Monday, October 3, 2011
1224 Restaurants Open Around Town (click for the whole list)
Chefs Go Pink: 31 Days Of $31 Dinners
If you see a lot of chefs wearing pink jackets this month, it's not because some red tablecloths were put into the same batch of laundry. They're trying to get your attention to a special menu for a special cause this month.
The Susan G. Komen organization continues its omnipresent effort to brighten the outlook of those with breast cancer. Throughout the entire month of October, the restaurants listed below will off special $31 menus, and remit ten percent of the sales of those dinners to Susan G. Komen For The Cure.
Andrea's (Chef Andrea Apuzzo)
Arnaud's (Chef Tommy DiGiovanni)
Bayona (Chef Susan Spicer)
Bombay Club (Chef Ricky Cheramie)
Bourbon House (Chef Darin Nesbit)
Café Giovanni (Chef Duke LoCicero)
Capdeville (Chef Zach Tippin)
Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse (Chef Alfred Singleton)
5 Fifty 5 (Chef Mark Quitney) www.opentable.com/5-fifty-5
Herbsaint (Chef Rebecca Wilcomb)
La Cote Brasserie (Chef Chuck Subra)
La Thai (Chef Diana Chauvin)
M Bistro (Chefs Vinny Russo and Emily Dillport)
Le Meritage (Chef Michael Farrell)
MiLa (Chefs Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing)
Mondo (Chefs Susan Spicer and Cindie Crosbie)
Muriel's Jackson Square (Chef Gus Martin)
Palace Café (Chef Ben Thibodeaux)
Pelican Club (Chef Richard Hughes)
Ralph's on the Park (Chef Chip Flanagan)
Red Fish Grill (Chef Michael Gottlieb)
Reginelli's Pizzeria (All locations. Chef Darryl Reginelli)
Ste. Marie (Chef Mike Pedranti)
Sylvain (Chef Alex Harrell)
Taceaux Loceaux (Chef Alex del Castillo)
Vega Tapas Café ( Chef Glen Hogh)
The special menus will not only be a good value and raise money for the cause, but will involve the kinds of foods that make you healthy. Most of the restaurants have these menus posted on their websites; click on the names to take a look.
We'll feature a different Pink Menu on this site every day throughout the month to remind you of this delicious and important effort.
This daily feature is a free service for restaurants or organizations with upcoming special events. Please send all info to email@example.com.
Sunday, September 25, 2011.
Saints At Chimes.
Ever since the year when the Saints won the Super Bowl (1998--is that right?), Mary Ann has insisted on going to a restaurant to watch the game. That grew from of our lack of cable television until the point in that magical year when it looked like Archie and the boys were on their way to the big time. Even after we got cable, going to a restaurant to watch the game was such a tradition that it lived on. Like all those people who say they like dried salted codfish, we had better but stuck to the old ways.
Mary Ann says she goes out to the game to find other people showing enthusiasm about the contest. As opposed to my apathy about it all, which only makes her mad. This is especially true since Mary Leigh discovered that watching the game at Tulane puts her in simpatico contact with the usually unapproachable male students in her circle.
All of this is why we wound up at The Chimes at gametime today. Mary Ann went ahead. I showed up around halftime, when I got hungry. Mary Ann said she was already starving and ordered something. She paid the price: I was not there to warn her that the "lagniappe sandwich"--a burger-like job with a patties of nondescript seafood stuffing instead of the beef--was very unlikely to be good. Which it wasn't.
Restaurants take a hit on Saints game days. Even sports-oriented places like Chimes. We had our choice of many tables. I was surprised that MA was not sitting out on the deck when I arrived. She had been until a guy at an adjacent table fired up a cigar. Mary Ann is one hundred percent intolerant of smokers, with an extra measure of revulsion for stogie suckers. (She once refused to give away one of our many kittens when she discovered that the adoptive home harbored a smoker. The cat she saved was Twinnery, who became my best animal friend. So that was a good thing.)
While the Saints let a big lead get away from them, we had a half-dozen bacon-wrapped, grilled shrimp. These were large, fresh, well seasoned and blackened here and there. The plate was filled out with brown-striped French bread and a strikingly excellent cole slaw. Mary Ann guessed it was made with blue cheese, and she was right. I will remember the idea next time I make cole slaw. And we will remember this whole platter next time we're here.
