We took a little weekend trip to New Orleans last week for our anniversary.
I promptly tried to eat my weight in beignets.
Who knew fried dough could be SOOOOO good?
Save me, I have a serious beignet problem.
If you like to eat, New Orleans is a good city for you. If you like to walk so that you feel you have earned your beignets, New Orleans is a great city for you!
I’ve had quite a few friends ask about the places we went and what we ate so here are a few of the highlights…
Cafe du Monde. Home of those famous beignets and also of chicory coffee.
Beware of HUGE long lines every morning at Cafe du Monde. On the weekends the line was down the block, and down the next block…not worth it. Oh, the beignets are worth it but don’t stand in that dumb line. Beignets are just as good in the afternoon as in the morning and there was no line. In fact, I will assert that they are BETTER in the afternoon. Everyone needs a little pick me up and coffee (for Jim) and beignets (for ME) did the trick very nicely.
Bye bye beignets!
Dang, I thought I got a photo of the floor of Cafe du Monde but apparently I did not. It is a spectacle of abandoned powdered sugar.
Before or after your beignets and chicory coffee, you will find yourself in Jackson Square home of the lovely St. Louis Cathedral and the statue of Andrew Jackson.
There are artists surrounding the park selling their wares. At night the square is full of psychics and palm readers. Funky and sort of funny to find them right outside the door to the cathedral.
This dixieland band was fantastic. I’m sure every musician in New Orleans gets sick of singing “What a Wonderful World” but the trumpet player here nailed it.
They would bring people, especially kids, up to take photos with the band.
I loved this kid!
We ate at two other restaurants in Jackson Square, Stanley for breakfast and Muriel’s for dinner. Muriel’s is supposedly haunted so tons of tour groups stopped outside to gape at the cool old building while we were eating dinner.
At least I hope they were gaping at the building…
At Muriel’s I ordered a Sazerac, one of the famous cocktails from New Orleans. In fact, some claim that the Sazerac was the first cocktail ever. Note to self: next time don’t carry on your luggage so you can bring back bottles of bitters and herbsaint for sazerac making at home.
Just a note…I don’t have photos of all of our food on this trip. We were celebrating our anniversary (not on some sort of all expenses paid food blogging event,) and I also try to not be annoying at nice restaurants. If I can snap a quick photo in a bar or casual spot (most were taken with my iphone) great. However, I draw the line at firing off the flash on the big camera while others are trying to enjoy their dinner.
Thus, sadly there are no photos of the food at Restaurant August where we celebrated our anniversary. Restaurant August is one of chef John Besh’s restaurants and a sight to behold for the building and chandeliers alone.
You might remember seeing chef Besh’s smiling face on this very blog when I received these cookbook for Christmas.
In lieu of being invited over to his house for dinner, which would always be first choice, I’d been wanting to go to one of his restaurants while in New Orleans.
The food at August was wonderful (even though our waiter was a bit of a dud). Jim was the big winner of the evening – his steak was incredible. I don’t have any idea was was in the sauce but I could have happily slurped it up through a straw.
In a weird twist, I actually loved best the two things that we didn’t order. Many chef run restaurants send out an amuse bouche or little bite sized appetizer that is compliments of the chef. At August they sent out a wonderful cauliflower custard served over tasty oats (sounds weird but was beyond delicious) and served in an eggshell. Of all the things I wish I had a photo of, that is it.
Oh, and the tiny little plate of tiny little desserts that they sent out at the end of the meal: A tiny little macaroon, a tiny little chocolate truffle, a tiny little tart, and the most amazing tiny little square of super concentrated strawberry goodness that I’ve ever had. Think of the world’s best strawberry gumdrop on steroids.
One of the best things about New Orleans is that once you are there, you don’t really need a car…
You can take the trolley!
The trolley system is great and runs right on schedule. We stayed away from the chaos of the French Quarter and Bourbon Street at a hotel by the Super Dome. It was easy to hop on the trolley in the morning and take it right into the heart of downtown. From there we could walk to the quarter, take the trolley along the riverfront, or take the St. Charles Streetcar line out to the Garden District.
The garden district has no shortage of gorgeous houses.
It is also home to the Audubon Zoo. My camera battery died promptly upon entering the zoo but I was able to get this picture of the giraffes (my favorites) galloping around their enclosure. I had never seen giraffes run before. Graceful but fast too!
Did you know they have the same number of vertebrae as humans? Little known fact.
The zoo is on the small side which makes it very walkable in hot, humid New Orleans summer weather. Unfortunately many of the exhibits were under construction…but that is actually a good thing as they are updating and going to a more open concept rather than animals stuck in small cages.
Back to the good food tour!
Probably my favorite place overall was the Royal House Oyster Bar. It’s a small bar/restaurant right in the heart of the French Quarter serving up fantastic food.
We split the Royal Oysters (baked), some shrimp and grits, a small bowl of gumbo, and THESE AMAZING CRAB CLAW THINGS SWIMMING IN GLORIOUS CREAMY BUTTERY GOODNESS. (Yes, shouting about these crab claws is required.)
The waiter smartly brought out extra bread for sopping up that amazing sauce. Go there. Order crab claws. Eat. Be happy.
Speaking of the French Quarter…
Bourbon Street on a Thursday afternoon is actually a pretty sane place.
Come Saturday night however…fairly crazy…and this was pretty early as far as nights on Bourbon Street go.
If you’re up for it, you can pop into any number of bars/restaurants and hear some fantastic live music.
Speaking of music, Preservation Hall will have to wait for the next trip. We didn’t get tickets in advance and the line was almost as long as the line for beignets.
So much to see in New Orleans. I never get tired of walking around and looking at old buildings, balconies full of ferns, wrought iron work…
If there was a building with a blue door, I probably have a photo of it.
had some sort of shoe sale/giveaway going on out on the curb…
and also the coolest fence!
While you’re out walking around, mosey on over to Chartres Street and go to Laura’s Candies – New Orlean’s oldest candy store. Sorry I don’t have a picture but I was too busy eating the FREE samples! I also came home with a small box of Mississippi Mud – dark chocolate with caramel and pecans…sort of a flat turtle.
If anyone as Laura’s is interested, I think this would make the world’s best filling for a s’more!
Chartres Street is a block or so away from the chaos of Bourbon Street and full of neat galleries and shops.
Do you have time for a few freshly shucked oysters?
Desire Oyster Bar is the place to go. They also make a mean bowl of gumbo.
In my short scientific survey of gumbos, I realized that most of the gumbo in New Orleans is much simpler than my recipe. Their roux was seriously dark. Also, none of the gumbo I had in New Orleans had okra. That needs some explaining.
Ha! How about this?
There were several places that I had intended to go but a girl can only eat so much.
Saved for our next trip – Cochon, where Jim has been and raves about but you MUST make reservations in advance unless you want to dine at 10:30 pm. Mother’s Restaurant for fried chicken and home cookin’ and the Central Grocery where I couldn’t make Jim stand in yet another line for a muffaletta sandwich no matter how good it smelled.
Thanks New Orleans! Thanks beignets!
I’ll be back!
Have you been to The Big Easy? If so, what are your favorites?