Friday, April 13, 2012
1269 Restaurants Open Around Town (click for the whole list)
Benefits Camp For Kids With Disabilities
Well-Fed Party Tonight, New Orleans Museum Of Art
Camp Tiger is a summer camp for kids with disabilities, organized and supported by the first-year students of the LSUHSC School of Medicine. The disabilities range from Down Syndrome to Cerebral Palsy to Autism, but regardless of any of that the children have a great time free of charge.
The fundraiser that makes Camp Tiger possible is tonight, from 7-11 p.m. at the New Orleans Museum of Art. As they always do, the restaurants will be there with their food and drinks. The big money comes from an auction of unique prizes. Here is a partial list of who's serving:
Acme Oyster House
Geaux Plates (food truck)
La Cocinita (food truck)
Martin's Wine Cellar
New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood
Rock 'n' Sake
Ye Olde College Inn
Tickets are a steal at $40, and can be had at the door. Sounds like a great party, and imagining the smiles on the faces of the happy Tiger Campers is a bonus.Camp Tiger Benefit Auction. New Orleans Museum Of Art, City Park.
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Runs Through The Weekend
Thursday, April 12, 2012.
Orange Blues. Monster Poor Boy. Pinkberry.
The good half of the year for us orange-lovers is decidedly past. The Louisiana oranges had a short season and are long gone. We saw Florida fruit for the first time in nine years, but that didn't last long, either. Now it's all California, with their beautiful but thick, pithy skins. Carving one of them this morning was like trimming an extra-fatty brisket. The white stuff on the inside of the peel even looks like fat.
Mary Ann says I should quit whining and just eat the stuff, because of its fiber content. Fiber is necessary, of course. But nobody ever enjoyed the flavor of fiber.
The question on the radio show today was whether there was some commonly-consumed food out there that the listeners disliked intensely. The most hated food, according to our unscientific sample, is liver. That would have been my guess, even though I am a liver lover myself. Other much-disdained edibles included olives, tripe, beets, coconut and raw oysters. Nothing surprising there. But what is it about watermelon that caused so many of my listeners to say they don't like it? And a surprising number of correspondents said they don't like fish--period.
This show came from my home office. Tomorrow, I have a speaking engagement in front of a bunch of dentists at noon. That doesn't give me enough time to write a NOMenu newsletter in the morning, so I'll use today's freed-up commute time to get a jump on it.
A couple of weeks ago we were invited to the grand opening of a new Pinkberry frozen yogurt shop in mandeville. I ignore most such invitations, but our family's Los Angeles connection has caused everyone but me to not only get hooked on fro-yo, but to have a loyalty to particular brands. Pinkberry has been the holy grail for the Marys for the past couple of years, although lately they've been talking a lot about Yogurt Land on Prytania in the Upperline neighborhood.
The opening merged well with our supper plans, so we went. The main party was in a tent with wine, bubbly wine, beer, light beer, a disk jockey playing awful music way too loud, and samples of Pinkberry. I had three of them: pomegranate, mango, and coconut. It's good stuff, and even though it's made with minimal sugar and skim milk (Brown's Velvet, the owner told me), it addresses the appetite usually served by the likes of ice cream sandwiches. (My Pavlovian reaction to gassing up a car is to have an ice-cream-truck-style treat from inside to convenience store. I fight it off most of the time, but like the doughnut urge after church, it's always there.)
Mary Ann and I had our pictures taken inside a booth, and rolled a wheel of fortune to win a T-shirt. Meanwhile, the people without invitations to the gala in the tent were in line to get their first fixes of Pinkberry. I counted about thirty people waiting.
Before that, we shared a roast beef poor boy from Monster Po-Boys, a shop that's operated consistently in its nearly-invisible space for over twenty years. In fact, it's in its second generation. We sort of know the owners, because our kids and theirs were in school at Our Lady of the Lake at the same time. For no reason other than out-of-sight-out-of-mind, we haven't been there in ages. Mary Ann suggested it, probably because she's thinking of selling them an ad on the website. (We won't take ads from restaurant we don't think are good.)
