Thursday, April 3, 2008

Two Chicks in The Big Easy, Day 5: Food court and dive bar surprises

Catch up! Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4.
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I should have called this series "The Beignet Chronicles," or something. Above are the good folks at the Café du Monde outpost inside Riverwalk Marketplace, making what they make best. If we hadn't already had a breakfast of beignets that morning at our favorite café ("I want my own this time," MH had declared, still bitter from the day before), I'm sure we would have given in at the sight of the glistening pastries coming out of the deep fryer.
We had spent the early afternoon wandering around the Audubon Nature Institute complex, where we had watched the IMAX film Hurricane in the Bayou (the Louisiana wetlands are in trouble, people, and their rapid disappearance is a major part of why Katrina hit the city so hard). By the time we stumbled upon the food court, we were hungry. I was a bit reluctant to eat there (did we really travel to NOLA just to eat in a mall food court?) but I didn't have an alternative in mind, anyway. Though our meals had gotten better, we still hadn't been able to escape fried food, and I had no idea where to find something delicious that hadn't been dipped in boiling fat first. Neither one of us had a better plan, so off we went.

Ironically, this meal turned out to be one of the better ones of the trip. MH had abandoned ship entirely and gotten a cucumber salad and some plain spaghetti, but I wasn't quite ready to give up on the local specialties. The choices were a bit slim, but I opted for a roast chicken plate from C. Cajun Chicken, which came with a scoop of jambalaya, a few pieces of garlic bread, and Cajun potato salad. The chicken was juicy and spicy, and the jambalaya, while salty, was almost like paella, seafoody and flavorful. The potato salad was good too, combining perfectly cooked spuds and chopped hard-boiled eggs in a mayonnaise dressing. The only item that fell flat was the garlic bread, which had dried out into the equivalent of large, hard croûtons.
Much later, when MH declared that she was hungry again, we took a stroll down along Decatur Street and hit up Coop's Place, a dive bar that had surprisingly good food. I was still pretty full from our late lunch, so I just got a small cup of their rabbit and sausage jambalaya, which was smoky, spicy, and delicious.
MH really liked her shrimp creole, and so did I. It was fresh tasting, full of flavor, and almost a little sweet, although it didn't really come with enough rice (there's like, a teeny little scoop under there).

We also decided to split a grilled shrimp salad, thinking it would be something like the one we had a few days ago.
But look! Just look at that salad. Let's compare it to the one we had at Casamento's, shall we?

Casamento's salad:
And the salad from Coop's Place again, in case you forgot:

So much for a small dinner! Oh, and they were the same price, too: $10.

After Coop's Place we headed to Frenchman Street, a quirky little area with live music in every other bar, and where we had been hanging out for the last few nights. Like getting beignets and café au lait each morning, hopping around the jazz bars in the evenings had become another one of our rituals. We had begun to finally settle into New Orleans. And luckily, we still had two days left!
Panorama Jazz Band, one of my favorites.

To be continued….

Two Chicks in The Big Easy:
Day 1: All fried, all the time
Day 2: Too much buffet, and bad fried chicken
Day 3: Our beignet addiction takes hold
Day 4: Still fried, but deliciousness at last
Day 5: Food court and dive bar surprises
Day 6: Giant salads, muffalattas, and no beignets
Day 7: "Beignet...done that"

1 comment:

  1. just FYI everyone -- soopling has a thing for tuba players. all eligible tuba players should email her.