Saturday, November 5, 2011

Eating Your Way Around New Orleans

With a husband who's a chef and three growing kids, one inescapable question when traveling is "Where are we eating next?"  Let me clarify: it's not, "When are we eating?" or "Where are we eating?' or even, "What are we eating?"  Always, "WHERE are we eating NEXT?"

In New Orleans, that question is hard to answer.  Not to think of a place to eat, but to choose one.  So we decided to make our visit one giant progressive meal.

We began with beignets and chicory coffee at the world famous Cafe du Monde.  Located on Decatur Street right at the river in the French Quarter, it is perfect for eating and people watching. As the wind blew the powdered sugar into our faces, we witnessed a man transform from human to truck in less than five seconds.  Drivers with horses offered carriage rides to visitors and LSU fans spontaneously broke into cheers at the sight of their Alabama rivals.  Breakfast at the Cafe du Monde definitely came with a show!

After viewing the great Mississippi River, we meandered through the French Market nibbling on samples along the way.  There's nothing like the luxury of sipping great coffee while looking at interesting things. The French Market has anything you might like, from fine china to tacky T-shirts. We settled for a Mardi-Gras mask Christmas ornament and were on our way.

Finally out of the French Quarter, we had walked up an appetite by the time we made it to Mother's Restaurant on Poydras Street near Harrah's Casino and just up a couple blocks from the Hilton Riverside where the NAGC convention was taking place.  Here, we waited in line with other hungry folks to place our order at the counter, get our drinks then find a seat.  By the time our friendly hostess brought our food, we were starved (Hyperbole, obviously!)  Pleasingly placed in front of us were two Ferdie Specials, grits with debris, jambalaya, gumbo and a salad.  The Ferdie Specials lived up to their names: slices of baked ham, roasted beef, cheese and slaw on buns soaked in the debris (all the drippings from the roast beef.)  We all made short work of these amazing sandwiches.  Being a GRIT (Girl Raised In the South) herself, Anabel thoroughly enjoyed her grits covered in the debris sauce. Greg devoured the gumbo while I savored the jambalaya sharing the abundance of andouille sausage with Wyatt.  Little Emma quietly ate her salad with ranch dressing. (We think she may have been switched at birth.)

After my convention presentation, Greg met me for round three of our progressive meal.  We started with charbroiled oysters at Drago's Restaurant in the Hilton Riverside.  Perfectly grilled, seared and topped with garlic butter and parmesan cheese, these oysters melted in my mouth and paired beautifully with my Cosmopolitan.

Afterward Drago's, we strolled the streets of the French Quarter to our next destination, Felix's Oyster House.  Most people come to Felix's with one thing on their mind, fresh Apalachicola Oysters on the half shell. You can't go wrong with a dozen of these beauties and a pint of Abita Beer, Louisiana's own brew.  Mix up your own cocktail sauce with freshly ground horseradish and dig in!

After two dozen raw oysters, we decided to do some people watching on Bourbon Street.  I'm sure most of the people we saw wouldn't be happy that we saw them doing the things they were doing... I'm trying to forget it as we speak.  (Notice, I'm not mentioning what the kids were eating?  That's because New Orleans After Dark is not for minors.  Parents, please remember this!  Our kids were happily eating pizza and watching Disney's The Princess and the Frog in our hotel room.)

We ended our progressive dinner with fresh fruit daiquiris and gumbo at The Gumbo Shop.  Greg tried the cantalope and honey dew melon daiquiris while I enjoyed the sweeter banana one.  We shared a cup of seafood gumbo, boudin with mustard sauce and crawfish remoulade.  We were so stuffed we could hardly finish our ice cream with pralines.  What can I say?  Life on the road is hard.

Believe it or not, we did not eat here, but
I will be performing the "I gained 10 pounds
in Nawlins Blues" November 18 - 20.
When I get on the scales, I'm sure I'll be singing the blues, but today was worth it.


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