Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Fat Girl's New Orleans Foodie Adventure, Day 3.... and 1/4

Although I am the designated meal planner for our trips, I sometimes let my husband pick a place. He picked a little place around the corner from the hotel which I had coincidentally bookmarked on Yelp as a potentatial breakfast spot - score! The Ruby Slipper Cafe had awesome Yelp reviews, so my expectations were obviously pretty high. This little breakfast spot hidden behind the madness that is Canal Street. We went in on a Wednesday around 10 so we were seated right away. Our server was super sweet and knew the menu well. 

My husband ordered the Breakfast Sandwich with easy over eggs, cheddar and sausage on a biscuit with a fruit salad on the side.

I ordered the Ruby’s Basic Breakfast easy over eggs, cheddar, bacon, grits and a biscuit. Hmmm... grits! Perfect creamy cheesy grits just as one would expect in Louisiana.

Everything was on point. The biscuits were awesome - probably the best we've had. We're still talking about them a week later. Super fluffy. Drool!

We debated on their pancakes but our server sold us on the Bananas Foster Pain Perdu- ”Pain Perdu”, or lost bread, is a french bread-based French toast served with applewood smoked bacon and topped with our Bananas Foster topping. Delicious! We also offer Pain Perdu without the topping. Seriously, if you are dying and have one wish, let this dish be it. WOW. Perfect bread, perfect sauce, perfect sweet caramelly bananas - perfect everything. It was incredible. Oh, wait, forgot to mention, it comes with bacon... of course it does. Dip that bacon in the caramel sauce and it's heaven.

Day 3 was ruined by a horrible storm with tornado warning and all. Our plan was to drive to Covington, about an hour north, to visit the Abita Brewery for a tour and tasting. You know when you go on a trip and have that one thing that you're looking forward to the most? Yeah, this was it. I had dreams of drowning myself in Abita's seasonal brews and my all time favorite beer, Purple Haze. But no, no sir - as we jumped on I-10 we were greeted by lighting and hail and said hell to the no and reluctantly turned around. Did I mention Abita is my favorite beer in the whole wide world? FML. FML x 10!!!

We ended up the Audobon Aquarium, which was meh. Nice if you have kiddos but not nice for an angry inner fat girl who's boozy dreams were squashed by Mother Nature's wrath. We couldn't go very far so decided on another highly recommended spot for lunch, ACME Oyster House in the French Quarter. We got lucky and didn't have to wait, it seems wating is the norm in this place and I don't really see why. This is a local chain and it felt as such. Or maybe it was my mood. I'm not sure, I just didnt have a good time here.

We ordered crab chowder, chicken & andoullie gumbo, red beans and rice, chargrilled oysters, hush puppies, and the Fried Peace Maker Po Boy. Everything was average - except the oysters. Those were awesome. They were humongous and covered in crusty melty cheese. We put them inside the bread and it was really good. Greasy, but good.

My husband loved the Po Boy - fried oysters and shrimo with Tabasco infused mayo. They messed up my half and added lettuce and tomato so all I did was pick the fried stuff out and eat it. It wasnt greasy but it was way too breaded for my taste.

Everything else was just average and not worth going into detail about. I didn't care for this place. But here's some pics...

I had my heart set on Abita, but my husband had his heart set on one thing: bread pudding! I had bookmarked Mother's since seeing Sunny Anderson feature it on Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate. The place is nothing fancy, just a little diner with an old school vibe. The staff is friendly and welcoming, the place is clean and smells like home cooking. The place was pretty empty so we didn't have to brave the long line Sunny warned about on the episode. We ordered the bread pudding and oh-em-gee - it did not disappoint. Perfectly sweet, gooey, crispy at the top, with chunks of fruit cocktail here and there - delicious. We also had some coffee, which was yummy and complimented the indulgence quite well. A definite must-do while in NOLA.

 For dinner we took a walk to Frenchmen Street on the other side of the French Quarter in search of a little place called Cafe Negril which came highly recommended by a ex-Miamian now living in the area. She spoke highly of the bars, music and of tacos at a little stand in the back of this place. I grabbed an Abita Strawberry Harvest to go (my new favorite beer! Amazing stuff, beer that has a strawberry shortcake after taste is just too much goodness for my soul!) and made the long walk to the other side of town.

Frenchmen Street is interesting. We got there before the fun started in the bars but the party was bumpin' on the streets - pick your poison and someone on that street was either smoking it, popping it, or snorting it right then and there.

Anyways, we got there while the band was setting up so we really didnt have a chance to enjoy the scene. There is a randon little kitchen in the back with a lady making all sorts of Mexican goodies. We ordered the pineapple pork tacos and chicken tacos. Both were yummy - very authentic - but overly salty which didn't fall well on sober tongues. I imagine they would probably taste like a million bucks after a few beers.

