Stopping to Savor

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving I try to spend one-on-one time with each of the women who have served as mentors to me throughout my life. My mother died when I was a teenager, and I doubt I’ll ever reach a point where I do not need the guidance they share.

My friend Eileen Mohan and I took to one another instantly when we met years ago shortly after she moved to New Orleans from Singapore. I was filled with pride as I introduced her to Clancy’s, the buttercup-hued corner restaurant I used to go at least once a month and for which I have nothing but the very fondest of many, many memories made in its unpretentious dining room while under a watchful gaze from the portraits of distinguished fellow New Orleanians lining the rear wall.

Being as it is impervious to fads and resistant to change, the seasonally driven menu was just the same as the last time I was there in early autumn. Since it opened in 1983, Clancy’s has eschewed all manner of squiggles, foams and pearls on the plate as well as fussy Russian service. The tuxedoed waiters are courtly, yet friendly. The linens are white. The art never changes, nor do the reasonable prices. I am comforted by the lack of foolishness to be found here.

Though she hadn’t seen me in a while my favored waiter-person, Julie, sent out an order of fried eggplant with aioli before I even had a chance to order it.

I shared with Eileen a first course that was as tantalizing to the eyes as it was the palate: Plump fried Gulf oysters with roasted Delicatta squash, bleu cheese, shaved radishes and a red wine gastrique. The combination of flavors was unorthodox but remained within the confines that allow the 36-year-old restaurant to remain true to itself, neither succumbing to boredom nor idiocy.

Soft shell crabs were blessedly in season, their plump, buttery goodness sublime with a kiss from the smoker, crispy fried exterior,and a light wash of white remoulade sauce enlivened with flecks of roasted red peppers. Eileen enjoyed a special of fettuccini with massive Gulf shrimp, tasso, peppers and a cream sauce with a hint of preserved lemon a mound of jumbo lump on top. We finished the meal off by sharing a butter-rum Budino with warm caramel sauce, fleur de sel and Chantilly cream. The sweet, rich, autumnal flavors set a tone for the time of year.

During this frantic holiday season take the time to surprise a friend with unexpected time over a fine meal. Just stop and savor their company – the best gift you can give either one of you.

Try This:

Pulling your hair out trying to resolve your shopping list? The Link Restaurant Group has created three unique Cochon Butcher bags available for gift giving this holiday season. Each Butcher-branded cooler bag was specially curated by the meat cleaver-wielding krewe at Cochon Butcher and packed with a selection of gifts for any meat lover or drink enthusiast. The bags are ideal for tailgating, parading, picnicking and other casual gatherings.

Butcher’s Meat Cooler Bag includes Cochon Butcher’s andouille sausage and country-smoked sausage paired with Cochon Abita whole grain mustard. The meat cooler bag is available for $50.

Butcher’s Bar Bag is packed with two Butcher-branded pint glasses and koozies, the infamous Rik Slave bottle opener, a handcrafted cutting board made by chef Stephen Stryjewski’s father, Bob Stryjewski, Cochon hot sauce and a Bloody Mary spice bag for $90.

Butcher’s Kitchen Bag is stocked with Cochon signature hot sauce and whole grain mustard, a handcrafted cutting board made by Bob Stryjewski, an embroidered kitchen towel and the choice of one of chef Donald Link’s cookbooks for $125.

How easy is that? All Butcher bags are available for purchase online at

Clancy’s, 6100 Annunciation St., 895-1111,

Cochon Butcher, 930 Tchoupitoulas St., B, 588-7675,


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