Friday, November 2, 2012

Travel Bites - New Orleans

Last weekend, Jared and I hopped on a plane to New Orleans to celebrate the wedding of our friends Brad and Ally. We had a wonderful time catching up, listening to good music, eating way too much food, and enjoying the local artwork. Little did we know, though, our quick trip to the dirty south ended up lasting a bit longer than expected as Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. Our flight back to DC got cancelled and, in an odd turn of events, we got stranded in south Louisiana to ride out the storm.
But, first things first: the wedding weekend in NOLA. We arrived in the Big Easy on Friday afternoon and headed straight to our favorite burger joint. Port of Call serves up made-to-order, juicy burgers and baked potatoes with all of the usual toppings (which are very generous, so just order a cheeseburger and sprinkle some of the excess on your potato). Enjoy one of the many specialty drinks to wash it all down. The Neptune's Monsoon, their take on a traditional Hurricane, will definitely get any weekend started early - delicious, fruity, and potent. We decided it was better to drink in the natural disasters this weekend since we were stuck anyway.
Later that night, we met up with our friends Jon and Kim for dinner and fun on Frenchman Street. Chef John Besh's latest restaurant, Borgne, honors the cuisine of coastal Louisiana and serves up some amazing seafood and local wildlife-inspired dishes. After twenty minutes of catching up and drooling over the menu, we finally settled on a delightful-looking spread: crabmeat croquetas with chipotle remoulade; duck poppers with jalapeño and bacon; slow smoked pork empanadas white barbecue sauce; black drum a la plancha with brown butter, pecans, and jumbo lump crab; and oyster spaghetti  with creamy oyster broth, garlic, and botarga.
Many adult beverages later, we found ourselves singing and dancing with the Soul Rebels Brass Band at the Blue Nile. Because, like Jared said, happiness is a fat man on trombone. Then, of course, coffee and beignets at the infamous Café du Monde at 3 a.m. (the only time you can walk in and get a table). Deep-fried pastries, covered in powdered sugar: the perfect late night/early morning snack.
The next morning, as I nursed my mild hangover, my rock star friend Rachel ran her first half marathon. We cheered her on by text message, then met up for brunch to celebrate. Rachie's restaurant of choice: EAT new orleans. This adorable and cozy spot is a great find in the French Quarter. It's casual southern classics done right. I enjoyed every bite of my soft-shell crabs benedict. The eggs were perfectly poached, served atop lightly-battered and fried soft-shell crabs and covered with a delicate hollandaise sauce.
 Finally, we made our way to Metairie for the sweet wedding of some Louisiana friends that met in DC. Brad and Ally got hitched at the bride's family church and hosted a beautiful reception at the Audubon Tea Room. We feasted on an amazing buffet featuring turtle soup, barbecued shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes with crawfish remoulade, and other tasty Creole favorites. It was the quintessential NOLA wedding and we had a damn good time celebrating with the lovely couple.
After a wonderful wedding and our food marathon of a weekend, we were able to spend a few days with my family in Lafayette thanks to the storm delay. On Thursday, we finally made our way back to the District to find things very much the way we left them, thankfully. Unfortunately, other areas were not so lucky, and my thoughts are with all of those impacted by the storm.

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