Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Drinks at NOLA - New Orleans, LA

In the French quarter, one can walk on the streets with alcohol as long as the container is plastic. Most people were roaming around with hand grenades, a green globular structure filled with alcohol

It is rumored that the first ever cocktail originated in NOLA, also home of several other originals.


Named after the hurricane lamp-like glass it is served in, made with Pat O Brian's hurricane mix - A big favorite there, not a big fan, but we tried a couple just to give it a fair chance. Very sweet. Here is how you make it....

In a 26 oz. Hurricane glass, mix
4 oz. of Pat O'Brien's Hurricane Rum or a good Dark Rum
4 oz. of Pat O'Brien's Hurricane Mix
Fill with crushed ice

Brandy Milk Punch

My personal favorite, a perfect brunch drink. Wonder why it is not as mainstream as the Mimosa, may be everyone does not like milk in the morning. I grew up drinking  mine and my sister's share of milk for the first twenty years of my life, so the milk and brandy mixture seemed just right. For the bartenders at home, this is how it is done....

1 1/2 ounces brandy
1 ounce simple syrup
½ bar spoon high quality vanilla extract
A couple ounces of Half-and-half
Cubed ice
Grated nutmeg


Created by a pharmacist, arguably the first cocktail ever created, definitely tasted like medicine. This is what he mixed together...

1/2 teaspoon absinthe, or Herbsaint (a New Orleans brand of anise liqueur)
1 teaspoon of simple syrup (or 1 sugar cube or 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar)
4 dashes Peychaud's (the inventor's name) bitters
2 ounces rye whiskey
Strip of lemon peel

Gin Fizz

A slight variation of the gin and tonic, very refreshing. This is the version we tried:
Sloe Gin Fizz - contains sloe gin, lemon juice, superfine sugar, and club soda (with no egg white).
Definitely try out the original 'The Ramos Gin Fizz'

Not uniquely New Orleanean, but my first experiences:

Jello shots from syringes

Cheesy and juvenile but so much more fun when you are no longer in college.

Irish car bomb

Served in a special cup (a small shot glass is built into a cup), very functional. The shot glass holds the Irish cream and the cup holds the Guinness and whiskey mixture. The flavors blend perfectly when you gulp it down.
Don’t have to be a meat eater to enjoy any of these.
Pat O'Briens on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 7, 2009

Five Guys Burgers and Fries - Pembroke Pines, FL


They post the lineage of potatoes used on the white board just above the cash register. Today's were form Shelley, Idaho. Did not try them yet, but definitely going back for the Cajun fries on a day I feel thinner(recovering from the NOLA trip damage); they have opened up a store just around the corner.

The store is lined with bags of potatoes and boxes of roasted peanuts; my husband, a huge fan, was delighted and popped in a few. Ashamed to accept, but my initial reaction was to look around and make sure nobody saw him eat, later realised they were there for our enjoyment.

Finally somebody is pricing their vegetartian sandwiches right! Just 2 bucks. Two of my favorite ingredients, onions and peppers are grilled - to a vegetarian the difference between grilled and raw vegetables is huge. I opted for the hot sauce with all their toppings and it really hit the spot. A cool Corona light would go perfectly well with this meal.
My sandwich had Mayo, Relish, Onions, Lettuce, Pickles, Tomatoes, Grilled Onions, Grilled Mushrooms, Ketchup, Mustard, Jalapeno Peppers, Green Peppers, and Hot Sauce.

Link to their menu: Five Guys
Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 4, 2009

Breakfast at the French Quarter: Brennan's - New Orleans, LA


I am a vegetarian and I eat eggs. That could open up a whole array of dishes I can enjoy, but I am also one of those finicky vegetarians who complains when omelets, pancakes or crepes (dishes made with eggs) smell or taste like eggs.

