Monday, April 16, 2012

New Orleans Vacation Round Up!

It's time!! Finally! For the New Orleans vacation round up! Get excited.

New Orleans was awesome. We packed a lot in to a little bit of time and of course, we ate a ton! I really planned this vacation out. Booked tours, researched food, and even made an itinerary. This ended up working out great! Much better than our Austin vacation, which we completely winged with no research or prep. Learned my lesson from that one!

We got in to New Orleans on a Tuesday at 4pm and left on Friday at 3pm. We packed these 3 1/2 days with 4 tours, 9 restaurants (not even counting the ones on the food tour!), 2 stops for beignets, and at least 8 bars. You might think we had such a jam packed schedule that we barely got to enjoy ourselves, but despite everything we did it didn't feel like we were too busy or running around like crazy. I really feel like we made the most of our time and got to experience a lot of New Orleans.

So here's a peak into our adventures in New Orleans:

We started our trip with dinner at Cochon for some cajun southern cooking. We didn't make reservations so despite the empty dining room we were seated at the bar looking into the open kitchen, which was kinda cool.

{Giant Platter of Cracklins}

We were feeling quite fatigued and hungry from our flight so we ordered two appetizers and were also presented with "cracklins" (their word for pork rinds) and cane syrup for dipping. I never thought I would like pork rinds so much. Appetizer number one was fried alligator in a chili garlic aioli with pickled onions. The fried alligator was surprisingly tender and delicious. It didn't taste like chicken, but it wasn't so weird it was offensive. The sauce was delicious and I loved the pickled onions paired with a tasty bite of fried gator.

{Pork Rinds with Cane Syrup and Fried Alligator}

To further get in the spirit of New Orleans we ordered a crawfish pie. It was filled with wonderful crawfish delight - that's what I'm calling the mix that was in the flakey crust. 

{Crawfish Pie}

For dinner I had the "Louisiana Cochon with Turnips, Cabbage, and Cracklin's"- which was basically shredded pork formed into a round and pan crisped. It was pretty impressive and the portion size was quite large after consuming two appetizers. I especially loved the broth and the turnips.

{Louisiana Cochon}

Adam had the "Smoked Beef Brisket with Horseradish Potato Salad." I was a little disappointed that the side was potato salad but it paired nicely with the brisket.

{Smoked Beef Brisket}

After dinner we went on a Haunted History Tour which was surprisingly fun. We had plenty of drinks beforehand and even made a stop at a bar mid tour. We learned a lot of history about the city as well as some fun ghost stories.

{Saint Louis Cathedral}

We finished off the night with some beignets at Café Du Monde and it was the perfect topper to our first day in NOLA.

{Café Du Monde}

{Powdery Sugary Beignets}

The next day we started bright and early for a swamp tour on an airboat. 

{Airboat Swamp Tour}

The best part - getting to hold a baby alligator! They set them free when they get bigger, so don't worry he isn't confined to a life of captivity and fondling by tourists. I was really excited about holding the alligator, I would have kept him on my lap the whole time if they let me. But don't be fooled by his cuteness, even this small his bite could break your fingers. 

{Me and the Gator}

Right about now I was feeling pretty guilty about enjoying my fried alligator the night before. 

{Adam and the Gator}

After the swamp tour we stopped for some baked oysters before our food tour. Yep, we ate before the food tour. 

{Baked Oysters with Pesto and Parmesan}

Had to gear up for all the walking... and talking... man, the food tour was quite a lengthy experience. It was 3 1/2 hours long and we made 7 stops. We learned a lot about the city and the food. Adam got a little bored, for the most part I enjoyed it. We had a lot of little samples of food and it was a nice way to get a taste of New Orleans. One of our stops was Tujague's Restaurant  were we had some stellar boiled brisket which I was very skeptical about since it was boiled, but it delivered. I also got a delicious grasshopper from the cranky bartender. Tujague's invented the grasshopper, so I let the bartender's crankiness slide.


That night we headed to Frenchman Street, which was a surprisingly small stretch of jazz bars and restaurants. We jumped for bar to bar enjoying the live music and landed at Three Muses for dinner. It was crowded, but the band was good, the beer selection was great, and the food was decent.

{Lobster Eggrolls}

The pork belly with chive pancakes was the standout of the meal. Although it took us the whole dish to figure out that the chive pancake was underneath the pork belly and that the pork belly tastes much better when eaten with the pancake all in one bite. We finished off the night with more jazz and more beer.

{Pork Belly with Chive Pancakes and Apple}

We slept in on our third day and started the day off late and right with a juicy cheeseburger from The Camellia Grill, which was one of our favorite places we went to on the trip. Located in the heart of the French Quarter just around the corner from Bourbon Street, The Camellia Grill dishes up old fashioned dinner fare with a flair. We loved the fun attitude of the servers and being able to see them joke around with the kitchen staff at the grill that openly faced the diners. The burger was just what I needed to cure a massive hangover and who doesn't love a traditional diner style burger with hand formed patty and crispy crunchy bacon? Also the whole restaurant is painted light pink! What a cheery way to start the day!

{Bacon Cheeseburger}

Next we hit up the oldest structure used as a bar for, yep, you guessed it, some drinks. Hair of the dog, people!

From there we went on a tour of a rum distillery and after that we figured we should keep with the theme of drinking for the day and headed to the Garden District. But first we had to get dressed all fancy, much to Adam's reluctance, so we could head to dinner at Commander's Palace after our bar hopping. 

{All Dressed Up}

First stop was The Avenue Pub, probably one of the best beer bars in New Orleans, not only did they have a wide and varied selection of beers on draft - they had a fabulous balcony to enjoy them on.

{The Avenue Pub Balcony}

After The Avenue Pub we headed to The Bulldog which was the kind of place we would hang out at if we lived in New Orleans. We had the best waffle fries ever and I of course scarfed them too fast to take a picture. After many beers down, we headed to Commander's Palace. I was so excited to go to this place and the only reservation we could get was at 9pm. Adam was not so excited to go, we said it was too fancy. I said, "But it's a New Orleans institution! We have to go!" And so we went, Adam grumbling the whole way, even though we had the best filet mignon ever. That I paid for by the way. The service was excellent, the food superb. Although, I found the turtle soup to be a little too rich to finish the whole bowl. The lighting was bad, so sorry about the horrible iphone photos.

{Oyster and Absinth Dome}

{Filet Mignon}

And as if we hadn't eaten enough on this trip, for our last day we decided to squeeze in a trolley ride around town and two sandwiches indigenous to NOLA before we had to leave at noon for our flight.

{Muffaletta from Central Grocery}

We got a Po' Boy from this liquor store / grocery mart that was incredibly small, incredibly slow, and incredibly good. Thanks Yelp!

{Fried Shrimp Po' Boy from Verti Marte}

{Riding the Trolley}

Overall an amazing trip and I'm still working off all that food! I would highly recommend New Orleans, it is a truly unique city.

Peace, love, travel, and happiness!

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