One of the first side trips we made after arriving in the States in August was to New Orleans, Louisiana (our “home base” was at my parents’ home in Maryland). Neither of us had ever been, and we discovered a colorful, lively city filled with the friendliest people ever! Let’s get started…
Before we had even reached our hotel on the first day, we walked past the famous Central Grocery, which I recognized immediately because pictures of the sign outside have been posted on many a food blog. Despite the stifling heat, I was feeling hungry, so I told J, “We’re getting lunch from here,” ran in, and purchased half a muffuletta (wonder of wonders, there was absolutely no line when we passed by!). J has learned that when we’re traveling and I say, “Oh, we have to try (insert local specialty)”, he should go along with it, because it’s usually something good.
The muffuletta, a cold sandwich of cold cuts, cheese and olive salad on round Italian bread, totally hit the spot. Some might find it salty, but J and I didn’t mind that one bit. We had also bought some drinks to enjoy with it. I thought I’d grabbed a Mike’s Cranberry Lemonade, but then I took a closer look at the can:Let me zoom in on the bottom for you:
I was surprised by how flavorful it was– somehow I expected something called “golden” to be light (not sure why). It took me about two days to figure out how to pronounce the name of the beer correctly (if you’re ever there, ask for uh-BEAT-ah). That evening we discovered one of the most enjoyable activities in New Orleans (for us, anyway): buy a drink from a liquor store (in a can– if it’s a bottle, pour it into a cup before going outside) and then wander the streets, admiring the sights and laughing at the crazies on Bourbon Street. I loved being able to spend the evening (which was cooler and more comfortable than the day) exploring the city while also enjoying a few drinks, rather than being stuck in a crowded bar. Public drinking = 2 thumbs up.
Denser and doughier than a regular doughnut with bigger holes throughout, and topped with so much powdered sugar it was impossible not to make a mess. It made an excellent late-night snack (Cafe du Monde is open all hours of the day! Just another thing to love about this city).
Other local specialties we tried were po’ boys (an alligator sausage one and a fish one), hurricanes (too strong and too sweet!!), coffee with chicory (milder than regular coffee, in a good way), and shrimp etouffe.
In my next entry I’ll talk about even more delicious Nola food, plus the awesome birthday gift I got from J!