Wednesday, March 12, 2014

DOWN IN NEW ORLEANS



I wrote my last post about the ways I was using up the foods in my freezers.  Before I start gabbing about our trip to New Orleans let me tell you how this 'purging' of frozen foods is going.  I have all the leftovers used up (except a few things that I have put in BOLD).  I am now down mainly to frozen bags of meat and fish which will be fine several more months.  We go through them e ery month or two so I am fine having those types of foods in the freezers.  I also have several bags of garden corn, tomatoes, peppers, apples, rhubarb.  These will stay good until this summer's harvest.  I have deleted those above mentioned foods from the list below.  Listed below is  how I 'used up' what I had on hand.

Denny's wild turkey cubes  (sweet 'n' sour turkey)
½ bag shrimp
*Fajita meat (went to the farm cats....didn't pass the taste test! :)

*4-(2 c. ) bags fresh pineapple chunks (1 bag used in sweet 'n' sour turkey)
*4 bags green peppers 2 meals...I bag for stuffed peppers & 1 bag used in sweet 'n' sour turkey)
*Smoked sausage (chicken, sausage and rice soup)
 2 tubs chilli *Country style ribs +pulled pork broth (crockpot short ribs)
4 Slabs of ribs (will wait to put on grill)
*Bacon ('fried' in oven to be used in cooking...375* for 20-25 minutes)
Hamballs
Mushroom gravy

*Chicken drippings (chicken, sausage and rice soup)
Sausage gravy
*Roast chicken (half used in chicken, sausage, and rice soup)
 Hindquarters (several bags left as I buy 10# bags on sale and divide)
7 bags tomatoes from garden
Chicken breasts
 Pkg frozen spinach
 Pkg. frozen lima beans
3 meals homemade Swedish sausage (have 2 meals left)
 


OK...now on to the trip!  I have been working on this post for a couple weeks now!  Originally I thought I'd divide the trip in to several posts but have just kept adding to this one.  I don't blame you for not getting to the end of it....IT'S LONG!  But if you do, CONGRATS on reading a 'near-novel-length' blog post!

So, ANNYYWWAAYY!  Hang on cuz here we go!

Denny and I loaded the car and headed DOWN TO NEW ORLEANS a few weeks ago.  We took the 'scenic route' we learned later.  I am the head navigator and planner and had mentioned while making plans here at home that the route to New Orleans seemed very SANS Interstate.  I could see we'd pick one up a few times here and there but most of the trip would be on US Highways which could be either good or NOT good.

Our first destination was to stop at Altus, AR.  Our friends, Aaron and Melanie West, grew up in this area and wanted us to eat at Wiederkehr Wine Cellars.  It  was an interesting little area and the food was very good.  Our arrival to the area was even broadcast over Melanie's brother's radio station in Ozark, AR.  That was so fun and we were so surprised to hear...'We have some Iowa friends in the area that we'd like to welcome.  Denny and Lonnie Hartstack are driving through looking for some good food.  Glad to have you!"


Yummy...everything homemade...a brat and a smoked sausage with homemade sauerkraut and Swiss potatoes (potatoes baked with spices, bacon, cream and cheese)





That night we stayed in Monroe, LA, and the next morning we headed over to West Monroe to see the Robertsons from the Duck Dynasty reality show.  Well, we didn't see any of the clan but went through the gift shop and saw the dock they tape from.  It was pouring down rain so we couldn't spend much time outside.

I watched some of Miss Kay's cooking DVD, briefly thumbed through her cookbook but didn't buy anything.  I have found after boxing up several boxes of cookbooks over the past few years, that I really don't use cookbooks much.  I have a few that I do use and always will but seem to go to the Internet if I need something I can't find in my favorites.....anyway, here is a collection of 10 of Miss Kay's recipes from the Internet (which proves my point on NOT needing more cookbooks.).---> http://www.aetv.com/duck-dynasty/exclusives/recipes-from-miss-kays-duck-commander-kitchen



Is this the OTHER brother...sans beard?



Anyway, even though the roads were narrow and winding, we really did enjoy the drive on the backroads.  Saw all the little houses scattered in the hills of Arkansas and Louisiana.  The people through there are incredibly poor and their houses looked barely livable.  We did notice that most of the 'shackiest' of shacks had a fancy shiny new or fairly new truck or car in front of it.

I remember learning in my Sociology class in college that the poor can't get out of their living conditions as easily as buying a fancy car.  When they are driving around out of their neighborhood in that fancy car the outsiders  think they must have money.  No one knows they are poor...no one knows what their house looks like.  Makes sense!

Here is one of the 'nicer' homes we saw!


 We arrived in New Orleans midafternoon on Tuesday and checked in to our hotel.  We stayed 2 blocks from the French Quarter at the Hilton Garden Inn.  The night picture below is from our room's window.  The red lighted building to the right of the picture is the Superdome.



We were so excited to get to the French Quarter.  Our hotel concierge told us of several places that we must visit.  We wanted a seafood dinner that had fresh caught fish and most of all, I wanted shrimp, straight from the Gulf!  He suggested Oceana about 4 blocks from our hotel.  This place did not disappoint.  I had grilled shrimp (actually it was the fried shrimp platter but the waiter said I could have the shrimp grilled, blackened or fried....I chose grilled) with a Greek salad and Denny had redfish with a cream sauce of mushroom and crawfish served with steamed vegetables.





I have not made any of these recipes from New Orleans...YET.... but am finding many of them on the Internet  either on the restaurants' or copycat websites or on Pinterest.  I will include the ones I have found.  I also will include the home websites from the places we dined.  You can view the menus, reviews and photos here.

Here's the Oceana site:  http://www.oceanagrill.com/

The next morning we walked to Daisy Dukes where we were told had an awesome breakfast.  Yep, they did!  I was staying with my vow to eat an all-seafood diet while there so I had the seafood omelet.  It was full of shrimp, crawfish, tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese!  YUMMMO!

http://www.daisydukesrestaurant.com/ (and btw, not sure where the Daisy Dukes name came from cuz there were no signs of the Dukes or Daisy or the General Lee!  We should have asked!)

The first morning that Sandy was there we walked down to Café du Monde in Jackson Square to have a beignot and chickory coffee at the famous Café du Monde.






The menus on the napkin holder below is all they have...beignots (or beignets, either is fine) and beverages.  I really liked the chickory coffee...very bold flavor.  Of course, the beignots were pillows of goodness...crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.






All the carriages were pulled by mules.  Denny said that is probably because for one thing mules have a different hoof than horses and would be better for the rough uneven cobblestone streets.  They are a very sure-footed animal and very hardy and strong.


 After breakfast we 'shopped the shops' in the area.  It was so cold and rainy and we even had a period of sleet.  Thankfully I had brought an umbrella but that didn't keep the cold wet wind from hitting us!






Before leaving Jackson Square we had to stop at Central Grocery.  They are known for their Muffalettas.  They were delish.  We bought one half of a sandwich and split it three ways and each of us had plenty.  They were huge. 




Midweek we moved to a Hampton Inn in Metairie which is a suburb 15-minutes 'up the street' from the French Quarter.  We had been told we'd likely not want to stay the entire time 'right down in the Quarter'!  Reasoning was that it was pretty noisy and crazy down there.  We did not find that at all.  Our hotel was a couple blocks from the actual French Quarter and it was very quiet and safe. 

I had read that there were areas you should not walk at night.  The warning was to stay aware of your surroundings.  I could see that if you were around the Bourbon St. area.  When we drove in to New Orleans we saw lots of homeless people living under an Interstate underpass a few blocks from our hotel.

We did get off the beaten path the day of the sleet but only briefly.  There were NO people where we were walking which was a little daunting.  A lady came along and got us back on track!

I think now we'd have been fine either way. I will say there were a couple tips that we found to be very helpful.  ONE:  download the tripadvisor app for New Orleans (they have apps for all major cities).  It had everything we needed....restaurants, places to visit, menus, directions, phone, maps, reviews, you name it!  I made a SAVE list of the places we for sure wanted to visit so it was a simple tap to go to any of those.

I also found on the maps that I could click the pedestrian icon and it would show us walking and would direct us to our destinations.  Being in an unfamiliar area and having to walk everywhere, this feature was great.  (I know you've read above how we got off track and are wondering where this invaluable app was then...well, no explanation other than I couldn't figure out where we needed to go to get back on the screen!)

We had moved to Metairie for another reason.  Sandy had flown in from San Antonio and the Hampton had a shuttle to the airport.  They took her to the airport leaving us to take off for home.

But, ANNYYWWAAYY!

We did know the last three restaurants we wanted to dine at were in Metairie so relocating there was a good choice.  Our hotel in Metairie took us to and from these restaurants.  That was so nice not having to get the car out at night....plus the guy who laid out the streets and roads in New Orleans had spent a few too many hours on Bourbon St.  The roads are crazy as well as the drivers!

I LOVE DRAGO'S.  Drago's was in Metairie (there is also one in the French Quarter) and of all the wonderful food consumed during our stay, I do believe this was my favorite 'eatery'.  They split fresh oysters on a stone counter and then turn around and put them on a flaming grill and voila'....chargrilled oysters.  We ordered a dozen of these for an appetizer.  They serve them with a yummy broth and fresh bread to sop up the broth.  The taste of these oysters is indescribable!...AND I see on the Drago website that you can order a dozen oysters with sauce and make your own at home!






Denny ordered a 1-1/4# lobster served with garlic butter and red potatoes!


I had Herradura shrimp with sundried tomatoes, pinenuts deglazed with Tequila served with a wood fired portabella! 

Here's the recipe for the Herradura shrimp. 


Drago’s Herradura Shrimp

               Herradura Mix:
1/2 to 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (cut into strips) reconstituted with white wine
2 sticks whole butter
2 whole yellow onions (diced 1/4-inch cut)
3 tblsp. Vegetable Magic (Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Seasonings)
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2.5 oz. Herradura tequila

Marinate (until rehydrated) sun-dried tomato strips in chardonnay.  In heavy saucepot, melt butter on medium heat. Add onions and caramelize. Add marinated tomatoes and heat thoroughly. Add Vegetable Magic and cayenne pepper, mix well. Deglaze the pan with tequila and burn off the alcohol (be very careful). Allow to cool. Okay to preserve and hold up to 3 days.

               Preparation:
1qt. chicken broth
3 lbs. large peeled/deveined
 Louisiana shrimp (tail still on)
Herradura mix
6 tblsp. pine nuts
4 to 6 tsp. garlic, minced
1/4 cup green onions (chopped
 1/8- to 1/4- inch cut)
15 to 20 basil leaves
1 1/2 sticks whole butter
1 qt. fresh tomatoes, diced

Sauté shrimp in chicken broth. Add Herradura mix and all other ingredients and reduce by a quarter.

Plate and serve with a grilled marinated (in olive oil and red-wine vinegar) Portabella mushroom or serve over angel hair pasta. Serves about 6.
 








While in Metairie we visited the Bayou Sauvage Wildlife Refuge.  It was cold but we enjoyed the walk and did see some birds and the swamps.  We were a little put back by the alligator sign but thankfully never saw one to feed...or be fed to!









The Galley in Metairie is a great place for steamed shrimp and crawfish.  Denny really liked the shrimp.  The crawfish were tasty but an awful lot of work for a tiny little bite.  We met Sidney and Charmaine, friends of Sandy, there and had a great visit and great lunch.













Are any of you still with me?  If you are, I give you credit!  Seriously, this is WAY TOO LONG...but just had to tell you all about our WAY TOO COOL trip!

We are nearly at the end of this blog which has become more of a novel!

Our last night we went to the ACME OYSTER HOUSE in Metairie.  I usually don't order fried anything because I always think the only thing you taste is the breading.  Not so at the Acme Oyster House.   We all ordered platters of different combos of FRIED redfish, oysters and shrimp.  I had the appetizer SEAFOOD BOAT.  The serving size was so large I did have to leave an oyster or two!  The breading on all the fish was so light and good that all the fish tastes came through.  I especially liked the oysters.  I can still taste their sweet, fresh taste. 

Here's the menu from there.  http://www.acmeoyster.com/menu_Metairie


There is another Acme location downtown New Orleans.


I seem to enjoy taking pixs of Denny & Sandy!  Like being behind the lens of a camera rather than being in front of!


My seafood gumbo!

This was Denny's redfish and fried oysters.


I will FINALLY close this blog with some bits and pieces of info and pixs that didn't quite fit in anywhere.

*  We spent a couple hours at Harrah's Casino in the French Quarter.  We had fun playing the penny slots.  We came out a couple dollars ahead and got to take in the 'gambling atmosphere'.

*   Here's Denny and I getting ready to head out for the day.




*    Sandy and I are at the Redfish Grill.  Not such a great experience here.  Place was very loud and food was not so great.  ....but we had fun anyway...and this was the ONLY place where we weren't pleased with the food....so we considered ourselves fortunate!




*     These are pictures from Bourbon Street.  Now the sights and sounds on Bourbon Street were like no other....street barkers in front of businesses tried to lure us in to their clubs or shows, half-naked women stood in doorways beckoning us in and bouncers stood at nearly every club entrance.  There were a few people wandering the streets who were clearly on drugs or mentally ill.  A few young homeless people sat along the street asking for money but not many.  Overall it was a wild few blocks but not necessarily frightening.  ...and that's exactly what it was, a few blocks.  I was under the assumption that the entire New Orleans scene would be like Bourbon Street.  Not so...the streets surrounding Bourbon Street were filled with shops, fine restaurants, and bars.


















*    These pictures were from Pat O'Brien's.  Sandy had been here before and really wanted to go in 'for old times sake'.  We were so glad we did!  They had 4 singers (2/set) who played the pianos and took requests.  They could play and sing anything!  Sandy ordered their famous Hurricane and realized just how 'powerful' they were! 

We loved the little man who stood between the pianos.  He had brass thimble-like rings on his fingertips and would tap a brass 'tip' tray in time with the music.  We especially enjoyed the funny faces he'd make as he played.  He really got in to his job of ....I guess his job was, tapping?!  :)


 






This is one of the singers from the piano bar.  She was quite the gal.  When we told her we were from Iowa she said, "I had a husband from Iowa.".....not MY husband but A husband...wonder 1 of how many???



*     The first night we stopped at an outside patio and listened to Steamboat Willie.  He still has that bluesy smooth voice.  He plays at the Café Beignot 6 nights a week!  We loved sitting there in the warm breeze. watching couples dance to the sweet songs of the 40's and '50's, and then listening to his bluesy jazz songs.

ANNYYWWAAYY, you've made it to the end.....along with me....don't know about you but I, for one, am exhausted!  Did this make you want to plan your next trip? Or do you just want to take a nap after reading this?

Whatever, get out and enjoy your life whether you stay in your own backyard or head out on the road..............
                 .........whatever your choice is just DON'T FORGET TO SAY YOUR PRAYERS!