Okay, I’m going on record as saying that New Orleans is my favourite city ever! I am in love with this place! I love the architecture and the history. I love the weather and the friendly people. I love the music. And I especially love the food. In fact, since I arrived here a few days ago to attend a conference, I have made it my mission to eat my way through this fabulous city.
New Orleans is a place I’ve wanted to get to for years, in large part because of my fascination with books set here or in other parts of the South. And so when the opportunity arose, I started making a list in my head of all the food I wanted to try while in the Big Easy: Cafe au lait and beignets at the Cafe du Monde; jambalaya; bread pudding; grits; gumbo; Oysters Rockefeller at Antoine’s; pecan pie; an Oyster Po’ Boy. Some people make lists of sights they want to see. I’ve just got a long list of food items to sample.
None of them, I might add, are good for me.
But four days in, I’m doing remarkably well. My colleagues and I arrived Saturday night and headed directly for Bourbon Street and the Red Fish Grill, where I ordered the Southern-sounding (and deeply flavourful) gulf shrimp with Creole cream cheese grits and fried green tomatoes.
I also ordered a Hurricane cocktail, but that’s another story. I think I’ll have to devote a separate post to the drinks of New Orleans. In the interests of journalism, I’m working on sampling all of those too.
Highlights from Sunday included the Jazz Brunch at Antoine’s, the oldest restaurant in the city, and the birth place of Oysters Rockefeller. And even though I was pretty sure I wouldn’t need to eat again all day, by mid afternoon, I was ready to indulge in the New Orleans treat I was looking forward to more than anything else: Cafe au lait and beignets at the Cafe du Monde. I’m really not sure why I was so entranced with the idea of beignets. I’m really not a donut girl. But these were light, with a creamy egginess, and still warm. I might have to return to the Cafe du Monde one more time before I leave.
By the end of Tuesday, I’d sampled shrimp po’ boys, red beans and rice, more gulf shrimp, crab cakes, and an amazing seafood gumbo at the Palace Cafe. Not bad considering I was at the conference every day, and at conference associated events in the evening from Sunday night straight through to Wednesday afternoon. It’s probably good that they served fresh fruit and organic yogurt for breakfast each day. It’s about the only healthful food I’ve eaten while I’m here.
Now that the conference is over, my friends and I can get down to the serious business of trying as many New Orleans specialties as we can in our time remaining. We made excellent headway today by having lunch at Mother’s, which is a small, old fashioned diner just down the road from our hotel. “If you want real Southern soul food,” a New Orleans native told us, “you have to go to Mother’s.” After an endorsement like that, we couldn’t resist. The jambalaya there was divine, as was the crawfish ettouffe and turnip greens that I ordered. And I think the bread pudding with rum sauce at Mother’s was the best I’ve ever eaten.
The good news is that the eating spree is not over. We still have a couple of days left and some good meals to look forward to. We’re eating at Commander’s Palace tomorrow, and I’m sure we’ll track down a few more dining treasures before we leave. Tonight we had amazing pulled pork tacos at a free outdoor concert. Sometimes the best food is not at the well known restaurants. That said, I’m prepared to do some research to ensure that I find the best oyster po’ boy in New Orleans.
Mark Twain was right: the food in this city is incredible. I think I’ve died and gone to Heaven. It’s too bad my jeans won’t fit.
Where are your favourite foodie cities or regions?