Along the Avenue

Autumn in New Orleans means pumpkins, gourds and faux turning leaves … What can you say about a town where I recently spotted a magnolia about to bloom in October? The flowers are out in the Botanical Gardens and elsewhere, so go have a look.

If you haven’t stocked your Christmas list with books by local authors, shame on you. Chef John Besh’s My New Orleans: The Cookbook may be his first tome but it won’t be his last, judging from the reception to this 5 pounds of memories, moments and marvelous recipes. Besh seems to be in the culinary epicenter of the world just now and deservedly so: He’s got talent, charm and good manners to spare.

Bruno’s Tavern recently seemed the epicenter of Angus Lind’s world. When the scribe arrived for a 6 p.m. signing of his book Prime Angus, the lines were halfway down the block. Being a smart guy, he, wife Anne and publisher Arthur Hardy slammed stacks of books on a table and began the party a full hour early. A few hundred friends and signed books later, Angus proceeded to have a cool one with pals like Peter and Mimi Kahle, Richard Russell and his realtor wiz wife Linda, Jimmy and Karen Baldwin and Rob and Kit Stumm.

Lambeth House was festive despite a recent dark and stormy night as Ann Brennand Watson and Allison Brennand George honored their mother Jane on her 90th birthday. The Brennand gals all live in Texas now, but have their roots solidly entrenched in Nashville Avenue. Joining Jane were former neighbors Mary Dickson Norris, Sue Sustendal, Sherrill McCausland, the lovely Lucy Schwab and Debby Edgerton.

Speaking of Nashville Avenue, Waldo and Julia Otis, photographer Norris Gagnet, Peggy and Delia Hardie and three generations of Shannon McCloskey Able’s family – Genie and Mary Lou O’Keefe plus Shannon’s little one on the way – sipping and saluting Shannon as new owner of The Party Basket.

The rains came again on the Opening Day Reception of the Orleans Club but inside the stately mansion all was glittering and gay. Club president Cindy Ellington received members new and long-standing. Seeing the rains, she instructed the club’s new chef Will Guidry to keep the quince and party sandwiches coming while the ladies waited for the weather to abate. Seen sipping wine and catching up on the news of the moment were Anne Gooch, Donna Flower, Carli Tessier, Hallie White, Roxie St. Martian and others too many to name. India Stewart even showed off her other talent (she’s an artist and jewelry designer of note): playing the flute!

Baby chimps were on the minds of The Occasional Wife’s co-owners Kay Morrison and Ginger Ellis, when they opened its doors to all who love to stroll Magazine Street during Art for Art’s Sake. For those who look at art and say, “Even a chimp could do that!” the duo presented art actually made by chimps to raise funds for Chimp Haven, the chimpanzee sanctuary in Northwest Louisiana. Fun idea, good cause.

While all that was going on Cheryl Lemoine was going to the dogs – but for such a good cause. She has been pulling together a calendar in support of the Southern Animal Foundation that teams two of her favorite things: chefs and animals. The result is a calendar with photos of chefs such as Stephen Stryjewski of Cochon, Haley Bittermann of the Ralph Brennan Group, Duke LoCicero of Café Giovanni and Anthony Spizale of the Rib Room, among others, with their pets and a recipe – available November 15 for $15!

Yep, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas!