New Orleans Food Crawl

New Orleans is one of the great culinary capitals of the world, and I am certain that my love affair with food has its roots in creole cuisine.  My earliest memories involve Louisiana food--the aquariums and hush puppies at Ralph and Kacoo's or the Saturday afternoon cajun dancing to go along with your crawfish etoufee at Boutin's (formerly Mulate's).

More recently, I have had the pleasure of enjoying meals at some of New Orleans' most famed restaurants--from Commander Palace's creole bread pudding souffle (above), to the "gumbo z'herbes" and fried chicken (below) at Dooky Chase, an African-American family-run restaurant that played a pivotal role during the Civil Rights era.

I was in New Orleans with a couple of first-timers, so we decided to go on a food crawl.  We started at Palace Cafe on Canal Street.  Palace Cafe is the bistro version of Commander's Palace, so it's an excellent budget option.   I love their crabmeat cheesecake and their pecan-crusted fish, "gulf fish pecan."  (official Palace Cafe crabmeat cheesecake recipe)  But most importantly, make sure you save room for dessert and try the classic New Orleans dish, Bananas Foster (below).  The bananas are flambeed tableside in banana liquer and rum.

Our next stop was Cafe Du Monde in Jackson square.  We enjoyed cafe au lait and delicious beignets!  My family uses the mix over the holidays to make beignets, and they come out incredible.  Extremely easy if you can control the temperature of heat in your skillet.Cafe Du Monde Beignet Mix 28oz - 4 Unit Pack
The next day, we went to Mother's.  I think tourists enjoy this place more than locals.  I ordered pancakes and red beans and rice.  Neither impressed me.  Their shrimp creole, however, was quite tasty.
If you are visiting New Orleans, be sure to try some gumbo, a shrimp po boy, and crawfish (if it's in season).  And if you like to party, make sure you get a hand grenade (below) from one of the four locations that sells them in the French Quarter.