“So, was it the best you’ve ever had?” I was asked after returning from my romantic getaway with Hubby.
“Oh my gosh, yes, it was amazing. It’s how we spent our whole trip and we tried so many new things,” I replied.
My friend Lauren overheard the conversation and without hesitation she said, “You two must be talking about food.”
She was right.
We had a good laugh that my girlie chatter at this bridal shower about “how often we did it on our trip” was in reference to eating.
I now bring you to the final day of our getaway. We started it off right with breakfast at Mother’s, a very casual, order-at-the counter authentic joint full of true New Orleans style cooking. We were told the lines get very long so we arrived right at 9am to make the most of the hours we had left in the area. We only had two other people in front of us and proudly stated our orders. Before we left, my cousin recommended the crawfish étouffée omelette (Thanks Rori!), so I didn’t even need to see a menu. Of course, I was also pumped for their famous bread pudding that Food Networks’ Chef Sunny Anderson deemed as one of her favorite thing she’s eaten.
Only one problem. They weren’t serving it until 11:00.
“Come back around 2 and I’ll hook you up. Ask for Janice,” said one of the lovely women on staff. Typically, I wouldn’t jump at the chance to meet a stranger, while out of state, for a privately arranged brown paper bag handoff. But when food was involved? There was no hesitation.
In the meantime, we sat down for some traditional homestyle cooking. The word étouffée means “to smother” and that’s exactly how they served my fluffy omelette. Not just filled with the succulent crawfish and thick, gravy like sauce, but also topped with it. This was my fourth morning in a row enjoying seafood as my first meal of the day. Move over pancakes, from now on I want shrimp for breakfast! (Oh wait, I’m so sorry pancakes, I didn’t mean that…I love you and will never leave you. Please forgive me. Clearly, I’ll have both.)
Hubby enjoyed his omelette with shrimp creole, one of the dishes from our cooking demo the day before. I had some of his too and think I may have even liked it better than what I got! Both plates were served with a warm biscuit and their fantastic sweet-tart black and red raspberry preserves. The comforting side of grits had a great mouth feel, and were executed in such a homestyle way it was as though we were receiving a hug with each forkful.
During our down time before the bread pudding deal, we visited Mardis Gras World to learn more about this vibrant celebration that occurs every spring. We saw how the floats were made, checked out various costumes and got to see a line-up of many parades from the past. Each has a theme, so of course I was most intrigued by the year it revolved around food. How cute is this? The center of the flowers are cupcakes!
At the end of our tour we were all given a piece of king cake, which I have always wanted to try. The brightly colored confection actually tasted like a cinnamon swirl challah with frosting. Not that I’ve actually ever had that before.
The tradition of this dessert is that a plastic baby gets placed inside and whoever gets it in their piece has to throw the next party. Good thing I didn’t get it because:
A. Our next party is already planned
B. The way I indulge, putting anything unedible in my food is just a plain ole’ safety hazard.
In fact, before Hubby proposed (it was exactly 4 years ago today!) I gave him a direct warning not to hide the ring in my dessert. I told him I would end up inhaling the whole thing before he even had a chance to pop the question.
After the museum, we headed back to Mother’s and like two people on an undercover mission, walked through the door and asked for Janet. We made direct eye contact, gave the affirming nod, and she told us to skip to the front of the line to pay for our to-go bag. Then, just as she promised, we underwent the exchange and sped off.
Okay, it wasn’t that dramatic of an exit. We were on foot bringing it back to our hotel just around the corner, but we did run back because it was still warm.
Hubby and I sat down in the Windsor Court lobby with two plastic spoons, and dug into the moist pudding filled with peaches and swimming in sweet cinnamon-nutmeg kissed syrup. Honestly, it reminded me so much of my grandmother’s noodle kugel.
Once we packed up our bags and sadly said farewell to our gorgeous suite, we ventured off into the French Quarter for one last time. We stumbled upon a small historical wax museum, then visited a few more shops to stock up on some final pieces of memorabilia to commemorate our fabulous vacation.
For one last food stop, we went to Johnny’s Po-Boys, for well, you guessed it, a classic po’ boy. Mine was absolutely, over the top, fantastic. I had the seafood muffuletta–fried oysters, catfish and shrimp on buttered, toasted sesame muffuletta bread with crispy lettuce, juicy tomatoes, savory pickle slices and the most spectacular garlicky tarter sauce and cocktail sauce on the side. I topped it with their classic olive salad which added another incredible dimension. Oh wow, I can still taste it. This very understated looking spot sure delivered with its boldly flavored specialties.
Of course, as I told you, we had our final bites of NOLA while finishing our Emeril’s desserts before the airport terminal. We just weren’t ready to say ‘goodbye’.
Looking back on a full four days, we realize how fortunate we were to experience such a wide breadth of foods and restaurants. From the most high-end establishments to dive spots and local favorites, we truly got more than just a taste of the impressive culinary spectrum New Orleans has to offer.
Every time we sat down for a meal, we found ourselves saying, “No, wait, actually THIS is the most delicious thing I’ve tasted.” And that would continue on to the next place and so on and so on.
My palette thoroughly enjoyed this journey, indulging in the sweet and savory specialties that make this location a true food mecca. The best part of all? I got to share it with my very best friend. My partner, the love of my life, the one who I look forward to savoring all of my meals with for as long as we both shall live.
I’m so glad all of you could virtually share in my travels with me, and I hope you learned something along the way! In the near future I will be sharing the recipes from the cooking class as well as utilizing many of the Creole and Cajun influences in my upcoming posts.
Thanks for the memories NOLA. I will never forget this trip. And neither will my taste buds.