Healthy and Sane

New Orleans eats and treats

October 16th, 2011 · 26 Comments · New Orleans, Vacations

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Hi hi! I’m back. I took nearly 1,000 photos during the trip and needed time to sort through them before I could share them with y’all Smile

New Orleans

Have you ever been to New Orleans? I’ve heard so many things about it before going but I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I heard there was going to be a lot of drinking, the food would be incredible, the music scene amazing and just generally it was going to be crazy fun.

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Sign me up Smile

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The French Quarter was gorgeous. We spent hours walking around there, dropping into shops and galleries of interest. I went a little snap happy Winking smile

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We had a group of 6 so we moved at a slow pace. I found it almost meditative – walking slowly, noticing the beauty around me through the lens.

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[I wanted to take this little puppy home with me!]

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During the trip I also realized how much I needed down time. A few times during the trip, while the guys were out checking out museums or losing money at the casino, I actually chose to lounge on the sundeck of our hotel room – Kindle in hand. It was peaceful. It was relaxing. It was exactly what I wanted and needed. [Btw, I read The Kitchen Daughterwhich was a little sad and definitely emotional but beautifully written and I loved how it romanticized cooking. I made her ribollita soup a few days after coming home!]

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Every street musician we saw was incredibly talented. Loved loved loved the street music! [Aside from the street performers, a lot of times there was jazz or the like playing from speakers somewhere. Music is a giant part of the NOLA scene!]

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Just a few more pics so you can feel like you were there with me Open-mouthed smile [Scroll way down for food.]

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We got two photos from this gallery!

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[This made me realize how much I enjoy jazz. I need to find a good place around Boston. I know Beehive does jazz brunch. Time to check it out!]

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I loved how they added the giant pumpkin to the normally bare entrance. Very festive Smile

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[This place was featured on the Food Network. Have you seen it??]

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Alligator? I’m sort of intrigued…

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So now let’s talk food. New Orleans is definitely an eating city. Creole food has French, German, Spanish, Italian, Native American, etc etc influence. It’s bold flavors. The locals are proud of it.

Our first stop was Café du Monde which is a NOLA landmark!

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These beignets (French doughnuts) were better than I ever imagined. They were warm, and chewy yet soft, not greasy at all. I loved how they were almost savory until you douzed them in powdered sugar.

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Happy beignet consumers Winking smile

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We had a beignet a day for the first few days. Apparently 3 is my limit. I bought a mix and plan on recreating these once the beignet hangover settles.

Some other culinary highlights…

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This is a very popular brunch spot. We had about 30 minute wait which we spend drinking coffee and bloody mary’s outside. Not bad at all.

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I got the bbq shrimp and grits, which were a little bland but nothing some hot sauce couldn’t fix. The biscuits (Southern biscuits!!) were warm and buttery and fluffy. I had a little food envy when I saw Adam’s eggs cochon and Liz’s biscuit egg, bacon & cheese. Definitely try one of those if you’re in the city. Highly recommended!

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Crescent City Brewhouse

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Weiss beer – smooth quality with hints of banana and clove with a spicy finish

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I got a 12oz beer when everyone was drinking 20oz glasses. Can you imagine how much grief I got for my baby beer? And then I didn’t even finish it. Oy. It was super smooth and definitely had banana qualities like the description says. I would happily have another baby beer right now! Smile

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Speaking of drinking, yes – we spent the first night on Bourbon St (crazy and fun for just 1 night) and got the mandatory hurricane at Pat O’Brian’s. It tasted like sweet coolade but we stuck to one a piece based on warnings from all. Their patio was pretty cool with a giant fire/waterfall thingie. <—man, I’m eloquent.

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The next morning, Adam and I found this super cute coffee/wine/crepe shop called Merchant. It was slick (check out that link) yet adorable. I got a ham and cheese quiche (below) the first morning and a fruit parfait the next one. It had full fat yogurt and I felt like I was eating clouds of whipped cream yet it just felt oh so right.

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You gotta eat a proper po-boy when you’re in New Orleans, right?

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I split this giant sub (half oyster/half shrimp) with our friend Andrew. I’m still amazed at Adam polishing off an entire one.

