Diary For MON, 20-29-2018. I head into town for the radio show, the first in a few weeks to check how things are falling together. Then I return to the North Shore, where I found nothing going on at NPAS. I know that the chorus has many activities coming through the holidays, but I couldn’t nail down what they are.
Tuesday, MA thinks I ought to visit more new restaurants than I have been lately. She has a way of finding such restaurants, but she doesn’t especially like to eat in them. In Asian restaurants, as a good example. Today, we go to Luvi, a new, unique uptown café. It has a decidedly offbeat collection of ingredients and flavors, including mostly various noodles, dumplings, balls of delicate rice, and miscellaneous other ingredients. The emphasis at Luvi seems to be on broths, raw-bar items, and rice. None of these ingredients seem to fold into a main theme–a quality that works well.
For example, we begin with Mama’s dumplings, a collection of uniquely folded dumplings awash in a rather peppery broth. Next came something called The Lion’s Head. This is less coherent then its predecessor. This is a ball of crabmeat and pork in a mild broth. I remember some kind of dish with that name a long time ago, but I can’t pick out the theme. Next came a tuna crostini , of which all will come my way, since MA doesn’t do raw fish, and that’s what that is.
Now comes baked salmon with truffle oil and a sweet soy-sauce reduction. Speaking of that: I asked the waiter to bring some soy sauce or the like (I leave it up to him) to fill in some flavor necessity in the previous course. Now we have we have “Dark Forest” to fill in some mushrooms. I have been to some dinners through the years that reminded me of all this delicacy (and delicacy).
At the end, we have had another dish or two. You can’t always tell the difference between the appetizers and entrees–but most are around $10 each. All are tasty, pretty, and original. The restaurant is in a parlor of fan old shotgun house a few blocks near the corner of Tchoupitoulas and Napoleon. Nothing quite like it in town. The youthful clientele is perfect for the food.
Luvi. Uptown: 5236 Tchoupitoulas. 504-605-3340.
The Departure From Quebec
By Mary Ann Fitzmorris
At last the day arrived to finally disembark from the ship. This is always a strangely bittersweet moment for me, maybe because it becomes sort of a home while you’re there?
I left the room while it was still dark to see one of my very favorite places from high up. It was really cold, and I had just stumbled out of bed, so it was a wake-up shock, with another one to follow. The decks of the ship were covered in snow!!! I have never seen this, even in Alaska!
Immediately I started collecting handfuls of the crunchy powder to make a real snowman before it got dispatched by the crew. I ran back to the room to get things for nose and eyes and hat.
In no time I had a respectable little snowman to show my little grandguys in California. It was amusing to see a snowman perched on deck chairs. Ah, life’s little wonders!
I joined Tom for a last excellent breakfast in the dining room and to say goodbye and tip some favorite servers.
And soon we were walking down the gangway. Into chaos. The taxi line had 300 people in it. Since the hotel was mere minutes away, we should have Uberred. But I dumped my Uber app somewhere along the way and didn’t want to do it again. Dumb.
Instead we wound up on a bus with three hotel stops, missing people, and luggage. I was in a state of (putting it kindly) pique, when we arrived at the hotel.
The Chateau Frontenac is a stunning masterpiece perched high on a bluff overlooking the St. Lawrence River. When I was last here in 2012, it was dark and forlorn. After a $70M redo in 2013 it is gorgeously decked out to celebrate its 125th year. Large placards in a side lobby illustrate its glorious history. I spent a whole evening reading about it one night.
Chateau Frontenac also had the lengthiest check-in of any hotel I have ever experienced, a most-unfortunate development in my heightened state of annoyance. They did give us a room in one of the turrets, though it was hardly noticeable from inside.
I was really thirsty and urgently in need of hot chocolate, so we went up the street to the Restaurant Continental. Tom was instantly smitten by this aptly named bistro with very formal service.
We started with soup to warm us. Tom, a lobster bisque, onion for me. The lobster bisque was less creamy and more brothy than in the States, but Tom loved it. My onion soup landed in about the 75% of such things I’ve had. Tom makes the second best I’ve ever had. The first is, oddly enough, on the Carnival Conquest in the Point, their specialty dining room, (If it even still exists)
I had a big vinaigrette salad I shared with Tom, and he had sweetbreads he deemed delicious.
He tried the local specialty maple sugar pie for dessert, and I had another hometown favorite, hazelnut cake. The pie was quite good and not nearly as sweet as it sounded. The cake didn’t move me enough to go past a bite. Tom liked it.
Back at the hotel, it was check-in time. I left Tom in the warmth of the room and set out to roam. There were some elaborate and quite fanciful Halloween displays around town, and I did finally get the hot chocolate.
