Diary For Fri., 2/22/2019. Bubbles And ?.
As I went through my dozens of emails this morning, I was arrested by a promo for something going on this afternoon at Arnaud’s called Bubbles and Beads. Here is the entire description of the event:
Arnaud’s French 75 Bar
Bubbles and Beads
Featuring Moët & Chandon specials, music by DJ Musa,
and a glitter bar by Electra Cosmetics.
Happy Hour. Feb. 22, 3-5:30 p.m.
Darn! My radio show is on the air at that time, and as much as I like Moet & Chandon Champagne and Arnaud’s, I can’t be there.
Arnaud’s opens for dinner at six p.m. Start with oysters Arnaud.
Diary For Wed., 2/20/2019. Depressing Weather. No Number One With Cheese. Dinner At Ox Lot 9.
By noon, I had already decided not to drive into downtown New Orleans for my radio show, and I once again congratulated myself for the $6,000 investment I made twenty-five years ago in the gizmo that allows me to so this. The day began with heavy fog, but the rain wasn’t too aggressive. I had an extra-long edition of this newsletter on the drafting table, and even with the time I saved by staying home, by two in the afternoon I had no prospects for lunch other than the likes of Bud’s Broiler.
That’s when the rain arrived, turning a five-minute drive into at least a twenty-minute shot. I wouldn’t have been able to actually eat the Number One with Cheese, my standard Bud’s order since I discovered the place in 1966. The rain was coming down in sheets when I pulled into the Cool Water Ranch and found that, of all the five or six umbrellas I keep near me, none were in the car. I got drenched trying to get inside, and the rain kept falling heavier by the minute. As fate would have it, the rain stopped just as I signed on the air. We had another good show by using my new invitation for people to call me even if they thought they had nothing to say. But everybody has something to tell, all the time.
The rain that would follow for several days would not be good for Mary Leigh’s house renovation, but things are moving in that department. The concrete has been laid, the plumbing is under way, and the electrician is ready to go. Even though the completion will take ML permanently out of our family home and I will miss her for that, I’m proud of her energy.
So it was just MA and I having dinner. Her first thought was Ox Lot 9, the restaurant of the Southern Hotel in Covington. We have had Sunday brunch there five or ten times for every dinner, for reasons I don’t know. I started with an oyster appetizer set atop a damp pastry and a sort of stock. The oysters were stewed–not my favorite use for the bivalves. They need a better oyster dish than this.
The entree, on the other hand, was a stuffed half of a rabbit, encrusted with bread crumbs and herbs. This was delicious, crisp here and there and tender everywhere else, all with a fascinating flavor. I will have this again some day soon, and recommend it to everybody whio likes the mellow, light flavor of rabbit.
Mary Ann went with her standards: a crab cake to begin with, and chicken and dumplings for the main. She was completely satisfied by all that.
The tile floors, large windows and high ceilings make for a lot of sound in here. It’s really loud at brunch, when Ox Lot 9 is especially busy. But the place was sparsely populated tonight, probably because of the gloom from the days bad weather. Yet it was still loud. If it were my restaurant, I’d turn off the music on a day like this.
Come to think about it, it might be a good idea for restaurants to forget music in their dining rooms, unless it’s a specialty of the house. Roy Picou at Impastato’s, for example. Or pianist Ron Jones at Delmonico and the Roosevelt Hotel’s Fountain Lounge. Most restaurant music playlists are terrible to begin with, and played too loud. Or, it’s quite possible, that I’m just a crank when it comes to tastes in music. I think restaurants are really missing an opportunity by ignoring the music of Bobby Short.
Ox Lot 9. Covington: 428 E Boston St . 985-400-5663.
Tom’s Hamburger Sauce
This is what I slather all over the hamburgers I make at home. Aficionados of Bud’s Broiler–an old local chain of charcoal-grilled hamburger joints around New Orleans–may note that this is a bit similar to the sauce on Bud’s Number One. I admit that as my inspiration, but this isn’t their recipe. It’s also a takeoff from “secret” sauces found in fast food places everywhere. They all are variations on a blend of mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup. This one substitutes barbecue sauce and chipotle Tabasco for the ketchup, which I avoid wherever possible.
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 3 Tbs. dill relish, well drained
- 2 Tbs. smoke-flavored barbecue sauce
- 1 tsp. Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce
- 1/4 tsp. coarsely-ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients. Refrigerate what you don’t use immediately.
Makes enough for about ten hamburgers.
