October 15

It's National Roast Pheasant Day

Emeril. First Kosher Meat In NYC. Jambalaya. Pheasant. Under Glass. And Under Water. Oreos.

Days Until. . .

Halloween 16

Our Superstar Chefs

Emeril Lagasse was born today in 1959. He arrived in New Orleans after working and schooling himself in his native New England. Not long after he arrived, in 1982, he took over as executive chef of Commander's Palace, where he made as big a splash as his predecessor Paul Prudhomme had a few years earlier. "Emeril is a gem!" said owner Ella Brennan, who encouraged him when he went out on his own. In 1990, he opened Emeril's, on the corner of Julia and Tchoupitoulas. By that time he'd been discovered by the media as an extraordinarily likable and engaging presence on television. He started with a show called "How To Boil Water" on the Food Network. But it was clear that he could do much more than just a basic cooking show. He became the network's biggest star. The recent cancellation of Emeril Live--his combination cooking and talk show--is less evidence of declining popularity than of the fact that the Food Network is replacing real chefs with pretty boys and girls whose contrived fame can be harnessed at less expense, to the detriment of the product.Emeril's greatest dish, in my opinion, was his new approach to barbecue shrimp. He makes the sauce by creating a shrimp demi-glace (so to speak) and stirring it into the butter and pepper.

Annals Of Kosher Food

Today in 1662, one Asser Levy was licensed as a butcher in the town of New Amsterdam (later renamed New York). He was the first person to sell kosher meats in the American colonies, at a time when Jews were not often granted religious freedom. In 1671, Levy became the first Jew to serve on a jury in North America.

Today's Flavor

Today is National Roast Pheasant Day. Pheasants are a prized quarry for the hunter; the picture of a Golden Retriever with a pheasant in his mouth has been painted more than once. If a friend comes home with a pheasant for you, you're in luck. If not, you may be able to find a farm-raised pheasant in a store or restaurant (wild game is illegal in both). The farm-raised bird will probably be better, because it's younger. Pheasant was dismissed decades ago by a lot of diners and restaurants as pretentious foolishness. (Anybody remember pheasant under glass?) But it's a wonderful bird. It meat is almost entirely white, and it has a magnificent rich flavor. The only problem with pheasant is that it’s difficult to roast without drying it out. Unlike most of the other game birds, pheasant has very little fat, and needs marinades and barding and sauces to bring out the flavor.Brining is essential. A cup of salt dissolved in a gallon of water, used as an overnight, refrigerated bath for a pheasant, makes for a very moist meat. Also, using rich stuffings like foie gras results in the magnificent (and non-dry) classic, pheasant Souvaroff. Covering the bird with slices of bacon and other techniques along those lines helps, too. It's all worth it to enjoy one of the finest-tasting birds in the world

Gourmet Gazetteer

Bread Creek is about thirty-three miles north of Hot Springs, Arkansas, in the Oachita National Forest. It flows from 1400-foot hills about 300 feet down until it meets the Alum Fork of the Saline River, whose water ultimately winds up in the Mississippi River, then in the French Quarter. The beginning of Bread Creek is separated by less than a quarter-mile-wide ridge from the Alum Fork, so the two rivers almost make an island. This is wilderness, and a good eight miles south to the nearest restaurant: the well-named Wood 'n' Iron Restaurant in Hot Springs Village.

Edible Dictionary

Chaumes, [showm], (French), adj.--A powerful cheese made from cow's milk in Southwest France, in the area of Perigord. It's a semi-soft cheese in the "monastery" style, which is to say that it has a washed rind and an interior that ripens into a very assertive flavor. When it gets overripe, it can become bitter with base components, which some people enjoy. It's for palates that enjoy stinky cheeses. Chaumes comes in a flattened disk with an orange exterior and a creamy yellow interior. If you eat this one with wine, make the wine a big red.

Deft Dining Rule #871

The cost of silver duck presses, glass bells, gueridons for flaming and assembling dishes tableside, and other accoutrements of elaborate dining room service will be reflected more in the prices of wine and cocktails than in those of the food.

Food And Wine In Music

In 1952 today, Hank Williams released his recording of Jambalaya, which he also wrote. It was later recorded by a wide range of other artists, the most unusual being the polished, urbane voice of Jo Stafford, who had one of her biggest hits with the song about the rice dish, along with crawfish pie and file gumbo. . . Today in 1977, the group UB40 released the first reggae song to make it to Number One on the American pop charts, Red Red Wine. It's UB40s theme song now.

Annals Of Beer

Today in 1993, the one billionth bottle of Amstel Light beer was capped in the brewery giant's factory in Curacao. The man who drank it said, "Wait--I wanted beer, not water!" (Maybe.)

Food Namesakes

It is the birthday of long-time CBS newsman and analyst Robert Trout, in 1909. His career spanned decades, from the 1930s well into the 1970s. . . Mickey Baker, the front half of the pop-music duo Mickey and Sylvia, was born today in 1925. Their famous song was Love Is Strange. . . It's rare that we find food in the names of TV stations, but we have two of them today. WLOX-TV in Biloxi began telecasting on this day in 1962. And in Johnstown, PA, WFAT-TV signed on the air today in 1953 (as WJNL). . . Ron Cherry, NFL tackle, was born today in 1972. . . Sara Josephine Baker was born today in 1873. She was a physician who spent most of her career preventing illnesses in newborn children. . . Varian Fry, an American journalist who helped develop a rescue network to evacuate Jews from Nazi Germany, was born today in 1907.

Words To Eat By

"The only time to eat diet food is while you are waiting for the steak to cook."--Julia Child.

Words To Drink By

"I had been able to observe that there was a sprightly sportsman behind the counter mixing things out of bottles and stirring them up in long glasses that seemed to have ice in them, and the urge came upon me to see more of this man."--Bertie Wooster, the upper-class twit in the stories of P. G. Wodehouse, born today in 1881.

"Health food may be good for the conscience but Oreos taste a hell of a lot better."--Robert Redford.