We made one last stop at Cafe Du Monde - it was the perfect end to a crappy day.

Day 4 - aka Day 3 1/4

We woke up to another hideous rainy day and as we drove to the airport we made one last stop at another place I found courtesy of Yelp. Ever since our trip to San Francisco last year and visiting the incredible Dynamo Donuts, we've developed a serious obsession with donuts. Not just Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme, but gourmet donuts. Check out my review. So I did some digging and found Blue Dot Donuts. This place was serious - there's was so much to choose from it was almost overwhelming. We decided to behave ourselves and just order 6, even though the Maple Bacon Log counts for 3 on it's own. This is the place of places to get some gourmet donuts. We had the Maple Glazed, Blueberry Glazed, Apple Crumble, Cinnamon Sugar, Strawberry Cake, Chocolate Sprinkles and of course, the Maple Bacon Log. Each one was special in it's own way. The cake itself is cakey and delicious. The Maple Bacon Log took the cake - how can you ever go wrong with thick chunks of bacon and sweet, rich maple frosting? Sadly, they didn't have the red velvet cake donut which I really wanted to try, but I'm planning to call them and see if they can ship me some.

From L to R: Maple Glazed, Blueberry Glazed, Apple Crumble, Cinnamon Sugar, Strawberry Cake, Chocolate Sprinkles

The magnificient Maple Bacon Log in all it's glory

Maple Glazed

Blueberry Glazed

Apple Crumble - filled with real spiced apples

So that's the story - The Fat Girl's NOLA foodie adventure concludes with a BANG! Can't wait to start planning my next foodie trip! Seattle? Chicago? Stay tuned!

The Fat Girl's New Orleans Foodie Adventure, Day 2

After an eventful first day of indulgence... on to day 2 we go!

Breakfast was at a little place by Jackson Square. I found Stanley via Yelp (duh!) in my quest for an incredible breakfast. I, my friends, love me some good breakfast. We took a nice walk from our hotel to the Jackson Square area where we got an awesome spot by the window overlooking the (gasp!) homeless folk drinking vodka out of buckets (no joke) at 10:00am. Nice. As creepy as these people were the people watching was a great way to pass the time while we waited for our food. 

I ordered the Eggs Stella - Cornmeal-Crusted Soft-Shell Crab, Poached Eggs, Canadian Bacon and Creole Hollandaise on Toasted English Muffin. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED my dish. The crab was meaty and juicy, the hollandaise sauce was spicy enough but not dangerous. The eggs were a little runny for my taste but overall it was really good.

Yes, that's a WHOLE crab dry humping my eggs benedict

My husband didn't like his meal, but then again, he got the most boring thing on the menu. Everything was good in my opinion, but why would you go this far and order something you can get at Denny's? He had the Stanley Classic ~ Scrambled Eggs, Smoked Bacon, Creole Breakfast Potatoes, and Whole Wheat Toast. He gets what he deserves for being lame. I would've gone for the Corn Beef Hash...but whatever.

We also shared a Pancake with Louisiana Cane Syrup. The pancake was thin but fluffy and the cane syrup was FLG! I regret not buying a bottle while in NOLA. Then again maybe it's not such a bad thing - I'd put that shit on everything.

Overall it was a great meal and I would highly recommend it for anyone in NOLA seeking a unique breakfast/brunch experience. My only regret - not leaving enough room for this: Stella Uptown - Three Scoops of Rum Raisin Ice Cream, Carrot Cake, Sweet Cream Cheese Sauce, Whipped Cream, Toasted Walnuts and a Cherry. FML.

Next up - we drove to the Oak Alley Plantation about an hour away from the city. We didn't eat anything here, but here's a couple of pics of the property since it was nice. And of our juleps, which were pretty good. Good and strong, burned going down, but good.

Since there was nothing remotely interesting to eat nearby (and I'm not wasting calories at a tourist trap cafe on the plantation grounds) we made a hungry drive back to NOLA in search for another great Yelpy find: Dat Dog!

OMG. One of the best stops on the trip. This is a tiny little shack filled with nothing but amazing food and super nice people.

The menu is extensive and made me wish I had multiple stomachs like lucky livestock. The dogs are served on steamed and toasted sourdough buns which were so good. They must bake it in-house because it was very fresh. I ordered an Alligator Sausage dog topped with sour cream, guacamole, and cheddar cheese as recommended by the super nice dude behind the counter. My gator dog was awesome - the flavor of the sausage was very different and super flavorful. The toppings were on point and they gave it some cool since the dog had a little heat.

