La Belle Cuisine
Fine Cuisine with Art Infusion
"To cook is to create. And to create well...is an act of integrity, and faith."
"Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt.
Recipe of the Day Categories:
Ah, yes, ‘twas a weekend to remember. For sure. Fraught with indulgences. Let us begin with the major events:
Dinner at Bella Luna
914 North Peters St. (on the
Mississippi River, in the French Market)
“Which is the most beautiful restaurant in
New Orleans? That's in the eye of the beholder, of course, but I asked this
question of the beholders who read my e-mail newsletter, and the hundred or
so respondents showed a clear preference for two restaurants: Commander's
Palace and, with a few votes more, Bella Luna.”
Yes, indeed. Bella Luna gets my vote as well, although I do have a sentimental prejudice for Commander’s Palace in all things.
Arrived early and began our
evening at the bar. The Major suggested Tanqueray with lime. Good call.
Very smoooooooth. Never would have
And then things got serious:
The Major: Bella Luna Duck and
Your Webmistress: Fresh Black
Winter Truffles Tossed Tableside with
Both: Sautéed Veal Schnitzel
Topped with Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce Served with House-made Black Pepper
Wine: A bottle of very fine Pinot Noir
Dessert? Well, we opted for the bar. Surprised? An excellent bartender (whose name is Cameron as I recall) took exceptionally good care of us all evening. Sambuca for The Major. I chose the Jamaican Coffee, which contained a generous dousing of Myers rum and Tia Maria. Whipped cream on top (they had to twist my arm). Mercy, mercy, mercy…
Let me just say this about dessert, before we continue to the next feast. One of my reasons for leaning toward the bar was that I did not find Bella Luna’s dessert menu on par with the rest of the menu, despite the fact that Zach assured us all of the desserts are prepared in-house. Am I spoiled by the fact that my elder son is a consummate pastry chef? Perhaps. So let me just present the facts. You decide. Here are some appetizer and entrée offerings from the Bella Luna menu of 27 October 2002:
House-Cured Salmon Tower with
White Truffle Oil, Cucumber & Red Onion Garnished with Louisiana Choupique
Caviar (which is what I would have chosen had it not been for Zach’s gentle
Dessert (partial menu):
Double Fudge Pecan Brownie
Topped with Housemade White Chocolate Ice Cream
Mind you, I am not complaining. This is not a bad dessert menu at all. On the other hand, it does not take your breath away. Judging from the rest of the meal, no doubt they do very well indeed with dessert. I could probably have eaten myself sick on any of the above selections. But. Somehow I expected something more original, more innovative, something taken to the next level.
All in all, a superb dining experience. A night to remember…
P.S. Attention all lunatics: Chef
Pfeifer rolls out a special menu on the
Lunch at Bacco (Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group)
310 Chartres Street
May as well get the downside stuff
out of the way, I suppose, before we
Service – just adequate. Cannot
believe this is typical of Bacco, but it was
We decided on wine by the glass.
(This is, after all, lunch, right?) How can a Ralph Brennan establishment be
out of Pinot Noir (1999, Mondavi, Napa),
Décor. Bacco is, for the most part, a gorgeous restaurant. The Skylight Room is the most publicized, with its vaulted ceilings and skylights, but it was closed the day we were there. Believe The Courtyard was closed as well. Had I known (shame on me), I would have asked to be seated in the Wine Room, which has soft, buttery light similar to that experienced in the Skylight Room. Wound up at a window table in the Chartres Street Room. Certainly not a bad table by any means, it’s just that the light there is not as warm, and I was turned off, rather than on, by that particular room’s claim to fame: hand-blown Venetian glass grape cluster wall sconces. I found them cheesy. Just a matter of personal taste, I suppose. Still, I could not help thinking that the décor of the Chartres Street Room does not fit in, does not blend well, with the sumptuous warmth Bacco is famous for.
But. Why were we there
to begin with? Partly because we have long
The delicious bread served at Bacco is definitely worth mentioning, although this is not so unusual in a good New Orleans restaurant. What is unusual is that the bread is served with a delicious herbed ricotta spread. And please do not overlook the bottle of olive oil on your table. Fruity and full flavored – truly outstanding.
And here was the lagniappe. Not free, of course, but a delightful surprise in the form of a phenomenal soup. One of the best I’ve yet to eat anywhere. And trust me, I have put away some soup in my lifetime. Could probably live on it. The soup du jour turned out to be Smoked Onion and Oyster Chowder. Almost opted against it since oysters were included in the entrée. What was I thinking??? Who am I to turn down double oysters for lunch! Both onions and oysters are smoked for this dish (which makes it, of course). The stock used for the base is a rich seafood stock we were told. I can only imagine they decided to call it a chowder since it contained a chunk of potato here and there. It was not as thick as chowders usually are (for which I was grateful), and contained either no milk/cream or just a splash. Believe I would have called it bisque.
Actually, there were two lagniappes: the (free) amuse-bouche was superb, a generous bite of house-cured salmon with goat cheese cream atop excellent toasted focaccia. The drizzle of truffle oil on the plate did not go unnoticed.
And. You might want to note for
future reference that Bacco offers a fantastic lunch special: a $10 2-course
lunch, and 10¢ gin or vodka martinis. (!!!) Plus a $10 dinner entrée during
the summer months (“Every Night, All Night, during June, July and August”).
So. What else did we do? You may as well know that this
particular October was among the wettest on record in New Orleans. The last
weekend thereof was certainly no exception. Rain, rain, rain, and yet more
rain… This could have slowed us down, but it did not. Attitude is
everything, right? Right. We toured the River Road and Hwy. 61, all
according to plan. Café du Monde for café au lait and beignets? But of
course! Did we pass up the Garden District? No way! A most delightful
streetcar tour, in fact. Highly recommended. Probably the best $1.25 you’ll
ever spend. Must admit, though, that the inclement weather did interfere
with our desire to see Irma Thomas do her stuff at the Andouille Festival
right here in La Place. Call us wimps if you
Decided to check out
Mother’s for breakfast/brunch
on Sunday morning.
Did we give up? No way. And The
Major was quite pleased with his
The highlight of our Major
Collaboration weekend was a trip (in the driving rain, of course) to the
Mississippi Gulf Coast to visit the
Until next time,
take care, be well. Live with passion. Give a damn!
“The perpetual and ecstatic Dance of the Dolphins has captivated humanity
Until next time, take care, be well. Live with passion. Give a damn!
“The perpetual and ecstatic Dance of the Dolphins has captivated humanity
seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love,
are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of
one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am
really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love
of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine
reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one."