Before heading to New Orleans last weekend, I sought the restaurant advice of a few trusted advisors. My friend Elizabeth passed on her list, adding: “If you don’t come back from New Orleans feeling fat and disgusting, then you haven't done NOLA right.”
Well. I do like my ribbons blue.
We kicked the weekend off right, spending Friday night at John Besh’s deluxe restaurant, August. Everything there -- save the attitude -- was fantastic. The gold star goes to the roast duckling, which came with mounded squirts of buttery foie gras, creamy grits, and smooth quince jelly.
Saturday’s winner was the shrimp po’ boy at Johnny’s: Piles of perfectly crisp fried shrimp with lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles atop a heavenly pillow of French bread. Add a little bit of Louisiana’s “perfect” hot sauce, and I can feel my blood turning Creole.
The rest of the weekend turned into a progressive eat-a-thon: Grilled oysters at Acme, outrageous cheeseburgers at Port of Call, sugared beignets at Café du Monde, seafood gumbo and bourbon bread pudding at Lüke, spicy jambalaya at The Gumbo Shop, pecan pralines at Southern Candymakers, toasted muffaletta at Napolean House, and everything with a side of Abita beer, sazerac, or absinthe. I give quiet thanks that New Orleans is a walking town. *Burp*
I wondered beforehand how the city would look, now several years post-Katrina, and I think it’s safe to say that the New Orleans food traditions are alive and well. The beignets are as wonderful as ever, the po’ boys are as filling as ever, and the bread pudding is still as devastatingly rich.
As directed, I am feeling fat and disgusting. And also? Gloriously content.