Happy Mardi Gras! I’m celebrating Fat Tuesday in New York, but read on for a little about my Fat pre-Mardi Gras Week in the Big Easy:
The sun hadn’t yet risen last Saturday morning, but yet I found myself navigating the tunnels of JFK airport with one destination on my mind: New Orleans. A large latte, three hours and a cramped half-nap later, there I was.
I was suddenly in a place that had until that point been completely foreign to me. It was warm, I could taste the saltwater in the air, jazz and bluegrass echoed through the streets, the voodoo spirits lurked in the shadows, Mardi Gras beads bordered every vista, and I was hungry. So hungry.
So, my partners in culinary crime and I ate. We ate many delicacies, including deep-fried oysters at Antoine’s
(Perhaps my favorite entree of the entire trip! Every element of the dish was enjoyable, from the pecan-studded rice pilaf, to the cripsness of the oysters, and the sweet vinegar notes in the sauce. Plus, who doesn’t want their side of asparagus to be deep-fried, too?)
Gator, at the French Markets
(Almost ham-like in flavor, but gamier. Served sizzling hot, this simple treat was another trip winner.)
Turtle Soup at Commander’s Palace
(For a stock that supposedly takes five days to make, I was expecting more from my first turtle soup. The dish was very salty, and in fact was the only dish on the entire trip I didn’t finish. What was I missing?)
The infamous muffuletta sandwich at Central Grocery
(Somehow this is much more than just a deli sandwich, which says a lot since I’m not generally a sandwich fanatic. It probably had something to do with the freshness of the french bread and how absolutely doused in olive oil it was.)
And at least one serving a day of beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde per day
(I don’t naturally gravitate towards fried, doughy foods such as this, but I’ll admit after no less than six times consuming these powdered pillows, I’ll always have a place in my heart for Cafe du Monde beignets and the excessive amount of powdered sugar dumped atop them.)
And that was really just a teaser. I left NOLA with a full stomach (and a fresh supply of Tums), and a rejuvenated spirit. It’s hard not to breathe easy when you’re in a city that has an onslaught of parades each day, an open container street drinking law, and the world’s largest supply of plastic beads scattered everywhere you look.