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Nov 17, 201610:31 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Books and Cooks

A pair of events tonight combine two topics dear to my heart: food and writing. At SoBou, world-famous chef Jeremiah Tower will discuss "Table Manners," his new book on service and etiquette; and world-famous restaurateur Ti Martin will discuss the book she wrote with her mother, "Miss Ella of Commander’s Palace."

I have been busy, sick or some combination of the two for the last couple of weeks, and thus did not see this event until yesterday. This is, I believe, the second time I have had the opportunity to attend an event and meet chef Tower, and as was the case the first time, I can’t do it. Chef Tower was instrumental in the success of Chez Panisse and the blossoming of what became known as “California Cuisine.” I don’t have the time to do the story justice, and indeed, there are books on the topic, but even if he weren’t an important figure in the development of American cuisine, I’d want to meet him for his way with words. "Jeremiah Tower Cooks" is, as I’ve probably said in this space more than once, one of the twenty or so cookbooks I keep within easy reach in my kitchen, and one I can pull off the shelf for entertainment as much for culinary inspiration.

But alas, down with a stomach bug as I write this Wednesday evening, I’ve both got too much work to do and no desire to get anyone else sick. I’m just glad I’m finally able to think about food again without becoming queasy. Next step: something other than clear broth.

I am also miffed about missing the event because I haven’t yet had a chance to buy a copy of "Miss Ella," and I’d love to pick up a couple of signed editions to give as gifts this holiday season. I am at least comforted by the fact that I will probably have a lunch at Commander’s before the end of the year, and that’s a pretty good place to find Ti Martin.

The event at SoBou (310 Chartres St.) runs from 5:30 to 7; there will be drinks by Laura Belluci and food from chef Juan Carlos Gonzales, both of SoBou (obviously, I suppose).

Also tonight, chef Ryan Prewitt of Pêche Seafood Grill hosts a party in conjunction with Octavia Books for author Rowan Jacobsen’s new book, "The Essential Oyster: A Salty Appreciation of Taste and Temptation." When I first saw the press release (which wasn’t until today, for the aforementioned reasons) I thought the name sounded familiar. Not because it sounds like a mashup between Wales and Sweden; it’s because I have Jacobsen’s earlier book, "A Geography of Oysters," and found it to be fascinating. This is another book I’ll be picking up.

I find it really helpful to have handy access to resources on topics that I write about frequently. Like everyone else, I assume, I do a lot of my research online. At this point, it’s a bit hard to remember a time when doing research meant a trip to the library and several hours surrounded by dozens of tomes, index cards and three or four differently colored pens.

But, present company excluded, you may be aware that the internet is not always 100 percent reliable. I still prefer to have a source or two that I know have been thoroughly researched and then fact-checked by professional copy editors. I may reach the same result by using the internet, but it’ll take me a lot longer to be certain, and I don’t have that kind of free time these days.

At any rate, based on my experience with Jacobsen’s prior work, you’ll get an entertaining and informative book if you pick up a copy of "The Essential Oyster." On top of which, you’ll get to taste a couple of dishes from the book prepared by chef Prewitt. You can read more about the event at Octavia Books’ website, but the short version is that Pêche is located at 800 Magazine St., in the Warehouse District, and the event runs from 6 to 8 p.m. There will be a cash bar, and you can also buy books which the author will then sign for you. That is how these things work.

I hope your week has been going better than mine, at least health-wise.



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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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