I am writing to order for the monthly question meme.
There are a few slots left, if anyone has anything else they'd like to know or think would be amusing to see me write about. oyceter
, unsurprisingly, asked about my best recent food discovery. That would be New Orleans cuisine! My parents and I visited New Orleans last month, and stayed in an apartment in the Marigny (rhymes with "marry me," more or less) where we could stroll and admire the cool little houses with lace-like trim, painted in bright colors.
But mostly, we ate. The food completely
lived up to expectations. Everything we ate was good, even completely random little neighborhood restaurants. We were sadly unable to make reservations at Cochon, but it did become a running joke that were eating like cochons.
As everyone suggested, we had beignets at Cafe du Monde, with chicory coffee. I'm not sure I really tasted the chicory; it mostly tasted like strong, somewhat bitter coffee. Maybe the bitterness was the chicory? The beignets, little fried dough pillows, were nicely doughy on the inside, covered in an avalanche of powdered sugar. We also had beignets elsewhere, but I liked the Cafe du Monde ones the best.
I had several po boys, of which my favorite was the crawfish at, IIRC, Acme Oyster House. I was very impressed with the bread in general, which is a sort of French loaf, but very light and fluffy, with a crust almost the texture of a creme brulee top; it shatters when you bite into it. The crawfish were very lightly breaded and fried, not at all heavy or greasy, with some lettuce and exactly enough dressing (a spicy mayo) for flavor and moisture, without anything getting soggy.
Another great meal, though not specific to New Orleans - lots of restaurants in LA serve this type of Asian fusion food - was at the Three Muses, with live music and an amazingly good appetizer of pork belly on a scallion pancake.
However, my single favorite thing was the shrimp and tasso Henican
appetizer at Commander's Palace. Commander's Palace
in general also lived up to my rather high expectations. It was in a gorgeous converted house dating back to the 1800s, which reminded me of an old riverboat. The service there was the best I have ever experienced in my life - one of the few times when I've ever enjoyed the service for its own sake. Let me put it this way: I was offered a black napkin because I was wearing a black dress. It was very old-school, but fun rather than stuffy. Our waitress was introduced as "Miss Margaret," which made me expect an old lady in lace. She was actually a young, enthusiastic foodie with opinions on the entire menu.
I had been vaguely expecting the food to be rich but more delicately flavored, I think because I associate restraint with formality. The flavors were actually very bold, which I prefer. The shrimp and tasso Henican consisted of perfectly cooked shrimp skewered on crispy ham, in a sweet-spicy-tangy-hot sauce that made me want to lick the plate. (The wine waiter helpfully produced a basket of bread for sopping purposes.) If I'd been in New Orleans by myself, I would have gone back the next day and just had the shrimp for lunch.
We also had a mini-serving of three soups, gumbo, turtle, and apple-squash. All were good, but the turtle was fantastic, served with a splash of sherry poured on tableside. It was thick and murky, distinctly reminiscent of the river from whence the turtle probably came, with strands of mysterious greens and shreds of meat, rich and complex and tangy. The famous bread pudding was also good, more of a souffle, very light, not overly sweet.
I left a little bummed at LA's lack of turtles, crawfish, po boys, and this style of cooking in general.