Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Orleans Holiday Cooking

Few cities take culinary traditions more seriously than New Orleans, where long-time Creole dining customs and iconic dishes contribute so much to the distinctive local cuisine. During the mid-1800's, New Orleans' Creole families celebrated the "Reveillon" (French for "awakening") twice during the holidays. The first Reveillon came after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, when families returned from St. Louis Cathedral to break a daylong fast with an elaborate meal. New Year's Eve brought another Reveillon, usually shared among several families. This more festive meal featured eggnog, fancy pastries, meringues, sugar sculptures, and crystallized fruits.

Today's Reveillon is celebrated nightly during the Christmas season in restaurants throughout the city. Menus combine ageless Creole cuisine with more contemporary New Orleans dishes. This fall we can bring New Orleans cuisine and the spirit of Reveillon to holiday tables everywhere. One of the city’s most influential restaurateurs has wrapped up the soul of New Orleans in one great, essential cookbook: Ralph Brennan’s New Orleans Seafood Cookbook (Vissi d’Arte Books; April 2008; hardcover/$45.00; ISBN: 978-0-9709336-8-3), a comprehensive guide to Gulf seafood. Four years in the making (including a nine-month hiatus in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina), this beautiful, full-color cookbook was created by the perfect storm of Louisiana talent including Ralph Brennan, his five talented chefs (representing his four restaurants: Red Fish Grill, BACCO, Ralph’s on the Park, and Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen), veteran writer and editor Gene Bourg, and acclaimed photographer Kerri McCaffety and covers everything from finfish, crabs, crawfish, shrimp, oysters, frog legs, and even alligator.

“The holidays are a special time around the dinner table in New Orleans. The traditional mix of family, fun and favorite recipes is a winning combination that we look forward to all year,” says Ralph Brennan. “Our cookbook seeks to bring that passion and sense of celebration to kitchens everywhere.”

Visit www.ralphbrennancookbook.com for more information on the cookbook.

About the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group

The New Orleans-based Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group is owned and operated by Ralph Brennan and includes French Quarter restaurants BACCO and Red Fish Grill, Ralph’s on the Park in mid-City New Orleans, and Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen at the Disneyland® Resort in Southern California. Each of these award-winning restaurants celebrates the cuisine and hospitality of classic and contemporary New Orleans and is staffed by a team of hardworking professionals dedicated ‘to making people happy’.

For more information, visit www.neworleans-food.com.

About Ralph Brennan

Ralph Brennan is a third-generation restaurateur. Known affectionately by his culinary staff as “The Taster-in-Chief”, Ralph entered the family business in the early 1980’s after a successful stint as a CPA with Price Waterhouse & Company. A long-time food service industry advocate, Ralph served as the 1995-1996 Chairman and President of the National Restaurant Association (NRA). An NRA Director since 1984, Brennan also served as the 2000-2001 Chairman of the NRA Educational Foundation. In 1997, the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) honored Ralph Brennan with its highest honor—the prestigious Gold Plate Operator of the Year Award. Ralph is a Past President of the Louisiana Restaurant Association and the New Orleans Restaurant Association. He was the chairman of the board of New Orleans’ Ernest N. Morial Convention Center from 1998-2005. Ralph remains active on the board of New Orleans’ Children’s Hospital and served as chairman in 2003-2004. He and his wife Susan are the proud parents of Kathryn, Patrick, and Kristen, and live in New Orleans.

About Gene Bourg

Gene Bourg was the restaurant reviewer and columnist for The Times-Picayune for nine years. He has written articles for Gourmet, Food & Wine, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, as well as other food and travel publications. He is a recipient of the National Magazine Award, given by the American Society of Magazine Editors and Columbia School of Journalism.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've looked through this book and one of the most amazing things is that I really feel like I can do it. Sometimes I read a cookbook and it just makes me want to go out of a pizza.