About five years ago, I attended a small dinner in the tasting room at Italian Wine Merchants that was being cooked by Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse. Aside from it obviously being an epic experience, the one thing that I have never been able to forget was a white gumbo that Emeril served. It has been seared into my food memory as a wonderful flavor profile that I have not known since. So, there was little choice but to make a pilgrimage to the place where these flavors brewed long before the country become familiar with him as the screaming Food Network star.
As I expected, the meal had highs and lows, but one thing that it did deliver was that flavor that I had been yearning for. Both the Gumbo and the Boudin were perfectly rendered, and the black spaghetti with crawfish meatballs gave the perfect fusion twist.
But the highlight of the meal was a conversation I had with the restaurant’s general manager. He was telling me how he used to be one of Emeril’s executive sous-chefs. When I told him that I was from New York, he said that he had once visited the City with Emeril to cook a dinner, and that he would never forget it because he had been responsible for the gumbo, and that he made an experimental white gumbo that people are still talking about. My night was complete.