The prodigals have returned from the Crescent City (called such due to the shape of the Mississippi River, not the shape of beignets, which are more "somewhat roundish" and have created what can only be described as "somewhat roundish" deposits upon my backside.) But I digress.
New Orleans is a wonderful town, with more tales to tell than I can do justice. We were lucky enough to eat at some of the city's finest establishments, see some of its finest sights, and, if I may say so myself, purchase some of its finest wares. I'll tackle the food first (in honor of importance, of course) and cover the other two in later posts. Below are two images of the beignets and chicory coffee served at the French Quarter's legendary Cafe du Monde. There are two pictures as we had to eat there twice - hence the suspicious fatty deposits upon my posterior. The beignets arrive with what appears to be an entire box of powdered sugar on each fluffy nugget. Be warned and avoid wearing black pants.
Beignets in utero. Or in oil, whichever image distresses you less.
Below is the miraculous molasses spoon bread (with honey butter, natch) served at Dante's Kitchen. I have to say that this was my favorite meal in NOLA - intimate atmosphere, outrageously great food, and wonderful company (our friends Dan and Elvira came down from Boston to visit Dan's mother and give us a "howdy y'all.") Aside from the four of us doing battle over the remains of this spoon bread - and let me tell you - all of that butter makes a spoon pretty slippery - it was a perfectly orchestrated dinner.
During the day, I would tour around the city while the Husband dutifully attended to doctorly conference duties. We typically reconnoitered around 4 p.m. - at which point both of us were ready for a snack or two. Our favorite mid-afternoon pick-me-up spot was Sucre, on Magazine Street. Below is a picture of Sucre's red velvet cake (with raspberry coulis, for good measure.)
Other great eats included John Besh's miraculous August (which I state, here and for posterity, gives Gary Danko a run for his money), steak with hollandaise at neighborhood favorite Clancy's, blackened redfish at Susan Spicer's Bayona, the chicken salad at Lilette and the bacon, tomato, and shrimp salad at newcomer Green Goddess. The ribs at Cochon, Donald Link's homage to all things pig, cannot be missed, nor, according to my waistline, can they be forgotten.
Susan Spicer's duck and cashew butter sandwich with apple slaw. I'll have two or three to go, please. (image courtesy of Halogenlife.)
Pig at Cochon. Yummy, crunchy, delicious pig. (image courtesy of Food and Wine)
Bread pudding souffle at Commander's Palace. Go ahead - be fooled into thinking that this bread pudding is better for you because it comes in souffle form. Just try to ignore the bourbon cream sauce. (Image courtesy of Fabulous Foods.)
On our last NOLA evening, we enrolled in a cooking class through New Orleans Cooking Experience. Lucky for us, our instructor was Frank Brigsten, a fifth-generation NOLA chef and owner of Brigsten's restaurant. Frank constructed shrimp fritters, roumelade sauce, baked oysters, pork in apple cider, and pecan pie while we watched in lustful admiration. Frank, who trained with Paul Prudhomme at the famed K Paul's restaurant, is adept at bringing out the flavor in traditional Creole cuisine. He is also adept at using butter. Lots and lots of butter. Frank is pictured below, smiling at a woman who is probably also describing her life-long affair with saturated fats.
Feel free to email or comment below if you would like me to share any of the recipes from our travels (we even have Dante's spoon bread recipe) or if you would like more NOLA food recommendations. Prepare your taste buds and elastic waistlines!