A Menu for Merriment

“Since 1840” says a lot. And that’s what the city’s oldest restaurant, Antoine’s, is bannering, thanks to its celebration of 175 years. Amidst a plethora of events, and to benefit The Historic New Orleans Collection, Antoine’s Restaurant presented a “Prohibition-Themed Gala” at the famed landmark on St. Louis Street. Period costumes were encouraged.

The restaurant was dressed in its Prohibition best with glittering, snazzy, Gatsby-esque decorations in every room. An oversize ice sculpture of the Eiffel Tower was placed in the Rex Room; upstairs, guests invoked Lady Luck at various “gambling” stations; the Twelfth Night Revelers Room served as a decadent dessert parlor; and the Mystery Room hinted at just that. Guests were prompted to fill “prescriptions” from a roving “doctor,” who sent them to the “pharmacy” in that dining room. The “pharmacist” furthered the gala’s theme by prescribing Sazeracs to alleviate guests’ ailments. It’s amazing how many cures there were!

All around, era-costumed actors portrayed constables or policemen, as well as protestors with signs warning against the dangers of alcohol. Dancers showed off the popular dance styles of the day, including the spirited Charleston. Watch those legs!

The invitation promised — and delivered — the above mentioned Gangster Gambling Room and a Secret Room. Additional enticements were “Fabulous Food and Cocktails,” “Live Music & Dancing with Jimmy Maxwell and Giselle Bonfaire,” the “Delicious Dessert Parlor” and the “Champagne & Wine Lounge.”

Shrimp canapes, Oysters Foch and mini pork sliders were among the choice items passed as hors d’oeuvres. Moments later, guests queued up for the seafood bar and the hot food line with perennial favorites Oysters Rockefeller and Bienville, puppy drum amandine and sliced beef tenderloin with a choice of sauces, marchand du vin or béarnaise.

The sweets selection focused on such mini desserts as petits fours and chocolate turtles. Of course, the culminating piece de resistance was the Baked Alaska with chocolate sauce.

From the restaurant came descendants of founding father Antoine Alciatore in Yvonne Alciatore Blount and Rick Blount with spouse Lisa. From THNOC came Priscilla and John Lawrence. They reveled in the 1840 nostalgia, while catching up on the 2015 comings and goings of Mark Romig and David Briggs, Hilton Bell, Bonnie Boyd, Bonnie Broel, Josh and Giselle Danzig, Diane Lyons, Fred Smith, Harry and Claire Stahel, Errol and Peggy Scott Laborde, Tom and Mary Ann Fitzmorris, Betsie Gambel, Curry Smith and countless others, who formed the Prohibition pack as they toasted the 175 years of grande dame Antoine’s.

Roads Traveled

Just blocks away from Antoine’s in the Vieux Carre is the Old Ursuline Convent Museum, one of the loveliest sites in the city. Visuals were further into play, thanks to the invitation of the Catholic Cultural Heritage Center, Archdiocese of New Orleans, which opened the exhibition, “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Gifts: The Road to Sainthood.” Acting as hosts were Archbishop Gregory Aymond and the Very Rev. Philip G. Landry, director of the above center.

Champagne and hors d’oeuvres welcomed guests, starting at 6:30 p.m. on a recent Friday evening with purveyance from Lisa Tanet and Bistreaux at the Bank and Catering Inc. Then came words of welcome from the archbishop and a viewing of the “Ordinary People” WLAE documentary, which were in turn followed by the reception. The subjects of the exhibit and documentary were Margaret Haughery, Daughters of Charity; Venerable Cornelia Connelly, Society of the Holy Child Jesus; Venerable Henriette Delille, Sisters of the Holy Family; Blessed Francis Seelos, Redemptorist; Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart; Saint Katharine Drexel, Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament; and Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne.

Broussard’s Restaurant and Courtyard, Steamboat Natchez, Joel, Acme Oyster House, Galatoire’s, La Louisiane Bakery, and Chez Nous served food under the capacious tent and found ready partakers. Mother Nature obliged with a near-perfect night. And to set the event to music, harpist Jacques Weaver did the thrumming for the throng.

Included were retired Archbishop Alfred Hughes; Dr. Emile Gagnet Leumas and Sarah McDonald, respective archivist and director of communications for the archdiocese; and Barbara Turner Windhorst, who chairs the board of the Catholic Cultural Heritage Center, which includes St. Louis Cathedral — St. Anthony’s Garden, and the Old Ursuline Convent Museum — St. Mary’s Church. Janice Foulks, who was joined by Dr. Ed, chairs CCHC’s Special Events Committee.

Also noted were Sister Beth Fitzpatrick, O. Carm, Errin Erdal-Bellan with mother Pam Schinetsky, Anna and Carl Ayestas, Doris and John Bruno, Lynda Grillot, Dreux Montegut, Mary and Tom Finney, Cynthia Valadez, Mary Widmann, Maureen Scheuermann, Ann Fuselier, Alfred Lemmon, Brad Feichter, and sisters Lea Siegel and Frances Salvaggio.

Gratitude tapped event sponsors Jim Perrier and Perrier Party Rentals, WLAE, Fred Holley, Ann and Gordon Stevens of Steamboat Natchez, Scurlock Rentals, Johnson Tropicals, Ambrose Garden, DocuMart Printing and the above caterers.

Still others making preview rounds were Kevin Charpentier, Davey Foto, Jolie Sekinger, Armand Bertin, Marci Schramm and Scott Campbell, Deacon Richard and Sandra Brady, Susan and Albin Guillot, and Jane Nalty, who boarded the Gray Line Tours shuttle bus at the party’s conclusion.

Minding Monday Meetings

Founded in 1911, Les Causeries du Lundi meets, as its name implies, one Monday (almost always the first) during the October-May season. The purpose of the organization is “to encourage and support interest in the French language, culture and literature” and it has included many notable New Orleanians as members, including the noted Southern author, Grace King, a past president.

For the “Monday Chats” (as the club’s name translates), there is a program given in the French language followed by refreshments and conversation in French. To launch the 2015 season, French Consul General Gregor Trumel and spouse Ingrid opened their Garden District home, the “Residence.” (Subsequent meetings for the season will be in the Playhouse of Longue Vue House and Gardens.) Not only did the consul general act as an amiable host, but he also delivered the first talk. His topic: French writers, who were also diplomats, namely Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand, Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle), Paul Claudel, Jean Giraudoux, Saint-Jean Perse (Alexis Leger) and Paul Morand. Hearty applause followed.

Flowers on the dining room table echoed seasonal chromatics, while taste treats from Chez Nous sated the Causeries appetite.

Noted were club President Jeanne LeBlanc Williams, director of programs Lynn Frank, parliamentarian Bronwen Fitzpatrick, Vice Consul of France in Louisiana Olivia Lamy, and Nicole Spangenberg, who was honored a few years ago by then-French ambassador to the United States, Pierre Vimont, for her work and bravery as a 16-year-old in France as a Resistance fighter against the Nazis.

Enjoying the first session, as well, were Anne Phillips, Jane Apffel, Colette Stelly Friend, Patricia Henderson, Astrid Klick, Sue Knox, Susan Mayoral, Marcelle Saussy, Terry Voorhies, Marilyn Wolf, Louise Hoffman, Amelie LeBlanc, and Courtney-Anne Sarpy. To mention a few, who smiled as they eyed the many Halloween decorations put up by the four Trumel children in readiness for Oct. 31.