What I love about My New Orleans is that Besh cooks around the seasons rather than lumping foodstuffs into categories. Thus duck, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens and pecans all wind up in the same winter menu where they belong. You won’t find redfish or strawberries till spring.

Besh’s recipes are outstanding, and sometimes he’ll offer the je ne sais quoi that takes ordinary to extraordinary. Take something a simple as grits. You can pour all the butter and cream you want into a pan of grits and still have a ho hum accompaniment to your grillades. The killer ingredient? Marscarpone, (Italian cream cheese.) He told me that one day at a cooking demonstration when I almost kissed his grits they were so good.

So make a point to meet the chef when he’s in town, pick up a personalized copy of his cookbook and some tips for your Christmas dinner.

John Besh, will be signing copies of his cookbook, My New Orleans, at the Barnes and Noble bookstore on Saturday, Dec. 18 at 10 a.m. Call 989-4142 for more info.

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