Diary: Wednesday, July 18, 2018. Thirty Years Today. Eat Club Dinner @ Broussard’s. Same idea, same station, same host for thirty years. For the past two or three years, I wondered whether this trivial goal could be reached. Now I know. My Food Show on the radio, begun on July 18, 1988, today achieved thirty years on the air. That makes it the longest-running radio show in New Orleans history, interrupted only by two weeks after Hurricane Katrina. Yeah, I know this is no really big deal. But it means something to me.
And, apparently, to many other people. Today’s program was riddled with congratulatory calls, including quite a few from Real People in the local broadcast community. We also heard from many figures in the restaurant world.
It’s a Food Show tradition to make a fuss over milestones with a major dinner from a long-running Grand-Dame restaurant. Galatoire’s, Arnaud’s, the dining room of the Ritz-Carlton, Tujague’s, and Commander’s Palace all hosted us. This year, it’s Broussard’s. The nearly 100-year-old restaurant presented a four-course dinner right in its easy-going style. We began with steak tartare, a dab of Cajun caviar, and crab-and-corn beignet. The first formal courses presented grilled-pressed watermelon. It sounds contrived, but this is a hot technique these days, and the intensified watermelon flavor made its point well on such a hot evening as this.
Course Three, we all agreed, was the high point: fillets of pompano with a light brown butter and almonds. Also here were the green beans that have replaced the fried that have ruled this part of the menu for years. Beans and seafood are always good together.
Now came seared duck breast au poivre. It was the first noticeably spicy item of the evening. Potatoes did appear with this one. As did leeks. Bacon. Compote of peaches. Good stuff.
Dessert was classic bananas Foster, prepared at the table. Not original–Brennan’s own this idea–but hard to disdain.
The wines were pread widely in their goodness. We had a great start in Piper Heidsieck Champagne. I liked the Napa Cellars Pinot Noir well enough, although the duck was calling for something with more or punch.
I stood up and point-blank asked whether the Eat Clubbers would allow me to sing my favorite song for moments like this: Rodgers and Hart’s Where Or When. If ever I wondered whether people are indeed listening after all these years, I know it now.
Broussard’s. French Quarter: 819 Conti. 504-581-3866.
The name is an embarrassing Italian joke. “Puttanesca” means “in the style of the prostitute.” Since the ladies of the evening are not known for their prowess in the kitchen, it must be about something else. A look at the ingredients may suggest what was going on in the mind of the man (it was undoubtedly a man) who came up with this name. All this notwithstanding, pasta puttanesca is a marvelous dish for those of us who enjoy big flavors. It’s the best Italian dish I know involving fresh tuna.
- Chef Andrea’s fish marinade
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 Tbs. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 3-6 dashes Tabasco
- 2 lbs. fresh yellowfin tuna, cut into one-inch cubes
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp. salt (preferably sea salt)
- 1/4 cup Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 cup pitted calamata olives
- 12 sprigs fresh parsley, leaves only, finely chopped
- 12 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped
- 4 anchovies (preferably white anchovies), finely chopped
- 2 Tbs. capers
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1 lb. penne pasta, cooked al dente
1. Whisk the marinade ingredients in a shallow bowl. It won’t blend completely, but don’t worry about that. Marinate the cubs of tuna in this for about 90 seconds, tossing it around to coat well. Remove the tuna and let the marinade drain off. Save the remaining marinade to serve as a condiment to this dish on the side.
2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the tuna cubes, Italian seasoning, and salt to the skillet and sear the tuna, shuffling the cubes around every thirty seconds or so for about two minutes. Remove the tuna and set aside.
3. Add the wine to the skillet and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and add all the other ingredients except the tuna and the pasta. Cook until everything is heated through, then add the tuna.
4. Turn off the heat. Add the pasta to the pan and toss everything around to distribute the sauce ingredients.
July 23, 2017
Coolinary to begin August 1. Over 100 restaurants participating.
It is National Vanilla Ice Cream Day. Vanilla ice cream is derided by many–especially the chocolate lovers. But try to imagine Baked Alaska, bananas foster, cherries jubilee, mile-high ice cream pie, or apple pie a la mode without it. The best vanilla ice cream in my experience was the French vanilla made by the late Chef Warren Leruth at his revolutionary Gretna restaurant. He claimed that it had an astronomical twenty-five percent butterfat content. He confided to me once that it was actually higher than that. He also made his own vanilla bean extract that had a flavor so wonderful you could almost use it as a perfume. The Leruth formulas are now being made by Ronald Reginald’s.
