Sunday, December 18, 2011

NOLA Part. 1

Kyle and I had a great time in New Orleans.  He was there for a business trip, and I, being one who cannot pass up on a trip, went with him.   We were fortunate enough to have Kyle's Mom come out and stay with the kids.  She had a great time and the kids are already missing her!  McKay cried to whole way home from the airport when we dropped her off, but she hasn't cried in about a week and half which has been a relief!  

Anyway, I am sure you won't be surprised, but I was in it for the food.  And ate I did!

A couple of stops to famous places...Cafe Du Monde, Brennan's and Domilise's.

Known for their beignets and cafe lattes this is a typical tourist attraction.  However, the beignets are a huge disappointment.  The dough was too heavy, and because it didn't seem to have been proofed the correct amount of time, had a pastey flour taste.  Since we don't drink lattes, we opted for the hot chocolate.  Nothing quite says delicious like powdered hot chocolate.  Come on, anyone can do better than that.  My recommendation is to skip du Monde and head over to the Ritz.  Located inside is a cozy little restaurant called M.  Excellent food, more on that later.  But they also have the BEST beignets in NOLA!  Accompanied by a chocolate, caramel and creme anglaise to dip them in, they were light, airy, and moist.  Perfection.

Located in the historic French Market, Cafe du Monde is situated in an ideal location.  Across the street is Jackson Park and a long line of tour carriages.  The boardwalk is also on the other side, leaving you with plenty of options if you are in this area of the French Quarter.  My favorite?  A walk over to St. Louis Cathedral...

and a visit to Pirate's Alley and William Faulkner's house and bookstore.  And, if you are so inclined, they happen to have a first edition of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams for the bargain price of $10,000.  Or, you could buy it for me for Christmas!

A stop at Brennan's, famous for the creation of Bananas Foster is a must.  Bananas Foster is a great IF you like warm bananas.  Sauteed in butter, brown sugar and rum, it is rich dessert.  Or in our case, the third course of our breakfast prix fixe menu.  I can see why they are known for it.  Excellent, again, IF you like warm bananas.  And just so you are aware, warm bananas are a completely different texture and taste than you would get from banana bread.  Based on my other two courses, and some other less than desirable dining surroundings, I would go just for the Bananas Foster.  No sense on paying the price to eat there when the meal, with the exception of dessert, is mediocre and predictable.  I am afraid that this isn't the place that it used to be.

$40.00 cab ride to the Arts/Warehouse District...

Questionable building with homemade ply board sign...

Greasy, hasn't been cleaned since 1970 interior...

Can you shout out BEST PO'BOY EVER?

Shrimp.  Out of this world.  Fresh shrimp deep fried (perfectly) with a cornmeal/flour coating, lettuce, tomato and cocktail sauce.  All served on the only bread worthy for a Po'Boy...Leidenheimber.

Roast Beef.  Dressed with lettuce, tomato, creole mustard and swiss.

We got there a little before a big lunch rush, which is good because there is limited seating.  Order a root beer from the bar and grab a seat before they go and wait for your number to be called.  Then take a bite of the best sandwich you'll ever eat.  Ever.  My only regret?  Not ordering a large.  I totally could have taken down three sandwiches instead of two.

How many Egg's Benedict can a person eat?  

Three actually, but I missed taking a photo of the last one.  My first Benedict was at Ruby Slipper.  Actually, it is a Eggs Blackstone that had egg, tomato and bacon with an excellent creole hollandaise.  I am still drooling over this dish.  This is also the place Kyle ordered Banana's Foster French Toast.  Perfectly done Pain Perdu topped with Banana's Foster.  The bread had a nice, quick crisp bite followed by a tender, melt in your mouth soft interior.  The side of bacon was a necessity to help tame the rich, sweetness toast.  The second one was hotel room service from M Restaurant and was traditional.  If anybody in this city does one thing consistently right, it is poaching an egg!  The hollandaise was rich, indulgent and silky.  My last one was at Brennan's and was disappointing, but they did get the egg right!

We stayed at the Ritz and enjoyed this hotel because they have a wonderful restaurant and a resident Jazz artist, Jeremy Davenport.

The M Restaurant was by far the stand out of the trip.  

Smoked chop with hot pepper jelly, creole jalapeño-andouille mac-n-cheese and haricot vert.  The pork chop was cooked so perfectly that I was able to cut it with a butter knife.  Wonderfully smoked and could stand on its on, but a nice little dab of the hot pepper jelly brought it to a whole different level.  Combined with the green beans that had been blanched in a creole stock, it was a perfect combination.  But don't forget about and be too quick to judge the mac-n-cheese as an accompaniment.  The jalapeño and andouille combination with perfectly al dente rotini was superb.

This is the Southern Classic dessert.  With a base of an oat honey streusel, white chocolate mousse and then topped with a dark chocolate ganache, roasted peaches and finished with a white peach sorbet.  The dessert was good, predictable, but the star was the sorbet.  Absolutely sublime peach and as smooth as a perfectly done custard.  I would have loved to order a bowl of just the sorbet and top it with the roasted peaches.  Kyle ordered this one night for a late night treat just so he could have the sorbet.

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