At 5 we met the group in my favorite bar anywhere. The Frontenac’s bar exudes the most welcoming vibe! It wraps around the actual bar with cozy sofas and little “encampments” and looks very Canadian. Stuffed heads mounted and taxidermy geese overhead should make it seem more like a lodge for crusty old geezers, but this place rocks!
So appealing it is that there is literally a line to get in, manned by a frazzled hostess. Reservations necessary. Naturally, we didn’t have them, so maybe it was the Eat Club that frazzled her. Hmmm.
I wish I was even a little interested in eating, because the dining room next door was stunning and glamorous with its windows overlooking the river.
Tom went to bed early and I left again, out for a walk in the crisp, cold night. Finally I stumbled into my favorite part of town, the lower part at water’s edge. This warren of cobbled streets is so romantic at night, with its strings of lights! I took the funicular back to the hotel. So handy, those funiculars.
I just love this place!
Luvi. Uptown: 5236 Tchoupitoulas. 504-605-3340.
It’s Halloween, and as the temperature cools, here’s a recipe for making all kinds of stocks and broths.
Using stocks in place of water in a recipe adds an added dimension of flavor, so they’re well worth using if you can. Most of the stocks in this book are described within the recipes, but here is a general method of making them.
The key to making good stock is to simmer it very slowly for a long time, with only a few bubbles breaking on top of the pot. Slow-cooked stocks come out clear and full of flavor. The longer you cook a stock, the more intense it gets, and the less of it you need in a recipe.
Stocks hold up a few days in the refrigerator, or for a long time if well sealed in the freezer. Many cooks freeze stock in ice cube trays, so they can slip out a few cubes and add it to recipes conveniently.
Canned chicken stock can be used if you don’t have your own. It’s not as good, but acceptable. Canned beef stock is not very good.
- For beef stock:
- 3 lbs. meat scraps, fat trimmed away, including pieces with bones (soup bones or oxtails are the most desirable)
- 2 carrots, cut up
- For veal, lamb, or pork stock:
- 3 lbs. meat scraps and bones, fat removed
- For chicken stock:
- 3-4 lbs. chicken pieces, no liver, or a whole chicken
- For crab, shrimp, or crawfish stock:
- Picked or peeled shells in any quantity
- Peel of 1/2 lemon
- Fish stock:
- Bones and scraps from fish, gills and livers removed
- 1 tsp. oregano
- Stock seasonings:
- 1 large onion, cut up
- Top four inches of a bunch of celery, cut up
- Stems from a bunch of parsley
- 1 tsp. peppercorns
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
Beef, veal, lamb or pork stock: Heat a heavy kettle or stockpot over medium heat and add the meat and bones. Brown them until they get quite dark, turning them now and then. (For the beef stock, add the carrots after the meat browns, and cook until soft.) Then add two gallons of water to the pot, plus all the stock seasonings. Bring to a light boil, then lower to a bare simmer. Cook for two to three hours. Then go to Finish, below.
Chicken stock: Pour two gallons of water into a heavy kettle or stockpot. Add the chicken and the stock seasonings. Bring to a light boil, then lower to a bare simmer. Cook for two hours. Then go to Finish, below.
Crab, shrimp, or crawfish stock: Crush the crab claws or crawfish shells with a pounder to break them open. Combine them in a heavy kettle or stockpot with the stock seasonings and enough water to cover the shells. Bring to a light boil, then lower to a bare simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Then go to Finish, below.
Fish stock: Put all the fish bones and scraps into a pot and nearly cover them with cold water. Heat until the water begins to steam, then pour off all the water. Refill the pot with enough water to cover and add the stock seasonings. Bring to a light boil, then lower to a bare simmer. Cook for 45 minutes. Then go to Finish, below.
Vegetable stock: Combine all the seasoning vegetables with one gallon of water. Bring to a boil then lower to a bare simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Then go to Finish, below.
Finish for all stocks:
1. As the pot boils, skim any scum that forms at the top. For meat and chicken stocks, also skim off any fat that rises to the top. Cook for the noted time, then strain the stock through the finest sieve or cheesecloth. Dispose of the solids. (Except for the chicken or meats, which can be picked from the bones for use in other recipes.)
2. Stocks can be further reduced and intensified by continuing to simmer after the solids have been removed.
3. Let the stocks cool to lukewarm, then refrigerate if not using immediately. For beef and chicken stocks, the fat will rise and solidify upon chilling, and can be easily removed. All except vegetable stocks may become gelatinous after being refrigerated; this is all right.
November 2, 2017
Thanksgiving Nov. 23
Historic Culinary Days
The most interesting and best news from the restaurant beat in the past several years has been the revival of Brennan’s on Royal Street. For those of us who thrive on first-class dining, it was a dramatic dream come true. What was left of the descendants of Owen Brennan lost control of the original Brennan’s, which then went bankrupt. Then Ralph Brennan (Owen’s nephew) and a well-moneyed partner took over the building and the business. They spent well over $20 million restoring both, and reopened with a legitimate claim to have reunited the Brennan family and what Brennan’s customers considered “the real Brennan’s.”
