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Dec 5, 201309:20 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

When Food and Lawyers Meet

What I learned when I talked to some lawyers about Louisiana restaurants.

I received a call from the Louisiana State Bar Association about a month ago. I knew it was from the LSBA because I have this “caller ID” thing, and the caller ID said “Louisiana Bar Association.” My first thought, of course was, SHIT, THEY'RE ON TO ME, but then I realized I hadn't done anything wrong, or at least nothing anyone could prove, so I picked up the call.

The caller was a young lady asking me to speak at a program that combined continuing legal education (CLE) and some sort of “social” thing. I agreed, though I probably should have thought things through a bit more. I particularly should have asked who was speaking before me, because as it turns out there was a very thin woman from northern Missouri with Gilsbar who talked about healthy eating.

I am capable of healthy eating, and in fact I enjoy it, but I did not think that was why I had been asked to speak. Rather, I thought, I was asked to speak as the author of this blog and the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine.

I also did not anticipate the crowd at this event. I think when I pictured it, the room was around half-full, with maybe 100 to 150 people in attendance. I was off by around 94, as it turns out. When I arrived, I was told that they'd lost quite a few people once the actual CLE was done. This makes perfect sense – all lawyers who aren't otherwise exempt need 12.5 hours of CLE every year, and while that may not seem like a lot of time, when you consider that 92 percent of CLE programs would qualify as torture if performed at Guantanamo Bay, it's a bit more onerous.

This program was being presented by two separate sections of the State bar association – the young lawyers and the senior lawyers. There were six people in the room, not counting the folks who had already spoken or were in charge of the thing, when I arrived. I think two of them left after the Gilsbar representative spoke on the evils of sugar, white bread and meat.

My plan – based on the expectation of a crowd of slightly more than five – was to have a question and answer session. As it happens, I did get some questions, and I am eternally grateful to the folks who asked them, but mostly I did what could most charitably be described as “babble.” Not that I was unintelligible; I know the difference, and I was more or less coherent. It's just that after five minutes speaking on “my favorite restaurants” to an audience comprised of people either checking email or being openly sympathetic to my plight, things tend to trail off.

So I did my best to allay fears about the need to consume kale smoothies every morning as a death-avoidance strategy, and to talk about the restaurants I'd been to recently. I learned that there still aren't too many good restaurants in Baton Rouge, at least compared to New Orleans, and during the wine tasting part of the affair – hosted by Adam Acquistapace – I learned a great deal about the business of wine and grocery stores in addition to tasting some excellent wines. (On that note, if you haven't checked out Acquistapace's store in Covington, and you're a wine-lover, you're missing out).

In the end, I think we all learned a little, laughed a lot, and … loved, something or other. Loved a lot and learned a little more? Hell if I know. I do know I gave a recipe for roasted broccoli to a fellow who claimed to hate all vegetables, and I got to answer the question, “Have you been to Ivy yet?” with “Yes, and it was freaking awesome.” So there's that.

I hope I'm not giving the impression that the experience was unpleasant, because nothing could be further from the truth. I'd do it again if asked, though I'm guessing that's unlikely.

As a brief aside, I mentioned Ivy above; I had a quick meal there last Saturday night, and I absolutely recommend you check it out. Tuna tartare, blistered Shishito peppers, lamb meatballs and crabmeat gratin were just a few of the things my wife and I tried, and every one of them was stellar. My only complaint about the place was the prices for wines by the glass were a bit high.

If you’ve eaten at any places lately that you think are notable, feel free to shoot me an email.

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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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