Monday, July 9, 2012

A Taste of New Orleans, LA

Lots of changes have been happening lately.  One of them pertained to my job.  I started a new position at work a few weeks ago, and the first task for this new job was go to a conference in New Orleans.  Of course, the trip wasn’t purely pleasure, there was also some learning and networking thrown in, but I did get to see, taste and experience much of what NOLA has to offer.

Building in the French Quarter.

Before going on the trip a friend sent me a long email with tons of “must see” things in NOLA.  Most of the “must see” items were related to food, and we definitely had some amazing food during our trip.  The first night I was able to check off one thing off the list.  ACME Oyster House is a very popular restaurant just a block off of Bourbon Street in the French Quarter.  My boss and I stood in line for about a half hour to try out this restaurant.  I am not a fan of raw oysters, and raw oysters are very popular in NOLA; but I decided to give oysters a shot, fried oysters at least.  I had a Fried Peace Maker Po’ Boy.  It comes with half fried shrimp and half fried oysters.  I also tried the Jambalaya.  For me, the best part of ACME Oyster House was sitting along the bar watching the workers shuck oyster after oyster.  They told us they normally shuck close to 5,000 oysters per day per worker.

The “Court of Two Sisters” was another restaurant that had been recommended.  This place features a very nice brunch with all of the local cuisine and has live jazz music in the outdoor patio area.  I enjoyed this restaurant because I was able to sample a lot of New Orleans foods that I would not normally feel comfortable ordering at a restaurant.  The “Court of Two Sisters” building has much history, which is featured on a paper fan they give to customers to stay cool on the patio.

 BBQ Shrimp was another food reference I was given before this trip.  So the last day of my trip I wanted to make sure I went somewhere to get this item.  It was not what I expected, and wasn’t necessarily something I really enjoyed.  It was very messy as the shrimp is cooked in the BBQ sauce without being de-skinned.  Despite my disappointment over BBQ Shrimp I also had some amazing crawfish crab cakes and grilled alligator.  As cliché as it is, the grilled alligator tasted a lot like chicken.  A fellow traveler had recommended it, and grilled alligator ended up being a favorite food during the trip.

Of course, I couldn’t go to the south without getting some BBQ.  Voodoo BBQ was a restaurant I spotted along the trolley ride we took to the Garden District.  The Garden District has beautiful mansions with amazing gardens surrounding the old massive houses.  We jumped off the trolley and tried the BBQ.  The restaurant turned out to be more of a fast food type place, but it was voted the #1 place for BBQ in New Orleans, so I figured it must be pretty good.  And I wasn’t wrong.  The BBQ was pretty good, and the macaroni and cheese and sweet potato soufflé was delicious.

Bourbon Street is a sight to see unlike anything else I have ever experienced.  Bar after bar features great musicians playing all kinds of music.  Next to the bars are “gentlemen’s” clubs where scantily dressed girls stand in doorways enticing people to go into the establishments.  Elementary school aged kids tap dance in the streets for money while another group plays amazing music in a mainly trumpet band.

 Just a couple blocks off of Bourbon Street into the French Quarter the atmosphere completely changes.  Little boutique shops feature amazing paintings of the sights and scenes around NOLA.  French style homes, lined along brick streets, have beautiful plants hanging off of their upstairs balconies along wrought iron railings.  Walking further into the French Quarter you see horse drawn carriages with people taking tours through the city.  Two of the popular landmarks, Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral were both closed by the time we got down to that part of the city, but the Cathedral was amazing to look at.

Restaurant in French Quarter.

Carriage Tour.

St. Louis Cathedral.

 Due to the fact that I was in NOLA for work, I wasn’t able to experience any of the really neat tours or explore much outside of the Bourbon Street-French Quarter area since our hotel was close to this area.  This trip was great because it gave me a taste for New Orleans, and that taste was good enough to make me want to go back to see more of what this historic city has to offer.

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