New Orleans

NOLA Bound

Zoo10 reasons why this could very well be my last post…

10.  I’ve always said that if I ever get a heart attack, chances are it will be in foodie heaven New Orleans.

9.  Once Mrs Ziggy finds out the eating schedule I have in store, it may be the end of me.

8.  3 cemeteries as part of the itinerary including Nocholas Cage’s future grave may mean plenty of deep reflecting about what exactly I am doing with my life.

7.  I may choke on Mr B’s BBQ Shrimp, out of excitement

6.  Last time I cheated on Matzos I wound up in the emergency room with severe case of hemorrhoids

5.  I don’t know how I will react to being allowed to drink in public

4.  9 out of 10 mental health professionals see a direct correlation between depressed zoo animals and depressed Americans.  Maybe we should skip the zoo this time

3.  I may get killed (thoughts courtesy of 2 full seasons of Treme)

2.  If I survive #9, I may not survive the 1.5 miles I plan to walk for a shaved ice snack.  The bi@#$ will kill me

1.  Last time I biked with the wife in public I wound up in the emergency room, with severe case of hemorrhoids

Bon Voyage.  It was a pleasure!

Nola Zoo

Categories: New Orleans | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Top 15 Things We Ate In New Orleans

CoquetteCoquette’s bread – When you are being careful not to eat too much because you have a huge dinner coming up and still order more bread, it means only one thing: Great Bread!

Boucherie’s Boudins - Fantastic to all senses including smell and touch. Not only you could smell them when they arrived, but the blonde at the bar next to us smelled them as well. “hmmm, I can smell your balls from here” was a compliment in this case.  I think?!

Boucherie Boudins

Boucherie’s Brisket - Juicy, tender melt in your mouth goodness.  And those garlicky Parmesan fries that came with it were just perfect

SoBou’s Cajun Queso - “More pork cracklings please” because our fingers dont taste as savory with this sickest cheese fondue ever

SoBou’s Alligator Sausages and Sticky Pork Belly (tie) - Cheating here a little but got no choice.  We sampled quite a few items in Sobou and these stood out.  You swipe the sausage with all 3 sauces and you got a fiesta in your mouth, add the briny and beautiful Okra to cool things down, until you taste the Pork and the accompanied boudin ball and your eyes widen and you start talking nonsense 

SoBou - Alligator Sausages

Commander’s Palace’s Turtle Soup – More complex flavors!  Much more! About 27 ingredients more!

Herbsaint’s Spaghetti - If I have to pick one spectacular starter, this is it.  Once you break the picture perfect fried poached farm egg and mix in the salty Guanciale, you got pure ecstasy with every bite.  Great Great dish.

Herbsaint's Pasta

Herbsaint’s Lamb Neck - Had a wonderful Lamb Neck in Tel Aviv in the summer but this one beats it by a mile.  Nice and crispy on the outside, perfectly tender falling off the bone on the inside.  And together with the delicate Saffron Fideo noodles and roasted tomatoes you got another spectacular dish.   We also had other goodies in Herbsaint and if there’s a restaurant that provides more excitement pound for pound I would like to know

Herbsaint's Lamb Neck

GW Fins’ Lobster Dumplings - Delicious! Like great Russian Vareniki 

GW Fins Lobster Dumplings

Drago’s Chargrilled Oysters – I may have lost respect with the Chowhounder folks with this one , but to us they were meaty and very flavorful.  Did we just get lucky?

Drago's Chargrilled Oysters

Mr B’s BBQ Shrimp - So good we broke a cardinal rule and came back for seconds.  Peppery, buttery, buttery, buttery (thats 3 sticks) goodness

Mr B's BBQ Shrimp

Sammy’s Ray Ray Po’Boy and Salmon Sashimi (tie).  From the Po’Boy festival these 2 came on top.  The Ray Ray is a delicious combination of fried chicken ham and cheese.  But I need for someone to point out the vendor of the Salmon Po’boy (Hummus Whisperer fave) since I cant recall

Red Gravy’s Lombardo – Grits + Eggs + Gravy + Cheese = Silent moment

Red Gravy's Grits and eggs

Cafe Du MondeCafe Du Monde’s Beignets - The history had something to do with this one,  the cafe au lait helped, and those Beignets are nothing to sneeze at.  Because if you do you, you’ll shower your friends with powdered sugar. 