For those who just tuned in to the fifty-year-old saga, what we have here is the return of a family-owned restaurant which, to a great extent, created the grand New Orleans restaurant as we now know it. At the same time, it brought back from a long-running torpor the uniquely pleasant restaurant that was Brennan’s in its heyday, one that set the standards now widely copied at every level: food, service and environment. This is especially welcome in the pink-walled restaurant in the center of the French Quarter, the one that turned breakfast into a major celebration every day.
Special Food Days.
Various sources claim that this is National Deep Fried Clams Day. Which is almost reason enough to stay home. We don’t like clams much in New Orleans, even though they grow by the millions in Lake Pontchartrain. Nobody seems to have eaten them much, other than some Native Americans a long time ago. Maybe they were onto something.
Another source says it’s National Vinegar Day. That has more possibilities. Vinegar is essential for salad dressings and such, but it’s always in the back of my mind of sauces. Next time you make up a recipe that calls for lemon juice, and the lemon flavor is less essential than the acidity, try using vinegar instead. (A good-quality wine vinegar, I’d better say.) I’ve taken to adding it to hollandaise sauce, and like the result.
The source of the word “vinegar” is interesting. It comes from the two French words, vin aigre, which means “sour wine,” with a secondary, idiomatic meaning “sick wine.” In all my years of wine tasting, I’ve never encountered a bottle of wine that had gone to vinegar. However, I once had a little wooden barrel that was charged with “mother,” the enzyme that converts wine to vinegar. You’d pour leftover wine into it, and within just a day or two it would have turned it all to an excellent vinegar. I’d occasionally open the little spout and let a few drops run into a spoon, then let friends take a sniff if it. They always said the same thing: “That made my mouth water!”
Rice is in Prince Edward County in Central Virginia, fifty-eight miles east of Richmond. Its an old farming center whose identity was obscured by the building of the four-lane King Edward Highway through the fields. It gets a flag on the Civil War map: the Battle of Rice’s Station took place there on April 6, 1865, as Union and Confederate forces fought for the railroad station on what is now a main line on the Norfolk Southern Railway. The Rebs fell back to Farmville, and you should too if you want something to eat. The Big Dog Restaurant seems to be the big dog there.
rouille, [roo-YEE], French, n.–A room-temperature sauce best known for seasoning and thickening bouillabaisse. It’s the stuff spread on the crouton floating atop of the broth. Sometimes it’s served on the side. Classically, rouille was made with bread crumbs, olive oil, hot peppers and garlic. In recent times it has evolved into a variation on aioli, a flavored mayonnaise. The bread crumbs have departed in favor of lemon juice, saffron, and red pepper flakes. The word means “rust,” for its original color and texture. It’s now more a dark orange and smooth.
The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:
When you boil eggs, use standard balsamic vinegar in the boiling water. It will turn the shells a little brown, telling you at a glance which ones in t he refrigerator have been boiled.
Deft Dining Rule #892:
If you’re offered a balsamic vinaigrette in a restaurant, ask which balsamic vinegar they use. If you don’t get an answer, they didn’t really make it themselves, and it probably isn’t made with real balsamic.
The Broadway musical Top Banana, with unmemorable music by the great Johnny Mercer and starring Phil Silvers, opened on Broadway today in 1951. . . Ruud Cabbage, a star soccer player for the Dutch FC Twente team, was born today in 1966. . . Grantland Rice, one of the most famous sportswriters in history, was born today in 1880. . . Nobel Peace Prize winner Philip Noel-Baker was born today in 1886. . . Pro baseball outfielder Coco Crisp stepped up to the Big Plate today in 1979.
Annals Of Fine Writing
George Safford Parker was born today in 1863. He didn’t invent the fountain pen, but he refined it so much that he could be said to have created the first modern version of it. Parker is still one of the leading names in the pen industry. I have been writing with Parker fountain pens since 1964. The one I use now for almost all my handwriting is a much-renovated Parker 75 I bought in 1974. If you have an autographed copy of any of my books, it was signed with that good old pen.
Words To Eat By
“Serve the dinner backward, do anything but for goodness sake, do something weird.”–Elsa Maxwell, American writer, who died today in 1963.
Words To Drink By
“In most households a cup of coffee is considered the one thing needful at the breakfast hour. But how often this exhilarating beverage, that ‘comforteth the brain and heateth and helpeth digestion’ is made muddy and ill-flavoured! You may roast the berries to the queen’s taste, and grind them fresh every morning, and yet, if the golden liquid be not prepared in the most immaculate of coffee-pots, with each return of morning, a new disappointment awaits you.”–Janet McKenzie Hill, cookbook author in the late 1800s and early 1900s, collaborator with Fannie Farmer.