A revolutionary expression of fine dining in America begins across the country today, and it has the restaurants and chefs of our country in a whirlwind. The high-speed, high-class new trains run on smooth, new tracks with rights of way over all other trains, rising over or under all other traffic.That alone would solve the problems that make Amtrak and other long-distance passenger trains unattractive. But Gourmet Rail goes another step, turning its trains into comfortable, delicious moving parlors. Although small-plate food and drinks would be available all the time for the passengers, they would look forward to major meals featuring the best imaginable cooking, featuring the best fresh produce of the regions through which the train ise passing. The same standards apply to the wines and spirits of the area through which the train is passing. If there were no great wines raised from the area, great wines from the well-stocked rolling wine cellar would be served.The Gourmet Rail immediately created a controversy as to which places would furnish the train with its eats and drinks. The very first–echoing a number of recent magazine articles as to which are America’s best eating cities–is New Orleans. From there the Gourmet Rail started cooking Creole, Cajun and New American food. The two dozen passengers rolled through our part of the world for a day or two (depending on the vote of the passengers), then headed west, sampling the eats of Cajun Country. It was a a long stretch after that, as the Gourmet Rail passed through Houston without stopping.Houston also demonstrates the capabilities of the Gourmet Rail by serving a magnificent ten-course dinner paired with a study of old Bordeaux winesThe next stop is San Antonio, the homeland of Mexican and Tex-Mex cookery. After that, the train passed through the visually fascinating but culinarily wasteland Big Bend country of West Texas. The train’s route jagged north for a daily-special stop in Santa Fe for New Mexican food. Astute passengers also note that the Santa Fe Railroad was one of the last of grand operators of American passenger trains to die in the 1970s.Gourmet Rail blows right through Phoenix until it reaches the source of its greatest controversy. Is Los Angeles one of the best eating cities in America or not? Perhaps because of vociferous opinions from one of the restaurant critics on the Gourmet Rail’s board of directors, it was decided that compared with San Francisco, Los Angeles is a big fraud (to quote the critic who started this argument). When the Gourmet Rail left San Francisco, the Napa and Sonora wines remained were dominant, but the Oregon Pinot Noirs rose in popularity. Betters are saying that L.A. will make the cut next time.Other matters are also pulling together. Chicago will be a permanent Gourmet Rail source, if well below France, Italian, Chinese and Indian cuisines. That happened after the train made it to New York City, which could not be ignored.The second run of the Gourmet Rail was the reverse of the first one. The Mississippi River will never be crossed by the Gourmet Rail again. A cadre of over 100 chefs and 50 sommeliers have been recruited to keep the flow of brilliant food and drink. The Gourmet Rail is and will continue to be in progress as long as the world keeps spinning.And now, the matter that has been of greatest interest to would-be passengers of this amazing service: the price. For two people traveling together for one month, with full access to all services (and there are too many to enumerate here), the price is one million dollars. To reserve, call 504-524-0348. And be sure to remember on which date you made the call.–Tastefully yours,Tom Fitzmorris
Mock Filet Mignon BearnaiseIt’s amazing what you can do with a few simple kitchen tricks, and trickiness is what this unusual recipe is all about. Make this recipe exactly, and you’ll find that it looks, tastes, and has the aroma of a prime filet mignon with bearnaise made by a classically-trained French chef. If you find the steak, let me know.Steak:1 cup bread crumbs1 bunch broccoli, stems only1 1/2 bananas, very ripeSeven red grapes with seeds6 Tbs. butter1/2 cup red wine3 oz. American cheese1 small can chunk light tuna1 beef bouillon cubeSauce:1 Tbs. yellow mustard2 Tbs. any green herb1/4 cup Mountain Dew1 tsp. sea salt, the most expensive you can find1/2 cup crawfish fat2 Tbs. unsalted butterPaprika to taste1. Combine the steak ingredients in a food processor and run until it becomes a smooth but firm paste. With your hands, for into a filet mignon shape. Coat with a thin layer of the pate de foie gras. Bake for 2 hours in a 200-degree oven.2. Meanwhile, make the sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients in a blender. Pour into a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches a sauce consistency. Stir in the wasabi paste until well blended.3. When the mock steaks have set, heat the butter in a skillet until it bubbles. Sear the steaks on both sides. Serve atop kale leaves topped with the sauce and garnished with the chopped oysters.Serves twelve.