I went on to indulge in Chimes' brunch menu--something I didn't know they had. The special was a boudin omelette. That was a first for me, but one bite reminded me of the fried boudin balls I had here the first time we came a couple of months ago. I thought then and now that Chimes's version is a good example of how the exciting flavor of boudin is slipping away from us. I liked neither the texture (almost like a pudding) nor the flavor (where was the pork liver?). The cheese grits also were a little over the top--too rich, too thick.
The bread pudding, however, was an uptick. Large, sweet, and rich, it was covered with a dark pecan praline sauce. I ate too much of it.
The Saints won. Mary Ann and I took a walk on the long wooden ramp that leads from the restaurant down to the Bogue Falaya River. These guys did a tremendous job of building all this. I heard a rumor that it cost $10 million. We are not seeing those dollars being lavished on five-star restaurants anymore. Only on casual restaurants with burgers, ribs, fried seafood, and the like. I may need to write a book entitled, "The Death Of Fine Dining In America."
Back at home, I re-read a press release announcing the future opening of Borgne, John Besh's eighth restaurant, in the Hyatt Regency Hotel. It will be a casual, midrange restaurant, of course. I noticed something in the release that I missed the first time. At the end was this disclaimer:
Statements in this press release, which are not historical facts, are “forward-looking” statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements include statements about our plans, strategies, financial performance, prospects or future events and involve known and unknown risks that are difficult to predict. As a result, our actual results, performance or achievements may differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by the use of words such as “may,” “could,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “seek,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “continue,” “likely,” “will,” “would” and variations of these terms and similar expressions, or the negative of these terms or similar expressions. Such forward-looking statements are necessarily based upon estimates and assumptions that, while considered reasonable by us and our management, are inherently uncertain. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations include, among others, the rate and pace of economic recovery following the economic downturn; levels of spending in business and leisure segments as well as consumer confidence; declines in occupancy and average daily rate; hostilities, including future terrorist attacks, or fear of hostilities that affect travel; travel-related accidents; changes in the tastes and preferences of our customers; relationships with associates and labor unions and changes in labor law; the financial condition of, and our relationships with, third-party property owners, franchisees and hospitality venture partners; risk associated with potential acquisitions and dispositions and the introduction of new brand concepts; changes in the competitive environment in our industry and the markets where we operate; outcomes of legal proceedings; changes in federal, state, local or foreign tax law; fluctuations in currency exchange rates; general volatility of the capital markets and our ability to access the capital markets. A more complete description of these risks and uncertainties can be found in our filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K. We caution you not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements, which are made as of the date of this press release. We undertake no obligation to update publicly any of these forward-looking statements to reflect actual results, new information or future events, changes in assumptions or changes in other factors affecting forward-looking statements, except to the extent required by applicable laws. If we update one or more forward-looking statements, no inference should be drawn that we will make additional updates with respect to those or other forward-looking statements.
A quick calculation shows that this run-on paragraph takes up forty percent of the entire release. No wonder we're not getting as much done as we could. Tort reform, anyone?
The Chimes. Covington: 19130 W Front St. 985-892-5396.
Monday, September 26, 2011.
Pizza Gleaning And Veal Sorrentino At Carmelo.
It happened again. At the end of my radio show, our plans to cook the remaining part of the tri-tip roast we grilled so successfully last week were scrapped, because we both were too hungry to begin the process of cooking at six o'clock. So we went to Carmelo. I had in mind getting two pizzas: one to nibble at with a glass of wine here as an appetizer, the other to restock my collection of appetite killers. A slice of pizza, eaten instead of a real lunch or dinner, is relatively harmless to my weight-loss program. On Mondays, one pizza gets you a second to take home.
Mary Ann satisfied herself with three slices of the pepperoni half of the eat-in pizza. And a tray of Carmelo Chirico's hand-cured olives. Then tomatoes topped with crabmeat that didn't seem to have been touched by any kind of dressing. The one consistent flaw in this restaurant's cooking is that they underseason a lot of their food.
That was not true of my entree, though. Veal Sorrentino is a dish I've enjoyed at Carmelo since he first opened in the French Quarter in the 1980s. It's a classic--I had it once in Sorrento itself, in fact. But it's not commonly served in New Orleans restaurants. This one was as good as any I've ever had. Three medallions of baby white veal, tender as it's famous for being. Grilled, well-seasoned eggplant over that. And a slice of prosciutto and an oval of fresh-milk mozzarella over the top. The sauce was a light brown job, not the marsala-flavored style that usually shows up. It was as generous as it was delicious, and I shouldn't have killed it, but I did.
