Galatoire’s Bistro–For Country Roads Thursday, Mar 28 2013 

April 2013. New dining traditions in Baton Rouge

Tennessee Williams once had a regular table at Galatoire’s. It stood by a window facing Bourbon Street where he watched the cavalcade of humanity that is New Orleans pass by. He loved the establishment so much he even had Blanche and Stella DuBois take a girl’s night out to Galatoire’s in the beginning of A Streetcar Named Desire.  The tables that line the windows at the Baton Rouge location face a parking lot.  While no good Southerner could ever imagine Williams sipping on a Ramos Gin Fizz as he watched patrons fumble for the keys to their SUVs, they would reluctantly admit that a sparkly new Galatoire’s by the interstate is better than no Galatoire’s at all. In short, the Baton Rouge bistro is the more practical, less frenetic Stella to the New Orleans location’s Blanche. But don’t dismiss the younger more practical DuBois sister—because she is not without virtue.

The bright tiled main area is almost a dead ringer for the New Orleans location’s dining room. It is a place for table-hopping, glad-handing, and networking. Bentwood chairs surround tables draped in white linen and offer the perfect place for holding court while enjoying a lunch that spills over into mid-afternoon. For most, Galatoire’s will always be a place for celebrations where patriarchs in blue blazers pat the recently promoted or engaged on the back, or where expense accounts pay for a decadent dinner. All of the traditional, French-Creole fare is available.  Large entrées that have stood the test of time swim in meuniere, béarnaise, and bordelaise sauces.  Unlike the original location, Baton Rouge will accept a reservation.  So the rite of passage of waiting in a line on the brick sidewalks of the French Quarter for a table to come available is no longer necessary.

Also the custom of having a waiter with tenure extensive enough to have earned a gold watch and a pension doesn’t exist at the Baton Rouge location. When dining at the new Galatoire’s it is important not to expect to recapture the Deep South soaked romanticism of old New Orleans. Instead, look to create new traditions.

Bypass the noisy hustle and bustle of the dining room and enjoy a more intimate experience in the sophisticated dark wood-panelled bar. This is also a way to sample some of Galatoire’s more interesting smaller dishes and imbibe some of their handcrafted cocktails or a bottle of wine from the extensive cellar—without breaking the bank.

For Galatoire’s reinvention and innovation does not happen easily. That’s why it was an unexpected surprise to see an inspired cocktail menu created especially for the Baton Rouge location. The showstopper of this new menu is a cocktail called the Old World Fashioned. An unlikely combination of Merlot, Bourbon, Angostura and orange bitters marry to form a warm spicy drink with a hint of sweetness.  The Grey Goose Cooler is a refreshing vodka and fruit juice cocktail that would pair well with the patio and a seersucker suit during summer months. Of course, all of the famed New Orleans favorites are about—like the Vieux Carre, Sazerac and Galatoire’s 209 Cocktail, a different take on a Pimm’s Cup named after its celebrated New Orleans address. 

After a round of drinks, start by ordering a couple of appetizers that are hard to find at most restaurants in Baton Rouge. The escargot is amazing and the extra butter sauce can be sopped up with the house French bread. Of course no one does oysters Rockefeller like Galatoire’s. Their crab ravigote is served on toast points and is a decadent way to enjoy Louisiana fresh crabmeat.  For the more adventurous, the duck crepe or the sweetbreads are appealing options. 

Or take the soup and salad route. The turtle soup au sherry or the French onion soup pair well with the Godchaux salad featuring boiled shrimp and jumbo lump crabmeat tossed in a creole mustard vinaigrette. In the summer months, bypass hot food all together and order the Galatoire Goute. This sampler consists of two classic Galatoire’s appetizers, the crabmeat maison and shrimp remoulade. 

Finish the evening by splitting some bread pudding dripping with banana praline liquor sauce or profiteroles filled with ice cream. Avoid the heavier chocolate dessert drinks and finish with the Baccarat cocktail, a beautiful combination of sparkling wine, Chambord raspberry liquor and Aztec chocolate bitters. 

Creating these new traditions makes walking out the front door and being confronted with the gridlock of Perkins Road instead of the foot traffic on Bourbon Street less of a shock to the soul, and the taste of New Orleans can still linger on the lips.

Details. Details. Details.

Galatoire’s Bistro
3535 Perkins Road
(225) 753-4864
galatoiresbistro.comImage

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Big Mo Thursday, Mar 28 2013 

DBG did not have a column last week because her old friend Mo passed away. She did what any thoughtful pet owner would do and wrote a eulogy for him, but apparently The Advocate will not run DBG’s obituary for a cat.  So here is the story of Mo.  He lead a very unique life for a cat.  