The roast beef was clearly made in house, with a lot of debris in an excellent gravy, on fresh and toasted French bread. If I were looking for something to complain about, it would be that they don't put pickles on a dressed sandwich unless you ask. (But then they bring them right away.) The onion rings are thin-sliced and generously served, just the way we like them. One large poor boy fed the two of us generously. Big selection. I'll have to try some of their other varieties.
Pinkberry. Mandeville: 3460 Highway 190.
Monster Po-Boys. Mandeville: 1814 N Causeway Blvd. 504-626-9183.
It's over three years since a day was missed in the Dining Diary. To browse through all of the entries since 2008, go here.
The Eat Club Does
The French Quarter Wine Festival
Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 6:30 p.m.
Maison Dupuy Hotel, 1001 Toulouse. Free valet parking.
$100 per person, plus tax and tip
Among the pioneers of Pinot Noir winemaking in Oregon, Elk Cove has grown first-class wines since 1977. Adam Godlee Campbell, winemaker and owner, is making a return appearance in New Orleans to show off his "pinot trilogy": noir, gris and blanc. The dinner will be replete with interesting library bottles, including three single-vineyard Pinot Noirs. The main course will be accompanied by a real rarity: a nine-liter bottle of Pinot Noir from Elk Cove's Roosevelt Vineyard. That's the equivalent of a full case of wine in a single bottle. (I wonder who will get the empty. It won't be thrown away, that's for sure.)
2011 Rose of Pinot Noir
Tomato, avocado dressing
Wines: 2011 Pinot Gris
2010 Pinot Blanc
Yellowfin Tuna Crudo
Tobiko caviar, soy vinaigrette
Wines: 2010 Pinot Noir Mount Richmond
2010 Pinot Noir La Boheme
2010 Pinot Noir Five Mountain
Fudge Farms Kurobuta Pork Chop
Fingerling potato and bacon hash
Wine: 1999 Pinot Noir Roosevelt Vineyard from a 9-liter bottle
Chocolate Flourless Torte
Wine: 2008 Ultima
Although this is an Eat Club event, the hotel is taking the reservations, along with payment in advance. Click on the link below to reserve.
BONUS FROM TOM. Each couple who attends will get a complimentary signed copy of my history of the New Orleans restaurant scene, Hungry Town. (Singles can get the book, which sells for $25, for $5. Extra copies can also be had for that price.)
A week ago, a review of Domenica ran in this space. However, I was in an old backup database file when I pulled it up, and a review from two years ago appeared instead of this brand-new one. Please pardon my butterfingers.--Tom.
WHY IT'S NOTEWORTHY
Domenica is the maximum current attempt to duplicate certain culinary practices very common in Italy but rarely seen here. There are three major specialties. The best is pizza, baked in a five-ton, wood-fired oven made of stone. The chef makes a showy array of salumi, curing meats for months in house. The remainder of the menu uses pasta, meats and seafood in about three dozen small and large dishes, most of them rustic in style. A large portion of the menu will be familiar to anyone who has been to Italy.
WHY IT'S GOOD
The pizza here is the best of all time locally. The thin crust is charred here and there by the hot fire, topped with an offbeat selection of ingredients. The salumi is extraordinary. It may even be too good. A little of it goes a long way. The remainder of the menu is widely variable, with some dishes tasting much better than they sound, and a few (the pasta with chicken livers and oxtail ragu, for example) giving the opposite effect. This is a great restaurant for culinary explorers, and less good for those whose definition of "authentic" Italian food is what their grandmothers cooked.
After over a year of planning (during which Chef Alon Shaya spent many months in Italy) Dominica opened in the fall of 2009, as nearly the last piece of the renewed Roosevelt Hotel. The restaurant's name is Italian for "Sunday," when in the glory days of the Roosevelt Hotel many local people went there for dinner. The hotel had a restaurant in this space for almost a hundred years--most recently Bailey's, the hotel's all-day restaurant.
