April 23, 2011

A Few Days in New Orleans: Wonderful Food and Restaurants

Mark and I had a great time on our short trip to New Orleans this past week. We walked, shopped, ate, listened, and learned the many reasons that folks from near and far love this wonderful city. Mark had been there before and already had a few favorite restaurants to share with me: The Court of Two Sisters, Emeril's, K. Paul's, and Johnny's.

With a Cannon PowerShot A2200 in hand, I was shooting right, left, and center and stretched beyond my comfort zone a bit, but getting closer to subjects than I typically would, hiding in a way, behind the camera. I'm sure I was not in the least invisible, but I did feel the ability to be bold in order to get the photo I wanted. Sometimes I missed it, but other times I was thrilled with the results, and tangible evidence of our happy time together in a place that seemed magical to me in a way, so infused with history as well as new energy and music embedded into the very mortar of old bricks, possibly bricks from Ohio, and cobblestones from Europe.

The flowers and trees whispered to me louder than the tubas, trumpets, and drums. The gentle paint colors of the Garden District and the gaudy brightness of Mardi Gras decorations in the French Quarter enticed me to take just one more picture. And woven around our time there was the Mississippi River, something I have always wanted to see.

I've many photos to share, so I'm going to break the posts up by category.

1) Wonderful Food and Restaurants
2) The French Quarter and Street Bands
3) The Garden District
4) Shopping, Books, and Miscellaneous
5) People and Animals


On our first night in town, we had dinner at K. Paul's Louisiana Restaurant. Above is a glimpse into the kitchen. Below is a photo of Mark perusing the menu, followed by the beautiful pear salad we enjoyed. I had to ask them to leave off the bleu cheese (allergies), but it was still super-delicious! Mark had a cup of gumbo and proclaimed it a winner (I had a spoonful and it was wonderful). For the entree, I had Blackened Beef with Debris Sauce, and Mark did as well.

Below is simply a window scene I liked very much. (I do not know what restaurant or kitchen this is looking into). Throughout the French Quarter there are many shops of all sorts and most of them have intriguing windows. If I lived here, I would spend one morning a week window shopping!

On Wednesday morning, we took a carriage ride (see "our" mule, Brown Derby, below) around the French Quarter, then stopped at Cafe Du Monde for coffee and beignets. Ah, they were divine!

At lunchtime, we headed over to The Court of Two Sisters. Below is a photo of the street view of the restaurant (taken later, in the evening). In the entryway hang many flags, including the one I've photographed.

Then, one goes through a welcoming area, past the sumptuous buffet, then out into a beautiful courtyard, resplendent with plants of all kinds, a large fountain, a canopy of woven tree branches and large umbrellas, and lovely tables set with linens. And, of course, music!

On Wednesday afternoon, we donned our swimsuits and I splashed around in the pool with a girl of about 10 or 11 who was happy to find she could touch bottom in the 5' deep end of the non-kiddie pool. We shared that it had been a long time since either of us was in a pool. After cooling off from the 86 degree weather (with very high humidity), I stretched out on one of the patio lounge chairs, closed my eyes, and nodded off under a sunny sky with a slight breeze.

Later in the evening, Mark and I made our way to Emeril's where the fantastic staff served us a wonderful dinner and dessert. For an appetizer, Mark had the angel hair pasta with crawfish, followed by "Shrimp and Grits." I had Thai lamb followed by a delicious 4-minute egg salad.

Dessert was, for Mark, banana cream pie, their signature dish and "unbelievably good." For me, strawberry shortcake and more fun photo opportunities!

On Thursday, we visited Johnny's for Po' Boys. I'd never had one before and as I was still full from Wednesday's indulgences, I ate the inside of the sandwich and skipped the bread.

We walked, walked, walked all afternoon in the Garden District (you won't want to miss the photos of these beautiful homes) and then went to Dickie Brennan's for dinner. I was less-than-thrilled with Dickie Brennan's, so no photos. The filet was nowhere near as delicious as I'd enjoyed at K. Paul's on Tuesday night, and while the service was excellent and the surroundings okay (like a good steakhouse anywhere), nothing about it stood out to me, and Mark's steak was tough as well.

We stopped in at the "5 Fifty 5" restaurant within the Marriott New Orleans and picked up creme brulee to take back to our room. I had several new books I wanted to look over, and I was feeling a bit sad due to news that morning that my dear friend, David, had passed away.

