If you are in the French Quarter of New Orleans you are either eating or drinking or both. Being the crazy foodie that I am my stay in Nola was all about the food because what they serve in Nola is not what they serve in NorCal.
Can we talk about jambalaya, gumbo, and beignets? There is nothing better than having food from different regions of the country and while I was in New Orleans tasting jambalaya and gumbos from the different restaurants was a culinary experience. I had to figure out if one was cajun or creole. Was it made with tomatoes or a dark roux? Did it have shrimp and crawfish or chicken, okra or the holy trinity? So many questions and so much food history.
One thing I quickly learned was the difference between Cajun and Creole Food, and there is a big difference but both are delicious.
- Cajun Food ~ This is considered country-style food and originated with the French Canadians. Cajun food usually does not have tomatoes and uses hearty meats.
- Creole Food ~ This is considered city food that was developed in New Orleans. Creole foods are rich with sauces and tomatoes and usually contain seafood.
And the beignets, oh let me tell you about these melt in your mouth little-powdered sugar covered fried dough squares, in a nutshell, they are delightful and I ate beignets every day while I was in Nola. Beignets are a French Creole dessert and are basically a little square donut. But doesn’t beignet sound so much better than donut. My hotel was right next to Cafe Beignet which made a perfect spot to enjoy my morning coffee. There was nothing better than sitting in the courtyard and hearing Chris sing gospel at 9 am because you know there is always music in New Orleans. Chris comes every morning to sing.
Beignets going through the cutter for perfect squares.
The reason I was in New Orleans was for a food conference which was held in the heart of the French Quarter. Seeing so many well-known restaurants up and down the streets in beautiful historical buildings was so inspiring. These restaurants are famous for their regional food and using recipes from their humble beginnings.
I hope you like cell phone pics because that is all I had for my tour, please don’t judge.
The iconic Napoleon House on Chartres Street was my first stop and my first taste of the well-known muffuletta sandwich. According to local lore, the upstairs was supposed to house Napoleon in 1821, thusly the name Napoleon House stuck and this beautiful building and bar remain a prime dining and drinking destination. A must try is their muffuletta and a Pimm’s Cup cocktail.
Upstairs dining room with Chef Chris Montero
Brennan’s – Standing outside this classic pink restaurant on Royal Street seems so unassuming until you step inside to see the beautiful interiors and courtyards. Have you ever had Banana’s Foster, this is where it originated and you can still find this and their famous turtle soup on the menu.
Antoine’s – Antoine’s has a history like no other restaurant I know. In 1840 on St. Louis Street, Antoine Alciatore became a restaurateur know worldwide. The famous Oysters Rockefeller was created at Antoine’s and is still on their menu. My tour guide lead me through the numerous dining rooms with names representative of Madi Gras like the Rex Room and the Proteus Room, the Mystery Room named during Prohibition and the 165 x 7-foot wine cellar. This is a dining destination to plan on when visiting the French Quarter.
The beautiful green Rex Room
The old framed menus from 1902 – 1912
Antoine’s Wine Celler
My walking tour took me through a maze of streets in the French Quarter and we passed so many restaurants that advertised their specialties like Po-boy’s, Etouffe, Red Beans and Rice, and Barbequed Shrimp.
My last stop was at Leah’s Pralines for something sweet. After some samples, I could not resist bringing home (hmm, these never made it home) bags of the traditional, creamy and chocolate pralines and some pecan brittle.
See why these pralines didn’t make it home with me. Yes, these are a bit indulgent and I found this a perfect treat with my cup of coffee.
Thank you, Marc Preuss, from Nola DeTours for the wonderful tour through your city and the warm southern hospitality.
The balcony at the Napoleon House
I can’t wait to go back!