The Best of New Orleans!

My Christmas present to the Bogan this year – and the Bogan’s Christmas present to me – was a trip to the Jazz capital of the world, New Orleans. We flew down for four wonderful nights over the Easter long weekend – perfectly timed for Spring weather and to avoid the busy tourist season (although it was still pretty busy).

We indulged ourselves the whole time, i ate my body weight in seafood – specifically oysters, soaked up the live music, drank hurricanes (not recommended) and played tourist. But my departing feeling of the city is that it is somewhere i could see myself living. The summer vibe, picturesque buildings (particularly in the Garden District), and friendly inhabitants makes it difficult to leave. It was almost a little reminiscent of Cairns, Australia – minus the picturesque buildings… and substitute friendly inhabitants for bogans… so not really similar at all, just strangely nostalgic.

Here are a few tips for anyone planning a trip. We found four nights to be the perfect amount of time to tick every box.

Accomodation

If you are not already familiar with “The Negotiator” on Priceline, it is time to be introduced. I’m talking a 4-star, king-sized bed room at The Westin in the French Quarter for $70 a night. 60%  of the regular room rate. Brilliant. The hotel was in a perfect location – far enough from Bourbon Street that you won’t leave with a hearing disorder, but close enough that you were still “amongst it”. Plus, it had a rooftop pool with almost 360 degree views across the Mississippi River, French Quarter and neighboring districts, and deck chairs to help you digest it.

To Do

Jazz on Frenchman Street – If you want real Jazz, walk to Bourbon St… and keep walking. Frenchman street is where the authentic stuff lives. Try Snug Harbor and the place next door to it, but the whole street has some excellent gigs.

I should also add that The Bogan had his best meal of the trip after a night out on Frenchman St – it was served up from the back of a ute (or sports utility vehicle, i think)! We were drinking at some bar with a balcony that overlooked the street and below us were two guys that had a couple of grills set up in the trunk of their car and they were cooking “Johnny’s Jamaican Chicken and Rice”. So after we decided to turn in for the night, The Bogan made a beeline for Johnny’s trailer. 6 bucks later and he was feasting on this stuff, couldn’t get enough. As soon as we got home, The Bogan had googled and ordered (from Jamaica) two bottles of Jerk Chicken rub… our BBQ’s are the talk of the town.

Kerb-side dining - Johnny's Jamaican Chicken at 3am

Feed alligators from an air boat – this is something that could easily be overlooked if you haven’t been given the tipoff, but having done it, i’m telling you, you have to do it! Think – fast boat, surprisingly beautiful marshes and lots and lots of alligators. Our charismatic driver even got down to pat the [alleged] largest/oldest alligator in their parts.

Old Man Alligator

Audubon Park and the Garden District – This park is beautiful, full of old oak trees. Nearby, down Market St, is the Garden District – wonder these streets, the iron work on these old creole buildings is amazing and the gardens are gorgeous. If you can pick up a walking guide from somewhere it will also provide you with info about the history of some of these residences, dating back hundreds of years.

Drinking 

Pat O Briens – On Bourban St, a pretty outdoor beer garden, literally – with a fountain in the middle!  Try the infamous Nola Hurricane, but only if you like sugary drinks.

The Bulldog – Another great beer garden located outside of the French Quarter. This pub is on Magazine St and not to far past the Garden District. They have a large choice of beers on tap… treat yourself!

Napoleon House – One of our favorite places in the French Quarter. This old building was home to Nicholas Girod, mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815.  During that time, he offered his residence to Napoleon in 1821 as a refuge during his exile. There is plenty of old world charm in this establishment and a gorgeous courtyard with tables dotted about it, the bar in the front room is also very inviting. Order the refreshing house speciality, a Pimms Cup – gin, soda, lemon-lime soda and cucumber.

Window seat at Napoleon House

Eating

Last, but certainly not least – where to eat!

If you can’t get into Acme because there is a line out the door and down the street, head to Deanie’s. This is where i tried my first crawfish, which was not at all what i was expecting. Crawfish, as it happens, are very small and when you eventually extract the meat from their tail, there is not a lot there. So, in conclusion, Crawfish are not worth the effort it takes to peel them!

Deanie’s is also good on another level – if you’re traveling with a seafood-aphobe. The Bogan ordered a steak and left the restaurant in a good mood which means it must have been a pretty amazing piece of meat – even if you do have to send it back to the kitchen once to get the temperature right.

