Monday, February 21, 2011

Welcome to New Orleans

As I have made explicitly clear in my previous posts, my new home is truly the modern mecca for food lovers like myself. So of course, after months of bragging about fried chicken, crawfish, and jambalaya one of my friends from back home had to take the plunge and come see for himself.
Like me, he is a food network fanatic, and a devoted HungryHeretic follower. So obviously we through caution to the wind and ate like there was no tomorrow. It was the food tour of a lifetime. I always like to say New Orleans is explored with your nose and mouth first and then your eyes and ears catch up, so clearly food was the number one priority.
We kicked off this chow marathon at Mother's, a famous Restaurant in the CBD just a few buildings away from where I work. Following in Adam Richmon's footsteps we got the "Ferdi Special" and seafood gumbo.

The "Ferdi Special" is a po boy which starts off with Mother's famous honey baked ham, and then is piled high with roast beef, debris, and gravy. The biggest challenge in this Man vs. Food competition was attempting to keep the sandwich together. Unfortunately, a po boy stuffed with debris smothered in gravy makes for quite a soggy sandwich.
Mother's Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Because the Ferdi Special didn't live up to Adam Richmon's hype, I needed to prove why Po Boys are as good as I say they are. So again using the Food Network as a guide to where to get some grub we checked out Mahony's Po Boys, one of Guy Fieri's picks for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I'm still a hard core Crabby Jacks girl, but this fried shrimp Po Boy with Remoulade sauce was damn good.
Mahony's Po-Boy Shop on Urbanspoon
After being impressed by Guy Fieri's Po Boy pick, we checked out Joey K's. I've driven by this restaurant about a million times on Magazine Street and I never knew how good their food was. First of all, they have All You Can Eat fried Catfish. That's right, as much as you can fit in your belly. Never-ending. It just keeps coming! I'm usually skeptical of All You Can Eat seafood, but this catfish was so fresh, I swear it must have been the catch of the day. With a little lemon and some cocktail sauce and a little but of hot sauce, it was just incredible.
And I haven't even started on the best part. The Shrimp Magazine Special. Named after the Street where Joey K's resides, this pasta dish blew my mind.

New Orleans has been home to an Italian community for hundreds of years, and over time a fantastic style of cuisine had emerged: Cajun Italian.Just blocks away from the Irish Channel, a traditionally Italian New Orleans Neighborhood, Joey K's did an incredible job of showcasing the fusion of Italian and Cajun cuisine. The Shrimp Magazine starts off with buttery al dente spaghetti and is topped with a creamy artichoke and shrimp sauce. It's one of the best pasta dishes I've had in the city to date. Spectacular. If you're ever in the area and looking for some grub you know where to go.

Joey K's Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

However, even with that rave review I just gave, it was not my favorite destination during the week of culinary adventures. For almost a year now I've been pining for some good BBQ, enough so that I was almost tempted to drive to Mississippi to check out the Shed, a spot notorious for the best BBQ in the US. But lucky for me I heard we have a close contender right here in Orleans Parish. In fact it's in the Bywater in the Upper Ninth Ward only 6 blocks from the Nursing Home I've interned at for three years. With succulent pork this close to home it's shocking that I hadn't checked it out yet. But with a Westerner in town I finally had an excuse to pig out at The Joint.

This cozy shack is home to the best ribs I have ever had. The meat was cooked to perfection, and the rub was so good that I literally had to stop talking and just savor the flavors in my mouth. The sugar in the rub gives the outside layer of the rack a nice crispy coating, and the meat is marinated the whole way through. It was so good that it actually made the pulled pork taste rather mediocre in comparison. I'm sure the pork is good too, but the juxtaposition of the two killed it for me.

However, the sides were phenomenal as well. You really can't go wrong with Mac and Cheese, but the baked beans took the cake. Jalapenos, hunks of pork, and beans: redefining comfort food. Everything just made you feel like curling up under a blanket. I'm sure that was partially due to the masive food coma, but it really was just such down home southern cooking. It's the type of food that makes you feel like a little spoon even when you're sitting up. So decadent and so good.
The Joint on Urbanspoon
The last major stop of this taste bud driven tour was Verti Marte. This tiny corner store is found in the heart of the French Quarter surrounded by residential homes and tiny pubs. To the untrained eye it's merely a corner store with liquor and maybe some shotty questionable food, but to a New Orleanian Verti Marte is a gold mine. It caught fire nine months ago and litterally just reopened a few weeks ago. We were there on a mission to try their Jambalaya, which many claim is the best in the city. Unfortunately, we were not alone in this quest and it was all out by the time we reached the Deli. But fear not, all was not lost, their shrimp creole was also finger lickin good, as was their meat loaf and Mack and Cheese. You really just can't go wrong.
Verti Marte on Urbanspoon

A motto to live by in this city: Never underestimate the Corner Store.



  2. If you time your trips to the Joint correctly you can eat and then walk a block over to Vaughan's to watch Kermit Ruffins play on most Thursday nights.