Tag Archives: New Orleans

Roman Chewing Candy – A Longstanding New Orleans Tradition Rolls On

2 Mar

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The Roman Chewing Candy cart has made its rounds in New Orleans since 1915. Yes, I said 1915! NOLA is an old city (at least in US terms) and this is one of the city’s oldest culinary traditions. The cart, as you can see above, has seen its share of wear and tear. But like most things New Orleans, the cart’s worn and weathered look makes one more than a bit nostalgic for the “good old days.” And yes, this is the original cart fashioned by New Orleans wheelwright Tom Brinker in 1915. Amazing. Many cities bulldoze or bury their past. New Orleans celebrates theirs. God bless ‘em for that.

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We recently encountered the cart at the Crescent City’s wonderful Audubon Zoo. Eileen and the boys promptly called me with the good news. I urged them to take a few pics and bring back an assortment of the gourmet taffy. The price of the taffy has gone up a bit since it was first offered for 5 cents per stick by the Cortese family back in the day.

roman candy wraps

 You can now purchase three basic taffy flavors (Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry) for $1 per wax paper wrapped stick, 6 sticks for $5, or $10 for a full dozen sticks. The candies are handmade on the cart each day and they are not, like many of today’s confections, overly sweet. Personally, I prefer the vanilla.

You can now track the Roman Candy cart’s day to day location via Facebook.

You can also purchase by mail by ordering at http://www.romancandy.gourmetfoodmall.com

In the immortal words of Jackie Gleason, “How sweet it is!”

Roman Candy Company – 5510 Constance St., New Orleans, LA 70115 

(504) 897-3937; romancdy@bellsouth.net

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Roman-Chewing-Candy-Co/124215977625950

The Bluegill’s “Flaming Oysters” – Easily One of Mobile’s Best Bites

10 Nov

The causeway over the Mobile Bay has many dining options. All of them focusing on seafood. One of our favorites is the Bluegill Restaurant. They have been around since 1958, although they have had a few different owners over that long period of time. The Bluegill is now operated by the Cooper Restaurant Group … the same folks who run the wildly successful Felix’s Fish Camp (also on the causeway) and Mobile’s own version of Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

The Coopers have done a fine job in retaining much of the Bluegill’s original rustic charm. The whimsical exterior is adorned with antique advertising and humorous declarations such as “No Curb Service Since 1958!” Yes, they have long been known for their fried, locally sourced oysters, but there is a relatively new menu item that has totally captured our fancy.

The Fish Tacos are good, but our mind was on something else

You can dine inside or out at the Bluegill. I would encourage you to sit outside whenever the weather allows. Such a relaxing atmosphere overlooking the bay and watching the occasional boat (or gator) chug by. The open air deck is pretty much fully covered and clear plastic flaps can be lowered if rains or windy conditions should arise. They frequently feature live local entertainment on the deck here. That only adds to the whole “Margaritaville” vibe. A Kenny Chesney tune played over the sound system as I was being seated this late Friday morning. My server (a young man named Buck) did a great job of taking care of me. Fast, friendly service has long been a trademark of all the Cooper-owned restaurants here in the Mobile Bay area.

Please DO NOT make the mistake of not ordering the Flaming Oysters at the Bluegill. They have only been offered for a short time, but they have quickly earned (and rightfully so) a large and loyal following. I crave them — and apparenty I’m not the only one. I’ve heard that someone on the inside at Cooper Restaurants was a longtime fan of Drago’s in New Orleans. That famed eatery has long been known as THE place to get your flame grilled oyster fix in NOLA. I have dined there and can attest to its glory. Magnificent. The Cooper’s recipe is equally sublime — matching Drago’s slurp for slurp.

An order of a full dozen is just about right for me. Each half shell comes complete with fresh local oyster, butter, garlic, and lots of Parmesan cheese. They are placed over an open flame, which can viewed from the inside dining room. A bit of show biz never hurts and the Bluegill gets that. And just when you think this recipe can’t be topped, they go and throw in a couple of large pieces of flame kissed, authentic New Orleans-style Po-Boy bread. It’s legit bread, for sure — straight from some Big Easy bakery. You’ll need it to sop up all the remaining butter and garlic mixture once your oysters are history. Trust me, leftovers don’t happen here.

This makes sense, because the Flaming Oysters are truly UNREAL!

Bluegill Restaurant – 3775 Battleship Parkway, Spanish Fort, AL 36527

(251) 625-1998; www.bluegillrestaurant.com

“Having Fun At The Bluegill!”

