Today, food is still the main event in New Orleans. Inevitably, after a visitor spends time in New Orleans, it is the food that is most memorable.
The fusion of cultures that began settling in New Orleans in the late seventeenth century – French, Spanish, West Indian, Sicilian, Cajun, and Creole – yielded a gourmet gumbo visitors to today’s New Orleans continue to savor.
On your visit to New Orleans, get the day off to a good start at Café du Monde, renowned for powdered-sugar beignets and chicory-flavored cafe au lait. After touring the French Quarter and New Orleans Voodoo Museum, the Old U.S. Mint (don’t miss its collection of Mardi Gras costumes) and the above-ground cemeteries of New Orleans, visit the antiques shops and art galleries along Royal Street.
Collecting Memories in New Orleans
What do you collect? Whether it’s toys, dolls, silver, antique jewelry, or even Newcomb pottery, you’re like to find prime examples for sale in New Orleans. For generations the small shops along Royal Street in New Orleans have furnished many of the French Quarter’s loveliest homes with carved, curvilinear 18th- and 19th-century masterpieces.
Visitors who appreciate relics of the more recent past will find Art-Deco pieces as well as 50s and 60s retro items on display here as well. This is the only city I know of where you can find vintage stilt-walkers’ gear – in one store after the next!
Browsers and those on a budget will appreciate the fun and funky Lower Garden District, along Magazine Street. Like the French Quarter, its restaurants and art galleries are nestled among shops carrying vintage collectibles.
A Midday Meal in New Orleans
For lunch, make the tough choice between a po-boy (a tower of roast beef or fried shrimp or oysters) or a muffuletta (antipasto on round bread).
At Tujague's things are still done precisely as they were 100 years ago. Tujague's (pronounced `Two Jacks') offers only three entrées a day - one each of beef, seafood and chicken. But don't let that scare you off. Whether it's the shrimp rémoulade, signature boiled brisket of beef or garlic chicken bonne femme, each is made to an ancient recipe and with strict attention to detail. The service is great fun and the place makes a heavenly bread pudding for dessert.
Cooking schools in The Big Easy teach visitors how to make jambalaya, shrimp Creole, bananas Foster, pralines, and other regional dishes.
Which foods are most remembered sometimes depends on the timing of the visit. In the winter, chances are visitors will delight at the array of etouffees and thick, robust gumbos put before them. Etouffee is a rich, well-seasoned tomato-based sauce that is lovingly combined with crawfish or shrimp.
The finest seafood is usually close to the source, as a number of restaurants serve fresh seafood alongside Lake Pontchartrain. Certain restaurants are known for the best bread pudding with whiskey sauce or rum topping. Others are known for the best bouillabaisse (seafood stew).
New Orleans and all that Jazz
Crawfish pies are one of the main attractions of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, a springtime event that has become one of the largest and most renowned festivals of its kind in the world. Chances are festival-goers will have a smoked andouille sausage in one hand and a boudin in the other as the likes of Fats Domino or Harry Connick, Jr. provide the jazz.
Dinner is when New Orlean’s incredible chefs pull out the stops. Dine at world-renowned restaurants such as Commander’s Palace, K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, Dominique’s, Brennan’s, and century-old Galatoire’s to experience a taste of New Orleans in every bite.