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Everything posted by docbrite

  1. Wow, there's an alarming amount of bluenosing on this thread. I wouldn't have expected eGulleteers to have such delicate sensibilities. Of course the decision to avoid writing that contains profanity is entirely up to the individual, but a couple of points: - Anyone who is shocked by the Evil Effword, or who thinks profanity's only purpose is to shock, clearly hasn't spent much time around chefs and cooks. It tends to comprise about half their vocabulary, and they still manage to make their points amazingly well without shocking anybody in their kitchens. (If they couldn't make points to their crews, their kitchens wouldn't be running.) If I read a whole written conversation with a chef that contained no profanity, I'd assume it had been sanitized. - That evil utterance is a fine strong Anglo-Saxon word with far more venerable roots than much of the language we're using here. Of course that doesn't mean you should employ it if it offends you, but calling its use "childish" is pretty far off the mark. I personally hate the word "disgruntled," but I don't feel the need to insult people who use it or demand that they excise it from their vocabularies. - When a writer is quoting an interview subject, she has no right to change or "clean up" his language. I don't know that I would go so far as to call it censorship, but it's definitely shoddy journalism. Laurie did the right thing.
  2. Whatever Michael Pollan may or may not be, Whole Foods obviously considered him important enough to merit a response. My (polite) e-mail protesting the strong-arming of Grimaud Farms received no response whatsoever, but of course I'm just one unimportant customer. Ex-customer, now.
  3. When a couple of friends told me they agreed with Whole Foods' strong-arming of Grimaud Farms because they thought foie gras was cruel, I warned them that this decision would be a slippery slope. It didn't take Whole Foods long to prove me right. While I support any private business' right to sell or not sell whatever it wishes (though not to dictate to other businesses what they may or may not sell), I hope I don't have to point out the hypocrisy of this new policy as long as Whole Foods is still selling any animal products whatsoever. Apparently it's OK, though, as long as Whole Foods doesn't have to see the animals alive first. I miss my Three Korn bread. I miss my buffalo steaks and free-range chicken. I miss my tempeh, which, incredibly, I've not been able to find anywhere else in New Orleans, even the giant Asian supermarket. I miss the beautiful selection of fruits and vegetables. I really miss the wonderful array of butters and cheeses. Even so, I feel more certain than ever that I will never spend another penny at this silly, wingnut-pandering, hypocritical, frequently overpriced chain.
  4. I don't know why people dislike Bobby Flay elsewhere, but here in Louisiana we hate him because he once claimed that Houston was the crawfish capitol of the world. Them's fightin' words (not to mention ignorant nonsense).
  5. Much earlier in the thread (like, 4 years ago), somebody mentioned the delightful Valomilk as being hard to find outside the Kansas City area. I have found that they are sold in all the convenience stores in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, very near Grand Isle. I've never found them elsewhere in Louisiana and I wonder how and why this happened. Though they are a K.C. treat, I will always associate them with driving up and down the Fourchon highway looking for Roseate Spoonbills. You can also order Valomilk and other old-fashioned candies from Old Time Candy.
  6. ALLELUIA ALLELUIA ALLELUIA I've eaten gnocchi in Italy, gnocchi from chefs I consider unerringly brilliant, gnocchi made especially for me by my chef husband. I've tried my damndest to understand why this dish exists. Only one version was anywhere near worth eating. The rest tasted like nothing at all and loitered like gummy little stones in my stomach for days. For me, it is possibly the most pointless dish on Earth.
