Recently, I attended a a crazed weekend in New Orleans.
Saturday morning: Hit the streets by 8:00 AM. I was staying at the W near Harrah's and quickly found Central Grocery after a brisk walk. Before it opened at 10:00 am, I had consumed a fruit-punchy drink with some real professional drinkers at White's bar (the one that never cloesed during Katrina).
I was impressed by the italian-style bread and size of the portions at Central Grocery. Unfortunately, I purchased the olive mixture only to have in confiscated at the airport. Rats! The sandwhich was huge and I diner-history feeling that I had in LA at Phillpi's (home of the French Dip). The staff were quite friendly and helpful to the person in front of me, who asked for $40 of muffalettas. He handed them the pad of paper that a friend had scribbled this order on and neither the counter staff nor the shopper were quite sure what to make of it ("did you want $40 worth of sandwhiches or $40 worth of the spread? I don't know. I don't know what it is to begin with.")
After a profound four-hour tour of the city, cemetaries, empty homes, broken levies, I met up with my friends for some lunch at Bon Ton Cafe. The shrimp creole was just okay, but the Oysters Alvin were delicious and should have been paired with a Cab Franc.
I headed back to the FQ for some dessert (beignets and coffee at Cafe Du Monde). Now, I was starting to feel the stomach burn.
Dinner couldn't have worked out better. The party of 15 or so wandered around the quarter until we came up the Copper Monkey and their $15 crawfish boils. We ate and drank in a real Bourbon Street Courtyard. A real find and it was great to hear the owners thanks us for being there. I've never been thanked for drinking beer before. Although the crawfish weren't fresh, the festive atmosphere certainly made up for everything.
A few hurricanes and mojitoes later at Pat O'Briens had me stumbling home before I remembered from my chowhound researh about Coop's Place. This place was packed, but I was able to shimmy up to a table. I ordered the jambalaya but found it a bit salty for my liking (and I like salt).
The next day was a bit less stressful on the gastronomic level. I enjoyed a shrimp po-boy at Chartres Street Cafe. There' probably better sandwhiches around but after going to a few places that were out of bread (the Saints had played the night before), I settled into this place for a bit.
Dinner was the crown jewel. The party reserved the banquet room at Dickie Brennans' Steak House. Wow! The oyster beginets kicked things off and then we were onto the gumbo. This is exactly what I was craving. The steaks were great and the dessert of praline mousse changed the way I look at pralines and mousse. No late night snacks for me after this epic feast. The only downer was that there was a limited number of Washington state wines on their list, which is probably more Washington's fault than Brennans.
I ended my blitz the next day at Mothers. For once, no line awaited. The Ferdi's special was probably the best cure for a hangover in the history of boozing. The service was exaclty as described previously, "What do you want, babe?" "You talking to me," I thought. I devoured the debris and all the other goodness and headed towards the airport.
A great exclamation point on a trip that reminded me just how unique and precious this fine city remains.