Two New Southern Books Worthy of Your Attention This Holiday Season

18 Dec

THE STORY OF THE NU WAY

by Ed Grisamore (Mercer University Press)

We dined at the Nu-Way a few years back. This is truly one of the South’s most iconic eateries. I have always loved the look of their historic neon sign, yet I knew very little about this hot dog stand’s history. Pick up a copy of this new book and expand your knowledge — we think you’ll dig their dog. They may have spelling issues, but they have the whole hot dog thing down to a science.

For almost seventy-five years, one of Macon’s most famous eating establishments, Nu-Way, has intentionally misspelled the word W-E-I-N-E-R on its marquee. Thanks to a sign-maker misplacing those vowels in 1937, the restaurant has had a conversation piece on the plate along with its legendary hot dogs. James Mallis immigrated to Macon from Greece and opened the city’s first fast-food restaurant on historic Cotton Avenue in 1916. Nu-Way is now the second-oldest hot dog stand in America, just a month shy of Nathan’s on Coney Island in New York.

In his eighth book, There Is More than One Way to Spell Wiener, Macon newspaper columnist Ed Grisamore tells the amazing story of how Nu-Way has become a cultural and culinary icon. Nu-Way is part of the fabric of Macon, Georgia. Nearly everyone in town has a Nu-Way story. When people move away, Nu-Way is one of the first places they visit when they come back home. One woman drove almost 500 miles and ordered 150 to go. But it’s not just about the food. It’s nostalgic. It’s a melting pot of Macon. To go downtown for a hot dog at noon is to see the common denominator of businessmen in three-piece suits sharing the same lunch counter with blue-collar workers and street people.

The book covers the generations of Macon families that have worked at Nu-Way, captures the passion of its loyal customers and tells the story of how the Norman Rockwell-like logo was painted by a former Macon fire chief. Even Oprah Winfrey dropped by for a chili dog and a Diet Coke on a visit to Macon in 2007 . Grisamore has been known to satisfy his cravings for slaw dogs (voted No. 1 in the nation by The New York Times) several times each week.

www.mupress.org

THE GORILLA MAN & THE EMPRESS OF STEAK

by Randy Fertel (University Press of Mississippi) 

The name Ruth’s Chris Steak House was always something of an oddity to me. Who was this Ruth? Who was Chris? Exactly how did this unusual name come about? Sure, their steaks were really good. And yes, the brand is well known throughout the world. But who knew there was such an interesting and colorful back story? Their saga is fascinating and provides a rare glimpse into the culture and restaurant industry of old New Orleans. You’re familiar with their steaks, so now take some time and learn more about the characters who created the sizzle.  

The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak is the story of two larger-than-life characters and the son whom their lives helped to shape. Ruth Fertel was a petite, smart, tough-as-nails blonde with a weakness for rogues, who founded the Ruth’s Chris Steak House empire almost by accident. Rodney Fertel was a gold-plated, one-of-a-kind personality, a railbird-heir to wealth from a pawnshop of dubious repute just around the corner from where the teenage Louis Armstrong and his trumpet were discovered. When Fertel ran for mayor of New Orleans on a single campaign promise–buying a pair of gorillas for the zoo– he garnered a paltry 308 votes. Then he purchased the gorillas anyway!

These colorful figures yoked together two worlds not often connected–lazy rice farms in the bayous and swinging urban streets where ethnicities jazzily collided. A trip downriver to the hamlet of Happy Jack focuses on its French-Alsatian roots, bountiful tables, and self-reliant lifestyle that inspired a restaurant legend. The story also offers a close-up of life in the Old Jewish Quarter on Rampart Street–and how it intersected with the denizens of “Back a’ Town,” just a few blocks away, who brought jazz from New Orleans to the world.

The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak is a New Orleans story, featuring the distinctive characters, color, food, and history of that city–before Hurricane Katrina and after. But it also is the universal story of family and the full magnitude of outsize follies leavened with equal measures of humor, rage, and rue.

Randy Fertel, New Orleans, Louisiana, and New York, New York, is a writer and president of both the Fertel Foundation and the Ruth U. Fertel Foundation. He has taught English at Harvard, Tulane, LeMoyne College, the University of New Orleans, and the New School for Social Research.

www.upress.state.ms.us 

Chef John Besh Visits Fairhope, Alabama to Promote New Cookbook, “My Family Table”

10 Dec

Chef John Besh has made quite a name for himself here along the Gulf Coast. His culinary empire is based out of New Orleans, yet he is truly all over the globe these days. One day you see him as a judge on Top Chef, the next you might spot him on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate, then you see him whipping up something tasty on NBC’s Today Show. When not appearing on TV or running his nine (yes, NINE!) acclaimed restaurants, Besh somehow finds time to re-connect with his family and knock out a few cookbooks. They may have successfully cloned this guy — I can’t be sure.  

