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Boquerones, radishes with sea salt and butter, baguette with lardo butter and fermented tomato from Longway Tavern.

When I first sat down to write about our recent trip to New Orleans, initially my plan was to condense it into a concise top five list of food and drink that we enjoyed…and then I realized that was basically an impossible task. I then realized that I could break out my favorite drinks and dishes by theme, and so here’s hoping I actually get around to writing all of them. But first, I must speak of The Napkin. Read More

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Fried Oysters with Pickled Pepper Mayo and Cucumber Salad

With Christmas less than a week away, it’s time for me to start packing up all of our stuff to bring back to PA for the holiday weekend and get a cooking game plan set for Christmas Eve. We’re leading that particular dance this year, which is great since we did zero cooking during Thanksgiving. We are going to do the seven fishes this year, but in order to maintain our sanity and to make sure that everyone can try at least a bit of everything, we’re keeping the portions small and basically treating the meal like a tasting menu. Read More

Char-broiled oysters in the style of Drago's.

Char-broiled oysters in the style of Drago’s.

The first time we went to New Orleans I wasn’t expecting to encounter so many oyster houses when we were there. I don’t know why I didn’t think to anticipate this, but as our cab drove us to the Hotel Monteleone and we passed by a few I knew that our first meal would be oyster-centric, if not completely oyster-based. Between that trip and our subsequent trip last October to NOLA we’ve covered some good territory on the oyster front, so I wanted to share some of our experiences on where to score excellent mollusks. Read More

Grilled Oysters with Horseradish Aioli and Pancetta

As a lover of all things oyster, I have to admit that usually my preferred mode of eating them is raw and right out of the shell, maybe with a little lemon, horseradish, or mignonette. I’ll enjoy a good fried oyster po’ boy from time to time, of course, but I never really warmed to the idea of grilled oysters until we finally had Drago’s chargrilled oysters as part of an early evening happy hour on our last New Orleans trip. The concierge immediately directed us to the Drago’s that’s in the Hilton Riverside, and while the decor there screams that you’re eating in a hotel bar, the food is far better than what you’d get at a normal hotel. The original Drago’s is in Metarie so it’s not as easy to get to if you don’t have a car, so for many visitors the Hilton location is a good compromise. Read More

The Dome Patrol in The Carousel Bar.

One thing I really, really wanted to do on our New Orleans trip was to get some inspiration from any and all of the places we visited. I had my trusty small Moleskine on me at all times along with a pen to jot down things I observed, but perhaps one of the best things we found ended up not needing that much note-taking: the Dome Patrol cocktail as found at the Carousel Bar. Read More

Well, it’s been some time, hasn’t it? Here I was, doing so well for most of the year and then October got…interesting. It started around my birthday with a very full weekend of activities both with my family and on our own, and then the following weekend we had a wedding to attend and then soon enough we were in New Orleans on vacation. Add in some work-related travel to New York and Connecticut and despite having lots to write about, I feel like I’ve had very little time to think much about it in a way that’s worthy of a blog post.

Of course, in the midst of all of this chaos, I also went and got myself a new job. Read More

Outside Galatoire’s on Bourbon St.

[Full disclosure: I was graciously provided a copy of this book for review, but all opinions are my own.]

It’s been nearly two years since we went to New Orleans, and maybe it’s a function of the recent frigid weather and watching old Top Chef episodes set in the city, but I’ve definitely found myself craving some Gulf oysters and some barbecued shrimp and a Sazerac or two, so when the opportunity arose to review a new travel guide on the restaurants and bars of the city, I immediately said yes.

Some bourbon to accompany this lovely book.

25 Definitive New Orleans Restaurants (Plus A Dozen Damned Good Places To Drink): One Novelist’s Notes on a 40-year Spree of Gluttony & Guzzling by Steven Wells Hicks (that’s an affiliate link) aims to go beyond an average restaurant guide, because instead of “a glorified telephone directory sprinkled with capricious star ratings” (his words from the introduction), you’re instead presented with a series of essays on restaurants that will likely provide a good meal but also lend some insight as to the spirit and the history of the city and its culture. History is a huge part of this book: the essays I read are packed with everything from restaurant origin stories to apocryphal tales of dignitaries being sent back to the line at Galatoire’s to wait for a table like everyone else to the evolution of the Hand Grenade and its many spawn-like concoctions. The book is also divided into sections ranging from classic must-visits to neighborhood restaurants, and one section is devoted to the origin of specific dishes like Antoine’s Oysters Rockefeller to Central Grocery’s muffaletta, and his descriptions are so rich that even an olive-eschewer like myself could hear her stomach growling as he described the city’s signature sandwich. Read More

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