Saturday, March 28, 2009
NEW ORLEANS DAY ONE
We’ve come to see the Indians, but don’t think I haven’t been thinking about food for the last two weeks.
We thought about renting bicycles for this trip, but in the end went with a car rental. First place we hit is Tujague’s. Tujague’s is the second oldest restaurant in New Orleans. It sits at the corner of Decatur and Madison, in the French Quarter. I have been to Tujauge’s before, but it’s been 25 years. I had been reading about it and we put it first on the list, cause that’s what ya do when you first get to New Orleans, ya get a Bloody Mary. The bar was beautiful nothing else but time and cigarette smoke can make a place look like that. Tujauge’s was not crowded at 11 a.m. which was nice, but they didn’t do lunch and the drinks we’re only ok, so after two and one to go we set out looking for a photo exhibition and tacos.
We found the Taco joint and it was closed so we went instead to the photo exhibit.
I had read about a Micheal P Smith exhibit at The Historic New Orleans Collection. Click on them and read all about this awesome show. They do good work. Michael P. Smith was a photographer and also helped start the music hall Tipitina’s. He documented New Orleans from the inside. The exhibit was broken down into different parts with titles like Spirit world, Rhythms of the street, Jazz funerals, Mardi Gras Indians and Tipitina’s and Musicians. It was a beautiful show and most all the photos were in black and white, fitting for New Orleans.
So we left the photo exhibit and came across the Royal House. It is an oyster bar and just what we needed. It’s a nice place, not a hole in the wall which I prefer when in NOLA, but we bellied up to the bar and ordered a couple Bloody Marys and a dozen raw oysters. The oysters came fast and there were 14 of them, the drinks were a little slower. So we ate and drank all that and ordered another round. Again 14 oysters and two Bloody Marys. But, don’t think we were just wasting our time with oysters and “just ok” Bloody Marys. No, we were talking to the guy shucking our oysters, we were talking Fried Chicken. We ask his favorite spot for fried chicken and before he could answer we offered up what we had read about. He agreed they we all good, but he said his favorite was a place his daughter always wanted to go to. Some little gas station turned food store that served all kinds of fried food. Blue building he told us, on the corner of Esplanade and Claiborne.
So we paid our tab and found our car and sure enough it was on Esplanade, so we flipped a “U” and found Claiborne Ave. There it was, Gas Station, serving nothing but fried food and cold drinks. The place was really busy, people were everywhere. Ordering food, selling cd’s and stuff from the trunk of their car. We ordered 25 fried wings and right away they were passed through the window of bullet proof glass. We get in the car and start eating, damn they were hot and good. So we headed back to our hotel, stopped and got a six pack of Abita beer, checked in and ate everyone of those wings. That was good fried chicken and just what I had been wanting for a while. I always want fried chicken, I love it.
We then did what anyone would do at this point, we opened all the windows in the hotel room and there were a lot of windows as we had a 2 room corner suite on the fifth floor. We opened all the windows and got in our king sized bed and slept for two hours.
When we woke it was dark and we did what anyone would do at this point, we went looking for more food and drink.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, enough with the food and drink, but this is New Orleans and you just can’t get this stuff anywhere else in the world. Local oysters, 150 year old bars, fried chicken from the corner gas station. If ya can get it somewhere else then you not in New Orleans and that’s the difference.
So we set out for a new place, Butcher. Butcher and the Swine Bar is the latest effort from Chef Donald Link. He already has Herbsaint and Cochon under his belt and now Butcher. Just around the corner from Cochon, in the warehouse district, we find a brightly lite space with lot’s of white tiles. Butcher serves house made Salumi, all pork sausages. 18 different kinds of sausage, house cured for your pleasure. Butcher also makes it’s own mustard, two kinds, and they pickle their own veggies. You get the idea. They procures their cheese from the local cheese monger. This is serious stuff and very good. We have a plate each of meat and cheese, with house made mustard’s and house made crackers. I’m trying different beers and Stacey is trying different white wines. After we consume those two plates we order a sample of the Pate and the two different rillettes. One is duck and one is pork. When the chef serves them she tells us she added a little hogs head cheese ’cause it is “so good”. This is a beautiful plate of food and all so good, just like chef said. Only problem was after a day of eating we could not quite finish it all, we tried but just couldn’t.
I was ashamed and told the chef so.