I went to New Orleans this past weekend for Jazz Fest and had a great time. How have I not been down here sooner?? We came up with a restaurant itinerary and not much else :) Here it is...
- Jazz Fest: not fair food that I've ever seen. No funnel cakes or crappy burgers in sight! We gobbled up shrimp and grits, shrimp sausage with pickled okra, shrimp tacos...I like shrimp, can you tell? The shrimp and grits were particularly delicious- a nice, flavorful heat. We hit the mandarin orange tent several times- great iced tea.
- Mellow Mushroom: we had planned on going to Jacques-Imos for dinner based on a friend's recommendation but weren't up for the 90 minute wait so we wandered around and found this place. Yes, it's a chain and no, I don't really care. Never heard of it before but it was clean and bright. We had the meatball trio and red skin potato pizza. The meatballs were moist and just a little spicy. The pizza sounds odd but ended up tasting great. I'd go back.
- Cafe du Monde: what can I say? It's fried dough with powdered sugar on top. We hit the take-out counter and had our beignets and OJ on a bench and people watched.
- Cochon Butcher: it just got real. We shared a Cubano and pulled pork sandwiches. My brother got a Rockin Rebel cocktail. He liked it; I thought it tasted like red hots but I rarely drink. The sandwiches were great quality. His pulled pork was top notch. There was a bottle of sweet potato habanero sauce on the table and we had a taste. I bought a bottle online when I got home :) The highlight of this place were the bread and butter pickles. They were everything a pickle should be- bright, crisp, spicy, oh my! They were wonderful. I ate mine, my brother's, and cursed myself that the jar was over 3 ounces. Damn you, TSA!
- La Divina Gelateria: I love gelato (my favorite place is a little hole in the wall in St. Augustine, FL oddly enough) and was looking forward to giving this a shot. We had the Cocco Thai and Abita Root Beer flavors. Tasty but left me with an odd coating in my mouth. A bit over priced, too. $4 for 2 scoops? Meh. The shady courtyard was nice for people watching, though.
- Commander's Palace: how could we not? We showed up early for our reservation and the staff was was able to accommodate us. I was very impressed by everyone I interacted with- very warm and friendly. We had...
- sazerac- my brother liked it, I thought it tasted like gasoline. Oh, well.
- shrimp and tasso hennican appetizer with pickled okra- absolutely on point. Shrimp cooked perfectly, okra was crisp and light, and the sauce it arrived in was spicy but not overwhelming. It had a great summer flavor.
- chicken gumbo (the gumbo du jour)- wow! the gravy made me understand the concept of "depth of flavor". If you ever go to Commander's Palace, have the gumbo. Trust me.
- strawberry/feta/pickled fennel salad- this feta just worked. It was somehow creamy and mild and a great counterpoint to the bright berries. The fennel was just kind of there. It didn't stand out either way.
- quail entree- utterly delicious. The skin was almost lacquered and the meat was juicy and full of barbequed flavor.
- shrimp and grits- Again, the shrimp were perfection. These people know their shrimp. Can I say the grits were too gritty? I'm no grit connoisseur but these were disappointingly thick and had an steel cut oatmealish consistency.
- souffle with whiskey cream sauce- lovely souffle but the sauce was more whiskey than cream...my brother liked it though. Lush.
- strawberry shortcake- lots and lots of fresh berries and fresh whipped cream. Came with a sweet, light biscuit which was a neat touch.
- La Petite Grocery: again, accommodated when we showed up early. We shared the blue crab beignets which were nice- lots of crabby flavor. The brother had a pisco sour- nice citrus flavor. We shared the BELA (sandwich) and LPG burger. I wasn't wild about either. They were both fine but not terribly special and I felt weighed down when I left, like I'd eaten too much. A feeling I didn't get at Commander's Palace, interestingly enough.
Well, there ya have it! I finally hauled myself out of the Blue Ridge Mountains to get down to NOLA and absolutely loved it. What a great vibe- everyone was very chill and friendly and food seems like such an important thing, which I love. I'll be back!
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