Fried Chicken
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Fried Chicken

Confession: I never make fried chicken the same way twice. It’s a work in progress that’s been going on for over ten years. This recipe is an amalgamation of the ideas that resulted in the most delicious chicken–so far. Read More. . .

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Diary 1/10/2018: Nehi, Nu-Grape, And Other Returns From The Past.
Z Diaries

Diary 1/10/2018: Nehi, Nu-Grape, And Other Returns From The Past.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018. Treats And Drinks From Out Of The Past. After a couple of weeks during which Mary Ann went on strike against setting up guests for the radio show, the first guest in the her order appeared. Phyllis Luscy and her family have opened an unusual shop in the French Quarter, next door to Tujague’s. It sells soft drinks and candy, but not just any old. Her inventory carries a strong nostalgic quality, because most of it comes from brands that aren’t exactly still on sale. Nehi…

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Diary: Running Around Through The Woods Of Stonehenge.
December 2017

Diary: Running Around Through The Woods Of Stonehenge.

It would have been a wonderful night for there to be NPAS rehearsal tonight, but we’re in the off-season. Singing always calms me down. However, I do get an invitation to dinner from Mary Leigh, who is on her way home and has a hankering for a wedge salad with blue cheese dressing at the Acme in Covington. We split a dozen grilled oysters in our unique way: I get all the oysters and she gets all the butter, garlic, parmesan, and peppers to dip the toasted French bread. For…

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Diary: Electrify My Kitchen, Please, And Soon!

Monday, December 18, 2017. The Kitchen Power Is Removed And Restored. The electrician says that he is ready to go with our big rewiring project. He will be there at ten in the morning. I ask how long the job will take. “Hour, hour and a half,” he tells me. I know just enough about this project–after all, it’s been on our home improvement docket for at least two decades–to understanding the real meaning of his estimate. “If everything goes well,” he adds. Uh-oh. I have heard that expression before….

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Diary: Making The Holiday Partying List.
December 2017

Diary: Making The Holiday Partying List.

Saturday, December 16, 2017. The three days starting yesterday get a tremendous amount of rain, around three inches at the Cool Water Ranch. It was probably enough to flood the road to the ranch, but by the time the rain slacked off, it had also drained away. The western part of St. Tammany Parish has terrific drainage. We haven’t had any serious drainage in years. The rain is, however, severe enough to keep our electrician from rewiring the breaker boxes. You can’t fool with electricity in the rain. I spend…

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Diary: Domenica’s Pizza Is Back. The Messiah Comes.

Friday, December 15, 2017. I have two choices for entertainments tonight. The first is to partake in an NPAS performance on the Tammany Trace in Covington. The second is to squire Mary Ann to the annual Messiah performance by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. We attended it last year and loved it. We pretty well loved this one, too. But the theme this year is to perform all the many variations in the Handel-authored pieces that can conceivably be performed. That makes for a very long performance, and here it was….

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Diary 12|14|2017: The Stove Goes On Strike.
December 2017

Diary 12|14|2017: The Stove Goes On Strike.

Thursday, December 14, 2017. The Stove Goes On Strike. Earlier in the day when the Eat Club Gala took place came something new for me to worry about. “Take a look at this,” I was greeted by Mary Ann, who was cleaning off the kitchen’s central counter. What concerned her was that there was very little heat coming out of any of the burners. The first thing that came to my mind was that perhaps a circuit breaker had tripped. I went outside and indeed found one of the breakers…

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Diary: Kitchen Breakdown. Free-Flowing Ink.
December 2017

Diary: Kitchen Breakdown. Free-Flowing Ink.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017. I am a lifelong user of fountain pens. The principal at St. Rita’s School insisted that everyone above the fourth grade would henceforth (in 1961) do all school work (except math, where pencils were substituted) with fountain pens. Or, as they were also known, “cartridge pens.” The drugstore did a big business selling Schaeffer pens to us. These sold for ninety-eight cents, with two extra cartridges included. When they ran out of ink, the kids would have to get their parents to buy a new six-pack…

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Diary: Lagers, Burgers, Baseball, & A Swordfish Sandwich.
December 2017

Diary: Lagers, Burgers, Baseball, & A Swordfish Sandwich.

