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NOLA report

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Still thinking about my fabulous weekend in New Orleans. What a great city. I've already got a long list of things to do/see/eat next time.

One of these days I'll write up a more detailed recap of the trip, but for now here are the highlights.

Thanks to all you hounds who provided great tips and recommendations!

FOOD (in chronological order)
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Bayona -- awesome lunch. The smoked duck sandwich is a candidate for the sandwich hall of fame. Indescribably delicious. Forgot to ask them what they put in the dressing for the apple celery salad that comes with it - anyone know? If you think you're too full for dessert, get the petits fours. You'll find room.

Casamento's -- may be worth a trip for the "décor" and cast of characters alone! Impeccably fried, greaseless oysters.

Lagniappe Guest House -- wonderful breakfasts (guests only) - banana pancakes, perfectly cooked bacon and the best scrambled eggs I've ever had (Helene's secret is Tony Chachere's seasoning mix). 1925 Peniston St., 800-317-2120 www.lanyappe.com

Southern Candymakers -- An homage to the pecan. Pecan brittle that should cause peanut brittle to hang its head in shame. Delicious glazed pecans (and I don't like that kind of thing). And the turtles ... yum! 334 Decatur, 800-344-9773

Tee Eva's -- go go go to this little pie/snowball stand a block or so from Casamento's. At $2 a pop, we should have sampled all the mini pies she had, instead of only the sweet potato pecan and cream cheese pecan. Both amazing. Let me repeat -- cream cheese pecan. Sort of like cheese cake or cheese danish on the bottom, pecan on top. And the mini pies provide a great crust to filling ratio. Wish I had one right now. 4430 Magazine St. And, amazingly, at http://tee-eva.net Cute website -- "Sorry we can't ship you a snowball."

Uglesich's -- remember that it's not open for dinner. We forgot. :(

Mother's -- Get the Ferdi's po boy (but you knew that already) and skip the gumbo and the pecan pie. Make sure the napkin holder on your table is full before you dig in.

Café du Monde -- had a good time watching the guys make the beignets. Go around back and peer through the window.

Dry Dock in Algiers right by the ferry station -- great muffaletta (this from the girl who hates olives). I admit that it's the only one I've ever had, but my friend Elizabeth said it was better than Central Grocery's. They heat a bit so the cheese melts and the roll is toasty.

Roadhouse Café -- the bleu cheese salad that Mike C. raved about was really good, though I wouldn't recommend going out of your way for it if you're not in the neighborhood (near Tulane and Loyola). Shrimp and crab claw gumbo was delish - better than Mother's by far.

NOT ABOUT FOOD
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I definitely recommend visiting New Orleans at Christmas-time (especially if you luck out with 70-degree weather!) -- it's not too crowded, and they do a great job decorating for the holidays -- houses, street lamps, trees, skyscrapers, even construction cranes (one had a huge lit-up Santa dangling from it).

The Historic New Orleans Walking Tours garden district architecture/cemetery tour was really great -- lots of info and sites packed into about 2 hours for $14. www.tourneworleans.com

Saw Jerry Lee Lewis at the House of Blues. Yes, he's still alive! However, he is 65 and is reportedly quite frail. I was preparing myself for something like the old fat Elvis -- maybe dottering, forgetting words, wavering voice -- and when he slowly walked on stage, his back curved over like an old man, it seemed like my fears were going to be realized. However, once he got to the piano he was pretty amazing -- belting them out and banging the keys (tho he only played for about 40 minutes). If you have a chance to see this rock and roll legend, don't pass it up.

If you've got a few hours to spare and you've never seen a swamp, the Jean Lafite Park is a great excursion. Algiers is a nice detour on the way back to the city. The view of the underside of the bridge is very cool.

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  1. Liza, excellent report--great information, great format, interestingly written. I've already printed a copy for a prospective NOLA trip -and--sent it to a friend. Well done! I remember Acme oyster bar-best, and most, oysters I've ever downed. Also went to KPaul's a couple years before it hit nationally, out of this world bread pudding.

