I rarely write about restaurants in Up Front. When I do, what I write is never a plug or a promotion. I can’t afford to go out on my own, so I only get to try new places when someone invites me out. And I only write about new places if I feel they offer something both exotic and satisfying. I’m not interested in one more place that serves plates piled high with a bunch of deep-fried stuff.
What makes the new venue The Villa most exotic is that it’s quite old. As you may know, The Villa was established in the old Noble Building (324 Pujo St.) which was restored and remodeled in a historically faithful manner. You can see that right away in the beautiful tin ceilings and the occasional irregularities in the plaster walls. The original staircase was retained. The building supports, the staircase and the rails that run alongside it and above it are all in dark brown wood. While that could make things look dour, in fact, the space looks open and inviting. You can relax here.
Many documents and artifacts from the Noble Building’s long history are displayed in several parts of the restaurant.
Art is minimal (meaning there is no more than is needed to create patterns on the walls). I urge you to go upstairs and look at the small, whimsical painting of a black cat peaking over the bottom of the frame.
The food theme here is, I think, a Cajun twist on Italian food. While I’m not sure how that works, I can vouch for the superlative taste of the food.
Someone recommended I try the oysters appetizers. The fried oysters come with a substantial but creamy cheese sauce. I recommend cutting the oyster in half with a fork and scooping up a generous bit of the sauce with the meat.
This was the best tasting oyster dish I’ve had, and I’ve had plenty. I will warn you that the dish is somewhat small for an oysters appetizer. (The diner gets three oysters.) But if you have plenty of walking around money, you won’t find a better taste experience.
My favorite Italian dish is carbonara. The Villa’s was a success. The egg and cheese sauce was provided in exactly the right amount to just coat the pasta. I don’t care for carbonara in which sauce pools around the pasta. The Villa must have used a special sort of bacon in its carbonara. It tasted like flavorful cracklins with an almost fluffy texture. The serving size for this dish was ideal for an entrée.
Since this is an Italian place, I wasn’t sure it would have Louisiana beers. Thus I was pleased to be served a Crying Eagle Ready To Mingle. I also noticed that when I ordered a second beer, my server knew what I was drinking even though I’d gotten the first beer from the bartender. This place seems to have a very effective restaurant system in place. I can’t think of anything I was dissatisfied with. And I didn’t see one television.
We’ve All Been Shot, Right?
A few weeks back, N.O. mayor Mitch Landrieu gave a press conference about the application of asphalt to Jackson Ave. For some reason, there was a good bit of controversy about this. So profound is my degree of indifference to the matter that I can’t tell you what the controversy was about.
What I can tell you about is a comment about the press conference that was posted on Landrieu’s Facebook page.
Now, I don’t go on Facebook, because when I do, I see stuff like the comment I’m going to reproduce below. But I do go on Twitter. I figure I more or less have to if I’m going to keep up on Louisiana news. A New Orleans journalist Tweeted the Facebook comment because — apparently — he thought it was really funny.
As is usually the case with these sorts of heartfelt, impassioned Facebook diatribes, the text is written ENTIRELY IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Why? Well, the simple reason is that a message that’s written ENTIRELY IN CAPITAL LETTERS MUST BE VERY IMPORTANT. I mean, VERY IMPORTANT. And that means that whenever you see a message like that, you should STOP WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING AND DIRECT YOUR FULL ATTENTION TO THE MESSAGE, and, even more important, to THE PERSON WHO WROTE THE MESSAGE because, being, as he is, the bearer of such an OBVIOUSLY IMPORTANT MESSAGE, he must be THE BIG DOG, THE TOP DOG and, plainly and simply, THE MAN.
Inevitably, diatribes of this sort — impassioned and heartfelt — are loaded with errors: missing punctuation, unnecessary punctuation, missing verbs and faulty verb forms in general, and — my favorite — multiple consecutive exclamation points; you know: !!!!! As always, the Up Fronter reproduces all these colorful flaws just exactly as they appeared in the original text.
So, are you ready? Here we go:
It’s been clear for a long time that there’s a strong connection between asphalt and communism, and I’m glad someone finally had the courage to come out and say it.
The connection with communism and nausea (“YOU MAKE US PUKE”) is less well documented. The only time I hung out with communists was when I went to a party at a house of Maoists one night when I was in graduate school. I don’t recall feeling any nausea. But it’s possible the effects of the nausea were dulled by the significant amount of beer I drank.
Now, as for the statement “WE ALL GOT SHOT,” this is absolutely correct. Even I got shot, and I haven’t been anywhere near New Orleans. Yes, reader, the .50 caliber bullet entered through my buccal brachioradialis and exited through my scaphoid dorsimus, causing a copious loss of blood and tears. The only thing that saved me was the vigorous application of a mustard plaster, 16 ounces of valerian cream and a pressure point massage.
