Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Orleans!

Time flies fast..I was going to upload Nola pics after we came back in September and now it's November!

I turned 29 last month and for my birthday George took me on a quick New Orleans getaway for some good cajun eating!  People say getting older sucks.  Minus the obvious getting older and body deteriorating part, I actually really like that I'm approaching 30--I'm still learning how to be a mature adult..I hear it comes with age... a..n..y....d..a..y now..

For our food-cation we wanted to take it easy.  On the agenda: stroll, eat, repeat.  Nola is a wonderfully delicious place if you like (fried)(sea)FOOD!! 

Hotel: Hyatt Regency
Across from the Mercedes Benz Superdome, our hotel was located .5 miles away from the French Quarter in the business district.  Gorgeous! Even the call button for the elevator was swanky swank!

 

Getting Around:
Put your city common sense hat on.  The streets do get seedy real fast!  Uptown, Garden District and the French Quarter are the nicest parts of town. 
Areas to be cautious of or avoid:  
Lets get real--we're small asian people.  If we get mugged, George is not very bad ass and I don't run fast.  So to be safe, we stayed away from the more abandoned, seedier parts of town!

* West of Canal street.  It's an area that was hard hit by the hurricanes and has not really recovered.
* Avoid Basin street.  It's where the project housings are.  I lived 4 years in the projects..mm..it's not where you go to relax.
* North Rampart Street and it gets worse when you cross the I-10. 
* If you're staying outside of the French Quarter, do not walk to the FQ at night unless you're a ninja, packing heat, or want to get mugged.  TAKE A CAB!

* Note: Taxi rides are cheap but can be gross. 
* Also note: Some taxi drivers are shady (and clearly high) and charge you whatever they want w/out turning on the meter.  All in all, have fun and be alert.  We encountered some very awesome people and some not so very nice folks.

FOOD:
Welpp, crawfish was out of season in September (booo! no crawfish boil!) and no raw oysters thanks to hurricane Isaac.  But no fret!  There's plenty to eat!

1) Daisy Dukes--24 hour joint for late late night eats
Landed around midnight on a Thursday, dropped off our bags, and headed here.  Didn't expect much but my oh my did Daisy Dukes have a big selection.  One thing we noticed immediately--seafood is so fresh and cheap in New Orleans! 


   

My absolute fave was the fried oyster po'boy.  Look how much fried oysters you get?! Freshly shucked, crispy, juicy fried oysters literally all over your plate!
I tried their gumbo but it was just ok...


2) Deanie's:
Had to come here for BBQ Scrimps ever since I saw it on Man v. Food.  BBQ Shrimp was everything my mouth could have ever wanted. I also love that the x-mas tree and the pig angel have stuck around all year long!

 Little touches--boiled red potatos and butter greet us instead of bread
 

Omgomgomg! Here it is!! 

Nola bbq shrimp has nothing to do with a barbecue grill or bbq sauce.  It's a cast iron pan filled with large giant shrimps complete with oogly eyes bathing in a bubbling buttah sauce with spices and green onions, accompanied with a fresh, piping hot toasted baguette to sop up that amazing sauce.  
I've already gone out to buy a cast iron pan so I can make this at home!
 Dig in!  Grab that ginormous shrimp and suck on the head.  Let that orange butter sauce drip down your wrist and elbows.  Lick it, double dip, no one will judge you...
Sigh..DROOL!  I want some now..


 I of course couldn't pass up another chance to eat more Po'Boys!  Who doesn't love fried stuff on bread!  Their shrimp po' boy and gumbo was good but nothing special.  Just come here for the BBQ SHRIMP!

3) Beignet Battle:

Round 1: The infamous Cafe Du Monde!
 

You pretty much sit down outside and everyone orders the same 2 things: beignets dusted with powder sugar and chickory coffee from a napkin tin menu.  Oh, and it's CASH ONLY!

I also found a bunch of Vietnamese women working here!  I instantly felt welcomed!  And these ladies are fast with your orders!
 

Here it is boys and girls...

Verdict?  =/ Not the best beignets I've ever had.  I like it hot and crispy and less doughy inside.  These were cold and dense, not light and airy.  Over hyped..?

 The chickory cup of coffee hit the spot!  I grew up drinking this coffee at home with a Vietnamese filter and condensed milk so this was comfort in a cup.

The pigeons couldn't resist the crumbs...
The floor was practically littered with powder sugar and beignet crumbs..In my next life, I want to be this pigeon..

 
Getting some gifts at the Cafe Du Monde gift shop.
Note: If you're buying beignet mix, this gift shop actually has the 2nd lowest price we saw anywhere for $3.  We saw the same box as high as $10 around town and at the airport!  Don't get gyped!


 Round 2: Cafe' Beignet:  
I actually liked these better--came out piping hot, crispy, airy.  There were less people here so they had time to make it to order, unlike at Cafe Du Monde.  In conclusion, a bad beignet is still amazing.  I like sweet fried dough!  But I've had better elsewhere.   


4) Charbroiled Oysters Battle: Drago's vs. Acme Charbroiled Oysters Battle
One of THE BESTEST things I've ever eaten!  Charbroiled oysters are A MUST eat in New Orleans!
They're addictive and probably reallly bad for you.  But if clogging my arteries with a buttload of butter and cheese and dying an early death is wrong, I don't want to be right!
 A lot of places serve these, but we were told the two most popular places are Drago's and Acmes.

a) Drago's 
Look at that bubbling browned cispy parmesan cheeseee!!!!  My favorite thing after I'm done slurping them down (and burning my entire mouth) is to gnaw the burnt cheese off the shells!


