Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Food Vacation, Part One

When you live on a Caribbean island like we do, the first question we invariably get when meeting people on vacation is "Why would you need a vacation from there?" Well, as great as it is here, everyone gets a little Island Fever! And of course, we love to try the food in other places. Yes, I'll admit it, our vacations mostly revolve around food!

We just returned from a week in New Orleans and a week on a cruise to Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. New Orleans was split into two parts, four days before the cruise and 3 days after. Our flight arrived after midnight, but it's no problem finding food and drink 24 hours a day. Our hotel on this leg was on the corner of Canal and Bourbon, so we wandered the French Quarter for a few hours checking out some of my favorite bars (I lived here about 10 years ago but haven't been back since. Husband had never been.) Our very late dinner was lots of Krystal burgers (kind of like White Castle) then back to the hotel about 3 am. This is riduculously late for us, but we were up and ready to go again in the morning!

First stop, Pat O'Brien's! I had a Bloody Mary that was the best I've ever had (with pickled green beans!) and breakfast in itself. T's breakfast was three Hurricanes and he was feeling fine!

We both love oysters, and there are some restaurants on the island that serve them, but since they are shipped in, they are NOT GOOD. I don't think you can go wrong finding good oysters in New Orleans. I have heard that there is really only one company that sells to all the restaurants, so it's not worth wasting hours in line at Acme Oyster House with all the other tourists. We decided on Crescent City Brewhouse, where they brew their own beer (and claim you'll never get a hangover from it since there are no preservatives), and sat at the oyster bar. The shucker asked if we would like small, medium, or large (we chose medium) then proceeded to open and choose the best oysters for us.

I like mine on a saltine cracker with cocktail sauce, and I like to chew them. T likes his with hot sauce and gulps them. Either way, they were fantastic!!

On to Muffulattas! The spelling can vary (muffaletta, muffelatta, etc etc), but this is a huge sandwich on a round italian bread with meats and cheeses, and topped with a marinated olive salad. Lots of places sell them and we got ours from Central Grocery, which claims to have invented them. We took it to go and ate in the park. For $13 we shared one sandwich and even had some left over!

We really loved our cooking class when we were in Paris and wanted to find one in New Orleans, but didn't want to take up the whole day, so we decided on a cooking demonstration at the New Orleans School of Cooking. It was about 3 hours long and cost only $25 per person, and included free beer and lunch! Our chef was great- he talked a lot about the history of cooking and food in New Orleans as he walked us through making gumbo, jambalaya, and bread pudding. Unfortunately, I am allergic to green peppers, so I couldn't eat either the gumbo or the jambalya, but they smelled fantastic and T had 2 helping of each! I did have the bread pudding and it was delicious.After lunch, we left the French Quarter, and I showed T around my old neighborhood in the Lower Garden District. We ended up at my favorite neighborhood bar, the Half Moon. The bartender turned out to be a guy I worked with at a different place 10 years ago, and we shared memories over many, many shots of Southern Comfort. This was at one in the afternoon and I will spare you the details of the rest of our day!

Stay tuned for Part Two, on the ship and ports of call!

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