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DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Diary For Friday, 10/20/2018. I solidly began (or so I thought) through my routines of publishing my daily newsletter. Everything was working normally. But then a notice popped onto my screen that amounted to a total shutdown of the internet. I tried everything, called all the resources. Nothing worked. Including the gizmo I use to broadcast my radio show from home. Panic time.

Then the guy from AT&T said he’d send a technician tomorrow afternoon. This gave me hope, but when AT&T comes over, it’s not always solution time.

But not this time. He came over just when he said, saying that a wire about a mile and a half away had been installed improperly. At around 4 p.m., he told me to log in on my computer. Perfect. Fixed. I tried a bunch of other tests, and everything was all right. perfect. It took less than a half hour. God bless. (Which is not what we usually have to say about AT%T. MA in particular had problems while we were in Canada.) But for now, I love them.

After relaxing in the relief of this salvation on Sunday, I started thinking about another imminent project. I am to give a luncheon talk this Friday to the residents of Christwood, a retirement community. I haven’t given a talk in some time, and I made notes to keep me straight. No problem. It went well, and with between forty and fifty listeners who laughed at all the jokes I needn’t have worried. I was also happy that my long-running trilogy “On A Theme Of Soup Du Jour” got as many laughs as ever from about forty or fifty attendees. It went on for almost an hour.

I’m not looking to retire anytime soon, but I took the management’s lunch offer. The dining room, kitchen, and snacking areas were spic and span and featured the kind of food I’d expect from a gourmet bistro. Very impressive all the way through. Of course, many of the diners were on the older side, but that didn’t detract from the eating. Especially if they keep laughing at my jokes.

My next project is a series of dinners at the Roosevelt Hotel, particularly as regards the hotel’s Fountain Lounge. The management wants to coordinate me on some holiday-related events, with further reference to the historic aspect of the restaurant. I’m thinking about big bands, radio broadcasts, and the like. One of the radio station’s sales associates is particularly interest in this, and so is MA. The morning I wrote these words, the concept of the event came to me. It is, of course, a secret for now.

Fountain Lounge. CBD: 123 Baronne, Roosevelt Hotel. 504-648-1200.
What A Fjord Is.

Until about a week ago, I wasn’t sure what a fjord was. I’m embarrassed to admit that, but somehow I had it intermingled with glacier. It wasn’t until our ship was carefully negotiating its way between two close strips of land that it hit me.

Looking at it on the ship’s navigation channel, this fjord is a tiny finger of water that goes in pretty far. Somehow, a very long time ago,(1676) some French people thought it a good idea to settle there, and Saguenay, Canada came to be.

I had never heard of it until that day last week Proving my stellar qualifications as “group leader”, I was surprised we had another port. I had no expectations, just curiosity, about this place. A view across the water revealed a lot of houses and nothing commercial, so whatever town there was, wasn’t apparent. While we awaited tender boats, one in our group who had cell service booked me a car. (I was learning!)

It was raining, downgraded from sideways snowing that morning, and frigid cold. The car rental place was thankfully in the building, and my name was called, rescuing me from the line of those unfortunate people who didn’t have reservations. Can you imagine???

The car was there for us and we got in. Tom was unsure about this impromptu plan, but the rental agent assured us a cute town was nearby. We drove along the water for awhile, noticing different fall colors. One particular feathery tree was golden yellow against kelly green, and those were the only colors. It was exquisite in its simplicity.

Soon the snow started again. When I lived at the Grand Canyon for a bit many years ago, a still vivid memory is driving in snow at night. Big white snowflakes coming at you from all directions in the dark is hypnotic. This was daylight but the snow was pretty heavy at times, and suddenly sky, horizon, and road appear as one. Tom was not happy. I was! Snow!!! I stopped on the side of the road to make a tiny snowman until my car mate ran out of patience.

We arrived at the tiny town to see that it was really just a tiny inn, closed, of course, for the season. Someone should mention to the tourist folks that if cruise ships come through October, maybe staying open would keep money in the coffers longer??

I wanted to hike a bit along the fjord, but I also wanted to see the town near the ship. More important, I did not want to drive in a brewing snowstorm with Tom. Back in town, I dropped him at the ship tenders. The rental car guy wanted the car. Another two hours remained before departure, and I still hadn’t seen the town. When the last tour bus left, I was the only one on it.

Glad I went though, because I learned that Saguenay is comprised of three villages that share one mayor. We were docked in La Baie, and the main town, (and most interesting by far) is Chicoutimi. No one I knew made it to Jonquiere.I arrived from the tour at 5:59, a minute before promised. The remaining half hour was spent reconnecting with the world before I was cut off again. “@&#%” AT&T.

At exactly 6:30 pm, I walked through our cabin door. Tom is used to it by now. I think.


German Potato Pancakes

For twenty years until he retired, Chef Willy Coln was the culinary king of Oktoberfest around New Orleans. He first started presenting the German harvest festival at his own restaurant in the 1980s, then did it again as executive chef of the Hotel Inter-Continental. They were always the most polished Oktoberfest feasts around. An essential part of the menu–as a side dish to a number of entrees–is potato pancakes. These are also delicious with applesauce and bacon for breakfast.

Fried potato pancake with sauce on a plate

  • 4 large baking potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 1 large onion, peeled and grated
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Pinch white pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs. flour

1. Combine the grated potatoes, onions, eggs, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and flour until well blended.

2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat–about 400 degrees.

3. For each pancake, scoop out a heaping tablespoon of the potato mixture and drop it onto a clean counter. Flatten it into an oval about four inches long and about as thick as three stacked quarters.

4. Cook the pancakes until golden brown on each side–about two minutes per side. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Makes about a dozen pancakes.

AlmanacSquare October 31, 2017

Upcoming Deliciousness

Halloween — Tonight
Thanksgiving — Nov. 23


Tonight 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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