New Orleans: food city

New Orleans is unlike any US city I’ve ever visited. It feels European, with its narrow streets and tall balconied buildings. Mum and I were there in May and the weather absolutely perfect: sunny every day, not too hot, and mild evenings. We stayed in the Omni Royal Crescent hotel near the French Quarter, but far enough away from the noise. It was a very easy and cheap to get around on the trams, and it was, of course, very easy to find places to eat. Which brings me to the first topic of this three-part post: FOOD!

New Orleans School of Cooking

After reviewing TripAdvisor and other places, we decided that going to watch a cooking demonstration would be a Good Thing to do. So on our first morning we turned up at the New Orleans School of Cooking for their Daily Open Demonstration Class. The room was packed and the class sat with rapt attention as instructor Pat described the foundation of New Orleans, and how the coming and going of the French and the Spanish informed the cuisine that the city is famous for.

The $32.50 fee was worth it just to listen to this history lesson, but then we got to watch Pat cook four dishes: gumbo, jambalaya, bananas foster and pralines. Then we got to eat it all and wash it down with the local Abita beer. We were given the recipes, and told if we cooked one of the dishes at home we could send off for a certificate. I bought some of the local spice “Joe’s Stuff” and cooked gumbo when we got back to Pasadena – and duly received my certificate!

And the rest

After the cooking class, and based on all the recommendations we received, we had a big list of other food we needed to try, including boiled crawfish, po’boys,  grilled oysters, and of course, beignets and chicory coffee at Café Du Monde. And naturally, each evening, we had to try a new cocktail – the more imaginative name the better (Gator Juice anyone?). Brennan‘s was the stand-out place for cocktail hour, thanks to its calm back courtyard and attentive service.

Next post: What to do in New Orleans

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