May 19, 2013
Chef d'Oeuvre du Jour
#162: Cajun bouillabaisse @ Jacques-Imo's, Riverbend: 8324 Oak. It's not the most popular dish at the hyper-popular Jacques-Imo's, but it is the best. The bouillabaisse is the local version, with shrimp, crabmeat, and crawfish in season. It's topped by a chunk of blackened tuna, and there it is. Spicy and redolent with tomatoes and the Creole trinity, it's a big bowl of pleasure for seafood lovers. This is one of NOMenu's 500 Best Dishes in New Orleans. Collect all 500!
Today is National Devil's Food Cake Day. Here's how you get devil's food cake to be really dark and different: add red food coloring to the batter. It won't show as red, but as a strangely deeper dark brown.
More interesting is National Meat-And-Three Day. The hotbed of the meat-and-three meal is the roadside diner. Many of those still show a list of the special entrees of the day, with a meat, poultry, or fish as a central item. Below that is a list of ten or fifteen vegetables and salads, from which you may choose three to go with your entree. Corn, peas, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, French fries, cauliflower, green salad, cole slaw, spinach, and lima beans are among the most common items on such lists. Most of us were introduced to this concept in school cafeterias, which serve a meat-and-two through grammar school, and then escalate to meat-and-three in high school.
Deft Dining Rule #173
The most enjoyable part--perhaps the only enjoyable part--of a meal in a meat-and-three kind of place is nostalgia for simpler times.
Deft Dining Rule #174
The restaurants of the 1950s and earlier, no matter how delicious our memory makes them seem, were nowhere near as good as the restaurants of today.
Duck, North Carolina is on Bodie Island, a barrier island lined with beaches and resort communities. It faces into the Atlantic in the northeast corner of the state. Duck is near Kitty Hawk, of Wright Brothers fame. All the streets in Duck are named for varieties of duck--pintail, canvasback, wood duck, etc. Lots of restaurants around there, mostly serving seafood and barbecue.
People We'd Like To Have Dinner With
It's Archie Manning's birthday, in 1949. He and another former Saint, Danny Abramowicz, once owned a restaurant in Metairie called Archie and Danny's. (How did they think up a name like that?) It was where the relocated Sid-Mar's is now, on N. Turnbull just off Veterans.
Drinking In The Movies
On this date in 1942, the actor John Barrymore was rehearsing a script in which his character worries that he might die from drinking. Ten days later, Barrymore did indeed die of cirrhosis of the liver. (Which, in New Orleans, would be considered a death by natural causes).
salpicon, French, n.--When you cut up almost any food ingredient into small (half-inch or so) cubes, then serve it in a thick sauce that holds it together, you have made a salpicon. The word can apply to proteins, fruits, vegetables, or even hard-boiled eggs. The matrix that bids the cubes might be a bechamel for chicken or fish, or a thick syrup for fruits. Usually the salpicon winds up in some kind of edible container: a vol-au-vent, a pie shell, or a cup made from a fresh fruit. It's more a chef word than a menu word, and then only if the kitchen has a French influence,
Today in 1910, the earth passed through the tail of Halley's Comet, the anticipation of which caused panic in many gullible people. Nothing happened, except that for about twenty minutes the oysters had a strange chocolate flavor. After the event, the shells of lobsters were a lot thicker.
Annals Of Food Writing
Jane Brody, who writes widely on cooking and nutrition, mostly in the New York Times, was born today in 1941. Jane Brody's Good Food Book is her best collection.
Dame Nellie Melba (real name: Helen Porter Mitchell, from Melbourne, Australia) was born today in 1861. Both Melba toast and the dessert peach Melba are named for her. She was a superstar opera singer of the late 1800s and early 1900s, and men throughout the world were smitten by her. The toast named for her was what she ate to take pounds off her well-rounded body. Peach Melba, which you can get at Antoine's any day and occasionally in a few other restaurants, is peaches and ice cream with a thick raspberry sauce. . . Rice University in Houston was first chartered on this date in 1891. . . Cambodian dictator and mass murderer Pol Pot was born today in 1915.
Words To Eat By
"I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them."--Nora Ephron, American writer, born today in 1941.
Words To Drink By
"One reason I don't drink is that I want to know when I am having a good time."--Lady Nancy Astor, one of the wealthiest people in the world in the early 1900s.