We’ve walked. And walked. And walked. And eaten, and eaten, and eaten. And drank, and drank … you get the picture.
I’m stuffed. And I’m tired. And we’re just a little over halfway through our trip.
Had my first-ever Sazeracs, the official cocktail of New Orleans. One was bad and one was very good. But the uber-strong drink is admittedly not to everyone’s taste. (I quite like it.) Each ingredient is intense, and there’s no mixer to speak of. Just rye whiskey, Herbsaint (an anise-flavored liquor), Peychaud’s bitters, lemon peel and a little sugar. POW.
We ventured via streetcar out of the French Quarter and into Mid City to eat among locals at Mandina’s. We ordered far too much food, creating our own little traditional New Orleans buffet: shrimp and oyster po’ boy, gumbo, etouffe. And maybe best of all, a unique “Creole eggplant” dish that didn’t look too appetizing, but was a comforting, savory mash-up of eggplant, shrimp, crabmeat, ham and spices.
Cochon-times-two — dinner one night at Cochon restaurant, and early lunch the next day at Cochon Butcher right next door. Both pig-centric eateries are currently hot dining spots, and for good reason.
At the restaurant, our starters were especially exciting. Fried boudin: a mixture of sausage, rice, spices and finely diced vegetables formed into balls, rolled in something fine and crunchy and and then fried, creating thin, crispy exteriors and tender, almost fluffy insides. Very spicy creole mustard and pickled peppers combined with the sausage balls for a riot of flavors and textures.
A plain-sounding mushroom salad was anything but. The mushrooms were sliced extremely thin and tossed with jerky, slivers of cooked lemon rind and a lemon vinaigrette.
At Butcher, we shared a fantastic charcuterie board and a muffaletta on delicious soft bread — a very satisfying repast. So much so that we had to abandon our plan for a mid-afternoon Christmas Eve celebration meal.
I’ll leave you with a sweet taste of beignets from the renowned Cafe Du Monde. Enjoying the pillowy donuts and chicory coffee at the New Orleans institution is something everyone should experience.
But once is enough. We found something even better (I’m blaspheming, I know!). More on that to come …