Studio Nouvelles Images - Spices
Studio Nouvelles Images
Buy This Art Print At







wine recommendations 125 x 125

WB01419_1.gif (2752 bytes)    La Belle Cuisine

The Spice Cabinet...
Your Webmistress, Up Close and Personal

 WB01419_1.gif (2752 bytes)

Fine Cuisine with Art Infusion

"To cook is to create. And to create an act of integrity, and faith."


Major Collaboration - CONNOISSEUR

"Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. 
Dance like nobody's watching. Sing like nobody's listening.
Live like it's Heaven on Earth."

Recipe of the Day Categories:

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Recipe Home

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Appetizers

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Beef

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Beverage

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Bread

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Breakfast

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Cake

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Chocolate

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Cookies

wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Fish

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Fruit

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Main Dish

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Pasta

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Pies

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Pork

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Poultry

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Salad

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Seafood

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Side Dish

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Soup

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Vegetable

 wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes)  Surprise!



[Flag Campaign icon]






 Theatre Courtyard, New Orleans, Louisiana
Theatre Courtyard, New Orleans, Louisiana
Buy this Art Print at








 New Orleans - Do it
New Orleans - Do it
Lourenco, Didier
Buy this Art Print at








  Betsy Brown - French Quarter
French Quarter
Betsy Brown
Buy This Art Print At







 Gifts 125x125









 New Orleans
New Orleans
Ely, Richard
Buy this Art Print at








Banner 10000019









 Votre Sante!
Votre Sante!
Buffet, Guy
Buy this Art Print at









Your patronage of our affiliate partners supports this web site.  We thank you!


 Belle Creole at New Orleans
Belle Creole at New Orleans
Buy this Art Print at



Major Collaboration
(October 2002)

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)
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
Phone: 504.529.1583

“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.”
(Tom Fitzmorris)

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
occurred to me, although I used to be quite fond of good gin…

And then things got serious:

The Major: Bella Luna Duck and Andouille Gumbo
Bold, flavorful, leaving nothing to be desired…

Your Webmistress: Fresh Black Winter Truffles Tossed Tableside with
House-made Fettuccine and Reggiano Parmesan.
Our very fine waiter, Zach, had to urge me a bit on this one, as I knew I would be having Spaetzle with my entree. I am forever in his debt. The
aroma alone would have been worth it. This was nothing short of exquisite! The taste was decadently rich, although Tom Fitzmorris says the sauce is
very light. Supremely aromatic. Could eat it every day…

Both: Sautéed Veal Schnitzel Topped with Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce Served with House-made Black Pepper Spaetzle
I know, I know, we should have ordered different entrees, the better to evaluate and report to you. But. We simply could not help ourselves. Being as fond of the Old Country as we are, we were both drooling at the thought of Champignonschnitzel and Spaetzle prepared by a chef who knows his stuff. How could we possibly go wrong with Horst Pfeifer? We could not… Excellent! Mouthwateringly delicious, down to the very last morsel.
Wanted to lick the plate…

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 persuasion)
Tuscan Antipasti Platter with Smoked Duck Breast, Imported Truffle Cheese, etc. Lobster Bisque Laced with Cognac
Oven-Roasted Maple Leaf Farms Duckling Half…
Steamed Maine Lobster Tossed with Calamari Ink Fettuccine, Roma Tomatoes, Basil Chiffonade and Saffron Aioli
Roasted Loin of Lamb…

Dessert (partial menu):

Double Fudge Pecan Brownie Topped with Housemade White Chocolate Ice Cream
Bella Luna Style Banana Bread Pudding with Myers’ Spice Rum Sauce
Flourless Chocolate Decadence Cake Topped with Coconut Butter Cream
Key Lime Pie in Graham Cracker Crust Garnished with Fresh Berries
Crème Brulée Flavored with Tahitian Vanilla Bean
Cinnamon Spiced Carrot Cake with Creole Cream Cheese Icing ($6.75!)
Plus a very fine selection of cheeses, ice cream, sorbet, coffees, Cognacs and brandies, Ports and dessert wines.

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
night of the full moon every month!


