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Sep 27, 201811:59 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Cooking for Visitors

A friend sent me an email last month alerting me that he was planning on surprising his wife with a visit to New Orleans at the end of September. He asked me for some recommendations and hoped that we could get together.

I met this fellow at a conference; we have a client in common and we bonded over our love of food and cooking. He’s from Puerto Rico, and I think we also became friends because we are both used to a certain lifestyle. Some say that New Orleans is the northern-most Caribbean city, and I think that’s a pretty apt description. We tend to take things a bit easier and we live to eat rather than eating to live. We work hard when we should but most of us, at least, view work as a necessary evil rather than the thing that defines us.

My friend has told me stories about his law firm; how he and his partners and their spouses would get together on the weekend and cook together. I was jealous. He was in town a few years ago and I’d made plans for us to get together at my house to cook, but at the last minute something came up for me and it didn’t work out.

I’ve been thinking about a menu for weeks now. What I cook on a daily basis isn’t what one thinks of when one thinks “New Orleans food.” In the last week I’ve cooked Chinese, Italian, French, Thai and “Southern” dishes. There wasn’t anything Creole in the mix, really.

But I started cooking seriously by making most of the recipes in the Antoine’s cookbook, and I’ve got copies of pretty much every local cookbook of note (and some of no note) in my collection. I can cook like a local when I want to.

But what to cook for folks who’ve traveled a great deal, love food and have sophisticated palates? Here’s what I came up with: to start, broiled oysters with andouille. I’ve got some lovely ceramic oyster-shaped dishes that are made for char-broiling. I settled on an andouille cream because I also want to feature some of the outstanding local sausages we have here.

As an entrée I’ve decided on Poulet Clemenceau. I love the preparation – my go to order at Galatoire’s is sweetbreads Clemenceau – and I have cooked so many chickens over the years that I can make the dish in my sleep. The only question is whether to use slab bacon lardons or another pork product.

The chicken is served with peas, Brabant potatoes and mushrooms, so it doesn’t need much in the way of a side dish, but I figured a small salad of tomatoes and cucumbers would work and I always have a few different pickles available.

I always leave dessert to my wife, but I was thinking a bread pudding soufflé with some sort of fruit rather than whisky sauce. I know I’m a heretic, but I prefer light desserts for the most part.

As it turns out, I may not be cooking after all; my friend emailed me to see if my wife and I could join them at Brennan’s the night they arrive. It’s very hard to be disappointed about things when the “downside” is dinner at Brennan’s.

But it’s also possible that I’ll be cooking after all; whether or not that happens, I’d be very interested to read what you might serve in similar circumstances. Bonus points if you come up with something that allows for collaborative cooking. 

 

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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

about

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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