With PIRATE’S ALLEY taking place in mid-December, it offered up a chance for me to feature a couple of New Orleans holiday customs. Today, I’ll introduce you to Reveillon, New Orleans style.
In French custom, as I understand it, réveillon refers to a festive meal held at midnight on Christmas and New Year’s eves. In New Orleans, it dates back to the early 1800s, when Creole New Orleanians would have a big meal after returning home from midnight mass. The tradition gradually faded away (I mean, who wants a massive meal at 2 a.m.?), only to be revived in the 1990s in its current guise.
Today, Réveillon refers to the two or three weeks before the holidays, when local high-end restaurants offer elaborate, fixed-price four-course meals. I think it was originally planned to help boost restaurant traffic during a time of year when the tourists are not around to fill restaurant tables and it was seen as a way to lure locals into eating out more often.
In PIRATE’S ALLEY, DJ and Alex decide to enjoy a Réveillon dinner at Café Degas before they go to see the Celebration in the Oaks light show (which I’ll talk about next week). The café, which bills itself as a French bistro, was named after artist Edgar Degas, who visited New Orleans in 1872 and stayed in a guest house down the street from the restaurant’s location. It’s a lovely restaurant, although quite small.
For DJ & Alex’s dinner, I pulled from an actual Café Degas Réveillon menu: four courses plus a glass of ruby port, all for $42. Here are the courses they enjoy:
• Fried oyster and celeriac slaw in spicy remoulade. DJ picked out the oysters to eat and left most of the slaw since she has an aversion to green, leafy foods.
• Seared crawfish ravioli with spinach and brandy mushroom duxelles with a lemon buerre blanc. DJ was really enjoying this until her conversation with Alex began getting heated, and not in a good way.
• Pan-seared rack of lamb au jus with ratatouille. She’d lost her appetite by this time and picked at her lamb.
• Chocolate pot de crème. Her appetite’s never too far gone for dessert, so she ate hers, and then ate Alex’s by swapping her glass of port for it.
Then they went home in a snit.