Tuesday, March 26, 2013


49 Frith St

C & B arranged to meet P and me at Koya on a cold weekend afternoon. After bundling in, we settled in for a feast. Udon noodles were ordered for everyone, of course - I had the Tori Nikomi (chicken and vegetable hot pot) which came in the adorable dish above and kept its heat for ages, which made it perfect for warming me up. Everyone else was slurping up their dishes and making appreciative noises - and once we finished our noodles, we couldn't resist getting more food. Off the specials menu, we had rhubarb and beetroot pickles (which inspired me to make my own rhubarb pickles a few weeks later), the fried chicken (my only complaint was that it was incredibly messy to eat), a tofu dish that I absolutely loved but can't remember now, and probably another dish as well. I stupidly forgot to take pictures of it all so I have no way of figuring it out. Which just means I need to get back to Koya to recapture my memories. Giant thumbs up from me.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New Orleans Day 6

As much as I loved New Orleans, it's a bit of a relief that this is the last post. So much happened each day that I'm getting exhausted just trying to remember!

To conclude, our last meal was at Stanley, on Jackson Square.

I had the grand finale dish of Eggs Stanley: Cornmeal-Crusted Oysters, Poached Eggs, Canadian Bacon and Creole Hollandaise on a Toasted English Muffin. Hell yeah.

And A and C both opted for the Stanley Classic: Scrambled Eggs, Smoked Bacon, Creole Breakfast Potatoes, and Whole Wheat Toast. 

I also had one of the strongest bloody marys I've ever had the pleasure of drinking. And that pretty much finished us off. With a wave goodbye to the city, we left, full to the brim with food and jazz.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

New Orleans Day 5

Since C still hadn't had a chance to try beignets, we started our fifth day at Cafe du Monde again. But we were starting to wise up to how many things we wanted to eat, and opted to share one portion (one beignet each) instead of going all out - which turned out to be very smart as we ended up at Mother's for lunch.

Due to an attempt to see the American Cocktail Museum, which sadly was in the midst of relocating, we ended up wandering around a food museum instead. Since there were histories of all of the classic New Orleans dishes up on the walls, red beans and rice ended up on our radar. And Mother's (401 Poydras St, New Orleans, LA 70130) was able to supply that dish, as well as crawfish etouffee, their Famous Ferdi special and a giant portion of fries. We rolled out of the restaurant, happily stuffed and ready to go on a river cruise.

And all I can say about the Creole Queen river cruise is that you should go look at the paddle boat as it's quite attractive, but I'd skip the ride, unless you really really love industrial sites. Or hearing about how "tedious" it is to dock at certain docking points along the Mississippi River. 

Onwards to Harrah's for a spot of poker. A had never played poker in a casino before, and clearly beginner's luck works well, as he came out $10 richer.

After that, we decided to go out like the high rollers we were, and ate our way through platters of oysters all evening:

Luke's for happy hour oysters. At 50 cents per oyster, you can really go a bit nuts. We also sampled their grilled oysters though I preferred the raw ones here. Several cocktails later, we moved on to the next spot:

Acme Oyster House for chargrilled oysters and oyster shots. My favorite grilled oysters of the night (though still not as good as the ones at Cochon). Oyster shots are gimmicky, but it was still something I'm happy I tried. 

And finally, Antoine's for Oysters Rockefeller. These win the award for most disappointing oysters of the night (and possibly most disappointing drinks as well). I love the inside of Antoine's, and I'm glad our cocktail tour included it as a stop so we could hear all the historical anecdotes about the place, but I wouldn't necessarily go back.

A friend of a friend recommended Mimi’s in the Marigny for their Monday night swing dance lesson and live music - it was a lot of fun to give it a try and we enjoyed watching the more experienced dancers once the band started playing. Since we were down the street from The Spotted Cat, we popped in there again on the way home and saw a great vocalist, Kristina Morales, singing with a band. It was the perfect way to end the evening.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

New Orleans Day 4

If you made me choose a favorite meal of the trip, I'm afraid it would be a toss up between Cochon (Day 2) and Commander’s Palace (1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130). Both require reservations, which is no surprise considering how good they are. What might tip it slightly in Commander's favor is the live jazz brunch at weekends - the musicians actually walk up to your table and will take requests so you can ask for whatever song you think will go perfectly with your meal. And the service is exemplary - everything that is great and gracious about the South is on display here: charm, comfort and gentle friendliness. On to what we had - for drinks, the waiter cheekily nudged A towards a brandy milk punch and a Sazerac (which was his favorite of the trip) while I had a viciously strong Bloody Mary, which was perfect after a late Saturday night, while C had a glamorous Bellini. When given the option of trying several things instead of one, you can bet I will go for it, so I had a soup sampler with turtle soup, navy bean soup, and gumbo, while A had an oyster & absinth "dome". Then A and C had the winning main of pecan-crusted trout - I don't know how they make the sauce for that dish but we would have licked it off the plate if that wasn't terribly uncouth. My eggs cochon de lait were also wonderful but very rich; if I hadn't shared it with A I'm not sure I would've been able to finish it on my own. And just when we were about to explode, dessert came: a bread pudding soufflĂ© (light as air!), a tasting of Swiss chocolate, and a humongous slice of cheesecake. GO!

Due to the miserable weather, we headed off to the WWII museum (945 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130) to catch "Beyond All Boundaries", the 4D movie produced by Tom Hanks. I was pretty conscious of how it glorified US involvement, maybe because I was watching it with two British visitors, but for a film that is attempting to tell the story of WWII in less than an hour, I guess it was pretty good. After that experience though, we were ready for a drink, and thankfully WINO (610 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70130) was located close by. They've got banks of Enomatic machines so you can sample dozens of wines by popping in a card loaded with some credit on it. 

After we'd sampled a few tipples, we decided to head home via the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone (214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130). It sounds cheesy - a bar that rotates - but in reality it's actually very elegantly done. Alas, there weren't three seats on the carousel so we settled for some chairs close by and watched the lucky few go round slowly while drinking. 
One last stop before we crashed for the evening - Pat O'Briens (718 St Peter St, New Orleans, LA 70116) for a hurricane. I really wasn't fond of the drink - sugary and fruity, it tasted like cheap college alcohol punch, but I suppose it's what some people associate with New Orleans. The bar itself was better than I expected - there are different spaces, including a dueling piano bar and a surprisingly lovely courtyard space. But after all this, we were ready to get back to our leftovers from the previous night's dinner and some good old rest!