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Tom Fitzmorris

Tune in to "The Food Show" for fun talk about restaurants, recipes, reviews and more!

Weekdays on 3WL 1350am Noon-3pm
Saturdays on WWL Noon-3pm
Email: Tom@nomenu.com



Recipe: Two types of Christmas oysters

Oysters three ways art Antoine's/It's a tradition at Antoine's to order an appetizer of combining two of the restaurant's baked oyster dishes. Both are baked on their shells, one with a green sauce (their famous oysters Rockefeller), the other with a red sauce. The latter is called oysters thermidor at Antoine's and oysters casino at Brennan's--the only two restaurants I know that serves the dish. The names are misleading, because other dishes that have nothing in common with this one have both those names.

The Rockefellers take longer in the oven, so put them in first. Serve four to six of each to each guest as an appetizer, alternating the green and red ones.

Oysters Rockefeller
Oysters Rockefeller have always been among my favorite Creole-French dishes, and one that creates its own special occasion when you make it.

Water from oysters, plus enough more water to make one cups
1 cups chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped green onion tops
1 cups chopped parsley, stems removed
1/2 cup chopped fresh fennel
1/2 cup chopped watercress
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh garlic
2 anchovy fillets
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbs. ketchup
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
2 drops green food coloring (optional but authentic)
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup fine bread crumbs
Two dozen oysters on the shells
1. Combine the vegetables and the anchovies in small batches and chop to a near-puree in a food processor, using the oyster water to help things along.

2. Combine this green slurry and the rest of the oyster water in a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring every now and then, until the excess water is gone but the greens remain very moist. Add sugar, catsup, salt, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, bitters and food coloring.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

3. Make a blond roux with the butter and flour. Blend well into the greens, until the sauce takes on a different, lighter texture. Then mix in the bread crumbs.

4. Place large, fresh oysters into oyster shells, small ovenproof ramekins, or small au gratin dishes. Top each oyster with a generous tablespoon of sauce (or more, if you like). Bake 15 minutes in a preheated 450-degree oven, or until the top of the sauce has barely begun to brown. Serve immediately.

Oysters Thermidor (or Casino)
These are much easier to make than the Rockefellers, fortunately. All you need to do is fry some bacon and mix a few sauce ingredients, then bake on the half-shells.

6 strips thick-sliced bacon
1 cup chili sauce (in bottles next to the ketchup)
1 Tbs. prepared horseradish
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. Tabasco
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
2 dozen oysters on the half shells
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

1. Cut the bacon slices into four pieces. Fry or broil until just beginning to turn crisp.

2. Mix all the other ingredients except the oysters in a bowl.

3. Place a piece of bacon atop each oyster. Spoon a generous tablespoon of the sauce on top. Bake six minutes in a preheated 450-degree oven, or until the sauce begins to bubble. Serve immediately.

Serves eight.
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Recipe: Two types of Christmas oysters

Oysters three ways art Antoine's/It's a tradition at Antoine's to order an appetizer of combining two of the restaurant's baked oyster dishes. Both are baked on their shells, one with a green sauce (their famous oysters Rockefeller), the other with a red sauce. The latter is called oysters thermidor at Antoine's and oysters casino at Brennan's--the only two restaurants I know that serves the dish. The names are misleading, because other dishes that have nothing in common with this one have both those names.

The Rockefellers take longer in the oven, so put them in first. Serve four to six of each to each guest as an appetizer, alternating the green and red ones.

Oysters Rockefeller
Oysters Rockefeller have always been among my favorite Creole-French dishes, and one that creates its own special occasion when you make it.

Water from oysters, plus enough more water to make one cups
1 cups chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped green onion tops
1 cups chopped parsley, stems removed
1/2 cup chopped fresh fennel
1/2 cup chopped watercress
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh garlic
2 anchovy fillets
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbs. ketchup
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
2 drops green food coloring (optional but authentic)
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup fine bread crumbs
Two dozen oysters on the shells
1. Combine the vegetables and the anchovies in small batches and chop to a near-puree in a food processor, using the oyster water to help things along.

2. Combine this green slurry and the rest of the oyster water in a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring every now and then, until the excess water is gone but the greens remain very moist. Add sugar, catsup, salt, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, bitters and food coloring.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

3. Make a blond roux with the butter and flour. Blend well into the greens, until the sauce takes on a different, lighter texture. Then mix in the bread crumbs.

