3/22/2017

What to eat in New Orleans 2

Gumbo- a hearty sort of bouillabaisse stew, starts with a roux (flour cooked in hot oil, then added to stock), to which is added file and other spices, vegetables, meats (seafood, fish, game, etc) and always served with rice. Various versions are thicker or spicier but I have learned, the darker, the better.

I love Creole (upscale dishes, based on French cooking techniques with local ingredients) and Cajun (down home, comfort food) cuisine so much that I have to visit New Orleans about every 3 years just to get my fix. I have learned to cook some of the  items I enjoy, such as red beans and rice (mine are the best, I must say, after many years of trial and error), but while I keep trying to make gumbo, it remains elusive to me. I come close- and have watched dozens of youtube videos on how to properly make a roux, but mine still isn't just right.
Shrimp and grits - For some reason, the shrimp you get in NoLa is softer and fluffier, has a "melt in your mouth" texture and is tastier than what we can get in Dallas. Perhaps that's the difference between fresh and frozen. This version of shrimp n grits, above, has a sprinkling of thin crisp fried onions on top, as a garnish. It was an adequate version I got in a pub. (The best was on a previous visit, at a restaurant in the garden district named Atchafalaya. Still the one to beat.). Typically, the shrimp are served on top of the grits, which are infused with spices, often chopped veggies, cheese, and a remoulade sauce.

French bread- The French baguette ubiquitous (seriously, all the restaurants get them from the same bakery, which I tried to shop from, but they don't sell retail, just to the trade.) in NoLa is a bit crisper and flakier on the outside, and softer on the inside, than you typically get in Paris. It is still chewy but not so hard. I have spent a lot of time studying this; trust me. 
 Eggs Benedict - Breakfast or brunch at Brennans. With a mimosa. Perfect!
Brisket poboy at Tujagues, with a Sazerac (the empty glass.) Not your typical Texas style smoked BBQ brisket, this one is boiled, which sounds gross, but it is boiled with spicy Cajun seasonings, so it is mighty tasty.
Alligator sausage poboy, with potato salad
Fried shrimp poboy - my personal favorite
Oysters- Oyster shucker at Bourbon House in NoLa. I am always surprised these guys don't cut their own hands, the oysters can be slippery devils. Raw or in a gumbo, fried or however, they are delicious.
Bread pudding - Is not a pudding in the traditional sense (a custard made from eggs, milk, etc) but instead is a very French way to use up day old bread- by shredding it into small pieces, soaking it in liquor, melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and other seasonings, sometimes adding (often brandied) fruit or chocolate, then mashing it all up and baking till done. Add a sauce of caramel, chocolate, or more liquor, and you have a very tasty sort of drunken cake.

Beignets - Made famous by the Cafe du Monde, I first tasted these on a high school trip in 1976 and fell in love. Just be careful not to inhale as you take a bite, or you will nearly choke to death on powdered sugar. Open 24 hours, you can eat them for breakfast, an afternoon pick-me-up, or a midnight snack. 

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