 

“Mo Myers” aka “The Big Mo” AKA “Big Creepy”

1997? to March 19th, 2013

 

Mo Myers of Baton Rouge passed quietly at the age of 16 plus on March 19th, 2013.  Mo began his life journey in the Chelsea district of Manhattan.  He fashioned himself as a handsome young cat on the town and a tireless advocate for gay rights.  After a brief internment at a shelter, he adopted a human and moved to Brooklyn where he spent many years before moving south to the state of Louisiana.  Over the years, his family grew.  His impetuous dog-brother, Ignatius J. Riley Esq. and his peevish dog-sister Guadalupe de Chihuahua survive Mo. Although he never completely understood them, they all shared a great love of lying in the sun together. Late in life, he adopted a cat-son he called Goudchaux.  His adopted mother, Leanne, and Tim, his ever-faithful houseboy, also survive him.

 

Mo was a mouser and an athlete of the highest order. He often worked as a freelance bounty hunter and helped many humans rid their homes and apartments of rodent infestations.  He never let his God-given talents go to his head. When asked about his professional successes, he would say, “I’m just an old gay Tom cat.” In his spare time he enjoyed killing birds, taking showers, looking out windows, and eating Meow Mix.  When meeting Mo for the first time, people often commented that they heard him long before he turned the corner and came into view because he was an especially gentle soul who was always purring loudly for everyone to hear.   

 

In his later years, he spent most of his days sitting on the cable box or perched on top of the hot water heater.  He was very pleased to have lived to see gay marriage legalized in his native state of New York. Even in his retirement, he still had the strength to leap up on top of the washer/dryer.

 

He would never want any of us to be sad about his passing and would want us all to know that he is up in the Studio 54 in the sky standing on stardust and talking to Truman Capote about the character of Cat in Breakfast at Tiffany’s while glittery birds rain down upon him.

 

In lieu of catnip and white doves, the family asks that memorial donations be made to Project Purr Baton Rouge or that you happen into a shelter of last resort and take a chance on a no-name slob who will steal your heart, turn into your defender and always be your lifelong friend.Image

The Easter Bunny Put Some Beer in My Basket! Thursday, Mar 14 2013 

The Easter Bunny Can Put Some Beer in My Basket!

The long hard two-week winter has come to an end in South Louisiana.  It is now time for festivals, crawfish bowls and outdoor grilling. Many area breweries are releasing their spring offerings.  Here are some great new beers to enjoy while enjoying a bright spring day.

Parish Brewing Company is now selling their Envie, an American pale ale in Lafayette and it should be available in Baton Rouge and NOLA in the next two weeks.  Their Farmhouse IPA will take the stage in another month.  This is Parish; so we expect nothing but great things.

Spring IPA is Abita’s new seasonal and should be on store shelves now.  Of course, their Strawberry Harvest is available as well.

Tin Roof should be debuting their Juke Joint IPA soon.  So look for it in kegs.

Flambeau Red returns as NOLA Brewing’s seasonal. But can we tell you we were so glad to see Irish Channel Stout become a regular thing instead of just a winter seasonal. Their West Coast style IPA, Hopitoulas is now sold in cans. And if you have never tried their imperial IPA—Mechahopzilla, well we just feel sorry for you.

Bayou Teche Brewing has engineered a beer to be served at your next crawfish boil.  Their Saison D’Ecrevisses is a Belgium style Saison available in 22oz bottles.  Get it now, because it will be gone soon!

St. Arnold’s seasonal is their Spring Bock. But the real excitement centers around their Icon Blue, a black IPA that the second release in the Icon series.  Also their Divine Reserve 13, a Belgium Quadrupel hits stores next week.

In Mississippi, Lazy Magnolia has released their Lazy Saison just in time to watch the tulips slowly bloom.

Want to expand your horizons past the Gulf Coast?  DBG’s friend, the Beer-Goddess-Fairy says Prairie Artisan Ales out of Oklahoma will be debuting Prairie Somewhere a sour farmhouse ale this week or try a Wasatch Apricot Wheat Ale. New distributorships mean Cambridge, Goose Island and New Belgium Brewery will all have beers available in the Red Stick soon.