    3 Replies
    1. re: berkleybabe

      Thanks!

      One of these days someone is going to have to explain the allure of raw oysters to me. After taking a health department course in food safety, I've never had the urge to try them. I guess most people don't get sick, but I won't even tell you the instructor's comment when he was asked about the wisdom of eating them!

      1. re: Lisa Z

        As my father used to say, the bravest man in history was the first one who downed an oyster....They're really the essence of the sea -plus it's a kind of primal experience--and there's the ritual of the whole thing.... I can appreciate your point of view, however; offered an array of oysters one New Year's Eve, my husband said, "Thanks, I've already had one (three years earlier.)" I love them fried, I think, even better than raw--despite the fact they're no doubt harboring fewer nasty microbes...

        1. re: berkleybabe

          Two great oyster quotes!

          Have a great trip -- looking forward to hearing about it.

    2. don't get the gumbo at mother's?

      well...that this place is inconsistent has been much discussed here. But I once had killer gumbo there, and would gladly suffer through one or two mediocre iterations to hit another jackpot day. But that's me...

      great report, BTW!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Jim Leff

        re: Mother's gumbo -- I only had a few tastes (didn't want any more than that). It was really bland and had a sort of sticky, cornstarchy texture (not in a good way!) I'll have to double check with Elizabeth -- she liked it and was impressed with the oyster she found in her bowl. Maybe I spoke too soon -- didn't realize this was something they were supposed to do particularly well.

        Speaking of which, I don't recall anyone posting here about Mother's ham. They've got signs all over the place touting it. (Tried to get a black ham biscuit, but they were out.) Any comments?

        1. re: Lisa Z

          Mother's black ham? Great stuff!

      2. Thanks, Lisa, for the wonderful report, and especially for mentioning two places, Tee Eva's and Dry Dock, that I'm not familiar with.

        Just for the record, I'm with you on Mother's gumbo. It's serviceable, but I've never had any type of gumbo there that isn't much better somewhere else within walking distance.

        The ham is good!

        7 Replies
        1. re: Dave Feldman

          I live in Algiers Point, and the Dry Dock is the only restaurant in this lovely historic neighborhood. I wouldn't make a special trip across the river for the food, but it has recently been renovated and it's a nice place to stop for a drink and a snack if you take the ferry to the Point. The hamburgers have always been decent (NO is not, generally, a hamburger town). Haven't tried the muffaletta recently. They have the usual po-boy offerings but they're not particularly outstanding examples of the genre. Have tried daily specials that turned out to be the result of pouring a can of mushroom soup over angel hair and throwing in some chunks of chicken. . . But maybe they have a new cook. The bar does make a good spicy bloody mary garnished with pickled okra.

          1. re: Sarah

            Thanks for more detailed info on Dry Dock. We were steered there by the women at Mardi Gras World when we asked them for directions to DiMartino's (had heard good things about their muffalettas). They said Dry Dock's were much better, so we gave it a try and were very happy. Came with a side of fries, too.

          2. re: Dave Feldman

            I don't know how Tee Eva's has slipped under the Chowhound radar for this long! You won't be disappointed. We got a sample of hot-off-the-press praline, which I don't usually like, but it's an entirely different animal when warm -- soft and somehow not as sweet as when it hardens. More like fudge. Eva showed off a tray of chicken she'd just made to bring to a friend's house and we were tempted to invite ourselves along.

            1. re: Lisa Z

              "I don't know how Tee Eva's has slipped under the Chowhound radar for this long!"

              it didn't....I wrote about her in Down The Hatch six years ago. Eva's a hoot and her pralines are tops. I'm very glad to hear she's still going strong!

              ciao

              1. re: Jim Leff

                Good -- my faith is restored!

                What's Down the Hatch?

                1. re: Lisa Z

                  A 'zine started by Voice critic Robert Sietsema that I used to write for.

                  here's what I said about Tee Eva's:

                  and I'll always stop at the window of Tee Eva's for wonderful pralines and little mini pecan or sweet potato pies (4430 Magazine Street. She does mail order, too 504-504-899-8350).

