Thursday, February 17, 2011
Court of Two Sisters, $8
Like a rock star who relies on showmanship in lieu of youth, looks, great hair, or straight teeth, Bananas Foster is homely dessert that puts on one hell of a show. Its basic constituents are sliced bananas, vanilla ice cream, butter, sugar, cinnamon, and booze. What makes Bananas Foster extraordinary is that these ingredients typically come together at tableside and over an open flame: it's a performance dessert.
The dish originated in 1951 at famed New Orleans restaurant Brennan's, and was named for a local politician who was friends with the owner. I ordered it at the Court of Two Sisters, another venerable restaurant, named for sisters Emma and Bertha Camors, born 1858 and 1860, who ran a fashionable "notions" shop on the site. The restaurant's courtyard is the largest in the French Quarter, a romantic expanse dolled up with wisteria, fountains, and gas lamps. It's a great place for dinner at dusk, and a perfect stage for dessert course pyrotechnics.
Our affable server, Jay, set up a prop table with all the necessary accouterments, including a battered copper pan that looked like it might have belonged to Emma or Bertha; Jeff explained that all the waiters fight over that one because it works the best. He cooked the butter and sugar over a small brazier, then added the cinnamon and bananas. Finally, he checked that no one was walking nearby, told us to get our cameras ready, and added the rum to the hot pan: it instantly ignited into a tower of flame. Seconds later the bananas were spooned over the ice cream and dessert was served. I was digging into the warm, gooey mess before my eyes had even recovered from the rum flare.
Court of Two Sisters
613 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA 70130-2181