If you want a unique cuisine, you need to get yourself to the bayou. New Orleans is full of great eating and during my recent visit for the Dad 2.0 Summit, I gorged on as much of it as I could. Have a look at some things you should eat in New Orleans:
While the Hurricane is the drink you’ll see up and down every alley in the French Quarter (I’ll get to it below), The Sazerac is a traditional New Orleans classic cocktail. It’s an elegant, easy drinking cocktail that back in the day featured absinthe, sadly the modern version does not.
You can get all sorts of Hurricanes served out of Slurpee-style machines up and down Bourbon Street, but for our experience we headed over to the Ice House Bar in the Hotel Provincial.
This is booze, booze, booze, and something sweet. You can suck it back in a hurry and it will hit you like a speeding truck minutes later. The drink was created by Pat O’Brien as a way to get rid of cases of liquor he had lying around. He served it in a hurricane lamp glass and passed them out to sailors. A messy hit was born.
I walked in to a bar to meet some friends for a drink. I wanted a beer, a local beer. “What should I be having?” I asked and was handed a bottle of Abita Amber.
The website advises “Because of its smooth, malty flavor, try it with smoked sausages, crawfish, and Cajun food. You might also enjoy it paired with a spicy gumbo or tomato-based pasta sauce. It also goes well also with fried catfish dipped in a tart, lemony tartar sauce.” That’s everything in the bayou, boy. I really enjoyed it.
Beignets at Cafe Du Monde is a New Orleans staple. The doughy donuts have been served 24/7 from the Decatur St location since 1862. They come 3 to a bag for a paltry $2.42. They’re best hot and fresh and eaten from a table. If you try and eat them walking back towards Bourbon St, you’ll get powdery sugar all over you – so don’t wear black. I saved a batch for the morning after the night before, they’re not as good the next day when the sugar has melted and is gooey.
It was a bizarre experience, in the morning I was holding an alligator, at night I was eating one. “What does alligator taste like?” is one of those bizarre questions that you can’t really answer. I mean, what does chicken taste like? What does beef taste like? What does haggis taste like? Well, you end up comparing the taste to something familiar. So an alligator sausage tastes like a spicy andouille pork sausage. If you didn’t know alligator was in it, you wouldn’t know. It was just a nice spicy sausage.
The sandwich is ubiquitous in New Orleans, but if you want the original, you need to go to the Central Grocery on Decatur. The deli has dozens of them ready and waiting for you behind the counter. A thick piece of round foccaccia styled bread with layers of meat, cheese, olives, pickles, and olive oil. Oh, the olive oil – that is what makes this sandwich magic.
I grabbed my bowl of gumbo from the lunch buffet at the conference. It was hotel food, but it was still wonderful. A rich, thick soup of seafood poured over a bowl of rice.
It was a good time, and I still didn’t get to dig in to many things, like crawfish, catfish, jambalaya, or dirty rice.