DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Wednesday, March 7, 2018. Briquette. I continue to take Mary Ann’s advice seriously. She thinks I don’t dine out in as many different restaurants as I can, with the emphasis on new eateries. I admit to going to too many, too-familiar Metairie restaurants. Not because I want to go to those places, but because they’re on my way home, and much easier to approach than, say, the Magazine Street restaurant corridor.

Tonight’s exploration takes me by foot to Briquette, a restaurant on the corner of Girod and South Peters. Owner A.J. Tusa has operated a number of restaurants along the riverfront between Canal Street and the Convention Center. Although quite a few people have told me that they like some of these, my luck was less good. When Briquette opened a few months ago, there was a grand opening celebration in which the kitchen disintegrated. M.A. and I were lucky: we got one appetizer that evening. Other people near our table got nothing at all. Here was a great example why going to new restaurants is a bad idea.

But that idea should not be accepted permanently, and Briquette looks too good and so many people fill the house that I thought it might be time for another taste. And they have a new chef.

This is a handsome if casual restaurant, designed by Tusa himself. Service was efficient and the food was interesting. The emphasis is on fish, with a strong inventory of whole fish, mostly from the Gulf. A tour through the kitchen revealed redfish, red snapper, tuna and a few species like branzino from the Mediterranean. My choice was Pacific wild-caught halibut, a fish I’ve always loved and did once again tonight.

The most interesting asset of the Briquette kitchen is a young chef name of Hosie Bourgeois. His claim to fame is that for a long time he was an apprentice chef to the late Gerard Crozier, who for many years was a candidate for Best French Chef in New Orleans. Some of Crozier’s dishes wound up on the menu at Briquette–notable the ille de flotant–Gerard’s floating island. Hosie also worked in the kitchen of Beau Chene on the North Shore.

There was a big meeting in town, and the restaurant was a little overloaded tonight. Indeed, as A.J. introduced me to a lot of his customers, most of them were from way out of town. The Philippines, for one, and Russia another. The location is perfect for offering a convenient restaurant close to the Convention Center.

But perhaps the thing I like most about Briquette is that it’s three blocks from the radio station. That section of the Warehouse District and the nearby CBD add a lot of appeal to the place in terms of accessibility.

Otherwise, it’s still too soon to give a rating on the place.

Briquette. CBD: 701 S Peters St. 504 302-7496.

RecipeSquare-150x150

Fish On The Half Shell

If you cut big fillets from a redfish or drum and leave the skin and scales on, you can grill it over a hot fire without having to turn it. The skin and scales get black, but the fish stays moist because it’s steaming in its own juices. You absolutely must do this outdoors, because the smell of the burning scales in the beginning is not the nicest thing you will ever sniff. (Don’t worry–it won’t show up in the flavor of the fish.)

  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 4 large fillets of drum, redfish, or sheepshead, skin and scales on
  • 6 Tbs. butter
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
  • 4 sprigs parsley, leaves only, chopped
  • Salt and cracked pepper to taste

1. Mix the wine, olive oil, soy sauce and lemon juice in a broad bowl big enough to fit the fish. Marinate the fish for about a minute, skin side up.

2. Place the fish skin side down on a very hot grill. Mix the garlic, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper into the butter, and spread it on top of the fish.

3. Grill the fish without turning until the very top of the fish is distinctly warm to the touch. It’s best when some of the butter falls into the flames and smokes up over the fish. The scales will char

4. Serve with lemon wedges.

Note: depending on the species, cutting fish like this often leaves bones in place. Tell your guests to be aware of that.

Serves four.

AlmanacSquare March 9, 2017

Days Until. . .
St. Patrick’s Day–March 17
St. Joseph’s Day–19
Easter–April 1
Today’s Flavor

This is National Crabmeat Day. It’s still pretty early in the year for the best crabmeat. However, adding crabmeat to dishes has become such a part of the current New Orleans cuisine that the seasons are hardly recognized anymore. The season for fresh, non-pasteurized, Louisiana crabmeat is the warm months, particularly in the midsummer. What’s used this time of year is likely to be frozen, pasteurized, canned, or from overseas. (Or combinations of the above.) You would be astonished by the number of major restaurant charging major prices that use something other than fresh, unpasteurized crabmeat.