4. Place large, fresh oysters into oyster shells, small ovenproof ramekins, or small au gratin dishes. Top each oyster with a generous tablespoon of sauce (or more, if you like). Bake 15 minutes in a preheated 450-degree oven, or until the top of the sauce has barely begun to brown. Serve immediately.

Oysters Thermidor (or Casino)
These are much easier to make than the Rockefellers, fortunately. All you need to do is fry some bacon and mix a few sauce ingredients, then bake on the half-shells.

6 strips thick-sliced bacon
1 cup chili sauce (in bottles next to the ketchup)
1 Tbs. prepared horseradish
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. Tabasco
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
2 dozen oysters on the half shells
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

1. Cut the bacon slices into four pieces. Fry or broil until just beginning to turn crisp.

2. Mix all the other ingredients except the oysters in a bowl.

3. Place a piece of bacon atop each oyster. Spoon a generous tablespoon of the sauce on top. Bake six minutes in a preheated 450-degree oven, or until the sauce begins to bubble. Serve immediately.

Serves eight.
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Christmas recipe: Roast goose with pecan rice stuffing

No dish is more traditional for Christmas than a roast goose. It's a dark-meat bird, like a duck, and very flavorful. You will not have much trouble finding a goose in the store (it will be a frozen bird, likely). However, you must get started on it four or five days ahead, and that's why I'm telling you about it now. It's a bit of work to get it on the table, but its flavor is impressive. What's more, most people at the table will never have had it before. And it goes with all the traditional side dishes.

1 goose, 10 to 14 pounds, neck and giblets removed
1 rib celery, cut up
1/2 onion, cut up
2 cups Konriko Wild Pecan Rice
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 cup crushed pecans
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. Tabasco
1. This step needs to be done two days before your dinner. After thawing in the refrigerator, the goose needs to be par-boiled. Fill a pot large enough to hold the bird half full with water, and bring it to a rolling boil. Carefully lower the goose into the water, and cook until the water returns to a boil. Even more carefully remove the goose from the water and place on a pan. With needlenose pliers, pull out any feather stubble. Then put it uncovered into your refrigerator for two days. This will make the skin crisp. If you don't have time for this step, it will not ruin the bird, but it's a desirable touch.

2. The morning of the dinner, make a stock by boiling the neck, celery, and onion in one quart of water for about an hour. Strain, skim off the fat, and reserve the stock.

3. For the stuffing, heat the butter in a saucepan and saute the green onions and the coarsely-chopped giblets. Remove the solid contents and add the uncooked rice to the remaining butter. Stir to coat well. Then add three cups of the stock. Cover and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes. Stir the giblet mixture, the pecans, salt, and Tabasco in. Cook uncovered for another five minutes, stirring once.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

4. Stuff as much of the rice stuffing as will fit inside the goose. Tie the legs across the cavity to hold the stuffing in place. With the point of a knife, prick the skin all over.

5. Put the goose breast side down on a rack in a broiling pan, and into the preheated oven. Lower the heat to 375 immediately. Let the goose roast for 45 minutes at that temperature, then turn the oven down to 300 and let it keep going until you register a temperature of 180 degrees with the meat thermometer in the thigh (not touching bone, nor poking into the cavity). for between an hour and a half and two hours.

You will not need to turn the goose, nor will you need to baste it. However, it may be necessary to spoon some of the fat from the pan (you'll be astonished how much there will be!).

6. Remove the goose from the pan and place, with the rack, on a clean pan. Return to the oven and increase the heat to 450 to crisp the skin for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the drippings into a gravy separator and remove the fat. Use the juices and browned bits to make a gravy, just as you would for a turkey.

7. A goose is a little hard to carve, so show everybody the whole thing then take it back to the kitchen for the inevitable wrestling match. Those joints do not come apart as easily as they do for a turkey. Serve with gravy and stuffing on the side.

Serves about eight.
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Christmas recipe: Tom's Root-Beer Glazed Ham

Ham, after.Here's the ham after the three- to four-hour baking. You will have a hard time holding back those who want to cut off the crusty glazed outer quarter-inch and munch on it as a snack. In New Orleans, we use the superb, locally-produced Chisesi ham for this. Otherwise, a top-quality, lean, naturally-smoked boneless ham is what you want. The drippings get so crusty that you'll want to use a disposable pan to bake the ham. The stuff is impossible to dislodge.

