Nouvelle-Orléans – NOLA – The Big Easy – N’awlins

My Mom and I just returned from a Culinary and Cocktail tour of this amazing city with so many names. Here is a visual tour with plenty of my personal commentary.After flying all day, we arrived in hot & humid lovely New Orleans. Our first stop was the Cocktail Museum inside the Southern Food & Beverage Museum for a class in the history of Cocktails. We arrived rushed, hot and thirsty…….we were promptly handed a Brandy Milk Punch……aww perfect. A great class with Chris McMillian taught us about 3 signature cocktails as seen in above photo. Great kick off for the tour.Next adventure…a slow ride around the Quarter at sun down, while being brought yet another cocktail to sip in the warm evening air…..LOVED this. The carriage dropped us off at the Palm Court for dinner and jazz. Day 2 starts off with a Cajun cooking class, with Harriet, she’s AMAZING! Born and raised in Louisiana, she told the best stories about food, her family and showed us how to make a mean Gumbo. Full belly’s and smarter……..several of us strolled across the street to the Napoleon House for a Pimm’s Cup………..not the best Pimm’s I’ve had, they use sweet and sour instead of 7up or ginger ale…no like, but Napoleon’s was very cool.Our first progressive dinner, walk , and journey started with a 12 block walk to Luke’s. We arrived to a private dining room to the above…a boat full of oysters & French 75’s, what a first course!Stop #2 GW Fins…..the best food of the trip….the Nola Fizz was so refreshing – seafood was great and the lobster dumplings were light and delicate, truly amazing. Biscuits were to die for, so much so that I asked for the recipe. Next a walk down Bourbon Street to hear some jazz at Fritzel’s, great spot, great music, cold beer. FUNNext stop Antoine’s for dessert and coffee…….not just your normal coffee and dessert though, we were treated to Baked Alaska & Café Brûlot Diabolique. Charles, our waiter, a third generation waiter at the oldest restaurant in the country. He was an excellent tour guide, showman and southern gentlemen. Here are a few pictures from our private tour.The Japanese Room & Large Annex RoomThe Wine Cellar  165 feet long  25,000 bottles in inventory.The Rex RoomMardi Gras Krewe memorabiliaI found King Cake babies!! When I was in Culinary school, we made little babies out of tin foil because we didn’t have the real ones like these pictured above, so I was geeked out to find these lil’ guys. One is baked into the King Cake and who ever gets the baby in their piece will have good luck. Check out this cool tumblr starring a King Cake BabyDay 3 – Lunch on the Steamboat Natchez, nice cruise down the beautiful brown Mississippi.After the river tour we were met at the dock by an old friend….Harold Gee, he towed 2 bikes on his bike for us to ride. He took us on a tour of his neighborhood. Rough roads in New Orleans makes for very bumpy bike riding, but it was great to get out of the Quarter. We rode through the Marigny to the Bywater and had cold beers at Vaughn’s- Ribs at the Joint- Big thanks to Harold for taking us into his village, it was very cool.Last dinner in town at Muriel’s Jackson Square – the menu, the food and 2 drunk girls in the French Quarter. I’m going to miss this town…..wait, I already do.9AM Jackson Square….PlayersSt Louis Cathedral from Jackson SquareInside St Louis Cathedral$.25 Martini came with the prix fixe lunch. Last lunch in town- Antoine’s again because Mom missed the first tour, she crashed early, hadn’t quite got her drinking legs on.

It seems shocking that we ate so much, drank so much and walked so much (18 miles)  in so few days. It went by far too quickly. This tour was flawless, I will admit that I was a little reluctant to go on any kind of planned tour, but this one was perfect. The access to special places, the history, the timing, the fun, the care taken to make our journey so easy and comfortable, all I can say is…. well done & THANK YOU to Chris & Mary!! I will go on any trip y’all plan. Chris and Mary are the owners of a great restaurant in San Diego called the Wine Vault & Bistro, go eat there and for sure take a trip with them.

Guest Blog #3 Beer and Food

Cameron sent me this blog a couple of weeks ago so its my bad I didn’t get it posted fast enough. He timed this subject for a specific week in the world of beer…..

It’s Christmas this week! Oh sorry I guess it’s just American Craft Beer Week, pretty much all the same to me. I thought we could focus on the tastes of beer and paring with food for this post. Now put down that Bud Light and let’s focus on some nice craft beers!

Tasting beer is very similar to wine. It should always be poured into a glass, start with the smell, and look at the color, is it hazy? Clear? Then we can begin to taste. There are so many variables here, does it start sweet like caramel and end bitter like lemon or pine? You are probably holding a double IPA  Do you taste coffee? dark chocolate? then you are probably tasting a stout or a porter. Analyzing your beer will really help you enjoy the experience.

Now for some pairings – its grilling season so let’s start with something lighter. A great pairing for chicken, pork, veggies straight off the grill would be anything lighter, and maybe slightly fruity. I would suggest a pilsner, saison, or a light Belgian beer like a tripel or a Belgian blond. For spicer foods you can step it up to a maltier and hoppier pale ale or maybe an IPA. For that burger there really is no better pairing then a good American style pale ale. Now onto dessert – chocolate anyone? Pair that with a stout, preferably a milk stout or a coffee/cappuccino stout. These are perfect ways to round out your meal!

There are literally thousands of ways to pair beer with food. Once you really start to understand the tasting experience, it gets a lot easier to pair food and beer!

A few quick (and delicious) examples of those types of beers listed above:

Pilsner: Oskar Blues – Mamas Little Yella Pils

Saison: Anchorage Love Buzz Saison

Belgian Blond: Epic – Brainless Belgian Style Golden Ale

Belgian Tripel: La Fin Du Monde

Pale Ale: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale; Oscar Blues Dales Pale Ale

IPA: Russian River – Pliny the Elder

Firestone Walker – Union Jack

Bear Republic- Racer 5

Stout: Left Hand – Milk Stout; Lagunitas – Cappuccino Stout; Firestone Walker – Velvet Merlin