Craig Giesecke: The perfect wine for one last New Orleans summer

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Craig Giesecke

Mymymy.  Last week’s column kicked up a lot of dust, as I criticized what I see as the shrinking creativity of the New Orleans restaurant scene and many jumped to its defense. I stand by my opinion, but the fact I have one does not make me right. It’s an opinion and it’s good to see so many take issue. Thanks for reading and responding.

One reader made the observation I need to go out to eat more often and I certainly agree. But, as mentioned in a previous column, this is tough for us to afford these days. Perhaps the summer’s advent of various fixed-price meals will make this a more available option. I hope so.

Midsummer is tough on the city’s restaurant scene. Not on everyone, but overall. My experience has been that a new place or a spot that’s changing its menu can weather things pretty well because word gets around and it can be a go-to spot ahead of some of the usual haunts. Some places close down for a few weeks, while others forge ahead with the fixed-price option. Even the grocery stores are finding it tougher to meet payroll, as many regular customers leave town for a few weeks. But with crawfish season over and raw oysters being a little more suspect during hot weather, it takes a toll.

I turn more toward shrimp this time of year, often paired with an albarino.  This white wine has a chalkiness, betraying its native Galicia and the nearby seafood of northwestern Spain. Any fish pairs will with this wine as well, particularly a cobia (also known as ling or lemonfish) because the fish holds herbs and other flavor without disintegrating the way a tilapia or other cheap fish can do. I think it’s the perfect summer wine, at least in this part of the world.

I sold my beloved big smokers this past week to the wonderful folks over at Louisiana Bistro on Dauphine in the French Quarter. I have used these big smokers to start one business (the smoked cheese business I had before Katrina) and to smoke legions of things at restaurants since. If you go, tell Chef Mars you want something smoked. He’ll do an excellent job, as he always does.

Our pending move has us in serious review mode in our kitchen. Do we keep big stock pots? Why? Our implements are also up for serious review. The roux wisk goes with us, of course. Our Frydaddy will likely stay behind, however. We have a broad assortment of Lexan containers of various sizes we will likely sell or give to a restaurant because they are simply too much to take along.  It’s heart-wrenching, actually, because we remember buying each piece for a specific use.  Not a fun task.

One of the things we will be trying to do over the next several weeks is to go have some meals at some of our favorite places, largely along the Magazine St. corridor near the house. This is the area that sustained us after Katrina, where we have done our best professional work and where we’ve hung out with so many of our neighbors. Though things have been shuffled a bit (Byblos moving to where Nacho Mama’s was, the appearance of Salu, Amici and The Rum House, etc.), it’s still pretty much the same as it was – at least in attitude. This will be the area we miss most of all, because it’s Home.

This is Home. We’re on the verge of getting to another one. But it’s difficult.

Very, very difficult.

Craig Giesecke has been a broadcaster and journalist for over 30 years, including nearly two decades at the AP and UPI covering news, sports, politics, food and travel. He has been the owner of J’anita’s for five years, serving well-reviewed upscale bar food and other dishes. Comments are encouraged and welcomed.

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