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New Orleans restaurateur Ralph Brennan has a longstanding love affair with his Irish and Italian ancestry, and it is especially apparent with regard to his Celtic roots on St. Patrick's Day. On the weekend of March 13-15, 2015 the streets throughout the city, from the Irish Channel to the French Quarter, will fill with gregarious revelers donning the ritual shamrock-green with carnations in hand. This year, a new tradition will be born at Brennan's, as the restaurant has had the good fortune to adopt a family of turtles -- ten of them to be exact, and as green as they come -- who inhabited the fountain pool under a canopy of greenery in the legendary courtyard. Now, after nineteen months of displacement in a makeshift home in the backyard of corporate executive chef Haley Bittermann, the turtles will parade on decorative wagons down the green-carpet, led by a bag-pipe led procession in "the slowest second line on earth." The festive journey back to their renovated home-sweet-home takes place on Saturday, March 14 starting at 10:30am.
As "Breakfast at Brennan's" has become part of the common parlance -- so will "Turtles at Brennan's." And no family pet of Brennan's could go unnamed, co-owner Terry White, Ralph, Haley, and the Brennan's team tapped into the traditions of New Orleans cooking and its French roots, choosing first the harmonious names of the five "Mother Sauces" of classical French cuisine, so essential to New Orleans fare: Béchamel, Espagnole, Hollandaise, Tomate, and Velouté. But five more names were needed. In the distinctive local lingo, the good Louisiana Samaritans dubbed them "The Muthas and the Othas," the "othas" bearing the names of five other sauces that complete a New Orleans menu: Remoulade, Ravigote, Bordelaise, Mignonette and Cocktail (the only male out of the ten.)
What's a parade without a float? For their big arrival, the turtles must ride in style (!) so the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group has provided materials to the children of the Brennan's staff to playfully create custom-festooned green-hued wagons. There will be eleven in all - the leading float, "Home on the Range," sets the theme for the entire procession, a play on words honoring Brennan's old-fashioned stovetop range that became the foundational "home" to the mother sauces that adorned the restaurant's classic dishes. Following close behind is a float for every green king and queen, each portraying the meaning behind its namesake mother sauces: Béchamel will pay tribute to its components with illustrated sacks of flour and cartons of milk, while Mignonette will be embellished in rosy-vinegar-pink and sparkling pearl oyster shells.
On Saturday, March 14 starting at 10:30am, all are invited to join in a complimentary celebratory toast to welcome the "lucky" extended family in their own parade, the Krewe of Turtles, as they return to their glorious Court in the patio, adding fauna to the flora of their lush historic residence.