PATSY R. BRUMFIELD: Food, fun fill Big Easy trip

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Many thanks for all the kind felicitations surrounding my Fourth of July birthday. It’s always great to be 37, again, and again.
Because I worked that day, I took off the next two and headed south with the Grandpuppy.
In Jackson, my son and his wife treated me to a lovely post-birthday dinner and I got in a good visit with my longtime friend, Walterine.
Miss Bonnie and I sneaked into my McComb hometown, where I often make a pork sausage stop when I pass through. I am adamant that nobody can make really good red beans and rice or gumbo without really good sausage, which the McComb kind is.
Actually, I was taking this sausage to my daughter and her beau, who recently moved from Texas to New Orleans. Of course, the young man will find his own really good sausage, but in the meantime, I certainly didn’t want to see him ruin a potentially delicious concoction because of meatage deficiency.
We had a most delightful time going for brunches and dinners at some excellent neighborhood restaurants. No kidding.
To round out the pursuit, we spent a tasty evening at Acme Oyster Bar, where my near-Oxford writer friend Ace Atkins likes to flaunt that he’s having fun via his Facebook posts.
Not to be outdone, I asked The Beau to take Margaret and my photo yukking it up with our oysters so that Ace knows I get around, too.
As a house-warming gift, I’d sent The Beau a wonderful cookbook by famed New Orleans chef John Besh. So, on Saturday night, we applied ourselves to the recipe for barbecued shrimp, which Besh smartly advises has nothing to do with barbecue sauce or grills.
The recipe starts with a command to make a special sauce, of course, beginning with shrimp heads and shells. Well, how else do you make a shrimp sauce?
It also commands that you mix up what Besh calls his Basic Cajun Spice, which is useful in a multitude of his recipes.
We methodically worked our way through all the steps, prepared a creamy polenta with mascarpone for the side dish, then added the peeled shrimp for their few minutes in the refined, reduced and delectable sauce.
I won the “plating” contest – of course I did – I’ve watched too many Food Network shows not to know how it’s done attractively. When we finally sat down with glasses of wine and brought our fully loaded forks to mouths, each of us exclaimed with utter joy that we’d made one of the best dishes ever.
The night before, we’d actually dined on shrimp-and-grits at a Besh restaurant downtown, and I tell you, ours was its equal and perhaps more.
By Monday afternoon, with a story written for the Journal, Miss Bonnie and I headed north. The good and bad news: I’ve learned it’s only 51⁄2 hours from there to Tupelo. We’ll do it again.
Patsy R. Brumfield writes a Thursday column. Contact her at patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com.