No wonder she ‘missed New Orleans’

Published 2:15 am Saturday, August 19, 2017

Just went to NOLA for a long weekend. Little did I know that it would be the biggest water event there since Katrina. Ten inches in about two hours. We took off our shoes and waded home Saturday evening.

We were there for the 10th annual Antiques Forum by the Historic New Orleans Collection. We have gone several times and have been impressed with the work and the programs, etc. done by the Collection. The forum had nothing to do with food but the title, “In Their Hands, Creative Masters of Southern Decorative Arts,” perhaps should have had something to do with the Southern art of cooking. I go to NOLA for the food really.

We started our NOLA eating by going to our new favorite neighborhood restaurant, Palidar 511, where we can walk easily. I had their shishito pepper appetizer. These are showing up at a lot of places these days and they lend themselves to eating raw or in salads; I especially like them grilled, and I wrote about them last year with a sauce. We have them in the garden this year and can have them about once a week.

Day one was the bus tour of some neighboring plantations. The food is not the show here but uncorking the wine before lunch is a tradition. This year our bus got stuck in the soggy soil next to the levee at the first house. We exited; the staff got the wine and we sat in the rockers on the front gallery as the wrecker pulled the bus out about an hour later.

One stop was the 1795 Magnolia Mound Plantation house. It is early for Louisiana and the dining room and parlor are some of the most colorful around. The Friends of Magnolia Mound are responsible for the furniture collection and gave us a welcome bag containing two of their books; one was The Magnolia Mound Plantation Kitchen Book, a well put-together compendium of food ways and customs of early Louisiana with recipes from the period translated for today.

That night our son, who works at John Folse’s R’evolution was off and we took him to Le Petite Grocery. All was good but the yellowfin tuna was the best with a side of field peas with a vinegary cilantro sauce. I need the recipe for the sauce. Le Petite’s chef Justin Deviller was chosen best chef South by the James Beard Awards in 2016. He has another restaurant in the CBD, Balise, and is opening a third in the French Quarter, maybe later this year. Then we can walk.

Lunch on the first day of the forum was at Antoine’s, as it is so close. It is not my favorite of the old line restaurants but I like to go. We had their coolinary menu—a special at many local restaurants in August which, due to the heat, is a down time. The baked oysters were good and they had a very good bread pudding, perhaps as good as Galatoire’s banana bread pudding. Then there is Commander’s bread pudding soufflé which is kind of over the top.

We took a break from good food that night and had a salad and pizza from Mona Lisa which is a half block away from our bedroom.

Better food on Saturday when we lunched at Bayona’s. Susan Spicer now has two other restaurants that we haven’t yet visited (and one of them flooded Saturday evening), but we love her 29-year-old flagship on Dauphine. My husband had his usual sazarac but here they have a smoother one made with cognac.

An appetizer I will plan to duplicate was great: Crostini with a truffled egg salad, then tomato slices, their house cured bacon (I will use Benton’s, my very favorite) and arugula. For dessert which we don’t normally order (but again we were doing the coolinary special three course meal) my husband had the cheese course, which is something I like and does not do you in with sugar. I had one of their specialties: smoked duck with peanut/cashew butter in puff pastry—only a hint of sweetness.

We again did the forum‘s Sunday Jazz Brunch. It was at Arnaud’s. This is perhaps my favorite old line restaurant. I am again amazed at some statistics of theirs: they have 17 dining rooms and can serve 1,000 people at one time. Our favorite maitre’d, Charles, was on duty. We always remember him from the time he read our daughter’s name which was spelled in Arabic on her necklace. He is Lebanese but also lived in Dubai as I once did.

The meal was in Arnaud’s main dining room which is glamorous. We were met with cocktails: mimosas or Bloody Mary’s. They passed around one of my favorites, souffléed potatoes, which I always have here or at Galatoire’s; have never tried to do them at home. The appetizer was shrimp remoulade. Their remoulade sauce is their most famous creation and the recipe is, of course, a secret. But you can buy it bottled. The entrée was a classic fish amandine with haricot verts. Dessert was crepes suzette. Wine flowed freely as did conversation and the jazz band was on hand to entertain. They played for me two of my favorites: Louis Armstrong’s «What a Wonderful World» (My daughter-in-law came down the aisle on that one 10 years ago.) and «Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?» (I came in on that one.).

Coffee and then home. What a good four days!!

What a good bread pudding we had at Antoine’s. So you need the recipe.


Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

Serves 6-8

Nonstick vegetable spray

4 cups cubed French bread

1 cup canned fruit cocktail

½ cup raisins

1 ½ quart milk

4 eggs

1 ½ cups sugar

2 tbsp. vanilla

2 tbsp. clarified butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly coat the bottom of a large baking dish with nonstick vegetable spray. Line the bottom with half of the breading. Cover with fruit cocktail and raisins. Top with the remaining bread.

Heat the milk to boil.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla with a wire whisk. Add hot milk, mix well, then pour this mixture over the bread and fruit combination. Allow the bread to soak up the liquid.

Dot the surface of the bread pudding with clarified butter, then bake until firm, approximately 25 minutes.

Serve hot or cold, cut into squares, with the following sauce.

Bourbon Sauce

2 cups hot milk

2 eggs

½ cup sugar

3 tbsp. corn starch

2 tbsp. soft butter

1 tbsp. vanilla

1 oz. bourbon whiskey

Heat milk.

In a double boiler over a medium-low heat setting, mix eggs, sugar, corn starch, and butter. Gradually stir in the hot milk using a wire whisk, and stir constantly until the sauce thickens. Stir in the vanilla and bourbon and serve by pouring over the bread pudding.