Friday, May 09, 2008

New Orleans - Day 1

Owen and I went to New Orleans not too long ago (Our dear friend's brother has a house out in the French Quarter and GRACIOUSLY let us stay there! THANK YOU again!), and had a BLAST. Yes, it's taken me a bit of time to get back to writing about it, as usual. The food, the atmosphere...well it's New Orleans, how could we go wrong? Our flight was achingly long. A short stopover in Las Vegas didn't help, either. Plane food nowadays is just terrible, (handi snacks cheese and breadsticks were the highlight...yes, sad when a highlight is processed cheese and sickeningly sweet crumbly enriched processed flour sticks.) and we were really hungry by the time we touched down.

About a half an hour later we were surrounded by iron welded windows, old houses, and southern hospitality. Patty's brother's boyfriend was cookin' up a storm (wow!), so Patty led us upstairs, to relax a bit, unpack a few things that would get wrinkly and then took us to Cafe du Monde!

The charm of this place seems to have been well thought out, right from the beginning....seating outdoors, waiters and waitresses with paper hats, floor covered in powdered sugar. The menu is simple - beignets, and coffee of all temperatures. Since an order of beignets came in a set of 3, we did one order of that, plus cafe au lait all around. A quick moment later, our waitress came back with this...
I think Owen snatched his beignet before I could snap this picture. Freshly fried, coated with powered sugar, these were pillows of deliciousness. Thing is, I'm not really a donut person - but these were heavenly. Maybe it was all the powdered sugar, of which there was a bounty of. I would take a few extra spoonfuls to throw into... mug of cafe au lait. I had never had this kind of coffee before - a coffee and chickory blend. It was rich and flavorful, and with the powdered sugar assisting the taste...
as you can see, it's a powerhouse combination. The ultimate New Orleans afternoon break.

By the way, the servers at Cafe du Monde serve you, and expect to be paid right there and then. A little different than what I'm used to, but for fast service and delicious fresh beignets...I think I can manage to jump a few hoops. Just looking at these pictures again makes me wish I was within walking distance!

Once we got back to the house, it was definitely time for a bit of a nap. We awoke to a light knocking on the door - it was Patty with her brother's adorable dog, Louie. He was so excited to see us, he peed all over the bed comforter and the floor!! Luckily, no harm was done...and how could we stay mad at such a cute dog?? Corey was still cooking up a storm in the kitchen...and making the finishing touches. Owen and I were really excited to eat - our first real meal in New Orleans!!
Can you imagine this plate of delicious food being set in front of you? Clockwise, from top - beans, delicious delicious beans, cooked in a way where they were plump and succulent with each bite. Rice, with meaty juices from the cooked meat on top. The meat - briskety, fall apart meat, with sausage hunks - more mild to accommodate Patty and Owen's non spicy loving tastes. Beefsteak tomatoes, with salt and pepper, and a bit of olive oil - simple, fresh, and a great compliment to the meat. Lastly, cole slaw - I don't usually like coleslaw but this was GREAT! This is what coleslaw was meant to taste like! This was the greatest meal to experience on our first trip there!

After dinner, we decided to walk around a bit before settling in for the night. Even though we were probably a bit too full, we decided to have a sweet treat to tide us over. We stopped at the Chartres House restaurant for a bit of a sit down and pie...PECAN pie. I was severely full, and had a few bites - there was no doubt that this was an amazing piece of pecan. Look upon it in all its' glory....
I think one of the things I liked most about the bites I had of this pie was the crust. Not too dry, not too doughy, a good flakiness, sweet but not toothache sweet. The ice cream was just great, melting over the slice.
At the end of the evning, we moved to another bar...but not just any bar, it was THE oldest running bar in the US - Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, named for that infamous pirate. It was a pretty fun scene in there, everyone was friendly, and it was really dark in there. The candles on the tables were the lighting to our conversation. I had my usual non alcoholic drink - a cranberry soda.

As it was fairly late, we stumbled back to the house and so started our first day in New Orleans! Stay tuned for more!

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