New Orleans, Louisiana 2017
Last weekend I took my very first trip to my neighbors next door.
Here is Henderson Swamp as viewed from I-10. Good ole real life swamp. I did not see me a gator as we were on an elevated freeway and did not stop.
We arrived on Friday, August 18th. Our hotel was a 15 minute walk to the start of the French Quarter on Royal Street.
The architecture was charming.
Some ways it reminds me of Pelourinho in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.
This is Bourbon Street. We walked on it, glanced down it, but we didn't really need to stay.
Royal Street was charming. Lots of shops.
Pralines are the most popular sweet treats.
Then there are the hot sauces.
I sampled a mango habanero one. It wasn't too crazy.
One store we stopped in had antique guns and swords and coins. We saw a display of "pirate money". We asked the guy if that was actual coinage used only by pirates. We learned that pirates went for Spanish coins because they were valued universally. Spanish coins could be used as far away as China. So the Pirates liked Spanish coins the most.
Being the town of Marti Gras, there are plenty of shops with masks and ornaments. This store was my favorite. It had a display of Merpeople ornaments and a sign that read, "Please do not twirl the Merpeople". I mean really? It was enough of a problem to have a sign?
Friday we made it to Cafe Du Monde. If you look to the left of my head, you can see the back of the saxophone player with no pants. We thought he had chaps on, but really it was more like a scarf keeping him "modest". Sure dude, whatever.
Cafe Du Monde is home of the beignets, square-fried-donut-like-yummy-goodness smothered in powdered sugar.
We also visited the St. Francis Cathedral. It is the oldest Cathedral in the United States.
Not only was it beautiful, it was air conditioned and provided great refuge from the heat and humidity.
It was so incredibly HOT and HUMID.
We walked through Jackson Square to see the Mississippi River. We asked these fine folks to take our picture after taking theirs.
She took a selfie first.
Here is the Mississippi River Folks!
Saturday was another grand adventure. We had breakfast in the French Quarter at the Royale House Oyster Bar. My poached eggs on crawfish cakes, smothered in crawfish sauce was a winner! It was delicious! Now I need to try to learn to poach eggs.
We then tried to go to the cemetery where the famous Voodoo lady is buried (above ground because New Orleans is 10 feet above sea level at the highest point). Sadly they only let you in with a guided tour and that one, cost $20, and two, wouldn't have given us enough time for our food tour.
So we bought some water at the gas station, and then ploughed on through the heat and humidity and visited Armstrong park.
Here I am with Mr. Armstrong himself.
As we walked down St. Anne Street to Decatur St to meet up with our food tour, we began seeing a lot of police, barricades, and emergency vehicles. We didn't know what was happening till we started out tour. Our tour guide told us that there was a protest planned regarding some statutes in New Orleans. Some white supremacists caught wind and were rumored to be coming to town. We aren'y sure how we actually missed the protest march, but it started at Armstrong Park, went down St. Anne street, and ended up at Jackson Square. Luckily only a dozen supremacists showed up and it was fairly peaceful.
But let's get to the food...
LET THE FOOD TOUR BEGIN!
First stop on our Tastebud Tours was TUJAGES. It is the oldest bar in New Orleans. It is the home of the Grasshopper Cocktail.
Here we ate Brisket Po'Boys. The recipes at this bar and restaurant are 150 years old. We learned the Po' Boy sandwich originated as a sandwich to feed poor day laborers. As another one came by the originators establishment, they'd yell,
"here comes another poor boy".
This was delicious. It has horseradish sauce and was amazingly moist. Loved it! I'd like to try a shrimp Po' Boy.
Here I am drinking my water in Tujague's while our other fellow foodies sampled the Grasshopper Cocktail.
Next stop was the OLD COFFEE POT, for GUMBO AND JAMBALAYA.
Here we learned about creole vs cajun. Creole in reference to New Orleans are the descendents of the European colonials, whether European and mixed European, and also used to describe the descendents of the Africans and Natives. New Orleans was ruled by the French, then the Spanish, then the French for like 20 days before the Louisiana Purchase and the Untied States obtained it. As in most places, when you settle in a new place you bring your home cooking with you, and then you adapt. Jambalaya can be thought of as Spanish Paella without the saffron. It is tomato based. Gumbo, in African Bantu language, means okra. Okra is the thickening agent in the stew/roux. We sampled a light roux shrimp gumbo. I'm now interested in learning to make roux.
Next stop was the CREOLE COOKERY. Here we sampled a bread pudding. Think about all the French Bread in this cuisine, day old bread gets soaked in milk and BREAD PUDDING is born. It was dense and delicious, not mushy at all.
Our next stop was a Spice Shop that blends salts, sugars, and spices. I bought a few samples that will be fun to cook with. We mostly stopped here so our tour guide could pick up the Muffaletta from Johnny's Po Boy shop that we took and ate on the steps of a plaza next to the Mississippi. MUFFALETTAS are a Sicilian-Creole creation. Bread, ham, cheese, and olive salad. It was good too. A bit thick, but good.
Our tour ended at Laura's Candy Shop. We sampled some pralines and I bought some to take home, as well as some Mississippi Mud- chocolate, caramel, and pecans. Sweet treat to end our three hour tour. Our tour guide was excellent. I'll be doing more Food Tours in my future.
Our tour guide definitely loves her city. She said it is better to think of New Orleans not as a Southern city, but more like the most northern city in the Caribbean. It made total sense.
After returning to the hotel to crash for a bit, we eventually decided we could eat one more mean in New Orleans. We travelled across the street to "Walk On" Sports Bar.
I had my first grits. This had corn in it too. The shrimp was stuffed with jalapeno and cream cheese, wrapped in bacon, and grilled! Yummy!
And a crawfish Etoufee, and Duck and Andouille Sausage Gumbo.
And a Krispy Kreme bread pudding.
I said I was going to eat my way through the weekend. I did... It was great. I'd go back!