Besh’s latest cookbook project is a marriage of his love for food and family. It’s titled “My Family Table … A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking.” We can totally relate to this sentiment around our household. Sure, we still love to dine out. But it is increasingly difficult to find a quality meal at a fair price. A meal out for a family of 4 can put a pretty sizeable dent in the old family grocery budget.

This “coffee table” book is well-over 250 pages and features some truly beautiful photography. The publisher (Andrews McMeel) should be quite pleased with the end result. It is a terrific collection of recipes and a fine Christmas gift for that hard-to-buy-for foodie on your shopping list. The book retails for $35.

We recently met Chef Besh and his wife at Page & Palette in our current hometown of Fairhope, AL. He was kind enough to sign our copy, which will surely become a staple in our already massive home collection of Southern-themed cookbooks. Besh, a former US Marine, reveals some of his favorite Louisiana products/ingredients. No secrets here, friends. He loves Steen’s 100% Cane Syrup, but who doesn’t? Some more surprising items found in his home pantry include Virgin Pecan Oil, Hoisin Sauce, Coconut Milk, and Sambal Paste. Yup, his kitchen mastery and tastes certainly extend beyond the bayous of his beloved home state of Louisiana.

The 140 recipes included here, much like Besh himself, bounce all over the map. Risotto, Fruit Crumble,  Couscous, Pork Shoulder, Ratatouille, Coq Au Vin, Corn Pudding, Chili, and Beef Noodle Bowls. Dishes sampled at the book signing were a Cauliflower Mac and Cheese, Jambalaya, and a Seafood Dressing. The Bird’s Nest Potatoes look simple, but delicious. Let’s call the overall theme of this volume Cajun/Asian with the common denominators being big flavor with a little bit of heat. The Creamy Lentil Soup (laced with diced bacon) would surely hit the spot on a cold winter’s day.

There are desserts too. Don’t miss the Lemon-Blackberry Cheesecake. The full page, full color image of this creation will have you drooling, for sure. The Bananas Flambe, an obvious nod to his love of New Orleans, is fueled with dark rum and accented with orange zest, cinnamon, and a sprinkle of fresh ground nutmeg. The execution of this dish is not for amateurs, but it will surely draw oooo’s and ahhhh’s at your next dinner party.

John Besh and his wife Jenifer love Fairhope. They made that clear during our brief but enjoyable chat. We, in turn, appreciate them making time to slow down and enjoy our little piece of heaven. Talk radio host Glenn Beck recently said visiting Fairhope was a little like being on the set of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It is indeed a life full of wonder. And John Besh wants you to make it even more wonderful by focusing on family and hearty home cooked meals. And, as Paul McCartney once sang, “What’s wrong with that?”

www.chefjohnbesh.com

www.andrewsmcmeel.com

Be Sweet. Visit Mrs. Wheat’s Treats Today!

9 Apr

Mrs. Wheat’s Treats has been around since the late 1980s. This is no overnight success story. It’s never been easy. But it’s a family recipe and a family business. Always has been. They have survived through good times and bad and now they need your support. A combination of road construction, theft, and the sluggish, post BP spill economy has caused Julie Wheat to tighten the proverbial belt. She makes a mighty fine New Orleans-style praline and deserves our loyal support.   

The window sign at Mrs. Wheat’s Treats in Mobile, Alabama

Pralines on the cooling trays at Mrs. Wheat’s Treats

The company was founded by Marguerite Busch Wheat. She was a whiz in the kitchen who made hundreds of pralines each year for her closest friends and beloved family members. Her praline recipe was a treasured heirloom passed down through 4 generations of the Wheat family. She was said to be quite particular about the pecans used in her recipe. Marguerite gathered pecans from her own family trees and was known to crack and shell each nut by hand. Talk about your TLC!

