NOLA … you can’t live with her, and you can’t live without her

Apologies in advance for the humongous photos, especially if you are reading this on the actual WordPress site. My computer died last weekend, so I am working remotely and I can’t figure out how to resize without the hassle of code, sorry! ๐Ÿ™‚

Imagine coming home to these adorable faces. They were so shocked to see me, it was as though they must have thought they were seeing a ghost … a mirage … a figment of their imagination. But I was not. I was home, if only for a few days for work.

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Of course, home means food. And with food come kilos. And by kilos, I mean pounds … And boy, did I pack them on!

First stop, my nephew. A fresh slice of king cake awaited me. I did not take a photo. I was too mesmerized by the mouth watering memories inspired by decades of the season’s first slice. Against my better judgment, I had two slices.

Second stop, my favourite neighbourhood bar. One plate of chicken tenders, a grilled chicken sammich and a Ketel One Lemondrop later, bedtime.

Of course, then came the planning. As I had already known I’d be in NOLA for a bit, but knowing I couldn’t do everything, or even see everyone I wanted to, careful execution of my favourite places were necessary. Here are the results …

Happy hour at Domenica. Chef Alon Shaya’s gorgeous pizzas and my law school bestie …. what more could you want after a 16-hour travel day?

My all-time favourite: Clam Pizza
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Then, Lamb Meatball
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Followed by Duck Sweet Potato
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We finished with dessert, one of the inspirations for this blog, the Gianduja Budino, chocolate hazelnut pudding topped with candied hazelnuts!
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Then came Friday night with a celebratory dinner at Santa Fe. You recall how much I love Santa Fe, yes? My namesake drink and one perfect Tuna Tostada, and I was set for another six months:
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Lots more was eaten over the next few days, but I was so busy running around and so tired, I totally forgot to chronicle it all. That is, until dinner at Annunciation, right before an amazing evening with the stunningly handsome and talented Dustin Woehrmann. We saw Beauty and the Beast at the newly-reopened Saenger! Kudos to the Saenger … it was magnificent; even better than I remembered it pre-Katrina.

Dinner at Annunciation was … basic. I hadn’t been there yet, always driving by in a rush, never stopping to try it. The service was decent, food solid, but not as interesting as I prefer. We were able to still make the show with a few minutes to spare. I am not sure I would dine there again with less than two hours before a scheduled event, but they were really nice to us.
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Boasting an “intimate, stylish, bistro feel,” the decor was as pleasant a surprise as this seasonal drink. The first photo was of my drink, sweet, tart, salty… it hit every good part of the senses, and I didn’t get the urge to down it. The second, a champagne gin drink, I think. I cannot remember the name of either to save myself. Perhaps someone could send a comment to remind us? ๐Ÿ™‚

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We started with a round of appetizers, literally. The plates went around the table and we each got to try something different. I got the marinated crab claws (warning, they are served cold and have a ceviche feel) and Dustin, the oysters. The sweetbreads also hit the table, but apparently I was not swift enough for a photo, though I remember them well.
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I chose the crab cakes for my main dish, mostly because nothing on the main menu struck a chord with me, and because, well, I am a sucker for crab cakes. These were very good, all crab meat, lightly breaded, slightly toasted, on a bed of a tomato-based ragu, of sorts. I was content with the choice, and no, I did not share.
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A few other meals during the visit included:

* A previously-scheduled dinner at Coquette … but without all of the intended companions. I mentioned in another post that Christopher Hoggatt, an incredibly dear friend of mine died … quite unexpectedly … whose funeral I attended that Saturday in NOLA … well, I kept the reservation and we celebrated his life instead
* An impromptu and well-needed sushi lunch at Kyoto II
* Breakfast with my fabulous cousins at the best brunch spot in NOLA, Ruby Slipper
* A late lunch at the spacious bar at the Irish House
* A scrumptious lunch at Luke with my sister and a pair of other troublemakers that I love dearly

No photos to share there, but you can imagine the dishes. Coquette’s amazing everything. Sushi. Scrambled eggs. Grits. Biscuits. Homemade Irish fare by the awesome Matt Murphy. Red beans and rice with a pork chop. The end. ๐Ÿ™‚

The last stop before returning home to Brussels was the infamous Parkway Bakery, where President Obama once dined. There was no way I was going to leave NOLA without a poboy. So, in the last few hours before I hit the road, I enjoyed my favourite sammich in all the world, fried shrimp on bun, dressed, with extra pickles. Accompanied by one of my most treasured beers, Abita’s Andygator (now in six-packs!), it was time to return. And, well, okay, I give, I give! In addition to the shrimp on bun, I also had half of a hot roast beef poboy with extra gravy, add mayo and pickles, but that’s not as appetizing to photograph … ๐Ÿ™‚
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All in all, the trip back to NOLA was tiring, emotionally mentally and physically, but at least the silver lining was the food, the friends, the family.

With the exception of Gusto and a movie at Canal Place, I didn’t get to make it to an Adolfo restaurant, nor to see half the people I wanted to see because I was sharing my car …. but next time. We can always hope that there’s a next time.

For those I didn’t see, know that it was time-related, not love-related. For those who worked with my crazy schedule of clients, depositions that never happened, meetings, settlement conferences, sharing the car, pickup and dropoff times and traffic-woes, and for everyone who didn’t get my emails and text messages until I was standing in line at the gate on my way back to Brussels thanks to cyber-land holding them hostage, thank you.

With love from Brussels, and wishing I were with you at French Quarter Fest right now,

~ NOLAfoodie

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