I shouldn't have had dessert, either, but I did. It was a semifreddo--sort of a cheesecake broken into chunks, scattered with something like the innards of a tiramisu, and rendered a semi-solid (hence the name) in the freezer. Oh, well.
Ristorante Carmelo. Mandeville: 1901 US Hwy 190. 985-624-4844.
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 Autumn Edition Of An Eat Club Favorite
Wednesday, October 5, 7 p.m.
Metairie: 3400 16th St, behind the Morning Call
$75, inclusive of tax, tip, and wines
Impastato's is an especially good place to join the Eat Club with a couple of your friends. We have more than the usual number of four-top tables available than we do at most of our dinners. Call some people you haven't dined with in awhile and hang with us. Also, if you have young adults in your life, this is a terrific place for them to learn the ins and outs of first-class dining. The menu is very accessible. Even my Marys love it, and they are hard to please.
Here's the rest of the menu. Wines will be paired with every course (I do mean every course). :
Appetizer Assortment For The Table
Marinated crab fingers, shrimp scampi, crabmeat cannelloni, and ?
Homemade pasta tubes with a rapidly-cooked sauce of tomatoes, herbs, garlic, and red pepper
Romaine And Tomato Salad
With the house Italian dressing
Fresh Gulf Fish With Crabmeat
Whatever comes in that day (Joe buys great fish!) with lump crabmeat and lemon butter sauce
Pecan Smoked Filet Mignon
A substantial slice of filet of beef, smoked in house.
Baby white veal medallions with artichokes, mushrooms, crabmeat and shrimp.
Roast pork stuffed with bread crumbs, prosciutto, garlic and herbs, then roasted
All The Desserts in the House
They'll bring them to the table, and you pick the one (or two) you like.
Wines will be paired with all courses. Roy Picou will be vocalizing in the bar; I will join him after the dinner to drive out the remaining customers with my tribute to Frank Sinatra.
Oktoberfest. . . And Fried Catfish, Too
Thursday, October 6, 2011, 6:30 p.m.
Exit 15 off I-55, Manchac, 985-386-6666.
$55, inclusive of tax, tip, and beer
For the past three years at this season, Chef Horst Pfeifer has celebrated German heritage. His own (he was born in Germany) and that of his restaurant Middendorf's. Without ceasing the continuous production of fried catfish, he's put on an Oktoberfest menu at Middendorf's on the Wednesdays and Thursdays during (and a little after) the month of October.
We will join this party for the third consecutive year on Oct. 6. It begins in the classic Middendorf's manner: out on their new deck overlooking Pass Manchac, with a boatload (literally) of boiled crabs and shrimp, fried thin-cut catfish, hush puppies, oysters, and more from the regular menu. Then inside we will go for three courses of very German food.
Pupuseria Divino Corazon
WHY IT'S NOTEWORTHY
The restaurant's name tells us that the owners a) have a devotion to the Sacred Heart and b) serve the stuffed tortillas called pupusas, the national dish of El Salvador. They serve other dishes from Central America, as well as enough Mexican food that those who are shy about trying new dishes with unfamiliar names will find something they can feel secure ordering. All of this is delicious enough to be worth investigating.
WHY IT'S GOOD
They make everything by hand here, from the pupusas themselves (which must be done that way) to the tamales and desserts. Although the many years Divino Corazon has been open has seen some of the food become a touch less ethnic, in most cases this was accompanied by the use of better ingredients. The pupusa is a hybrid of a tamale and a tortilla, made with masa corn meal into quarter-inch-thick disks with morsels of pork, cheese, and onions inside, then grilled.
Gloria Salmeron and her family are from El Salvador. They opened this place in 1989, in the other half of the building that housed their used-tire store. The tires are gone, and a post-K renovation turned the building into a comfortable, bright place to have lunch or dinner. The next generation of the family has taken over, and has brightened not only the dining rooms but the restaurant's future.
A large, pleasant dining room surrounds a small bar, with a smaller extra room for busy times. Its back wall continues its homage to a familiar image for Catholics: Jesus, pointing to his glowing heart crowned with thorns.
