Now there’s one more way to enjoy my beloved NOLA: a chicken-fried festival of flavors. A plethora of plentiful poultry done right. A cache of crunchy chicken goodness.
Shoofly Magazine, the pride of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, did the world a public service by sampling the best of the best of the chicken-fried offerings in nearby New Orleans, and published a great article about it: The Grand New Orleans Fried Chicken Pilgrimage.
A simple story about a food festival grows to epic proportions when it kicks off the search for some of the city’s best fried chicken.
– Shoofly story by Ellis Anderson
We’re a little obsessive about New Orleans here at Glover Gardens and are revving up for another Jazz Fest jaunt later this year. Shoofly’s tribute to fried chicken adds complexity to our journey, because we are already stressed by the “so little time, so many great meals to choose from!” dichotomy. But we’ll figure it out, and if we have to make extra trips to NOLA to sample the crispy chicken delights highlighted in the magazine, we’ll do it.
Give the article from Shoofly a read, and think about joining us at Jazz Fest later this year when we’ll be tasting the chicken and jamming to the tunes. Thanks to the folks at Shoofly Magazine for adding to the never-ending lure of NOLA.
It Started with Mom’s Food Crush on Paul Prudhomme and Her Collection of His Cookbooks
My Mom, an excellent cook, had a food crush on Paul Prudhomme. She bought every cookbook he published until her death in 2000, and those books were well-used. Marked-up, dog-eared and stained, they are family treasures.
As my first culinary teacher and mentor, Mom made sure I also got a copy of every one of the cookbooks, too, so I could share in the Chef Paul magic. I was a very young adult when Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchenwas published in 1984, and I’m sure that his recipes influenced my tastes and later, my recipes.
When she died, I inherited Mom’s Chef Paul cookbooks (and lots of others). I instantly started using her books instead of mine, because there’s a lot of love and family history encrusted in those pages. Along with the cutting boards my Dad made, these cookbooks are at the top of my Prized Possessions list. My own dog-eared copies of Chef Paul’s complete works are packed up and waiting for my son (known as the Musical Millennial in these pages) to have his own home and kitchen (after college and grad school).
Mom and Dad Fell in Love with K-Paul’s Restaurant
Even with Mom’s food crush on Chef Paul, it took a while for my parents to get to K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, the restaurant in New Orleans that he ran with his wife, Kay. Together, their names are the origin of the restaurant name “K-Paul’s”. Finally there on a culinary road trip in the late 80s, Mom and Dad absolutely loved their dining experience at K-Paul’s and raved about it from that day forward. (It was one of their first big empty-nester trips, and I’ve never really forgiven them for not taking me along.)
Mom was ill for the last few years of her life and definitely too sick to cook, but she was a devotee of all of Chef Paul’s cooking shows on PBS in the late 90s. It was fun to visit her and watch his shows, commenting on his recipes, reminiscing about the dishes we’d made from the cookbooks, just being foodie nerds together.
Well, I never made it to K-Paul’s with Mom and Dad, and Chef Paul died in 2015.
K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen is Alive and Well
K-Paul’s is still in daily operation in the French Quarter, and you can still find tried and true Louisiana Kitchen dishes there. The Grill-Meister and I took a tenth anniversary trip to NOLA this summer, and finally visited this family legend restaurant. More than 30 years after Mom and Dad’s discovery trip, it was everything they said it was, updated for this century. And yet, still a little homey, which is the promise of the sign, the original from the late 70s (as far as I can tell from online research).
Let me tell you about it.
The bread basket sported jalapeño rolls and two different little muffins, one of which, the carrot-pecan (and molasses, I suspect), had the Grill-Meister enthralled.
We shared Fried Green Tomatoes and Shrimp, and it was heavenly. Just the right amount of crisp batter on the tomato slices, with shrimp in a piquant brown sauce sandwiched between them.
Oh, the main courses! We ate, and we ate, and we still couldn’t finish them. I had the pan-fried fish and shrimp with jambalaya and the Grill-Meister had the blackened drum. Both came with gloriously sautéed vegetables and the drum was accompanied by a very creamy, very large dollop of garlic mashed potatoes.
Our waiter was magnificent: well-versed in the intricacies of the menu and daily specials, funny, solicitous and there when we needed him – but without hovering. Exactly the qualities we hope for in a waitperson.