            2. re: Dave Feldman

              I don't doubt your negative/mediocre gumbo experiences, but please don't doubt my bliss

            3. I culled suggestions from Lisa and many other hounds and managed to turn what might otherwise have been a flatlined conference trip into a lively EKG of gastronomic pleasures. I have to say in general that the pleasure of eating in New Orleans was only partly about eating. I can't think of another place in the States where people like to *talk* so much about food. The first night out was an excellent example. Ended up in the French Quarter at a fairly random place with some colleagues. I think it's called Mrs. B's. The food was delicious. Not the best I had in NOLA, but very good and a very good family feeling to the place and along with the dollop of spicy mayo that on each of the salads, there was a satisfying dollop of story that went with every dish. (Plus, the shrimp in the creole reminded me real quick that there really *are* things that you can't get out West.)

              Talk story version two: the line outside of Mothers. Talk to anyone, but mostly talk to the maitre d who can talk and talk and talk. The only problem here was that he talked me into too many things and how many po boys can you eat in one lunch. I just ordered fried oyster (floured not battered and light as can be) and the debris which I take to be the NOLA version of barbeque and if you're in a messy meaty mood is a must. And my companion says thumbs up on the gumbo.

              Version three is no doubt the highlight of the trip, Ugelesichs. I don't think that there's much I can add to the general chorus on this one except to say that it's as good as they say. Here, the talking is key too. In some ways, U's reminded me of the old-time House of Nanking in SF ("house of attitude"), the kind of place where your order is more the product of a negotiation than a decision made on your own. I thought that I was getting shrimp but it turned out I was getting softshell crab. I thought that I was having potatoes on the side but it turned out I was having eggplant. And I had no idea that I was having fried green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade (my my my), but of course I was. Of all of the things that we had at U's, I have to give the plaudits to the eggplant side dish that came with my crab. I can't really describe this well except to say that it is a) unlikely, b) has shrimp in it, c) is smoky and the best thing that I've eaten this year.

              Less talky: Marisol. Schmancy but delicious. I ordered black cod which I had only eaten previously in its Japanese, cooked in mirin, instantiation (I especially recommend this at Ebisu in SF...very unexpected, fragrant flavor...seems to me that it's not cod at all) and this was different, more european and every bit as good. Another for my list of unlikely and happy foods in this city.

              Also on the schmancier side: Riomar, a new seafoody place in the Warehouse district. Talk talk talk. Here the chef spends 5 minutes at our table and explains that in Spain they're now eating a kind of homegrown sushi which 5 years ago everyone thought was gross. Don't know much about this but must find out. The ceviche was peppery and fresh and delightful, the crawfish (is it creole when its red and saucy?) was to die for, and the seafood in saffron broth also very lovely. Perhaps the wine list could be improved.

              Last time I was in NOLA, I ate at Mandina's. So this time, I tried Liuzzas (two blocks away) and I was not disappointed. This is the neighborhood restaurant of my mind's eye. And I still don't really believe it exists. The food is good. The mugs are so frosty that the beer may actually freeze (on a hot NOLA night, I swear this is a virtue). And you won't get out without learning a little bit about the city and without the city learning a little bit about you.

              I ate other things, but these are the ones I will remember.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Dan R.

                Yes! Yes! Yes!

                Part of the joy of eating is talking about food while you are eating! If I'm not *with* someone who talks incessantly about food, I find that New Orleans and Kansas City are the two cities in the U.S. where it's impossible not to engage not only restaurateurs, but "civilians" about food. In Kansas City, it's hard not to engender fights about the relative merits of different establishments.

                I loved your whole report, and I think you captured the charms of Mr. B's and Uglesich's particularly well.

                1. re: Dave Feldman

                  Thanks for the note. I'm still enjoying the memories. Note that for those of you interested in *black cod*, there is an excellent article by Marian Burros in today's (May 16, 2001) New York Times called "Sablefish: The Fish That Swam Uptown". Black cod is not cod at all.