Food Diary: New Orleans

Have I ever mentioned that my mother kept a diary while on her honeymoon with my father? Well, she did. Except the only thing she recorded on its pages were descriptions of the food they ate.

My parents traveled Europe for a month following their wedding and my mother took copious notes, not on the art they saw or the castles they explored, but rather on bottles of Montepulciano and soft wedges of chevre. She wrote about the eggs that arrived on the room service cart one of the mornings they were too hungover to get out of bed and she described in detail a bouillabaisse consumed in Marseille.

If I had kept a food diary from our trip to New Orleans it would read as such:

Wednesday, February 17th

Just arrived in New Orleans. Ash Wednesday and the French Quarter is filled with trash. Dirty beads and murky gutters. Dropped our bags at the hotel and headed straight for Central Grocery for muffulettas. Threw in some Zapps cajun chips and a root beer. Took it all to Jackson Square for a picnic in the park. Bug had yogurt and some cheerios.

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Hotel room still not ready at 4pm so we went to Galatoire's for a drink. They laughed at us when we said we'd just rolled into town…the day after Mardi Gras. I had my first French 75 and Greg sipped a sazerac. Bug slept through it all.

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Finally got into our room, changed, relaxed and then head back out for the evening. First stop Arnaud's French 75 Bar. I wasn't sure they'd let us in with Veronica, but it was only 6pm and the place was empty. Helped that the bartender said she had a 9 month old at home. I don't remember what Greg had but I sipped another French 75 and munched an order of gruyere cheese puffs, which Veronica took to nibbling on herself. My idea of heaven.

Dinner at Arnaud's Remoulade which was only so-so. It was the more casual version of Arnaud's, which we surely would have gone to had we been sans bebe. Red beans and rice for me, something with shrimp for Greg. Bread bits and sweet peas for Bug.

Thursday, February 18th

Breakfast in the Sazerac Restaurant at The Roosevelt Hotel (where I would have loved to stay if we were on Brad Pitt's dime). But first coffee from Teddy's since they use real chicory. Bug had toast and yogurt. Hopped on a trolley after that for Audubon Park and the zoo. 

Made Greg walk 2 miles off the beaten path to St. James Cheese Co., which would have been worth it even if we'd walked 10 miles on glass. An oasis if there ever was one. Gruyere on multigrain with a glass of something white…perfectly white. Oh, and Greg had an Abita Golden, which we wouldn't find again on the
trip but about which we would reminisce several times.

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If we lived in New Orleans I would eat here 3 times a week and stop in every day, just to admire the cheese display.

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Back to the Roosevelt for dinner that night at Domenica's. Totally Bug-friendly. She ate breadsticks and threw cheerios all over the floor. I ate gnocchi with a brown butter sauce and pasta with fennel, fava beans and sausage for Greg. All of this preceded with a cheese plate of brunet, ubracio al prosecco and blu di bufala. Delicious. Ooh, tack on a bellini for me.

Friday, February 19th

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Breakfast disaster (not even worth describing) at The Coffee Pot. Balance was restored after a couple of cafe au laits and a plate of beignets at Cafe Du Monde. Bug had cheerios.

Followed this with a stroll through the French Quarter and a Bloody Mary to end em all. Nothing like a New Orleans Bloody Mary. Nothing. 

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Tried to go to Coop's Place for jambalaya but they wouldn't let us in with Veronica.We ended up at some nameless place, or at least I don't remember the name. Catfish Poboy for me. Something with shrimp for Greg. After that saffron gelato from La Divina. Bug was a big fan.

Short-lived mint-julep disaster from Pat O'Brien's. Note to self: don't force drinks on Greg – he's no frat boy.

After a nap set out to find a bartender named Chris McMillan that Adam Seger from Nacional 27 back in Chicago told us about. McMillan turned out to be quite the character and proceeded to make us the best cocktails we'd have yet from behind the bar at the Renaissance Hotel. His wife regaled us with stories of their 6 kids and we sat next to a bartender from Cure, another place we would have loved to go had we been sans bebe.

Kept Bug up past her bedtime and were forced to forgo dinner out. (Sans bebe choice would have been Bayona.) Ended up picking up some pizzas from Domenica's and eating them in bed while watching back episodes of Entourage.

Saturday, February 20th

Last day in NOLA. Rode the trolley to the Garden District for the champagne jazz brunch at Commander's Palace in the Garden District. One of the top 5 best meals of my life.

Sat in a beautiful room overlooking the garden. The service was outstanding, even treating Bug like royalty. Brought her the cutest amuse bouche of strawberries and bananas. In no particular order enjoyed the following: milk punch, mimosas, an amazing gnocchi, steak and eggs, bloody marys, strong chicory coffee, bread pudding souffle, tableside jazz, and a gorgeous couple seated next to us — woman wearing a hat to die for. All reminded me of the kind of places I used to go with my parents. Would return to New Orleans JUST to eat at Commander's again.

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Strolled the old mansions in the Garden District after that, feeling fully sated…at least for now.

4 comments

4 Comments

  • Lien
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Relished every bit of this — especially, Bug getting an amuse bouche! I only had my first real-deal amuse four months ago.

  • Posted March 5, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Four months ago…or four months old, an amuse bouche is always a good idea.

  • Courtney
    Posted March 23, 2010 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    That bloody mary looks to die for!

  • Posted March 24, 2010 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    It WAS.

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