PS–Get the inside scoop on some new brewers entering the market in Louisiana.  Check out this great Gambit article on the craft beer scene in 2013. http://www.bestofneworleans.com/gambit/louisianas-craft-brew-scene/Content?oid=2157953

PSS–Don’t forget to get your tickets for Zapp’s Beer Fest on April 6th.  You won’t regret it! http://www.zappsbeerfest.com/

Randazzo’s Italian Market Monday, Mar 11 2013 

Randazzo’s Italian Market

240 Capitol Street

Denham Springs, LA

http://www.randazzositalianmarket.com

 

A long time ago, DBG watched comedian Mike Birbiglia perform a set in the basement of a West Village falafel hut.  He was glossing over his family pedigree and said, “You know, we are Italian, but not real Italian…more like Olive Garden Italian.” At that moment, “Olive Garden Italian” became a derogatory term used to cast aspersions upon the many Italian eateries who lost their way, cut corners and served food that looked like it came from the kitchen of Chef Boyardee.  So when a Cherry reader gave DBG a tip that an authentic Italian market had popped up in the culinary wasteland known as Denham Springs, she was both skeptical and excited.

 

Randazzo’s occupies a quaint house that sits off Florida Boulevard under an alcove of trees.  It looks like it belongs in Mid-City instead of the Big D.  Chef/owner Antonio Randazzo was born in Rome and is a REAL Italian. He brings a sense of national pride and hard work to Randazzo’s Italian Market every day.  The bread for the sandwiches and bruschetta is baked on-site. The pasta is made from scratch. The trek across the Amite River Bridge past some really dodgy strip malls is worth it.

 

DBG had a sandwich called The Emilio. It featured freshly sliced salami, spicy capocollo and mortadella, layered with provolone cheese, tomato and lettuce, and served with a spicy Italian pepper dressing.   It was divine.  The Hubs enjoyed the house made three cheese ravioli with speck ham served in a red sauce.  He used the homemade bread to polish the bowl clean.  They shared an order of tiramisu for dessert.  It was amazing. Randazzo’s also makes their own sorbets and serves them in frozen lemons or oranges.

 

Their prices are extremely reasonable. Most of the sandwiches are 5-7 dollars and the daily pasta special is $6.99.  Randazzo’s is a great place to enjoy lunch or get take out to feed the family. All meats and cheeses are available by the pound from the deli. You have no excuse to eat at Olive Garden ever again.

 

Ciao! Ciao!

Ron Rafferty–A Short Story from my Delta Years Monday, Mar 11 2013 

Ron Rafferty

 

The first thing I noticed when I met him: he was wearing the “gay” tie.  The male flight attendant uniform had a choice of two neckties; straight or closeted men wore a red tie with smallish navy paisleys.  Homosexuals sported the bolder option with wide green and yellow and black stripes.  The only exception to this rule was that gay men could wear the straight tie if the vest accompanied it.  (Straight men never wore the vest.) All men abided by this unwritten law of uniforms because it just plain kept people from wasting other people’s time. 

 

The second thing I noticed was that his dress shoes had built in lifters. 

 

He was already sitting in the JFK briefing room when I arrived.  His battle-scarred luggage was by the door.  The smaller bag even sported a bit of duct tape across the bottom front.  He had hung a mangled plastic grocery bag over the doorknob to the briefing room.   I was slightly puzzled as to why he was joining us.  From the looks of his seniority number, he had been flying over ten years.  The rest of us had been working for three.  He could have been halfway to Paris or Rome by now, but instead he was heading west to Las Vegas on the red eye. He sat perfectly still staring at his watch which appeared to be an authentic Rolex until I noticed that it’s jittery second hand leapt ahead like an exhausted frog instead of smoothly circling it’s assigned orbit.

 

“You must be Ron?”  I asked.  He was the only one on the trip I had never met. 

 

He shook my hand. His long sharply manicured hand grazed my palm. His graying brown mane curled down like dried seaweed onto his face. 

 

The flight attendant briefing was fairly uneventful with the exception that Ron elected to sit in the middle of the plane.  This shocked the rest of the crew. Most flight attendants hated the middle because there was nowhere to hide from the passengers.  Ron stated that he liked the mid because he got to sit alone.  Everyone took this as a cue not to engage him in lengthy conversation.

 

 I stood at the Jetway door with Ron for the meet and greet.  My scarf was thoughtfully tied around my neck. A small knot pressed against my jugular gave off a dangerous yet coquettish “bad pet” vibe I had worked hard to prefect. I felt like Ron’s popped collar and unbuttoned blazer cheapened my understated aesthetic.  About five minutes into the boarding process, I began to understand why Ron enjoyed hobnobbing with the passengers so much.  Apparently all middle-aged black women thought he looked exactly like Mick Jaggar. He grinned voraciously as he said, “I am such a ringer for Mick the Stick the ladies often quiz me on his career. Points of fact: never bring up his collaboration with David Bowie.  They did a hellaciously bad cover of Dancing in the Streets. They both come off as way too gay and women hate envisioning one of their sex icons grinding on that androgynous guy from Labyrinth.” 

