06 March 2010

New Orleans, Pt. 3: Food & Drink

As excited as I was to visit New Orleans, I was a little afraid that I'd starve there. The South is not exactly known for it's vegetarian-friendly cuisine, and New Orleans is seafood central! So, anal as I am, I did a bunch of research on the internet beforehand and marked veggie-friendly places on a map of the city. That way, if we were wandering a neighbourhood in search of food, we could just consult the map and find a place where I could eat. How clever am I?

I actually ate really well. There were plenty of restaurants with absolutely nothing vegetarian on the menu, but the places that did cater to vegetarians were fantastic!

The first place we found was Felipe's Taquería, a great little Mexican place on N. Peters St. The food was cheap ($15 for lunch for the two of us), fresh, homemade and delicious! I had a grilled veggie & black bean burrito with tortilla chips and guacamole. Kirk had a grilled chicken burrito. They were both fabulous and we cleaned our plates. They have a hot sauce bar, which was heavenly. But be warned - the sweet onion hot sauce is really spicy! The chipotle was just right. If Felipe's were in Vancouver, I would definitely eat there on a regular basis.

Kirk enjoys his burrito

My yummy burrito & guacamole

One of the places that was recommended to us repeatedly was Cafe du Monde, a coffee shop that opened in 1862 and has been serving coffee and beignets (deep fried doughnuts smothered in powdered sugar!) 24 hours a day ever since. We checked it out one sunny afternoon. Oh my! It's a good thing I don't live nearby! I had a decaf coffee (actually a blend of coffee and chicory, which is really strong and beautifully complex), Kirk had a cafe au lait, and we shared an order of beignets. Seriously, fried dough must be the yummiest thing ever!

 It's always crowded in there, but we didn't have to wait for a table.

 My new favourite meal...

Check out the powdered sugar!

There are some fat, diabetic pigeons in the neighbourhood.

One of the places on my map was Cafe Bamboo, one of the only wholly vegetarian restaurants in New Orleans. Located just east of the French Quarter in this funky little neighbourhood called Marigny, Cafe Bamboo is a mostly vegan, licensed restaurant with a great patio hidden in the back. I had red beans & rice with veggie sausage and Kirk had a quesadilla with yam fries. On the advice of the waitress, we had local Abita beer, which was really good and had beautiful labels!

On the evening after our swamp tour, we were famished and had dinner at Muriel's Jackson Square. It was a little more upscale and pricey than we were used to, but SO good! I had a salad of tomatoes, frisee, avocado and basil to start, and a vegetarian platter entree. Kirk had seafood chowder and filet mignon. Everything was just beautiful! I wish I had gotten photos, but I was too busy eating!

Another great meal was at Angeli on Decatur. Our friends Steve and Rory knew of the place and took us there for lunch. It's a fun little Mediterranean cafe with all sorts of crazy art all over the walls. We started with a delicious hummous and sundried tomato dip plate. I had a grilled eggplant sandwich, which was to die for! Everyone else's food looked really good too. Angeli's biggest claim to fame is that Brad & Angelina have eaten there. Again, no photos.

Steve & Rory also took us to Pat O'Briens on Bourbon Street to try their world famous hurricane (some kind of sweet red rum drink). The hurricane was okay, but I loved the glass and got to take it home!

Steve & I with our hurricanes.

We spent the last two days at Steve & Rory's house. Rory is a fantastic cook and made me some red beans & rice that I've been thinking about ever since... Their friend Tibby (?) found out I wanted to learn to make authentic tasting veggie versions of traditional Louisiana fare, and gave me a huge box of Cajun and Creole seasonings (or "a box of shit" as she referred to it)! I also came home with some chipotle Tabasco Sauce (did you know Tabasco is based in Louisiana?) and some pralines.

Kirk & I chowing down at Steve & Rory's

My Louisiana groceries

Overall, I ate way too much good quality food in New Orleans. That is my definition of a good vacation!

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