HOT SHELLS!

 Too good to resist.  ROUND 2 PLEASE!

Thank you to our awesome waiter who suggested the stuffed soft shell crab!  Holy moly this dish was heaven!  One giant soft shell crab stuffed with MORE crab split into two giant portions...



b) Acmes
The oysters were a tiny bit jucier and more plump here b/c they were less overcooked. 
  

I can't pick and I don't care--both places win in my book! Deeeee-licious!

4) Mother's
A friend who went to lawschool here recommended this place to me.  A tiny bit out of the french quarter but worth it!  Long lines and a packed house on Saturday for lunch!


We got the Ferdi Special--packed with their famous baked ham, roast beef, debris and gravy.  All meats are roasted that day!  I don't have to point out that this was one juicy succulent sandwhich!  This thing was sitting in it's juices!
I also got another fried shrimp po'boy.  Light batter and perfectly fried shrimp.
And the hospitality was downright amazing.  Great staff!

5) Emeril Lagasse's NOLA:
Ok..Emeril..I was excited to come here...
The

But what the hell is this crappy frou frou overpriced food?  The restaurant was nice--two floors with an elevator and great wine selection, waitors were very formal (a bit excessive to have 4 waiters who kept bombarding us) but the food was mediocre.  F-A-I-L.

The best thing we ate there were these herb freshly baked rolls and butter and this pork belly salad.  The pork belly consisted of two bites..but at least it was good and the salad had an amazing dressing.

I was most excited about the duck but it was pretty bad.  Needed salt..or any flavor really.  It was bland and the skin wasn't crispy.


Do not order the BBQ shrimp from here--it's no good.  Go to Deanie's!

One of my pet peeve is spending hard earned money on overpriced food that just isn't good.  We ran out of there, delcining the dessert menu, and headed straight to Acmes to redeem ourselves with charbroiled oysters!



6) Borgne

On our last night, we decided to hang around our hotel to catch the jazz show.  Inside our hotel lobby was Borgne by James Beard award-winning New Orleans chef John Besh.

Reasonably priced, fresh seafood, and an overall fantastic meal!


Couldn't leave N.O w/out one (or two) last charbroiled oyster hurrah!  These were made slightly different--broiled in the oven with added bread crumbs for extra crunch.  Equally droolworthy and delicious!

Who says seafood and cheese can't go together!  Another wonderful proof that oysters and cheese make for a delectable combination.  This dish was surprisingly light, creamy and flavorful with the sweetness coming from the fresh oysters and the saltiness from the shaved parmesan.
It really reminds me of uni pasta!


Salty potatoes and chorizo.  No bueno.

My "fish in a paper bag": snapper baked with w/ carmalized onions, fennel, and cherry tomatoes cooked in crab fat instead of butter or oil.

All this eating had me in a wonderful food coma...

*Two places we reallly wanted to try but did not have the stomach space.  Both extremely popular with very long lines and cheap prices:
1) Johnny's Po'Boys
2) Central Gro. Co. for their famous Italian Muffulettas

Sights & Sounds:
Something is defintely in the air here..
It's the jazz music you hear at every turn of the corner..the songs with no rhyme or reason blending into another.  I found myself tapping my feet, bopping my head, feeling giddier...The laughter of tourists slowly riding by on horse carriages...the smell of fried foods..*sniff sniff* is it beignets?? oysters? shrimps???!
the not so pleasant smell of old homes being torn down, gutted..rebuilt...smell of stale booze and sewage.  I don't completely understand this city..but I'm glad I experienced it.

Grab a daiquiri or a hurricane and come with me for a stroll..


Inside St. Louis Cathedral


I love Royal Street--so many art shops displaying local artists with so many interpretations of New Orleans. 


Also found this artist finishing up her seafood feast painting!


She quoted me $1200 I believe for this painting...eeek!

 So may of these cutie pies hanging around the galleries napping...


Impromptu jazz brightens your already happy mood and gets your toes tapping..

Night:

Bourbon Street
Oh my goodness--I wish I snapped more photos..
13 blocks of bars, strip clubs, and neon lights. Pants and clothes optional.  Pale bony strippers play peekabo at the doors, hip hop and jazz starts and ends nobody knows.  All into one hot mess on Bouron Street.  
Cheers to you Ms. Big Booty in your underwear booty-clapping on stage.



Just a warning: 
If you're going to try and look cute in your heels and wedges, beware of giant potholes =(


  French Market
A tourist magnet for overpriced little trinkets, jewelry, food and drinks...

Couldn't resist a pnia colada --it was hot!

Of course I went to the casino (and lost)!  And ofcourse this was where all the asians were hanging out..lol


And after you've walked til your shins ache, there are even foot reflexology places you can go to for cheap massages--you know..the asian ones where they slap your feet, yank your arm and crack your back for $45/hr.  Not as cheap as $10/hr like in southern California but I was surprised there were so many here!

I had a wonderful birthday.  Thank you dear =)

And my very first macbook!

(perfect timing as all the keys on my Toshiba laptop were broken.=D)

To another wonderful blessed year!































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