Amuse Bouche

by Brian Clarey

It was a sad week for spicy fried chicken lovers as Al Copeland, founder of Popeyes fried chicken restaurants, passed away on Easter Sunday in Germany at 64 from a malignant salivary tumor.

Louisiana’s “homegrown Liberace” was a fixture in New Orleans life during my time down there, colorful even by Crescent City standards. His gauche house in the Metairie suburb was a destination for looky-loos, particularly at Christmastime when he adorned it with thousands of lights, statuary and holiday music. He publicly feuded with novelist Anne Rice over one of his gaudy Lower Garden District eateries, and once got into a fistfight with a business competitor at a New Orleans steakhouse. And he set a world record in 1985 in his Class I speedboat.

But the chicken remains – crispy, juicy and spicy enough to prompt sweating. I once ate so much of it I burped up a wad of grease. And then I ate some more. I also love the dirty rice, but the mashed potatoes with Cajun gravy are, in my opinion, among the tastiest fast-food items in the world.

The nearest Popeyes chicken joint, by the way, is in Whitsett off Highway 61. Pick me up a three-piece meal if you’re stopping by.

Also of note: Herb Peterson, creator of McDonald’s Egg McMuffin, passed last week in Santa Barbara, Calif. The McMuffin, introduced in the 1970s, became the anchor of the McDonald’s breakfast menu.

Seriously, though, you shouldn’t eat so much fast food.

In more lively news, Ganache Bakery & Café in Greensboro goes smoke free on April 1. This is not a joke.

Congratulations go out to the Gate City’s Bistro Sofia on its ninth anniversary. Nine years is a long time in the restaurant business, particularly for an independently-owned and operated joint, and the bistro’s brand of unpretentious elegance continues to thrive. Celebrate with owners and staff on Wednesday night with a special menu featuring highlights from the restaurant’s rich history and a complimentary glass of Champagne. For reservations call 336.855.1313.

Up in New York City, the Century Association, a club of “authors, artists and amateurs of letters and the fine arts” founded in 1847, has a crisis on their hands. A coconut-flavored crisis. According to The New York Times, the St. Honore Patisserie in Astoria, which had been supplying the club with its distinctive macaroons, closed down and sold its ovens, leaving dozens of bluebloods without their sugar fix.

“They displayed a particular combination of crustiness and tensile strength,” one anonymous blowhard told the Times – anonymity being one of the club’s bylaws, namely to “avoid assisting journalists” attempting to report on the club and its members.

Stiff upper lip, fellas. There’s always Junior’s cheesecake.