My “Someone’s In The Kitchen With” series continues from the rooftops of New Orleans, where I join celebrated photographer and food blogger Matt Armendariz (author of the brand new “On A Stick” and the blogger behind MattBites.com) for a stimulating conversation all about Matt’s career, his book, why he likes food on a stick, food photography (how to make your food photos better) all while sipping trashy drinks purchased on Bourbon Street. Thanks Matt for taking the time to do this! And thanks for the booze.
One of the best parts of traveling to a new city is discovering a food item that you didn’t know existed before. Like when I traveled to Barcelona and discovered pa amb tomàquet. Same thing in New Orleans, only it wasn’t bread smeared with tomato that I discovered; in New Orleans, I discovered the snowball.
Restaurants that are institutions don’t have to be good. Before it closed, Tavern on the Green in New York was like that. You didn’t go for the food–no, you definitely didn’t go for the food–you went for the chandeliers, for the topiary, for the chintzy souvenirs you could buy in the gift shop.
When you arrive in New Orleans, the first place that you’ll probably go is Cafe du Monde. There are a few reasons for this: (1) it’s open 24 hours; (2) it’s a New Orleans mecca, for locals and tourists alike; and (3) the beignets that they serve there are so dang good, they’ll haunt your dreams.
We were walking to dinner in a large group when the parade began to pass. I’d heard of jazz funerals, where the friends and family of the recently deceased march through the streets with music and dancing, a celebration of life in the face of death. This wasn’t that. This was a wedding parade; with a band and parasols and white handkerchiefs being waved. Here, I shot a video.
This Friday I’m heading to New Orleans on a trip sponsored by the Louisiana Seafood Board, my first time there since I performed with my college improv comedy troupe at Tulane (where we slept on a frat house floor) and certainly the first time I’ve been there as a real eater. Many of the meals on the trip are already planned–we’re going to Bistro Maison de Ville, GW Fins, Commander’s Palace, Hansen’s Sno-Bliz and Drago’s Seafood Restaurant–but for those meals where we get to eat on our own, I’d love your advice. Where should we go? (I already know about August, Cochon and Cafe du Monde. I definitely plan to try at least 2 of those 3.) Also: for any free time that we have, what are your favorite things to do that aren’t food related in New Orleans? I hear there’s an albino alligator at the zoo. Thanks for your help!
My dad used to watch a cajun cooking show (yes, my dad, who’s probably never cooked a meal in his life, watched a cajun cooking show) where the host would yell out with his thick N’awlins accent: “Spiccccy cajjjun fooood!”
(Did you ever see that show? I think it was on PBS and the host had white hair and glasses.)
Surprisingly, in my six years of running this site, I’ve never cooked a cajun dish. Shocking, I know, and deeply irresponsible. Cajun food, like jazz music, is one of America’s great indigenous art forms and the fact that it’s taken me this long to finally cook something cajun should be cause for mass rebellion amongst my readers. But I’ve repented with the dinner you see above: two nights ago I made that Jambalaya and I bet even that white-haired guy from the Cajun cooking show would’ve loved it.