We made friends with interesting folks at other tables.
The ambiance at K-Paul’s is casual and fun, with recipes on the walls.
It’s a well-oiled machine – we enjoyed watching the food come out and get served within moments.
Some folks say that K-Paul’s is a tourist destination, and they’re right. That’s just fine. It’s worth the trip. It was for Mom and Dad back in the 80s, and for the Grill-Meister and me last June.
And as for those heirloom cookbooks, they’re still in use here at Glover Gardens. We make Chef Paul’s blackened fish about once a month – check it out here.
Gumbo Recipe (and Stories) Coming Soon
I’m in a Paul Prudhomme mood because I’m making gumbo tonight, and he was one of my gumbo mentors. I’ll publish my version soon, hopefully in time for Thanksgiving and those turkey leftovers. Turkey makes marvelous gumbo.
I’ve been telling you how we love farmers markets here at Glover Gardens, and my Dear Readers, I did not exaggerate.
A farmers market is a must-stop on any road trip for the Grill-Meister and me. And sometimes even when we’re traveling by plane and can’t take home any foodstuffs or plunder, we still seek out farmers markets, just for the fun of it. I’m going on about this because it’s National Farmers Market Week and I promised to share, remember? (Of course you do – you read yesterday’s post, right?)
On a recent anniversary trip to New Orleans, the Crescent City Farmers Market beckoned to us. The Saturday version, downtown, at the corner of Carondelet and Julia streets.
We knew we’d love this market even before arriving in the sultry summer morning, just from online list of vendors. I read it out loud to the Grill-Meister as we made our plans that Saturday morning, my voice rising and squeaking with each new exciting description.
Assorted sourdough bread, baguettes, and pastries including country boules, Pain de Mie, swirls, Fougasse, and more.
Saddle up the Uber, we’re on our way!!! “Spoiled for choice,” as that old saying goes. No one would go to this market seeking fresh food and come away disappointed. It is a “real” farmers market, with almost all of its space allotted to farmers and merchants with locally grown or locally produced food products (seafood, produce, honey, condiments, etc.) No tchotchkes, doodads, gewgaws, knickknacks or trinkets here – just fine NOLA foodstuffs and friendly folks, and some fantastic music. Just what you’d expect in the Big Easy.
Enjoy the photos, and put this market on your list the next time you visit the Crescent City. They have a market in different places around town every day except Sunday and Monday and sometimes there are cooking demonstrations in addition to the exceptional vendors and delightful music.
Food & Wine Magazine sends me emails fairly often, but I don’t usually have time for them unless the headline catches my eye. This one did: “The 50 best Southern restaurants in America, according to OpenTable.”
Hmmm. I’m in the South – I wonder if I’ve been to any of these ‘best Southern restaurants’, I wonder what the selection criteria was, I wonder ….”
So of course I read the article, and of course I’m sharing it with you. I’ve only been to two of the 50 spots on the list, Brennan’s of Houston and Mr. B’s in New Orleans, both of which were excellent, in my humble opinion (that extended Brennan’s family just knows how to do restaurants). In fact, I have a Mr. B’s post half-drafted to share with y’all one day soon in my Restaurant Rave series – it’s all about the barbecued shrimp. And the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had was at Brennan’s in Houston. Stories for another day…
The methodology for selecting this list of top Southern restaurants was based on analysis of OpenTable reviews of restaurants in the Southern Cuisine category over a certain period of time. It’s interesting that the restaurants aren’t all located in the South; they are simply “Southern restaurants”. I guess that’s all right, but I feel a little uneasy about it. It’s cool, though, and not surprising, that New Orleans had the most establishments on the list with 8.
I can’t go to New Orleans any more often than I do, or I’ll need a whole new wardrobe, at least two sizes bigger. (You may have noticed that many of my NOLA posts wax rhapsodic about our culinary treasure hunts.)
Here’s a new discovery: garlic beignets are a thing. Who knew? Not being a big sweets-hound, I can easily and quite happily avoid regular beignets (and the crowds) at famous NOLA haunts like Cafe du Monde, but these savory little nuggets from the newly opened restaurant called The Vintage had my number from the start. We ordered them as soon as we heard of their existence. It needed to be done.