GW Fins’ Bread Pudding - The winner of our accidental bread pudding competition that featured 7 of the city’s top BPs.  By accidental I mean desperation with over 20 years of living in NYC with major bread puddings withdrawals.

Special mention:  Sweet Palate’s Pop Rock Chocolates. 

Drinks:  Bloody Mary from Marie’s Bar, French 75 from French 75, Dark and Stormy from Boucherie, Faubourg Tall Boy from Sobou. 

Zei Gezunt and stay hungry my friends!

Categories: New Orleans | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Orleans Eats Day 5 – Depression Now Hits Ziggy Clan

Nola ZooIts Nicholas Cage's future tombour last day in N’oleans.  Staring at Nicholas Cage’s future tomb in the St Louis Cemetery and still somehow haunted by the zoo images from yesterday (another example above), a sudden feeling of uneasiness hits.  The feeling goes into another mode when I realize at the cemetery that my stomach has transformed into this nicely rounded pregnant like shape.  Later on I notice I can no longer see my… shoes.  Time for 4 weeks of couscous and kimchee diet after this trip.  But first we have some unfinished business… more beignets and revisit Mr 3 sticks of butter (aka Mr B’s Shrimp).  Well sort of finished business revisited actually.

Cafe Beignet -  More wonderful sugary goodness.  Until I had a sudden cough and sprayed sugar all over.  These  beignets were larger and fuller (less airy) than Cafe Du Monde’s.  But if I have to choose one I would go with the legend here.  And the legend’s Cafe Late was better.

Mr B’s - As I indicated before this is a major rarity for us to go to the same place twice.  Turks and Caicos is the only place where I do this with my favorite restaurant in the world, Caicos Cafe.   Started with a wonderful plate of rice and beans which came with some nice and juicy sausages.  The same sausages and other meats however were a bit overcooked inside the pasta jambalaya which disappointed overall as it did not have the same kind of explosiveness that we found in so many NO dishes .  The seafood gumbo and the famous BBQ Shrimp we enjoyed on day 1 saved the day

Mr B's Jambalaya

Mr B's Gumbo


The Sweet Palate - A gourmet chocolate gem of a place that definitely entertained our sweet palates.  They get their chocolates from a master chocolatier in Barcelona, Oriol Balaguer who used to work for Feran Adria at El Bulli arguably the most famous restaurant in the world when it was open.  Feran is the master that invented molecular cooking .  These little chocolates were understandably expensive and as expected rich and explosive, especially the one dubbed Pop Rock.

MuffulettaCochon Butcher - This is not a review.  Plenty of locals recommended Butcher as the place to sample the Muffuletta, which is a large round loaf filled with various cold cuts, cheese and an olive salad dressing.  Back in the day Italian immigrants who used to work in the French Market used to go to the nearby Central Grocery for lunch to get the cold cuts, cheeses, olive dressings and the Muffuletta bread and eat them all separately until the owner of the store advised them to combine all the ingredients into one and hence the Muffuletta was born.  MuffulettaCentral Grocery is still there going strong and still according to the locals has one of the best Muffulettas in town.  But based on my experience with Cochon Butcher, and this is coming from someone who has a sandwich as his avatar, the Portuguese Francesinha, aka the worlds best sandwich, the Muffuletta is not for me.  Partially due to the heavy olive presence.  Still, you have to give it a shot while in New Orleans.  Pretty sure its the law and you have to fly back with one 

5 days of culinary bliss in new Orleans has come to an end but more content coming up about our faves of the trip.  Stay tuned

Categories: New Orleans | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Orleans Eats Day 4 – Depression Hits NOLA Zoo!