Glaze:
24 oz. (two cans) Barq's root beer
1 1/2 Tbs. pepper jelly
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 Tbs. Tabasco Caribbean style steak sauce (or Pickapeppa)
6 cloves
1 stick cinnamon
Peel and juice of one-half an orange
Peel of half a lemon
1 cured, smoked ham, about 10-14 pounds
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1. I usually make the glaze the night before, so I can get the ham right into the oven in the morning. Combine all the glaze ingredients in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower to a simmer, and cook for about a half-hour. Strain the pan contents and discard the solids. Reduce the liquid to about a half-cup. Refrigerate if you do this in advance.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place the ham on a rack in a disposable aluminum pan. Cut shallow gashes in a criss-cross pattern across the top half. Spoon the glaze over the ham to completely wet the surface.

3. Combine the brown sugar and the dry mustard and pat it all over the ham. Pour a half-cup of water into the pan. Put the ham in the oven at 350 degrees.

4. Spoon some of the glaze over the top of the ham at 15-minute intervals until it's all used up. Try to get some glaze on all parts of the ham. Add more water to the pan when it dries up.

5. Continue baking until the ham reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees on a meat thermometer. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a half-hour before carving.

Serves twenty to thirty.
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Christmas recipe: Tom's Egg Nog

The best egg nog, frankly, is uncooked. But so many people are concerned about the possibility of problems from eating raw eggs that I've come up with an egg nog recipe cooked just long enough to eliminate most possible problems. It does produce a difficulty, through: you have to be very careful as you cook this to keep the mixture from setting. It's basically a custard, and that's not what you want.
  • Six large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla
  • 1/2 pint whipping cream
  • 1 pint half-and-half
  • Generous pinch cream of tartar

1. Separate the eggs very carefully, making sure no yolk gets into the whites. Refrigerate the whites in a covered container.

2. In a pan off the fire, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until it becomes pale yellow and thicker. Add the nutmeg, vanilla, cream, and one cup of the half-and-half. Whisk until blended.

3. Heat the pan over a very low fire while stirring, with a meat thermometer in the mix. Watch for a temperature reading of 175. Don't overheat or cook longer than needed to reach this temperature.

4. Remove from the heat, and add the remaining half-and-half. Use a fine sieve to strain the mixture into the container you'll use to refrigerate it, and put it into the refrigerator.

5. When you're ready to serve the egg nog, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until it makes soft peaks. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir the beaten egg whites into the refrigerated egg nog until most (but not all) of the streaks are blended in.

6. If you'd like to add something interesting (i.e. brandy, Bourbon, or dark rum), a half-cup of the liquor is about right. Serve with some more nutmeg (freshly grated, if possible) over the top.

Serves eight.


Chocolate Egg Nog

I was enjoying a cup of eggnog around the Christmas tree last weekend, with my family gathered around me. (I know it sounds corny, but we're a pretty corny family.) I offered some of it to my daughter, who took a look at it and turned away. The nutmeg aroma got her, I think.

"What would it take for you to try eggnog, Mary Leigh?" I asked. She said that about the only thing would be if it were chocolate. I scoffed, then thought about it. I dig around and came up with a few recipes, notably one from the hand of Sharon Tyler Herbst. She's the author of a number of food books, including Never Eat More Than You Can Lift, a book of food quotes. That, oddly enough, is where I found the recipe that I fooled around with to come up with my own.

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 oz. Amaretto
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • Grated semi-sweet chocolate
1. Beat the egg yolks, sugar, cocoa, and vanilla until thick and completely blended. Stir in the milk and the Amaretto until the mixture is uniform in color. Refrigerate until very cold.

2. Combine the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar in a bowl and beat until soft peaks form. With a rubber spatula, fold into the chocolate mixture.

3. Beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add the 1 Tbs. sigar and beat until dissolved. Fold into the chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula.

4. Grate semi-sweet chocolate over the tops of each cup of eggnog and serve immediately.

Serves eight.
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Christmas recipe: Tom's Prime Rib

One Christmas our plans changed suddenly, and we found ourselves at home cooking for a group that grew from just the four of us to eighteen people. I went ahead with my plan to roast prime rib, and went to the store and bought three more standing rib roasts.

