Champagne
Photo provided by Brennan’s

While most are focused on the return of unbridled Halloween, some will turn their attentions to Global Champagne Day, in recognition of which Brennan’s will conduct classes in the art of sabering a bottle of Champagne. Classes will be held at 9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m. led by “Master of Sabrage,” the General Manager of Brennan’s, Christian Pendleton. Pendleton will teach each participant how to saber a bottle of Champagne, then that bottle will be given to the guest to enjoy. Each attendee will receive a certificate upon completing the class. Pendleton is the only person in the state of Louisiana certified by the Confrerie du Sabre d’Or to teach people how to saber Champagne safely and properly.

Following each class participants will enjoy dishes by Executive Chef Ryan Hacker. The cost is $80 per person, and each will receive a bottle of Canard-Duchene Brut Rosé to saber and enjoy, along with and official certificate. Non-participating guests will be charged $15 and will receive a glass of Champagne. Make reservations here.

Champagne, African Culture and Groundnut Stew Recipe
Photo by Kat Kimball
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Celebrated Ethiopian restaurant Addis NOLA will soon be opening its doors at a new location, 2514 Bayou Road, the city’s oldest and one of its most atmospheric streets. This weekend Addis NOLA is hosting a sneak peek at the new space with AFREAUX, a weekend celebration of Black-owned businesses, cuisine, and culture.

The weekend will kick off Saturday at 2 p.m. with an AFREAUX Block Party, featuring live music, unique food experiences, local vendor pop-ups, and special guests. The block party is free and open to the public but RSVPs are requested and can be made here. Also on Day One is an exclusive Preview Dinner, at 5 pm. It is open to the public via ticket on a first-come first-served basis. Tickets are limited and priced $60 per person (excluding tax and service), and  must be purchased in advance here.

On Sunday from 7-11 p.m. there will be an Afrobeat Halloween Block Part, open to the public with a donation.

Addis Nola will soon open its doors in its new location on Bayou Road. Check the website for details and an official grand opening.

My late friend Bonnie Warren was born in October 1935 to Pentecostal missionaries serving in Africa who then moved with their daughter to the American South when Bonnie was a child. She moved to New Orleans after marrying an engineer who worked for NASA.

Knowing her health was increasingly fragile, a new years before her passing some of her friends gathered to host “Bonnie Fest” in her honor. We served foods that celebrated the various phases of her life and places she had lived. The foods of the American Southern were familiar and easy to call. The foods of Africa, less so. I finally settled on Groundnut Stew, known by the Wolof as Maffè. The stew is a staple in Western Africa and originates from the Mandinka and Bambara people of Mali.

I turn to Groundnut Stew this time of year because my thoughts turn to Bonnie in October and to heartier foods when the temperature finally drops. Groundnut Stew is also incredibly delicious, inexpensive, quick, and easy to prepare. It rounds up easily to feed a crowd: Perhaps a group assembling to hand out candy Halloween? Every time I make this, requests for the recipe follow. Enjoy.

Champagne, African Culture and Groundnut Stew Recipe
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West African Peanut (Groundnut)Stew

Serves 8

  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 pound chicken, cut into chunks (optional), I use boneless, skinless thighs
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 3 small, sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 (16 ounce) can chopped tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1/4-pound collard greens, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup No Sugar Added Chunky Peanut Butter
  • Hot cooked rice for serving, optional

Heat the peanut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat; cook and stir the onion, garlic, and ginger in the hot oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken; cook and stir until completely browned. Season with the crushed red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Pour the chicken stock over the mixture. Stir the sweet potatoes into the liquid and bring the mixture to a boil; reduce heat to low, cover the pot partially with a lid, and cook at a simmer until potatoes begin to soften, about 15 minutes. Serve over rice, if desired.

Stir the tomatoes, collard greens, and peanut butter into the soup. Partially cover the pot again and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, another 20 minutes.