We are breaking every travel rule on this trip.  We revisit a restaurant for the second time (Mr B’s day 5), we go to a Russian punk concert, we party with hippies, we stand on long lines for a sandwich, and we go to the city zoo.

ZppTo get to the zoo is easy.  You take a street car, transfer to a bus mid way, hitchhike to the zoo shuttle that takes you to the zoo motel to spend the night, and in the morning they speed boat you via a series of swamps to the main gate.  To get back you take a taxi!  A very nice zoo once you get over the fact that the animals are in a state of a major midlife crisis or depression.   One gorilla looked extremely concerned about something the entire time.  Another gorilla was staring at me the same way I stare at windows showcasing pastas.  The lions and tigers looked fairly lifeless just lying motionless the entire time until one tiger lying on his stomach just lifted a paw to rest it against a tree, almost saying “here you go, feast on that tourists”.  The flamingoes we very pretty but looked like were having some of an argument, perhaps about where to get the best Gumbo.

Red Gravy – One of the newest and hottest breakfast spots in the heart of the city.  Owner Roseann dishing out all kinds of tasty and unique Italian dishes for breakfast like the popular Polpetta, a meatball ricotta, red gravy omelette.  The Polpetta wasnt on the menu when we visited during the weekend, but we did have a terrific Sicilian Egg Pie, flaky pastry baked with eggs and cheese.  I had the ‘Lost Bread’ special which was a nice variation of french toast while other enjoyed grits with eggs, red gravy and cheese, and another dish of shrimp beignets.  I have to admit although I liked my dish I had serious egg envy. 

Red Gravy's SicilianRed Gravy's Grits and eggsPo'Boy festivalPo’boy Festival on Oak Street - You say Po’boy, I say sandwich.  If there’s a difference between a Po’boy or a regular Italian bread sandwich I dont see it.  But the Po’Boy is big here in N’oleans.

Po'Boy festivalThe festival was fun but crazy busy.  We almost turned around and left, but the Hummus Whisperer was smelling something good.  We started with Pascal Manales simple and cooked BBQ shrimp Poboy.  Tasty especially considering this was the shortest line we’ve seen.  The lines to the more popular eateries like the Boucherie food truck painfully stretched.  We tried a variety of sandwiches including Seafood au Gratin from Breads on Oak, the only place using its own made bread, while every other place was using the same bread from the same source.

While the Hummus Whisperer and Mrs Critic greatly enjoyed the Seafood au Gratin, my favorite was probably Sammy’s Ray Ray - juicy fried boneless chicken, ham and cheese, whats not to like.  As is often the case the big disappointment is the one most sought after, Red Fish Grill’s Pecan Crusted Trout Meuniere Poboy. Sounded much tastier than it was.  It was lacking something…what do you call it…oh yes.. FLAVOR!

Po'Boy festival - Ray Ray

Po'Boy festival - BBQ ShrimpGW Fins – More deliciouness! Another New Orleans legend but not exactly New Orleans food.  What you get is a fresh seafood extravaganza where the seasonal menu changes almost on a daily basis.  A truly spectacular menu for seafood lovers.  Started with their famous  Lobster Dumplings which were very satisfying, like very good Russian Pilmeni. The sizzling oysters were sizzling alright, and absolutely delicious.  The blue crab pot stickers were a bit too doughy but enjoyable nonetheless.

GW Fins Lobster DumplingsI was looking for their renowned Scalibut (scallops encrusted halibut) on the menu but it took the day off.  Nevertheless we really enjoyed the Brie and blue crab stuffed flounder with some sort of bread and mushroom concoction and asparagus.  The black drum was simply fried and came with a delicious lobster risotto that stole the show.  A dish of just the risotto would have been just fine me thinks.  I didnt expect to see Maine lobster in New Orleans. 

