Breakfast at Brennan’s has been a New Orleans tradition since the restaurant’s founding in 1946. The iconic pink stucco French Quarter restaurant struggled in recent years and was forced to close its famous doors in June 2013 due to bankruptcy.
The famous eatery reopened in November 2014 to much fanfare after an estimated $25 million renovation, which included a revamped interior designed by Richard Keith Langham, a native of Brewton, Ala., who is now a New York-based interior designer to the rich and famous.
The restaurant is now in the hands of another branch of the famous Brennan family — but not the branch headed by founder Owen Brennan, whose sons Pip and Ted acrimoniously ran the restaurant until its closure in 2013.
The new owners are Ralph Brennan, a cousin of Pip and Ted’s, and business partner Terry White. Ralph Brennan owns several successful New Orleans eateries, including Red Fish Grill and Ralph’s on the Park.
The reinvented Brennan’s is once again serving up brunch, as well as launching new traditions while paying homage to the old. Recently, the restaurant’s famous turtles — displaced during the renovation — were returned to their home in the courtyard pond.
These 10 turtles will never find their way into the eatery’s famous turtle soup, primarily because they have been given names and now have their own Mardi Gras krewe, The Krewe of Turtles.
These turtles reclaimed their residence in grand style this past St Patrick’s Day, parading through the French Quarter to their old home on personal floats.
Five of the turtles are named for French "Mother Sauces:" Béchamel, Espagnole, Hollandaise, Tomate and Velouté. The second five are named for familiar sauces used in New Orleans cuisine: Remoulade, Ravigote, Bordelaise, Mignonette and Cocktail (the only male in the group). New Orleans natives have dubbed the turtles "The Muthas and the Othas."
Not familiar with your mother sauces? They are basic sauces from which all other sauces are derived in classic French cuisine. Sauces that we call gravy in the South owe their origin to a mother sauce.
When dining involves a mother sauce, attention should be paid to wine selection. Consider the following mother sauces:
• Béchamel (bish-ah-mel). A blend of flour and melted butter into which hot milk flavored with onions, peppercorns and nutmeg is simmered until thickened. Often used for mac and cheese, vegetable, meat and seafood casseroles, this creamy sauce pairs nicely with buttery chardonnay.
• Velouté (vel lou teh). Made much like béchamel but with meat stock rather than milk. Think gravy made with pan drippings to which stock has been added. Pair with pinot noir or buttery chardonnay.
• Espagnole (es span yol). Sauce made from brown stock, such as beef stock, combined with a nutty brown, cooked combination of flour and butter with tomato paste added for richness. Does pot roast come to mind? Pair with pinot noir or merlot.
• Hollandaise (olland daize). Made from a blend of melted clarified butter slowly whisked into room temperature egg yolks. This sauce requires skill and can easily break apart. Made correctly it is similar in consistency to thin mayonnaise. A major component of eggs Benedict. Nothing pairs better with eggs Benedict than Champagne or sparkling wine.
• Tomate (toe mat). Traditional tomato sauce made by slow cooking tomatoes and aromatic vegetables until tender, then processing through a food mill and returning to pan for further reduction. Major component for red sauce Italian dishes. Pairs well with Chianti or American zinfandel.
Wine pairings for "Othas" are a bit challenging. Consider the ingredients of the following:
• Remoulade (rim o laude). Mayonnaise flavored with mustard, chopped capers and herbs.
• Ravigote (ravi got). Sauce Velouté with white wine, vinegar and shallots added.
• Bordelaise (bord lez). Rich meat stock flavored with red wine and herbs.
• Mignonette (mig yo net). Red wine vinegar flavored with pepper and shallots, often served with seafood, especially raw oysters.
• Cocktail. Ketchup-based sauce flavored with lemon and horseradish, served with all things from the sea.
The "Othas" are most often served with seafood. Dry white wines like sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio or chardonnay work best.
In instances where recipes specify a specific wine for the sauce, that type of wine should be served with the dish — but never use a wine in cooking that you would not drink.
Contact Pat Kettles at firstname.lastname@example.org.