It’s been a long time everyone! After a nearly 3 week hiatus, I am back from vacation and promise to try real hard to get back to posting regularly. It was my first real vacation in several years, and it was absolutely amazing! I spent 3 days in New Orleans and about 2.5 days in San Antonio (after the flying time). Most of our time in San Antonio was spent recovering from New Orleans – where we ate too much, drank (nearly) too much, and slept too little.
This was my first trip since starting Cork and Spoon with Ruth, and I have to admit, I am not that great about remembering to take pictures of all of the amazing food and drink I consume, but I did get a few, so I thought I would reward our awesome readers with what I did get.
Tom and I checked in to our hotel in New Orleans around 11:30 am and immediately headed out to begin our vacation. It was about a half mile walk to the French Quarter from where we were staying so we wandered down to Decatur Street, right off of the water. After some ooo-ing and awww-ing over the sites, we decided to stop at New Orleans’ landmark Cafe Maspero for our first drink and a bite to eat.
At Cafe Maspero, I ordered a glass of red wine, nothing fancy, and Tom and I split their fried seafood platter with shrimp, catfish, oysters, and calamari. While the whole platter was pretty good, the two of us were practically fighting over the catfish, which would end up being the best I would have while in New Orleans. The meal also came with a side salad, which, by itself, was nothing remarkable, but it came with the best blue cheese dressing I have ever tasted. Made in house using a Greek recipe, the dressing was so good I went back on Saturday and just ordered a small house salad so I could have some of the blue cheese dressing.
After wandering around for several more hours, Tom and I headed back to the hotel for a nap, stopping along the way at another bar, whose name escapes me, for another drink (come on, it was New Orleans after all!). I decided to try a locally brewed beer by the Abita company called AndyGator. I mean, how could I turn down a beer named after gators? So I asked Tom to order me one while I dashed to the bathroom. When I got back, in my spot was the largest beer I had ever seen. Tom had ordered me a stein of beer instead of a traditional pint glass and it took me a while to finish it. Mostly I think he was just looking forward to laughing while I drank from the enormous glass. The beer ended up being pretty easy to finish. It was full of flavor, but not too heavy or filling.
Before this vacation, I am ashamed to admit I had never had crawfish, which happened to be in season while we were in New Orleans. So, when we were struck by the delicious smell of the crawfish boil coming out of the French Market Restaurant and Bar later Friday evening, we knew we were going to have to split an order. After Tom showed me how to eat the little buggers (“break their backs and rip their bodies in half” – eating crawfish is a violent process), I scarfed down more than half the boat. Even though I loved the boil seasoning, I did notice a slightly dirty flavor under the sweetness of the meat, which Tom told me was likely the result of the crawfish not being rinsed well before cooking. Learning about new foods is definitely one of the best parts of a vacation.
The highlight of my day Friday was my 3 hour tour of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 and the Garden District. I used the Free Tours by Foot company for my tour and great enjoyed the experience. The guide did an amazing job of explaining burial styles and traditions in New Orleans and showing us amazing examples of different tombs, like the society tombs. I also loved ogling the huge ornate homes in the garden district and learning about their history, although I felt that the tour did focus a bit heavily on showing the homes of various celebrities, such as John Goodman and Sandra Bullock.
It wasn’t until Saturday that I had the chance to go to the New Orleans institution, Café du Monde. The French Market coffee stand, operating since 1862, is infamous for its beignets, or 2-bite squares of fried dough similar to donuts, and coffee, which are all it serves. After standing in line for about 20 minutes, I finally made it up to the takeout window where I got one order of beignets and their coffee with chicory. Chicory was first added to coffee by the French during their civil war, allowing the short coffee supply to last longer while adding depth and robust flavor to the brew. The beignets, covered in what must have been a half cup of powdered sugar, were great, although not much different than any other fried pastry I’d had. It was the black coffee with chicory that really made the wait worth it.
I definitely enjoyed a ton of great food while in New Orleans, and this post barely skims the surface of it. I won’t promise that I’ll do better documenting my culinary explorations during my next vacation, but whatever I do capture, I’ll be sure to share with you. Until then, here’s one final photo of the French Quarter!