A Day in New Orleans

Posted by Courtney |


A couple of years ago I visited New Orleans, and I never quite got over it. Aside from there being the absolute friendliest people of all the places I've been in my vast travels, it is one of the most fantastic places to go if you're a foodie. And this is coming from a spoiled Vancouverite who has the best of all the world's cuisine in her backyard. There is only one bad thing I can say about New Orleans, and that is that if I lived there, I'd probably weigh a metric ton.

Here's how we spend the perfect New Orleans day:

First, you wake up and shake off the hangover from your Bourbon Street experience the night before. Hopefully, it's just a mild hangover, not a crippling Mardi Gras one, and can be cured by a visit to the local greasy spoon. It's only fitting that the best place to eat away a hangover in New Orleans is on Bourbon Street as well, because one must always return to the scene of the crime. Clover Grill is just that place and once you step inside, you'll realize why no other place will do. The old school diner look makes you feel like you just went back in time 50 years, and you can smell the patina on the grill that's been building since 1939. And there are cooks behind the bar who, for my fellow Truebies, are almost certainly the inspiration for Lafayette's character in True Blood. But the food, friends, the food is what it's all about and breakfast time at Clover Grill is magical. Buttery grits and cheesy eggs and pork fat and chicken fried steak, omelettes, biscuits and gravy. It is a hangover slaughter house and by the time you're done, you'll forget you even ordered that 13th hurricane last night on Bourbon street. It's also incredibly affordable and the service is fantastic. Check out their web site: The Clover Grill

There's something in the air in Louisiana that makes the uncomfortable full feeling after a plate full of grits, eggs and sausage disappear in no time. After a couple hours wandering around the French Quarter, you'll start to feel the hunger pangs in your stomach again and this time you have choices. But only two. Lunch in New Orleans is served up best at Central Grocery or at Mother's Restaurant and amazing sandwiches are on the menu. At Central Grocery you can get a muffuletta which is a round, soft, Italian bread loaf as a sandwich bun filled until bursting with ham, salami and provolone, topped with an olive salad which is made up of chopped green and black olives, garlic, anchovies and olive oil. It's simple. It's easy. It took two of us to eat one and we still took home leftovers. Extraordinary tasting, filling and affordable, this is one of the best places I've had lunch anywhere, not just New Orleans. 923 Decatur Street in the French Quarter.

Rather have a Po' Boy? Mother's Restaurant is where it's at but be prepared to stand in line. I'm going to tell you the single most important piece of information about Mother's Restaurant right now, read carefully and remember this: even if the wait is more than an hour, it is worth it. It really is. The smell of their homemade baked ham should make this fairly clear. When you do get your chance to order, you can go real New Orleans style and order a shrimp or oyster Po' Boy but, as is the case with me, the word debris on their menu really piqued my curiosity and I absolutely had to order the Famous Ferdi Special, described as having baked ham, roast beef, debris and gravy between the buns. How do you argue with this logic? Plus, the aforementioned baked ham smell is going to have you thinking porcine before you can even mutter the word oyster, though I'm very sure Mother's oyster Po' Boy is just as good as any other sandwich on the menu. If I'd had a day extra in wonderful NOLA, I'd have most certainly stood in line for their gumbo as well. Heck, I'd have stood in line for anything they make, 'cause a diner with "Meat - Side Order" on their menu is a-okay in my books. Check out the web site for Mother's Restaurant and be sure to browse the menu: Mother's Restaurant

If you've decided to go both ways and you find yourself strolling between Central Grocery and Mother's Restaurant, you'll probably pass an outdoor cafe covered in icing sugar called Cafe Du Monde. This is the perfect stopping point for a mid-afternoon what-have-you to put a bounce in your step and kill the desire for an afternoon nap. The menu fits on the side of their napkin dispensers and consists of Cafe Au Lait using their blend of coffee beans and chicory, and beignets which are served under a mountain of icing sugar about twice the size of the beignets themselves. All around the city, you'll spot lazy tourists with patches of white on their chin, their shirts, pants, even their shoes and when you sit down to have a beignet at Cafe Du Monde, you'll understand why. There is really no escaping it. There is only one rule to their beignets: they must consumed as soon as they are served. Check out the web site: Cafe Du Monde

The difficulty with dinner in New Orleans is deciding where to go. I tried a lot of places, from local fare all the way to sushi, and one place sticks in my mind as the best dinner experience NOLA has to offer and that, my friends, is NOLA. Emeril Lagasse's NOLA that is. I dove right in to his menu and ordered the fried chicken. When in Rome, no? Just listen to the description: Buttermilk Fried Breast of Chicken with Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Country Ham Cream Gravy and Sautéed Sugar Snap Peas. Tell me you didn't just die a little inside. Now, imagine what it tastes like. Aside from far too many Bam! jokes, this place is perfection. The menu consists of simple dishes, cooked with local food in the local tradition and there's really no way to screw that up. Check out the web site: NOLA Restaurant

After a day like this, who needs Bourbon Street's nightlife?

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Stephanie said...

Delightful! I just found out that beignets were originally brought to New Orleans from the Acadians, and I am half Acadian - I am clearly putting my people to shame as I have never had/made a beignet! Must find a good recipe. Definitely putting New Orleans on my list of places to go. BAM!

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