One of our missions on this trip was to fill ourselves with as much Bread pudding as possible as we dont really get any good ones in NY.  We ate about 8 of these babies in pretty much every dining establishments.  A clear winner has emerged in GW Fins.  White chocolate and caramel bread pudding with dark chocolate and pecans.  The dark chocolate is really the difference maker here.  You know something is good when you can’t have enough of something while completely full.   A nice ending to another terrific meal

GW Fins DrumGW Fins Oysters

Categories: New Orleans | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Orleans Eats – Day 3. Little miss Ziggy and the bike

Coquette's Crab Salad“It’s like riding a bike” I told the wife when she voiced her concerns about our upcoming bike tour.  She hasn’t ridden a bike in over 20 years and we were off to a bit of a rocky and zigzagy start with Cassidy and the Confederacy of Bikers Creole tour.  The motorists stuck behind her were very polite and understanding as the common notion was that this was just another history of drinking tour.  But it wasn’t.  No drinking involved, at least not until we reached Marie’s Bar and her amazing Bloody Mary (with that pickled okra there it is again – yum).  But little miss Ziggy pulled through!  Very proud of her. But the day will forever be remembered for the meals.  We are fortunate enough to be able to travel and eat all over the world and this was perhaps the yummiest eating day we’ve had in this country and perhaps any country this side of Italy.  We begin with an institution…

BeignetsCafe Du Monde - Calling this coffee shop a coffee shop just feels wrong.  Established in 1862, this legend has been dishing out Beignets and cafe au leits 7 days a week, 24 hours a day - closing only on Christmas and hurricanes.  You feel you are in one of those iconic institutions as soon you enter. And the Beignets are nothing to sneeze at, really.  A bad idea to sneeze on them and even a slight cough can trigger a sugary mess all over your family/friends.  And they taste pretty awesome.  Hot off the oven, airy, sweet goodness.  I will not normally go out of my way for good donuts but this was pretty darn good.  And the Coffee not too bad either.

Cafe Du Monde

Coquette's Duck ConfitCoquette - Another memorable meal.  During all our travels we noticed one thing that many of the great dining establishments got in common: Great bread.  This Ciabatta straight out of their oven was a Wowsar! (foodie technical term, besides I’m running out of adjectives).  Loved the goat cheese and greens salad with these crazy delicious sweet pecans – couldnt get enough of them. Loving the pecans here. Lovely Louisiana crabmeat with remoulade, potato and quale egg was another stunner.

The shrimp and grits as good as they were are probably at the bottom of the food chain as far as all the other shrimp dishes we had this week.  The winning entrée was perhaps the duck confit.  The Brussels sprouts that came along made us order more brussels sprouts.  My SIL was having a “I’ll have what she’s having” moment with her veal tacos. Desserts were some uneventful chocolate munchkins but overall another superb meal.

CoquetteCoquette

Herbsaint's PastaHerbsaint - If I have to give you just one must from this trip, it’s probably dinner at Herbsaint.  What a meal! The one dish I was so looking forward to try on this trip was the homemade spaghetti with Guanciale and fried poached egg. You break the egg, mix it up with the pasta and the result is pure ecstasy with every morsel.  And the salty Guanciale takes this dish to another dimension.  A beef short rib with potatoes and salsa verde did not disappoint.  The green salsa especially was such a nice complement.  The Hummus Whisperer had one of veggie moments where he orders nothing but veggies and really enjoyed the Grilled mushroom special. For main we shared a great pork cassoulet. Heavy and full of flavors.  But the star of the mains to me was clearly the lamb neck.  I had a great lamb neck in Tel Aviv a few months ago and Herbsaint’s version beats it without question. Crunchy crust with super tender inside with these delicate savory noodles and a tomato confit.  So so good.  Also had a side of fries. Someone posted somewhere these were the best fries in town - that person must have not tried Boucherie’s.  These were a little too salty for me and I love too salty.  The bacon braised faro with beans side was more like it.  Fantastic side! The desserts here were mixed.  Their coveted banana butter tart that I heard so much about was even too sweet for my too sweet tooth.  The duck egg creme brûlée was the creme de la creme of the creme brûlées. Overall, a truly spectacular meal to cap a truly spectacular eating day in New Orleans.  Now I get it!