A little neighborhood bar and cafe that touts “bites and bubbles,” The Vintage appealed to us during an afternoon foray down tree-lined and shop-laden Magazine Street. Trust me, you can work up a serious appetite and thirst while shopping in New Orleans in the summer. The Grill-Meister and I had a great time on our miles-long walk, taking in all kinds of local color, artisan’s creations, antiques, touristy baubles and some downright junk. Check out the Magazine Street Merchant’s Association for more info.
After all that walking, I didn’t feel guilty about my first couple of garlic beignets, and planned to stop after the third. But one more wouldn’t hurt… you get the picture. We didn’t finish them all, but we were very, very glad that our dinner reservation at K-Paul’s wasn’t until 8:30, giving us time to walk some more and restore our appetites.
What did they taste like? Think of a light, crisp beignet, tossed not with icky-sweet powdered sugar, but with garlic, herbs and parmesan, making its way toward your taste buds preceded by a beguiling aroma. That’s all I really need to say.
So, except for the impact on the waistline, I can recommend this little gem of a restaurant as a great place to stop for a bite and a drink and to gin up more energy for walking and shopping on Magazine Street. NOLA.com’s review of The Vintage describes it perfectly: it has “the vibe of a coffeeshop crossed with a bar” . The friendly service make you want to “sit a spell,” chat, and enjoy the laid-back ambience and wry humor of the decor. If you do go, try the garlic beignets. And let me know how you liked them.
For more of the Glover Gardens outlook on the wonderful city of NOLA, click here.
It’s a quick weekend trip for the Grill-Meister and me, celebrating our tenth anniversary.
On a short walk yesterday afternoon, I looked up and saw these steeples framed by the traditional NOLA architectural elements of this stately home and a beautiful old oak tree. All of them both have withstood so much for so long.
It felt great to be in the moment, take the picture, have time to think about these iconic symbols, and then walk on.
The Kentucky Derby is today. It seems to always coincide with the last weekend of the New Orleans Jazz Festival, which seems to always be the weekend that we choose to go. I’ve seen the annual “Run for the Roses” on a bar TV in New Orleans more times than I can remember, usually from Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House. Even though the traditional Kentucky Derby cocktail is the mint julep, the libation of choice for the Grill-Meister and me is the Bourbon Milk Punch. It is lusciously, sinfully rich – a milkshake for grownups.
This year, we’re not at the Jazz Fest and we won’t be enjoying a cool, creamy Bourbon Milk Punch while watching the Kentucky Derby, but these things remain on our Replay List to enjoy again in the future. Read more about it and get the recipe for Bourbon Milk Punch here – and remember, one is enough!
I would really like to blog more often, but time is at a premium. However, there is always incredible material from other bloggers that can and should be shared. Here’s today’s contribution, a lovely photo and quiet couple of stories that have been woven together in one of my favorite blogs.
“The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down, You can’t let go and you can’t hold on You can’t go back and you can’t stand still, If the thunder don’t get…
This post is in response to a request from a high school friend of my son’s. They’ve kept in touch since starting college in the fall of 2016. She said:
Hi! It’s been a while since we’ve talked – I hope you’re doing well. I’m planning a trip for 2 to New Orleans on December 18-21st and I was wondering if, by chance, you might know of any good things to do in NOLA around that time of year.
Thanks in advance!
And I said: “Oh yeah! I will be happy to send you tips. Thanks for asking; I am so flattered! You are an excellent photographer and beautiful model, so I hope you will consider letting me post some of your experiences in my blog.” (She agreed.)
New Orleans Tips for Mallory
And so, my dear, here is my New Orleans travel advice for you and your companion. It’s probably a bit more than you expected, but I’ve been carrying around this list in my head for a long, long time; I was only 18 when I first visited the Crescent City. And by the way, don’t worry that you’re missing out by being under 21 – NOLA is one of the great all-age cities of the world. You will have a wonderful time.
Packing and Pre-Trip Mindset
Be ready for weather that could be anywhere from 30° – 70° (or even higher), but will definitely be damp; take clothing that can be layered on and off, like scarves, vests and light jackets.
Comfortable walking shoes are a must! And be sure to pack band-aids in case of walking-induced blisters (I speak from experience).
In fact, unless you’re planning to go somewhere that requires fancy clothes, don’t bother with them – New Orleans is about the food, the music and the people-watching, and you won’t see many fashion mavens.
