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Aug 18, 201610:35 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Restaurant History, Food Culture and Events

On Fried Tarantulas, NYC Chinese Food and a Wine Dinner

I started cooking seriously – by which I mean trying to approach it from a studious point of view – when I was in college from 1987 to 1991. That’s when I started collecting cookbooks, reading about food history and generally trying to methodically teach myself to cook. 

I went to college in Memphis, and while the food was good back then – barbecue, Greek and a few intriguing joints come to mind – it’s undeniably better these days. Like a lot of places, Memphis was caught up in the cultural wave that brought “foodie” culture into the mainstream, made celebrities of chefs and broadly speaking raised the standards for restaurant food nationwide. 

One summer, in the late 80s, I took a trip with my father to New York. I was well into my food obsession, and I recall buying copies of the New York Times and the Village Voice a couple of weeks before we left so I could educate myself a little. I was fascinated by the Voice’s review of a Chinese restaurant on Bleecker street; it was like nothing we had in New Orleans at the time, and the way the author casually referenced dishes I’d never heard of seemed incredibly cosmopolitan and exotic. 

On our second day in town I walked four or five miles to the place and ordered pretty much everything described in the review. It was enough food for at least two very hungry people, but I ate almost everything: mussels steamed with garlic, preserved black beans and chiles; fat egg noodles with beef and bean sprouts; pan-fried dumplings with spicy dipping sauce, and Chinese greens stir fried with ginger. 

I ate so much that I put myself into a food-coma. My father had made reservations that night at The Palm, a renowned steakhouse, but I couldn’t make it. I still feel a little bad about that, but at the end of the day, it was a magical meal that I don’t truly regret. 

It struck me then how far ahead of Memphis and New Orleans NYC was, in terms of the breadth of options. It was amazing seeing all of the different cuisines represented, and that trip redoubled my desire to eat well and often, even if I had to cook the food myself. 

What brought those memories back recently was an excellent interview of Andrew Zimmern posted at Eater earlier this week. If you only know Zimmern because he hosts a television show on which he eats things like horse rectum and fried tarantula, you need to read it. He’s a very bright man with a historian’s eye for context, and if you’re at all interested in the evolution and business of restaurants, you’ll enjoy it.

Speaking of the evolution of the restaurant scene, there was a time when Galatoire’s did not really have a “named” executive chef. That’s not to say the folks in the kitchen at Galatoire’s (or Arnaud’s, Antoine’s, Tujague’s and others) weren’t talented. It’s just that their ability to come up with their own food was pretty limited. There’s only so much nuance you can put into your remoulade before someone starts complaining that the place has gone downhill and for that matter where’s my chipped ice? 

These days chef Michael Sichel is running the kitchen at Galatoire’s and the adjacent Galatoire’s “33” Bar & Steak. He’s a talented chef, and an asset to the Galatoire’s restaurants for the overall improvement in the standards he’s brought since he was hired. He was never going to change the menu at the flagship too much, though, and while I am a fan of that food, I’m also a fan of his classically-influenced, innovative cooking, too. So I was pleased to see that Galatoire’s “33” Bar & Steak will host a Jean-Luc Colombo Wine Dinner on August 31, at 7 p.m. with a menu designed by chef Sichel and pairings by Wine Director Gabby Waxman. Here’s a look at the five-course menu, including the wine pairings: 


Hand-Passed Hors d'Oeuvres:

Smoked Eggplant and Artichoke Purée with Burrata Cheese

Apple and Blue Cheese Tartlet

Shrimp Remoulade

2015 Jean-Luc Colombo Rosé "La Dame du Rouet," Coteaux d'Aix en Provence


First Course:

Seared Sea Scallops

Herbsaint Cream Sauce and Roasted Almonds

2014 Jean-Luc Colombo Blanc "La Belle de Mai," Saint-Peray


Second Course:

Shepherd's Pie

Duck, Rosemary Au Jus, Cherries and Pistachios

2013 Jean-Luc Colombo "Les Bartavelles," Châteauneuf du Pape


Third Course:

Grilled House-Cured Pork Belly

Fennel, Apricot Compote and Burnt Honey

2006 Jean-Luc Colombo "Terres Brûlées," Cornas


Fourth Course:

Herb-Crusted Braised Short Rib

Parsnip Purée and Roasted Cipollini Onions

2005 Jean-Luc Colombo "Les Ruchets," Cornas (Magnum)


Dessert Course:

Tres Leches Cake

Dulce Sauce, Toasted Coconut

2013 Jean-Luc Colombo Blanc "Amour de Dieu," Condrieu


That’s a pretty luxe meal, Kids. The price is $125.00, inclusive of tax and tip. Seems like a pretty swell time, and if you’re interested, as I write they do have a few seats available. Call Christi Broussard at (504) 525-6022 to set something up. 

That’s far from the only event coming up in the near term – the Farm to Table Experience comes to the Morial Convention Center starting today and running through Saturday. Follow the link for details, including information on how to register to attend. 

Last but certainly not least, I received an email with an interactive map of locations in the metro area where donations can be dropped off to assist those of our neighbors who’ve been affected by the recent flooding. The information includes the hours when donations can be received and what they’re looking for. Hope you came through ok, and if not, that you get the help you need. 



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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene


Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived in New Orleans his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.




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