Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Real Food Done Real Good - Part 2

Now, where did we leave off? Oh yes, the wind in my hair. The Bloody Mary in my cup holder. On perhaps the nicest day ever recorded in the Farmer's Almanac for New Orleans.

So somewhere in between my pre-ride mojito, my Abita Amber and my Bloody Mary, I thought it would be a great idea to ask my tour guide to take me by Brad and Angelina's house. He didn't know where it was specifically, but he knew which block it was on, so he took us down that street, which was good enough for me. Did I see Brangelina's house? Probably. Do I know that for sure? No. Am I going to tell people I saw Brad Pitt on a balcony in nothing but a towel? Absolutely. 

After our delicious Bloody Mary and some "No Penetration, Just Conversation," it was time for our next food stop. Our guide took us to Bennachin, which is this blink-and-you-miss-it spot serving African food in the French Quarter.

Ty and I shared this delicious plate of fried plantains. They're sweet and caramelized on the outside, and surprisingly, they go very well with the marinara sauce. These are often compared to bananas, but are more starchy and less sweet. Very different and yummy!

This was probably our shortest stop on the trip. I hate to eat plantains and run, but I was excited to see where the bike ride would take us for our final stop -- a guaranteed "special treat" by our guide.

We cruised along until we hit Canal Street. This was the craziest part of our biking experience. Lots of traffic, including people, cars, horse-drawn carriages and horse-drawn carriage "left behinds" that you definitely don't want slinging on you off your front wheel. But it wasn't a scary experience (other than those "left behinds"). We finally pulled up to our last stop, Palace Cafe.

It's such a charming restaurant with a comfortable French style. Ty and I decided we would enjoy one of their special treats, Peter's Planter Punch, which placed in the 2010 Tales of the Cocktail National Drink Contest.

I believe this was about the time I started bragging to my husband about how well I had done taking pictures and that I had remembered to get each building and each plate of food to be able to share our tour with you all.

Then I looked down at my plate and saw this.

I guess I spoke too soon. And I was so close! Fortunately, I found this picture on the web.

The crabmeat cheesecake is one of Palace Cafe's signature dishes. Imagine a savory cheesecake. It's baked in a pecan crust with a wild mushroom sauté and Creole meunière sauce. It's dense and fluffy at the same time. I really can't explain this thing, other than to say it's delicious. 

By this point, we'd spent almost five hours riding around the city. It was so much fun and definitely not lacking in character. Here are some other signs we saw cruising around town.

The Facts, according to New Orleans. I consider these all worthy rules to live by.

So many homes in New Orleans still bear their markings from Katrina. The top of the X is the date the home was searched; the left lists the inspector; the right notes any hazards, such as gas leaks or infestations; and the bottom number is the death count for that home. Such a sad reminder that is still on the majority of homes.

And finally, there was this sign. It once caught the attention of Travel Channel's Andrew Zimmern, and it's not hard to understand why. I'm a Louisiana native and many of these "wildlife specials" scare me.

FYI, they leave the fur on the racoon's feet so you know they're not trying to sneak you a rat instead. That's the kind of valuable knowledge you can get only on a culinary bike tour. Not that I would eat rat or raccoon!

Bon Appetite!


Meryl & Russell McLendon said...

Happy anniversary, you two! Stephanie, you planned an amazing trip to commemorate the occassion. Now how do I go about getting my own sign listing "The Facts"? Thanks for sharing!

Ashley Netherton said...

Love it! y'all saw so many neat things! We love the Palace Cafe! It may be our fav place to eat in New Orleans, however, we had to skip it the last time we went, since I took advantage of 3 for one drinks on Bourbon! whoopsie!

Mandy S said...

ok, so i was reading this while eating lunch...which was fine until i got to the last paragraph...leave the furn on?! really?! i almost puked.

otherwise, yes, i'm jealous of the fun y'all had!!! sounds like something every Louisianian needs to do!!!