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DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Ten Days of Travel in Europe, Some of it on the Orient Express. The lst few days of that sojourn was memorable and puzzling.

Being picked up by our daughter Mary Leigh on joyous. She has been very busy while we were gone, most notably by creating a magnificent birthday cake for a friend who will shortly turn 100. We know that all the cars will be picked up at the airport. That the dog and the cats have been fed while we were on the Orient Express.

The daily radio shows that Mary Ann arranged for my absence all went smoothly. Indeed, a few callers said that they liked the fill-in hosts better at the Food Show job than that like me.

We have a long-running ritual after we return from out of town, although we have been ignoring it in recent times. Simple enough: grilled oysters and few raw ones for me) at the Acme Oyster House in Covington. ML was always part of this, getting the wedge salad she became semi-famous for. If this had been on a Monday, I would have had red beans and rice. Instead, I had the stuffed artichoke soup and a dozen fried oysters remoulade.

Acme Oyster House. Covington: 1202 US 190 (Causeway Blvd). 985-246-6155.

Keith Young’s New York Strip, my favorite there.

For Monday, MA arranged to have our old friends Oliver and Caroline Kluna join us for dinner at Keith Young’s Steak House. The Klunas are the godchildren of our son Jude, and our friendship goes back many years before then. We didn’t so much as ask about whether the Klunas would like a steak: we have been sawing into thick steaks with them since 1974. A lovely evening.

Keith Young’s Steak House. Madisonville: 165 LA 21. 985-845-9940.

Wednesday night, March 27, I dined solo at Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar and Seafood Grill. It’s on my route home, but I haven’t been there in a while, mainly because the construction of a five-story building across the street has made parking difficult. I have my usual supper of a dozen oysters in various forms, and a cup of turtle soup. Best news here: the building next door has a big, usable parking lot for use at dinnertime.

Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar & Fish House. Metairie: 3117 21st St. 504-833-6310.

Thursday, March 28. Franklin returns. Franklin was one of the most interesting restaurants in the Bywater during recent years, but it closed some time ago. Good news: it’s back again. Still here are a strong cocktail menu and a brief but good dining menu. I begin with oysters with an assortment of cold sauces. My entree is a small, whole snapper. Looked good, tasted better.

By the time we were ready to leave, the bar had filled up with upscale people, and a parade that probably came from NOCCA ran around us. Yes, Franklin is back again.

I have much more to say about the very busy past month, and Mary Ann continues her eight-part tale about the Orient Express. But that’s it for today.


Poached Fish with Cranberry Hollandaise

I don’t think we use cranberries enough. They’re always on my mind this time of year. I made this for a pre-Christmas dinner a few years ago, and it was well enough liked that I make it whenever I get some good redfish, drum, flounder, or salmon and a hankering for poached fish.

Poached fish with cranberry hollandaise

  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 lemon, slice
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 4 sprigs parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 fillets of fish, 6-8 oz. each
  • Sauce:
  • 1 cup cranberry juice, boiled down to 1/4 cup
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • Generous pinch cayenne

1. In a large stainless-steel or enamel pan, put about a half-inch of water and bring to a simmer. Add wine, lemon slices, peppercorns, parsley, and salt. Cook for five minutes.

2. Meanwhile, get the sauce started. In a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk the egg yolks until they change to a pale yellow color. Whisk in the softened butter, a tablespoon at a time. If the sauce shows any sign of curdling, remove the bowl from the saucepan and keep whisking until it cools. Keep this up until half the butter is incorporated, then add the reduced cranberry juice and a tablespoon of water from the fish pan. Whisk in the rest of the butter slowly until fluffy. Whisk in the cayenne. Set the sauce aside.

3. Back to the pan with the lemon slices. With the water just barely boiling, add two pieces of fish at a time and cook for six to ten minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Remove the fish with a slotted turner and allow excess water to drain. Place on the plate and top with the cranberry hollandaise.

Serves four.

