My belly is swollen and my heart is heavy on today’s return flight from New Orleans. I keep looping last night’s veal osso bucco over and over in my mind. An inherently tough shank was transformed into tender perfection after being slowly braised in wine with lucsious marrow in tact for picking and smearing about. To cut the fat, it was accompanied by a bright citrus marmalade and then – in complete contradiction – served on a bed of creamy goat cheese whipped mashed potatoes. Pure glory in my mouth that nearly twelve hours later has yet to vacate my stomach. Or maybe it’s the mile high banana cream pie I ate afterward; the one I nearly broke into a cold sweat trying to finish. Whatever it is, this was a weekend of eating with reckless abandon… and I don’t have one single regret.
Take a gander down Bourbon Street and you’ll quickly realize that all modesty goes out the window in this city. This is a town without constraints; a place with an array of varied art and culture that together anywhere else would seem ludicrous, but here, somehow make sense. It’s these characteristics that bode well for one of the top and most innovative food scenes in the country, famously associated with names, such as star chef, John Besh, and food empire magnate, Emeril Lagasse. If you live on the planet Earth or, at least, follow me on Twitter, those names might ring a bell, as I tweeted about seeing them both at Besh’s restaurant, Domenica, on our last night; a scene straight out of a food-blogger’s wildest imagination: Emeril Lagasse and wife with couple in tow, walking into John Besh’s restaurant for dinner. Staff serves Emeril and crew with utmost care and attention, going so far as to bring a leg of prosciutto to their table and carefully shaving tissue thin sheets onto a platter. Chef Besh pops up tableside in his bright chef whites and toothy smile hugging and greeting his old friend Emeril before disappearing back into the kitchen. Yes, folks, these are the things dreams are made of. Some people at my table wanted to take photos of the chefs at the table only a few yards away. I brashly begged them to not to and just sat there, content to “casually stare” and simply observe two of the most acclaimed chefs in their natural environment; a scene not too far removed from viewing a lion and tiger on an African safari.
So, as you can tell, this was just a slam dunk fantastic weekend. I was privileged to eat at the best restaurants NOLA has to offer and breathe the same air as two of its finest culinary alum. Here are a few snaps from my weekend in the “big easy.” I’ve also compiled a list – a “foodtinerary” of sorts – of what I ate and where. I am listing everything because, quite simply, I would recommend it all, but please keep in mind: this is just the tip of a gigantic iceberg. This city has a throng of gems scattered throughout, and I was fortunate enough to come across a few…
blissed out in the big easy food-tinerary:
Lunch: Johnny’s Po-Boy Oyster po’ boy and fries
Snack: Café du Monde Café au lait and beignet
Dinner: Commander’s Palace Trio of soups (gumbo, corn and crab bisque, turtle soup); escargot with wild mushrooms over buttered toast; pecan crusted gulf fish with champagne poached Louisiana blue crab meat, crushed corn sauce, and spiced pecans
Dessert: Commander’s Palace Creole bread pudding soufflé with creamy whiskey sauce
Brunch: Luke Cup of blue crab bisque, Croque madame and frites
Snack: Sylvain Chili roasted almonds; fried eggplant with lemon-garlic aioli and shaved parmesan; homemade ginger ale
Dinner: Domenica Rabbit and chanterelle tagliatelle; stracci with oxtail and chicken liver; veal osso bucco (special) with citrus remoulade and goat cheese mash
Dessert: Emeril’s Banana cream pie
Highlight: Veal osso busso at Domenica
Runner up: Pecan crusted gulf fish at Commander’s Palace
Ever been to NOLA? What’s your favorite dish?