ESSENTIAL DISHES [»=Recommended]
»Nachos Chihuahua (cheeses, ground beef, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole and jalapeno, grilled chicken or steak)
»Soup of the day
»Seafood soup (Friday)
»Pupusas (pork, cheese, bean and cheese, or mixed
Fried tacos (rolled with chicken)
»Central American chicken tamal in a plantain leaf
»Meat pies (pasteles) with ground beef and rice
Fried plantains/platanos fritos
»Yuca with pork cracklings
Taco ranchero plate (beef or chicken strips)
Crispy tacos (ground beef or chicken)
»Enchiladas (chicken, ground beef or cheese, spicy red sauce
»Faro del pacifico (Central American combo plate: pupusa, pastel, and chicken taco)
Flautas stuffed with chicken, sour cream, guacamole and pico de galla
»Carne asada (steak or chicken breast)
Bistec ranchero (beef, onions, bell peppers, jalapeno
»Hot tamales (shredded pork, spicy red sauce)
Combination plate (taco, enchilada, burrito)
»Milkshakes (guanabana, papaya, zapote)
»Tamal de elote (sweet, with corn and cream)
FOR BEST RESULTS
On the first visit, have the faro del Pacifico platter, a good sampling of the Pupuseria's specialties. It includes pupusa, a chicken-and-potato-filled tamal wrapped in a banana leaf, and a pastel de carne (a small fried meat pie). Every part of this is delicious, and classic Central American eating. More adventuresome eaters should look into the specials, which are always good and often very unusual.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
They food comes a little more rapidly than I would like.
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
- Consistency +1
- Service +1
- Value +3
- Attitude +1
- Wine and Bar
- Local Color
- Small private room
- Open Monday dinner
- Open all afternoon
- Quick, good meal
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
- No reservations
Tom's Broiled Oysters
This is a dish I improvised one day when I had some beautiful oysters that I needed to use soon, and only fifteen minutes to cook and eat. To my palate, this is one of the best oyster dishes I've ever had, and one of the best dishes I've ever devised. If someone hasn't beaten me to it, which is possible, since it's almost ridiculously simple.
The first time I made this, I was in so much of a rush that I used all dried herbs, and it was still incredible. But comes out better with fresh.
The time this takes varies considerably with the size and state of the oysters, and from oven to oven, but it won't be more than about ten minutes.
- Per person:
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 12-18 large to very large oysters
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh garlic (or 1/4 tsp. granulated garlic)
- 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped (or 1/2 tsp. dried parsley)
- 1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves only, chopped (or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme)
- 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
- 1-2 Tbs. salt-free Creole seasoning
- 1 Tbs. lemon juice
Move the top rack of the oven or broiler to about three inches from the heat. Preheat the broiler to 550 degrees.
1. Use a skillet with a metal handle, or a metal baking pan. Put the olive oil in the skillet and turn to coat the bottom. Add the oysters, enough to cover the entire bottom without overlapping. (You can use a larger skillet or pan to do more oysters at one time.)
2. Sprinkle the garlic and herbs over the oysters. Then sprinkle the Creole seasoning liberally over the oysters, adjusting the amount to your taste for pepper. Sprinkle the lemon juice over all.
3. Put the skillet or pan directly under the heat in the broiler. Broil for about three minutes, then take a look at the oysters. What you want to see is that the oysters have shrunk by about ten percent, are bulging, and have curly edges. The crust of seasoning should also have browned a little. If not, broil longer until the oysters match that description.
4. Pour the oysters and a pan liquids into a bowl. Serve with hot French bread for dipping into the sauce that the oysters, herbs, and olive oil have made on their own.Serves four appetizers.
October 3, 2011
Chef d'Oeuvre du Jour
#48: Barbecue Oysters @ Red Fish Grill, French Quarter: 115 Bourbon. The name is misleading. Doubly so, because not only do the oysters have zero barbecue aspect, but they're also unlike that other misnamed local seafood classic, barbecue shrimp. What they actually resemble is Buffalo chicken wings, but with oysters instead of chicken. The oyster is fried, then topped with a hot-sauce-laced butter and blue cheese dressing. This dish actually made its first appearance at Mr. B's, where they still serve it now and then. But when Ralph Brennan (who still co-managed B's at the time) opened the Red Fish, he absconded with the barbecue oyster idea and made it a signature. A waiter once told me, "If you work in a restaurant, after awhile you get sick of eating its food. But this is one dish none of us ever get tired of. We're always picking at any extra ones that come out." That is easy to understand. The things are irresistible. This is one of NOMenu's 500 Best Dishes in New Orleans. Collect all 500!