Chocolate Fudge from Mrs. Wheat’s kitchens

The original Mrs. Wheat passed away in 1987, but her family was determined to keep this most Southern of cooking traditions alive. Mrs. Wheat’s Treats retail location on South Florida Street first opened its doors two years later in 1989. Fast forward more than two decades later and the Wheat family is still at it. They continue to incorporate top of the line sugar, fresh butter and cream, pure vanilla, and meaty hand picked pecan halves. Each batch of pralines is hand dropped and hand wrapped. No mechanized, mass production here, folks.  

Mrs. Wheat’s also offers delicious Cheese Straws & homemade candies

Chocolate Pralines — ready to be devoured

Mrs. Wheats Treats has a great history here in Mobile. It is our hope and prayer that they have a bright future too. That is ultimately up to the public. They may be a little out of your way, but we urge you to go the extra mile to purchase these legendary Dixie delights. Mrs. Wheat’s has always gone that extra mile for you.

Mrs. Wheat’s Treats – 154 S. Florida St., Mobile, AL - 251 478-0709

www.mrswheatstreats.net

www.facebook.com/pages/Mrs-Wheats-Treats

A Backup Muffaletta Plan in New Orleans’ French Quarter

15 Nov

In the past, I had always headed straight for Central Grocery when I was craving a muffaletta in New Orleans. Their overstuffed sandwich is mighty, meaty, and legendary. Frank’s Restaurant is located just a couple doors down — in the shadows of the old French Market and Cafe Du Monde. Central Grocery, our old standby, happened to be closed the day we stopped by. Bummer! Undeterred, we plowed ahead towards Frank’s place. I had seen them recently on a Food Network feature, so I knew the muffaletta would get the job done — and it did.  

A rainy morning had given way to a muggy afternoon in The Big Easy.

A close-up look at Frank’s Muffaletta (above) – it’s a thing of beauty that feeds a family of 4 or two hungry adults  for about $12. My son Travis (a true gourmet at the ripe old age of 14) commented that Frank’s meat/bread ratio was slightly bread heavy compared to Central Grocery. You know something? He was right on the money.  However, Frank’s makes a pretty darn good Italian sandwich and I was just happy to get my fix of deli meats, crusty bread and pickled olive salad that late Sunday afternoon.

The hometown Saints were on the tube above the bar and things were not exactly going well. The manager bellowed “Your Daddy’s Saints are back, y’all” as the Super Bowl champs went down in flames to the lowly Cleveland Browns. The full house of diners at Frank’s seemed distraught, yet how upset could I get with a belly full of muffaletta?

We even picked up a large (32 oz.) jar of Frank’s olive spread to take home with us. Our waitress gestured towards a small dining table near the door as we made our exit. I discretely glanced over and spotted none other than Joseph Gannoscoli, who played Vito Spatofore in the HBO series, “The Soprano’s.” Pretty cool, huh? 

Louisiana-Grown Jazzmen Aromatic Rice Doesn’t Blow

1 Aug

Louisiana’s Jazzmen Aromatic Rice – “Music for your Mouth.”

We tried this new jasmine rice for the first time last night — it is truly amazing! Nice and fluffy and filled with flavor. Best of all, it’s grown right here in the good old USA (Crowley, LA to be specific) thanks to three Chinese-American gents who have been friends since childhood. It’s a fledgling enterprise at this stage. Last fall they harvested just 500 tons of rice. This year, according to co-founder Andrew Wong, it will be more like 12,000 tons. American-grown jasmine rice tends to cost less (about $2.99 for a 28 oz. bag) thanks to reduced transportation expenses. Jazzmen brand rice is now available in 6 states. It can also be purchased online at Jazzmenrice.com. Eat well and buy American whenever you can — you will not be disappointed!

For generations, the most flavorful rice Americans have eaten has been Jasmine rice imported to the U.S. from Asia (most notably Thailand). Jasmine is recognized for having the most desirable “gummy” white texture after cooking and its “aroma” before, during and after cooking is what causes it to be called “aromatic.” Regular rice does not emphasize aromatic qualities nor is it noted as having any fullness of taste. Aromatic rice has a very pleasant notable aroma and taste qualities that contribute considerably to a variety of cuisine styles.

Twelve years ago, the LSU AgCenter started a project to increase rice production in Louisiana. We currently average approximately 500,000 acres of rice agriculture annually. There is a vast amount of acreage to build on.

The LSU AgCenter strives to help promote and build the quality and expertise of Louisiana’s agricultural community – our farmers and our farms. And, the AgCenter thinks of everything possible to enhance and increase the productivity of Louisiana’s vast acreage of farmland.