I was on a mission to eat my body weight in oysters while in Nola as i’ve been deprived of them for so long, dating a Bogan that won’t eat seafood! So on our first night i found a bar on Bourbon St and ordered a beer and a dozen oysters… needless to say, they were sensational.

We were sitting at Pier 424 Seafood Market. One half of this restaurant is done up Texan style, the other half looks like a separate establishment with a nice granite bar running lengthways. We pulled up a pose here, close to the street for some people watching action. However, little did we know (actually, i speak for myself – there’s a good chance The Bogan knew), we were about to get some extra special people watching with the “Barely Legal” Club located right across the street.

Green Goddess – I enjoyed the favorite meal of my trip at this little cafe. The pictures will do the talking, but this crab, watermelon and mango salad was absolutely melt-in-your-mouth sensational! It’s located on Exchange Alley in the French Quarter and you can dine al fresco!

A line of arugula topped with watermelon and mango slices with Laffitte blue crab tossed with mango purée topped with chili salt, Honduran crema, and Saba

While The Bogan doesn’t eat seafood, he had some kind of pancake and i believe it was the South Indian Savory Ivory Lental Pancake (known as Utthappam) with green peas, mustard seeds, kalonji and spiced tomatoes. It was also served with tamarind chutney and crunchy, spicy dal.

We also shared a Boudin Patty, just for shits and giggles – the folks at the table next to us recommended that we gave it a go! I remember liking it, it was made with pork meat and i believe also had pork blood added. They served it to us with some style of pepper jelly and cane syrup.

Central Grocery is apparently the place to go to try the “muffaletta” – a sandwich of salami, swiss cheese and olive salad. However, unfortunately i can’t vouch for Central Grocery as, on this long weekend, they were closed. But next door at Frank’s Restaurant they also make a mean muffaletta to rival the “original”.  Before ordering this unbelievable sandwich you should note – a whole muffaletta is 2 meals, order a half or share. We also had ours toasted which might be venturing from the norm, but it was definitely yum!

Take note - the size!

The other food i’d been told to sample while in Nola was a Po-Boy. It turned out that the first morning we arrived, i was eating a Po-Boy (mainly because i didn’t feel like eggs and there wasn’t much else on the menu that grabbed me). I ordered the roll with shrimp from a small cafe on Royal St – Pere Antoine Restaurant. From what i understand, traditionally they’re either served with fried shrimp or oysters, on a baguette. My dish had some lettuce and a piece of tomato on the side, along with fries. It severely lacked sauce, like a tartare or something, anything. They offered me some seafood sauce which improved it a little, but I’ve tried it and i don’t need to try it again.

We had a very enjoyable, if unspectacular dinner, at Sylvain. This restaurant had an intimate, dimly lit vibe and attractive clientele. We had to wait for a table, so sat at the bar, in the meantime we decided just to stay there and order. I had watched plates of the fried eggplant pass by, covered in freshly grated parmigiano reggiano and served with lemon aioli – it was to tempting to pass up! We shared an appetizer and unfortunately it didn’t taste quite as good as it looked. They were heavily crumbed and i almost felt like i was eating all casing – the eggplant flesh was lost. For main i had the fish special, while The Bogan had meat and we both felt our dishes were good, but not great. However in terms of atmosphere and service, Sylvain was definitely buzzing – and the food wasn’t bad, just not write-home-about-it material!

Anyone who has visited New Orleans will probably tell you that your trip is not complete without a visit to Cafe Du Monde for coffee and beignets. This place is an institution and it’s just one of those boxes you have to tick. Basically, for the beignet-virgin (like myself), they are kind of like a doughnut, but an odd shape, and covered in icing (aka confectioners) sugar.

Finally, if you’re in the market for some late-night grub, Clover Grill will do the trick. Also on Bourbon St, i stopped in here on the way back from Frenchman St for a grilled cheese sandwich. It served its purpose!

… so that’s New Orleans! Hopefully these pictures gave you a small taste of this vibrant city and maybe even convinced you it’s time to go check it out (if you haven’t already)!

If you have any questions, shoot me a comment and i’ll see what i can do.

Happy eating, folks!

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Comments
4 Responses to “The Best of New Orleans!”
  1. Caroline Sleeman says:

    Great photo’s Bec, love the look of Johnny’s Jamaican chicken and even more memorable at 3am, I’m sure!!

  2. Nicole Favretto says:

    Definitely on the list for next time! x

    • Bec Sleeman says:

      You and Tik would love New Orleans, Fav!!!

      P.s. Justin ate a whole packet of my pig lollies you sent me, so angry. i didn’t get 1!!! Almost had smoke coming out of my ears :/

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