Before I start my typical blathering, I'd like to share a fundraiser with you to which I was alerted on Facebook:

Recently, Lorie and Will Gandy left for what was to be a one night trip to Houston.

The trip morphed into much more when their twin boys, Knox and Gabriel, were delivered on Dec. 6 in a Houston hospital three months earlier than term.

Knox and Gabe were admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the Woman's Hospital of Texas shortly after their birth and will remain under 24-hour watch until March 16, 2012, or longer.

Will and Lorie will reside in Houston to help care for Knox and Gabe until they are healthy enough to make the drive from Houston back home to New Orleans.

Please join the gang at Rio Mar along with guest chefs Slade Rushing and Allison Vines-Rushing of MiLa in raising funds for what is sure to be a costly and trying endeavor.

$40 per person (includes tapas lunch and tax only). Tips, additional donations and proceeds will go to The Gandy Twins Fund. Cash and checks only please. Alcohol sold separately.

No reservations please. First come first serve.


Watching the Saints humiliate the Falcons on Monday Night Football this week brought to mind something that irks me about articles written in late December that try to sum up the previous year. I was listening to the ESPN telecast by Ron Jaworski, John Gruden and Mike Tirico for most of the game. Lord knows I like the Monday Night crew better than the execrable Cris Collinsworth or Kenny Albert, who looks about as smart as a sack full of rocks and sounds that way, too, but even good commentators are not immune from inane statements. After just about every play, we were told how one player or another was “exceptional” or “as fast as anyone in the league” or “a real professional.” I swear to God I was waiting for Gruden to say something like, “…and word from the locker room is that he has a huge penis, too, Ron.”


Every player is an incredible human being and the apex of human physical development. Just once I'd like to hear an announcer say “Matt Ryan throws like a small cat” or “Jabari Greer looks like his pre-game meal was mainly peppermint schnapps and Percocet tonight.”


My point, and I do have one, is that year-end articles like this one tend to start with platitudes, as well. “What a year we've had, huh?” “It's been one hell of year.” “2011 was certainly an interesting year.” Platitudes. I hate 'em. Anyway, without further ado:


I've had one hell of an interesting 2011, let me tell you.


I started the year with meals at Emeril's, Cowbell and Bistreaux New Orleans. I didn't make it back to Emeril's during the year, but I did attend one of the functions associated with chef Lagasse's annual Carnivale du Vin, Boudin and Beer, which was so much fun that I enjoyed it despite suffering from a pretty bad cold at the time. Another good time for a good cause was the benefit for Nathanial Zimet, who continues to recover from injuries he suffered in a robbery.


I made some predictions that did not come to pass and had a good meal at the Windsor Court's Grill Room. I got to check out a number of new restaurants, including Ste. Marie.


I wrote about two local chefs whose television shows debuted this year, Donald Link and John Besh, and about cookbooks and cooking on more than one occasion.


Around Carnival time I provided some recommendations for where to eat while parades roll, and of course I gave you my first impressions of a number of restaurants that opened this year, including but not limited to Dat Dog, Heritage Grill, the Irish House, Café B and Root.


I weighed in on a few matters of food and culture: Mark Bittman's call for regulation and taxation of “fast food,” for example, and GQ critic Alan Richman's appearance on Tremé. And yes, that is a dead horse I have been beating for quite a while now. Hopefully that's the last of it.


New pizza places and new burger joints were a hot topic this year. And there were a number of chefs hopping from kitchen to kitchen.


A few meals I had this year were particularly memorable. The dinner at GW Fins during which I proposed to my fiancée was one and not just because she said yes. I had a wonderful dinner at Dominique's, which is soon to reopen a few blocks from its original Magazine Street location. Several lunches at the Rib Room were outstanding, and chef Rene Bajeux seems to be hitting full stride in the kitchen there. Maybe it's because it's the most recent meal in my mind, but I had a spectacular meal at Ancora this past week. From the selection of cured meats to the simple salad of shaved radish, roasted beet and arugula and all the way through to the two pizzas I ate, everything was perfect. I came away with a hint of cured pork fat lingering on my taste buds, and if that doesn't sound like a good thing, then we're very different people.


Next week I'm hoping to make some predictions that fare better than those I made last year. We shall see. Have a happy new year, and as always feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail if there's something you think I should have discussed.