A Culinary Tour of New Orleans

Of all the places I’ve travelled in the US, somehow New Orleans had never made it on the list. As Adam and I considered where to go for our summer trip, I really wanted to go somewhere new since our last 3 trips have been to Key West. I love key west, but I was starting to think that we are boring travellers. So onward to New Orleans we went, and it was such a cool experience! Since I’m such a total foodie I’ll give you a tour of New Orleans stopping off at all the amazing restaurants we sampled along the way.

Our trip started with lunch at Deanie’s. We had two different locals recommend this place, one old black lady said “Don’t go to Mother’s. It ain’t all dat. You’ll pay too much, and you’ll be pissed off! Go to Deanie’s and get the half platter, that’s all ya need.” So we obeyed.

What we received was a giant mountain of fried seafood and fries. Even the half platter was too much for both of us. I’m not sure if I’m just a snob, but in my opinion you could fry a boot and it would taste good, so I wasn’t all that impressed with the seafood, because all I could taste was fried breading. It was fine I guess. You won’t be missing much if you past it up.

Next we walked down bourbon street. Listen to me… avoid bourbon street at all costs! I was appalled at how debauched and disgusting it was, even in the middle of the afternoon. I’ve never seen a street more filthy and degrading to women than this one. Even the red light districts in Europe don’t compare. The windows are papered with the most explicit pornography right out there in the open, for unassuming passerby’s to see. Poor Adam had to keep his head down while I navigated us away from there! We accidentally ended up crossing over Bourbon Street one night to get to another street and in the two seconds we were there I saw male strippers dancing on poles. Blegh. Not my kinda thing at all! Trust me, there is nothing there worth seeing. Don’t even bother.

For dinner we had reservations at Luke, one of Chef John Besh’s restaurants. I’ve actually met John Besh so I was excited to try this place out. Oh My Goodness! It was seriously awesome. The decor was an awesome combination of trendy, chic, and down-home southern comfort. I loved the cast iron skillets our meals were served in, and the dish towel napkins that looked like they came from Chef Besh’s granny’s house.

The shrimp and grits had some of the most incredible flavour combinations I’ve ever had in my life! Seriously, it was absolutely incredible. I was floored. Adam had a roast chicken with vegetables and mashed potatoes. Can you say comfort food? It was delectable. Everything was perfect.

We saw a sign for free comedy at The house of blues so we headed in and saw a great show! They do this every thursday night so if you’re looking for free entertainment this is a good idea. I used to do stand up comedy so I love supporting local comedians in various cities.

On the advice of Yelp reviewers we headed down to Frenchman street for drinks and jazz. Now this is what I was hoping for when I thought of New Orleans. Cool bars, locals, great drinks, and the best jazz I’ve ever heard.

We ended up at Maison Frenchman where we saw a group of college guys in about a 15 piece interchangeable lineup. It was really cool to see how many local musicians there are. Every one walks around with an instrument in their hands and they just pop in and out of clubs picking up in different bands. It is a very cool part of town.

The next day we had breakfast at Cafe Du Monde. It started pouring rain while we were there so we just sat for awhile enjoying our Cafe Au Laits and Beignets. I really don’t need to speak for Cafe Du Monde because it speaks for itself, but I will just say that it truly lives up to the hype. The only unfortunate part is that it has become very touristy and it is really busy. Its not really a sit and relax sort of cafe. It is very noisy and the tables are packed in like sardines, but it is really fun to pop in for a few minutes and enjoy the best beignet of your life!

You can’t leave N’awlins without a praline so we stopped into Southern Candymakers for a sweet treat. Adam had the chocolate fudge and I had a traditional carmel praline. In Florida we say pray-leen, but here is is PRAH-leen. However you want to pronounce it they were absolutely divine. I ate mine so fast I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of it!