The major source of crabmeat in our part of the world (and all the way up the Atlantic coast, too) is the blue crab, callinectes sapidus. It’s packed in four major forms: claw, white, lump, and jumbo lump. The latter is the muscle that moves the large claws from inside the body. White and lump come from other parts of the body. The claw meat is least expensive, but actually has the most pronounced flavor. Only its dark color keeps the price down. Strange, isn’t it?

Music To Eat Gumbo By

It’s the birthday, in 1933, of Lloyd Price, the New Orleans singer who had a string of hits in the mid-1950s. The best of them was Personality. He also did the definitive version of Stagger Lee, whose lyrics describe a place much like the kind of joint where these songs would play on the juke box.

Edible Dictionary

she-crab soup, n.–The name tells most of the story: it’s a soup made with female crabs, preferably those carrying eggs. It’s made by combining crabmeat and crab stock with milk or cream to make a mild soup whose flavor comes predominantly from the crabs. It’s sometimes thickened with a blond roux or pureed rice, and flavored with some kind of onions–usually snipped green onions. The soup is a specialty of the Low Country of South Carolina, and rarely found elsewhere–at least not under that name. The advantage of she-crabs–the roe–has been obviated by the fact that in most places the law requires that any crab bearing eggs must be returned to the water, in order to continue the species. That’s the law in Louisiana, and it includes even recreational crabbing.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Eaton Hill rises to 466 feet in southeast New Hampshire, just over the Massachusetts state line, and forty-five miles north of Boston. The hill is dominated by three large farm fields of about the same size, where dairy cattle are raised. This is probably the origin of some of those great New England cheeses. When you come down from Eaton Hill, you can find a hill of eatin’ at Carmen’s Diner, two miles away in East Kingston. This is another in a continuing series of Gourmet Gazetteer places whose names begin with “Eat.”

Food In Space

This is the birthday, in 1934, of Yuri Gagarin, Russian cosmonaut and the first man to orbit the earth (or do anything else) in space. Because the Russians could not obtain Tang from the U.S., poor Gagarin had to make do with only fresh oranges for juice during his trip.

Food In Warfare

The Pastry War between France and Mexico ended today in 1839, after about five months of hostility. It started when a French pastry chef named Remontel complained to French King Louis-Phillippe that his shop in Mexico City had been looted by Mexican soldiers ten years earlier. The king took up the cause and demanded that Mexico pay 600,000 pesos. Mexico demurred, and France sent a fleet to blockade all Gulf ports in Mexico. It captured the city of Veracruz and most of the Mexican navy. Mexico declared war on France. The United States fought on the French side, with one ship. Great Britain intervened, Mexico promised to pay the 600,000 pesos, and the war ended. No weapons of mass destruction were found.

The Saints

This is the feast day of St. Catherine of Bologna, who died today in 1463. She is the patron saint of those beset with all kinds of temptation. Including those involving food and drink, I suppose.

Music To Graze By

“Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy.”–
Slurred a bit, that was the opening line of the Number One hit on this day in 1944. Its title was Mairzy Doats. A kiddle dee divy too, wouldn’t you? No, I wouldn’t. Ivy will kill you if you eat it.

Food And The Law

Today in 1981, the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed that, for the purposes of creating balanced school lunches, ketchup could be considered a vegetable. This absurdity was widely hooted at by comedians and was quickly annulled, but the memory of the idea lives on. In terms of its healthiness, ketchup is not bad for you–but containing as much sugar as it does, it’s not good, either.

Deft Dining Rule #299:

If ketchup is called for to make food taste good to you, may I advise some further experimentation on your part/other sauces?

Food Namesakes

Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte were married today in 1796. One wonders whether Napoleon pastries were served at the reception. Over the years, a number of pastry chefs have developed variations on the layered, custard-filled Napoleon that they call the Josephine. Chef Andrea Apuzzo makes one with pastry cream and raspberries–very light and good. . . Coming at the food namesake concept from the other side, we note that today is the birthday, in 1958, of singer Martin Fry, who performed with the group ABC. . . Bluesey rocker John Cale was born today in 1942. . . Pro footballer Sean Salisbury was born today in 1963.

Words To Eat By

“Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar.”–Mickey Spillane, crime novel author, born today in 1918.

Words To Drink By

“What’s your house chablis?”–James Buckley, politician, upon being asked by a counter person at McDonald’s what he wanted to drink. Buckley was born today in 1923.

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Where Recipe Ideas Come From.

They’re often triggered by what you see in the supermarket. Then you get inventive, or tap into resources for cooking knowledge.

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