  7. docbrite

    Whiny Diners

    It just doesn't make any sense to seat two parties directly next to each other in a nearly-empty restaurant. It's weird and slightly creepy, like the person who sits directly next to you in the otherwise-empty movie theater. I guess I might be considered a whiny, self-entitled diner. I don't have a lot of disposable income, I spend a disproportionate amount of it on eating out, and I expect to be treated well ... WITHIN THE PARAMETERS OF THE RESTAURANT. I don't ask for substitutions or special off-the-menu items, I don't send things back unless they are patently not what I ordered, I don't hold waiters responsible for mistakes in the kitchen or vice versa. I'm pretty low-maintenance unless the restaurant displays blatant rudeness or incompetence, and even then I try to deal with it as politely as possible. I agree that the letter to Sietsema was ridiculous, but I don't like the whiff of "shut up and suck it up" I'm getting from some of the posts in this thread. It's not unusual to pay upwards of $100 per person for a meal in a nice restaurant these days. At that level, I don't think there's a darn thing wrong with expecting to be coddled and treated as if your enjoyment matters more than the restaurant's convenience. [Edited because I somehow mangled the word "disproportionate" beyond recognition. That's what I get for posting before I've had 3 cups of coffee.]
  8. Local is often better, but light never is. Try the Abita Amber (my favorite) or Golden. Hideous tourist trap -- not recommended. I'm not a Sazerac fan myself, but I'm told that they are very good at the Napoleon House, Antoine's, and the Swizzle Stick Bar at Cafe Adelaide. [Edit: I see you had a good one at Palace, so maybe it's best to stick with what you already know you like.] Er, I'm no expert as none of my favorite cocktails includes a lemon twist, but isn't that what it is supposed to be? Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip!
  9. I am nothing if not set in my ways. Some would say "hidebound," but they are all Communists.
  10. I've only been twice -- or, rather, had several meals apiece on two separate trips -- first in September '04 and then last week. It was great both times, but I think a little better this time. And I forgot to mention another highlight: Pete's Fried Chicken Salad with double meat.
  11. I haven't been for a couple of years. May have to try it again one of these days, though, you know, so many restaurants, so little time (and money). I've never yet managed to make it to Bourbon House. I'm one of those locals who can get squirrelly about "messin' wit da Quarters," despite the fact that I lived in the 900 block of Royal Street for two years!
  12. P.S. I don't want to hijack my own thread, but talking of Brennan restaurants, I will say that while I love Commander's Palace and Cafe Adelaide, I'm not a big fan of New Orleans' Palace Cafe.
  13. Nope, nothing to do with the Brennans. The Doucas family was running the Palace when most of today's Brennans were in diapers, or just gleams in Irish eyes!
  14. We recently spent a few days in Opelousas and the surrounding area, and while our main objective was boudin and other Cajun charcuterie, we also got in 5 meals at the Palace Cafe in downtown Opelousas. No relation to the Brennan family restaurant of the same name in New Orleans, the Palace has been owned by the Doucas family for 76 years and is currently operated by Tina Doucas Elder and Bill Walker. It's very much a "down-home" type place without fancy trappings or a terribly ambitious menu, but the owners' absolute devotion to high standards of ingredients, preparation, and service make me willing to say this might be the best restaurant currently operating in Louisiana. As on our previous visit two years ago, everything we ate was perfect or very nearly so. The Palace serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, featuring a couple of different lunch specials each day (except Sunday, when they're closed). Highlights of our visits included the tender, intensely garlicky cabbage rolls; the best red beans and ham hocks I've ever had; smothered potatoes; collard greens; rice & gravy; a superlative vegetable soup with a flavorful broth and big chunks of many different vegetables; perfectly fried catfish; very creditable versions of shrimp & okra gumbo and crawfish etouffee; fried chicken livers; baked duck; and the housemade baklava featuring pecans instead of the traditional walnuts. Good coffee, too, if you happen to stay in one of the cheap motels a little farther down Landry St. (I recommend The Oaks) and stumble in mornings for an eye-opener. I'm pretty sure Calvin Trillin once praised the Palace, but I can't find the reference. Anyone remember if/where he wrote about this place?
  15. I second the Cuvee recommendation. Bob Iacovone may well be the best chef currently running a restaurant in the city, though I don't agree with his penchant for pairing cheese with foie gras. Cafe Adelaide in the Loews Hotel is also very good -- right now it's basically Commander's Palace in exile.