On Friday morning, I woke early and spent some time editing Jessica Bell's String Bridge.

At 6 a.m., a kind woman opened the door to Starbuck's and in I went for that blessed first cup of coffee.

I have always found baked goods at Starbucks to be dry and disappointing. But here in these glass cases were croissants that seemed to be the epitome of the croissant and muffins so tall and beautiful that I had to grab my camera and take a photo, much to the amusement of the gentleman nearby. I ended up choosing a blueberry scone, and it was delicious.

Our last meal in New Orleans was lunch back where we'd started, at K. Paul's. Mark had a po'boy and I had navy beans and rice. Yummy!

In our next post, you will see evidence of the walking we did, which allowed us to eat all this wonderful food with little guilt!


February Grace said...

Dude. I am starving now. :~D

I cannot wait to see the rest of the pictures- the food here is gorgeous but my favorite by far is the one of you at Cafe Du Monde! Love your colorful blouse and beads, and you have such a happy peaceful expression. Love it. Thanks for taking us along with you in this way on your trip. Glad you had fun but glad you're back too (missed ya!)


ausurfer said...

WOW...what an adventure you and Mark had. Janice, your photos are exquisite...there are photos, and there are the ones you took. It felt like I was there...I could almost taste that strawberry shortcake. Looking forward to the next part of your trip. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

i'm delighted NOLA was a great experience, and that she shared her best parts with you. i wish you could have visited pre-katrina and known her at her most glorious. beignets and cafe au lait is a must, even for us louisianians! truly enjoyed your photos--you captured a lot of flavor.
write on!

Glynis said...

I am sorry you lost your friend David, Janice.

You certainly had a wonderful trip. Such delicious photographs!

I look forward to reading more posts.

Cynthia Neale said...

Vivid photos and the one of you dressed in vibrant spring colors must have had you competing with the flowers. Beautiful! Enjoyed this travelogue. But tell me, what is Debris sauce?

Janice Phelps Williams said...

Bru: Thank you! I've seen your photo and you can certainly indulge guilt-free in several beignets! I'm going to learn how to make them.

Kim: Jesse taught me how to take the food shots from a lower angle, instead of straight down at the plate, and it really makes a different, I think.

Elaine: Mark was fortunate to have been there pre-Katrina. You know, the streets and shops and restaurants were so full and vibrant, one could pretend that nothing had even happened there, which I suppose is both good and bad. Good for tourism but not so good for the areas that still struggle so; that can never get it all back. In any case, I feel now that every American should visit New Orleans at least once!

Glynis: Thank you. I know that you appreciate beauty wherever it is found.

Thank you, Cynthia. Debris was a very tasty sauce that apparently is some sort of reduction sauce that is created over several hours (according to the server). It was wonderful. I think you can search for it online in relation to K. Paul and learn more. I know you enjoy cooking and it seems like it is a lengthy, careful process, but definitely worth it.

Melissa Kline said...

Oh, how I love traveling to taste new and unique food! My husband and I still talk about our recent trip to the Oregon coast where we had the most incredible shrimp dip. I LOVE the photo of you at Cafe Du Monde. You are so beautiful and colorful - the picture made me smile. The other photos made my mouth water. ;)


Janice Phelps Williams said...

Thank you, Melissa! I've seen your beautiful photos, so I can imagine you have a wonderful visual memory of your trips with your family.

Lois said...

We just visited New Orleans for the first time in May and I came across your blog searching for things New Orleans. I so enjoyed reading your blog and looking at your pictures.

It was wonderful to be in New Orleans, a place I have wanted to visit for some time. The important factors of a New Orleans visit for me are the culture, food, music (jazz), literature, and art. Café du Monde enjoying a cup of Café au lait and some beignets was divine! We bought beignet mix and a can of the chicory coffee to bring home. We also enjoyed a carriage ride our first evening in New Orleans after dinner. Our last evening we walked to Emeril's from our hotel and had a wonderful dinner there as well. And the signature dessert, banana cream pie was unbelievably good. I loved how behind brick walls you can hear the trickle of fountains. I love peeking through the iron gates to see hidden gardens and courtyards. The colorful doors and shutters, hanging flower baskets. We see two cats sitting by a window. What a picture that made and the Welcome to Vieux Carre sign we found hanging along the way.

I, like you, learned the many reasons that folks from near and far love this wonderful city.

Angie Ledbetter said...

NOLA said she misses you, and come back soon, y'all! :)

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