Now that the boys are older and we are lucky enough to have a generous, supportive team of family who are willing to help us out, my husband and I have made good on our promise to spend more time together and resume traveling. Last year we spent five glorious days in Paris where we reconnected and a long weekend in Boston for my birthday. This time, we opted for a weekend get-a-way to New Orleans.
I can safely say that Paris and New Orleans could not be more different, with the exception of one thing: both cities offer gastronomy experiences that leave you wishing you had worn your fat pants.
Good to know: In New Orleans, completely acceptable to wear fat pants in public. In Paris, not so much.
Where We Ate:
A trendy tapas-style restaurant away from the French Quarter that is a hotspot among locals. The ambiance is similar to what’s being seen in many of Toronto’s newest restaurants: an eatery style, devoid of tablecloths, accouterments and friendly servers. But for what it’s lacking in charm, it makes it up with the food. The dishes are easy to share, favour local ingredients and focus on regional flavors. True to its namesake, pork abounds on the menu but easily shares the spotlight with a variety of vegetable sides. I couldn’t help myself and indulged in the mac and cheese casserole which after one bite I decided was not worthy of sharing….it was that good.
Image courtesy of kapper22.blogspot.ca (this gal knows where to eat!)
Bam! How could we go to Nawlins and not dine at one of famed chef Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants? NOLA did not disappoint. Every attention to detail was made. The service was top-notch, and the atmosphere undoubtably New Orleans without being kitschy but nothing could eclipse the food. The fried chicken was bar none the best chicken dish that I have ever eaten. The spiced buttermilk batter was crispy fried and protected the succulent juices from the chicken with perfection. The side of sweet potato mash with a hint of brown sugar was a delicious companion to this main.
Image courtesy of Flavor-Junkie.
A hidden gem of a restaurant tucked in the French Quarter that offers everything from casual ambiance; spirited wait staff and unforgettable food. The chef favour local ingredients and had a decidedly unique European twist on southern classics. While everything we tried had us scraping our plates for more, my husband took the plunge and ordered a second serving of the shave brussel sprouts salad. If you manage to get a reservation, ask for the table on their rear courtyard.
Image of the brussel sprouts salad courtesy of food blogger Appetites.
Image of the courtyard table courtesy of Domestic Chic, who has the most gorgeous photos of New Orleans on her blog.
What We Saw
The French Quarter
The French Quarter is the city’s oldest neighbourhoods dating back 200 years and is steeped in Creole history. From voodoo to antiques and everything in between can be found among the protected historical buildings, which are adorned with elaborate ironwork and colourful walls. While Bourbon Street is touted as a party hotspot, I can say that the partying going on didn’t interest me much. Boozy patrons spill over onto the street from the clubs and barely clothed women take to dancing in doorways. I much preferred the restaurant scene to the bar scene, but to each their own.
Devastation from Hurricane Katrina
It’s been seven years since the storm and the city is still facing the devastating task of rebuilding. With the support of generous individuals, newly created foundations and celebrities like Brad Pitt and Harry Connick Jr., the city is slowly getting back on its feet. I was not prepared to see such poverty and loss in a country as great as the USA. It truly is heart wrenching to see many people, including young families, struggling to rebuild and re-establish their lives.
We were lucky enough to spend a day at Jazzfest. I had my first gospel experience and I soundly concluded that if my church were as much fun, I’d be certain to get myself into a pew each Sunday. Take a listen to my favourite gospel performer, Kim Che’re, who had the crowd praisin’ Jesus!
Would a trip to New Orleans be complete without a visit to the swamp? I swallowed my fear and held a baby alligator but was too chicken to even take a picture of the 3 footer that my husband held. Not only did we learn a lot about alligators and swamp life on this 2 hour boat tour, we also saw first-hand just how beautiful a bayou can be.