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Honestly, we were all underwhelmed. It just tasted like plain fried food on a subpart roll. Nothing fancy and nothing exciting. I can make a better sub. Yup, I said it.

Now Jacques-Imos was a polar opposite of that experience.

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It’s located in the Uptown neighborhood, far away from tourists. It’s an incredibly popular spot with the locals and we found out first hand why that is. The food was incredible. Incredible!!! And I love how the owners obviously have a sense of humor (see pics above). The wait is normally 3 hours but we had a hookup with the restaurant manager. Sweet!

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This post is getting long so I’m not going to provide much description to each dish. All you have to know is that the following appetizers were one of the best foods I’ve ever had. That includes alligator cheesecake (yup) and the rest. It was so original and flavorful and just absolutely incredible.

Corn bread with garlic butter

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Shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake

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This cheesecake was featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Network. A lot of other dishes won numerous awards. No wonder everyone is willing to wait for hours for a table!

Fried green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade

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Crabmeat stuffed shrimp with magnolia sauce

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I also got the mahi-mahi with pistachio sauce for my entrée which I found to be too sweet (actually a lot of times during the trip I seemed to order the wrong thing). Everyone else LOVED their dishes and dessert (crème brulee and bread pudding) once again a show stopper. I honestly could have come back there the very next night and would have been happy as a clam. (Btw, I don’t really know what that expression really means. I’m going to assume clams are very happy. Smile )

The next night we stayed closer to “home” and trusted Yelp that this dive bar was going to be the answer to our jambalaya and Creole dreams.

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After a bit of a wait, we were indeed led into a dive bar. It was dark and quirky (see below) but the service was super friendly and the food phenomenal.

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Crabmeat stuffed jalapeno peppers – served with horseradish sauce

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Redfish Meuniere8oz fillet floured & sauteed with shrimp, butter, lemon, hot sauce, Worcesteshire & wine. Served over rice with Creole green beans

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I licked the plate clean and finally broke my spell of ordering the wrong thing!!

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Ok, I’m getting tired and I’m sure you are too. Quick mention of LukeJohn Besh’s restaurant. This was the most upscale meal we had during the trip (in terms of food quality, creativity and service, not in terms of prices… prices were very reasonable actually!!) and it was flawless. Highly highly recommended.

Etouffee of blue crab and brown shrimp with fennel, garlic, saffron fumet and handmade garganelli

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Brendan’s bread pudding with vanilla bean ice cream and hot buttered pecan sauce

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And before heading back home, we of course had to try the famous muffuletta sandwich which was invented at Central Grocery.

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Yes, there is a long line. Yes, you are in line inside a grocery store.

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And yes, it is absolutely WORTH IT!

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Muffuletta is a round Sicilian sesame bread. The sandwich contains marinated olive salad, then layers of capicola, salami, pepperoni, ham and provolone.

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The olive salad is of course the key ingredient here and Central Grocery’s version includes peppers, carrots and secret spices. It was super delicious! I had 1/4 for lunch and another 1/4 on the plane home for dinner.

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New Orleans was a lot of fun but I’m also very happy to be home. I’m sure it won’t be long before we start planning our next trip! I love traveling.

If you were featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, what dish would you choose? Tough one, right?

Feel free to also comment on anything you see above. I sure gave you lots of material. Winking smile

PS – I’m taking a little hiatus from blogging for the remainder of the month. As mentioned above, this trip made me realize how much I need down time and I would like to honor this need. I’ll see you back here in November (or maybe earlier if I really can’t wait until then).

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26 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - Lauren at Keep It Sweet

    Looks and sounds like an amazing trip! I love all the photos. I’ve never been to New Orleans but would definitely enjoy eating my way through the city:-) Enjoy your down time, you deserve it!

  • #2 - Megan

    Looks like so much fun! I’m so jealous of all the food you had!!

  • #3 - Michelle

    LOVE all of your photos! It sounds (and looks) like you had a great trip! P.S. It was so nice to see you this morning! xo

  • #4 - MelissaNibbles

    Wow! It looks like a lot of fun. Your pictures came out great. You captured the fun, laid back vibe of NOLA perfectly. Enjoy your blog break!

