Visiting New Orleans in the middle of July in the midst of 95 degree weather and 100 percent humidity, the only way to survive was to eat, drink, and crank up the AC in the hotel room. Having never visited the South aside from Florida, it was my first time seeing mostly seafood or cajun/creole menus. While I do try to be adventurous in my eating, admittedly, I am not the biggest fan of creatures from the sea. In a few short days, though, I ate it all: jambalaya, gumbo, oysters, fish, shrimp, and beignets from the famous Cafe du Monde.
After our “lovely” Spirit flight and checking into our hotel, we needed to get some New Orleans cuisine in our empty stomachs as soon as possible. We ventured down Magazine Street and turned near Jackson Square and the large white cathedral before stumbling upon the Gumbo Shop. The restaurant, tucked between a couple of NoLa’s famous balconied apartments, hosted a quaint courtyard with (thankfully) outdoor fans and shade. I ordered both a side order of chicken andouille gumbo and jambalaya (because, vacation). Both were severely satisfying mouthfuls of flavors that settled well in my empty stomach. Gumbo is a thicker, brothy soup filled with multiple textures and tastes. Jambalaya is a staple in this southern state and can be made many ways, but it is reliant on a strong roux.
Later that day, we traveled further into the city and dined on oysters, crawfish pie, an arugula blueberry salad, and a boucherie plate at Cochon. To my surprise, the wood-fired oysters glazed in chili garlic butter had a kick to them and were quite tasty despite my hesitation to try food that came in a rough shell. The boucherie plate and salad were well put together, but I could not find myself raving over the crawfish pie. Crawfish tasted much better served on eggs benedict the next morning at brunch at Apolline, a cute and elegant restaurant which also features bottomless mimosas any day of the week with to-go cups available (sounds about right for a town that has an open carry liquor law).
Our other two dinners were at Three Muses, a hip joint with great mac-n-cheese and live music, and Peche, a sister restaurant of Cochon. Peche is a great place to try upscale, rustic seafood; we ordered the tuna dip, gulf shrimp, a beet salad, and fish for our entree. Again, I felt a bit weird peeling off the shells and dangling feet of whole shrimp to reach their squirmy, fleshy inside, but I got over it. Dipped in the side of cocktail sauce, they tasted lusciously fresh. And although the fish we ordered was seasoned very well, I can’t say I’d pick it again over grilled chicken or a steak.
To top things off in New Orleans dining, we had to visit Cafe du Monde for beignets and coffee only every day we were there (sometimes twice a day). The world-famous joint is constantly booming with guests and tourists looking for a big bite of fluffy dough and powdered sugar. It’s like a funnel cake and doughnut in one. For visitors, it’s a must try (and only $2.73 for an order of 3 beignets!)
Aside from the humidity and fear of sea critters, I can say I thoroughly enjoyed visiting New Orleans and giving their cuisine a chance. From spicy oysters to juicy shrimp, I think seafood is slowly growing on me (a traditional meat-eater).
Have you visited New Orleans? How did you like it? Send us your pics and comments on trying Cajun and Creole classics using the hashtag #FeedYourCuriosity.