My Travels to New Orleans – Part 2 of 3
Beignets at Cafe Du Monde, Jazz and Jambalaya at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe and highlights from IFT Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo make news in my New Orleans part 2 of 3 blog series. And I love writing these posts because I’m reliving my delicious and wonderful experience in NOLA.
French Quarter Food Experience
I took the advice from a couple I met in San Diego in April, “Go on a carriage ride of the French Quarter the first day you arrive in NOLA.” So that is exactly what I did. As I was leaving the International House Hotel (can’t wait to tell you all about this amazing gem in part 3) that Saturday afternoon, I asked the front desk staff where I should eat before the carriage ride. The answer was Stanley’s and order the Rueben sandwich. And that is exactly what I did. The sandwich, a childhood favourite was delicious. Golden brown, crispy rye encased the perfect combination of pastrami, corn beef, cheese, sauerkraut and dressing. Yum – now I was fueled for the French Quarter carriage ride – no other place like it on earth! That evening was spent at a restaurant in the Warehouse District (stay tuned for part 3).
The next morning, I set out on a power walk along the river; I met Donna, friend and colleague from Chicago at the infamous Cafe Du Monde for cafe au lait and beignets. Okay – don’t freak out, but I was not a fan of the fried dough drowning in icing sugar…after eating two, that was it for me. A bit of a letdown after many people telling me to go and “have a beignet for them…” Yes – I did like the cafe au lait! Interesting, before my trip when I dropped off my cat George at my Mom’s, I described my beignets plan to her. My mom was born and spent her childhood in Cape Breton and she described a similar sweet to the Cafe Du Monde beignets her Mother made her. However, it was filled with jam, topped with only a small amount of sugar. She said it was a treat with hot cocoa after school. Definitely – a fond, food memory for her.
Sunday evening was busy – first at an IFT reception at Arnaud’s with delicious appetizers featuring crawfish, oysters and shrimp! Then a group of us from the reception were treated by John – the American jazz buff, musician and scientist and Katherine – the Canadian fun lover, networker and business woman. They organized an 8 pm reservation at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe. The gang (3 Canadians and 3 Americans) left Arnaud’s and walked through the vibrant French Quarter. We arrived a few minutes after 8 pm to a reserved table near the stage.
I decided to order a traditional jambalaya and the infamous drink – the hurricane (I’m not a fan of whiskey – so the sazerac was never on my list). The band was an interesting mix like NOLA (young to mature, white, black) talented, entertaining and they asked for requests. Basin Street Blues (my request) was played near the end of their final set. And for my final set, I decided on the pecan pie and ice cream. The dessert was a sweet savory delight with short bread crust.
Yes – I was officially on a NOLA food and fun high from the time I landed until late that evening. Walking only a few blocks with the IFT Jazz loving gang, I was treated to a taxi ride back to my hotel from one of the gang – Ann, a cool, dynamic American dietitian.
With this being my first time in NOLA, I had many culinary distractions to keep me entertained in addition to IFT, however, I was disciplined to attend the show with passion! There were more than 1,000 exhibiting companies and 200+ new products being showcased, plus many educational sessions. It’s no surprise that I might have missed a few things! I was live tweeting one of the educational sessions, when a tweet of mine was picked up by Nathan Gray, Science Journalist for Food Navigator – Market Trends IFT 2014 Tweet by Tweet.
Stevia solutions along with other sugar reductions were making headlines, plus how to pack probiotics into a variety of applications, plant protein was showing no signs of slowing down, and surprisingly gluten-free options were still gathering attention. Along with the incredible event showcasing the amazing uses of sorghum by Iron Chef Marc Forgione, my next favourite highlight was flavoured ingredient options from Blue Diamond Almonds. My top two included coconut flavoured slices – perfect for the baking industry and dill pickle slivers for savory recipes!
Stay tuned for the final post in my New Orleans series, when I share with you my fantastic experiences at the International House Hotel, LOA bar, Capdeville, Mother’s and Peche Restaurants.