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Diary For Thurs., Jan. 3, 2019: Pat Gallagher’s Old Place In The Rain.

My plan for the day is to head into town and do the show from there. Ian McNulty, the restaurant critic for the Advocate newspaper, published a list of the restaurants that have closed in 2018. By his count–which looks accurate to me–there were 29 closings. It would have been nice to also have the roll call of newly-opened restaurants alongside, but this is fair enough.

I knew about most of the closed restaurants, but a few surprised me. Sac-A-Lait, for example. It shut down about three months ago. Less of a loss is Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, which closed after over twenty years. I didn’t think it would last for a year when it opened, but I guess I was wrong, Twenty years in the restaurant business is a long run, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

I thought the list was interesting enough that I went through about half of the attached stories in the piece on the radio. It not only filled the two hours, but brought in a lot of calls from new callers. This is very welcome, especially this time of year, when not much is going on in the restaurants.

As it turned out, I didn’t cross the lake. The rain was too insistent. I wondered whether we might have a flood at the Cool Water Ranch. That would be first time since a full week ago. The time before that was about twenty years ago.

Oysters Pablo @ Gallagher’s Grill

MA was en route across the Causeway with the plan of having dinner with me at Pat Gallagher’s 527. But the rain had become so insistent that we removed ourselves to Pat’s original location in Covington. That one is much closer to home. The less I have to drive through this kind of rain, the better. Even expert driver MA–who could be a racecar driver– said she came close to being sideswiped twice. It’s amazing that doesn’t happen more often, what with the number of highways with invisible road stripes.

Although the bulk of Pat’s customers dine at the Mandeville restaurant, I like the Covington place better in terms of food goodness. MA likes the Mandeville spot atmospherically superior. But she has final choice of restaurants, so we usually are in Mandeville. But not tonight.

I began with the turtle soup–dark and delicious. Then oysters Pablo. These remind me of oysters Bienville, even though Pat says that they’re a southwestern answer to oysters Rockefeller. Regardless of this discrepancy, the finished work is all I’d want from a baked oyster dish, and baked oysters are my favorite category of fine dining.

Tableful of food at Gallagher's Grill. Lamb and quail in center. Bone-in ribeye upper right. Brussels sprouts and wedge salad upper left.

Tableful of food at Gallagher’s Grill. Lamb and quail in center.

My main course was a signature dish for Pat Gallagher: a mixed grill of quail and lamb chops, sizzling in butter in a platter so hot that you can feel it a couple of feet away. Pat was for a number of years the executive chef of Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Metairie. This shows in the large number of steaks on the menu, as well as in the omnipresence of bubbling butter. The amount of butter that passes through the kitchen must be awesome.

MA stayed with its specialties, with an eight-ounce filet mignon and a boatload of creamed spinach. She says Gallagher’s may be the best creamed spinach around, and I can see that–but I’d say Antoine’s is a bit better.

Creme brulee for my dessert finished our dinner. During our sojourn at Gallagher’s Grill, the rain had finally stopped–but the shallow pool that stood across the street from the Cool Water Ranch told me that we had barely made it home.

Gallagher’s Grill. Covington: 509 S Tyler. 985-892-9992.

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Lamb Chili

I got a recipe along these lines from the Sebastiani Winery twenty years ago. I’ve made it a half-dozen times, changing it drastically with each iteration. Sometimes I made it with beef, which works just as well. It’s always good, though. Here’s the current version, with much more pepper and lamb than the original.

  • 3 large peeled onions, sliced into thin rings
  • 2 green bell peppers, cut into chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, removed from skins
  • 2 lbs. leg of lamb, cut into half-inch dice
  • 2 cups Zinfandel (red)
  • 2 28-oz. cans whole Italian tomatoes, broken with fingers
  • 2 cups cooked but firm red beans
  • 2 Tbs. fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. chili powder
  • 2 Tbs. paprika
  • 2 Tbs. Creole seasoning
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced

Lamb chili.

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and crushed red pepper in the olive oil until light brown at the edges. Transfer to a large kettle or Dutch oven and set aside.

2. In the same skillet saute the Italian sausage and the lamb, breaking the sausage up it up as you do. Cook for about three minutes, until lightly browned. Add sausage to kettle.

3. Add the wine and the juice from the tomatoes to the skillet. Bring it to a boil and reduce by half.

4. Add the pan contents to the kettle, along with all the remaining ingredients except the green onions. Simmer, stirring now and then, for two hours or longer, adding water if it starts getting too thick.

Serve in bowls with the sliced green onions on top.

