Today is Fat Tuesday and for those in New Orleans… I’m jealous of you. For most of us who aren’t there, here’s a post highlighting some amazing food I had when I visited NOLA last year. I was there for two days and I can’t wait to go back for a proper visit. I didn’t get my po’ boy or go to any of the fancy schmancy restaurants – I”ll save that for my next trip out there. However, I did get a taste of the food, culture, and hospitality during my short stay.
I was there during crawfish season and went to Charlie’s Seafood just outside of New Orleans in Harahan. My friend did some research and found it and I was up for the adventure.
I definitely felt like an outsider when I walked it because it felt like a local place, not for tourists – I liked that! It was loud, and everyone was peeling crawfish and drinking beer. I had a feeling I would love everything I ate. First thing we ordered were a couple pounds of crawfish to share. It was crawfish season so we were there at the right time. Normally, I don’t really eat crawfish because it’s a whole lot of work for just a little bit of food. I have to admit it was the best crawfish I ever had – the meet was sweet and good.
I also ordered the Cane River Meat Pie because our waitress said it was popular with the folks there. It was amazing! It was basically like a fried hot pocket with seasoned meat served with creole mustard and pepper jelly.
For main course, my friend and I split the UN-Fried Seafood Platter that was grilled fish, shrimp, crab, baked oysters, and cornbread. The seafood was so fresh! I loved that the flavors weren’t drowned by butter which is what a lot of seafood places do which is unfortunate. Because the seafood was fresh, the butter and seasoning only enhanced the natural flavors. I’m salivating just remembering this dish right now.
For dessert we really wanted pecan pie but they had already sold out. So instead we got the white chocolate bread pudding and creme brulée. Personally, I liked the creme brulée more because I found the bread pudding to rich and sweet for me but I could see why people would order it.
When in New Orleans, it’s a must to go to Café du Monde. I had heard so many things about Café du Monde so I was more than elated when I was walking closer and closer to it. It’s a coffee shop in the French Quarter that has a lengthy history – it’s been around since 1862! When you get there, don’t wait to be seated – grab your seat and a waiter/waitress will come by to take your order. They also have a walk-up if you are going to take it to go or get some souvenirs. Also there are some other locations if you don’t get to this location. For me, I loved the architecture and the area where it’s situation.
I really didn’t need to look at the menu. I knew what I wanted: cafe au lait and beignets. They serve French-style beignets which are fried dough that is dowsed with powdered sugar. I wonder how much powdered sugar this place goes through in a week!
Be warned that when you order a beignet, you will most likely get powdered sugar everywhere. I hear some of the servers who work there carry their cell phones in plastic bags so not to end up with a powdered sugar phone at the end of their shift – smart!
So was the experience what I hoped it would be? It was better! The cafe au lait and beignets were great but what I loved is the atmosphere. I had no idea how bustling it would be in the late evening.
Here’s also a video that I shot at the Café du Monde at the Riverwalk mall in New Orleans. There’s a window where people can look into the kitchen while they make beignets! Check it out here:
Another sweet treat I had in the French Quarter were pralines! I’ve had pralines before but not like the one I had here. When I saw a sign that said “pralines” at Southern Candymakers and saw some fresh ones being made, I had to stop in.
Pralines are a southern treat – very sweet and buttery. It’s actually not hard – it’s soft and creamy like fudge. You don’t need a lot to get a good fix because they are pretty rich. When you do get a praline, make sure to smell it – the brown sugar, pecan, and butter… it’s a scent you want to bottle up and take with you.
For my final meal highlight, I took advice from someone I trust who was born and raised in New Orleans. I asked him, to recommend a place off the beaten path that’s a good neighborhood spot he went to growing up in NOLA that he thinks I would love. He directed me to Dick & Jenny’s. This place isn’t in the French Quarter, we had to take the car to uptown.
It’s a warm and cozy place – you feel like you’re going to someone’s home for dinner when you walk in. When I opened the menu, my eyes immediately went to the shrimp and grits. I was sold.
The shrimp was sweet – not overcooked – and the savory sauce was well seasoned. This was the first time I had grits and I thought it worked really well with the goat cheese that was mixed in. At the end of the meal my eyes wanted more but my stomach was full (unfortunately!).
If this post doesn’t inspire you to visit New Orleans, I hope it’s motivated you to cook up some southern food at home!