As I Like It!

AS I LIKE IT!

1.charbroiled oysters

AS I LIKE IT!

FEB 15

Last week Clista and I paid a quick visit to New Orleans. The official purpose of our trip was to take a load of our antiques to an auction, but the real reason centered on oysters. I love oysters anyway they’re served—raw, fried, baked and especially charbroiled. Clista is all for cooked oysters, but wouldn’t touch a raw one with a long handled spoon. Something about hepatitis bothers her.

We’re in agreement that we both love ‘em charbroiled, so we decided to compare several versions during our trip to the Big Easy. First, we stopped in Mobile on our way, for lunch at Wentzell’s Oyster House. Wentzell’s is a Mobile Icon, and serves up seafood in almost any manner you’ve ever heard of. In the last few years they’ve added charbroiled oysters to their menu.

I started off with a dozen on the half shell, while Clista ordered a West Indies salad. My oysters were fresh, cold and delicious, and Clista’s crabmeat sang on her palate. We both ordered a dozen charbroiled, and waited until we polished them off to compare notes. We agreed that they were well prepared and perfectly seasoned. We would have a standard to judge other versions.

Our next stop was Draco’s in downtown New Orleans. Draco’s may have been the first commercial establishment to serve charbroiled oysters, and we were anxious to try them out. We were disappointed. They were way too cheesy, over seasoned and undercooked. They had no hint of the charcoal flavor that separates the charbroiled from the baked. Wentzell’s was firmly in first place.

After we unloaded our stuff at the auction house, we decided to drive across the river to Boutte to try out Zydeco’s. Clista’s daughter Leslie had lived in Boutte for almost twenty years before moving to Nashville, and she knows her way around the local cuisine. She contended that Zydeco’s was to charbroiled oysters as Wisconsin is to cheese. We had to try them.

We were delighted. Zydeco’s oysters were perfectly seasoned, with just the right touch of cheese, but the main difference in theirs and the others came in the actual broiling. Draco’s had no trace of the charcoal grill, Wentzell’s a little more, but at Zydeco you could taste the charcoal in every bite. I’m sure we only scratched the surface of Louisiana charbroiled oysters, and we plan to do additional research, but for now, Zydeco’s is firmly in the lead.

For dinner on Thursday evening we went to Commander’s Palace and enjoyed the food and ambience. Commander’s does it right, and our meal was as good as it gets. I have to admit that I would have been totally satisfied with the warm French bread and creamery butter. While Clista enjoyed a glass of wine, I had hot coffee and pigged out on the bread and butter.

Clista had a wilted green salad and broiled drum. The fish was fresh, tasty and cooked to perfection. Commander’s does not serve its fish undercooked, as is the fashion in so many upscale restaurants these days, and it was accompanied by a rich cream sauce.

I had the foie gras, which I shared with Clista. Foie gras is high on my favorite foods list, and I’m convinced it is served daily on Mount Olympus. I had a bowl of Commander’s signature turtle soup, but somehow it did not live up to my memories of Commander’s soup when I worked in New Orleans in the 1960s

For my entrée I had the seared scallops, which were very good. Clista and I shared a dessert and a cup of rich New Orleans dark roast coffee, laced with chicory. After dinner I had the opportunity to ask about the turtle soup, and it was confirmed that the soup’s recipe has been lightened since Mrs. Moran’s day. Personally, I think that this was a case of it wasn’t broken, so why fix it.

The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has further revealed the seamy underside of American politics. Justice Scalia served on the court for nearly thirty years, and was respected for his wisdom and wit. It is a true shame that the political jockeying couldn’t have waited until we had an opportunity to honor his memory.

The photo is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to en.wikipedia.org

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Categories: As I Like It!

9 replies »

  1. Hi, Tommy! Kent & I have eaten in New Orleans & have found the Original Dragos in Metairie is wonderful. The original house with inside charcoal grill – smoked filled air as they throw the oysters on the grill. We love them!!! If you are in NO again please try them & see what you think. Enjoy your blog. Thanks, Linda Cutrer

    Sent from my iPhone

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  2. Loved your oyster tour. Make sure in Mobile and other places to ask if they are farm-raised or tonged. Bet that you may have eaten Murder Point oysters at Wentzell’s.

    J

  3. Welcome observations, Tommy. Our youngest son, Guy Feltenstein, moved to New Orleans from D.C. a couple of years ago so I’ll forward this to him. I assisted with Winifred Green’s service last week and had the pleasure of an all to brief chat with John.

  4. Commander’s has the proper mindset to do it right and most often succeeds. In many places dishes and sauces have so called lightened over time. Not always a good move for me.Yet some do work. Drago’s rests on its history plus it suffers from expansionitis. But they are a source for lobster all year and in New Orleans. Enjoy your writing as always.

  5. I still remember my first bowl of Turtle Soup at Commander’s with you in the 60s. I, too, am still going there to have it.

  6. I have never eaten at the new Drago’s downtown. The one at Metairie had a huge charcoal grill and five men working it. They never asked what you wanted just how many. We have a new place in Biloxi call Half Shell. Also in Gulfport on 90. Pretty Good and close. Love your articles. Wintzell’s has a new restaurant in Fairhope. Pretty good food and service. Pat

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