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St. Louis Cathedral Jackson Square

We took a little weekend trip to New Orleans last week for our anniversary.

I promptly tried to eat my weight in beignets.

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.

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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.

Cafe du Monde

Bye bye beignets!

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.

St Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square

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.

Jackson Square Artists

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.

Dixieland Band at Jackson Square

They would bring people, especially kids, up to take photos with the band.

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I loved this kid!

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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.

Sazerac

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.

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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…

Take the Trolley!

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.

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The garden district has no shortage of gorgeous houses.

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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!

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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.

Royal House Oyster Bar

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.)

Crab at Royal House Oyster Bar

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.

Bourbon Street on a Thursday afternoon

Come Saturday night however…fairly crazy…and this was pretty early as far as nights on Bourbon Street go.

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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.

Preservation Hall

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…

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If there was a building with a blue door, I probably have a photo of it.

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This house!

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had some sort of shoe sale/giveaway going on out on the curb…

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and also the coolest fence!

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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

Desire Oyster Bar is the place to go. They also make a mean bowl of gumbo.

Shrimp & Sausage 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?

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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.

Beads

Thanks New Orleans! Thanks beignets!

I’ll be back!

Have you been to The Big Easy? If so, what are your favorites?

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9 Responses to “Weekend in New Orleans (with food)”

  1. Karen L. says:

    New Orleans is a great place to visit. We also couldn’t get into Preservation Hall so we stood on the sidewalk and listened. I loved just walking around the Quarter at night and listening to the different bands. We went to The Court of the Three Sisters (awesome bread pudding with whiskey sauce – must have had 2 tablespoons of butter in the sauce per serving) and to Brennans where we had turtle soup. It’s hard to go wrong with food in New Orleans.

    The Art Museum is worth a trip also. They have (or at least had) the United States’ largest collection of Faberge Eggs.

    • My parents went to New Orleans for their honeymoon way back in the day and had dinner at Brennans! That’s another place where you need a reservation several days in advance. Same for Court of Three Sisters. It was highly recommended by several people but we couldn’t get in there either. Lesson learned: reservations before you leave home, at least a week (or more) in advance!

      Thanks for the tip on the art museum. Add it to the list for next time!

  2. smart cat says:

    Oh for the YUM! Thanks for the great tour!

  3. meredith@whynot says:

    One day I will get there.
    We had planned to go and take our daughter, then she decided to get married.
    Since that marriage did not take, we would have been better off spending the money on those powdered lovelies.
    Happy that you had a grand time.

  4. Wes says:

    Central Market is where Lidia B. goes for muffaletta in NOLA.

    • Whaaaaa! I wanted to go there but the line was WAY too long for Jim’s level of patience on that particular day. I had the same reaction at a place that was supposed to have amazing burgers and baked potatoes when they had an hour wait at 3 in the afternoon. No thanks.

  5. Busy Bee Suz says:

    So, what anniversary is this? I NEED DETAILS!!!
    I’ve not visited New Orleans, but I did drive through there one time in 1997. LOL.
    Your meals sound absolutely divine! When I see you in person I will pat you on the back for not ‘flash photographing’ everyone in the restaurant. 🙂
    XXOXOOXO

    • 10 years! Whoohoo!

      Yes, I try not to be to big of a pain in the butt in restaurants. A couple of years ago, we were at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Village having lunch and the lady at the next table was photographing not only her own food but everyone else’s food at the table. She even made some of them get up from their seats so she could sit down and take a picture. The Ahwahnee is lovely but come on! It’s just lunch. And soup and salad at that! I just read in the NY Times that some restaurants are having to ban people from taking pictures from the food because some of them are so obnoxious about it. Sit down and eat while your food is hot people!

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