Lunch at Bacco (Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group)

310 Chartres Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Phone: 504.522.2426

May as well get the downside stuff out of the way, I suppose, before we
begin singing the praises of the meal…

Service – just adequate. Cannot believe this is typical of Bacco, but it was
our experience on this particular day, and that is what counts. Lacking in professionalism, although I suspect the waiter in question would throw a tantrum if this were to get back to him. This guy would not be working in
my restaurant, and I was surprised to find him in any Brennan family establishment. I guarantee you, he would not make it at Commander’s. And probably not at Mr. B’s Bistro, either. Are my standards high? Damn straight! And why not? But this is pretty basic stuff, y’all. Should we have had to ASK about the soup du jour? I don’t think so. And when what’s-his-name came back to inform us, he could have gotten the name of the soup right the first time. Otherwise, he was technically okay, but his attitude turned me off. Totally. Example: As he was taking orders at a nearby table, I promise you everyone in the restaurant heard him say, “You’re a vegetarian?!?!?” Tone
of voice carries a great deal of weight. Might as well have been saying, “You’re a leper?!?!?” Officious, pretentious, and… well, you get my drift.

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),
I ask you?!?!? Go figure. They suggested a reasonable substitute, with which The Major was satisfied. I chose a Johannisberg Riesling (not a German vineyard, unfortunately), which was adequate.

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
intended to check it out, but primarily because Ralph Brennan has wisely chosen to make October truffle month at Bacco: special truffle menus for
both lunch and dinner. And believe me, that got our attention! The special luncheon menu changes weekly, and as fate would have it, the week in question featured Oyster and Artichoke Ravioli: Artichoke ravioli tossed with fresh P&J oysters and an artichoke cream sauce, finished with Umbrian black truffles. A tad shy on the oysters, I thought, but otherwise excellent. And a nice touch to have the chef come to the table and shave slices of truffle atop the ravioli. Intoxicating aroma. Almost a shame to eat them. But not quite…

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
will, but we dared not risk being late for dinner at Bella Luna! We’ll just
have to catch Rodney Thibodaux & Toullessoir Cajun Band another time.

Decided to check out Mother’s for breakfast/brunch on Sunday morning.
This place is a New Orleans institution, y'all. For sure.
Even though it has been under "new" management for years now (and is therefore not entirely
up to my great expectations), it is still well worth the visit. Be prepared for
a noisy crowd, and be prepared to stand in line to order your food (a menu will be provided as you enter the door). I had fantasies of NOT having to
fight the crowd on Sunday. Wrong! The Saints were playing the Falcons that day, and apparently a great many football fans had chosen Mother’s for their pre-game Big Easy chowdown.

Did we give up? No way. And The Major was quite pleased with his
Black Ham Biscuit (Mother’s, after all, is famous for what the restaurant refers to as 'the world's best baked ham'). I opted for Grits with Debris. Debris? You know! There they are, carving a huge chunk of roast beef,
which has been placed on a rack over a pan. The meat that falls into the
pan during the carving process (and gets all mixed up with the yummy
gravy!) is called debris. It has always been one of my primary reasons for enduring the crowd. Well. Disappointment to the max. The debris I knew
and loved is, alas, not the debris of today. What the hell happened to it?
I know not. It was just a sort of flavorless mishmash of stringy meat.
Damn! Another one bites the dust… My disillusionment was rescued from
a nosedive into cynicism by the fact that “Mother’s Special Bloody Mary”
is, indeed, special. Excellent, in fact, even though it does come out of a machine. Go figure...

The highlight of our Major Collaboration weekend was a trip (in the driving rain, of course) to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to visit the dolphins. Ohmigod!
In the interest of time and space, the report will have to wait for another
time. Suffice it to say that I was revitalized and rejuvenated in ways I cannot even begin to explain. The Major - BadAss that he is - was enchanted as
well. Something there is about a dolphin…

Until next time, take care, be well. Live with passion. Give a damn!


“The perpetual and ecstatic Dance of the Dolphins has captivated humanity
since the beginning of recorded history and probably through pre-historic times.
The Dolphins live in a state of sheer exuberant joy of being alive, our inherently natural state of being, so yearned for by everybody yet so painfully inaccessible
to most of humanity.”

~ Daniel McCulloch

Recipes from Commander's Palace
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

"It 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."
 - M.F.K. Fisher, from The Art of Eating



Current Spice Cabinet Feature 
Index - The Spice Cabinet

 Major Morsels 

Index - Food Features

Recipe Archives Index

WB01419_1.gif (2752 bytes)

wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) Home wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) Sitemap wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) Recipe of the Day wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) Art Gallery wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) Cafe wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) Articles wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) Cookbooks
wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) Cajun Country wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) Features wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) Chefs wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) Food Quotes wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) Gift Gallery wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) Favorites wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) Basics
wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) Recipe Archives wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) Links wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) Guestbook wb01507_.gif (1247 bytes) What's New

LinkShare-Get Your Share!

Webmaster Michele W. Gerhard
Copyright © 1999-2005 Crossroads International.  All rights reserved.
Some graphics copyright
Revised: January 10, 2003.