Dave and I recently returned from a food-filled mini vacay in New Orleans. We had a fabulous time being tourists and were impressed with the flavors and quality of food the city had to offer.
On the flight out, our row mate recommended Acme Oyster House, which happened to already be on our list of places to visit. I had seen it on an episode of Man vs. Food and had intentions of going there while we were in The Big Easy. The world is my oyster since Dave made me a convert, and it seems we just can’t get enough of them. So, Acme Oyster House it was for our introductory NOLA meal.
I started with a Bloody Mary and Dave ordered an Abita Amber, a lager from a local brewery. On the glass rim of the Bloody Mary was what tasted like a Cajun seasoning – spicy and Old Bay-esque. We then shared a dozen raw and char grilled oysters along with Boo fries, all recommended by our travel companion. The raw oysters were milder and less salty than their Northeast brethren, but just as meaty. Our plate of char grilled oysters on the half shell was filled with garlic, butter, and cheese oozing goodness to be sopped up by the bread they provided.
And the Boo Fries – not sure who thought it would be a good idea to put roast beef gravy over fries with shredded cheddar cheese, but they knew what they were doing! (although my discerning palate quickly picked up that the gravy was jarred, but after a few bites I quickly let go of my judgment.)
By the end of our meal, we were still curious about what exactly the Bloody Mary seasoning was (and whether we could recreate it ourselves). So we asked the waitress on our way out. It was Tony Chachere’s and they were selling it next door. Guess where we went next!
Dinner our first evening was at Stella!, one of the finer dining establishments in the French Quarter. The atmosphere was upscale, with a touch of stuffiness. It is known for using molecular gastronomy, a modern cooking technique that includes creating foams and gels in a dish. As Dave and I perused the menu, only the appetizers seemed to really beckon us, so we got 4 small plates and a salad. Our favorites were the deviled egg with caviar
and the foie gras, that was so creamy with compliments of bacon, peaches and fig
Day 1 – so far NOLA is living up to its culinary reputation!
Saturday, we headed uptown to the Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art and then took the street car back to the French Quarter. Adamant about trying local traditions, we walked over to Pat O’Brien’s, the place that created the infamous Hurricane. (Click here to read about its history). No wonder everyone walks around Bourbon Street drunk! 4 ounces of rum in one libation will do that to you. To fill our empty stomachs, we stopped for lunch at the Napoleon House, another recommendation from our flight friend and also on our personal list.
It’s called the Napoleon House because the building housed the mayor at the time, and offered his residence to the exiled Emperor as a refuge. Although Napoleon never made it to New Orleans, the name stuck.
They are known for their Pimm’s Cup, so Dave and I ordered one to share. Thanks to the Hurricane, one Pimm’s Cup each would have put us over the edge. Looking at the menu, we noticed it was primarily Italian-based and were confused how a place named Napoleon House did not offer French food. We later found out it is owned by an Italian family, and the significance of the name, obviously, has nothing to do with the food. We shared a Muffulatta, which is basically an Italian Cold Cut sandwich with olives and served hot, and a Meatball Sandwich.
Dinner on our second night was at Cochon, a restaurant our research concluded was highly rated. We were eager to try alligator and this place fit the bill. Yet besides the fried alligator and the braised pork cheeks, we were disappointed. Our experience wasn’t enhanced either by our terrible service.
Fried Alligator with chili garlic aioli
Day 2 – we hit some well known local establishments, but the food did not hit the mark. We did however have a celebrity sighting that evening – Zach Galifianakis and Jack McBrayer (Kenny from 30 Rock)!