This holiday season many friends and families will unite for that once-vanquished Creole tradition: Réveillon (translated from the French word for “awakening”), a culinary throw-down that takes place on the eve of Christmas or New Year’s, and goes late into the night with 12 courses of the most luxurious and decadent cuisine and wine. In the good old days, common practice was for Catholics to fast until their midnight Mass, then return home to feast into the daylight hours. In modern times, Adelaide Brennan was known to throw a glamorous Réveillon, bedecked in sequins, pink furs and a swizzle stick around her neck. Today, many restaurants offer Réveillon menus; however, it’s only in dreams that I can invite you to my mansion to indulge in the following impeccable 12 courses:
Charbroiled oysters at Drago’s. While chestnuts roasting on an open fire are tempting, they have nothing on Drago’s oysters – those garlicky hot wonders covered in Parmesan cheese and dripping with butter.
Eggs Louisianne at Café Atchafalaya. For the brunch-lovers, a big lump crab cake with a poached egg and hollandaise will do the trick.
Fondue at La Crepe Nanou. Oh, beloved kirsch-flavored pot of cheese. Dipping bananas is encouraged to avoid impending late night feasting cramps.
Smoked Trout Dip at Mondo. Gone are the days I used to engulf smoked mullet at family gatherings in Florida, but Susan Spicer’s smoked trout dip slathered on thick, buttery slabs of ciabatta with capers and onion definitely summon a nostalgic smile.
Royal Osetra Caviar at Stella. While these buttery beads from the Caspian Sea may usually put you out half a grand, in my dream Réveillon they’re free and hand-served by a hunky Azerbaijanian manservant with a glass of Cristal.
Warm Chanterelles salad with pistachio puree and watercress at Coquette. The succulent chanterelles melt in your mouth with the crisp bite of watercress like the bracing winter air in your favorite cashmere sweater.
White truffle Parmigiano toast with wild mushrooms, marrow and veal glace at Lilette. If Cupid truly understood love, he’d combat the brokenhearted with frosting-soft marrow, not that vicious arrow.
Seared Fois Gras with roasted peaches, Maras Farm Sprouts, bruschetta and Banyuls vinaigrette at Iris. Paired with In Heated Absence – a cocktail of Jalapeño-infused Limoncino, Kubler’s Absinthe and Crème de Violette – this makes for a savory, sweet and spicy treat.
Gnudi con Funghi, Burro e Salvia at A Mano. These spinach and ricotta “dumplings” in brown butter
sauce. sage and shiitake, are pillows of bliss.
Gumbo at Dooky Chase. The best gumbo in the world is made by your mama. For the rest of us, there’s the legendary Leah Chase.
Lamb chops at Irene’s Cuisine. They are worth the wait.
Start with a five-cheese plate at St. James Cheese featuring creamy staples: Vacharin and Camembert Au Calvados.
Instead of a traditional Buche de Noel cake, try a whole Bucheron goat cheese smothered in Creole tomato jam.
The gingerbread bread pudding at Patois. Bacon Praline at Cochon Butcher. Café Brulot at the French 75 Bar.
Beignets and Café Au Lait at Café Du Monde. A scoop of “naked” ice cream at Creole Creamery for the scandalous sorts. And, in honor of Ms. Adelaide, a large, flaming bananas Foster at Commander’s Palace to usher in the daylight hours.