Herbsaint's Lamb NeckHerbsaint's Cassoulet

Categories: New Orleans | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

New Orleans Eats Day 2 – Men in black sitting on cane stools

Commander's PalaceSounds mucho isnt it.  10 nicely dressed adults sitting outside on the tiniest stools one can imagine (the ones that turn into walking sticks or weapons), listening to a lecture on the history of New Orleans for 57.5 minutes.  In NYC this would require police or at the very least occupy wall street members protection.  This was us in the lavish Garden District, half a mile away from homes of papa bear Payton, Sandra Bullock, other celebrities, and 10 miles away from Nicholas Cage’s future grave.

We were touring with Tree of RaconTours who not only knows his history but also knows his trees.   Tree also got the Sweet Deal.  The Deal that no other Garden District guide got.  A deal with a legend called Commander’s Palace where Tree started is NOLA career as a waiter.

Commander’s Palace -  This is an institution.  One of the oldest and most famous restaurants in America and the birthplace to legends like Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse.  We got a private room with a balcony overlooking the famous Lafayette cemetery.

Commander's PalaceThis was one of those lunches that was one of the least memorable flavor wise (more of a testament to the other places) but the most memorable overall.   The only oohs and aahs came from the fabulous turtle soup although it was fairly small (large coffee cup size). It was nice and thick and very rich in flavor  (27 ingredients packed in this one). Commander's Palace - Shrimp and TassoAnother app of shrimp and tasso was good. Loved especially the pickled okra side.
The shrimp and grits were good but not as savory as the wonderful shrimp dishes from the night before. I enjoyed the Cajun Cochon de lait  a bit more. Tender, savory pulled pork, boudin, corn and other goodies on a homemade tortilla. Took a bite of the brisket, not as good as boucherie’s.  The famous bread pudding soufflé was good but again falls behind the others. I actually enjoyed the pecan pie more at CP.  The unlimited 25 cent martinis on the other hand makes everything taste better.

Overall a very enjoyable, fun and exceptionally memorable meal  However do it in style!  Do it with Tree!

Commander's Palace Pecan PieCommander's Palace - Cochon de lait

 

SoBou – What a fantastic meal! Great drinks, beautiful decor, nice vibe, and one of the more enthusiastic waitresses I’ve ever seen. Or maybe she was high.  Not sure don’t care.SoBou - Pork Belly
As for the food, loved the cajun queso – pork cracklings with the sickest cheese fondue ever. The girls really enjoyed the butternut squash with honey soup. Very sweet but savory. The tuna ice cream cones were just ok for me.  Yes its original, unique, cool, but that does not always translate to full of flavor.
Excellent alligator sausages and more of those awesome pickled okra we enjoyed throughout the trip. Need to start looking for that at home. The star perhaps was the pork belly with another fantastic boudin.  We were split on the Duck debris and butternut beignets.  The girls like them, the boys didnt care for them.
SoBou - Alligator SausagesOk here’s the thing with the cherry jubilee bread pudding. Great overall and perhaps the best one we tasted so far but not enough cherries in something thats called cherry jubilee. We (in a fun nice way) mentioned it to the waitress and she said we were not the only ones to mention it and that they were probably running out of cherries. The dark and stormy banana rum cake ordered by the Hummus Whisperer who was still raving about the dark and stormy at boucherie was enjoyable as well.
Loved the menu, loved the meal.  Highly recommend SoBou

SoBouSoBou

Categories: New Orleans | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Orleans Eats – Day 1. The legend of the Schweddy Balls

Day 1 started with a bang and a possible a hygiene complaint.  You be the judge…

Drago's Chargrilled Oysters

Drago's Chargrilled Oysters

Drago’s Chargrilled Oysters - Really enjoyed our first snack in New Orleans.  These were meaty, cheesy, citrusy, garlicky goodness.  Various blog chatter hinted on some inconsistancies here especially compared to Drago’s original location and if that’s the case, color us lucky.  With that said, this Hilton location is a big operation where the oysters are constantly being cooked regardless of the ordering.  Our order of a dozen of these babies arrived at our table within a minute after the order took place  Nice start!

