On My Travels

The Culinary Delights of NOLA

Earlier, I posted about my wonderful trip to New Orleans and promised I’d post more about this incredible city and well, I’ve kept my promise. When writing about NOLA it would literally be a crime if one did not talk about the food. Oh my, the food in New Orleans is incredible and they offer a vast variety of absolute culinary delights! I have a friend that lives in the area and she once told me that if the food you serve in a restaurant in NOLA does not meet or rise above the “above average” mark you will not survive in New Orleans.

Food in this great city is one of the most important things to the people there, not only for nutrition and enjoyment but for socializing and brotherhood. My girlfriend told me that right after Katrina hit the city the first places that reopened their doors in the city were restaurants and they didn’t open up to make money, they opened up for the people who needed a place of comfort and food.

When it comes to variety in foods, you can pretty much expect to find just about anything you can think of when it comes to food in New Orleans and it’s all good.

One of my favorite places to eat was my very first experience with “real” Cajun food. Mind you, I had never in my life had true Cajun food before so I was really sure what to expect. We went to a really quaint little place locals like to hang out at called Dot’s Diner and decided to be adventurous and try a Cajun omelet. Okay, I generally add a little Tabasco to my omelets to add just a little bit of kick to it, so I didn’t think that this time around was going to hurt, never has before. Hold the horses, shut the front door, whatever, was I ever in for a shock! But the moment I started sprinkling the Tabasco on my Cajun omelet and noticed how a few of the locals were kind of looking a little strange at me, I should have known I was in trouble. I took one bite of that Cajun omelet with Tabasco and felt like I needed to call 911 and get the fire department there immediately. My mouth was immediately set on fire, must have been a five alarm fire to boot! Good lord, I had no idea that true Cajun food was that flipping hot! So, I quickly proceeded to grab a napkin and rapidly wiped off the Tabasco to try and save my omelet from exploding into flames!

Once the fire in my mouth was put out I was able to continue eating my omelet. I then was able to taste the real flavors of this omelet and I fell in love. It was one of the best omelets I’d ever had and big, goodness it barely fit on the plate it was so big. Not only is the food at Dot’s Diner outstanding in flavor and portion sizes but the service was more than good it was like your mom was serving you breakfast. And the locals there, besides getting a kick out of my reaction to the omelet they were some of the friendliest and most helpful people I’ve ever come across. They overheard me talking about trying to find the historical visitors center in New Orleans from the diner and before you know it there were several different people trying to explain how to get there, however, each person had a different viewpoint on how to get there. In fact, I thought they were going to get into an argument over whose way to get there was best. Finally, our waitress came over and told those “good ol’ boys” to pipe down and stop trying to confuse me and she gave me her own directions and shut them up real quick. It was all just too funny and entertaining. (By the way, we did find the visitors center quite easily thanks to the waitress.)

If you are looking for some good BBQ, well, New Orleans is definitely the place to find it. There are so many places that serve up some incredible barbecued meats that it is really difficult to pick just one that stands out. The one I felt was incredible is called VooDoo BBQ, only in New Orleans. It’s a little tiny mom and pop shop with an order counter and a few small tables, again something the locals flock to. They offered so many different kinds of barbecued items that I think it took longer to order than it did to fix and eat. So, I tried to make it easy on myself and simply ordered pulled pork. Oh my, my, my. First off, there was so much of it, I knew that it was going to supply me with more than one meal and was glad my hotel room had a microwave! Then the flavor, nothing like it, it was spicy yet sweet, a little tangy and a little sour, don’t know how else to describe. And the meat itself literally melted in your mouth, no lie!

Cafe du Monde is another must go to place if you are looking for some great coffee to drink with the original beignet. That’s it, that’s all they serve is beignets, which happens to be the, get this, state doughnut of Louisiana. You can’t go to NOLA without experiencing incredible coffee and beignets. The coffee is coffee mixed with chicory and served mixed with half and half with hot milk as cafe au lait. Nothing better.

Here are just a few memorable places to please your taste buds:

•    Bayou Burger (best burger I’ve ever had! They raise their own beef and grind their own meat. They even serve alligator burgers. I didn’t get that adventurous.)
•    Annunciation Restaurant (Cajun, Seafood, Creole)
•    Antoine’s (Creators of Oysters Rockefeller and been around since 1840)
•    Deja Vu Restaurant and Bar (Open all the time and the menu features their own Eggwich, ½ pound burgers, po-boys, gumbo, red beans and rice plus much more)
•    Emeril’s Delmonico and Emeril’s Restaurant (Contemporary and Creole)

There are hundreds of places to eat in NOLA that it would take an entire book to cover them all. Just know, you will experience no matter where you go some of the best food in the world.

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