An umbrella or raincoat with a hood is your friend. That’s me below at Jazz Fest in the spring of 2010, but believe me, the rains can strike at a moment’s notice in the Big Easy in any season.
Bring an extra memory card and battery for your camera or be sure to carry your phone charger with you, because you will take way more pictures than you than you imagine and will need the extra memory and power.
Get lots of sleep the night before you go, because NOLA is a 24/7 wonder and you won’t want to sleep much while you’re there (the best time to go to Cafe du Monde is in the middle of the night).
Get in a New Orleans frame of mind early by boning up on its history. If you have time (although I know you have finals just before this trip), go to the library or download a book about New Orleans. It is so fun to walk around in a city when you know a bit about its past and the physical structures that you’re seeing. NOLA has a fascinating and diverse heritage, probably the most varied of all American cities, which adds to the enjoyment of your visit. (I’m reading a book right now called The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans, which is far too long to absorb before your trip, but if you’re interested, you can borrow it next summer when you have time.)
Or jump-start that New Orleans feeling by reading a quick novel or watching a movie set in the Crescent City. I have always liked Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, which isn’t about New Orleans, but the city is definitely a character (in my humble opinion) and a sense of place is a recurring theme. Amazon will let you download The Moviegoer for free right nowwith a 30-day trial of Audible. I think you will find this book interesting and thought-provoking, even beyond its connection to New Orleans and travels.
Take a look through The Storyteller blog to see the real New Orleans through the lens and mind of a photographer. I think you will be inspired, given your interest in photography.
If you’re driving to NOLA, park your car when you get there and leave it. It’s a pain to park and much more fun to use other forms of transportation. Parking is also very expensive, because it is at a premium.
Walk as much as you can; much of the magic of New Orleans lies in its dynamic street life.
When you’re not walking, ride the streetcar as much as you can.
Uber is quick and easy, but the cab drivers have the best stories.
Stuff to Do
Amble through Jackson Square and strike up conversations with the artists. There is usually music to enjoy, too.
Go to the French Market and shop, shop, shop. It is seedy, tacky, touristy and full of imports like $7 sunglasses, while also offering cool local art, jewelry and other handmade items at reasonable prices. There are local foodstuffs, and some funky junk. I usually pick up a stocking stuffer or two while I’m at the market. Sometimes there’s live music, and on Wednesdays, there’s a farmer’s market. Green space, trees and tiny parks can be found in the 6 blocks of shopping, too.
Or plan a whole day in the Arts District and take in a museum or three after the galleries. The National World War II Museum is over there (an immersion experience; you’ll have to pick just part of it if you want to fit it into an afternoon), and so are the Contemporary Arts Center and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. All are worth the trip!
There are many other museums scattered across NOLA that you should consider, like the Jazz Museum in the Old Mint, which frequently has performances, and, lucky you, is staging one during your trip (there will be clarinets!). There’s a sculpture garden over by City Park, and, while not a museum, I’ve always wanted to stroll through the cemetery there, too.
If you want the holiday festival experience with rides and an amazing array of holiday lights, take the streetcar out to City Park and go to Celebration in the Oaks(even this kind of big-production, glitzy festival is different and special in NOLA, because of its unique ‘carnival’ food, jazzy music and enchanting, ancient oak trees).
Explore the River Walk and riverfront, checking out the public art, Crescent Park and the fascinating hustle and bustle of NOLA’s river commerce.
If you’re curious about Bourbon Street, take a walk from where it intersects Canal Street all the way to Frenchmen Street, in the late afternoon before it gets too rambunctious. It is very entertaining during the day, and not scary. (You can probably tell that I don’t care for Bourbon Street at night.)
Take the ferry over to Algiers and check out the shops in Algiers Point or walk along the riverfront, or just do a round trip. The views from the ferry alone are worth the $2 trip. Be sure to check the schedule for the last ferry so you don’t get stuck there, because they don’t run at night.
Get on out to the Garden District to see a different side of the city, first printing out this itinerary and map for the self-guided walking tour. This is a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and to work off the beignets, muffulettas and poorboys you’re going to be eating!
Get off the beaten path and be open to unique adventures…talk to locals some more and find out what they’re excited about doing in the Crescent City in December.
