Last weekend Tom and I went to New Orleans for an engagement party to celebrate our dear friends Wes and Emily. They’re great. Wes is from Baton Rouge and he’s got state pride like WHOABABY so we were excited to take a long weekend in the Crescent City to see what there was to see and eat all the things. We’d both been to New Orleans before but the last time I went I was was 9 so, you know, my pallet was less than developed.
New Orleans has a lot to love. It also has a lot not to love. It’s dirtier than it should be and the whole city feels a bit reminiscent of “The Road.” But there’s the live jazz everywhere and all the delicious fried stuff and somewhere along the way you forget all the bad things. New Orleans is a fun place and the people who live there really, really love it. It’s kind of contagious.
Because I have an obsessive compulsive need to rank everything here are the five best things we ate on our trip, in case you’re planning one too.
5. Beignets at Cafe du Monde
Obviously. Beignets are the brainchild of some lazy Frenchman that started on a donut and decided about halfway through “Forget it. I’m frying these babies as is.” Cafe du Monde makes the city’s most famous version and though the place smells vaguely of trash and you may have to punch a baby to get a table it’s worth it. Get some chickory coffee to go with your order of 3 beignets and don’t forget the napkins. You’re going to be covered with so much powdered sugar the rest of the day people may confuse you with Lindsay Lohan.
4. Quiche Lorraine at Croissant d’Or
I would never have known about this place if my awesomely-foodie friend Elizabeth hadn’t tipped me off. It was the Frenchiest little bakery I’ve ever been to outside of Paris and the pastry display case was mesmerizing. Crossiant d’Or is in a side ally of the French Quarter and you’d only find it if you knew to look. The chocolate croissant was good but this ham and cheese-stuffed quiche was better.
3. Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy at Cooter Brown’s Tavern.
Yes, “Cooter Brown’s Tavern.” We ended up in this smoky dive bar in the Uptown area of NOLA purely on Wes’ suggestion. I won’t lie, Cooter Brown’s was crawling with local college kids and I kind of felt like I needed to keep an eye on my purse the whole time I was there but man did they make a mean Po’ Boy. We actually had two: the roast beef followed by the fried shrimp. Tom was partial to the beef while I could eat those crispy, spicy fried shrimp every day of my life. Cooter Brown…I think I love you.
2. Everything at Cochon
Cochon has a reputation for being “the best restaurant in New Orleans” and it didn’t let me down. For my money it wast the perfect mix of nice-dinner-out and casual-enough-for-jeans. Nestled in the Warehouse District, Cochon was teeming with life on Thursday when we went and everything we ate from the Rabbit Dumpings (more like Rabbit Pot Pie) to the Fried Boudin Balls (FRIED SAUSAGE, YOU GUYS) to the Strawberry Hand Pie (with Sour Cream Ice Cream!) for dessert was memorable and delicious. Even the bread was good.
1. The Fried Chicken at Willie Mae’s Scotch House
I already wrote an entire blog post about this place and I’m thinking about asking Willie Mae herself if I can, you know, work as her apprentice for a summer. If you ever get the chance, do not miss this experience.
New Orleans is a great place…you really only need about 3 days to explore it well. And forget renting a car…just be sure to cab it to Willie Mae’s (unless you like the threat of physical danger and vacant buildings.) The city has a lot to offer and I guarantee you’ll be there at least two days before you think about the hurricane whose name I dare not speak.