I've spoken with a number of chefs lately who said that they think the only way to get that soft, very juicy prime rib texture is to roast the beef at a very low temperature. Although cookbooks are all over the spectrum of roasting temperatures, those who specify low oven temperatures seem to be quite adamant about it. I have been hesitant about trying to roast at, say, 200 degrees, because of food safety issues. Then I read in a magazine that if you eat rare beef, as I do, you're already in violation of the main food safety rule. So I thought I'd try roasting prime ribs at 250, to see what happened.

Knowing that no crust could possibly form on the outside at that temperature, I started by using the grill (on which I was smoking a pork shoulder) to sear the prime ribs. This is how I've always cooked ribs in the past, so I knew what to expect: lots of fat rendering out from the notoriously fatty racks, falling into the charcoal fire and flaming up, sometimes setting the exterior of the ribs on fire. This does not seem to produce any burned-grease flavor, however, so I just let it happen for about six minutes, turning once.

Then I moved them to a preheated (as if it made much difference) 250-degree oven, with a slotted rack over a pan with about a cup of water in it. After three hours, the internal temperature was 120 degrees, which is on the cusp of rare. Another half-hour and it is was at 130. Since my crowd was given to eating well-done meat, I let three of the racks get up to 145 (another 20 minutes) and took them out. After letting them rest for five minutes, I started carving. They were just right: very juicy and tender, with crusty parts for fans of end cuts.

The only disappointment was that I got very little in the way of dripping from the beef, and so didn't make a gravy. However, the beef was so juicy that nobody complained.

The kind of rib roast to look for are those with one very large eye of lean, rather than a smaller eye and bigger crescents of meat surrounding it with fat in between. It's worth asking the customer butcher to cut some for you that way if you don't like what you see in the case.

1 rack of prime rib roast of beef, 3-4 ribs across
Coarse-ground black pepper
Kosher salt: 1 Tbs. per rib
1 small, fresh horseradish root


1. If there is an extravagant amount of fat on the outside of the roast, trim it off. Or not, as you wish.

2. Preheat an outdoor grill, or a black iron skillet over medium-high heat on the stove. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

3. Season the roast with pepper and what will seem like too much salt. Put it cut side down on the grill or in the skillet, and sear for about three minutes, until it's browned and you can see fat running out of the roast at the bottom. Turn and brown the other side.

4. Place the roast on a broiler rack set above a broiler pan to catch the drippings. Add about a cup of water to the pan to create some steam, as well as it keep the drippings from drying out.

5. Turn the oven down to 250 degrees. Roast until the desired doneness is reached, according to the readings on your meat thermometer, inserted into the center of the beef:

125--Rare
130--Medium rare
140--Medium
145--Medium well
150--Well done

This will take about 30 minutes per pound. However, let the internal temperature be your guide, not the time in the oven. The roast will cook a little more after you remove it from the oven, and that those who like their beef done more can have the outside cuts.

6. Remove the roast from the pan and allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes before carving. You may carve it into chops with the bone on, or carve away the bone and slice it thinner. Garnish with fresh horseradish grated over the beef at the table.

Serves four to six.
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Tom: Jazz up holiday dinner with Cherry Bounce liqueur

RecipeSquare-150x150In South Louisiana, cherry trees don't get enough days of freezing weather in the winter to grow cherries of any particular merit. However, wild cherry trees are everywhere. (I have several growing in the woods around the Cool Water Ranch.) The cherries they produce are small and extremely tart. And the birds have a way of getting them all. But some people have enough good trees to get quite a few cherries, and they make this liqueur with them. You might be tempted to make this with good fresh cherries from the store, but it doesn't work: the cherries have to be sour. While different makers of this use different liquors for the marinade, it seems to me that vodka is the way to go. It has no flavor of its own, and lets the subtle cherry taste come through.

3 quarts wild cherries
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. anise seeds
1 1/2 liters vodka of decent quality
1. Rinse the cherries in cold water. Removed the excess water with a salad spinner or towel. Remove all leaves and stems.

2. Heat 1/2 cup of water in a clean saucepan until wisps of steam come off the top. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves completely. Remove from the heat.

3. Pour the cherries and the anise seeds into a one-gallon glass jug with a tight-fitting cap. Add the simply syrup from step 2 to the jug. Cap the jug tightly and shake it like crazy for about five minutes.

4. Add the vodka and shake to blend. Cap the jug loosely, so air an get out, and store it in a cool, dry, dark place for a few months. (Mark the date on the bottle so there will be no doubt.)

