Booking It 

Full disclosure: Joy Bateman is an account executive for the Flyer's sister publication Memphis magazine. She's also a local food aficionado, illustrator, and author, who has applied her culinary and artistic talents to craft The Art of Dining in New Orleans. The 80-page book follows The Art of Dining in Memphis, which was published two years ago.

In The Art of Dining in New Orleans, Bateman embraces the Crescent City and its rich culinary traditions, including recipes and anecdotes from more than 30 eateries — from Arnaud's and Bayona to Café Du Monde and Tujague's. The book includes one or two recipes from every restaurant — Mulat's crawfish étouffée, Bon Ton Café's homemade turtle soup, and Commander's Palace's "Dove Poppers with Five Pepper Jelly," among them — and a chef's suggestion or comment here and there, plus Bateman's own observations.

In addition, each page is illustrated with Bateman's drawings of the restaurants or particular details, such as recipe ingredients (leeks, turtles, lemons, asparagus), silverware, plates, and crystal chandeliers.

Bateman will be signing The Art of Dining in New Orleans on Thursday, October 18th, at 6 p.m. at Davis-Kidd Booksellers.

Davis-Kidd Booksellers, 387 Perkins Ext. (683-9801)

When the Pinch District bistro Café Francisco closed last month, it was a surprise to everyone — including owner Julie Ray.

While business had slowed after The Pyramid was shuttered, Ray says she always thought that everything would eventually work out.

"Honestly, I thought I could just stick this out," Ray says. "There was this pattern that when something happened that made me consider closing the café, a few days later something great would happen that would let me believe that we can make it."

In the end, the bad outweighed the good. Part of the decision to close came after an unusually high utility bill. Ray, who runs the cafe with her family and whose husband owns and operates Café Francisco in San Francisco, also cites her desire "to have her family be her family" and not her business partners.

"It was hard. I love this neighborhood, and I thought we were here for good," Ray says. "I looked through all the things people have written about the café on the Internet, and I couldn't find a single one that was negative. We really tried."

Ray estimates that it will take approximately six months to dissolve the business. As for the future, Ray isn't sure where she'll end up.

"There are many possibilities. But for now, I have to take care of what's left of the café."

In other news: Brett "Shaggy" Duffee, formerly of the Beauty Shop and Dō, is now chef at Equestria. Robert Howay, sous chef at the Beauty Shop under Duffee, now leads the kitchen at the Cooper-Young eatery.

Ciao Bella, the Italian restaurant well-known for its thin-crust pizza, will move into the location that used to be occupied by Lulu Grille, which closed its doors at the end of August. The move, hopefully completed in November, will double Ciao Bella's space and allow for two private dining rooms. Pei Wei Asian Diner will move into a space just a few storefronts down from the current Ciao Bella in the Mendenhall Commons Shopping Center on the corner of Mendenhall and Sanderlin. The Asian noodle-shop-inspired restaurant is scheduled to open its new location early in 2008.

Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. is teaming up with Paula Deen. The company is planning an estimated $45 million expansion of Grand Casino Resort Tunica, including a 560-seat Paula Deen's Buffet, which is expected to open next spring. Part of the revamp is a new name for the casino — Harrah's Casino Tunica — and a second floor "entertainment promenade" that will include retail stores and restaurants.

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