface of the soup.

Susan Spicer's garlic soup.

Susan Spicer’s garlic soup.

  • 2 lbs. onion, peeled and roughly chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 2 cups garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 1/2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 bouquet garni (parsley stems, thyme sprigs and bay leaf)
  • 2 cups stale French Bread, torn into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • Salt
  • White pepper

1. In a one-gallon, heavy-bottomed pot, sauté onions and garlic in butter and oil. Stir frequently over low to medium heat until they turn a deep golden brown–about 30 minutes.

2. Add chicken broth and bouquet garni and bring to a boil. Stir in bread cubes and simmer 10 minutes, until bread is soft.

3. Remove bouquet garni and puree soup in blender carefully. Strain back into the saucepan. Heat and whisk in more chicken broth or water if the soup is too thick. Add half-and-half. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves six to eight.

AlmanacSquare October 31, 2017

Upcoming Deliciousness

Halloween — Tomorrow Night
Thanksgiving — Nov. 23

Observances

Tomorrow night is All Hallows Eve, the night before All Saints Day. An old, old holiday that dates back to the pagan Celts, perhaps before the time of Christ. The food connections now mostly involve candy, but. . .

The largest group of current New Orleans restaurant customers are from the first generation never really forced to grow up–the Baby Boomers. We didn’t get over Halloween, and so many of us go out in search of some pleasure to replace the bag of candy we still, down deep inside, feel should be coming our way today. That puts us in restaurants. It started last Friday, where at Galatoire’s the downstairs dining room was filled with people in semi-costumes. A group of women will hold their annual Witches’ Dinner tonight at Clancy’s. Things would really be bad if they didn’t. And many restaurants have special menus, decorations, and other fun. It’s an interesting and unique night for dining out.

Today’s Flavor

Today allegedly is National Candy Apple Day. But they tell kids not to eat candy apples they find in their trick-or-treat bags. Just as well. What a perverse thing to do to the perfection that is an apple.

One a more interesting note, today is National Quail Day. Quail is a dark-meat bird, easily raised on farms, and not particularly expensive. The birds are so little and cute and have such a gourmet reputation that most chefs get pretentious in preparing them–not always to good effect. But the pinnacle of quail cookery is simple: debone the bodies, butterfly them, season them well, and just grill them over an open fire.

But what we usually get instead is quail stuffed with something. This allows the quail to look like it actually has a substantial enough torso that perhaps a restaurant can get away with serving just one quail as an entree. But one quail is nothing but an appetizer, no matter what you do to it. Especially since the food value of eating a quail may be exceeded by the amount of work required to eat it.

The stuffing can be good, but not usually. That’s because it usually involves seafood. I may be off your beam on this, but I believe that seafood and poultry do not go together well. The effect is particularly distressing in the case of a seafood-stuffed quail, because there’s not enough of either seafood or quail to make a statement without the other getting in the way.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that quail are better cooked and served unstuffed, two at a time. The best quail chef in New Orleans–Pat Gallagher of Gallagher’s Grill in Covington–has always served them that way.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Cornville, Maine 04976 is in the central part of the state, fifty-five miles west of Bangor. It’s in a rolling part of the state where farms long ago gave way to woods, but there are still quite a few large plantings in the area. Cornville is a crossroads community of such farms, with a spread-out population of about 1200 people. It has a long history, having been settled in 1794 and incorporated four years later. I’ll bet the holiday season is pretty around there. You have to drive five miles into Skowhegan to eat in a restaurant. We recommend the Golden Eagle.

Edible Dictionary

Northern Spy, n.–A crunchy, tart, mostly-green apple that has been largely replaced in markets by the Granny Smith. Northern Spies taste better, but they’re more fragile, both in growing and in supermarket distribution. They are prone to some diseases, and have thin skins that bruise easily. In the apple-growing areas of the Northeast and Midwest, however, they are still often seen in roadside stands. As they ripen, parts of the skin turn a light, rosy red. They make it into a lot of apple products–applesauce, apple butter, and cider notably.

Deft Dining Rule #10

When entertaining visitors from out of town who have never or rarely been to your city, always take them to a restaurant with which you’re familiar. Better still, to a restaurant where you are known. It will be a better evening than one even in a much better restaurant about which you know nothing.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

The most essential use for expensive kitchen shears will not be revealed until the first time you try to butterfly quail.

Food In Science

Carl Von Voit was born on this date in 1831. His life work was determining how the body uses food, and how certain foods have particular effects on the metabolism. He would have been the first to be able to write nutritional analyses on the sides of food packages.

Roots Of Our Food Culture

The Louisiana Purchase was ratified by Congress today, the United States doubled in size, and New Orleans became an American city. . Whew. If that hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t have had had FEMA to help us after the hurricane. And we wouldn’t have that buffet restaurant in Metairie called the Louisiana Purchase.

Music To Eat Wherever You Want By

This is the birthday (1944) of Texas writer, musician, comedian and counter-culture hero Kinky Friedman. He had a minor hit in the early 1970s with We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To You. It begins with his exclusion from a lunch counter, and gets increasingly irreverent and political. It has elements of a protest song, but with humor.

Beverages In War (Sounds Like)

Today in 1917 the Battle of Beersheba was fought in what is now Israel, but then was part of the Ottoman Empire. A brigade of Australian horsemen conducted what is considered the last successful cavalry charge in world warfare history against the Ottomans, in the middle of World War I.

Food Namesakes

The comedy actor John Candy was born today in 1950. . . The rap singer Vanilla Ice (who has gone back to his great real name, Rob Van Winkle) began life in 1968 on this date. . . Actress and blues singer Ethel Waters was born today in 1896. . . American balloonist Charles LeRoux was stirred up into life today in 1856.

Words To Eat By

“A pasty costly-made,
Where quail and pigeon, lark and leveret lay,
Like fossils of the rock, with golden yolks
Imbedded and injellied.”–Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Words To Drink By

If all be true that I do think,
There are five reasons we should drink;
Good wine—a friend—or being dry—
Or lest we should be by and by—
Or any other reason why.
John Sirmond, French writer of the 1600s.

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