For twelve years, the “AgCenter” has been evolving, testing and improving a varietal (variety) of rice intended to compete head on with the quality, taste and cost of the thousands of tons of Jasmine rice coming into America each year from Asia. It has reached perfection.

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Louis Armstrong’s Creole Red Beans

Satchmo’s personal recipe,
courtesy of the Louis Armstrong House Museum

Ingredients:

1 lb. kidney beans

½ lb. salt pork (strip of lean, strip of fat; slab bacon may be used if preferred)

1 small can tomato sauce (if desired)

6 small ham hocks, or 1 smoked pork butt

2 onions, diced

¼ green (bell) pepper

5 tiny or 2 medium dried peppers

1 clove garlic, chopped

Salt to taste

Preparation:

Use a 2 qt. pot with cover. Wash beans thoroughly, then soak overnight in cold water. Be sure to cover beans. To cook, pour water off beans, add fresh water to cover. Add salt pork or bacon and let come to a boil over a full flame in covered pot. Turn flame down to slightly higher than low and let cook 1½ hours. Add diced onions, bell pepper, garlic, dried peppers, and salt. Cook 3 hours. Add tomato sauce and cook 1½ hours more, adding water whenever necessary. Beans and meat should always be just covered with water (juice), never dry. This serves 6 or more persons.

To prepare with Ham Hocks or Pork Butts…

Wash meat, add water to cover, and let come to a boil in covered pot over medium flame. Cook 1½ hours, then add beans (pour water off) and add rest of ingredients to meat. Cook 4½ hours. Add water when necessary.

Suggestions:

For non-pork eaters, chicken fat may be used instead of salt pork. Corned beef or beef tongue may be used instead of ham hocks or butts.

To Serve:

On dinner plate – Rice then beans, wither over rice or beside rice, as preferred… Twenty minutes later – Bisma Rex and Swiss Kriss.

www.jazzmenrice.com 

New Orleans Chef John Besh Visits Fairhope

9 Dec

Chef John Besh, one of the rising culinary stars in the Crescent City, made a stop in Fairhope last night to promote his new cookbook, “My New Orleans.” The event, sponsored by Page and Palette Bookstore, was held at the beautiful Fairhope Inn in downtown Fairhope, AL.

The inn was decorated for Christmas and the complimentary wine and shrimp remoulade appetizers made for a festive occasion. A strolling accordian player provided the soundtrack by performing a variety of Christmas tunes and pop standards.

The crowd was much larger than I expected. This guy is a bit of a rock star with foodies along the Gulf Coast. I estimated about 200-300 people made the scene. Many of them purchased multiple cookbooks and waited patiently to meet Besh. He signed books and seemed to take great pleasure in chatting with each party as they arrived at the signing table.

The setting was relaxing & the weather comfortable

Downtown Fairhope is all lighted up for Christmas

For more on Besh and his new cookbook, visit his web site at www.chefjohnbesh.com  or http://shop.chefjohnbesh.com/myneworleansthecookbook.aspx

Stanley & Drago’s – New School New Orleans

22 Aug

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Our SFA friend Sara Roahen tipped us to a French Quarter eatery dubbed “Stanley.” Stanley as in Stanley Kowalski, the Marlon Brando character in the Southern fried cinematic classic, “A Streetcar Named Desire.” We were determined to dine outside our comfort zone of regular Big Easy favorites.

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The gumbo at Stanley was very dark and rich. So dark, in fact, that I almost thought (following the first spoonful) that the roux had been burned. I am happy to report that this was not the case at all. Further tasting resulted in an amazingly complex flavor profile. It was truly excellent, but I really love all things rich, mysterious and spicy. Others may be a little undecided about the almost coffee-like overtone and a pretty potent kick of cayenne.  

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The decor was totally New Orleans. Classy yet quite comfortable.

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The Eggs Stanley was a nice mid-day dish. Canadian bacon over toasted English muffins, topped with perfectly poached eggs, a light (not too thick) Hollandaise sauce, and four large fried oysters.  This tasty mix of flavors and textures had me shouting … “STELLA!!!”  www.stanleyrestaurant.com

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Drago’s is located in the waterfront Hilton hotel, yet it is in no way your typical hotel restaurant. Although I am not sure about the rest of the menu, I can tell you that the chargrilled oysters are nothing short of perfection on the half shell.

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The local oysters are opened and laid directly on the grill. This process delivers a deliciously smoky hint to each briny bi-valve. The oysters are topped with lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, butter, and Lord knows what else. Simply fabulous — one of the best bites of the entire weekend trip.  

