Our Christmas visit to New Orleans (Dec 25-30, 2009) (LONG)
We just returned from a wonderful whirlwind of a visit to your fair city. As many have said before, I'm already planning our next visit back. (More po'boys, though, for sure.)
December 25- Happy Christmas! We arrived at Louis Armstrong International at around 2:30ish, and took a cab to our hotel (Hotel Bienville on Decatur). After checking in, freshening up, and orienting ourselves, we went to the Absinthe Bar for a Sazerac before hitting Restaurant August for our 6pm reservation. We were a little early, and we had a couple of drinks at the bar there- I had another Sazerac followed by a great French 75. My husband had a couple bottles of the Abita seasonal pecan beer, which sounded weird but was actually pretty great.
On to the meal! Tom wanted the 4 course tasting menu and I wanted the 7 course Reveillon menu- we were informed that the entire table needed to order the 7 course meal, due to timing issues, but Tom was able to sub out as many courses as he wanted to, so he subbed out 3 courses. It worked out great! I had the wine pairings, which were very nice. Here's how it broke down, I will refrain from commenting, because I don't want this to be too long, but everything was AWESOME, one of the 3 best meals of my life (The French Laundry being one of the others)
Amuse: truffle whipped seafood sabayon with fish fume custard served in an eggshell with a brioche crouton and caviar,
Course 1: Spiced pain perdu and roast fois gras with persimmon. Tom said that it was one of the best things he'd ever put in his mouth. (pairing: Champagne, Jean Claude Thevenet, Brut Blanc de Blanc.)
Course 2: Brouillade aux truffle- La Provence farmed eggs, Perigord truffle. so simple, so good. (pairing: Chardonnay, J.M. Boillot 1 er Cru Montagny, Burgundy, 2007.)
Course 3: I had the turtle soup "grand mere" finished off with Pedro Jimenez sherry. (pairing: Zinfendel Surh Luchtel Napa Valley 2006.)
* Tom had the acorn squash mezze luna with satsuma, local chestnuts, and fennel.
Course 4: I had the pocket roast of veal breast with P&G oyster dressing and glazed turnips. (pairing: Tempernillo Marques de Murrieta Reserva, Finca Ygay, Rioja, Spain. 2005.)
* Tom had the slow-cooked venison shoulder with spatzle, braised red cabbage, and stuffed lady apple (stuffed with a dried fruit compote).
Course 5: slow cooked Christmas goose with cranberry, "cracklin" and goose liver stuffed knoedel (potato). There were also braised leeks, and the goose was served both sliced and in a pate/terrine-esque fashion. (pairing: Bordeaux, Chateau de Crusveau, Pessac Leognan, France, 2005.)
Course 6: blue cheese semifreddo with quince, pomegranate and pecan brittle (pairing: Muscat de Beaume de Venise Reserve, Vidal-Fleury, France, 2007.
* Tom: Crispy fried "berliners" with cranberries, meyer lemon, and rosemary.
Course 7: Warm fall fruit stuffed seckel pear with vanilla cinnamon mousse and candied chestnuts. (pairing: Madeira, Rare Wine Co., Historic Series, "Boston" Bual Reserve, Portugal)
Happy and full, we went back to the hotel and went to bed.
December 26: Commander's Palace for brunch. I had: Oyster & Absinthe Dome, the Eggs Pontabla, and the pecan pie. Also several cocktails: Bloody Mary, Sidecar, Whoa Nellie (rye, rum, bitters, cointreau) and a Whiskey Smash. Tom had the gumbo with oysters and redfish, couchon au lait & eggs, bread pudding souffle. He also had a Brandy Milk Punch and a couple Adelaide Swizzles, a rum, peychaud, lime, and soda concoction.)
CP was great atmosphere, and the cocktails were awesome. But the food was kind of lacking. Little things like an oyster having bits of its shell still in it and cooked into the dish. Tom's gumbo had shrimp that tasted like chlorine. The other dishes were tasty enough, but it was like they could have taken it up a notch. There was a lot of potential there, and we had a lovely time, but maybe it was coming off the excellent meal we'd just had at August, it was a bit of a letdown.
