Modern Mid-City New Years chefs take on a classic New Orleans treat – Mid-City Messenger
By Kristine Froeba, Mid-City Messenger
New Orleans’ luxuriously decadent feast, New Years Eve, is traditionally served on Christmas and New Years Eve. Now it has expanded to include the entire month of December.
As with most New Orleans traditions, New Year’s Eve descends from French Catholics from the colonial period of New Orleans under French rule. Once upon a time, there were two New Years Eve: Christmas Eve, enjoyed before sunrise on Christmas Day, and New Years Eve, enjoyed early on New Year’s Day.
After Creole families returned home after midnight mass or “Midnight Mass” at Saint-Louis Cathedral, the solemnity of religious observance and Advent fasting ended with New Year’s Eve.
The term “Réveillon” comes from the French word for awakening or awakening, “awakening”- because you had to stay awake until the early hours of the morning to participate in the luxurious feast of food and wine that lasted for hours.
The original feast consisted more of a hearty breakfast of egg dishes, raisin breads, fruit cakes, wine, strong coffee, and “glazed stew,” a richly spiced and carefully jellied meat. prepared which occupied an important place on the Creole table. A nod to history, the August restaurant prepares a dish of scrambled eggs with truffles as part of its New Year’s Eve menu.
New Year’s Eve and its meaning are fading amid the Americanization of Christmas and the relaxation of Catholic rules on abstinence. The tradition was lost until 1988, when New Year’s Eve was relaunched as a marketing bet to fill the tables of restaurants in the French Quarter during one of the slowest months of the year.
This holiday season, dozens of Mid-City, Uptown, Warehouse District and French Quarter restaurants are once again participating in New Year’s Eve. The menus are fixed price with four and sometimes five courses. Many restaurants offer one or two choices per dish. Food and wine pairings can be offered but are generally at an additional cost.
Modern New Year’s Eve menus are served during regular dinner hours – you don’t have to stay awake after midnight to participate.
Several restaurants in and around Mid-City have created New Year’s Eve menus.
At Faubourg St. John, the four courses at Café Degas include a Boston lettuce salad, a roasted duck breast with sweet potato gratin and a starter of frog leg remoulade in an almond crust with apple chutney. The meal ends with a Belle Hélène, a poached pear with spices topped with chocolate ganache, vanilla ice cream and toasted almonds. A three-glass food and wine pairing is available.
Café Degas offers its New Year’s Eve menu during dinner service until December 30, including Christmas Eve.
Addis Nola on South Broad near Tulane Avenue has created an Ethiopian version of a New Year’s Eve menu. The meal begins with a lentil sambusa, a handmade pie with a flaky crust and Ethiopian spices, followed by bayenetu, a vegetable platter. The starter consists of Mat Mimitu prawns with a honey and wine accord. A bread pudding ends the meal.
Ralph’s on the Park offers a simple four-course menu: turtle soup, crab-crusted fish with crab-fried rice and crab soup, grilled filet with roasted vegetables and foie gras demi-glace, ending with a slice of Bourbon chocolate pecans tart.