5. After at least two months, strain the contents of the jug through cheesecloth or a coffee filter set into a clean sieve. (The latter will take a long time; the bigger the filter, the better.)

6. Serve as a digestif with coffee. Have something else ready as an after-dinner drink in case some don't like it–an inevitability.

Makes about 2 liters.
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Tom: Essential tips for cleaning & sharpening knives

FoodFAQsQ. I recently acquired an authentic Chinese cleaver. I love how it gets big cutting jobs done quickly, especially when I'm working with bones. But it's pure steel and rusts every time I wash it. Do you have any suggestions on how to prevent this? Also, where can I get my knives sharpened professionally?

A. Never wash kitchen knives the way you wash everything else! Never ever put knives in the sink with all the dishes and tableware! And never, never, ever put knives into the dishwasher!

Professional cooks give their knives a quick cleaning immediately after they've finished using them. They run water over the blades, scrubbing them with a plastic-bristled brush if necessary. Then they wipe them dry with a towel, and put them away, preferably in a block. That routine is especially important for the kind of metal you seem to have in that cleaver. I must tell you not to get too attached to that cleaver, as any knife that rusts that easily is far from the best quality.

Good knives in normal use need to be sharpened only rarely–once or twice a year. I have knives that go unsharpened for many years while still cutting efficiently. What you must do before each use, however, is to use a steel to true the edge frequently. The one I have is coated with diamond dust. Only a negligible part of the blade comes off the blade when you do that.

Actual honing and sharpening does remove metal, and that takes years off the knife's life. The best way to get the job done is, once again, to do what the chefs do: they have a professional knife sharpener do the job. A guy who sharpens knives shows up at the Farmer's Markets most weeks. (Magazine at Girod Saturday mornings; Uptown Square Tuesday midday). Usually he will sharpen your knives then and there. Sometimes he's so busy that he takes your knives back to the shop, sharpens them, then returns them to you the next week.

I'm not a fan of home sharpeners. The best I know is Chef's Choice 2. The worst are those gizmos made from what looks like stacks of coins intermeshing with one another. Those can actually gouge out the knife metal. Might be good for a Boy Scout pocketknife, but that's about it.

One more matter: avoid banging your knives around. Never store them in a drawer. Use either a wooden block or one of those magnetic racks you screw to a wall.
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Tom: Dozen best restaurants for Christmas ambience

We need the holidays. So many warm friends and relatives we're ashamed to say we haven't dined with since. . . well I guess it was last Christmas, right? The restaurants encourage the cheer with the trappings of the holidays–some of them in extravagant measure. They do this both to express good will, and to use the opportunity to serve their customers with all the festivity for which their craft is renowned.

Christmas, Antoine's, and Baked Alaska.
Christmas, Chanukah, and New Year's are saturated with nostalgia. That gives the older restaurants an advantage in creating holiday gooseflesh. Here are those, and newer establishments that understand what Yuletide is all about. Although the primary criterion for this list is atmospheric, no restaurant is admitted without great eating.

1. Antoine's. French Quarter: 713 St Louis. 504-581-4422. Antoine's is celebrating Christmas for the 175nd time, a record matched by no other American restaurant. (It ought to be 174, but in 2005 it didn't open until December 29, for the well-known reason.) Its biggest dining room–the Annex–looks like Christmas even without decorations, with its Victorian-Germanic styling. Here is the tallest and most lavishly decorated Christmas tree in New Orleans. Customers call their waiters to nail down the tables closest to it. Christmas Eve, there is no busier restaurant.





2. Arnaud's. French Quarter: 813 Bienville. 504-523-5433. Arnaud's was New Orleans first really grand restaurant, brightly lit in the Parisian style. The main dining room looks as if it had been designed to be replete with wreaths, bows, ribbons, and Christmas lights.

3. La Provence. Lacombe: 25020 US 190. 985-626-7662. The whole idea of La Provence seems to have been composed specifically for Christmas. A country inn out in the middle of the pine woods, with two roaring fireplaces? And a waitress who composes poems of cheer for the customers? The only thing missing is Santa–hey! did you just see a red streak across the treetops just now?

4. Brennan's. : 417 Royal. 504-525-9711. The millions of dollars recently poured into the restoration of Brennan's got the job done just in time for Christmas 2014. The building dates back to the 1700s, and the reconstruction make it look even older than it did before, in a very handsome way. And you can dine in the courtyard now.

