Shopping for Spices, Sauces, etc.
We will be in New Orleans next month and I would like to buy some fun things like spices, hot sauces, and other things to take home to cook with or give as gifts to people - so I am looking for suggestions about where to go to buy these things.
Last time we were in New Orleans, I saw a lot of things in tourist shops in the French Quarter, but I figured that a stores not aimed at tourists would probably be the way to go.
We will be staying at a hotel in the French Quarter for several nights - have plans to head uptown one day and explore the Fauburg Marigny neighborhood another day, we will be going to Audubon Park as well. Then we will pick up a car and head up through plantation country and then over to the New Iberia area for a couple more days before heading home. So any recommendations that are convinient to our general plan would be great.
Some of those tourist shops on Bourbon or Decatur actually have a pretty amazing choice of what I refer to as 'souvenir' hot sauces, usually decent enough sauces with funny names. If souvenirs are what you are after, these are fine, and these vendors are part of New Orleans and need our support.
And ordinarily I would suggest the vendors at the French Market, but when I was there just a month ago, there were only a couple of food and produce sellers there. That might have changed by now, and if so, great.
But what I actually think might be your best bet is too look for some of the neighborhood groceries and delis hiding in the French Quarter such as Matassa's or the Neli-Deli or even the A&P. The items there are intended for eating, and on stuff like remoulade sauce and coffee, you will probably save a bit of money too.
Tony Chacere's seasoned salt is a tried and true seasoning. Also Kitchen Bouquet to add to a roux if it is not brown enough. Both can be purchased in the grocery store.
Some of the Jambalaya mixes are good, too, although I find them too salty. Just check the labels to ensure that they are Louisiana products.
If you go to Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, the pralines sold in the gift shop are incredible and they will ship them for you.
Oak Alley also has a pretty good onsite restaurant. I have had champagne brunch there. The shrimp and grits are great!
I am a Louisiana native and glad that you will be visiting.
Some of the shops on the sides of the French Market have great hot sauces and mixes. There is a sweet potato pancake mix from Bruce's Foods thats fun. Go visit Avery Island, home of Tabasco, when you are in New Iberia. Its beautiful and you can get every flavor of Tabasco ever made. If you want to make a drive from NI, there is a restaurant in the casino near Franklin. Its called Mr. Lesters. A bit in the country but its wonderful.
Mr. Lester's Steakhouse is very good. It's in Cypress Bayou Casino in Charenton. Even better than the steaks is the bread basket filled with lovely and numerous types of fresh baked bread. They have the recipe for bread pudding souffle (from Commander's), but it's not on the menu. You can ask if they have it, but you have to order it with the entree, as it takes some time to prepare.
For New Iberia information, I just posted under the I-10 Eateries post with a number of suggestions.
A couple of food items:
Zatarain's Brown Mustard
Ellis Stensel's Popcorn Rice