Too Many Cooks Spoil The Broth
Musings are thoughts, the thoughtful kind. For the purpose of these articles, a-musings are thoughts that might amuse, entertain and even enlighten.
When I heard that Jeanine was running for office again, my heart leaped. She's such a great person. I wish her every good fortune in her quest for ways of making changes for the better in the country. And at the same time, I could not help thinking about her sister Nina. For the life of me I cannot figure out why the prime minister, given his penchant to embrace every Saint Lucian success as his own, has not nipped up to New Orleans by now, accompanied by a whole host of courtiers of course, to sample the dishes at Chef Nina Compton's exciting new restaurant, Compère Lapin, or as writers of Kwéyòl would spell it, Konpè Lapen.
It's probably just as well, come to think of it; Sir John, never too keen on a “Barnard” usurping his throne if I remember rightly, would have been twisting and turning in his grave at the thought of it.
But it seems that Chef Nina is making quite a name for herself if the following excerpts from a piece by Todd A Price of The Times-Picayune are anything to go by. Chef Nina Compton, Price writes, “earned a national following when she competed on Top Chef: New Orleans, placing second in the competition and earning the title of fan favorite.”
Price continues, “I have never been to St. Lucia, the island where Nina Compton was born. But after years of consuming tourist propaganda about the Caribbean, I can imagine (or so I think) what it must be like. And my first impulse, when eating at Compton's new restaurant Compère Lapin, is to latch onto the exotic, tropical flavors.”
Now then, Dear Reader, I really do believe that I have a pretty good vocabulary and am able to express myself in a way that is comprehensible to most people, but when it comes to food I like my dishes plain and simple; I like my food to taste of what it is.
Having said that – got it off my chest as it were – I have to say that Price's description of the food put before him at Compère Lapin made my mouth water even though it seemed at times to be expressed in a language as foreign as any I ever heard.
“Bits of conch hide in the crisp croquettes, stacked two-by-two like Lincoln Logs and scattered with crunch salt crystals. The grilled corn, a play on Mexican elote with aioli smeared across the top, is charred and rubbed with jerk seasoning. A tingling halo of heat hovers around many of Compton's dishes. Even after the plates have been cleared, the burn lingered pleasantly on my lips.”
Poetic enough, I suppose, but I find it difficult to imagine any “burn on my lips” being pleasant; I suppose he just got carried away a bit, became ecstatic. He goes on, “The dishes even have their own color palette. The green tones are creamy, like the flesh of an avocado. The pici pasta, tossed with diced squash and nuggets of lobster, has the pale red shade of a boiled crustacean's shell. Around the glistening snapper topped with citrus, chives and curling fennel is a swirl of orange oil, which has the bright hue of the kind of tropical sunset seen only in paintings.”
“The goat, in a curry redolent of cinnamon, comes with faintly sweet plantain gnocchi and just enough chopped cashews on top for a contrasting crunch. Tuna tartare is by now a warhorse of fine dining. But at Compère Lapin, the pristine cold-smoked tuna tossed with chile oil is just one element in a medley that includes dollops of avocado crema, salty daubes of caviar and sweet banana chips. The hot chicken, a fried, boneless thigh drowned in a blistering sauce, is thoughtfully paired with cooling pickles, chunks of mango and squash slaw.”
Whatever the color, it seems that “Our Nina” is doing quite well for herself thank you! And you know what, you might imagine that such a flowery description of the dishes on offer would be accompanied by even more ostentatious prices, but you'd be wrong! Actually, those of you who frequent the restaurants of Rodney Bay and know that a meal for two seldom, if ever, costs less than 100 dollars will be surprised to discover how affordable Nina's prices are. Conch croquettes will cost you $6; spiced pig ears $5; snapper crudo $13; marinated shrimp with roasted jalapeño jus $13; hot fire chicken with pickles $16; pici pasta with lobster $25; and curried goat $23! That's in USD of course!
There's just one thing that bothers me a bit: the street address of the restaurant, which is 535 Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans. Surely that Tchou fellow can't be meddling in things way down in New Orleans too! Or is that the reason U-No-Hu hasn't been there yet?