  16. If you do make it to Casamento's, their gumbo is very good. I think the warm weather has made the oysters too milky to eat raw (some people don't mind this, but I hate them that way), so I'd suggest a cup of gumbo and a fried oyster loaf. For my money, there is nowhere else in N.O. that even comes close to Casamento's for fried oysters. The softshell crabs are excellent too, particularly this season.
  17. It has a copyright date of 2005, but I just got Stir the Pot: The History of Cajun Cuisine by Marcelle Bienvenu, Carl A. Brasseaux, and Ryan A. Brasseaux. It's excellent so far, especially the chapter on subregional differences in Cajun cooking. I've had the chance to visit most of these regions and am interested to see some of the differences I've observed borne out in this scholarly work as well as learning about some I hadn't yet noticed.
  18. The Camellia Grill is closed, probably for good. I'm told by a son of an old-time waiter there that the place is up for sale and the owner wants far too much money. Last time I passed by there, the windows were covered with paper hearts and laudatory notes from customers, but apparently our decades-long loyalty doesn't matter. Hard to know I'll never have chili-cheese fries and a chocolate cherry freeze again. I think any visitor who is interested should definitely view the areas of destruction. There are too many uninformed people saying stupid things about New Orleans -- we need intelligent visitors to see the good and bad, then report to the folks back home about it.
  19. Your meal at August looks better than my last one, though I feared and loathed that white asparagus froth. I think Vizard's is one of the better post-K restaurants, possibly the best. That scallop flan is a superlative dish. His opening the place has actually benefited the local restaurant scene twofold, as Danny Trace, former lead sous chef at Commander's Palace, took over Kevin Vizard's post at Cafe Adelaide and improved the menu there.
  20. I would submit that while boycotts are indeed a product of free society, legislative bans are an indicator of government acting in loco parentis, which tends to make society a little less free. Similar thing with Whole Foods' anti-foie policy -- I've no problem with their declining to sell it, but ordering their supplier not to deal with other companies that sell it is paternalistic and implies that I (the consumer) am incapable of making an informed decision about what I should and shouldn't eat.
  21. I don't "need to disclose" something that isn't a secret. My agent is Ira Silverberg of Donadio & Olson, and as far as I know, he doesn't write anything other than contracts. Yes, unfortunately it is. That doesn't change the fact that it's an invitation to trouble. If you'll read my post more carefully, though, you'll find that I didn't say the practice itself is absurd; I said the concept of retracting such a blurb (or any blurb, for that matter) is absurd.
  22. Jason, I've been traipsing through the kitchen at Casamento's for 38 years and still can't figure out where you were standing when you took this great picture.
  23. Anybody seen I Like Killing Flies, about the legendary Greenwich Village restaurant Shopsin's? I liked it better than any of the fictional movies listed (though I am fond of Big Night and The Cook, the Thief ...). I don't think it has been widely released, but it is shown at food and film festivals every once in a while.
  24. I enjoyed The Seasoning of a Chef and was almost entirely innocent of the controversy surrounding it until I came upon this thread. The writing was no great shakes, but Anthony Bourdain is a rare creature; most chefs aren't wonderful writers. (Neither, for that matter, are most literary agents -- they just think they are. ) What I liked about it was the fact that, unusually among chefs who write, Doug Psaltis more interested in the work itself than the after-work debauchery. Kitchen Confidential is a terrific book, but we don't need several dozen imitations of it. Whatever else he may have done, I found Doug Psaltis' single-minded work ethic refreshing. It is seen too seldom, both in restaurant kitchens and in the body of literature that has begun to emerge from them. To blurb a book -- particularly a work of nonfiction -- without reading the whole thing is lazy and irresponsible, and the concept of "retracting" blurbs is absurd. What next -- "I didn't write that blurb; my sous chef did"?
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