Happy Fathers’ Day to all of the fathers and grandfathers, both biological and chosen, in our extended community. I would like to issue a particularly heartfelt shout out to my husband, Andrew Martin Fox, for the crucial role he played in raising our daughter, Cecilia, whom I brought with me from my first marriage. Andrew is wise, patient, and stable while I tend to shriek through life with my hair on fire. Things would not have worked out as well as they did for my daughter or me without Andrew. Happy Fathers’ Day, Dude.

As a builder and carpenter, Andrew likes hardware stores. He is pretty much greeted as royalty every time he walks into the Central City Home Depot, which is at least once a day. I have been there when actual employees approached and asked him where to find something in the store. Two weeks ago as Cristobal approached I watched as Andrew held court in the aisle where the generators reside, advising rapt patrons on the finer aspects of backup storm power. The shelves were stripped bare of a certain brand of quiet, high powered generator by the time Andrew finished discussing his own storm preparations with them. If only there had been a commission…

Inexplicably, Andrew has never visited H.J. Smith and Sons (308 N. Columbia St, Covington, 985-892-0460), a Covington hardware store opened in 1876, 10 years after the resolution of the Civil War. I intend to bring him for a visit this weekend. The store stocks a vast array of cast iron cookery, animal pelts, colorful metal yard birds, camouflage hunters’ clothing, and thousands of other items. The other side of the building, the oldest part, serves as a museum. It is an enthralling mishmash of odds and ends of household items such as hand-painted porcelain serve ware, pharmacy bottles, carpenters’ tools – that may have been on the shelves more than a century ago, to things less familiar to us today – oxen collars, a spiraled cypress auger, a rattlesnake hide, a long-ago vacated hornets’ nest, a cast iron coffin, a taxidermied sturgeon in a glass box bearing a metal placard that informs of its provenance. It was caught in the nearby Tchefuncte River in 1935 by Clemons Fontan.

Hj Smith And Sons Family
HJ Smith and Sons | Credit: LouisianaNorthshore.com

As I enjoyed a truly spectacular meal at Oxlot 9 (428 E Boston St., Covington, 985-400-5663, oxlot9.com) with a friend few weeks ago, I will probably bring Andrew there this weekend. The restaurant, headed up by Executive Chef Jeffrey Hansell, was named as a tribute to the very land upon which the restaurant now stands. It served as a place for famers to tie up their oxen when conducting business in the town of Covington, often at the nearby H.J. Smith and Sons. A farm-to-table Southern style affair, Hansell’s 75-seat domain makes prominent use of century-old sinker cypress. Soft, tufted banquettes of slate-blue velvet offer a view into the dramatic open kitchen where the chefs ply their craft and the space is awash in natural lights from massive picture windows overlooking the streets and gardens. Recent menu selections included tempura-fried squash blossoms with fermented chili aioli; a caprese salad with crab-boiled mozzarella, frilled green heirloom tomatoes, and white remoulade topped with pan fried soft shell crawfish; and Tagliatelle with crawfish, brie, wild mushrooms, braised onions and roasted garlic. Among other heavenly offerings, there was lavender crème brulee for dessert.

If you are staying closer to home with Dad, Cochon (930 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-588-2123, cochonrestaurant.com), Peche (800 Magazine St., 504-522-1744, pecherestaurant.com) and Gianna (700 Magazine St., 504-399-0816, giannarestaurant.com), are offering Father’s Day Meat Packages to cook out at home. Each of the restaurants is also open and accepting reservations. Several meat packages are available: the Charcuterie Package, Cajun Grilling Dinner, Cajun Smoked Meat Package, and the Grande Cajun Boucherie. Cochon Butcher (930 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-588-7675, cochonbutcher.com) and La Boulangerie (4600 Magazine St., 504-269-3777, laboulangerienola.com) are also offering sandwich trays, pastries, steaks, pork chops, and pickles for cooking at home, made easy.

At the end of the day consider kicking back to catch Eric Cook, a New Orleans dad, retired Marine, and Executive Chef/Owner of Gris Gris, as he makes his debut on the Louisiana episode of “Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted” this Sunday on the National Geographic Channel at 9 p.m. Cook will lead Ramsay on a journey throughout Louisiana to learn a few secrets of our culinary heritage.  Watch as Cook dispatches Ramsey off to get lost in the marsh in search of the components with which to craft a meal. On his quest, Ramsay encounters both dangerous and delicious creatures from deep in the swamps to the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Check out this teaser.


Have a great week, everyone. Use it to celebrate the men in your life and the community you love, even if you are doing it from afar, digitally, or over the telephone. We need each other more than ever so take the time and make the effort to reach out. While you are at it make an effort to forgive past misdeeds and share some love. Please reach out to me if you have something to share or I can help in some way because You’ve Got A Friend in Me.