Diary: 5/4/2018: Is Delivery The End Of The Restaurant? The Comforts Of Andy’s Bistro. Don Amez, one of the reporter-writers in the WWL newsroom, found an article that he thought was worthy of consideration by the Food Desk (that would be me).
In essence, the article predicts that people will be getting more and more of their meals on order from their smart phones or other such mechanisms, and they will then eat them in their homes. It is predicted that this will also remove supermarkets and home kitchens from the list of sources for food.
In the end, if this trend winds up where this article says it will, everything will come from the same sources, and instead of Antoine’s for dinner we will have Amazon’s. In this bleakness, those who now seek the best edibles will be eclipsed by prices so low that nobody will stick with the old ways. The culinary arts will fade away as an outmoded, antique practice.
This is alarming for those of us who consider cooking and eating parts of the good life. But I think we’re safe. By bringing to bear an important dynamic in the dining concept, our pleasures remain inviolate. Two forces are at work on our behalf. First, the more convenient a pleasure is, the less pleasurable it becomes. Fast takeout, chain restaurants, and self-service can’t help but turning out mediocre food, because their customers don’t care.
More important is a fact that is not well enough known–not only by restaurateurs but by their customers and everybody in between. It has been proven over and over since the evolution of away-from-home dining. Here it is: The most important motivator for potential restaurant customers is that they want to go out and be served. It’s not because of hot chefs, great wine lists, brilliant cooking, beautiful premises, well-tuned service, or fantastic ingredients.
No, the reason people go to restaurants to go out and be served by somone else. Period. It’s even true of deficiencies, like a lack of parking. If you’re out, you’re in. If you’re stuck at home, you’re bored and dissatisfied. Go out, and the world is wonderful. Nothing the delivery business will ever do can supersede that truth. I’ll see you at Table 25.
Andy’s Bistro For Dinner, In The Cool Breeze Of Evening. The Marys are hard at work on their house-renovation process. Now that Mary Leigh is free from the project that preoccupied her for the last three months, the mother-and-daughter dynamic duo has begun bashing in walls, ripping out appliances, and finding out that they may be able to do this job themselves. Mary Ann, who claims to be an anti-feminist, is proving, not for the first time, that girls can do anything they want. (As if we didn’t already know that.)
I call her for dinner. She says she’s up for that, but because she’s been working all day, the venue must be very casual. She suggests Andy’s Bistro in Metairie, in the patio tables and chairs that take up a small space just outside the restaurant’s entrance. Is that in or out? MA is a fanatic for dining outdoors, regardless of the discomforts or inconvenience. But tonight, even I acknowledge that it’s pleasant out there. A light breeze is blowing as the sun goes down in a blue sky. The background music is from the 1960s.
ML has a cocktail, and part of another. She’s not a cocktail drinker, but she likes these fruity, berry-like flavors. She orders a six-pack of meatball sliders, which she loves. We get a pile of onion rings, which have always been good at Andy’s. Thin rings, marinated in a concoction that includes a good bit of hot sauce, hot out of the fryer. They are competitors with the great onion rings at Charlie’s Steak House.
Mary Leigh shows up in time to get her favorite salad, a wedge with blue cheese. I consider the great-looking double-cut pork chop, which I had here about two or three years ago. Andy’s is also strong on steak. But I’ve had enough thick slabs of red meat lately. Instead, I get veal parmigiana, send out with a red sauce and string noodles. Better than I thought it would be (it’s one of those times when I try something I haven’t had, instead of something I’d expect to be especially good.
It’s a nice dinner from any perspective. The Marys are flying high, what with the success of their house. If this keeps up, I will find myself living alone at the Cool Water Ranch.
Andy’s Bistro. Metairie: 3322 N. Turnbull Drive. 504-455-7363.
It may be possible to make anything into a Rockefeller dish, but not all of them are good. Crabmeat Rockefeller, for example, kills the flavor of the crabmeat. This dish does work, however, and if you like veal scalloppine dishes I think you’ll go for this one. It’s a little rich. The idea comes from the late Perry Fusilier, who was for many years the maitre d’ at LeRuth’s.
