There is no other place in the world like New Orleans. The collision of music, food, culture, and history creates a special kind of magic that you feel as soon as you step your feet off the plane and into that humid, colorful, noisy place.
We visited New Orleans recently to dive into the food culture of the city and ended up falling in love. Our trip started out with the famed broiled oysters of Drago’s. The chef speedily dealing out oysters onto an open flamed grill like cards on a poker table – row after row across multiple grills. And then comes the garlic, herb, butter sauce, splashing over the shells and teasing the flames to flare up and curl the edges of the oysters. The final touch is a topping of parmesan and secrets that makes a crunchy, melty layer on top. Dive in with some crusty, but airy bread to soak up all that sauce & you are in oyster heaven!
And then the weekend rolled on. There were nights wandering up & down Frenchman Street, being seduced by the music. Blues, jazz, funk pouring out from each doorway we passed. The music that moved us in each moment was our guide, and at each step we were mesmerized by the soulful musicians playing their siren songs into our hearts. The incessant rhythm of the city grabbed us by the hips and wouldn’t let us stop dancing. And so we didn’t. We tumbled into bed in the wee hours of the morning, sweaty & smiling into our dreams.
In the mornings, we revived ourselves with beignets & cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde. Multiple times. YES, it is as good as they say! Perfect pillows of dough nuzzled under a veritable blanket of fine powdered sugar. (Pro tip: Don’t wear black here!) Cafe au lait prepared properly with steaming hot milk to wash it all down. The sugar & caffeine rush was just right to propel us into a day of walking the beautiful french quarter & exploring energetic festivals like the Freret Street Festival full of food, art and more live music.
To learn even more about the secrets behind the food, we took a cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking located in the heart of the French Quarter. Highly recommended to anyone who loves to cook! A really fun time where we learned some of the secrets of making a good roux, the importance of the Holy Trinity, and how to get that HEAT in Cajun & Creole food. The story of how the cuisine of city developed is an epic novel of cultural liaisons resulting in something wholly unique (and delicious!).
And then, by chance, we stumbled upon Cafe Reconcile, a restaurant with a very similar mission to our own Cafe Momentum in Dallas. They’ve been in business for 20 years, helping teens from at-risk communities by providing them jobs & life skills training. We were so moved by their work, that we formed a partnership with them, and when you subscribe this month for the New Orleans box, we will be donating part of our proceeds to Cafe Reconcile! Chef Joe Smith has shared some of his signature recipes with us and we are so excited to feature them in our New Orleans box!
If you haven’t guessed by now, we are indeed featuring the cuisine & culture of New Orleans this next month. In this box you’ll find our experience exploring the city for several days and really soaking up the flavors & culture of this unique place. We hope to be able to show you the soul of New Orleans through this culinary adventure! Sign up by 6/30/2016 to get this box as your first box in July and Laissez les bon temps roulez!
(Photos by Luis Moya)