NOLA – New Orleans, Louisiana. Ah-May-Zing! So much fun. And I feel silly for saying this, but it was my first time there. I really don’t know what took me so long. I guess it was just the distance from my older stomping grounds. In Oklahoma we would head towards Lake Texoma, Padre or once for a college spring break we drove from Stillwater to Fort Lauderdale. When I lived in Dallas, well, I went to, um, Dallas! And when I was in the New York/CT area I went to well, Manhattan, of course. But also to Mt. Snow, Vermont and a few other random Pepsi sponsored ski areas.
But I am getting off track. Jeannette (the lovely) and I went to the Big Easy for our 40th celebration. We meet up at the Maison Dupuy hotel. A very nice hotel with possibly a dead, bald guy in the hot tub. He NEVER left y’all! The rooms were clean, the shower had nice water pressure (something that is very important to me), the front staff were nice and friendly, there was a pool and free Wi-Fi. All in all, a great hotel for a decent price.
As I just said, I had never been to NOLA, even though Jeannette was a seasoned pro. We headed down Bourbon St. to see the crazies and get a drink. I was bound and determined to have a Hurricane but then thought, do I really want to throw up on my first day here? I settled for a beer and Jeannie introduced me to my new favorite beer – ABITA Purple Haze.
Abita beer whether it was Purple Haze or Amber was a constant for the remainder of our trip. Well, that and Bloody Marys, mmmmmmmmmmmmm, don’t EVEN get me started on the bloodies from Molly’s at the Market. We watched them being made: a little Guinness, half a squeezed lemon and lime, some Cajun seasoning, worchestire, horseradish, tabasco, juice from the pickled green beans (i wish i could have brought back 12,000 jars of those) and their already mixed bloody mix. The first time there we had THREE. I would have had more to stare at that mellow cat that hangs out on the tables with the customers but my stomach was rumbling and we needed to get ready for dinner.
Speaking of dinner/food we ate SO GOOD. Here were our stops and each were amazing. And in all actuality, it was mainly about the food. Don’t miss any of these.
1. Dante’s Kitchen – Ok, this place…they have the best vegetables in any New Orleans restaurant, an outdoor patio, and an amazing wine list. They have incredible meat and fish dishes too. This is a great restaurant to get away from downtown, and one of the most inspired menus I’ve seen anywhere. The food and produce is fresh, fresh, fresh, and they accentuate the freshness with the preparation and presentation. The only thing I will say is that the portions are HUGE!!! Bring some friends and plan on having one of the best meals of your life.
2. NOLA – This is one of Emeril’s restaurants in New Orleans. Featuring an eclectic menu of New Orleans Creole and Acadian cuisine with an occasional ethnic twist, the rustic style of cooking showcases Southern Cajun, Vietnamese and Southwestern influences using Louisiana products. Private dining rooms, a bread and pastry bakery and wine cellar are located on NOLA’s third floor.
3. Coop’s – Hands down this was my favorite place. The fried chicken was out of this world and the prices were excellent. This French Quarter bar, with its placement across the street from Margaritaville and down the street from Café du Monde, is kind of in tourist central, meh; but these guys have the real deal in red beans and rice, gumbo, fried chicken, and super authentic local favorites. Also check out the side salad, with the BEST homemade Green Goddess dressing in town. The servers are sweet and super tattooed, the kitchen is basically in the outdoor courtyard, and next door is the fantastically alt-goth bar…
4. Felix’s Oyster Bar – Besides being the name of my favorite boyfriend, it was also a fantastic place to grab a seat, an Abita and a dozen oysters. They also have Po-boys, seafood platters and some darn good fried pickles. Man, I could really go for another dozen oysters with lots of horseradish and lemon.
5. Central Grocery – Central Grocery is home of the muffuletta, one of New Orleans’ great sandwiches. A circular loaf of soft Italian bread is sliced horizontally and piled with salami, ham, and provolone, which are in turn topped with a wickedly spicy melange of chopped green and black olives fragrant with anchovies and garlic. You miss this, and you might cry.
6. Café Du Monde – World famous for its cafe‘ au lait, beignets, and the opportunity to people watch. Another New Orleans favorite, stop by for a chicory coffee and beignets to cure your morning hangover. The service was a bit slow while seated so maybe check out the TO GO line on the side if you are in a hurry. But it is a don’t miss.
7. Satsuma Cafe – Their Kale Salad, made of all local ingredients, fresh, and organic, features Lacinato kale, Parmesan dressing, and (this is New Orleans after all) a piece of bacon on the side. This is the BEST SALAD in the city, hands down. A few blocks away from Desire Street, (which kind of says it all), and in the stunning Baywater, this is the hippyish place to go for great coffee and espresso, fresh ginger muffins, super great Nutella banana pancakes, fresh BLT’s with real tomatoes, hummus, bagels and lox with all the sides, and fresh juices made to order. It’s also all organic. Sit at the Squirrel Table and read the New York Times, or a local paper with the locals (and believe me, they’re there). It has a totally great vibe and fresh, fresh, fresh organic food. These guys make an effort and it shows.
I think I will take a break here. Now I am craving an oyster po-boy, an Abita Purple Haze and some excellent fried chicken. Stay tuned for some more New Orleans news and lots of cool pics. Ciao!