My NOLA Food Experience

If you have never been to New Orleans, get your ass down yesterday. Is it a party city? Absolutely, but you can get wasted anywhere (though it is admittedly stupid easy to get sloppy there). Please, please, PLEASE visit to absorb a bit of culture, history and, of course, some of the finest cuisine the US of A has to offer. I just got back from a long weekend getaway with a girlfriend and my palette is having a hard time coping with my current sustenance options. Nevertheless, I refuse to just forget all the fantastic food we enjoyed. Instead, I shall celebrate the memories and channel the inspiration they have given me towards future creations of my own. Below are the places I went and things I tried.

4/3/2014
Lunch:
Red Fish Grill – 115 Bourbon Street
Our first meal. Upon our arrival, we wandered the French Quarter somewhat overwhelmed and indecisive. I suggested going to Acme Oyster House, but the line was aggressively long and we were hungry. We soldiered on and stumbled upon Red Fish Grill around the corner. I was sold on their signage (goofy fish). Eating here was possibly the best decision of our trip. Everything was so fresh and our server Sonja was THE BEST. She gave excellent menu suggestions and told us everywhere to go in town. Hit this place up.

IMG_20140411_023048
– (6) Oysters on Half Shell
– Crawfish Rangoon (sweet soy, citrus-cilantro glaze, cucumber salad)
– BBQ Blue Crab Claws (w/ cheddar-scallion drop biscuit)
– BBQ Oyster Po-Boy (flash fried oysters tossed in Crystal BBQ sauce, LTO, housemade blue cheese dressing, Creole potato salad) 

Dinner:
Vendy Awards Food Trucks @ The French Market
OK, so this was a one night event, but these food trucks can be found around town all the time. Follow them on Facebook & Twitter to find their up to date locations. Such a fun event! For $39 the two of us sampled all the food trucks listed below and we had two beers each. Brooklyn Brewery supplied cans of their lager and summer varieties, so we tested both. La Cocinita won the 2014 Vendy Cup and Food Drunk won the People’s Choice (also my personal favorite).

vendy
Sidenote: I was too busy shoving my face to take any pictures, so I “borrowed” these wonderful images from the Vendy Awards Facebook page. Photo credits: Paige Pemberton.
brooklyn lager
* Crepes a la Cart (shrimp crepe)
shrimp crepes
* Empanada Intifada (hispanakopita – spinach w/ chevre, tomatillo salsa, honey ancho roasted pepitas)
empanada
* Food Drunk Food Truck (drunken pig cone – apple smoked pulled pork w/ Makers Mark & Pabst BBQ sauce topped w/ slaw in waffle cone AND crawfish mac n cheese)
pig cones
* Foodie Call (braised short ribs in chocolate black stout demi)
foodie call
* Frencheeze Food Truck (fried mac n cheese balls topped w/ pepper jelly)
frencheeze
* La Cocinita (crispy plantain chip topped w/ pulled pork, griddled cheese & spicy guava gastrique, garnished w/ citrus-pickled beets & carrots)
cocinita
* The NOLA Truck (crawfish grilled cheese sandwich)
nola truck4/4/2014
Breakfast:
Cafe Du Monde – 800 Decatur Street
Everyone says to come here and I will do the same.  Just do it. Delicious. Tip, you can place take-out orders around back. Thank goodness we discovered this because we were getting real sick of listening to the cluster of good ol’ boys behind us. They were loudly complaining about their hangovers in the super long, never ending, “waiting for a table” line. Teeth were almost knocked loose and then NO ONE would have enjoyed a beignet.
12 11– (3) Beignets
– Iced Cafe Au LaitLunch:
SoBou – 310 Chartres Street
This place had a happy hour Monday-Friday from 11:30-3 that consisted of 25 cent martinis! Yes, that’s a thing. I had “pink elephants on parade” which is vodka, creme de cassis & sour mix. Limit of 3 martinis per person (3 it was) and you have to purchase an entree. The food was actually quite exceptional, the decor was very chic and cool and you should definitely check out their legitimate signature cocktail list.  Abigail knows her stuff and would prefer to make you something off her menu that costs more than a quarter.

We had the fish first, than the woman next to us ordered one of these. We copied her.

We had the fish first, than the woman next to us ordered one of these. We copied her.

