Thursday, January 1, 2009.
Moving A Website. Happy New Year!
Marc Juneau, who is working on the rebuilding of our website, wants to move the thing to a new server. That's long overdue: the outfit that's served NOMenu.com for over ten years have done almost nothing to upgrade me, other than to raise the prices. But Marc has a problem: I post so much material on the site, so often, that it's been almost impossible to get the thing moved without it going out of sync. Today, when I will not publish at all, is the perfect time. I hope it works.
Almost every New Year's Day, we invited friends over for a casual grazing dinner, wines, and hanging out. We have different people most years, not because we change our invitation list but because we wait until the last minute to decide whether to have the party or not. By then, many people already have plans.
This year, Mary Ann feared that the only people to show up would be Debbie Himbert, our travel agent, who arrived early (we hate it when people show up on time, let alone prematurely) with her husband Buddy and son Burton. Jude and Burt attended Christian Brothers School together, and that began the friendship between our families. Burt is also a singer, although he seems to have moved away from that art. Couldn't get him to join me in a song.
The house filled up well enough, with the Swifts (a Jesuit High connection), the Lanauxs (Jude's fellow Scouts and their mom), and Mary Ann's brother and his daughter (Mary Leigh's favorite cousin). We had too much food, as always--but not absurdly too much. A root beer-glazed ham, two chuck tenderloins marinated in pineapple juice and pepper sauce overnight and grilled over charcoal, cole slaw (the required cabbage), a salsa-like salad with blackeye peas (taking care of the other eating tradition of the day), and a few other sides.
But as far as I was concerned, the dish of the day was oysters Rockefeller. I bought a quart of nice ones from Bill's Oyster House yesterday. This morning, I cooked up from memory the recipe that Antoine's considers so close to their authentic one that for years they gave mine out to people who asked for one. (Theirs is, of course, a secret.) I lacked one thing: fresh fennel. Seems that fennel is always in the produce rack except when I need it for something. Couldn't find it in three stores. Also unavailable: Herbsaint liqueur, which many cooks use because they can't find fennel, either. I wound up using ouzo to give the anise hint the dish needs.
Anyway, the only thing even slightly wrong was that I tightened the sauce up a little too much. But the flavor was great, if I say so myself. I baked the oysters in gratin dishes with the sauce blobbed on top. I ate three of those myself.
May I be as rich as Rockefeller in the new year. And all my friends and readers and listeners, too.