Sunday, August 17, 2008

Maison Lacour

Maison Lacour Exterior.JPG

There is something about the South that feels like home to me. Perhaps it is the fact that work has led me to spend so much time there over the years. Or maybe it is because Louisiana's fried oysters always take me back to the ones made by my father in the Pacific Northwest. Whatever the reason may be, my friend in Baton Rouge has graciously given me unofficial "Louisiana native" credentials. What that meant for me this week was the opportunity to be a fly on the wall at a Mardi Gras Krewe meeting, check out the New Orleans building behind the mysterious murder of Dr. Mary Sherman (as chronicled in Dr. Mary's Monkey) and dine at one of Baton Rouge's finest, Maison Lacour.

Opened in 1986 by John and Jacqueline Gréaud, the story of Maison Lacour is a romantic one. In 1991 a gentleman by the name of Michael Jetty went to the back door of Maison Lacour and asked if he could apprentice under Cordon Bleu-trained Jacqueline Gréaud. The chance experience would lead to more than a future chef position at the restaurant: while developing immense discipline and respect for classic French cooking, Jetty also fell in love with the restaurant's hostess, John and Jacqueline's daughter Eva. Now married, Michael and Eva keep the family's heritage alive at the cozy Baton Rouge restaurant.

Crawfish Bisque.JPG
Bisque a l'Orange - $7.50

This creamy crawfish bisque is lightly scented with orange. I love a good bisque but so often they are rich enough to equate an entire meal. This version was just the right dose of indulgence sans the weight in one's stomach aftermath. The orange was a perfect touch.

Crab Royale.JPG
Crâbe à la Royale - $26.95

I tend to shy away from cream-based dishes due to the richness-factor, but since the Crâbe à la Royale is a Maison Lacour specialty, I was compelled to venture outside of my comfort zone. The journey paid off with this baked dish of jumbo lump crab, white wine, shallots and cream. Somehow, the sauce was far from heavy, as was the case with the cream sauce on the shrimp ravioli my friend ordered. (Clearly I am no Annie Leibovitz, as my terrible photo confirms, but I had to show off this fabulous dish nonetheless.)

Tarte Tatin - $7, Crêpes Suzette - $7.50 and Lemon Soufflé - $8.95

No, I didn't eat all three by myself...but I would have. My victim was the soufflé which was refreshing, and only added to the "light" theme of the meal. In fact, when I was done with this thing, there wasn't a speck of powdered sugar to be found.

At the end of our meal Michael came out to say hello, and to fill my friends in on his recent month in Tahiti, where French expats cooked for him for a change, and it took only "48 hours" for him and the lovely Eva to let Maison Lacour slip from their mind in the spirit of vacation. His humility was charming, and his passion evident, especially as he talked about his effort to always end an evening with a clean apron, an ode to his teacher,

For me, this meal was significant on a much deeper level than just good food with good friends. It also happened to be my last business trip to the South--or anywhere else for that matter--for a while as I take a huge career leap and say goodbye to an incredible cause that has been an integral part of my being for the good part of eight years. Since making this decision I have been hoping for a "sign" from the universe to support my decision. When my friend appeared at the restaurant with a bottle of
Châteauneuf-du-Pape, one of my absolute favs, I was quickly reminded that the dear friendships I have made from this experience do not have to be turned back in to HR with the key to the building and Avis direct bill credit card. These are friendships I will have for the rest of my days, wherever my career path takes me. To call it a sign might be a bit of a stretch, but it most certainly was a gift, and it appropriately set my sights on the future.

Thank you for everything, KP and Bill...XOXO. Here's to new beginnings.

- K

Maison Lacour
11025 N Harrell's Ferry Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70816


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