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Altar-ed State

This past March 19, St. Joseph's Day, local photographer Kerri McCaffety and her camera visited a staggering number of devotional altars. St. Joseph's Altars (Pelican Publishing Company, $23) is a tribute to that day; scores of color photographs, as well as the book's thoughtful and succinct text, illustrate the particular way in which Orleanians fete this holy day. McCaffety also authored Obituary Cocktail: The Great Saloons of New Orleans (Vissi D'Art Books) and Etouffee, Mon Amour: The Great Restaurants of New Orleans (Pelican), among other books. This latest project is her most New Orleans-centric yet. While outsiders may grow weary viewing 140-odd images of anise cookies, lamb cakes and dried fava beans, I expect that local St. Joseph's Day participants will relish the elements of devotion and nostalgia captured in each one, as I do. McCaffety will attend several book signings between now and Dec. 6, beginning with a signing from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, at 1850 House Bookstore (523 St. Ann St., 568-6968); and another from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, at the Garden District Book Shop (2727 Prytania St., 895-2266).

Fresh Face, New Name

Last month Victor's, the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans' premier restaurant, re-opened as the more casual Victor's Grille (921 Canal St., 524-1331). In another shift of prestigious hotel restaurant identity, the Windsor Court Hotel's Grill Room recently became The New Orleans Grill (300 Gravier St., 522-1992), following extensive renovations of the space. Like Victor's Grille, The New Orleans Grill is more reflective of the city than its predecessor -- both Victor's and the Grill Room were continental/international in scope. Unlike Victor's Grille, however, a press release regarding the new Windsor Court restaurant states that the renovations resulted in "a higher level of elegance inspired by the ethos of haute New Orleans." The Windsor Court received Mobil's five-star dining award from 1998 through 2001 and AAA's five-diamond award from 1990 through 2001. From the sounds of the renovations, and of Chef Jonathan Wright's upscale "contemporary European cuisine with a Louisiana accent," Windsor Court's management is attempting to re-establish the hotel as one of the world's finest. The New Orleans Grill serves breakfast and dinner daily, lunch Monday through Saturday and brunch Sunday.

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