Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Gastrointestinal Tour, Peaches, and Vera

This is the first post of a series covering my epic adventure in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, from April 5 to April 12, 2016.

First and foremost, a big THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH for giving a helping hand in making this trip to New Orleans as amazing as possible.  Without you, I would not have done it at all. I love you.

Heh, as I was about to move along with this post, I saw that I had left my groceries in my rolling cart, unattended, in my apartment unit.  Luckily all the perishables were frozen and in an insulated bag.

So, where would you like for me to begin, Dear Reader?

Well, how was your trip?

It was nice.

That's it?  It was "nice"?

Yeah, it was nice. I had a great time navigating through the city, trying different and exotic dishes, and having my skin turn a crispy shade of pink.


I know.  I did take a lot of photos, meanwhile.  Want to see?

Sure, why not?

I'll start with the one thing I enjoyed the most out of the trip: the food.  Granted, the weather was beautiful for most of my trip in New Orleans (also known as the acronym "NOLA," short for "New Orleans, Louisiana).


The customary go-to for an introduction to New Orleans cuisine: Café du Monde

Whenever the conversation starts about visiting New Orleans, 9 times out of 10 people will ask one question: did you get a beignet (say: ben-YAY)?

From left to right, a large soda, three (3) beignets with powdered sugar, two (2) glasses of water behind the beignets, and a small frozen cafe au lait.
A beignet is a French doughnut square, no holes and unstuffed, fried and served with powdered sugar.  Café du Monde ("Coffee of the World", say: calf-A doo MOHND) is the most frequented location for such delicacy, along with their coffee, which is a blend of coffee beans and chicory root.  For me, it is what it is; to devour such yummy makes you feel like you're an honorary New Orlean.  Crossed off the proverbial bucket list.

When you're down to your last few dollars, but you want a hearty meal: Wags Food & Culture
An open styrofoam container with, from top to bottom and left to right: a small slab of barbecued pork ribs, a slice of white bread, a warm German-style potato salad, green peas, and their version of baked macaroni (spaghetti with a succulent cheese sauce).
Yeah, enough touristy food. I want to get down to what New Orleans folks eat.  Wags Food & Culture, located in nearby Marrero, had the best meal that $7.00 could get you.  And the service was very prompt and courteous.  I got there a little late in the day, so I missed out on their cabbage dish (it was sold out; Wags's menu changes daily).  Still, best proverbial stretch for a vacation budget.

When you hate onions, but a friend tells you to check out this French onion soup, though: Cheesecake Bistro by Copeland's
A bowl of French onion soup covered in melted cheese and herbs, and a glass of soda.
I. Hate. Onions. It's true; it's like crunching on shards of glass laced with the authentic scent of skunk juice. So when I was given a tip to check out this French onion soup from Cheesecake Bistro by Copeland's, I had figured, you only live once, what the hell?  That soup tastes as good as it looks.  A large piece of French bread sits at the bottom of this beef broth and onion mixture, covered by a heated blanket of Mozzarella and Swiss cheeses.
A glass of soda in the background, and a slice of bananas foster cheesecake.
As a reward for having to meet my onion goals for the year, I ordered another tip: the bananas foster cheesecake.  It did not disappoint.

When you're feeling real adventurous about your food choices: Cafe 615 Home of Da Wabbit
A plate of six (6) breaded and fried frog legs in a vegetable mixture of tomatoes, onions, capers, and kalamata olives.  A piece of French garlic bread sits in the middle of the place.  Cheese is sprinkled all over the plate as a garnish. Photo by Mycah Tucker/Facebook.
This was a first for the brat: trying out some frog legs. Growing up, I heard that frog legs tasted just like chicken and all that. It was time to test that sentiment. First off, most of the meat is in the thigh region of the frog leg. The color and the consistency of the cooked flesh did mimic a familiar fowl.  The taste wasn't that bad; again very similar to a chicken wing.  However, much to my disappointment, there was very little meat on the frog leg, which disappointed my friend from Houston greatly.  Meanwhile, their gumbo was outstanding; chicken and andouille (say: an-DOO-ee) sausage was freshly prepared and very flavorful.

The difference between Red Beans & Rice, Gumbo, and Jambalaya (based on my observations): Morning Call and Mother's Restaurant

Red Beans & Rice: It's not beans over rice, it's rice over beans. A very thick and savory red bean gravy compliments steamed, almost sticky, white rice with a bit of seasoning.  Must find a good recipe to make at home.  Ordered from Morning Call.
Background: a plate with a spinach and artichoke dip bread bowl. Foreground: a large bowl of red beans and rice with seasonings.
Jambalaya: think of a really hearty and satisfying improvement to Hamburger Helper.  Instead of ground beef, use alligator sausage (yes, I typed alligator sausage).  Also would probably taste good as filling for stuffed peppers. Ordered from Mother's Restaurant.
A large bowl of chicken and sausage jambalaya with rice. Photo by Mycah Tucker/Facebook.
Gumbo: jambalaya in soup form. Mostly broth, with much fewer grains of rice, but still heavy on the meats. Ordered from Cafe 615 Home of Da Wabbit.
A small bowl filled with chicken and alligator sausage gumbo. Photo by Mycah Tucker/Facebook.
Most unexpected glorious find of New Orleans flavor: Fest Pecan Root Beer

My left hand holding up a bottle of Fest Pecan Root Beer.
Even though the host for this trip doesn't like this specific flavor from Fest, he does say that Fest has some really good sodas.  For me, this delish drink went smoothly down my throat, thinking it was a fine wine.  This pecan root beer had three levels of flavors with each sip. The top (or first) note had the taste of roasted buttery pecans (say: pee-KAHNS). The middle (or second) note gave a sharp blast of vanilla that almost resembled alcohol. The bottom (or third, last) note completed the cycle with a smooth sarsparilla (say: SASS-per-ill-ah) flavor.  It was one of those experiences where the beverage was better than sex.

The place to have your last meal in New Orleans: Dooky Chase

A large dish with its center filled with freshly baked peach cobbler, vanilla bean ice cream, and whipped topping.
The dining room is a bit creepy, probably because I wasn't used to eating inside an actual dining hall.  Both my Houston comrade and I were the most severely underdressed individuals inside this place, but it didn't matter to the wait staff.  The wait staff (along with the wait staff at Willie Mae's Restaurant) were top shelf, first class professionals.  And for $20.00, you can get Dooky's lunch buffet, which includes a cup of their soup of the day and peach cobbler for dessert.  The peach cobbler was basically my trip of New Orleans in a proverbial nut shell; warm, fresh, tart, refreshing, and relaxing.  Oh, and fresh peaches.  This is what peaches and cream anything should do to relax all five senses of the human body.

What do you think?


Um, Dear Reader?

Yeah, I'm not talking to you right now.  I'm looking up these restaurants as part of my upcoming trip to New Orleans.

But, those restaurants were not the only restaurants I went to.

I'm still not talking to you.


1 comment:

  1. Vera:

    Couldn't miss out on French Onion soup in New Orleans!

    The other restaurants are great, especially the Morning Call and Mother's Restaurant.