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- 12 medallions of veal, about 2 oz. each, pounded out
- 1 cup flour
- 1 Tbs. salt
- 1 tsp, white pepper
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 1/4 cup Herbsaint liqueur
- 16 medium fresh oysters
- 10 oz. fresh spinach, washed, picked of coarse stems, and chopped
1. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Meanwhile, dust the veal scallops lightly with flour mixed with the salt and pepper.
2. Cook the veal about one minute per side–until the edges begin to brown. Remove the veal, drain, and keep warm.
3. Lower the heat to medium-low. Pour out the excess oil from the pan, but don’t wipe it. Carefully (and away from the flame), add the Herbsaint. (It may catch fire; that’s okay, but be careful.) Bring the Herbsaint to a boil while whisking the pan. When most of the liquid has evaporated, add the cream and bring to a boil. Reduce to about half the original volume of liquid and lower the heat to a simmer.
4. Add the oysters and poach them in the cream sauce until the edges start to curl. Add the spinach and cook until it wilts. Both the spinach and the oysters cook very quickly–don’t overcook!
5. Adjust seasonings of the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the sauce with the spinach and oysters over the veal scallops.
May 7, 2017
Days Until. . .
Mother’s Day–May 13
Annals Of New Orleans
New Orleans was founded today in 1718. Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, chose a high spot in a sharp bend of the Mississippi River to begin a French colonial town. It’s where the French Quarter is now. He named the place for Duke of Orleans, Phillippe II, a flamboyant guy. The feminine form of the city’s French name–La Nouvelle Orleans–is a joke about his personality. Nobody questioned whether this were a good place to put a city, because it wasn’t a city yet. Without a doubt, the spot was a terrific port. That remains true to this day. So away we went! And note: the 300th anniversary is three years away!
It’s National Leg of Lamb Day. Lamb legs are less expensive than lamb racks, but like the leg (round) of beef or veal, it’s best roasted in the oven. Unlike lamb shanks (which we’re seeing a lot more lately), a lamb leg doesn’t really need to be slowly cooked with a lot of moisture in the pan. However, I do think they’re better when marinated with garlic, rosemary, wine, and a bit of tomato.
One of the most interesting alternative methods I’ve seen for cooking a lamb leg is what the late Chef Chris Kerageorgiou used to do at La Provence. He’d cut the bone out, then stuff the center with an herbal lamb sausage. He’d wrap the leg back up again, then roast it and carve it across into discs of meat with the sausage in the center. That was seriously good.
The best side dishes with lamb leg are wild rice or roasted potatoes (on the starchy side) and mustard greens or broccoli raab (for greens). I like cooking those greens in the natural sauce that comes from roasting the lamb, with some crushed red pepper to jazz it up a bit.
The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:
Why doesn’t anyone make a roast leg of lamb poor boy sandwich? I’d bet that would be good, with lots of gravy, lettuce, tomatoes, and horseradish mayonnaise.
The Eaton Lakes are in the rugged Salmon Mountains in northern California. They are unusual in that you would have to climb up over two thousand feet on the north flank of Eaton Peak from the highway to get to the lakes, at 6610 feet. The summit is almost another thousand feet higher. Very clearly volcanic in origin, the peak and its lakes at the top are intermittently wooded. On the west side of Eaton Peak are the spring-fed Duck Lake, drained by Duck Creek. Whoever named all these features must have been hungry. It’s ten miles north to the nearest restaurant, Out Back BBQ, in Etna.
This is another in our series of Gourmet Gazetteer places whose names begin with “Eat.”
Gourmets In Movies
George “Gabby” Hayes, who played the same crusty old cowboy galloot in dozens of westerns in the 1940s and 1950s, was born today in 1885. In real life he was the polar opposite of his movie character. He was renowned among his friends for dressing to the nines and dining in the finest restaurants. He made a fortune, lost it in the Depression, then made another.
