For this post on my recent trip to New Orleans, my topic will food, and my quest to experience everything southern on my culinary adventure.
When Tera asked me what I wanted to do and see during our weekend in New Orleans, I said, "I have no agenda. No agenda, that is, except to eat. I want Southern, down-home, comfort food that I can't get anywhere else. Fried catfish, collard greens, grits, sweet tea - that's all I want. In fact, the more Southern, and unlikely, the better."
Tera did not disappoint.
Starting on Friday afternoon, we crossed into Mobile, Alabama, and immediately set our hearts on a shack in the sky called Felix's Fish Camp. It was a complete eyesore, but the parking lot was completely full, so we decided that was good enough for us to want to give it a chance. My meal was three demi-cups of soup - on each of turtle, clam, and gumbo. Add six oysters prepared three different ways, and a local dark beer, and I felt like I was off to a good start.
Friday evening's dinner was shared with our friends, locals Eric and Kim, and as we listened to Eric tell us about his life growing up around the area, we dined on lump crab meat stuffed catfish with cajun stuffed potatoes, which had been proceeded by an appetizer of oysters in the half shell and gumbo BBQ whole shrimp, and was accompanied by local dark stout beer. Our post-meal included a table at Pat O'Brien's, one of the most frequented bars on Bourbon street, drinking Hurricanes as big as our lower legs.
On Saturday morning, we started with huge coffees and beignets, which are Nola-Famous, fried pillow pastries with powdered sugar on top. When we arrived at brekky, Eric and Kim had already ordered four sets, allowing us to start out our day by filling ourselves plentifully with fried sugary goodness.
Lunch (on the go) was a bottle of water and one New Orleans praline (famous in the South). It was delicious, yet sinful, and brought my daily caloric intake a bit higher (only, though, to even out all the walking (and sweating) we'd done).
Late afternoon dining at the Royal House was a shared appetizer of fried eggplant sticks, and a half-dozen oysters in the half shell for me. I paired this with a huge, huge pale ale, which not only quenched my thirst, but set me on a good buzz for the rest of the afternoon (not shocking, having only eaten sugar and coffee for the bulk of the morning). Of course, I had a bite or two of Zach's gator po-boy, which was fried and delicious as well, but did not make me any less tipsy.
Dinner Saturday evening started out with some fresh mussels, followed by whole fried soft shell crab (meaning you eat the shell and all!) topped with a creamy sauce of artichoke hearts, both complemented by the darkest beer on tap. Zach and I shared this, and then followed up with a piece of down-South, home-baked sweet potato cheesecake.
Sunday presented us with a double-car breakdown and an unexpected night in Biloxi, MS (of all places) which allowed us to make multiple cups of lemonade out of the lemons we were thrown. Unfortunately, our great culinary adventure for the day included, in it's highlights, Starbucks coffee and Dairy Queen ice cream, which, in dire situations, can actually make a sour situation slightly better.
Regardless, the day ended with my stomach on a bit of a dive, probably less from Sunday's sugar rush than from all the WTF foods I had eaten over the weekend. I don't regret a single bite, though, and am glad for having had the chance to partake in such down-South, home-cooked classics. Even if it did include a caramel latte or two...