September 27

Chocolate Milk . . . Corned Beef Hash

Days Until. . .

Halloween 34

Chef d'Oeuvre du Jour

Coq au Vin @ Flaming Torch, Uptown: 737 Octavia. 504-895-0900. The Flaming Torch--whose menu is full of country French dishes--uses a free-range chicken for this dish, which classically (but rarely) starts with a tough old rooster. The chicken comes out cut into the standard pieces, with a sauce made with red wine, chicken stock, pork belly, and small onions. Also in there are some potatoes, carrots, and turnips. It's the best version I've ever had. This is one of NOMenu's 500 Best Dishes in New Orleans Restaurants. The entire list is here

Food Calendar

This is Corned Beef Hash Day. That's made by cooking chopped corned beef, potatoes, onions and a few other ingredients in butter until you have a tight, minced stew. It's most often found in restaurants as a component of a fancy poached egg dish at breakfast. It's not often good in such places. Many make the dish with canned hash. Always ask first before ordering corned beef hash, which can be delicious if made fresh. Few restaurants have it anymore, and the dish may be moving into culinary extinction.

Today is also supposed to be National Chocolate Milk Day. I used to drink chocolate milk exclusively when I was kid. The habit lingers on in one circumstance only: when I make myself a bowl of hot grits with eggs and applesauce. There's nothing like a glass of cold chocolate milk to cool one's throat after swallowing some of that tasty lava.

Annals Of Cognac

Louis XIII, who ascended to the throne of France at age nine and took power at seventeen, was born today in 1601. He is best known today as the namesake of Remy Martin's Cognac Louis XIII, the most expensive widely-available brandy. It's contained in a Belle Epoque-style Baccarat crystal bottle. The bottle sells for between $1200 and $1400 at retail, and for well over $100 a shot in restaurants and bars. (This is why you should never say the words, "Bring me the best Cognac in the house!") Louis XIII Cognac is made with a large component of hundred-year-old Cognac, although laws about such things disallow the naming of a specific vintage.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Sandwich, Massachusetts 02563 is the oldest town on Cape Cod, and one of the oldest in the United States. Since it was incorporated in 1639, its character hasn't changed much. It's a village by the sea (Cape Cod Bay), with a wide area of marsh between its downtown and the shore. Clams, mussels, lobsters, and scallops come out of the nearby waters, and are avidly eaten. Not much cod anymore, though, since the collapse of the cod population a decade ago. The 23,000 people who live there have quite a few charming restaurants to choose from, including the Belfry Inne, the Painted Lady, Dan'l Webster Inn, and the oddly-named Sandwich Pizza House. Other than the all-New England lobster roll, there doesn't seem to be a distinctive local sandwich in Sandwich.

Paying For It

Today in 1995, the newly-redesigned $100 bill was rolled out. The picture of Benjamin Franklin was much enlarged, and off-center. It was the first bill to be redesigned, to make it harder to counterfeit. Not to spend, though. Not only can you easily find a drink for $100 (see above), but there may be thirty restaurants around town where you can run up a dinner check that high per person, without even ordering expensive wine.

Dining At Sea

The Queen Elizabeth was launched today in 1938. It was the biggest passenger ship in the world at the time. Which also made it, in all likelihood, the world's largest restaurant. When large cruise ships are in port anywhere, they are the biggest restaurants in that place, serving as many as 3500 people at one time. In the 1960s the QE2 took its place in the Cunard fleet, not retiring until 2007. The next Queen Elizabeth liner will launch on October 11, 2010, with Queen Elizabeth herself there to christen the ship.

Annals Of Beer

Today was the birthday, in 1722, of Samuel Adams, Revolutionary War hero, statesman, and beer brewer. He was the namesake of a beer created in 1870s. It faded away. The modern Samuel Adams beer was born in 1984.

Personal Influences

Today in 1540, the Jesuits were founded by St. Ignatius Loyola, as Pope Paul III approved their order. The Jesuits loom large in my life, and I would be a different person were it not for them.

The Tonight Show began its nightly run today in 1954. Its format of ad-lib, unedited talk and performance makes it arguably the best show ever to appear on commercial television. Johnny Carson set the standard, of course, but its first host was also brilliant: Steve Allen. (By coincidence, this is also the birthday, in 1926, of Steverino's wife, Jayne Meadows.)

Edible Dictionary

canapé, [KA-nah-pay], French, n.--A small tidbit of food, served on a thin piece of toast or cracker. The topping can be almost anything, although not usually sweet. The flavors of the ingredients are typically concentrated and intense. The underlayer tends to be bland, acting primarily as a carrier that won't compete with the flavors of the topping. Canapes can range in size from a single bite to the size of a small hamburger. Some are designed to be very ornate. The word translates from French as "couch." Canapes were once universal at cocktail parties, but went out of style for a long time. They seem to be coming back in restaurants as amuse bouche courses.

Food Namesakes

Meat Loaf (real name Marvin Lee Aday) was born today in 1947. He only appears on Tuesdays. . . Greg Ham, a member of the rock group Men At Work, was born today in 1953. . . Olive Tell,an actress from the silent movie era, was seen for the first time today in 1894. . . British playwright Gordon Honeycombe emerged from the hive today in 1936.

Words To Eat By

"If I hear you've gone to Dinty Moore's for that nasty corned beef and cabbage, Jiggs, I'll brain you!"--Maggie, Jiggs's belligerent wife in the ancient Art Deco comic strip "Bringing Up Father," by George McManus.

Words To Drink By

"Beer is the Danish national drink, and the Danish national weakness is another beer."--Clementine Paddleford, American writer, born today in 1900.