Make Way for the Turtles as they Return to Brennan's Courtyard
New Orleans restaurateur Ralph Brennan has a longstanding love affair with his Irish and Italian ancestry, and it is especially apparent with regard to his Celtic roots on St. Patrick's Day. On the weekend of March 13-15, 2015 the streets throughout the city, from the Irish Channel to the French Quarter, will fill with gregarious revelers donning the ritual shamrock-green with carnations in hand. This year, a new tradition will be born at Brennan's, as the restaurant has had the good fortune to adopt a family of turtles -- ten of them to be exact, and as green as they come -- who inhabited the fountain pool under a canopy of greenery in the legendary courtyard. Now, after nineteen months of displacement in a makeshift home in the backyard of corporate executive chef Haley Bittermann, the turtles will parade on decorative wagons down the green-carpet, led by a bag-pipe led procession in "the slowest second line on earth." The festive journey back to their renovated home-sweet-home takes place on Saturday, March 14 starting at 10:30am.
As "Breakfast at Brennan's" has become part of the common parlance -- so will "Turtles at Brennan's." And no family pet of Brennan's could go unnamed, co-owner Terry White, Ralph, Haley, and the Brennan's team tapped into the traditions of New Orleans cooking and its French roots, choosing first the harmonious names of the five "Mother Sauces" of classical French cuisine, so essential to New Orleans fare: Béchamel, Espagnole, Hollandaise, Tomate, and Velouté. But five more names were needed. In the distinctive local lingo, the good Louisiana Samaritans dubbed them "The Muthas and the Othas," the "othas" bearing the names of five other sauces that complete a New Orleans menu: Remoulade, Ravigote, Bordelaise, Mignonette and Cocktail (the only male out of the ten.)
What's a parade without a float? For their big arrival, the turtles must ride in style (!) so the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group has provided materials to the children of the Brennan's staff to playfully create custom-festooned green-hued wagons. There will be eleven in all - the leading float, "Home on the Range," sets the theme for the entire procession, a play on words honoring Brennan's old-fashioned stovetop range that became the foundational "home" to the mother sauces that adorned the restaurant's classic dishes. Following close behind is a float for every green king and queen, each portraying the meaning behind its namesake mother sauces: Béchamel will pay tribute to its components with illustrated sacks of flour and cartons of milk, while Mignonette will be embellished in rosy-vinegar-pink and sparkling pearl oyster shells.
On Saturday, March 14 starting at 10:30am, all are invited to join in a complimentary celebratory toast to welcome the "lucky" extended family in their own parade, the Krewe of Turtles, as they return to their glorious Court in the patio, adding fauna to the flora of their lush historic residence.
The turtles are blessed with sly wit and personality...
Follow their courtyard antics and adventures on twitter @brennansturtles
Named for the 5 Mother Sauces of Classic Cooking
Béchamel sauce, also known as white sauce, is made from a roux (butter and flour) and milk. It is one of the mother sauces of French cuisine and Italian cuisine It is used as the base for other sauces (such as Mornay sauce, which is Béchamel with cheese).
Hollandaise sauce is an emulsion of egg yolk and liquid butter, usually seasoned with lemon juice, salt, and a little white pepper or cayenne pepper. In appearance, it is light yellow and opaque, smooth and creamy. The flavor is rich and buttery, with a mild tang. It is so named because it was believed to have mimicked a Dutch sauce for the King of the Netherlands' state visit to France. Hollandaise sauce is well known as a key ingredient of Eggs Benedict, and is often paired with vegetables such as steamed asparagus.
Espagnole has a strong taste and is rarely used directly on food. The basic method of making espagnole is to prepare a very dark brown roux, to which veal stock or water is added, along with browned bones, pieces of beef, vegetables, and various seasonings. This blend is allowed to slowly reduce while being frequently skimmed. The classical recipe calls for additional veal stock to be added as the liquid gradually reduces but today water is generally used instead. Tomato paste or pureed tomatoes are added towards the end of the process, and the sauce is further reduced.
Tomate Sauce resembles the traditional tomato sauce that we might use on pasta and pizza. Traditionally, the sauce tomate was thickened with roux, and some chefs still prepare it this way. But in reality, the tomatoes themselves are enough to thicken the sauce.
The term velouté is from the French adjectival form of velour, meaning velvet. In preparing a velouté sauce, a light stock (one in which the bones used have not been previously roasted), such as chicken or fish stock, is thickened with a blond roux. Thus the ingredients of a velouté are equal parts by mass butter and flour to form the roux, a light chicken or fish stock, and salt and pepper for seasoning.
Named for 5 New Orleans Style Sauces
Rémoulade is a condiment invented in France that is usually aioli-or mayonnaise-based. Although similar to tartar sauce, it is often more yellowish (or reddish in Louisiana), often flavored with curry, and sometimes contains chopped pickles or piccalilli. It can also contain horseradish, paprika, anchovies, capers and a host of other items. While its original purpose was possibly for serving with meats, it is now more often used as an accompaniment to seafood dishes.
Sauce ravigote is a classic, lightly acidic sauce in French cuisine, which may be prepared either warm or cold. The warm sauce is classically based upon a vegetable or meat broth, or a velouté, with herbs. Current recipes often add Dijon mustard. The cold is based on a vinaigrette. Many other preparations pass under the term ravigote, but in general ravigote sauces are highly seasoned with chopped, sautéed shallots or onion, capers and herbs. It is generally served with mild flavored proteins or those that have been boiled or poached, such as fish or fowl.
Bordelaise sauce is a classic French sauce named after the Bordeaux region of France, which is famous for its wine. The sauce is made with dry red wine, bone marrow, butter, shallots and sauce demi-glace. Traditionally, bordelaise sauce is served with grilled beef or steak, though it can also be served with other meats that pair well with red wine demi-glace based sauces. A Bordelaise sauce in traditional New Orleans cooking is different from the French classical version. The basic flavor is garlic rather than red wine and bone marrow. Another sauce called Bordelaise in New Orleans consists of butter, olive oil, chopped shallots, parsley and garlic.
Mignonette sauce is a condiment usually made with minced shallots, cracked pepper, and vinegar. It is traditionally served with raw oysters. The name "mignonette" originally referred to a sachet of peppercorns, cloves, and spices used to flavor liquids, but now simply means cracked pepper. Though different mignonette sauces may use different types of vinegar, all contain pepper and shallots.
Cocktail sauce, originally known as Marie Rose sauce is one of several types of cold or room temperature sauces often served as part of the dishes referred to as seafood cocktail or as a condiment with other seafoods. In America it generally consists of, at a minimum, ketchup or chili sauce mixed with prepared horseradish, though lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce are common additives, often all three. Some restaurants use chili sauce, a spicier tomato-based sauce in place of the ketchup.