We were staying at the Dauphine Orleans Hotel on Dauphine St. just across the street from the famous Bayona Restaurant. A leafy courtyard first attracted us as we strolled past; the adjacent old stone house had been converted into a restaurant. Only later did I realize that this was THE Bayona, one of the relative newcomers on a short list of five star places, tucked snugly and alphabetically after Antoine’s and Anraud’s and followed by the redoubtable Brennan’s.
To pronounce the meal exceptional, while entirely true, is to fall woefully short. How would one know about the moan-inducing signature dishes like the Goat Cheese Crouton with Mushrooms in Madeira Cream appetizer or the Grilled Duck Breast with Pepper Jelly Sauce and Wild Rice, or know just how much more than its name Garlic Soup Bayona is?
You can prepare this at home, using the following recipe from chef-owner Spicer’s own cookbook, Crescent City Cooking. Don’t allow the generous amounts of onion and garlic intimidate you. Slow cooking mutes the flavors, and an overnight mingling of flavors in your fridge will improve it even more.
GARLIC SOUP BAYONA
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 pounds onions, about 4, chopped
2 cups garlic cloves, about 4 large heads, chopped
2 quarts prepared chicken stock
1/2 loaf day-old French bread (about1/4 pound), cut into chunks
1 bouquet garni: 6 parsley stems, 9 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried) and 1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups half-and-half cream
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1. In a large pot, heat the oil and butter over low heat. Add the onions
and garlic. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft
and beginning to turn golden, about 30 minutes. Raise the heat to
moderate and continue cooking the onions and garlic, uncovered,
stirring frequently, until deep golden, about 10 minutes longer.
2. Add the stock, bread, bouquet garni, and salt. Bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer about 15 minutes.
3. Remove the bouquet garni and purée the soup in a blender or food processor. Strain the soup back into the pot. Add the half-and-half
and pepper and bring back to a boil. Serve topped with the croutons,
if you like. Serves 6.
Recipe Copyright: Crescent City Cooking