– Creole Chili Mustard Painted Gulf Fish (lemon grilled black kale, roasted shiitake mushrooms, smoked tomato consomme)
– Chartres Street Shrimp Salad (Louisiana white shrimp, grilled pineapple. roasted garlic charred chilies, spring greens & ghost pepper jelly vinaigrette) 

Dinner:
Muriel’s Jackson Square – 801 Chartres Street
A day starting with 25 cent martinis could only lead to Bourbon Street Hand Grenades and multiple shots of Fireball (woof). By 10 PM we were in need of a substantial feast and Muriel’s delivered. It was an establishment containing pretty interiors and a refined menu. I went a la carte, but they had intriguing pre fixe options as well (e.g. pecan crusted alligator).
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– Escargots Orleans (fennel, leeks, oyster mushrooms & apple smoked bacon simmered in a roasted garlic butter, served in a flaky vol-au-vent shell)
– Pan Seared Maple Leaf Duck Breast (duck confit dirty rice, leeks & baby carrots, duck crackling w/ cherry reduction sauce) 

4/5/2014
Lunch:
Acme Oyster House – 724 Iberville Street
I had mentioned we had attempted here the first day. Fail. This day we were less intimidated by the line and more eager than ever for oysters. Our projected 30 minute wait ended up being 5 minutes at most. Now, try the chargrilled oysters. Seriously. If you only eat one thing in NOLA, it might have to be that. Also, I advocate sitting at the bar where they shuck everything because I found it mesmerizing. Just popping oysters all day, erryday. Finally, watch out if Melvin is on the fryer. Apparently he isn’t great and the appearance of your Po-Boy will be drastically delayed. Every kitchen has a Melvin. SMH.

14
– (6) Oysters on Half Shell
– (6) Chargrilled Oysters
– Half Fried Shrimp Po-Boy w/ cup Seafood Gumbo (shrimp & crab) 

Dinner:
August – 301 Tchoupitoulas Street
This was our “fancy” night. Look, the menu is incredible, but we were feeling a little too poverty prone to order several courses. Instead, we tried a couple appetizers at the bar. Simply stupendous. Next trip back, I will set set aside an August fund so a no holds barred dinner can be had. Oh, and this place is three floors of beautiful. Ramble around the restaurant “looking for a bathroom” to ensure you see all the charming detail.

25
– Foie Gras Prepared Three Ways (I wish I remembered all the ways and I couldn’t look it up because they change their prep every night! I know one had pheasant & apricot involved, one was somewhat traditional & one was strawberry infused)
– Handmade Potato Gnocchi (tossed w/ blue crab & black truffle) 

4/6/2014
Lunch:
Royal House Oyster Bar – 441 Royal Street
Frankly, this was probably my least favorite meal, but that’s not to say it was this restaurants fault. Splitting two small appetizers for dinner and proceeding to hit the bars will leave your brain in a compromised position the next day. On that note, I didn’t put much thought into my order, but I did see a myriad of glorious seafood dishes placed on the surrounding tables of patrons who know how to hang. Furthermore, we were running out of time to try gator, so we made that happen as well. I thought it tasted like a chicken/codfish hybrid. Wasn’t mad at it.

IMG_20140411_023004
– Fried Alligator (marinated gator meat served w/ cocktail & tarter)
– Royal Garden Salad (Mandarin oranges, mint & red pepper flakes, medley of greens, fried oysters, peanut vinaigrette dressing) 

Dinner:
Deanie’s Seafood – 841 Iberville Street
We had done a VIP City Tour earlier in the day and our phenomenal tour guide Dino (you should all be so lucky to have him show you NOLA) threw out all kinds of places to grab a bite. Several of his suggestions were in the hood, but Deanie’s was around the corner from our hotel. This seemed more our speed. It was a comfortable and casual place for our last night. He warned portions were large, but I was still dumbfounded by the platter of food that was supposedly for one human. It was the only meal I could not finish. They also do family style meals that are “enough to feed six” and by six, I can only assume six NFL linebackers. They’re known for their crawfish, so I did the quartet and was far from disappointed.

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– Crawfish Quartet (crawfish etouffee – tails smothered in a butter blend of onions, peppers, celery & garlic sauce served over rice, crawfish au gratin – crawfish baked in creamy 4-cheese blend & fresh seasonings, fried crawfish tails & crawfish dressing balls)
– Stuffed Shrimp (fried jumbo gulf shrimp, butterflied & stuffed w/ crab meat dressing) 

In conclusion, we couldn’t really find a bad meal and I love that they put hot sauce on everything in Lousiana. I came back with a few bottles  myself…

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