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 The accompanying hunk of French bread was superb as well.

I just couldn’t resist asking where it was made.  

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 My answer was on the large brown bags stored at the end of the bar.

Leidenheimer Bakery does make an incredible bread – great for dipping!

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The four of us gouged at and slurped down these babies like it was our last meal on the planet. Sparks flew from the greyish shells, buttery goodness dripped down our chins, an occasional piece of shell was swallowed in the process.

Shear happiness on a plate — get here as soon as you can & tell a friend.

www.dragosrestaurant.com

The Ramos Gin Fizz

16 Aug

Just enjoyed my first Ramos Gin Fizz recently — and it was a tasty one. It’s a very refreshing, frothy concoction (pictured above) from days gone by. I have included a recipe and some history on the cocktail. Now I need to move on to the next steps: Sazarac and Absinthe drinks. “Bottoms up!”

RAMOS GIN FIZZ

  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

  • 3-4 drops orange flower water

  • 1/2 lime — juice only

  • 1/2 lemon — juice only

  • 1 jigger dry gin

  • 1 white of egg

  • 1 jigger heavy cream

  • 1 squire seltzer water

  • 2 drops extract vanilla (optional)

Mix in a tall barglass in the order given; add crushed ice, not too fine as lumps are needed to whip up the froth on the egg white and cream. Use a long metal shaker and remember this is one drink that needs a long, steady shaking. Keep at it until the mixture gets body — “ropy” as some experienced barkeepers express it. When thoroughly shaken, strain into a tall thin glass for serving.

The gin fizz has long been an institution in the city care forgot. The age of the Ramos gin fizz is well past the half-century mark, and its popularity shows no signs of abating. In the good old days before the federal government was so prodigal with padlocks, the saloons of Henry C Ramos were famous for the gin fizzes shaken up by a busy bevy of shaker boys. Visitors, not to mention home folk, flocked in droves to the Ramos dispensary to down the frothy draft that Ramos alone knew how to make to perfection. One poetical sipper eulogized it thus: “It’s like drinking a flower!”

Exactly what went into the making of a Ramos gin fizz always has been more or less a secret. One thing is certain — only at the Ramos establishment could one get what tasted like a real gin fizz. Wherefore, like all successful drinks, the Ramos fizz was widely imitated but never really duplicated. Possibly no other thirst assuaging emporium gave the mixture the long deliberate shaking it received from the shaker boys behind the Ramos bar, and that was the secret of its lip smacking goodness. Came prohibition, and the drink that made the name of Ramos disappeared. After the return of legal liquor, the trade name of Ramos was acquired by the Hotel Roosevelt, and today that is its legal domicile.

roosevelt

The gin fizz, and by that I mean the common or garden variety, had its beginning way back yonder, but the Ramos concoction was not known to Orleanians until 1888 when Henry C. Ramos came to New Orleans from Baton Rouge and purchased the Imperial Cabinet saloon from Emile Sunier. The Cabinet was located at the corner of Gravier and Carondelet streets (where a modern Sazerac saloon now holds forth) and above it, on the second storey, was a famous restaurant of days gone by — The Old Hickory. Here it was that Henry Ramos served the gin fizz that departed so radically from the other frothy gin mixtures served in New Orleans saloons, and here he remained until 1907 when he purchased Tom Anderson’s Stag saloon opposite the Gravier street entrance to the St. Charles Hotel.

The new place became a Mecca for the thirsty and for those pioneers who would make a pilgrimage of any sort for a new drink. At times The Stag became so crowded that customers were forced to wait an hour or more (or so it seemed) to be served. The corps of busy shaker boys behind the bar was one of the sights of the town during Carnival, and in the 1915 Mardi Gras, 35 shaker boys nearly shook their arms off, but were still unable to keep up with the demand.

The recipe given is the original formula. Veteran barkeepers differ violently — practically come to blows — over the inclusion of the two innocent drops of extract of vanilla. Old-timers who worked for Henry Ramos in the past declare the original Ramos included no vanilla in its make-up. Others hold that the twin drops of extract wrung from the heart of the vanilla bean either make or break a real gin fizz — make it taste like heaven or the reverse.

Therefore, when you mix your fizz, add the two vanilla drops or leave them out, just as you please. If still in doubt, take it up with Paul Alpuente at the Hotel Roosevelt bar. He was with Henry Ramos for years, and when he mixes your Ramos gin fizz, watch him closely.

www.therooseveltneworleans.com

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