AlmanacSquare March 29, 2017

Upcoming Deliciousness

Hogs For The Cause Fri.-Sat. @ UNO
French Quarter Festival April 2-5
Easter April 21
Jazz Festival April 26-May 5

Today’s Flavor

This is Wild Rice Week. Wild rice is indeed wild, but it’s not really rice. Although it is now being cultivated, the plant is exactly as the Native Americans found it for centuries in the bogs in Minnesota. The long distance of its relation to true rice is obvious when you eat it. It has a nutty flavor more like that of oats or barley than rice. But, really, it has a taste all its own. It’s most often served with game, and for decades any restaurant that served duck served wild rice with it. More often than not, wild rice in a restaurant is combined with regular rice, for the usual reason: wild rice is very expensive. It cooks quickly–just twenty minutes or so in a steamer.

Today is alleged by some sources to be National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day. Chiffon cakes are an American invention, and get their spongy, light consistency by incorporating beaten egg whites into the batter. Yawn.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Hogjowl Creek runs eighteen miles through the hills in northwest Georgia, twenty-five miles south of Chattanooga, Tennessee. It cuts a 300-foot-deep valley (also called Hogjowl) as it runs from the most remote headwaters of the Tennessee River. This is horse and diary cattle country, with vast grazing fields. If you get hungry, travel ten miles north to the well-named Cross Roads restaurant, not far from the Chickamauga Civil War battleground.

Science In Food

Biologist Charles Elton was born today in 1900. He was the first to use the term food chain, describing the deep interdependent relationships among plants and animals in nature, and how critical those relationships are to all living things. He thought of it as an energy flow, with plants taking up energy from the sun to produce food for herbivores which are then food for carnivores (to oversimplify the food chain a great deal).

Edible Dictionary

crookneck squash, n.–The most common of the summer squashes gets its name from its odd but nearly universal seventy-five-degree bend in the narrow stem end. It’s yellow with a tinge of orange, and usually has little bumps all over. The entire vegetable is edible; there’s no need to peel or seed them. You want them to be firm but not rock-hard. Soft squashes are over the hill. The best way to cook them is with steam. A little garlic-and-herb butter helps them taste like something.

Deft Dining Rule #233:

Dishes with colorful names are divided into two categories: the delicious and the terrible. There is no in-between. The very fact that it has an unusual name means the dish makes a big flavor statement.

Food At War

On this day in 1943–right in the middle of World War II–meat, cheese, and butter began to be rationed in the United States. The weekly ration for meat per person was 28 ounces. That was more of a hardship then than it would be now, because the American diet then was more meat-based. A large percentage of the American public now eats far less than 28 ounces of meat a week, by choice. Seafood eaters fared well during rationing. Fish and shellfish never were rationed, even though they were in shorter supply.

Roots Of Creole Cooking

Adrien de Pauger landed at what would become New Orleans on this date in 1721. He laid out the original street plan of the French Quarter. For his efforts he has a street named after him in the Marigny. A curiosity of a rough layout of his drawing is a note pointing to the block of Royal between Conti and St. Louis Streets. It says, “Good but expensive breakfast joint here.”

Annals Of Soft Drinks

Today in 1886 druggist John S. Pemberton began advertising a new brain tonic and intellectual beverage (as he called it), made from kola nuts and containing a cocaine precursor. He named it Coca-Cola. He did not make much money with it, because before the stuff hit really big, Pemberton sold the formula to Asa Candler, who was the marketing genius.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

If you add Coca-Cola or anything like it to a recipe, you may be doing so just so you can say, “Oh, yes, I make my ham glaze with root beer.”

Music To Eat With Your Man By

Today in 1918, actress and blues singer Pearl Bailey was born. “I don’t like to say that my kitchen is a religious place,” she said, “but I would say that if I were a voodoo priestess, I would conduct my rituals there.” Pearly Mae was a frequent performer at the Blue Room of the old Fairmont Hotel here. In her honor the hotel named its twenty-four-hour restaurant after her. The restaurant outlived its namesake by a few years, but ultimately closed. After the Waldorf-Astoria arm of Hilton took over the old Fairmont and re-renamed it The Roosevelt, the space where Bailey’s once was was turned over to Chef John Besh, who installed his Italian restaurant Domenica there.

Words To Eat By

“Food history is as important as a baroque church. Governments should recognize cultural heritage and protect traditional foods. A cheese is as worthy of preserving as a sixteenth-century building.”–Carlo Petrini, the founder of the Slow Food Movement.

Words To Drink By

“Popularity, I have always thought, may aptly be compared to a coquette—the more you woo her, the more apt is she to elude your embrace.”–John Tyler, tenth U.S. President, born today in 1790.

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