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Tricentennial of New Orleans

Tricentennial of New Orleans

The year 2018 has been a year-long celebration of the Tricentennial of New Orleans, obviously a French city from its beginning.  Through its 300 years, it abounds with history from war, malaria, floods, fires, the birth of the cocktail and much of Mardi Gras.

The Founding of New Orleans

New Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville (photo) of the French Mississippi Company.  The outpost at a curve in the river was named for the Philippe II, Duke of Orléans.  And, the colony of La Louisiane was named for King Louis XIV when René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle claimed all the waters drained by the Mississippi for France in 1682.

Celebrate the Tricentennial of New Orleans

As a fitting end to the Tricentennial celebrations, a final grand costume ball will be held in New Orleans on Saturday, December 1, 2018, at the Cabildo.  The invitations specify the attire as “period costume reminiscent of Don Almonester’s era (late 18th century), or the era of the Baroness (early 19th century through 1850s).”
The Cabildo is a fitting venue for the grand costume ball.  In its antique rooms, the Louisiana Purchase was finalized and the Louisiana Territory became part of the United States of America in 1803.  Out of its windows you can see Jackson Square and the two flanking red brick buildings from the 1840s that were built by the Baroness Pontalba.

Baroness Pontalba

Baroness Pontalba
If you do not remember much about her, here is a short version of famous Baroness.
Micaela Leonarda Antonia de Almonester Rojas y de la Ronde, Baroness de Pontalba was born in 1795 in New Orleans and died in Paris in 1874.  Her father was from Spain, Don Andrés Almonester y Rojas.  Don Almonester created a fortune from his political dealings from the Cabildo.
Besides being the richest woman in New Orleans, she probably had one of the most interesting lives of anyone from New Orleans.  She designed and constructed the twin buildings.  The Baroness wore pants and climbed ladders while overseeing every detail of the work.  Even the iron work bears her initials, “AP” for Almonaster Pontalba.  The buildings are so important to the United States, they were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974.
Pontalba Building

Deep and Long-Lasting Connections

While in New Orleans, the Baroness was also shot repeatedly by her father-in-law before he killed himself.  For years, he and her husband had been trying unsuccessfully to wrest control of her fortune from her.  She survived the gunshots suffering mangled fingers that blocked the bullets from killing her.  Eventually she moved permanently to Paris to a grand house she commissioned.
And, by grand, it is really grand.  Baroness Pontabla’s former mansion, the Hôtel de Pontalba, is now the United States Embassy.  It is right off the Place de la Concorde on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.  Look for American armed service members patrolling outside.  Needless to say, nothing shabby about the Baroness.
Hotel de Pontalba Paris
If you want to know more about her, read the fascinating and engrossing story of the real Baroness in the late Dr. Christine Vella’s Pulitzer-Prize nominated book, Intimate Enemies. You can find it here on Amazon:

History Comes Alive

Back to the Tricentennial celebration of the French city, New Orleans.  Along with the costume ball, you can join in a lunch celebrating the Tricentennial on Friday, November 30, 2018.  At the lunch, attendees will have a chance to meet Charles-Edouard and Isabelle, Baron and Baroness de Pontalba of Château Mont-l’Évêque.  Charles-Edouard is a direct descendant of Micaela Almonester, Baroness de Pontalba.
Also at the lunch, Pontalba family historian Pierre de Pontalba will talk about his family’s legacy.  And, Louisiana State Museum guest exhibition curator, Randolph Delehanty, PhD, will give remarks and be available for questions for the new exhibit, The Baroness de Pontalba and the Rise of Jackson Square.
Want to attend any of these festive events?  Get more information here.  Or, check out the Louisiana Museum Foundation site.
This is one example of finding Paris everywhere and anywhere!  Paris exerts her influence far and wide.  What part of your local history has connections to Paris?
If you love New Orleans and food, check out Anne Lloyd’s Banana Foster Crêpes.
Classic French Bistro – Garlic Chicken and Brabant Potatoes

Classic French Bistro – Garlic Chicken and Brabant Potatoes

French Bistro Garlic Chicken with Baked Brabant Potatoes and Salad

About this Recipe

By: Scott

Here is the bistro-style main course: Garlic Chicken with potatoes and salad on the side.  What more could there be after an appetizer of oeufs mayonnaise?  I suggest beginning with the potatoes.  When you put them in the oven, begin the chicken.  While the potatoes are cooking and the lemons and garlic are cooking, make the salad dressing.  All of the recipes are pretty easy for most home cooks.  Make sure to get lots of crusty French bread to go with the meal.


Servings: 4

Prep Time: 1 hour

Meal: Dinner


  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 thin-sliced, boneless, skinless chicken breasts *
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 20 cloves garlic, peeled, mashed and roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, sliced very thinly, seeds removed
  • chopped parsley for garnish, if desired
  • black olives for garnish, if desired

* Some groceries have chicken breasts that are sold already thinly sliced.  If your grocery doesn’t sell them like that, buy regular boneless, skinless breasts and slice them in half horizontally to make thin slices.

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

In a large skillet, melt butter with vegetable oil over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper, then brown on both sides, 4-5 minutes each side. Place browned chicken on a plate and set aside. 

Brown the chicken.

Step 2

Whisk flour into the hot oil and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Whisk in flour.

Step 3

Stir in wine, chicken broth, lemon slices, and garlic and bring to a boil.

Add the garlic and lemons.

Step 4

Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic and lemons are very soft, about 30 minutes.  (Turn off the heat and wait for the potatoes to cook.)

Classic French Bistro-Style Baked Brabant Potatoes


  • olive oil
  • 2 russet baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chopped parsley for garnish, if desired

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

Preheat oven to 425.

Step 2

Spray a large sheet pan with non-stick spray or oil it generously with olive oil.  Spread the potatoes on the sheet pan in a single layer and season generously with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with more olive oil and toss to coat the potatoes on all sides.

Step 3

Bake, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.  Then, turn the oven to broil and brown the potatoes.  After 15 minutes, stir the potatoes and brown on the other side, about 15 minutes more.

Green Salad with Dijon Citrus Dressing


  • 4-5 ounces of  baby arugula, mâche, or other tender greens
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • blue cheese for garnish, if desired

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

Place greens in a large bowl.  Combine olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Step 2

Drizzle dressing over greens, toss and serve.  Do not toss the greens more than 5 minutes before ready to serve.

A Few Favorite Cookbooks…

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

by Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle

The classic set of books that essentially brought French classical cooking to America! (read more)

Bistro Cooking

by Patricia Wells

The cult idol created this go-to, mouthwatering cookbook for every day and special occasions. (read more)

Simple French Food

by Richard Olney

Meticulous instruction from an obsessive and masterful cook. (read more)