The timing is right for this observance. July is National Ice Cream Month, so declared by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Deft Dining Rule #103
Women who prefer vanilla ice cream to chocolate make boring dinner dates.
Annals Of Popular Cuisine
Today is one of several that has been named as the birthday of the ice cream cone. We know the year (1904) and the place (the St. Louis World’s Fair), and the story (an ice cream vendor who ran out of cups bought some waffles from a nearby vendor and used them as plates, which people then rolled up), but the names differ. Today’s story involves one Charles Menches. Eat an ice cream cone today in honor of whoever is real innovator.
Banana Lake. It figures that with all the lakes in Minnesota there would be one shaped like a banana, and that it would be called Banana Lake. It’s in the northwest corner of the state, on the White Earth Indian Reservation, 230 miles northwest of Minneapolis. Banana Lake is about half a mile long and a quarter of a mile part in the center of the banana. It is adjacent to Cucumber Lake, and a quarter-mile north of Lemon Lake, each of which is named for its shape, too. The flat land around it is drained by the well-named Wild Rice River. This is, in fact, where wild rice has been collected by the Native Americans of the area for centuries. The entire area is intensively cultivated for that and other grains. The nearest restaurant also has an appropriate name: Whispering Winds, fourteen miles north of Banana Lake in Mahnomen.
suppli al telefono, Italian, n.–It translates literally as “telephone wires,” a name that will puzzle anyone who’s seen but not eaten the dish. These are balls of rice about the size of a golf ball, held together with eggs and sometimes with just enough tomato sauce to make the rice a pale orange. In the center is a cube of mozzarella cheese. The balls are rolled in bread crumbs and fried long enough that the interior is very hot. When you cut into it with a fork and lift the bite to your mouth, festoons of cheese stretch between the ball and the fork. These are supposed to resemble telephone wires. The dish is a common appetizer around Italy, especially in Rome.
People We’d Like To Dine With
It’s the birthday in 1930 of former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu. He’s the founder of a political dynasty, what with son Mitch now in the mayor’s chair, and daughter Mary a powerful figure in the Senate.
Annals Of Wine Criticism
It’s the birthday, in 1947, of the world’s most influential wine writer. Robert M. Parker Jr. was an attorney who was so intent on finding and enjoying the best wines that he became a tireless investigator of the viticultural world. He tastes thousands of wines and writes voluminously on the subject in his newsletter, The Wine Advocate. Rating wines on a scale of 100, Parker’s reviews became so important that many wine stores began posting his ratings right next to the prices of wines. It became a wine-snob boast to never drink a wine rated below 90 by Parker.
Parker’s integrity has always been solid. He spurns the hospitality of winemakers and buys the wines he reviews instead of accepting free samples. Nevertheless, he has been under attack in recent years. Some say that his enormous influence has an unnatural effect on the wine world, causing too many winemakers to make wine’s to his preferences, just to get high scores and thereby sell more wine. It’s not Parker’s fault, but that of the winemakers and wine drinkers, who ought to have more confidence in their own tastes.
Annals Of Soft Drinks
Today is the birthday of Diet Coke, introduced today in 1982, and now the biggest-selling diet drink in the world. It now seems such an obvious product one wonders why Coca-Cola was so reluctant to use its vaunted name on it. But when Coca-Cola came out with its first diet cola, they called it Tab. Diet Coke sold far better than Tab ever did. It wasn’t just because of intense marketing, but also because it tasted better–sweeter than Tab. Less well known is that Diet Coke was really the first appearance of a the flavor that later appear as New Coke.
Today is the feast day of St. Apollinaris, who goes back so far that he’s mentioned in Acts. He is the patron saint of those with the gout, that intensely painful joint affliction of (mostly) men who indulge in excellent food, wine, and love. I had occasion to ask for St. Apollinaris’s intercession just this weekend.
Pitcher Catfish Hunter was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame today in 1987. . . It’s the birthday, in 1947, of 1980s pop singer David Essex, whose real name was David Cook. . . Pro basketballer Darvin Ham dribbled for the first time today in 1973.
Words To Eat By
“I could never understand what Sir Godfrey Teale saw in Jill Bennett, until I saw her at the Caprice eating corn on the cob.”–Coral Browne, Australian actor, born today in 1913.
“Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone.”–Jim Fiebig.
Words To Drink By
“None so deaf as those who will not hear.
None so blind as those who will not see.
But I’ll wager none so deaf nor blind that he
Sees not nor hears me say, ‘Come drink this beer.'”
–W. L. Hassoldt.
What Can’t A Big Wood-Fired Grill Do?
Click here for the cartoon.