ADVERTORIAL • November 2019
When it comes to food, there’s no place like New Orleans. This is a city that loves to eat, indulge and show off a fascinating culinary history, mixing Cajun, Creole and West African influence. Travel writer Elizabeth Winding shows us where to sample the city’s signature dishes, from sugar-dusted beignets to fried-shrimp po’boys
The must-try: Pecan-crusted Gulf fish
This Garden-District address is a local landmark – a turret-topped, turquoise-painted restaurant, in situ since 1893. It serves up ‘haute Creole cuisine’ in a charmingly formal dining room, with chandeliers, starched tablecloths and waiters in bow-ties. If you’re here for lunch, hit the 25-cent lunchtime martinis; come the evening, sip a sidecar as you peruse chef Tory McPhail’s menu. Follow the regulars’ example and order the pecan-crusted fish, saving just enough space for the terrific bread-pudding soufflé. Book ahead and don’t forget the polite-but-firm dress code, which bans flip-flop and shorts.
The must-try: Beignets
You can’t visit New Orleans without sampling a beignet or two (a sugar-dusted rectangle of delicious, deep-fried dough). The classic place to sample them is Café du Monde, a fixture in the French Quarter since 1862. Bar Christmas day, it’s open 24/7, serving plump, pillowy beignets covered in drifts of powdered sugar (spoiler: don’t wear black). They’re best accompanied by a milky café au lait, made from the café’s signature chicory blend. Note that it’s cash-only and try to avoid weekends, when the queue stretches round the block.
The must-try: Muffuletta
Foodie history was made at this family-owned Italian deli, founded in 1906 by Sicilian immigrant Salvatore Lupo. His legacy to NOLA? The mighty muffuletta – a round of sesame seed-topped bread, stuffed with ham, salami, provolone cheese and a tangy olive salad. Delicious as it is, it’s also enormous, even the half-portion is easily big enough for two. There’s simple counter seating if you want to eat in, but it’s also perfect for a picnic in nearby Jackson Square.
The must-try: Bananas Foster
Behind its elegant pink stucco façade, Brennan’s is a classic. Its indulgent, cocktail-fuelled breakfasts are the stuff of local legend (try the signature eggs hussarde, laced with hollandaise and red-wine sauce). The kitchen has a flair for updated Creole classics, from sherry-spiked turtle soup to rich seafood gumbo – though its most famous dish is dessert. Bananas Foster, which has been on the menu since the 1950s, is caramelised bananas, with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, flambéed tableside with a generous splash of rum.
The must-try: Fried Gulf oysters with oyster gravy
Chef Nina Compton made her name at Compère Lapin with some stellar French-Caribbean cooking. She’s followed that up with this next-level neighbourhood bistro, set in a former rice mill on the bank of the Mississippi. Again, it’s an artful mix of St Lucia and Louisiana, with a menu that runs from hog’s head boudin to pickled shrimp with buttermilk. The must-try, though, is the kitchen’s alternative to gumbo – rich oyster gravy with jasmine rice, topped with jerk-spiced, fried local oysters.
The must-try: Po’boy
It’s said the po’boy was invented in the 1920s to feed striking streetcar workers (the ‘poor boys’). It’s a crusty, generously-filled white baguette, stuffed with meat or fried seafood; order it ‘dressed’ for tomato, lettuce, mayonnaise and pickles to be added. For the authentic experience, head to Parkway and order the slow-roast beef or shrimp – Obama’s choice when he dropped in a few years back. French fries, fried pickles and a cold root beer round things off nicely.
British Airways currently offers five nights in New Orleans, including flights and hotel, from £544 per person. To find out more, click here