The description on the menu at Brennan's was so tempting (also coupled with the fact that there were no other options besides desserts) that I went for Eggs Portuguese. The exact words were flaky pastry shells filled with freshly chopped tomatoes sautéed in butter with parsley and shallots. Topped with poached eggs and covered with Hollandaise sauce. A description so appealing that you want to get to know it, see it and then consume it. The eggs were perfect, like a piece of semi-solid heaven. They seemed to have miraculously gotten rid of the more unfavorable characteristics and retained only the likable ones.

Simple items like Strawberries and double cream (very English) and southern baked apples with double cream tasted delicious. We also tried a whole array of desserts: Bananas Foster - Brennan's original recipe , strawberry filled crepe and chocolate cake.

We actually had a butler (shared amongst a few tables); but totally ignored his performance at the stove while he made our deserts. When the food is this good who can blame us for missing the show, but then again how often do you have a semi-personal butler? Never had one.

The restaurant is housed in Edgar Degas's (French Impressionist painter) grandparent's house; there is a lot of history, character, and some level of formality associated with the place.We had reservations here; the place was recommended to us by a friend, an expensive meal but definitely lived up to the hype.

Link to their menu: Brennan's, New Orleans,LA
Brennan's Restaurant on Restaurantica
Brennan's on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Gumbo Shop - French Quarter, New Orleans, LA

This was a jackpot - I was attracted to the place because of one menu item that said 'a vegetarian dish with rice, beans and creole seasonings'. Lo and Behold we could eat all of the items below:
Gumbo z ' herbes or green gumbo
Meatless macque choux corn
Garlic mashed potatoes
Beans and rice with Creole seasoning
Stir fried asparagus
Bread pudding with whiskey sauce (a traditional southern dessert, too sweet for some folks but perfect for my sweet tooth)
New Orleans may seem like a meat lovers paradise which it very well may be, but it definitely takes care of vegetarians. I have heard the words southern, comfort, homely used to describe these foods time and again and now I completely understand why. The high ceilings, and walls with murals were a contrast to the low key but extremely tasty food. Our slightly portly, sweet and sour waitress (very motherly, with a strict-for-your-own-good attitude) definitely made us feel at home.
A must visit for any vegetarian wandering around the French Quarter.

Link to their menu: Gumbo shop, New Orleans, LA
Gumbo Shop on Urbanspoon
Gumbo Shop on Restaurantica

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cafe Du Monde - French Quarter, New Orleans, LA

Cafe Du Monde: A French coffee stand in NOLA@

Coffee and Beignets at Cafe Du Monde

Here is a place that serves only coffee, orange juice, and Beignets (French Donuts). You would imagine this to be a small coffee shop with a few loyal followers but, No! this is a humongous establishment, that easily holds two hundred odd people, and there is always a line to get in.

The waiters need special maneuvering skills and are tiny enough to navigate their way through the innumerable tables, balancing several cups of coffee and beignets doused with mountains of powdered sugar. They have to delicately balance between moving fast enough ( and serve 100's of customers) but not so fast that they leave a trail of grey haired (sugar sprinkled) coffee drinkers along their way.

Mounds of powered sugar on these deliciously soft, seemingly harmful but extremely fattening delicacies accompanied with a cup of cafe au lait seems to be the perfect meal/snack for anytime of the day. We found ourselves going back there at odd times, and dutifully standing in line on our four day trip to New Orleans.

Now coming to the star of the experience, the coffee - half espresso, half milk was the way coffee was always meant to be consumed. The coffee powder had a good proportion of chicory. It was served at the right temperature. I am so used to getting extremely hot coffee and having to wait for it to cool down, loosing track of time, ending up with a lukewarm beverage, and just gulping it down - coffee at the right temperature is such a treat. I grew up drinking Madras coffee, the coffee powder was always bought at one particular store and was always prepared with fresh boiled milk with the right proportion of the decoction, milk and sugar. This is the most I have enjoyed coffee since then.
Added bonus: Everything on the menu is vegetarian

A link to their website: Cafe Du Monde, French Quarter, NOLA

Cafe Du Monde on Urbanspoon
Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand on Restaurantica