Monday, December 11, 2017. My radio show was pushed off the schedule by football games every day since last week. It was a long holiday for me, and felt as if I had a few more free days coming. I am further disappointed that I will miss the NPAS concert scheduled at five. Indeed, we have no rehearsals for several weeks. I miss singing when we don’t do it. I do get lunch. MA and I go to Lola in Covington, across from the courthouse. That location brings in a…

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Diary: Christmas Singing @ Two Sleigh Landings.
December 2017

Diary: Christmas Singing @ Two Sleigh Landings.

Sunday, December 10, 2017. I have a busy day of singing. First at St. Jane’s, then with NPAS at Our Lady Of Lourdes In Slidell. In the latter, we are not part of the liturgy. We’re borrowing the impressive building and inviting the parishioners and anyone else who wants to hear a concert of Christmas hymns and pop songs for a voluntary admission tuppence. I missed the first concert on Friday, when it began at a time and place conflicting with my radio show. Today’s program sounds terrific, although no…

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Diary: Oysters And Snow Woven Among Five Stars.
December 2017

Diary: Oysters And Snow Woven Among Five Stars.

Friday, December 8, 2018. Around three in the morning with a steady drizzle outside, I get out of bed, don a thick jacket I use so seldom that I’d forgotten I owned it. I walk through the rain at the southwest corner of the house and fight the binding that gets in the way of opening the faucet. The temperature is in the mid twenties tonight, and I need to start a drip to keep pipes from freezing. I also hope that at least one of our three cats will…

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Diary: Maple Syrup, No Pizza At Domenica, 610 Stompers. Food Critic Gets Called Out.
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Diary: Maple Syrup, No Pizza At Domenica, 610 Stompers. Food Critic Gets Called Out.

Saturday, December 9, 2017. Snow still covers a large part of the ground and the roof of the Cool Water Ranch house. So much of it is melting up there so quickly that I thought there might be a broken pipe around back. MA and I have breakfast at Mattina Bella. I am in the mood for something straightforward, eschewing the poached eggs with crabmeat and mushrooms, or with fried eggplant, Italian sausage and marinara sauce. Instead, it’s just soft-scrambled eggs for me, with brabant potatoes (their version of French…

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Diary: Eating Around Los Angeles With Little Kids.
November 2017

Diary: Eating Around Los Angeles With Little Kids.

Friday, 24 November 2017. Where will we go for breakfast or lunch ? The oven in the kitchen is full of leftovers, but it’s too soon to dig into that. It is decided that we will go to the Forman Tavern in Toluca Lake, a charming part of Los Angeles with many restaurants. Here’s how many: we have been to all three on that corner during the last two visits. They include a sushi bar, a steakhouse, and now this tavern. Forman’s is charming in a masculine way, with wood…

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Diary: Thanksgiving Day, And Two Years Old.

Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 23, 2017. My radio show goes on at 9 a.m., but we’re in Pacific Time–seven in the morning. This means that I will take care that we don’t awaken Jackson. I must wait until the last possible time for Mary Ann to transport me from the hotel to Jude and Suzanne’s (and Jackson’s) house. Fortunately, all the electronic gear worked perfectly. The show originates once again from the house’s laundry room. It’s an easy-going broadcast for two hours, like something from out of the 1950s. Many callers…

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Diary: South Shore La Carreta. More Lola, And Some NOLA, Indian Style.
November 2017

Diary: South Shore La Carreta. More Lola, And Some NOLA, Indian Style.