Mr B’s Bistro – I already mentioned Mr B’s in the opening remarks.  The fact that we visited this place twice and had the BBQ Shrimp twice and that upon ordering the dish the waiter puts on a bib on you speaks volumes.  It was like eating butter.  Well, 3 sticks to be exact in every dish.  But there was also a fair amount of fiery pepper in that sauce.  Add plenty of huge juicy plump gulf shrimp and you got a spectacular dish.  Bravo!

Mr B's BBQ Shrimp

Mr B's GumboGood gumbo ya ya as well but think I was expecting a bit more on my first gumbo in NO (I’ve had many gumbos before). Very nice bread pudding with whiskey sauce – first out of many BP’s on this trip for this Bread Pudding deprived poor blogger.  :cry:

Boucherie – An excellent meal from start to finish.  One of many uptown establishments located inside a house.  Nice and cosy.  A nice Pimms and something called Dark and Stormy that the Hummus Whisperer absolutely adored was a promising start.  The meal started with a very nice smoked shrimp and fish beignets with tartar sauce and leek frites. Blackened shrimp and grits were beautifully seasoned and very tasty.

Boucherie Shrimp and GritsBut the star was the boudins. You could smell it immediately when it arrived.  The smell reminded me of Shawarma seasoning.  I was sitting next to the bar and a blonde at the bar who was a little tipsy turned around and said “mmm I can smell your balls from here”.  For the record I did not take a shower that day(yet) but I did not hear any complaints from my travel companions.  I suspect however that they did not shower either because none of us spent much time in the hotel yet.  But anyway, big flavors in those boudins.  One of the top eats of the trip.

Boucherie Boudins

Boucherie BrisketThe brisket was another winner.  Tender and juicy melt in your mouth goodness.  The garlicky Parmesan fries that came with it were spectacular and the table vinegar took them to another dimension.  Also enjoyed the nicely seasoned dry rubbed ribs and the sides of crispy fried shallots.  Loved the sides here.
The Krispy Kreme bread pudding here was as good as advertised. Perhaps better than Mr B’s.  They also had an apple cobbler that we all enjoyed and a side of some amazing homemade butter pecan ice cream.  Great first dinner!

Boucherie Bread Pudding

Boucherie Cobbler

Categories: New Orleans | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Orleans – 5 days of Culinary Bliss

Mr B's BBQ Shrimp

Paris, New York, Tel Aviv, Lisbon, Venice, Staten Island are just some of the food Meccas where we’ve enjoyed some amazing cuisine.  Adding New Orleans to the top of the list.  Ok ok maybe not Staten Island but we getting there.

The picture above says it all.  Thats BBQ Shrimp at Mr B’s, aka 3 sticks of butter plus spices galore.  I can still smell the aromas coming out of the dish.  Partly because I’m currently wearing the shirt I wore while eating it and spattering  sauce all over it.  Also its the first dish my wife and I ate twice while on vacation.

Accompanying us during this trip was renowned food blogger Hummus whisperer, and renowned critic Hummus Whisperer’s wife.  She’s not a food critic, just a critic.

Wherever we go we normally have our share of average and less than average meals.  Not so much on this trip.  Is it because I’ve spent countless hours browsing various food blogs like Chowhound to come up with what was later described as the “heart attack I can die now itinerary from hell”?  Possibly.  I did in fact research more than usual on this trip because unlike other trips, food had more of a purpose here.  The purpose was to enjoy some of the best New Orleans has to offer and the result was, as can only be described by Borat… GREAT SUCCESS!!

This post is the first of a series of posts about New Orleans food, New Orleans cemeteries, and what to eat after visiting New Orleans cemeteries.  Enjoy!

Categories: New Orleans | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 640 other followers