The tall, wide room gets further spaciousness from a wall of windows looking to the rococo facade of Jesuit Church. Unclothed, rustic tables built of wood planks, topped with jars of long breadsticks, stand a bit too close to one another throughout the room, which is divided by massive square columns and split levels. What looks like the bar is actually the salumi station, where chefs work meat slicers on the cured meats in the glass-fronted walk-in cooler behind them.
ESSENTIAL DISHES [»=Recommended]
Antipasto And Salads
»Affettati misti (salumi, cheeses, olives, roasted vegetables)
»Coppa (cured pork shoulder)
Bresaola (air-dried beef)
Soppressata di Toscana
»House made salami
»Lardo (cured pork fat)
Speck (smoked and cured ham)
Cheeses (many imported varieties)
Herb roasted pork ribs
Chicken liver crostini
»Wild mushroom soup, truffle bruschetta
Fresh ricotta, date-pecan pesto, grilled country bread
»Arugula, beets, gorgonzola and pistachios
Baby green salad, apples, goat cheese, crispy prosciutto
»Burrata mozzarella, pesto, tomatoes, focaccia
»Roasted cauliflower, goat feta
»Tagliatelle with rabbit and porcini
»White truffle risotto, pancetta croutons
Stracci, oxtail and fried chicken livers
Garganelli pasta, pork ragu, garlic and rapini
»Squid ink tagliolini, blue crab and herbs
»Anolini (ring pasta), pork, tomato and basil
Tortelloni, sweet potatoes, hazelnut brown butter
Pizzoccheri (buckwheat noodles), sausage, onions, cabbage
Fusilli, shrimp sauce, celery and lemon
»Margherita (tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella)
»Calabrese (tomato, salami, mozzarella, capers, olives)
Prosciutto, tomato, fresh mozzarella and arugula
Cotechino sausage, scallions and tomatoes
»Spicy lamb meatballs, tomato, ricotta, rapini, mint
»Wild mushroom, tomato, fontina, bacon, yard egg
»Pizza Leno (anchovies, tomatoes, garlic, mortadella)
»Gorgonzola, apples, speck, pecans
Clams, oregano, calabrese pepper, garlic and olive oil
»Bolzano (roast pork shoulder, fennel, bacon, sweet onions)
»Pizza bianca (fennel, mozzarella, lardo)
»White anchovies, oregano, garlic, Calabrese pepper, tomatoes
Tutto carne (fennel sausage, bacon, salami, cotechino)
»Whole grilled fish, lemon and herbs
»Redfish, celery root puree, warm olive vinaigrette
»Wood roasted goat, yard egg and tomato sauce
Panneed veal, arugula, olive oil roasted tomatoes
Mangalitsa pork shank, white beans, pickled root vegetables
Fried tuscan kale, lemon and parmigiano reggiano
»Sweet potatoes, rosemary butter, cane syrup
»Brussels sprouts with guanciale
Rapini, garlic, pecorino
Soft polenta, olive oil, roasted tomatoes
»Banana zuppa inglese
Dark chocolate torta
»Gianduja budino (chocolate and hazelnut pudding)
»Sweet ricotta kataifi
»Panna cotta, chocolate and almond torta
Seasonal sorbetti and gelati
FOR BEST RESULTS
Start with pizza, no matter what else you get. Then a little of the house-made salumi. The cheeses (other than burrata) are less impressive. Every afternoon from three until six, pizzas, cocktails, and wine by the glass is half-price. Israel-born Chef Alon Shaya creates special menus for the major Jewish holidays. They're not kosher--the restaurant has too much prosciutto hanging around for that--but otherwise very traditional and worth ordering, even if you're not Jewish.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The lack of tablecloths and the use of smallish china with no underliners of any kind makes for a glaring comfort deficiency--at least to my sensitivities.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment +1
- Consistency +1
- Value +1
- Attitude +1
- Wine and Bar +1
- Hipness +2
- Local Color +2
- Good view
- Good for business meetings
- Many private rooms
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open all holidays
- Open after 10 p.m.