After lunch we went on a bit of a bender- Went to the Carousel Bar, had a few cocktails- Tom had a Pisco Sour there that he really loved, I had a Vieux Carre and there were a few other drinks there before moving to the Chart House, where the Abita Ambers are $2.50 and the Manhattans are FINE. Then to Mr. B's for a Pimms Cup, Gumbo Ya-Ya (which we loved) and the BBQ Shrimp, which I was bummed to discover I didn't like! Then off to Cafe du Monde for Cafe au laits and beignets.
December 27: Sunday of the Christmas weekend- we tried to hit Napoleon House and Green Goddess, but were denied. We wandered about and eventually hit the Gumbo House, had seafood & okra gumbo and red beans & rice (Tom) and boudin and jambalaya for me. I also had a delicious bloody mary. Then we went to Crescent City Brewing to watch the game and have a couple German-style beers, and then went to Stanley for a snack. I was craving something beefy, so I ordered the Korean BBQ po'boy, which came with delicious house made kimchee and pretty much RAW beef. It was OK, I ate some of it, figuring that I didn't want to seem like a philistine hick, and that seems to be the way it's served (according to the review that also bitched about it that was at the entrance) but I wish that had been indicated on the menu, because I would have just ordered the burger instead. Tom got more gumbo (a chicken, anduille, and shrimp one) and he liked it a lot, and we also enjoyed our milkshakes. (chocolate and chocolate malt)
We met some friends who have been to New Orleans quite a bit (the husband grew up in Walker, Louisiana) again at the Carousel. Then we went up to the Port of Call on Esplanade, and waited quite a while to sit and eat a pretty decent cheeseburger with a baked potato on the side! Heh. It was fun. The signature Monsoon drink was too sweet for my taste. I nursed it for like 3 hours.
December 28: We went back to Stanley because I coveted the Eggs Benedict po'boy and Tom coveted the Bananas Foster French Toast., and they were delicious. Lunch was at a Cuban place on Magazine Street called Liborio's. I had the fired chicken with garlic mojo and black beans & rice. Tom had the Medianoche Cuban sandwich (same as regular but on a Cuban sweet bread). Couple of mojitos, it was a lovely lunch. After a couple of surprisingly tasty hurricanes at Lafitte's Blacksmith Tavern, we had a great dinner was a lovely American Chinese feast at Five Happiness. After getting dropped off at our hotel, we wandered to Iris for a cocktail, which turned into 3 because they were all so cool sounding!
I had: Delilah (Aviation Gin, Pineapple-Balsamic, Thai Basil, and St. Germaine); Reba (Hendrick's Gin, Mulled Pinot Noir Syrup, Satsuma, Meyer Lemon, Kumquat Bitters) and Fall Guy (40 Fuegos Pisco, Spiced Apple-Honey Syrup, Benedictine, Pecan Bitters)
Tom had: a fantastic off-menu orange concoction with satsuma and.... mini satsumas? Looked like a kumquat but wasn't? Also a Genevieve (Patron Anejo Tequila, Louisiana Grapefruit Syrup, Galangal, Local Citrus Bitters, Nino Franco Prosecco) and Twin Span (Green Chartreuse , Lillet Blanc, Rose syrup, Local Naval Orange, Lime.)
December 29: Mostly nibbled through the day- Cafe du Monde again, a couple of po'boys (roast beef and steak) at Jumani. And then we had an incredible meal at Couchon. I had the fried boudin and the signature couchon (slow roasted pork dish with cracklins and....OMG, Homer Simpson drooling noises) and the upside down pineapple cake with coconut-lime sorbet. Tom had the black eye pea and pork gumbo (of course) and the rabbit & dumplings and rice pudding. We also shared the smothered greens, baked stuffed potato, and the paneed pork cheeks with goat cheese arugula & beet rösti. Tom wasn't thrilled with his rabbit, but everything else was really excellent.
December 30: going home! Sob. Got a muffeletta from Central Grocery which has been consumed over the course of yesterday and today. I should have gotten 2. SO GOOD.
OK, sorry this was so long, but THANK YOU to New Orleans for treating us so well! Can't wait to go back. I still have a list a mile long of stuff to eat and drink. Aieee!