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A Taste of New Orleans

 

Nick and I recently returned from a trip to New Orleans.  My first visit there, I was amazed at the commitment to the local bounty the state gives: lots of oysters, blackened redfish, shrimp, tomatoes, citrus, strawberries, alligator, and of course crawfish.  Its practically impossible to find a restaurant that doesn’t offer local specialties.  Po boys, alligator pie, shrimp remoulade… these are the things that have been filling NOLA bellies for decades.  And I swear, with the exception of the sandwiches, every dish contained a generous portion of heavy cream and butter–definitely not a city to visit on a diet.  Emeril Lagasse and John Besh are the gourmet, celeb-chefs of the city.  For this trip, we decided to keep our food experiences classic, old-school.  Nick spent many years in NOLA and served as the perfect OpenTable tour guide for our visit.  Below you will see some of my favorites over our 5 days in NOLA.  These spots are not to miss.

First up, fried shrimp and oyster po boys at Acme Oyster House, off of Bourbon Street.  The po boy had this awesome spicy mayo as a dressing and just spiked the seafood to an awesome level.  The french bread it was served on was totally unique to New Orleans and oh so soft, while holding up to the hefty filling.  I’m embarrassed to say (well, not really) that we hit Acme twice over the course of our 5 days there. Yeah, they’re that good.  During our second visit, we ordered a dozen fresh oysters.  They were so fresh and crisp–a wonderfully clean finish.

A real treat and truly once in a lifetime opportunity, we visited Commander’s Palace for their famous jazz brunch.  Commanders was hit hard during Hurricane Katrina, with tremendous water and wind damage, resulting in their having to shut down their business for a stifling 13 months.  I would never have guessed as such, as the decor was simply breath-taking and differed in every room of this enormous 2-story building.  I was most blown away by the fabric in the hostess entrance to the restaurant.  The walls were covered in this black and white silk toile pattern with color hand embroidered details throughout.  I have never seen anything like it.

And then, there was the food and service.  We were simply blown away.  The service trumped any I’ve ever had in New York.  Nick, being my most amazing publicist, quickly mentioned to our waitress that I was a food blogger–which lifted us to “preferred guest” status.  Oh, the many joys of being a food blogger!  What followed were so many treasures, so much cream and butter, so much richness, and ooooohs and ahhhhhhs and wowsssssss.

We also visited Jacque Imo’s for their awesome alligator cheesecake, fried chicken, and shrimp remoulade with fried green tomatoes.  I wanted to share those photos with you, but they just came out too darn dark.  Instead I have borrowed a photo from Flickr of the alligator cheesecake, because let’s face it, it’s probably one of the strangest sounding dishes I have ever heard of.  By the sound of it, I would have expected to see it on Andrew Zimmerman’s show on the Travel Channel.  In reality, it was so savory and creamy (yep, more cream) and had this spice from the alligator sausage.  It was sooooo awesomely good, I couldn’t stop eating it.  And I knew each bite had about 100 calories each.  The taste just made it worth it.

To round out this gluttonous, delicious visit, we hit the biggest classic of all: Cafe Du Monde for beignets, piled with powdered sugar, and cafe au lait to wash it down.

Yes, they are as amazing as they look.

Keep drooling.

Yes, I know you’re very jealous.

I’m even jealous of myself right now.

Why can’t they have Cafe Du Monde in New York?

 All together, this was a foodie’s treasure chest of food riches, where the gold is replaced with cream and butter and the gems are replaced with oysters and shrimp and redfish.  While I love a celebrity chefs’ gifts and talents, sometimes we need to remember the roots of our city’s cuisine and not worry about counting calories.  After all, one of the best activities on vacation is to WALK and explore all the wonderful nooks and crannies a city can offer.

Acme Oyster House

724 Iberville Street
New Orleans, LA
(504) 522-5973

Commander’s Palace

1403 Washington Avenue
New Orleans, LA
(504) 899-8221

Jacque Imo’s

8324 Oak Street
New Orleans, LA
504-861-0886

Cafe Du Monde

800 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA
(504) 525-4544

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