My husband ordered Louisiana Smoked Sausage dog topped with chili, onions, cheese, the works. it was also very good - the chili was awesome.

We also ordered their cheddar/bacon/ranch fries which delicious - super rich, the bacon was chunky, the ranch was creamy, the cheese melty and plenty, the perfect companion to our dogs.

After inhaling triple the amount of calories any human should consume in a week, what do we find right next door? A cake shop. But not just any cake shop, the most amazing cake shop ever. Yes, I said it: EVER. This place makes me want to have parties and plan events to give myself a guiltless excuse to stuff my face with cake.

Since we were overly stuffed from our lunch, we took it easy and ordered just 2 cake pops from their beautiful selection of goodies. Their cakepops are bigger than any I've ever seen, which just adds to their charm and mystique. We had the white cake filled with salted caramel and the classive red velvet filled with cream cheese. The white cake was awesome - the sweetness and perfect texture of the cake mixed with the creaminess and hint of salt from the caramel was out of control. The red velvet was perfect - the cream cheese was awesome. The moistness of the cakes were on point - I've had plenty of cakepops and these little guys take the cake.

After several hours of a food come/nap and serious indigestion, we had our first and biggest heartbreak on this trip. Dining at Jacques-Imo's Cafe came highly recommended by my dear friend who reported this being the only place she went to more than once during her time living in NOLA. The place is super cool - crazy decor, awesome menu, ridiculous wait (90 minutes... not a minute more, not a minute less)...
My favorite beer - Abita's Purple Haze. Had my first Amber Abita and loved it. Abita is officially my favorite brewing co.

The bar @ Jacques-Imo's Cafe

Given the stellar recommendation, great first impression and insane wait time (on a Tuesday) we had incredibly high expectations. We had some beers while we waited. The place has very cool bar scene, very chill and casual.

We were sat in the back and ordered a few things to start - the infamous alligator & shrimp cheesecake, fried green tomatos, and crab cakes. We also indulged in their amazing cornbread muffins. The garlicky topping is so buttery and flavorful. The muffin itself was sweet and tasty. I had 4 by myself. Shame....

The alligator cheesecake was great - super rich, meaty, fluffy, creamy - thick chunks of shrimp and alligator were all over so that was a good time.

 My husband didn't like the fried green toms, they were overly salty and the shrimp portion was skimpy.

The crabcakes were super, duper salty. So salty we couldnt finish them.

We were looking forward to washing down the saltiness with their amazing bread pudding so skipped the entree and went straight to dessert. Sadly, they were out of bread pudding. Major, epic, wordly fail. We left sad and salty and not very pleased.  I wish I could go back and give them another shot b/c my friend spoke so highly and the place seems to have something to keep full and busy.

Take asome Pepto or Dulcolax and stay tuned for day 3...

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Fat Girl's New Orleans Foodie Adventure, Day 1.

Most people make vacation plans based on attractions, historical sites, events, whatever. Me? I make my vacations about one thing and one thing only: stuffing my face with the most amazing food my destination has to offer. Before I book flights or hotels I do plenty of research on the food in the area in order to decide if the distance is worth it. Once a decision has been made I make our itinerary based around our 3 meals, nothing else. We went to NOLA to celebrate our 3 year anniversary. We traveled Monday through Thursday in order to avoid crazy weekend waits in a such a hot tourist destination. Such savvy (hungry!) travelers we are! Let the games begin...

First stop of many, Green Goddess, which came highly recommended by both Yelpers and a fellow foodie friend who knows her stuff. We made this our first stop in NOLA since we arrived around brunch time.

The place is located in a colorful little alleyway connecting 2 busy streets in the French Quarter. We sat outside to enjoy the gorgeous weather and take in the sights. And by sights I mean getting our first taste of NOLA people watching - truly one of the best places ever. Our waiter was nice and knew the menu well. We decided he was no longer nice and just a jackhole when he completely ignored us after Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Isla Fisher arrived. Hopefully they tipped him well. The guy who took care of us afterwards was nicer and more attentive and agreed the other guy was douchy for deserting us.