5. R'Evolution. : 777 Bienville (in the Royal Sonesta Hotel). 504-553-2277. One of the handsomest restaurants to be built in many years, R'Evolution's visual aspect begins out on Bourbon Street, where the Royal Sonesta's balconies are fully aglow with the lights of the season. From the bar to the dining room to the courtyard, every other part of the place is in full Yule celebration.

6. Ralph's On The Park. City Park Area: 900 City Park Ave. 504-488-1000. Ralph Brennan's flagship restaurant is not only well-decorated inside, but has a view through its big windows of one of the city's most famous holiday displays: Celebration in the Oaks, across the street at City Park.

7. Le Foret. CBD: 129 Camp. 504-553-6738. The classicism of the premises bespeaks the holidays, down to the bustling foot traffic you see through the windows onto the sidewalk outside.

8. Windsor Court Grill Room. CBD: 300 Gravier. 504-522-1994. The only challenger to Antoine's Christmas tree is the one that rests on the ground floor of New Orleans's most luxurious hotel and pokes up through an atrium into the entrance of the Grill Room. Which itself is a study in restrained elegance, even at Yuletide.

9. Court of Two Sisters. French Quarter: 613 Royal. 504-522-7273. I'm not a hundred percent sure that the courtyard at the Court of Two Sisters is specially decorated for the holidays. It looks like Christmas in there all the time. More locals than you know go there every season.

Broussards-MarieAntoinette

10. Broussard's. French Quarter: 819 Conti. 504-581-3866. Broussard's has a courtyard, which is Christmas-lit to the max. The dining room past the bar has a Dickensian quality to it, perhaps because the houses used to be kept there. And the main dining room, with its red accents, looks like Christmas year-round.

11. Muriel's. French Quarter: 801 Chartres. 504-568-1885. You get a triple dose of Christmas cheer just walking to Muriel's. Jackson Square's new Christmas lights get you right in the mood. And the restaurant does a nice job inside, too.

12. Andrea's. Metairie: 3100 19th St. 504-834-8583. Chef Andrea holds a record: more Christmas trees in his dining rooms than any other free-standing restaurant. He's thoroughly Italian, and overdoes the decorations in a tradition of Italian design going back to the Romans.
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Reveillon, Eat Club At Emeril's NOLA, Dec. 9.

EatClubSquareEmeril's NOLA has the right idea about the Reveillon. The menu is a nice mix of the offbeat and the traditional, with a cool-weather, comfort-food quality. Indeed, I'd call this one of the best Reveillon menus of this season, with nothing held back in terms of classy eats. If you've never been to NOLA before, you'll find a rather hip place where Emerils up-and-coming chefs and servers try new experiments in restaurant dining. The great dish you have at Emeril's today may well have been figured out at NOLA.

We'll be in the spacious upstairs dining room (elevator served), and we'll have some interesting wines. I expect that the usual sociability we enjoy at our Eat Club repasts will be in even greater evidence tonight.

Poached Oyster
Herbsaint cream, local caviar
~or~
Crispy Veal Sweetbreads
Tomato, haricot verts, capers, citrus brown butter
~or~
Pan Seared Scallops
Creamed spinach, house-made bacon

Baby Arugula
Goat cheese, candied pecans, raspberry foie gras vinaigrette
~or~
House Cured Salmon
Frisee, red onion, local citrus, toasted almonds, blood orange vinaigrette
~or~
Daube Glace
Baby greens, dried cherries, Creole mustard dressing

Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb
Rosemary grits cake, sautéed rapini, madeira wine reduction
~or~
Grilled Quail Breast
Bacon smothered collard greens, dirty rice, natural jus
~or~
Gulf Fish Court Bouillon
Popcorn rice, crispy okra, citrus tomato stew

Pecan Pie Bread Pudding
Sweet potato ice cream, toasted pecans, caramel sauce
~or~
Dark Chocolate Cake
Peppermint icing, chocolate sauce, chantilly cream

NOLA

Tuesday, December 9, 6:30 p.m.
French Quarter: 534 St Louis. Map.
$85, inclusive of tax, tip, wines
Click here to reserve.

The price is $85, inclusive of tax, tip, and wines. Parking is validated at the Royal Orleans Hotel, a half-block away–if it has space available. (Come early.)
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