My family and I don’t have the opportunity to travel very much, and when we do it’s usually in the Midwest. It’s a very cost effective way to get out of town (especially when we can stay with friends or family), and take in some new scenery.
The Midwest is awesome, but I was really itching to take a “real” family vacation where we flew somewhere, and stayed in a hotel. That’s what tax refunds are for, right? The big question was “where should we go?” My husband and I tossed around a few ideas, sticking to cities that were sunny and warm. After being traumatized by the winter we had, this was essential criteria for our vacation spot. Just out of the blue, my husband brought up the idea of taking the kids to New Orleans. It was a no brainer. Our decision had instantly been made.
This was my fifth time in the Big Easy. The previous times I made the trek to the bayou was with friends for Jazz Fest, and let’s just say that my memories of the city were a tad fuzzy. This time we had our kids with us, which meant we had to mostly behave. So, we made it our focus to see as much of the city as possible, and eat everything. We did a very good job at accomplishing both of these tasks, especially the eating part. On a side note… New Orleans is a very family-friendly city with lots to do! Yeah, we took them to Bourbon Street, but when in Rome….
When we first arrived, we walked over to Central Grocery which is an Italian-American grocery store with a sandwich counter. They are known for their famous muffuletta, and if you eat one of these sandwiches it will change your life! The meat, cheese and olive salad stacked between a round Sicilian sesame roll was the best sandwich I have ever had. It’s so simple, yet the flavors are so spot on. It was an awesome way to start our trip.
Another fantastic sandwich we really enjoyed was from Johnny's Po-Boys.
You can get practically anything in a po-boy, so the kids and I enjoyed fried shrimp while Mike devoured a fried oyster po-boy. This was really simplicity at its best. The texture to the bread, the crispiness of the lettuce, the juiciness of the tomatoes and the savoriness of the shrimp all made for an unbeatable combination of ingredients. We ate our sandwiches sitting on the banks of the Mississippi, and it was a bit windy to say the least. We had lettuce flying all over the place!
There were several highlights in between our sandwiches such as bananas foster at The Palace Café, and bignets from Café du Monde, and fried chicken at Mother’s, but the last one I’ll tell you about was at Acme Oyster House.
Mike loves oysters, so eating here was a must. Between the dozen raw and the dozen char grilled, he enjoyed every last bivalve mollusk on his plate. I’m kinda freaked out by oysters, so I ordered a plate of boo fries and a bowl of seafood etouffee, and my mind was blown! Boo fries are a platter of fries smothered in debris. “What’s debris?” you ask. They are the bits and pieces of roast beef that are leftover. They are simmered in gravy, and poured over the fries. Good hangover food, not that I was hungover!
The fries were awesome, but the etouffee was outstanding! The deep and rich level of shellfish flavor that was permeating the stew was astonishing. This was the best dish I ate the whole trip, and that’s saying a lot because everything I ate was wonderful.
I definitely left my heart in NOLA, and I can’t wait to go back. From the people, to the southern hospitality, to the laid-back atmosphere, to the food and its rich history, this city is where it’s at for me.
I had to make sure that the food of New Orleans was represented on the The Chopping Block's June calendar, and that’s how the grilling class New Orleans Brunch on the Grill was born. Come join us on our Lincoln Square patio, so you can immerse yourself in the flavors of the Crescent City.
We just released our June cooking class calendars. Check them out!