Anyways, back to what matters: food! I ordered the pressed crab sandwich, my husband ordered the Cuban Luau sandwich. Both were served on incredibly tasty and fluffy French bread which was out of this world. My crab sandwich was a winner - tons of crabmeat in a spicy cheesy sauce. Pure beauty. Hubby's sandwich was also pretty delicious - pulled pork, pickled banana peppers, salami, manchego and pineapple w/ garlic aioli. The flavors were perfect together, I hate peppers and pickled anything and didn't even realize there was something in there I don't usually like. Both were served with nice little side salads.
Pressed Crab Sandwich

Cuban Luau

For dessert, we lived mega-dangerously and had their Notorious Bacon Sundae. Hold on to your panties - pecan praline ice cream, bacon, bacon caramel sauce, lava salts and whipped cream. Truly one of the most beautiful and decadent desserts I have ever come across. The caramel bacon sauce is something I only thought existed in my inner fat girl's bucket list. My husband laughed since the spoon didn't reach the very bottom of the cup and I was struggling for dear life. If it wasn't for Hollywood royalty sitting near by I would've stuck my hand down the glass to get the last bit. Shame.

The menu is incredibly creative - it's a shame we were only in NOLA for 3 days. I would've loved to have had a chance to try more items.

Next up, we decided to take a walk around the French Quarter, which is incredibly stinky but charming in a weird way. Maybe it's the arquitecture, the little shops, the street performers, the temptation to stop and eat at every place we walked by... not sure, but the place has lots to offer. After our stroll we decided to make a stop at the famous Cafe Du Monde for beignets and coffee.

Cafe Du Monde had me nervous as most places this famous tend to be tourist traps and almost always disappoint, however, this place was so good we even went back on our last night. Crowded? Yes. Crazy? Yes. Busy? Yes. Worth all of the above? Hell Yes! We ordered beignets, hot chocolate and coffee. Their hot choc was so good - rich enough to feel indulgent but not syrupy or overpowering. The beignets were warm, fluffy, with just the right amount of crisp. The powder sugar was heavy but one little dust/shake and it was perfection. We were lucky enough to catch some awesome jazzy drum music by street performers by the patio. The music made the experience feel very NOLA which was awesome on our first day.

Another stop on this stroll was the famous Southern Candymakers which is known for their pralines. This place smells like heaven as it is stuffed to the gills with all sorts of sweet creations. We had pralines: plain, sweet potato, chocolate, rum - all were delicious. Sweet potato was my favorite. Hubby also bought turtles, which were super creamy and the perfect snack to have in the room.

For dinner, we decided to follow a very high recommendation from a former NOLA resident and dear friend. She spoke highly of Dick & Jenny's and expressed her regrets in not having dined there during her time living in NOLA.

NOTE: Save this meal to be your last if visiting NOLA.

Dick & Jenny's ruined our trip to NOLA. D&J's set the bar so damn high that every morsel we put in our mouth from then on just lead us to say "This is good... but D&J's..." So thank you D&J, for destroying my dreams of endless "aha! moments" while in this magnificent city...

We ordered the soup du jour, which was crab bisque topped with a crab beignet. This dish was awesome - the soup was incredibly rich and flavorful and the crab beignet is everything you would imagine a perfect crab beignet would be. It enhanced the best qualities in the ingredients - the sweetness and meatiness of the crab plus the fluffiness and crisp of a perfect beignet. Meaty, fluffy, crispy... amazing.

I ordered the Garlicky Escargot РSaut̩ed Escargot, Neuske Bacon & Mushrooms
 in a Garlicky Butter Reduction. The bacon and escargot combination gave the dish a richness and flavor combo that was outrageous. The bread was also very good - perfect to dip in the sauce (and wipe your plate clean, you know, if that's how you roll.)

Hubby ordered the Fried Green Tomatoes Topped with a Dill-Tarragon Shrimp Ravigote & Red Pepper Aioli. I hate tomatoes but I ate this and enjoyed it. The shrimp was plump and fresh and it's sweetness worked well with the spice in the aioli.

We stuffed ourselved retarded with the cornbread brought to us - the butter it comes with was addicting. It was so rich and just... buttery. Like in your face buttery. As in no holds barred, full on fat, artery clogging butter. The best butter ever.

We made an executive decision and bypassed the entree in order to leave room for dessert. I reluctantly allowed my dear spouse to choose the dessert since I had chosen dessert earlier (bacon sundae!) and he went for the Chocolate Amaretto Cake – Layered with Chocolate Ganache, Topped with Toasted Almonds & Amaretto Whipped Cream. The cake itself wasn't very flavorful, but that's a-OK since it allowed the rich and creamy ganache and amaretto whipped cream to shine in the spotlight. The cake was massive but we inhaled it. All.

Also, most importantly, service was impeccable. Hunter, our server, was the best server we've had in a while. He was attentive, polite, and made excellent recommendations.

I said it before and I'll say it again, save this meal to be your last if visiting NOLA as the bar will be set so high you will just be filled with sadness as you venture through the city like a crackhead searching to relive for their first high.

So that's day 1... stay tuned for day 2.