It’s always embarrassing to be forced to admit the limitations of one’s political knowledge. But, if I’m going to be honest, I have to admit I don’t know who JOHNNIE IDIOT is. The only “Johnnie” I ever knew was a wrestler and all-around tough guy who came from Chicago. He was Armenian. I don’t remember what his last name was, but I’m just about sure it wasn’t “Idiot.” And even if it had been, I wouldn’t have called him “Idiot” for all the Cognac in Armenia.
As I suggested above, I don’t have a Facebook account. But I’ve considered starting one and posting just one message:
“To learn to control your emotions, visit anger-management-techniques.org and nobullying.com. Thank you.”
Get Your Hopes Down
This time around, Gov. Edwards is trying to get the Louisiana Legislature to sign on with something called a “commercial activity tax” — or CAT. This measure will tax the gross revenues of all Louisiana businesses.
I don’t understand it — a circumstance that strongly inclines me to suspect our legislators won’t understand it.
In a commentary on the matter, Gambit’s Clancy DuBos wrote, “a recent survey by LSU pollster Mike Henderson found that voters prefer a combination of higher taxes and spending cuts. Voters do not support cutting higher education, health care or infrastructure improvements. In fact, they want more spent on those items.
“The survey was conducted by LSU’s Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs … It shows that voters get the big picture. So why don’t our elected leaders?”
Well, let’s unpack that a leetle beet. Often, there is no “big picture.” And if there is one, you can confidently bet the farm that voters don’t get it.
What we have in this LSU survey, and thousands like it, is a laundry list of things that pop into voters’ minds when they’re asked what they’d like to get if they could have the moon.
I could say just as easily as these voters did that I want no new taxes, no spending cuts and the maximum possible funding for higher ed, health care and infrastructure. I could call that bag of goods the “big picture.”
Let’s assume there really is a big picture and the voters really do get it and the elected lawmakers really don’t. How could that happen?
Well, the lawmakers have to deal with the little picture. The details. They have to figure out how they can avoid cutting health care spending when they can’t figure out how to cut anything else. They have to determine how they can keep infrastructure funded when all people on all sides are telling them not to raise taxes.
The only time that sort of thing happens in government is when a bunch of powerful elected lawmakers takes a big, collective gulp and determines they’re all going to grow spines at once. We haven’t seen that happen in this country since Watergate.
As for Louisiana lawmakers, well, they were more scared of the Stelly Plan than a mouse is of a cat. Don’t expect a comprehensive fix from a colony of mice that’s been running scared for years.
Slow Your Roll, Poll
This was the headline: “New Poll Shows 88 Percent of Louisianans Support the 2017 Coastal Master Plan.”
I would have been more moved by a headline that read, “New Poll Shows 88 Percent of Louisianans Don’t Know What 2017 Coastal Master Plan Is.”
The first headline was at the top of a recent press release from a group called “Restore The Mississippi River Delta.” That may be a fine group, for all I know.
I do think it could make its language more precise. For instance, one passage reads, “86 percent [of Louisiana voters surveyed] believe the state should identify and secure additional funding for master plan projects.” A more accurate statement would be “86 percent [of Louisiana voters surveyed] said they believed the state should identify and secure additional funding for master plan projects once they had the meaning of the words ‘the state should identify and secure additional funding for master plan projects’ explained to them.”
Is This An Issue In Any Other State?
“Gov. Edwards wants to exclude disabled students from corporal punishment” — Times-Picayune, April 6.
While we’re at it, we might want to do something about stocks, tarring and feathering and heretic burnings.
Do They Think I’ll Believe Anything?
OK, national and international media — stop trying to convince me that Rick Perry is on the National Security Council. Do you really think I’m that naive?
In case you’ve forgotten, Rick Perry is the guy who was governor of Texas; seriously floated a proposal for Texas to secede from the United States; and unsuccessfully ran for president 17,000 times. His supreme intellectual and political achievement was appearing on the TV show Dancing with the Stars.
If Perry’s on the National Security Council, I’m on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And if I’m on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that means the Pentagon has moved to Lake Charles. And if it has, I think I would have heard about it.
“Why do we dress so badly when we fly?”
— USA Today headline for March 27; No. 3 on the paper’s Top Stories for that day
“Crayola to retire a color; but which one will it be?”
— Associated Press headline, March 29.
It’s Grand Bahama, Mama
Editor’s note: In the April 6 Lagniappe story “Officer on Deck,” it was mistakenly stated that Randy Robb completed a shipyard in the Grand Bahamas. In fact, the shipyard was located in Grand Bahama, which is a particular island in the Bahamas chain.