Serves eight.

AlmanacSquare January 4, 2019

Upcoming Deliciousness

Carnival Begins Jan. 6.
Mardi Gras March 5.
Got Gumbo Competition Feb. 7.

Tenth Day of Christmas

Here come the leaping lords. I don’t know what that’s all about, and I don’t think I want to know. Also silly: the chromium combination manicure, scissors and cigarette lighter in Allan Sherman’s version of the song. In another: mistletoe arrives today, too late for the parties. Benny Grunch goes to the Tenneco Chalmette Refinery for some reason. In our own take on the Twelve Days song, today we’d like to simmer for you ten cups of red beans to go with the nine cups of rice and eight links of sausage from the last two days.

tenlordsleapingHere come the leaping lords. I don’t know what that’s all about, and I don’t think I want to know. Also silly: the chromium combination manicure, scissors and cigarette lighter in Allan Sherman’s version of the song. In another: mistletoe arrives today, too late for the parties. Benny Grunch goes to the Tenneco Chalmette Refinery for some reason. In our own take on the Twelve Days song, today we’d like to simmer for you ten cups of red beans to go with the nine cups of rice and eight links of sausage from the last two days.

Today’s Flavor

This is National Spaghetti Day. As much as I love pasta, whenever I encounter spaghetti in the strictest sense of the word, I’m glad that we don’t eat it often. The thinner string pastas–spaghettini, vermicelli, angel hair–have taken over. Thicker spaghetti doesn’t roll up onto a fork, or hold as much sauce. This is because, ounce for ounce, the thinner the pasta, the more surface area it has.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

Breaking spaghetti to fit into a storage jar is carrying organization a little too far.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Dining Fork, Ohio is the unpopulated junction of State Highways 212 and 332, in the hilly eastern part of the state, fifty miles from Canton, Ohio. Eat at Hugo’s, a half-mile east, and ask them to explain the significance of the name Dining Fork.

Food In Show Biz

The movie Chocolat, about a new-in-town single mother who works her way into the hearts of her neighbors in a small French town by making excellent chocolate pastries premiered today in 2001.

It’s also the birthday of fictional chocolate magnate Willy Wonka–as a trademark for the line of candy bearing the character’s name. Issued today in 1972.

Food On The Air

Today was the premiere, in 1932, of the Carnation Contented Hour, a music variety show on radio sponsored by Carnation Evaporated Milk, the milk from contented cows. Would you prefer milk from a contented cow or a singing cow? I have one of the Carnation shows in my collection; I wish I had more. Good music back then.

Sounds Like A Food Story, But Isn’t

Today in 2006, the first female Beefeater was confirmed. Best known for gracing the label of the bottle of the namesake gin, the Beefeaters–more properly known as Yeoman Warders–have been guarding the Tower of London for over five hundred years. All of them were men until then. But it’s not the rough-and-tumble job it once was. Beefeaters now mainly entertain visitors to the Tower.

Edible Dictionary

scarlet runner bean, n.–An edible, reddish bean of medium size that can be eaten, but rarely is in this country, where it’s more often grown for its brilliant red flowers. The beans, when removed from the pod and cooked, are as good as any other bean, but are unusual in having a lot of variation, even among beans from the same pod. A native of Central America, scarlet runners can keep growing for years, and as they do they produce a starchy roots that has long been eaten in Central America.

Eat Club Namesakes

Today is the birthday, in 1837, of Charles Stratton, a midget known in the world of entertainment as General Tom Thumb. I only bring this up because an Eat Club regular who travels here from Little Rock to attend our dinners has the same real name and stage name. He’s not a midget, though, so his circus career didn’t amount to much, forcing him to do very well in more conventional businesses.

Food Namesakes

J. Danforth Quayle, the vise-prisedint under George Bush I, was borne tooday in 1947. . . Arthur Berry, an early British Olympic soccer star, was born today in 1888. . . Wilhelm Beer, an astronomer who drew the first known map of the moon based on telescopic observations, was born today in 1797. . . Jon Appleton, an American classical composer, was born today in 1939.

Words To Eat By

“No man is lonely while eating spaghetti; it requires so much attention.”–Christopher Morley.

“Nothing spoils lunch any quicker than a rogue meatball rampaging through your spaghetti.”–Jim Davis, author of the comic strip “Garfield.”
“Eating food with a knife and fork is like making love through an interpreter.”–Anonymous.

Words To Drink By

“We live in stirring times—tea-stirring times.”–Christopher Isherwood, British writer, who died today in 1986.

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