I just returned from New Orleans, the first visit since I was a teenager - 25 years ago or so. The occasion was an art education convention (I am a high school art teacher). I went with 2 other colleagues, neither of whom had ever been to NOLA.
Our first meal was dinner at Mother's: I had the fried seafood combination dinner, and others at the table had the jambalaya. We had it with Abitas. Yum. After dinner, we ventured into the French Quarter, where I saw Arnaud's. I dragged my friends into the bar (Arnaud's French 75), where we ordered Sazeracs. This is now my favorite cocktail. My new mission is finding Herbsaint in Southern California.
Day 2, we had lunch at a nice tapas bar, RioMar, around the corner from the convention center. We had a variety of cheeses, lots of manchego and aged goat, eggplant, olives, tortas, and mussels with chorizo. The finale was a paella of mussels and saffron. I had a nice Argentinian Malbec with mine. This was one of the best lunches. Dinner was at Remoulade, the inexpensive arm of Arnaud's. I had the crayfish jambalaya, which, though tasty, was a miniscule portion, and frankly left me famished. Had a few Abitas along with it. Unfortunately, we got to Arnaud's French 75 too late, this night.
Day 3, breakfast at the Trolley Stop Cafe on St. Charles, near the Pontchatrain Hotel. Good, Southern Breakfast: eggs, bacon, grits, and a biscuit and gravy. The grits were perfect, and the biscuit was tolerable for a restaurant one (mine and my mother's are the best). Community Coffee is great, too. Having learned our lesson the previous night, we stopped in at Arnaud's French 75 *before* dinner, where Chris made some fine Sazeracs to start the evening. Dinner was boiled crayfish at Deanie's in the Quarter, accompanied by, of course, Abitas.
Day 4 began with breakfast at Mother's. I must say, Mothers edged out the Trolley Stop, though they both had their charms. I had a fried oyster poboy, dressed, and a cup of gumbo, along with coffee. Others at my table had a more traditional egg breakfast. Fortunately, my colleagues and I are good enough friends that everyone freely sampled everyone else's food at every meal. Dinner was at K-Paul's. Though this place is not universally loved on this board, we had a delicious meal there. 2 at the table had the bronzed salmon, and one the filet. We bought a bottle of Argentinian Malbec (again, I think it goes well with strongly flavored food), which was pretty good with the salmon, but transcendent with the filet. The bread was delicious, the fried green tomates, the artichoke with shrimp remoulade, were all wonderful. The only dishes that we found fault with were the desserts: the creme brulee with praline pecans, and the pecan sweet potato pie. Both had way too much going on. I'm a traditionalist. I like sweet potato pie and pecan pie. I do not like them hybridized. Afterwards, we retired to the Hotel Monteleon, where we had Vieux Carres.
Day 5 was breakfast at Cafe DuMonde. I had forgotten how delicious it was. It was worth the ridiculous wait that a spring Saturday morning brings. Our last dinner was American: we watched the NCAA basketball tournament (go UCLA!) over steak frites at Gordon Biersh. It was surprisingly good.
Day 6, we had a farewell brunch at the Palace Cafe. We started with appetizers: banana beignets and the panned oysters (yum). Dishes ordered were the eggs in a brioche nest (table favorite), the crab quiche, and the pork debris with garlic spinach. These were accompanied by coffee, mimosas, and champagne.
I didn't want to leave.