New Orleans

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to spend the weekend in New Orleans. It was my first trip to the Big Easy and boy was it everything I thought it would be and more. I was in town for a wedding of two of my favorite people, Stef and Josh

I arrived Thursday afternoon in time for a beautiful reception in the Garden District. If I lived in New Orleans, I would buy myself a big ol' house in the Garden District with a huge porch and be over the moon happy. That place is beautiful!

After the welcome reception, we did what everyone should do on their first night in New Orleans, treat themselves to late night po' boys. (For those that don't know po' boys are an institution in New Orleans and are typically hoagie bread stuffed with friend oysters, shrimp or catfish. Also, make sure you get it "dressed" that means with all the fixings and an amazing mayonnaise dressing) Our destination for po' boys was Verte Marte, an unassuming but completely delicious deli in the French Quarter. This place is legit. I had the fried shrimp po' boy and it was heaven. Best part is that we couldn't wait to eat them so we ate them in the street, I think that makes them taste better.

Friday was designated as site-seeing day. I started with a wander through the French Quarter. Having never been to New Orleans, I had to see what the whole fuss was about on Bourbon Street.  Even at 10 in the morning it was not my thing (Who wants to drink something called a hand grenade?) No meet for sure.

Instead I want to eat so I made my way over to Cafe Du Monde for my first beignet. Cafe Du Monde is a New Orleans institution that serves incredible beignets and café au laitThe beignets and the coffee lived up to the hype and was just what I needed.

Having only been there for about 12 hours, I quickly realized that New Orleans is a food town - they take their food seriously, which made me very happy.

After stuffing my face with some friend dough topped with a pound of  powdered sugar, we set off to explore. We found the bride's families' antique shop, Moss Antiques and met her incredible tour guide of a cousin, Kyle. Having only met us seconds before gave us a tour of the neighborhood that was world class. We learned that on one block in the French Quarter, the word cocktail was created and Oysters Rockefeller were invented. I am now starting to see that this foodie thing has some deep roots.

Check out these incredible oysters plates that we found at Moss Antiques - amazing right? Their only purpose in life is to serves oysters. So cool!

Since we could not go more than an hour without eating, cousin Kyle sent us to a local's joint called K-Pauls for some Cajun food. If K-Pauls is where  the locals, eat, that is where I am going to eat and it did not disappoint. We shared some gumbo, another po'boy, crab salad and some crispy potato skins. All washed down by some strong but tasty Bloody Marys. We also learned the difference between Cajun food and Creole food. Creole dishes tend to be more sophisticated and continental while Cajun food is rural, more seasoned, sometimes spicy, and tends to be heartier. Either one works for me because they are both delicious.

While we were stuffing our faces (again) it started to rain, hard. So what do you do when it rains in New Orleans? You drink more. We wandered across the street to Napoleon House for some world-famous Pims Cup. (Napoleon House was actually built for Napoleon. Back in the day when he was exiled from France a local pirate wanted to kidnap him and take him to live in a house he built for him in New Orleans. Sadly he never made it their but his would be house does. So what to do you in New Orleans to an empty house? You turn it into a bar!)

Once the rain eased off a little, I got my first glimpse of the mighty  Mississippi. I can't believe that I hadn't seen it before. It was beautiful. I grabbed another coffee from Cafe Du Monde, sat by the river for a bit and watched the boats pass. I could have stayed there for hours.

But I couldn't because I had to eat more. Saturday night we had dinner at the oldest restaurant in New Orleans, Antoine's, which is a New Orleans institution.

After an amazing dinner, with some great speeches and good food we headed to the Carousel Bar int he Hotel Monteleone. The bar actually spins like a carousel. What in the world? I blame my serious hangover on the spinning bar.

Saturday morning  I wandered over to the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. It is a little morbid but the cemeteries in New Orleans are beautiful, historic and haunting. Since the city is below sea level, people are buried above the ground in these beautiful crypts.

I wandered through them and then decided it was time to eat again. I headed over to Cochon Butcher, a more casual and equally delicious as its well-known sister restaurant, Cochon. The food there was seriously good. Next time I am in New Orleans I have got to check out Cochon.

After another delicious meal we headed over to the Garden District by street car! My first  experience on a street car. To be honest,  it is not the most efficient mode of public transportation but way more romantic than the city bus.

Our next stop was the The Columns Hotel for a hot toddy. The Columns Hotel is another New Orleans institution(are you starting to see a theme here?), designed by one of New Orleans’ great architects, Thomas Sully, and is the only remaining example of a large group of Italianate houses that he designed in the late 1880s.

About that time I was finally ready to call it quits and take a breather from food and booze, when we hit another bar, Coquette on the picturesque Magazine Street. Coquette is where I was introduced to pickled tomatoes. Have you ever had pickled tomatoes? I am still dreaming about those suckers - sweet, tangy and crunchy - don't be too surprised if a recipe for those makes an appearance on here soon.

After a quick power nap, it was time for the wedding - the main event and the reason I was in New Orleans. Two of my favorite people and members of my SF family were getting married and I could not have been happier for them.  Their reception took place at the Board of Trade and it was incredible. They had this amazing traditional New Orleans band. We even closed down the street with a 2nd Line! (For those that don't know a 2nd Line is basically following a traditional brass band as they walk through the street of New Orleans. They even close down the streets with a police escort!)

The night was perfect, more delicious food (the reception had shrimp-n-grits. I helped myself to two servings) and other traditional New Orleans fare. There was a great band but most importantly great friends celebrating two great people.

Sunday morning I woke up (late) and decided that I couldn't leave New Orleans without more food. We wandered over to the ByWater area of town that is up and coming to hit up this delicious restaurant for brunch, Elizabeth's. Seriously some of the best brunch food I have ever had. It was at Elizabeth's that I was introduced to Redneck Eggs AND Bacon Praline. Is your mind blown? I will start with Redneck Eggs because I can't wait to make them again. Perfectly poached eggs covered in hollandaise sauce atop friend green tomatoes. Amazing. Like I would like a dish of those right now minute amazing. Now onto the Bacon Praline which is bacon roasted with caramel and sugar. I know it sounds gross but just trust me on this. Incredible. Have you heard of Millionaires Bacon? Sort of the same thing and equally delicious. I feel like I have to serve this for breakfast on Thanksgiving. When else are you going to be able to eat sugared bacon and not feel bad? Sadly that was my last meal in New Orelans. I was so stuffed that I had to unbutton my pants so I could breath.

I am now in Florida for the holidays and looking forward to spending some time with the family, hanging with my niece and nephew and just relaxing.Good thing I won't being doing much eating this week either because I am still stuffed from New Orleans.

Have a happy, happy Thanksgiving!