Thursday, March 4, 2010

Down in the Big Easy

During the first week of February, I found myself in New Orleans. How, you ask, can an unemployed gal afford a four day trip? Simple - most of it was paid for by Steve's company. Steve was getting shipped down to NOLA for some web-techie something rather conference. His company covered his flight, hotel, taxis, and up to $40 a day for food. Steve had never been to New Orleans and he downright insisted I go with him simply because he wanted to have fun and not sit in his hotel room every night. So we hired our cat sitter and set off.

I didn't have a sightseeing itinerary but a culinary one. Knowing we weren't renting a car and trying to do things as frugally as possible, I limited our dining options to the Quarter, CBD, and possibly the warehouse district. Steve was also limited as to what he could go do since his conference was Tuesday and Wednesday from 9-5(6ish). Here's where we went and what we ate.  We split almost everything.

Mother's - Ferdi Special - roast beef, baked ham, debris & gravy po'boy. Red beans and rice on the side

Cafe Du Monde - um, Steve loved these little fried pieces of heaven and we wound up there three times in four days. Yeah.

Central Grocery - picked up half a muffuletta, two bags of Zapp's, and two Barq's in glass bottles

Acme Oyster House - chicken & andouille gumbo, catfish & oyster po'boy, and half a dozen chargrilled oysters

Deanie's Seafood - Crab Quartet, which included crab gratin, fried crab claws, stuffed crab, and fried soft shell crab

Coop's Place - Cajun fried chicken with rabbit & sausage jambalaya on the side (Steve didn't eat here. I met a friend for lunch.)  The resident cat slept in the windowsill by my shoulder.

Bayona - cream of garlic soup, broccoli-asparagus soup, goat cheese crouton with mushrooms in Madeira cream, peppered lamb loin with goat cheese and Zinfandel sauce. Saw Chef Spicer a couple times accepting compliments in the dining room.

As you can see we ate well.  (For some reason Blogger pictures aren't working. I have pics of several things but can't get them added to this entry.)

We liked just about everything. Some things were better than others, but all were delicious.  Some of my favorites were the entire meal at Bayona, the crab gratin at Deanie's, and the chargrilled oysters at Acme.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, Steve is a fan of Man v. Food, and likes to try the places Adam Richman, the host, goes to in various cities. The MvF New Orleans episode visited Deanie's, Mother's, and Acme.  We hit them all although we didn't necessarily eat everything that Adam did.  No  180 oyster challenge at Acme for us, thank you. 

For breakfast, he could get it at the conference, and I just got a simple croissant at nearby Community Coffee.  I did hit up Croissant D'Or Patisserie one afternoon and picked up a slice of French King Cake  - NOT at all like the familiar American King Cake - and a pain au chocolate for Steve.  Croissant D'Or is absolutely fabulous and I wish I had hiked across the Quarter every day for a pastry. 

Since I  had plenty of time on my hands during the day, I mostly walked around until my feet got tired.  One of my wanderings took me to the Kitchen Witch Cookbooks shop. I spent a good hour in there browsing through their well-loved collection of used (they have new books, too) and vintage cookbooks and social histories of New Orleans.  I would have loved to have picked up the copy of an etiquette book for ladies of New Orleans circa 1910, but it was over $100.  Oh well.  The proprietress, Debbie, chatted with me almost the entire time I was in there, and recommended two books, which of course, I bought.  Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table by Sara Roahen and The New Orleans Cookbook by Rima and Richard Collin.  If you want to talk about cookbooks, New Orleans, or food, go see Debbie.  I was in the Tabasco store after going to Kitchen Witch, and the woman working in there saw my KW bag (a homemade brown craft paper bag that had curling ribbon on the handle and Kitchen Witch scrawled in black magic marker on the side) and asked if Debbie had been there.  People in the Quarter know each other. 

As with almost every trip to New Orleans, it's really about the food.  We skipped the drunken frat boys on Bourbon, caught enough music just walking around the streets to satisfy, spent as little as possible, and thoroughly enjoyed New Orleans in the calm before Mardi Gras and Superbowl Sunday. 

NEXT time, I hope we have more money and can visit places outside the Quarter.  Next time . . .

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