Sunday, November 12, 2017. So here’s the deal. Mary Ann’s dog Bauer allows only restaurants where he can be tied up next to our table. The other option leaving the dog in the car, but on hot days that won’t cut it. The dining people wind up having to make all the adjustments. There must be a better way. But here we are again, eating from the menu of La Carreta. Another development: Saul Rubio, the owner of La Carreta, was at the Mandeville location with news that the first…

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Diary: Food Critic At Large. Pat Gallagher’s New Eatery.
November 2017

Diary: Food Critic At Large. Pat Gallagher’s New Eatery.

Saturday, November 11, 2017. Found Bread. A busy day of dining begins with breakfast at the Abita Roaster, where I find myself joking around with the waitress, mainly because she throws my quips right back at me. Later, I would see why she is so pleasant: her check bears the words “FOOD CRITIC.” I know that a few such alerts are issued to the staff in many restaurants. I like to think it has no effect on me. Mary Ann says that I am kidding myself. But when am I…

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Diary For La Crepe Nanou, 11|10|2017.
November 2017

Diary For La Crepe Nanou, 11|10|2017.

Friday, November 10, 2017. La Crepe Nanou. I just made a note to myself suggests that I write a piece for this department. It would be a roll call of restaurants which, although they are widely agreed to be unique and enjoyable, don’t get talked about very much. You can say about all of them, “I don’t know why we don’t eat there more often than we do,” I hear people say. There must be a reason for this, but I’ll save that for later, after we savor the deliciousness…

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Diary 11|8|2017: Curio Makes A Splash On Royal Street.
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Diary 11|8|2017: Curio Makes A Splash On Royal Street.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017. Best New Restaurant Of The Year So Far? As long as they were here, I asked the plumbers to perform a couple more small repairs. The senior plumber changes out a big valve that has been leaking. This valve can shut off everything above ground–a handy ability to have when we get really cold weather. I like having these guys around, and I am now thinking about getting them and their associated electricians to fix a few small issues. It would be great to have the…

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Diary 11|6|2017: Judging The Developing Cuisine. What Happened To Mizado?
November 2017

Diary 11|6|2017: Judging The Developing Cuisine. What Happened To Mizado?

Sunday, November 6, 2017. Mary Ann is thrilled with her recent handiwork. The crippled dog Susie is walking up and down from the ground to the deck on the long, relaxed incline that the Marys conspired to build. Susie continues to be miraculous. I was inspired by MA’s efforts that I bought a new, heavy duty set of pruning shears, with which I will clip the trails through the woods after a year of rampant growth. The wisteria is also getting out of control, so I went around the house…

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November 9 In Eating

AlmanacSquare This is National Split Pea Soup Week. I love split pea soup, but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered why I could never make it come out the way I like it–which was the way my mother made it. The problem is the ham. I’ve always added it to the pot, and I’ve decided that it throws the flavor off, despite the tradition of including it as an ingredient. I use a vegetable stock now. Read entire article.

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Diary Sunday, November, 2017. Forks And Corks. Or Is That…
Diary 2017

Diary Sunday, November, 2017. Forks And Corks. Or Is That…

Saturday, November 5, 2017.I have a three-hour radio show for a change. The subjects run all over the place, which is the best dynamic for a call-in program. I am hungry. The Marys are hard at work on a project on the house. All of a sudden, MA is enthusiastic about cleaning the front deck, using a high-pressure maching to do rthe job. ML is helping out, as the only serious carpenter in the family at the moment. At sunset, ML abandons us for an evening spent with some of…

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Diary: Pipes Squirting. Chisesi’s Eternal Flavor. Rotisserie Lamb Sirloin.
November 2017

Diary: Pipes Squirting. Chisesi’s Eternal Flavor. Rotisserie Lamb Sirloin.

