Last week, I took a trip down to New Orleans with a mission to do some major nomming. And man, did we feast like royalty!
On our first morning there, we grabbed beignets from the world famous Cafe Du Monde, which was established in 1862. These little puffs of dough are smothered in powdered sugar, which of course, ended up all over my face and the table, too. There’s never a bad time for beignets, and that’s easy enough to fix in Nola because Cafe Du Monde stays open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
Fresh seafood wasn’t hard to come by either. We ate oysters, both raw and dolled up, like the Oysters Rockefeller dish from Royal House you see below. My friend even found a local crawfish boil and sampled a crawfish enchilada dish. The fried pickles that we also ordered that night had just the right amount of seasoning and the batter was light enough to still taste the briny pickles themselves.
Curious to see what all the hype was about at Peche, which recently won two James Beard Foundation Awards for Best New Restaurant and Best Chef: South, we scored a last minute lunch reservation and ordered the Grilled Redfish with Salsa Verde. Clearly, we destroyed it. The sign of a meal prepared (and devoured) right!
There were few times that we even saved room for dessert, but we did try Snowballs as a treat after a long walk through the sculpture park in City Park. They’re sort of like high end snow cones; the ice is finely shaved and the flavor selections at the stand we stopped at ranged from Sweet Nectar Creme to King Cake to more basic flavors like grapefruit and watermelon. Yelp! reviewers suggested adding condensed milk atop our orders, and while I ended up scooping most of mine off, my friend swore that she could eat more of hers for days. I’m not sure that the flavors I chose paired well with the creaminess of the milk.
We also properly prepped our stomachs for the grand, three course meal at Commander’s Palace. It’s located in the Garden District, a lovely neighborhood filled with tree-lined streets and mansions. The restaurant itself is in an old, sprawling, Victorian-style, blue house. The interior is brightly colored with green and yellow striped wallpaper and curtains.
If you go for lunch, they offer $0.25 cent martinis. Yowza, and yes, I definitely had to try ’em! I also ordered Chef Tory’s Classic Creole Luncheon – gumbo; BBQ Gulf Fish with corn coush-coush, charred chilies, and red pepper paint; and the Creole Bread Pudding Souffle. The fish was cooked perfectly and the BBQ sauce was light and subtle, but still had a nice smoky flavor to it. But the best part of the meal was definitely dessert! The souffle was presented to us all properly puffed up. Then the server drizzled it with a whiskey cream sauce that broke the souffle and settled into its center. Dear souffle, I didn’t have room for you, but I made room and you were absolutely delightful. The dessert was served still warm – they’re made to order and take at least 30 minutes to prepare – and each bite was light and fluffy with a sweet, nutty flavor.
The service at Commander’s Palace was also phenomenal. Our waiter was knowledgeable and attentive and each course was presented with pride by the house staff. When we left, we got to walk through their kitchens; they’re open to the general public. We also took a quick tour of the courtyard outdoors and then it was off to explore more of the Garden District.
My last meal in Nola was a sampler plate of Jambalaya, Shrimp Creole and red beans and rice. By the end of our short stay, I was ready to roll myself home like a pleasantly plump baby in need of a MAJOR food coma slumber session. I’ll be back down in the South soon; next up on my travel list is Savannah, Georgia. It’s another city that I’ve never been to before, and I’m looking forward to exploring the harbor.