Annals Of American Cuisine
Today is the birthday, in 1964, of Buffalo hot chicken wings. Or--as they call them in Buffalo, New York--simply "wings." Although there are other claimants to their birth, the most widely-accepted story is that they were made up from various leftovers by Teressa Bellissimo. She and husband Frank owned the Anchor Bar. Their son showed up unexpectedly from college, late at night, hungry, with friends. Teressa fried some uncoated chicken wings she had for making stock, and tossed them with some Frank's RedHot sauce (the Northeast's answer to Tabasco), added some celery and carrot sticks and blue cheese dressing, and a legend was born. In this latter day, chicken wing franchises are mushrooming all over the country. WOW ("World Of Wings") Wingery is the local player in that game. Wings are pretty good once in a while, but you can really get tired of them, even with the vast array of sauces that have been brought to bear on them.
Wings Landing, Maryland is on the Choptank River, on the Delmarva Peninsula. It's seventy-three miles and a crossing of the Chesapeake Bay from Baltimore, in rural countryside with small farms. It was a steamboat landing on the much-fished Choptank in the middle 1800s. The tidal river produces oysters and crabs. The nearest place to eat is Miss Minia's Cafe, five miles away in Preston.
It's National Canned Tomato Day. Tomatoes are the only canned food serious chefs admit to using. That owes to the legendary excellence of canned San Marzano tomatoes. Grown in the volcanic soils in the Campania region of Italy, these are the tomatoes that made the red sauces of Italy famous. Those plum ("Roma") tomatoes dominate the cuisine of Naples and, really, all of southern Italy. Including New Orleans, which in its Italian cooking is a Sicilian colony.
San Marzano tomatoes have declined in recent decades, though. Plant diseases and a decline in the Italian farming population has made American tomatoes preferable. Which makes sense: tomatoes are New World fruits to begin with. Several brands of the plum-shaped Roma tomatoes will be found on the shelves of any decent supermarket.
I use these tomatoes for pasta and pizza sauces, salsa, and even guacamole. I only buy the whole tomatoes, even though the first thing I do with them is to crush them (by hand or in a food processor). Why bother, when you can buy the tomatoes already crushed in a can? Here's why. Whole tomatoes must be nearly flawless. Inferior tomatoes can be trimmed of bad spots, crushed or pureed, and nobody knows the difference--except in flavor. Another example that the less a food is processed, the better it is.
The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:
When you're making a tomato sauce--especially the ones cooked only a few minutes--use both canned and fresh tomatoes. Especially if the fresh ones are small. Cherry tomatoes add fresh-tasting acidity to the eventual sauce.
Roma tomato, n.--Also known as a plum tomato, for its shape and size. Although it's a descendant of several Italian strains of tomato--including the San Marzano tomato, the most revered variety in Italian cooking--it was actually developed in the 1950s in the United States, and for the usual reason: it looks nice on the produce rack, and has a long shelf life. When ripe, however, Roma tomatoes make a fine marinara sauce. When a little firmer, they're good in salads, and as the base of finger food--notably shrimp remoulade or crabmeat ravigote.
Deft Dining Rule #431
Despite their popularity, fried green tomatoes taste nowhere near as good with crabmeat or shrimp on top as a thick slice of ripe red tomato.
Eating Around The World
According to legend, the people who became Korea founded their state today in 2233 BCE. They called themselves the Gojoseon then. The archeological evidence of this is scant. But the Koreans did have a well-developed society a very long time ago. Their culture later gave rise to that of Japan, as well as their own. The Korean cuisine includes many dishes that seem to hearken back to people who were always on the move. Marinated and grilled meats are prominent in Korean cookery, as are preserved, spiced vegetables (kimchee being the leading example of that).
Today in 1996, George Goble of Purdue University received the IgNoble Prize for setting the world's record for lighting a barbecue pit. It took him three seconds, but he was cheating: he used liquid oxygen on the coals, which meant he didn't even need a match.
Shane Butterworth, who played Timmy in the movie The Bad News Bears, was born today in 1969. . . The group Wild Cherry had a Number One hit today in 1976 with Play That Funky Music White Boy.
Words To Eat By
"A boy doesn't have to go to war to be a hero; he can say he doesn't like pie when he sees there isn't enough to go around."--Edgar Watson Howe, American writer, who died today in 1937.
Words To Drink By
"Good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used."--William Shakespeare, Othello.
Remember The Sizzler?
It was having hard times for years, but now one of the better operators in the cheap steak chain had bought it and plans to expand. Try to remember where all the New Orleans Sizzlers were. (Clue: one is now Chinese, another is Mexican. Click here for the article.
The Demonizing Of Food.
This is what it's come to for a lot of people. If only they would sit down at a table covered with a tablecloth. Click here for the cartoon.
Have a lusty New Orleans meal today!