Monday, November 13, 2017. The day is dominated by efforts to get a plumber to fix a water pipe under our house. Of course, he arrived at exactly the time I went on the air, and nobody else was around. Our problem will have to wait until tomorrow. Meanwhile, we have no easily-available water. The less about that, the better. When the time comes for me to head over to chorus rehearsal, I find that what looks like a mammoth fire engine is blocking my street, and won’t be moving…

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Diary: Blake’s On Poydras. Vincent’s In Metairie,

Thursday, November 3, 2017. Blake’s On Poydras. New restaurants keep opening in the Central Business District. Some of them are even good. The owner and chef of Blake’s visited the radio show a couple of weeks ago, and revealed the restaurant as a typical business-breakfast-and-lunch kind of place, with a Southern style. It’s nothing like Horinoya, the predecessor sushi bar at the location. (The owners of Horinoya retired about a year ago.) My daughter Mary Leigh and I wound up at Blake’s, the result of our not being able to…

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Diary 11|2|2017: Despite His Many Venues, Ralph B. Keeps Coming.
November 2017

Diary 11|2|2017: Despite His Many Venues, Ralph B. Keeps Coming.

Wednesday, November 2, 2017. Café B Continues The Pleasure. Café B has been on my mind lately. Its menu of semi-gourmet Creole bistro food has long appealed to me above all other common styles of cooking in these parts. I am clearly not the only person who feels this way. The last two or three times, I was unable to secure a table, even after waiting a while. Ralph Brennan and his people (Michael Uddo in this case) have a good grip on whay appeals to the Old Metairie palate….

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Diary: Halloween @ Tableau. Both Full Of Visitors.
November 2017

Diary: Halloween @ Tableau. Both Full Of Visitors.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017. Another Look At Tableau, On Halloween. Mary Ann’s dinner idea du jour is to get a balcony table at Tableau, Dickie Brennan’s restaurant on Jackson Square. She wasn’t as much interested in the food (she isn’t, most of the time) as she was the costumed Halloween fun-seekers in the French Quarter. For that purpose, our vantage point was ideal. One lineup after another passed us on the sidewalk below, most of them done up in entertaining getups. If there was a theme, it was in the…

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Diary: A Great New Lunch Place Emerges.
November 2017

Diary: A Great New Lunch Place Emerges.

Monday, October 30, 2017. Great Sandwiches @ Lola. Mary Ann is on for lunch, and the place she suggests is Lola, the restaurant operated by the husband-and-wife chef couple Keith and Nealy Frentz. Lola (no apostrophe-s) is two restaurants in one. In the evening, it’s a gourmet bistro. In daytime, it’s a lunch house with an excellent array of sandwiches, made with good deli meats, house-made breads, and well-assembled salads of find greens and vegetables. Perhaps it’s because I went there a few times while I was on jury duty…

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Diary: 11|209|2017. Sunday Construction.
November 2017

Diary: 11|209|2017. Sunday Construction.

Sunday, October 29, 2017. My Girls, The Carpenters. The Marys have become industrious lately. And when Mary Ann hunkers down on a project, she accomplishes astonishing results. She is fueled largely by the news that our Los Angeles-based son Jude, with his wife and son, will be here for Christmas this year. MA will not let them see our house in its current condition. That was a big surprise, but one that delights MA. As for ML, she is already putting in a long day at the office (where she…

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Diary 10|27,28|2017: The Port Of Call Revisited. Fun Work At Jesuit.
October 2017

Diary 10|27,28|2017: The Port Of Call Revisited. Fun Work At Jesuit.

Friday, October 27, 2017. Port Of Call. The radio guest today was Mike Moliere, who has been the general manager of the Port of Call practically since its beginning in 1953. The hamburger specialist has changed so slightly over the years that I would only guest at ways in may have changed. My first visit there was in 1967, when I went there with a bunch of other 16-year-old friends from Junior Achievement at the end of our school year. With a demographics like that, it’s easy to understand why…

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Diary: Monday Beans And Beautiful Catfish, If Too Much.
October 2017

Diary: Monday Beans And Beautiful Catfish, If Too Much.

