Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sazerwrap - Part 1: The Food

The Sazerwrap has been RtBE way of rounding up all the amazing things that happen down at our annual trip to Jazzfest in New Orleans.  This year we spent a week in town so we will breaking the review up into a few parts.  Only 11 Months until next years festival!
Our Favorite Sazerac in town at The Carousel Bar in The Montelone
New Orleans means a lot to a ton of people, the culture, the art, the various music scene's and yet the one thing that seems to tie it all together is the amazing food on display at every turn in town.

We had a chance to try more things then ever on our trip down south this year, here is only a sampling of the great edibles we consumed.

Jazzfest Festival Eats:  
While we will get to the music of the fairgrounds later, we need to mention the amazing food presented inside the festival grounds.  No Aramark or knock off overpriced blandness at this festival!  Local cooks, restaurant owners and growers are invited in and sell their wares for affordable prices, making the food inside almost as big of a draw as the musicians.
This was the first meal I had in town of any kind and it just happened to be on the festival on Friday in-between Trombone Shorty and Dr. John.  It is some fresh lemonade with a crawfish stuffed sausage po'boy and a crab cake.  What I love about this town is you can get the off the beaten path items, then be blown away by the simple things like this crab cake, which was the highlight of the meal.

When we went back the following weekend, we partook in Fried Green Tomato's,which were amazing, but the real winner was the Shrimp stuffed with Crab.  Well Stuffed wasn't exactly the right word as there was almost a full crab cake latched on to a huge shrimp.  Delightful.

The nights can get away from you down in The Big Easy and time is just something else to watch flow by.   However a hearty breakfast any time is vital to keep the body humming while trying to catch all that magic in your head.  2 that really stood out above and beyond this year are here:
That is the Migas breakfast from the fantastic Ruby Slipper on Magazine Street.  This place is perfect for the wake up, or hungover meal to get you going.  The Migas is a house specialty, a Tex-Mex egg scramble featuring onions, tomato's, cilantro, pepper jack cheese, tortilla chips and spicy chorizo sausage. It coated things uber-nicely.
Amping things up just a bit is a ritual for me now at Jazzfest, the Crawfish Pie and Fried Green Tomato's at EAT in the French Quarter. This is simply fantastic and a must stop for me now as everything that they serve is delicious.  Behind the pie on the other plate is what Kelly called "The Best Omellette In the World" which consists of, goat cheese and ham served with grilled French bread and mixed greens tossed with champagne vinaigrette.  A huge fruit plate finished things off as we got our vitamins.   

Speaking of staples on our excursions Cochon has become another must attend.  Being there for a full week meant a lunch there and a dinner.  Except I ordered pretty much the same things each time.
An Oyster Bacon Sandwich and a cold hi-life is pretty much heaven to this guy, and that is what I got both times.  We played with a few sides, the Fried Alligator with Chili Garlic Aioli was good, but the Crawfish Etouffee was even better.  Mac and Cheese was also a major score this time down.

Perhaps the one place we seem to spend the most time at in our travels down south is this fantastic bar located in the Loews Hotel.  Bar Chef Lu Brow has welcomed us into the joint, and now can't get us to leave!  Along with Dave behind the bar, the team there is unreal with cocktails; they make drinking even more of a religious experience.
This was concocted by Lu for a non drinker in the group...needless to say it was a success. 

The drink of choice in this town, the Gin-Gin Mules crafted at Cafe Adelaide/Swizzle.  Wow I am salivating thing of them right now.  
The restaurant is also top notch (it should be as it is linked to the one below), just check out the Crab Cobb salad or the Ham and Grilled Cheese up there!  What also should be noted is this location has the best Bloody Mary's in town.  Needed on some mornings.  Our whole crew who head south can not speak highly enough about Swizzle Stick Bar, you must try it out.  

Commanders Palace:
If you had pinned me down in April and asked me to tell you the best meal I ever had I would have said Craft in NYC a few years ago.  Everything about that meal was top notch, service, food, selection, taste, it had it all.  Ask me that same question now that I am back from New Orleans and the answer has been updated...Commanders Palace takes the bread pudding.  
I should have seen it coming when the appetizer was a combination of two of my favorite foods on the planet, Gnocchi and Crawfish.  What started off amazing just kept climbing to even greater heights as the famed Turtle Head Soup arrived with some of it's buddies.  
 Everyone mentioned that soup but a sampler was just too good to pass up, the soup of the day was a spinach, avocado, oyster trifecta that was richer then Bill Gates and the surprise winner of the group was the gumbo.  Sure Commanders Palace may be an opulent choice for a meal in New Orleans, but there is a reason, staples like Gumbo simply sing.  
Not to be out done, my main course was unbelievable in just out and out flavor.  BBQ Shrimp with an Abita glaze over the best grits in the world was mind blowing.  Every bite of the grits yielded a new surprise, corn, chorizo, smoothness, it was divine. 
Stuffed but still had to try desert and I am so thankful we did.   Kelly had the Strawberry Shortcake above and after the first bite her eyes were rolling back in her head with delight. 
I went with the house specialty bread pudding and may have never tasted a better desert ever.  This was simply magic in bowl.  While it was far from the cheapest meal we had in town, it was cheap compared to a New York City meal on the same level, so that was an added win when the bill came.  What a feast, it was so good it put me in a food coma and I had to cut my post meal viewing of Meschiya Lake and Big Horns short after only a few songs...my body was done.   
These are just some of the fantastic meals we had in town, got any others to talk about feel free to do so in the comments.

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