- Open all afternoon
- Quick, good meal
- Good for children
- Reservations recommended
Peach cobbler has a great Southern quality in its richly fruity flavor and sweetness. The latter is where the problems can come in: most recipes are, I find, quite a bit too sweet. The peaches (or whatever fruit you use) should be ripe and naturally sweet.
- 6-8 peaches
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 Tbs. lemon juice
- 1 scant Tbs. cornstarch, dissolved in 1 Tbs. water
- 4 Tbs. butter
- 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 Tbs. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1. Peel and pit the peaches, and slice each into eight wedge-shaped slices. In a baking dish, toss with the other ingredients through the cornstarch. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until the peaches are soft and have thrown off some juice.
2. While the peaches are in the oven, cut the butter into the flour, and whisk until the butter disappears into crumbs. Whisk in the sugar.
3. Add the milk and stir lightly with a kitchen fork. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl until no dry flour remains. (Add a little more milk if necessary.)
4. When the peaches come out of the oven, use one teaspoon to scoop up the dough, and another to push it into the peaches. When all the dough is in the baking dish, stir the contents until the peaches and dough pieces are evenly distributed. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon over the top.
5. Return the baking dish to the oven and bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until the tops of the dough are browned. Remove and cool until just warm. Serve in bowls.
April 13, 2012
Days Until. . .
Jazz Festival 14
Chef D'Oeuvre Du Jour
#376: Panang Curry @ Thai Thai, Covington: 1536 US 190. 985-809-8905. Penang is a city and an area of Malaysia. When its name is attached to a dish in a Thai restaurant, it swaps an "a" for the initial "e" and describes one of the most complex dishes in the Thai cuisine. The flavors of galangal is almost always in there, among other things. It tends to be made with less pepper than green or red curry, but it does include an admixture of coconut milk. It's best with pork or shrimp, but at Thai Thai they'll make it with almost anything you ask for. The vegetarian version is excellent, too. Tell Ricky you like it in the very soupy Thai style, and make sure you get a big spoon to get it all up. This is one of NOMenu's 500 Best Dishes in New Orleans. Collect all 500!
Eating Around The World
The Songkran Festival, Thailand's celebration of the new year, begins today and continues until April 15. The exciting, absurdly healthy food of that country has become extraordinarily popular around America. The flavors of Thai curries, noodle dishes, and spicy soups always get me going. Most dishes are jammed with fresh vegetables and herbs. The cuisine has been popular long enough that more than a few chefs of other kinds of restaurants have borrowed Thai flavors. You even see that in chain restaurants.
Annals Of Winemaking
Baron Philippe de Rothschild was born today in 1902. At age 20, he took over management of Chateau Mouton, which his great-grandfather bought in 1853. For the next two decades, he was single-minded in the pursuit of first-growth status for Mouton, which had been a second growth in the great Bordeaux classification of 1855. His motto: "Premier ne puis, second ne daigne. Mouton suis." (First I am denied, second I disdain. I am just Mouton.) He reached his goal in 1973. Baron Philippe also created the world's first branded wine in Mouton Cadet. And the first French-California partnership in Opus One. He was a revolutionary.
It's also the birthday of America's first boutique winemaker. Thomas Jefferson--who in addition to his achievements as a statesman and philosopher was a serious gourmet and wine lover--was born today in 1743. He planted vineyards in Virginia using vines from Bordeaux, and thought that some day American wines could rival French wines. But his favorite wine was Chateau Lafite.