World Records In Food
The world’s biggest swordfish catch occurred today in 1953 off the coast of Chile. The International Game Fish Association certified it at 1,182 pounds. Swordfish can occasionally get very big indeed. They have few natural enemies (the mako shark is its only serious threat). Still, enough swordfish are caught by fishermen to have depressed the population for awhile. It has since come back well enough that you can have swordfish once in awhile. We think the price ought to be legislated very high to keep the heat off these magnificent fish.
Gourmets On TV
Today is the birthday (1934) of Willard Scott, the long-time weatherman on the Today Show, who ate very well in his travels. He said, “If I go down for anything in history, I would like to be known as the person who convinced the American people that catfish is one of the finest eating fishes in the world.”
Philosophy Of Fine Living
Rabindranath Tagore, an Indian poet whose words were so profound that he is frequently quoted, was born today in 1861. Lines of his that get me out of bed every morning are:
I slept and dreamt that life was joy
I awoke and saw that life was duty.
I acted, and behold: duty was joy.
Music To Ride Trains By
Glenn Miller’s orchestra recorded Chattanooga Choo-Choo on this day in 1941. It was the first million-selling record in history. Its lyrics included these unforgettable lines, sung by Tex Benecke:
Dinner in the diner
Nothing could be finer
Than to have your ham and eggs in Carolina.
Ham and eggs on a train flashing across the Southern countryside is indeed a unique pleasure. You can have this experience any morning, when the Crescent leaves New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal for its daily ride to New York.
This is the feast day of St. Duje, the bishop of Salona, (now in Croatia) in the third century. He is the patron saint of Split, Croatia, from which most of the Croatian immigrants living in the New Orleans area come. Many famous restaurants present and past around New Orleans trace their ancestries to the area around Split. Drago’s, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and Crescent City Steak House are among the living. Gentilich’s, Bozo’s, a different Drago’s from the one above, and Uglesich’s live on in the annals of extinct restaurants.
Speaking of Croatian restaurateurs: Today is the fifty-first anniversary of the opening of Mary Mahoney’s Old French House in Biloxi, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It’s close enough to New Orleans that many of us are familiar with the restaurant. It’s operated by the Cvitanovich family, cousins of the Cvitanoviches who own Drago’s. Mary Mahoney’s history is distinguished by its having come back twice from major hurricane disasters. It was one of the first restaurants to return to Biloxi after the devastation of Katrina.
Andrew Cvitanovich–the brother of the eponymous Mary Mahoney and longtime co-owner of the restaurant–passed away in 2014. Andrew, his sister and her husband Bob Mahoney opened the restaurant in the oldest house in Biloxi, selling their shrimp boat to gather the capital to open the restaurant.
jamón Serrano, Spanish, n.–Jamón is the Spanish word for dry-cured ham, an almost incredibly popular foodstuff in Spain. It’s made in much the same way that Italian prosciutto is. Serrano is the most famous of the many kinds of jamón, made from a specific breed of white pig. Serrano hams are further subdivided into the areas where these pigs are raised, as well as by what they eat–with the pigs that eat the greatest number of acorns in the woods being considered the best. Even the least of the jamóns is a better ham than we usually eat in America.
Donna Rice, whose affair with Gary Hart brought down his 1988 Presidential candidacy, was married to Jack Hughes today in 1994. . . Pitcher Larry Sherry and his catcher brother Norm became the first all-Jewish and the tenth brother pitcher-catcher battery in big-league history. . . Singer and pianist Eagle-Eye Cherry was born today in 1971. That’s really his name. . . Poet Robert Browning’s life had its first stanza in London today in 1812.
Words To Eat By
“That little lamb stew I had the other night was so wonderful that you could cuddle it in your arms.”–James Beard.
“At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well and talk well but not too wisely.”–W. Somerset Maugham.
Words To Drink By
“As you get older, you shouldn’t waste time drinking bad wine.”–Julia Child.
People With Different Tastes Always Marry One Another.
Click here for the cartoon.