One more thing on the Stuff to Do List: don’t be in a hurry. Take your time; be deliberate. Look, listen, smell, taste and touch. New Orleans has a myriad of unexpected sights, sounds and people that can only be discovered – or appreciated – if you are truly in the moment. In my humble opinion, that’s the best thing about it.
Food and Drink
Go to Café du Monde if you must (it’s an icon, has great beignets, and you can visit on the day you go to the French Market because it is close by), but also try tiny little coffee houses you stumble across and take time to chat with the proprietors and other customers. They’ll give you the best tips about where to go and what to do.
Be a foodie-on-a-budget by going to a great restaurant at lunch; my favorite is Bayona (click here for my gushing testimonial).
Wine glasses are crystal, as it should be
Flan – yum!
Another foodie-on-a-budget trick is to eat at the bar at popular restaurants, ordering a stellar appetizer to share and then moving on to another stop; you don’t have to have reservations and can still experience stellar cuisine.
Have a po-boy sandwich somewhere – you’ll never have a better one than in New Orleans. Go for an oyster po-boy, or mix of fried oysters and shrimp (you’ll be having a meat-stuffed muffuletta later, so stick with the seafood on the po-boy). With creamy remoulade or tartar sauce spread liberally on freshly baked french bread, a pile of cold, shredded iceberg lettuce and thinly sliced tomatoes and hot, crunchy seafood stuffed so full it falls out, the po-boy in New Orleans will rock your world. Trust me on this. I haven’t been there, but the Storyteller blogger in New Orleans highly recommends Cafe Reconcile in Central City in this post. It’s a non-profit that helps at-risk youth turn their lives around, and I will definitely be going there on my next trip.
In addition to the po-boy, you must have a muffuletta. They’re large, so you can split one with your travel companion. I daren’t court controversy by naming a place with the “best” muffuletta because there are huge disagreements over the amount of meat / hot versus cold / size of the bread and how / whether it is toasted, etc. You’ll have to check with the locals and report back on your findings for the benefit of Glover Gardens readers. Here’s a muffuletta picture and recipe from Emerils.com to whet your appetite.
Another food must: have a cup of gumbo somewhere. I don’t always do this any more because I make a pretty mean gumbo myself, quite often (have you had it?), but you shouldn’t miss the chance to have gumbo in NOLA if you haven’t had that pleasure. You could order it at the bar of one of the foodie places you visit, and can be sure that they’ll bring you some crusty french bread for sopping.
And, since you asked, most people wouldn’t call this a must-eat in the Big Easy, but the Grill-Meister and I had a wonderful and memorable lunch at the New Orleans Pizza Kitchen when we ordered their extremely tasty and memorable Jambalaya Pizza.
My usual go-to for jazz is any place on Frenchmen Street, but since you’re under 21, most of the clubs there are off-limits, including my favorite, The Spotted Cat. However, here’s a link to some great recommendations where you can get in. I’ve been to almost all of the places listed, and you really can’t go wrong. Let me know where you go and what you think.
Preservation Hall is an experience unto itself and worth standing in line.
You’ll encounter small bands of musicians or solo artists camped on street corner after street corner – who are just as likely to be self-taught geniuses as they are to have had formal instruction. The music can be folksy or sophisticated, but either way, it is captivating, and you’ll want to be sure to have some dollars ready for tipping. If you feel called to dance, do it!
Be ready to seize the moment and literally “follow the music” at any time, because you might get lucky and see a second line parade. If you do, be sure to join in and become part of the party.
The Grill-Meister and I were awestruck a couple of years ago when we happened on a 2nd line parade that was a wedding party and all of the guests following a brass band in their traditional white uniforms and dancing Mardi Gras “Indians” in elaborate costumes as they made their way from the church to the reception at a hotel a few blocks away. The street was blocked off and there were several tables covered with champagne in plastic glasses (I had one; I’m not sorry). The whole experience was a microcosm of how “living out loud” seems to be commonplace in NOLA. It was magic – the mood, the people, the music. Wow.
Well Mallory, That’s About All…’Til Next Time, or ‘Til We Hear Your Tips
Most of these tips apply at any time of the year, and NOLA is the kind of place that is funat any time of the year. I’m looking forward to hearing about your discoveries during your December journey and posting them here.
Anyone Have Anything to Add?
And finally, here’s a request for all of you out there who love or live in NOLA: what are your suggestions for having a great time there in December, or any time? We’d love to know.