Monday, October 23, 2017. Red Beans & Catfish. “If I Loved You.” I didn’t mean to do so, but lunch was really two lunches. If you get red beans and rice on Monday at New Orleans Food & Spirits, they vouchsafe you the possibility of blackened catfish meuniere on the side. A variation on the idea brings basic fried catfish instead. I held back on that too, because the fish involved was a large fillet. “But you could also get the catfish strips,” offered the waitress. Yes! That did sound…

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Diary: Alluring Italian-Flavored Dinner. Then A Seafood Festival To Come.
October 2017

Diary: Alluring Italian-Flavored Dinner. Then A Seafood Festival To Come.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017. Good Tastes At Trinity. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the Channel 12 Seasons of Good Tastes was underway for this year, and that the menu I’d seen for at least one of them sounded very attractive. I also admitted with some chagrin that although the Good Tastes dinner are a lot like my Eat Club dinners, it seems that Channel 12 was a few months ahead of me when we premiered the Eat Club. Given that I think the Eat Club was the…

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Diary: Cruising And Talking. Auctions And Redfish.
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Diary: Cruising And Talking. Auctions And Redfish.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017. An Inviting Presentation At Sea. A few years ago a cruise ship hired me to give talks about New Orleans food, Hurricane Katrina, and related topics that–thank goodness–charm visitors to New Orleans. I also hosted several dinners along the way. The cruise was in the Caribbean, and after the three days of my gig I regretfully left the ship and flew home. It was all pleasant enough that I looked into the possibility of my conducting cruises like this with some frequency. But the logistics–especially those…

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Diary 10|15|2017: Mizado Becomes Zea, And Other Changes.
October 2017

Diary 10|15|2017: Mizado Becomes Zea, And Other Changes.

Sunday, October 15, 2017. A few months ago the Taste Buds closed down Mizado, a Mexican restaurant on Metairie Road across from the cemeteries (about which I have a roundabout death tale, in a moment). The official word was that the restaurant wasn’t productive enough. This once again shows the strange business patterns of the restaurant business. Seems to me every time I was there the place was running at capacity. I must have been at Mizado only on its good days. Mizado has been replaced by another location of…

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Diary 10|16|2017: No Singing For Me Today.
October 2017

Diary 10|16|2017: No Singing For Me Today.

Monday, October 16, 2017. Shut Out Of Rehearsal. Today was to be the dress rehearsal for the NPAS performances this weekend. When I arrived, there was nobody there. I knoew what this meant: the rehearsal is somewhere other than our usual place. And I had no idea where that was. Probably my fault. Unfortunately, the Northlake Performing Arts Society (a chorus) is rigorous with its rules, one of which is that if even a valued voice (I am not one of those) misses dress rehearsal, he or she can’t be…

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Diary: Friday The Thirteenth Brings Good Luck At Rizzuto’s.
October 2017

Diary: Friday The Thirteenth Brings Good Luck At Rizzuto’s.

Friday The Thirteenth Of October, 2017. Our luck is good as we barely get a reservation in the nearly-full house that Tony Angello built. The Marys wanted to return to Rizzuto’s. Last (and first) time we were there, everybody went Italian, just as the lady who manages the dining room told us that while the red-sauced Sicilian-inspired Italian dishes were excellent, the steaks are what the place is really all about. We promised that we’d go the beef route next time. And so we do. A big (16-oz.!) strip sirloin,…

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Diary: A First Taste Of CBD Sushi At Tsunami.
October 2017

Diary: A First Taste Of CBD Sushi At Tsunami.

Thursday, October 12, 2017. I often find myself rounding the corner of what used to be the Pan-American Life Building on Poydras at St. Charles. It seems to me that the corner (but nothing else obvious) has been desolate in recent times. The image fades when I make the corner into the gravitation of the adjacent Inter-Continental Hotel, which is elegant and lively, and has a restaurant I visit frequently: Trenasse. But some weeks ago (or perhaps months) I noticed that the desolate corner I mentioned had something going on…

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