Seasonal Menus, Wine Dinners, Festivals, And Other Special Events
Dining for pleasure in New Orleans changes with the seasons. So do the foods and moods. Festivals and holidays change the texture of the days, weeks, and months. This department emphasizes such exceptions to the routine. They range from one-night-only wine dinners and festivals to the major seasonal events that spice up the eating and drinking. I'll see you there!
Culinary Chill-Down, HuckleBerry's
The stems of Harahan, River Ridge, Old Jefferson, Elmwood, and Metairie are tied in a knot where Hickory, Dickory, and Citrus all come together. The effect of this has been to turn the neighborhood into a restaurant zone. Most of them are in the neighborhood style, but with a personal touch. All of that is true about Henri Guste's HuckleBerry's.
Henri sent me details of his summer program over there, and it's clever. Every day, there's a special Chill-Down menu themed to the calendar. During what's left of June, you get an appetizer assortment for $6. For $13, you get an entree, and your choice of a cocktail, a glass of wine, or a dessert. (6/13--get it?). In July, there will be a 7/13 Chill. August will be 8/13.
There's a little more to this. During the promotion, Henri and his chefs are creating some new dishes for the $13 half. One they've hatched is a take on eggs Sardou, in which the artichoke is left in one piece and the creamed spinach forms the base. Henry calls it Eggs Sardonia, for his wife and daughter, both of whose middle names are Sidonia. (In other family notes, Henri is the sixth-generation descendant of Antoine, as in Antoine's--but there's no connection between the restaurants.)
Anyway, bringing up specials like this has the effect of calling the kitchen's attention to your table. So why not?
HuckleBerry's. Harahan: 1821 Hickory Ave.. 504-305-6066. www.huckleberrys.us.
Free Cooking Classes This Summer At NOMA
Every Friday evening throughout the summer, the chefs of Ralph Brennan's restaurants will offer a series of cooking classes at Cafe NOMA, Ralph's new eatery in the New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park. It's a repeat of the first attempt last year, which proved to be wildly successful. So much so that I'm giving you the whole lineup for the summer so you can make plans.
The demos will coordinate with the current exhibit at NOMA, which highlights World's Fairs in America through history.
June 7. Coast to Coast: in Celebration of Chilean Seafood
Chef Austin Kirzner, Red Fish Grill
Wine: 1875 World’s Fair, Santiago, Chile
June 14. Irish New Orleans Family Cooking Traditions
Chef Chip Flanagan, Ralph’s on the Park
Wine: 1853 World’s Fair, Dublin, Ireland
June 21. Cool Cocktails & Lite Bights Inspired by the Island
Chef Haley Bittermann, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group
Wine: 1891 World’s Fair, Kingston, Jamaica
June 28. The Evolution of Jambalaya
Chef Chris Montero, Café B & Café Noma
Wine: 1888 World’s Fair, Barcelona, Spain
July 5. Classic NYC Appetizers Influence Big Easy Menus
Chef Steven Marsella, Heritage Grill
Wine: 1924 1st Radio World’s Fair , New York City
July 19. East Meets West: Mochi Ice Cream Dessert Trio
Pastry Chef Brett Gauthier, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group
Wine: 1937 World’s Fair | Nagoya, Japan
July 26. Red Gravy Vs. Red Sauce
Chef Steven Marsella, Heritage Gril
Wine: 1902 World’s Fair, Turin, Italy
August 2. Southern Spin on English Pasties, Aka, “Meat Pies”
Chef Haley Bittermann, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group
Wine: 1857 World’s Fair, Manchester, England
The classes all start at six. After they end, Cafe Noma will remain open to serve dinner. They'll feature $15 wines by the bottle, $5 cocktails and $5 wines by the glass.Sounds like a great evening's entertainment. The classes are free with regular admission to the Museum. (If you're a NOMA member, it will cost you nothing at all.)
Cafe NOMA. City Park Area: 1 Collins Diboll Circle . 504-482-1264. www.cafenoma.com.
Summer Lunch Specials Begin At Antoine's: $20.13
With the beginning of June and the traditional summer months, Antoine's has a new slate of daily lunch specials for just a shade over a Jackson. It's such a good deal that it's finally penetrated the resistance many Orleanians have to dining there, thinking that it's too fancy or expensive. In fact, Antoine's these days is entirely accessible to all tastes and budgets. This menu includes a few old classics that haven't been on the menu lately, as well as some new items.