February 22, 2017
Mardi Gras: March 5
St. Patrick’s Day: March 17
St. Joseph’s Day: March 19
Easter: April 21
My Mother’s Day
This is the anniversary of the birth of Aline Gremillion Fitzmorris, my mother and the source of my taste for Creole cooking. She was born in 1912 near Cottonport in rural Avoyelles Parish. Her enormous family (she was the fourth-youngest of twelve children) moved to New Orleans in 1918. She grew up in the French Quarter, and was valedictorian of St. Louis Cathedral School in 1927. (That’s her graduation picture at right.) Everybody who knew her remembers the goodness of her cooking. I still think of her versions of chicken gumbo and seafood gumbo, red beans and rice, bread pudding, lost bread, and baked chicken as definitive. My favorite description of her talents came from one of her brothers: “Aline can make a meal out of nothing.” That is in fact how the great chefs say they cook, too.
Burger Creek is in northeast Kansas, eighty-four miles north of Topeka, but only three miles from the Nebraska state line. It comes out of the low hills on the north side of a corn-covered valley flattened out by Turkey Creek. This confluence yields a rare double-food-named place. The nearest restaurant is the well-named Corn Crib, a mile away in Corning.
filé, filé powder, gumbo filé, n.–Dried, powdered leaves of sassafras, used as a seasoning in gumbo. (Sassafras is a small tree that grows throughout the South.) The name comes from the French word for thread (“filament” comes from the same root). When you stir filé into gumbo, it merges into strings at first. Filé is most often used with chicken and sausage gumbos, but it might turn up in any variety. Some people add it to the pot while it’s cooking. Others dust it over the surface of the gumbo at the table. The aroma is more assertive than the taste. There is evidence that filé may be carcinogenic, although the small amounts most people use are probably harmless. File is a great item to include in a basket of New Orleans food products sent to friends outside New Orleans. It’s difficult to find anywhere else.
Annals Of The Lunch Counter
Frank W. Woolworth opened his first store in Utica, New York today in 1879. Woolworth’s would become the first chain store of any kind. Despite that, it was treated by locals as part of the fabric of New Orleans. At one time there were at least eight Woolworth’s stores around town. A shopping trip to Canal Street would not have been complete without a stop in one of the two big Woolworth’s for a grilled cheese sandwich, crinkle-cut fries, and a cherry Coke.
This is National Margarita Day. The essential ingredients are tequila, lime juice, a splash of triple-sec, Cointreau, or some other orange-flavored liqueur, and ice. The rim of the glass is coated with salt, but Lu Brow at the Swizzle Stick Lounge came up with an improvement: only dip half the rim of the glass in the salt. That way you can take it or leave it.
Nice coincidence: today is also Pan-American Ceviche Day. Ceviche is a cold appetizer of fish (or sometimes shellfish) marinated in lemon or lime juice, with a little salt and sometimes chile peppers and other savory, crisp vegetables. The fish starts out raw, but the acidity of the citrus juice changes the proteins in the fish such that it comes out with the texture and flavor of cooked fish–even though it’s still raw.
Ceviche was created during the Spanish colonial days in Peru. From there it spread to almost all Latin American countries, each of which added its own flavors and ingredients. So many variations on ceviche can be made that restaurants sometimes serve several kind of ceviche, with different seafoods and marinades. It’s a delicious appetizer, the lightness and the acidic marinade giving a lift to the palate as the flavors satisfy at the same time.
Deft Dining Rule #221:
If you’re dining in an Italian restaurant and you learn that a dish is named for the chef’s or (even better) the owner’s mother, get that dish.
The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:
If you and your siblings haven’t spent a few afternoons with your mother learning how to cook her best dishes–measuring and timing everything so anyone can use the recipes–you are throwing away her legacy. Shame!
Annals Of Snacking
An old but probably apocryphal story has it that today in 1630, Native Americans introduced British settlers to popcorn. They popped a bunch of it, then sat down at watched The Birth Of A Nation. No. There was nothing new about popcorn. It had been grown and popped for many centuries.
Music To Eat Gumbo By
Ernie K-Doe (real name Kador) was born today in 1936. His famous song was Mother-In-Law, but he played all kinds of New Orleans music for decades. The cooking of this mother-in-law is not mentioned, but it’s a long-running topic of controversy. K-Doe died in 2001.
Kate Sage, Australian Olympic hockey player, was born today in 1973. . . Samuel Whitbread, who founded the British ale brewery named for him, was born today in 1937. . . Actor Dwight Frye was born today in 1899. . . Isaac L. Rice, a New York businessman and philanthropist, was born today in 1850. . . Robert Weiner Jr., professional polo player, was born today in 1982. . . Bill Baker, an early pro basketball player, was slam-dunked today in 1911.
Words To Eat By
“Shellfish are the prime cause of the decline of morals and the adaptation of an extravagant lifestyle. Indeed of the whole realm of nature the sea is in many ways the most harmful to the stomach, with its great variety of dishes and tasty fish.”–Pliny the Elder.
Words To Drink By
“And the sooner the tea’s out of the way, the sooner we can get out the gin, eh?”–Henry Reed, English writer, born today in 1914.