Monday, I journeyed to St. Chartres House for my first crawfish étouffée along side the local, Abita, stout. The fresh crawfish mixed in the rich and spicy étouffée was beyond delicious, it was divine! Until I deemed it time to get some work done, I wandered along the local shops in the French quarter, picking up the perfect souvenir for my story-time loving toddler – Goodnight NOLA.
Getting lost in writing, as one tends to do, I realized I was running late, quickly wrapped up my projects, and dashed off to meet the conference crew at Crescent City Brewhouse. Enjoying their malty Vienna style Red Stallion beer paired with their legendary savory seafood cheesecake and fresh shucked oysters, just the right combo of rich decadence and light salt water fresh. Despite sharing these appetizers with the group, I was left so full I barely finished my gumbo – a superior creation complete with the flavors of the Cajun holy trinity in a roux done the proper New Orleans way. Each bite of New Orleans classic cuisine is so incendiary you’ll think nothing else could taste as good, but then you move on to the next and it does in it’s own unique way – much like the uniqueness of the city itself.
The French Quarter of NOLA is like nothing else in the world, the cobblestone streets and buildings are reminiscent of ancient European cities, but with a vibrant southern swagger that could only be New Orleans. Strolling the cobblestone in the warm salty air, we closed the night at Back Space Bar. If you’re an ‘I love bacon, everything’ type of person, this bar is for you! Complete with Bacontinis, made with sweet maple vodka and a crisp strip of bacon on top. These tinis are salty, sweet, and surprising, not bad.
On Tuesday I headed off to the Garden district via trolley car to take in the sites of classic grand southern houses and find Steins Deli (for a highly recommended muffaletta). Alas, I lost my way and decided to head back to the French Quarter for a quick bite before I had to start working. Taking a seat at Café Pontalba’s bar, I chatted with the locals and watched the street performers in Jackson Square while sampling their hot roast beef with gravy – another classic local triumph, and the original po-boy!
All in all, New Orleans exceeded my expectations. Although I was able to cross a few things off my list, I barely tapped the surface of this incredibly rich city. There were even places I was unable to visit (Arnaud’s to be specific) in the French Quarter where I spent the majority of my time. Overall, the main takeaway from this trip was a thirst to come back for more, perhaps even another sazerac.