Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton

New Orleans Roadfood Festival Trip, Part 1

I'd been planning to do one massive post about our New Orleans trip, because I'm frustrated at my habit of only posting about the first few days of my trips.

But I started worrying about the risk of losing data, and I decided that multiple posts would be easier to read. So, multiple posts.

Our trip to New Orleans began inauspiciously. Lori was to pick me up at the office on the way to the airport. But I was in a meeting and I had left my phone in my office, so I missed her calling for me for almost an hour. Fortunately, this did not give us any trouble with getting onto our flight. We even had time for dinner at TGI Friday's in the airport.

Storms around Dallas/Fort Worth complicated our lives more, though: we landed 45 minutes late, and then we discovered that the connecting flight to New Orleans had been canceled. We considered taking a flight to Gulfport and renting a car from there, but we decided that we were too tired to do so. So we booked tickets for the noon flight the next day and accepted the coupon for a distress rate at a nearby motel with a shuttle. (There were hassles there--the first hotel the airline representative offered us turned out not to be running their shuttle any more that night.) The Studio 6 hotel room was decorated in garish orange, all of my clothes and toiletries were still in our checked luggage (which was still bound for New Orleans), and we both had trouble sleeping in the bed.
But there was a silver lining: DFW is the most airport for us to be laid over like this, because my parents live near Dallas. We called them up and arranged to eat breakfast with them Thursday morning. We were prioritizing convenience over cuisine, though, so we went to a Denny's. Fortunately, we dined better for the rest of the trip.

March 25

The flight to New Orleans was uneventful, including the trip to the Hotel Monteleone.

Our first impression: the French Quarter looks like my stereotype of New Orleans. This is not something to be taken for granted--most cities don't look like their sterotypes, but just look like other cities. But the French Quarter has had a lot of care taken to maintain its appearance.

~/ Mother's /~

After depositing our bags in our room, we went to Mother's for lunch. I had the Ferdi Special, because it had been recommended by multiple people, and the black ham biscuit. Lori had the 2/3 size Ferdi special. Really, with the other things we got, the 2/3 size Ferdi special would have been enough for me--perhaps even enough for both of us.
I was not wowed by the Ferdi special; it didn't really seem to have a lot of flavor. The black ham biscuit, though, was excellent, with a big pile of sweet flavorful ham sandwiched between the biscuit halves.

The Ferdi Special:

The black ham biscuit:

For dessert, then, we had bread pudding. This was the best of the multiple bread puddings we had on the trip. It had fruit cocktail (or an equivalent combination of fruits) in the batter that added a nice medley of flavors.

The service made it clear that we were in the South. Being addressed as "hon" or "dear" is not unheard of in Pittsburgh, but "sweet pea" went beyond what one might expect in Pittsburgh.

~/ Ghost Tour /~

We learned from a brochure that the ghost tour we were interested in had a 6pm run as well as an 8pm tour. This was good news; the 6pm tour suited our other plans much better. So we went off to that. The tour was pretty good, but Midian the tour guide really played up the grotesque aspects of his stories in a way that the ghost tours we've taken in San Francisco and Pittsburgh did not. And the Wikipedia article on Delphine LaLaurie casts doubts on the authenticity of his horror stories there.

~/ Galatoire's /~

After the tour concluded, we walked down Bourbon Street to Galatoire's for an upscale dining experience. (I had brought a sport coat so that we had the option to go to jacket-required places like this, and it would have been a shame to waste it.)

For our appetizer, we shared crabmeat maison. This was similar to a seafood salad with crabmeat, mayonnaise, celery, and so forth--but it was splendid and delectable beyond all my previous experience of such things.

I had the sauteed flounder with crabmeat Yvonne. The crabmeat Yvonne was a combination of crabmeat, mushrooms, and brown butter. To properly describe the experience of this dish, I have to digress for a bit: I am usually not good at subtleties. I like bold flavors in my food, because I tend not to pick up on delicate flavors. I prefer pop music with a strong simple beat to intricate classical or jazz pieces. I get bored by ballet, because I don't grasp the nuances of what's going on.
So with that context established, I can say that my dinner was a wonderful dance of delicate flavors--and it made all its subtleties easy for me to grasp. So not only was it superb, but it was superb in a way that I am not normally able to appreciate. It was like a splendid ballet that magically made all its subtle details apparent to me.

For a side dish, I had the Brabant potatoes, which turned out to be diced, cubed, fried, and seasoned--so basically home fries. They were very good home fries, but I felt that I had made a wrong choice, because they did not complement the delicate entree very well.

Lori had the crabmeat Sardou: artichoke bottoms topped with crabmeat, creamed spinach, and hollandaise sauce. This was also excellent, but I didn't get enough bites to be able to describe this well.

For her side dish, she selected souffleed potatoes. We expected these to be some sort of light, fluffy potatoes, but we were wrong. Instead, they were hollow fried potato shells. In SAT analogy form: souffleed potatoes are to potato slices as sopaipillas are to tortillas. They were accompanied by béarnaise sauce. They weren't a perfect match for her crabmeat Sardou, but they were so unusual that I was glad to have them.

For dessert, we had banana bread pudding with caramel sauce. This was quite good, but I think I preferred Mother's.

~/ Preservation Hall /~

I listen to jazz a lot, so I considered it essential to listen to live jazz on a trip to New Orleans. And I wanted to listen to old New Orleans-style jazz, because I like it and it's apt to New Orleans. So we went to Preservation Hall.

The Preservation Hall band wasn't playing, but a band called New Birth Brass Band was playing, with a classic New Orleans style. We had a good time listening. The playlist:
What a Wonderful World
Down in New Orleans
You Are My Sunshine
Hoping You'll Come Back to Me
Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?
Let the Good Times Roll

Preservation Hall is really a pretty small space; the playing space wasn't that much larger than our living room.

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