Today is Shove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins. Lent is a season of solemnity, fasting and abstinence, so an “all out fest of revelry and decadence” (especially in the order of food) became tradition. The French call it “Mardi Gras” which translates to “Fat Tuesday”, a celebration embraced by the folks that settled in New Orleans, and in modern times, the celebration of decadence has spread.

I’m a big fan of food, and though my tastes for daily consumption don’t run to what some would call decadence, but whenever I think of New Orleans (a city I adore) I think of incredibly amazing food and Brennan’s.   In fact, the last time I was in New Orleans, I visited Brennan’s for both breakfast and dinner, indulging on favorite menu items such as Eggs Hussarde, Bananas Foster, Crepes Fitzgerald and Turtle Soup.

Let’s be honest here: I have been dreaming of Eggs Hussarde for weeks.  Actually, the star of that dream has been the Marchand de Vin sauce, a savory blend of shallots, onions, garlic, ham, and red wine that simmer together to make this delectable ambrosia.   After realizing I had a cookbook from Brennan’s at my disposal, I was determined to create some meal around Marchand de Vin Sauce.

Last Thursday, I created an early Mardi Gras dinner with a modified version of Marchand de Vin Chicken. It was AMAZING. I did follow the sauce recipe exactly to begin with, but ended up ladling off excess butter and adding more wine.  It was well worth the two hours I spent in the kitchen preparing, simmering, cooking and plating.   Certainly not something to add to my weekly repertoire, but it is something I’ll make again.

Of course, you may be wondering why I would make this decadent meal a few days shy of Mardi Gras.  JB is on work travel this week.  Instead of cooking for myself tonight, I have plans for an early dinner at Rue Dumaine where Anne (the chef) has a special Mardi Gras menu planned.  The final decision point came when I got their weekly newsletter with this description of how their mixologist is preparing for handcrafted Hurricane’s, I knew it was the place for me:

On Saturday Evan mixed up his base for the Hurricane cocktail. I ordered him a high quality passion fruit puree and he added freshly squeezed orange juice. On Tuesday he will mix it up on order with housemade grenadine, fresh lime, spiced and light rum, YUM! There is no artificial anything in this creation, it is fresh and delicious.

YUM, indeed!  I’m still wavering on what to eat, but there is no question  on what I’ll be drinking!

And as we know, Wednesday must always follow Tuesday, and that leads us from the decadence that is Mardi Gras and into Lent.  Anyone that knows me well knows that I take the season of Lent as a time for spiritual growth…something to discuss tomorrow.

What’s on your plate for Mardi Gras?