Deft Dining Rule #236
Never order a famous, very expensive wine just to be on the safe side. You're already on the safe side by ordering wine at all.
larb, Thai, n.--A warm-and-cool salad found widely on Thai and other Southeast Asian menus. Its origins are in Laos, but few restaurant serve that cuisine. In Thai restaurants around New Orleans, larb is almost always made with beef, although it can authentically be made with pork, duck, chicken or (rarely) fish. The meat part of the dish is on the spicy side, with chili peppers used in the cooking. Mint, basil, and other herbs are involved, as are crunchy greens and vegetables, all served as raw salad ingredients. It's a good appetizer for two to four people, or an entree for one.
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. That's five food-named places in one small area. Whoever named all these must have been hungry. It's ten miles north to the nearest restaurant, Out Back BBQ, in Etna.
This is the twenty-seventh in a series of Gourmet Gazetteer places whose names begin with "Eat."
It's Peach Cobbler Day. Peach cobbler is easy enough to make: you bake some fresh peach slices with a little sugar and cinnamon until they're soft. Then you drop spoonfuls of sweetened biscuit dough into the baking dish, mix them up, and bake again until it browns.
Not enough restaurants serve peach cobbler. The best I ever had around here was at the Coffee Pot on St. Peter Street, where they'd serve it, only on Saturdays, in a big beer schooner with whipped cream. Its only drawback was that it was very sweet, which is a hallmark of the dessert. I think it would be better if made with fresh peaches and less sugar.
Bad Taste Through History
In 1883, Alferd Packer was convicted of acts of cannibalism. Since this happened in Wild West Colorado, he became a folk hero. After he served his sentence, he became a vegetarian, and supported himself by selling autographs and memorabilia. There's a museum of his stuff, and a web site. His name, by the way, is indeed spelled Alferd--that's not a typo.
Music To Eat Barbecue By
Bob Nolan, the long-time leader and baritone of The Sons of the Pioneers, was born today in 1908. The group--founded by Roy Rogers, and appearing in many of his movies--was the most famous of the many cowboy harmony groups in the 1930s through the 1950s. In addition to having an immediately recognizable voice, Nolan wrote hundreds of songs, of which the most famous are Cool Water and Tumbling Tumbleweeds.
Annals Of The Soda Fountain
Today is the birthday, in 1852, of F.W. (Frank Winfield) Woolworth. He founded the dime store chain that bore his name. While most of what they sold were dry goods, most of us remember Woolworth's (or, as they pronounced it on Magazine Street, "Woolswoit's") for its lunch counter. Many breakfasts, burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, and malts were enjoyed at Woolworth's in those pre-fast-food times. It was a very big deal when I was a kid.
Today is the birthday, in 1519, of Catherine de Medici. She was the granddaughter of Lorenzo ("The Great") de Medici, one of the major figures behind the Renaissance in Italy, and a practitioner of a high style of living. Catherine inherited a taste for the finer things. Legend has it that when she married King Henry II of France, she brought her Italian chefs with her. Supposedly, those chefs inspired French grand cuisine. Italian chefs love that story, but it's not really true. French cuisine was already fairly well developed by that time, if not quite up to the level to which the Medicis were accustomed. Still, Catherine was quite a woman. Among other accomplishments, she was the mother of three French kings.
Actor Harry Leek--better known as Howard Keel (leek spelled backwards) was born today in 1919. He was in Dallas on TV, as well as Kiss Me, Kate and other movies. . . Janet Cook won a Pulitzer Prize today in 1981 for an article she later admitted she made up. (The award was taken away.) . . . Schalk Burger, a professional rugby player from South Africa, hit the Big Field today in 1983.
Words To Eat By
"An apple is an excellent thing--until you have tried a peach."--George du Maurier.
Words To Drink By
"Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted ox and hatred."--Unknown origin.
The Ten Condiments.
Only one word--a man's name--is required to finish this joke. Tomorrow: the Mother Sauces. Click here for the cartoon.
Have a lusty New Orleans meal today!