  • #5 - Shaina

    For jazz in Boston, I’d definitely recommend The Beehive, but also Wally’s. The Beehive is super fun, hip, and delicious (and they have beignets!), and Wally’s is really all about the music.

    • #6 - Elina

      Thanks, Shaina. I’m going to look into Wally’s… and totally making brunch plans at Beehive asap. I’ve eaten there before (outside during the summer) and definitely love the food.

  • #7 - Ranjani

    Elina, your trip looks amazing! I would love to go there sometime. Enjoy your break!

  • #8 - Marika

    I just visited New Orleans in August so all the places in your pictures look familiar! :) It’s funny, though– our hotel was right down the street from Central Grocery so we walked past it a ton of times, but I never saw a line out the door. On our first day I walked in for a muffaletta and had it in hand in about 20 seconds :).

  • #10 - Meghan@travelwinedine

    This is an amazing recap. I am dying to go to New Orleans!

  • #11 - Clair

    Wow, how beautiful! New Orleans is on my to-visit list…after about a million other awesome cities. =)

    Enjoy your break…completely understand…

  • #12 - Daisy

    Luke’s and Jaque Imo’s were also on our long list of recommended places to eat. I seriously need to go back, especially after seeing all your gorgeous photos, love it there so so much.

  • #13 - natalie (the sweets life)

    what a fun trip! when i was in New Orleans I wasn’t a foodie by any means so I need to return!!

    enjoy your blog break–sanity is good :) props to you for recognizing you need it and acting on it!

  • #14 - Kelly

    Enjoy the downtime. I know what you mean, I definitely need a break from blogging every now and then. I’ve been trying to get better at writing up a lot of posts when I’m relaxed and feel the creative juices flowing and then scheduling them for the times when I am more burnt out from work and can’t think of writing.

    Loved looking at all your photos. It makes me feel like I am majorly due for a vaca. I esp. love you calling out the places that were featured on food network. I feel like between cooking magazines, books and FN, I find a lot of places to check out.

  • #15 - Sophie @ LoveLiveAndLearn

    Wow it looks like you had a fantastic time – I love your photos!
    That french quarter looks lovely and I love watching street musicians :-)
    I want to visit that market!
    All of your food looks amazing, particular highlights for me: the garlic bread, the crabmeat and shrimp and the crabmeat stuffed jalapeno peppers (can you tell I love crab?) :-)

  • #17 - Cara

    I haven’t been to New Orleans yet, it’s been on my list for a while. Really awesome pictures, I love them! Hope your break is everything you need right now, you’ll be missed! (good thing I know where to find you!)

  • #18 - Sacha @ Eating In or Out

    I’ve always wanted to eat my way through New Orleans. It looks like the food and culture made for a memorable trip!

  • #19 - shannon

    wow. so many great things! i was there once a way back on my x-country trip, and clearly we missed a few things :) glad you had a fabulous time!!! and down-time is often overlooked but totally necessary. coming off a fabulous weekend in VT i realize this as well.

  • #20 - Lara

    Wow, looks like such a lovely, lovely trip! I was waiting for the photos of Cafe du Monde…I have always wanted to go there for a bignet! One day. One day. :)

  • #21 - Joanne

    I’ve never been to New Orleans, but honestly I feel like I’ve gotten a rock star tour with all these fabulous photos!! What I wouldn’t give for a beignet to go along with this post…

    • #22 - Elina

      Next time you’re in Boston, maybe I’ll break out that mix so you can in fact have a beignet to go along with the post 😉

  • #23 - inna

    i bought that beignet mix too, it’s been a year, i’ve yet to use it. maybe we can make a beignet making party 😉

    i have to say — my fave pic is of adam with his arms crossed standing next to all the other tourists getting their picture taken. pure gold, that is 😛

  • #25 - Kerstin

    So glad you had such a great time in NOLA! Those beignets are soooo yummy, glad you got them multiple days in a row :)

  • #26 - megan

    that puppy is too cute!! and all the pictures are awesome!! great shots, looks like a great time :)