We spent the afternoon walking around Decatur and Royal streets. We saw the Natchez on the Mississippi, walked into the beautiful cathedral, strolled through the French Market, popped into Kitchen Witch for a bit and talked about food with Phillipe. This part of town is really what I think of when I think of New Orleans. It was really nice to stop and listen to Jazz on the street, which is what you will find on nearly every corner. Phillipe suggested we stop over at Coop’s for some good low-country food. We really came to like the Abita beer which is a staple at every bar in NOLA. The jumbalaya here was really thick, and had rabbit in it. Not my favourite but it was interesting to try.

This weekend was the Tales of the Cocktail drink festival so we took a cocktail tour of the French Quarter. It was really fun but the Absynthe cocktail did me in and I got really sick. I had to go to bed early. This is a fun tour to learn a little about the history of the town but don’t drink the Absynthe!

On Saturday afternoon we took the streetcar down to St. Charles in the Garden district to see all the lovely architecture. There’s no need to get off, just taking the streetcar is a really nice little tour down through all the neighborhoods and back.

We loved Royal street so much that we decided to head back that way to enjoy some of the scenery and relaxed vibe. We ended up at Cafe Amelie which is a lovely little spot tucked away off the beaten path. While we were there we actually spotted Lenny Kravitz who lives nearby. The food was really good, though the portion were a bit small. The goat cheese and fig jam appetizer does not disappoint. The fig jam is made in house and was delicious.

For dinner we tried Marigny Brasserie since it was on Frenchmen and we wanted to listen to jazz down there anyway. I was very under impressed. The server started out by telling us everything that was NOT on the menu. The only two beers my husband asked about were unavailable so we just settled for water. When the meal came the presentation was poor and the dishes were surprisingly ugly for such a lovely restaurant. The server never came back from the time our food was delivered until we were finished eating, so we didn’t have the chance to ask for extra napkins, sauces, or anything. We had the shrimp and grits appetizer which tasted nice but compared to Luke’s was not as good as I’d hoped. The po’ boy sandwich was dry, so we dipped it in the corn and seafood bisque which actually tasted pretty good. The sweet potato fries that came with the sandwich were soggy and we didn’t even eat them. When we brought it to the attention of the server, he didn’t offer any solution other than to let the kitchen know. I don’t think there was any background music playing either. Which is an odd thing to notice but again, with such a lovely decor you would think it would be a bit more classy.

We hopped into a few more jazz bars on Frenchmen but found ourselves back at Maison, because of the great music. It really became our favourite place in town. Before the night was over we had to go back to Cafe Du Monde for more beignets! They are sooo good.

On our way back to the hotel we decided to walk through Harrah’s casino just for fun. We don’t gamble but it was cool to see the casino anyway. We watched a guy lose about $700 in about 10 minutes at a black jack table. Always a good reminder of exactly why we don’t gamble, lol!

Sunday morning we had breakfast at the Ruby Slipper. There was a really long wait but we were able to find two seats at the bar and sat down right away. I felt kinda bad watching all those people wait outside in 90 degree weather while I enjoyed some really delicious grits. They had some really nice menu options such as crabcake and eggs, and banana’s foster french toast. I just had grits and bacon but the guy next to me had the crabcake breakfast and it looked really good!

We headed down Royal and Chartres for the remainder of the day to look in art galleries and take in our last few hours of the city. Our last stop was at the French Market Restaurant where we had amazing service and made friends with the whole wait staff. We sat up stairs and we were the only ones in the whole restaurant at 2 in the afternoon. We had the alligator bites and they brought us free chargrilled oysters to make a convert out of me. They swore I’d like them and oh my goodness I did! They were so amazing. They chargrill them with romano cheese, butter and chablis, with a metal bowl over them on the grill to pull the smoke down. Good idea!

What a great city. It was a really good time. As long as you know where to go and where not to go you will really enjoy your time here.

I highly recommend taking advantage of the wonderful reviewers on Yelp.com. This website really helped us get the best out of our trip.

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