New Orleans

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We spent a long weekend in New Orleans and it lived up to all the magic and promise of a food mecca. The city is vibrant and full of music. The vibe is that of a city that really doesn’t ever sleep. The food is in a class all its own. So we ate our way through the weekend.

The 1st day we arrived, we strolled the streets to get the vibe of the city. That didn’t take long. We happened to be there during French Quarter Jazz Festival weekend, so the already rowdy and bodacious streets were filled with music and people.

While strolling, we came around the corner to find this incredible example of why people migrate to New Orleans for music. Her name is Doreen Ketchens and she can be heard most days on the corner of St. Peter and Royal St in the French Quarter. 

We stayed at the Soniat House – it use to be three houses which are now combined into one 30 room sweet hotel.  The courtyard, where we had breakfast each morning, was a respite and tranquil setting.

The first restaurant we ate at was Compere Lapin. The chef and owner is Nina Compton, a finalist on Top Chef. The menu was fun and pushed us to step out of the box and experiment with a unique and delicious meal. Everything from the Spiced Pig Ears (yup, you heard me right) to the broiled shrimp with Calabrian chili was a joy to eat.

Our next night we ate at the Le Petite Grocery. This was a step into an evening of mouth treats.  The chef and owner Justin Devillie is also a Top Chef veteran.  What drove us to this restaurant were the Blue Crab Beignets. So New Orleans and so good – addictive good.  Then there were the true Louisiana dishes like rabbit, turtle and shrimp and grits.  I have to admit, I went for the shrimp and grits – no offense to the turtle but there is only so much experimental eating we can do!

Then it was onto Peche.  A fast moving, big exciting fish restaurant. The menu was an interesting mix of Louisiana and South American cuisine.  We stayed true to ourselves and the menu and had the catfish and an interesting and amazing dish of ground shrimp with noodles.  Crazy and delicious.

We couldn’t pass up a trip to Mother’s for fried chicken and down-home fair.  There was nothing simple about the food and it was so special.  I liked it so much I bought a t-shirt.

Our last night was at Shaya, a modern Israeli restaurant that sticks to its roots.  This is where I tasted Tachin for the first time.  This is a Persian rice dish that is cooked with dried fruit and is crispy on the bottom and cooked with saffron and turmeric. It’s then served inverted so you are presented this golden crispy plate of rice. We also had the baba ganoush and smooth and creamy hummus.

We of course had to eat at oyster chucking phenomenon restaurant Acme Oyster House. We saw first-hand that all the hype is true – they really are a machine that perfectly shucks an oyster over and over and over again!  Acme is know for its chargrill oyster. We didn’t go that route, but you should have seen the platters and platters of oysters that flew through the restaurant! It goes without saying that we ate our beignets at Café Du Monde, and there were no disappointments.

We were just plain lucky that we booked our weekend over the French Quarter Jazz Fest.  For the the first two days the weather was beautiful, and we spent time eating and listening to music in the main square.  So the question about what to do in New Orleans when it rains and a mini hurricane breezed through town on our third day was quickly answered.  There was enough rain that they actually cancelled the festival for the day.  Most people found themselves wet and walking from bar to bar, but we were looking for something a little more interesting.  Everyone told us to go to the World War Two museum.  Now I am not going to lie and say this would have been on our itinerary, but with some trepidation we went. The museum was amazing! I know it sounds crazy, but if you have an extra couple of hours while you are New Orleans, I encourage you to go!

So, that’s New Orleans. A fun and vibrant city that lives up to the 24 hour party reputation with music and really good food!

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