April 1, 2017Upcoming DeliciousnessFrench Quarter Festival April 11-14Easter April 21Jazz Festival April 26-May 5Eat Club Dinner @ Impastato’s April 17Restaurant AnniversariesBozo’s opened today in 1928. Founder Chris “Bozo” Vodonovich was one of many Croatians who created great restaurants in New Orleans in the 1900s. He relied on his connections with the fishermen in Plaquemines Parish to supply him with first-class oysters and other seafood. Bozo’s became legendary, always packed with people waiting for the simple but meticulously fried and boiled seafood. Bozo’s son–also named Chris–continued that attention to details until he sold it to Ed McIntyre in 2013. He renamed it Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar & Fish Grill and expanded the menu a bit, but the standards set by Bozo are still in place.Food CalendarThis is Sourdough Bread Day. Sourdough is to San Francisco what New Orleans-style French bread is to our town. It’s served everywhere a local flavor is desired. It’s an interesting product. The making of sourdough begins with a mixture of flour and water set out in the open to capture free-floating yeasts from the air. (San Francisco is supposed to have the best airborne yeast in the world, but that has never been proven.)The yeasts begin leavening this starter dough and multiplying. More flour and water are added–as well as milk and sometimes sugar or potato starch. When enough active starter is made, some or all of it goes into a batch of bread flour, where over a period of hours it leavens the dough. Most of that gets baked into bread, but some of it is kept unbaked, to continue feeding the yeasts. That’s used to make the next day’s batch of sourdough bread, and the process is repeated.Long-time San Francisco bakers claim that their sourdough starter has been developing this was continuously for decades. All the above is the original, artisan’s method of making sourdough. In actual practice, most bakers of sourdough also use a commercial baker’s yeast to help the process along. (They say it improves the taste, but the purists call this a shortcut.) It’s great bread, no matter how you slice it.Gourmet GazetteerRutabaga Creek, Oregon is a dry creek most of the time. It runs into Rhea Creek from the south after cutting its way through the Cascade Mountains and creating some rare vegetation in that parched, rocky landscape. There’s no sign of habitation along the creek, but a dirt road leads up into the mountains. All of this is in the northeast corner of the state. Rutabagas may well grow there, because it’s cold enough. It’s twelve miles to the nearest restaurant, Howe’s About Pizza, in Heppner.Edible DictionaryRutabaga Creek, Oregon is a dry creek most of the time. It runs into Rhea Creek from the south after cutting its way through the Cascade Mountains and creating some rare vegetation in that parched, rocky landscape. There’s no sign of habitation along the creek, but a dirt road leads up into the mountains. All of this is in the northeast corner of the state. Rutabagas may well grow there, because it’s cold enough. It’s twelve miles to the nearest restaurant, Howe’s About Pizza, in Heppner.The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:If you make a good yeast sponge, you are evermore committed to taking care of it the rest of your life. Or you’re not a true bread baker.Deft Dining Rule #235A restaurant that serves just enough bread is more interested in its food cost percentages than your pleasure. [Note: Most chain restaurants don’t serve bread at all anymore.]Annals Of Food WritingJean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, physician and author of The Physiology of Taste, was born today in 1755. His witty, appreciative tome was the first modern book on the subject of fine cuisine and dining, and remains definitive. His most famous quotation was “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” Here are two more:”A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.””The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of the human race than the discovery of a star.”Food And SportsRusty Staub was born in New Orleans today in 1944. After a long and distinguished career in baseball with Jesuit High School, the Astros, and the Expos, he moved to New York and was adopted by Mets fans. He was popular enough that he opened Rusty’s, a restaurant that served Cajun food to New Yorkers for twenty-one years. He passed away on March 29, 2018. HeThe SaintsThis is the feast day of St. Hugh, the patron saint of Grenoble, France. A dish noted as being the the Grenoble style almost always includes capers. It’s also where the potent Chartreuse liqueur comes from. St. Hugh donated the land on which Chartreuse Abbey, where the potent beverage originated, was built. Perhaps this explains why St. Hugh is also a patron saint of headache sufferers.Food NamesakesApple Computer was founded today in 1976. . . Otto von Bismarck, the chancellor of Germany in the late 19th century, was born today in 1815. (A bismarck is a kind of filled doughnut) . . . Actor Wallace Beery came out onto the Big Stage today in 1885. . . Billy Currie, who plays many instruments for the group Ultravox, was born today in 1950. . . Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker got married today in 1961.Words To Eat By”Ex ovo omnia. Everything from an egg.”–William Harvey, British physician, born today in 1578.Words To Drink By”Burgundy makes you think of silly things, Bordeaux makes you talk of them, and Champagne makes you do them.”–Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, born today in 1755.