The original plan for "A Tribute to Ruth Fertel" was to assemble friends, colleagues and admirers to honor the 75-year-old founder of the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse franchise, while she would announce her family's endowment for a new building on the Levert Campus of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux. Sadly, Fertel died on April 15. The tribute will go on as scheduled, on Wednesday, April 24, at The Ritz-Carlton-New Orleans (921 Canal St.), with her son Randy Fertel, president of the Fertel Family Foundation, serving as co-chair of the event. Writer Calvin Trillin will preside as master of ceremonies. New Orleans broadcaster and former Mets baseball player Ron Swoboda will direct a wine auction. The Ruth U. Fertel Culinary Arts Building, scheduled for completion in December 2003, will house a student-operated restaurant, six kitchens and a commissary. All proceeds from Wednesday's gala will benefit Ms. Fertel's endowment. For information about attending "A Tribute to Ruth Fertel" or making tax-deductible donations to the building, call (877) 218-7847. For more on Ruth Fertel, see Clancy DuBos' tribute in this issue.
Dinner at Elizabeth's
A reminder: Elizabeth's (601 Gallier St., 944-9272) won't be at Jazz Fest this year, but Heidi Trull is opening her Bywater restaurant for dinner Thursday through Saturday during both festival weekends. Elizabeth's also added a day for its breakfast and lunch operations for Jazz Fest, and will be open Monday through Saturday.
Morton's of Chicago (365 Canal St., 566-8326) recently added four uncharacteristically "saucy" steaks to its menu: steak au poivre, filet Oskar with crabmeat, asparagus and bearnaise; sliced sirloin with peppers, onions and garlic sauce; and filet Diane with mushrooms and mustard demi-glace.
At one point or another, most of us will end up wasting an afternoon at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Kenner. The next time it happens to you, treat yourself to a trip to the Asian Gourmet Market (3239 Williams Blvd., 466-0077) and a little frozen wonder I found there: mochi ice cream. It's ice cream finger food -- the size and shape of your average profiterole. Mochi is a chewy dough made with rice flour that the Japanese make into glutinous confections. A Japanese bakery in Los Angeles flavors the dough and wraps it around balls of ice cream. Imagine an ice cream-stuffed marshmallow, only weirder. The Kenner market carries green tea and red bean mochi ice cream balls. They come in packages of six, which are easily devoured before the traffic jam around the Causeway Boulevard exit dissolves.