Oysters Rockefeller, Thermidor and Bienville
Mixed greens with grapes, cranberries, shaved carrots and crumbled feta cheese, orange marmalade dressing
The classical cold potato soup (flavored with chicken broth and finished with heavy cream)
Panneed veal, Burgundy Espagnole sauce, florentine rice
Bay Sea scallops, heirloom tomato sauce, creamy buttered grits
Pork tenderloin, andouille and crabmeat stuffing, Yukon mashed potatoes, Champagne sauce
Old-Fashioned Chocolate Sundae
Vanilla ice cream, pound cake, fudge sauce, chopped toasted almonds
Pecan Bread Pudding
Cinnamon and raisin bread pudding topped with warm rum sauce
And the specialty cocktail of the day--something different every time--continues to sell for a quarter if you buy an entree. The lunch specials are on Monday through Saturday, and the only exception is that you can't have that menu for a party of more than fifteen.
Antoine's. French Quarter: 713 St Louis. 504-581-4422. www.antoines.com.
Three Appetizers & Wine, $28, Ralph's On The Park
The annual summer promotion at Ralph's on the Park is so engaging that people start asking me about it well before it begins. It went into force this past weekend, and runs through August. It's a simple proposition: you get three appetizers and a glass of wine for $28. The selection is not only enticing but numerous. Here's the list:
Beet, watermelon, cucumber
City Park Salad
Green apples, Stilton, applewood bacon
Tuna Two Ways
Tartare & pepper seared, wasabi crème fraiche
Soy glazed pork belly, rich broth, housemade pasta, fried egg
Smoked Fried P&J Oysters
Buffalo Trace tomato jam, white remoulade
Cane Glazed Shrimp
Pickled peppers, jalapeño & lime crème fraîche
Crabmeat Ravigote Napoleon
Israeli couscous, salsa verdé, tomatoes, English cucumbers
Peppery Chicken Livers
Pickled watermelon rind, baby arugula, pepper jelly vinaigrette
Duck Confit & Mushroom Tart
Capers, pepperjack mornay
Roasted Bone Marrow
Shallots, pickles and parsley, smoked salt, on grilled focaccia
Pork terrine, smoked duck boudin, green tomato chow chow, dried cherry mustard
Focaccia, caperberries, olives
Black truffle mayo
A few of the items incur a $3 upcharge. As for the wines, they're restricted to those on a list they'll bring you, but more than decent. This deal is available all night, every night, through August 31. Of all the summer menus we will encounter shortly, this will be one of the most attractive.
Ralph's On The Park. City Park Area: 900 City Park Ave. 504-488-1000. www.ralphsonthepark.com.
Creole Tomato Menu Begins Saturday At Muriel's.
For the past four years--originally in conjunction with next week's Creole Tomato Festival at the French Market--Muriel's has mounted its own annual celebration of those big, red, juicy, local love apples. It's a four-course, $45 dinner that runs the entire month of June, starting this Saturday. It's a natural, pairing tomatoes with everything from a softshell crabs to pork tenderloin, and even turning tomatoes into a dessert ingredient. Here's Chef Gus Martin's Creole Tomato menu:
Wood Grilled Gulf Shrimp
Creole tomato and fennel ragout
Creole Tomato and Crab Salad
Jumbo lump crabmeat, sweet onion, arugula, asiago cheese, tarragon vinaigrette
Soft Shell Crab
Fried, with seafood boudin cake, chive aioli, Creole tomato and basil butter
Pan Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Spaghetti squash, pea shoots, marinated wild mushrooms, housemade Creole jam and rosemary butter sauce
Creole Tomato Tarte Tatin
Caramel ice cream
This entire dinner is $45. The menu will run throughout June, with a few changes to keep it fresh. They also have the entire a la carte menu available, as well as their nightly table d'hote three-course repast for $32. This is the first of several summertime menus Muriel's favors us with, at prices we locals appreciate. Especially from a restaurant on Jackson Square.
Muriel's. French Quarter: 801 Chartres. 504-568-1885. www.muriels.com.
The Temperature Is The Price At The Palace Cafe.
The first summer special menu to surface this year, the Palace Cafe's Temperature Lunch is back again for the nineteenth year. It's a gimmick, but a good one. Multiply yesterday's official Weather Service high temperature at the airport by ten. The total in cents is the price for today's two-course lunch, from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. weekdays. You get a choice of soup or salad to start, then the daily special entree of the day. The daily Temperature Special and its price are posted on the PC's Facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/DBpalacecafe?fref=ts)
The Temperature Lunch premiered yesterday, featuring grilled salmon with a fire roasted tomato and pancetta pasta salad, with a satsuma vinaigrette. The price: ten times Monday's high of 85 degrees, or $8.50.
This is a good deal no matter how high the temperature gets, of course, but the real penny-pinchers will be on the watch for those rare cool fronts. The promotion lasts until Labor Day.
Palace Cafe. French Quarter: 605 Canal. 504-523-1661. www.palacecafe.com.