Thursday, October 8, 2009

Remembering New Orleans

Louisiana in general and New Orleans in particular are foodie havens where it's easier to find a remarkable meal than to find a bad one.

Friend and frequent traveler Janis Noe of Marysville, WA, was reminiscing about a trip to the Big Easy and shared a favorite experience.

After spending all day eating our way around New Orleans and planning to turn in early, we found ourselves in front of Arnaud's at 5 p.m. and not very hungry.  I insisted on going inside for Bananas Foster.
  The restaurant was empty.  As my husband and I crossed the foyer toward the tuxedo-ed Maitre d' I felt a little intimidated.  My husband asked if we could just order dessert and he looked at us as if we were very strange, but after the slightest hesitation he snapped, "Why NOT?"  
  He led us into the empty and cavernous main dining room (which I understand from guide books is reserved for tourists), seated us, introduced us to our waiter and we enjoyed the fabulous show that followed.
  The recipe will get you the Bananas Foster, but in order to enjoy the full spectacle of the Arnaud's presentation you'll have to take a pinch of cinnamon and rub it between your fingers, releasing it a little at a time high over a flame so it sparkles as it catches fire on the way to your plate.  It wouldn't hurt to wear a tuxedo while you're doing it.

Bananas Foster
4 TBS butter                                          4 bananas, cut in half lengthwise then halved
4 scoops vanilla ice cream                     1/2 TBS cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar                                4 TBS banana liqueur
1/4 cup of rum
Melt butter in a flambe pan over an alcohol burner. Add the sugar, cinnamon and banana liqueur and stir to mix. Heat for a few minutes then place the bananas in the sauce and saute until soft. Add the rum and allow it to heat, then tip the pan so that the flame causes the flame to ignite. (You can do the same thing over Sterno or on the stove top, lighting with a match, if you must.)

Allow the flame to die out, tipping the pan with a circular motion to prolong the flaming. Serve over vanilla ice cream.

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