It's All Gravy
A concerned reader who didn't leave his name phoned last week to call me on a slip into regional dialect in my review of Il Piatto (March 30). In his opinion, the term 'red gravy' does injustice to Italian tomato sauces, which he says aren't gravies at all. Indeed, The New Food Lover's Companion (Barron), an invaluable resource in deciding such matters, defines a gravy as 'a sauce made from meat juices, usually combined with a liquid such as chicken or beef broth, wine or milk and thickened with flour, cornstarch or some other thickening agent. A gravy may also be the simple juices left in the pan after meat, poultry or fish has been cooked.' This definition precludes the majority of Italian tomato sauces from being gravies. The brick-red tomato sauce of Mosca's chicken cacciatore may be one exception; on my last trip to Avondale, a waitress explained that the cacciatore's deep color and intense, almost Mexican mole poblano-like flavor is achieved by adding straightforward tomato sauce to the hot chicken pan, thereby frying the tomato sauce and thickening the pan juices. I stand corrected at any rate. But really, I was only trying to fit in.

Wine and Dine
Andrea's (3100 19th St., Metairie, 834-8583) will host a four-course Banfi Estates wine dinner beginning at 7 p.m. this Thursday, pairing the Italian wines with Northern Italian and continental-style dishes such as porcini ravioli and pork tenderloin with plum sauce. The cost is $65.

Cooking for a Cause
For the second consecutive year, the Young Lawyers Section of the New Orleans Bar Association fired up its grills in City Park on Saturday, March 27, for a cook-off to benefit the New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation, a nonprofit group that helps financially challenged citizens with civil issues. The celebrity jury, composed of Galatoire's owner David Gooch and Besh Steakhouse Chef Stephen McHugh, among others, chose the following winners: The Gennusa law firm won Best Local Favorite with grilled oysters; Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann stole the Best Dessert title with dessert crepes; Phelps Dunbar garnered Most Creative honors for grillades and grits served in martini glasses; and Galloway Johnson Tompkins Burr & Smith swept the Best Overall category with Thai-style potstickers and fruit pizza.

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