 

It took all of the self control I possessed to refrain from eye-rolling as a portly divorcee rumbled by as she spouted, “Oooooh baby, anybody ever tol’ you look just like Mick Jaggar.  Give mama some brown sugar!” I marveled at this anomaly as the only resemblance I could discern was their overall scraggily state and puffy lips. 

 

The flight departed with out incident and I kept to myself in first class until about 3am when the smell of bacon began to permeate the cabin. I walked back to the middle galley and found Ron attempting to chop vegetables with a plastic knife and using the airplane’s EZ Bake oven.  I passed him by to answer a call light.  An obese man in a velvet jogging suit wanted to know when his bacon breakfast would be ready.  I immediately knew Ron’s attempt at culinary excellence was going to cause problems. I walked up to him to inquire about his creation. He brightened when he saw me and asked, “Would you like a Cobb salad? I am just about to take the bacon out of the oven.” He mashed his tea-stained teeth together as he salivated in anticipation.

 

“Do you cook on the plane often?” I asked as I surveyed coach and saw more and more Long Islanders waking up expecting brunch.

 

“Yes, most nights I do.  When I had my apartment in Los Angeles, I cooked all the time.  For the past six months, I have just been crashing on my aunt’s sofa in Massapequa. The plane is the only place I have to experiment.”

 

Ron was homeless.  This made me much too sad to admonish him for waking up 200 ravenous New Yorkers. All I could do was imagine him sleeping in a Lazy Boy chair in the crew lounge, taking little bird baths in public airport restrooms and showing up to briefing all wrinkled and tired.  I agreed to try the Cobb salad after it was prepared and wandered back up to the first class cabin. 

 

After the entire crew stuffed their faces with Cobb salad served in extra first class dishes, we felt it necessary to invite Ron into our fold and ask him out for a drink and some dollar black jack at Slots O’ Fun. 

 

He smiled and said, “I suppose I could accompany you to the bar for one beer.  I wouldn’t want to feel drowsy at the gym tomorrow.  That’s where I see Roy.” Things were finally starting to make sense.  Ron was working these red eye flights because he had a paramour in Las Vegas. 

 

We left the cotton candy glow of the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino and retreated to the back room of the Peppermill Coffee Shop and Cocktail Lounge.  Ron followed my lead and ordered a champagne cocktail because it bubbled.  We all sat in a wrap around banquette.  After the waitress rounded with our cocktails, Ron insisted on making a toast, he raised his flute and shouted, “Slainte!”

 

We all echoed his sentiment although we had no idea what he was talking about.  Upon inquiry he informed me Slainte was Irish for health and despite all of his travels he was still just a simple Irish lad from Long Island.  When some of the crew dispersed to the bar to play video poker, I took the opportunity to inquire about Roy. 

 

Ron began to beam as he recounted the courtship, “Circus Circus doesn’t have a gym. So they let us use the one across the street for a 3-dollar guest fee.  A lot of the show people go there.  The first time I saw Roy he was working with free weights.” 

 

“Cool.  Is Roy in a show?” I figured Ron had found himself a circus acrobat or an exotic dancer. 

 

Ron snickered as if he pitied my naivety.  “I am talking about Roy as in Siegfried and Roy.”

 

My jaw dropped as I uttered, “You date Roy? Wait which one is Roy? I thought they were a couple?”

 

He smiled and returned the volley, “Roy has dark hair.  He is much more down to earth than Siegfried. We aren’t dating…well not yet. But one day we will.  Now I just watch him.  He goes to the gym every day at 2pm.  He has been hitting the cardio hard lately.”

 

My mind was blown.  I was having cocktails with a homeless middle-aged man who was stalking a glittery magician who probably slept with tigers.  No wonder Ron worked nights because he was way too weird to survive on the day shift.  All I could do was sit there and stare at the remains of my champagne cocktail.

 

We were about to order a second round when he cashed out.  He thanked us for a lovely time then said, “Can you point me in the direction of the hotel? We crossed the boulevard to get here, right? The champagne went to my head and I get so discombobulated and giddy when I talk about Roy.”

 

I politely advised him to walk towards the 50-foot tall neon clown.  He dashed out toward his room in anticipation of his afternoon meeting with Roy.  I was fairly quiet the rest of the evening.  Our conversation had left me speechless.  If Roy ever went missing, I knew to check Ron’s suitcase for mementos or vital organs.

 

The next evening I was waiting by the valet for the airport shuttle.  Ron proudly strolled through the door with this ragamuffin bags and untamed mane.  His creepy smile spanned from ear to ear.  He said, “Your crew was good luck.  I ran on the treadmill right beside Roy for 45 minutes.  He ran 5 miles.  I ran 4. One day I will be able to keep up.”