Friday, December 5, 2014

food adventures | nola

food, glorious food.  and it was glorious in new orleans.  we joked that we never felt hungry the entire trip. but i had so many restaurants that i wanted to try and there were only three meals a day - so we made the most of it. i did some research before hand using this source.  and then we did some yelp and google searches while we were there.

you can't talk about new orleans food without talking about beignets.  we visited cafe du monde 3 times during the 4 days we were in new orleans. we stood in the long line, got a table and ordered the only thing on the menu; beignets and cafe au lait.  the only decision we had to make was how many orders we wanted.

i have to admit i took an ungodly amount of photos of these fried delicacies.

pictures of us.


close up.

and just plain beignets. aren't they pretty?

they are blanketed with powdered sugar that made you choke and got all over our clothes, camera and phones.  we had them for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.  they are open 24-7 so really anytime is a good time for a beignet.  we even brought back the mix and some chicory coffee to give as gifts and make at home.

our first meal was after the city tour.  the guide dropped us off at cafe amelie in the middle of the french quarter.  we did make reservations at every dinner spot since there were lots of people in town for the game and there were places we had to go.

the weather was pleasant which was perfect for the patio seating.  the food was good but the atmosphere was what made this place memorable. it was enchanting and mysterious.

shrimp and goat cheese with walnuts.

grilled salmon with horseradish cream.

shrimp and grits.

and amelie's bread pudding - this was amazing!

there are 2 things you need to know about the napoleon house -

pimm's ginger julep

and the warm muffuletta

on a sesame seed bun, with plenty of melted cheese and olive salad. too good to be true.

 for the birthday dinner we made reservations at peche. it was voted best new restaurant and best chef by the james beard foundation.  so it was no surprise that the reservations were either early or late in the evening.

shrimp and fontina croquettes
it was also no surprise that the food was outstanding.  because our reservations were early and we had eaten that huge muffaletta just a few hours earlier, i can't say we were starving by dinner.  so we opted to share and try little bits of what was on the menu

crab and jalapeño capellini.

and two desserts

chocolate peanut butter banana pie

and salted caramel cake.  happy birthday becky!

 for breakfast we tried johnny's po-boys, recommended by one of the tour guides.  it was literally around the corner from the hotel and offered a huge menu for breakfast and lunch.

 i enjoyed watching the line cooks hard at work.  one making biscuits, one grits, frying up eggs and bacon.  they crowded over each other, yelling as they were plating.  it was exciting.

 and did i mention the biscuits.  we had a clue they would be good when we saw an abundance of sticks of butter in the display case.  seriously good.  they split them and grill them and serve them with jelly or gravy.  i could have eaten more, many more.

it's a small place and we were there sunday morning as they were getting the football crowd in but totally worth a stop - even if it's just for a biscuit to go.  and bring one home for me.

 we stumbled upon tableau on sunday afternoon. we wanted to get away from the sports bars and get a bite to eat before aunt lanie and sarah flew home.  we got here at the end of the jazz brunch but in time to still here some music.  i texted this photo to bobby who replied "wait, you're at disneyland?"  yep, it disneyland but bigger.

you have to order a bloody mary at brunch in new orleans.  so i did.  you basically drink morning, noon or night. in the restaurant, on the balcony or in the street.  it's all good here.  we paced ourselves but tried a little bit of everything.

creole french onion soup, with plenty of gruyere.

the asparagus and seafood salad.  the portions were small but the taste was good. and it was an upscale brunch for us.

sunday night we were ready for something other than shrimp and grits. pizza sounded good to all of us.  we thought about dominos but opted to venture out and try dominica's.  there was a 90 minute wait for a table so we knew it had to be good.  and we checked out the roosevelt hotel which was right next door while we waited for a table.

here's the thing about domenica's.  i had read about the roasted cauliflower with whipped feta dip and i was all for it, but the ladies needed a little convincing.   the server said it's a must and we would never look at cauliflower the same way. and she was right.  you pull of a piece and dip it into the feta, and cream cheese dip and your taste buds go to heaven.  absolutely the most amazing thing i ate. please go to domenica's and order the cauliflower.  you will not be disappointed.

 and the pizza was good too.

i was inspired by the water glasses they had made out of wine bottles.  great idea.

in terms of overall experience, the best we had was at commander's palace in the garden district.  we took the street car into the area where we had reservations for lunch.  i wasn't sure about dining here, thought it was a tourist trap, but i was wrong.  the service was incredible, the food was authentic and the martinis were .25 cents.  how can you beat that?

walking through the kitchen to get to the patio was super cool. you can eat at a table in the kitchen.  i'll have to remember that for next time.

 our second round, because we had to have them in martini glasses.

 turtle soup - don't hate me.  not sure i would order this again.

 and you guessed it, shrimp and grits. it was the best.

 and another birthday celebration with the commander's palace bread pudding souffle and hat.

that final night, after all that walking i went back to the room to get my coat while they decided where to have dinner.  melissa came up to me and said, our moms are officially done.  they won't walk one more step and they're having dinner at bubba gump's just a few feet away from the hotel.
knowing that that would not sit well with me, melissa dropped them off and then came back to get me so we could have dinner at a local place.

i can't say we did much better since a lot of places were closed.  but i hadn't had a po' boy all trip so it was satisfying.

yes, we had fantastic meals.  we ate a lot of shrimp. and we drank our fair share. but what really made these meals special were the people i shared them with.

the conversations we had.

the sharing of food and laughter.

the sister (and cousin) hood.

the celebration of life and spending time together.

i left with a full stomach and a full heart. cheers to that.

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