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College Touring: Culinary Highlights


docsconz
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As my eldest son readies himself for starting his college education at my alma mater, our second son, a rising H.S. senior has started his search. My wife took him to Charlottesville, VA last February to start that search, but another school that has captured his imagination is Tulane in NOLA. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to revisit this fine city, my first since 1994, so we arrived here this past Wednesday for a quick visit.

Having this topic started by Daniel, provided plenty of timely inspiration. Along with the advice of a few NOLA locals, I managed to narrow my choices down, regrettably having to omit quite a few worthy possibilities - but then there is plenty left to explore should my son wind up at Tulane!

We flew down on USAir. Having had an early lunch at our airport prior to departure and the non-existent state of nutrition on most domestic flights nowadays, we were both somewhat hungry upon our arrival in this steamy city. After checking into our hotel, the Renaissance Pere Marquette, we opted for an early dinner at Cochon before heading out to Metairie for a New Orleans Zephyrs game.

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We walked from our hotel, arriving just after 5PM local time (6PM on our internal clocks). This was a transitional time for the restaurant with plenty of open seating.

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Being in a city of cocktilians, I started with an interesting and delicious one from the menu, the Mulefoot, which consisted of Hendrix Gin, lime, mint and ginger beer.

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We opted for a strategy of ordering a number of the smaller plates and splitting a main course. There was plenty to choose from. we would have liked to have ordered one of everything, but as it was we approached Danielian heights, though without the purchase of the cured meats.

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fried alligator with chili garlic aioli

This was a tasty dish, although the fact that it was alligator was more of a curiosity than a taste revelation. It could just as easily and successfully have been chicken, rabbit or pork.

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boucherie plate

This fine plate consisted of some of Cochon's charcuterie handiwork. I enjoyed the head cheese most.

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wood-fired oyster roast

This was one of my favorite dishes of the evening. Normally I am partial to raw oysters, however, these were perhaps the finest cooked specimens I have eaten to date.

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hen and andouille gumbo

Very nice and rich - my son ate most of this.

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crawfish pie

This was a nice dish, though it got lost amongst the others.

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fried rabbit livers with pepper jelly toast

I could eat a lot of these!

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pork cheeks with cornbread bean cake & mustard cream

Perhaps I was getting full, but these were less enthralling than I expected. Compared to the other dishes, this lacked flavor.

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eggplant & shrimp dressing

Simply sensational - perhaps the best dish of the night!

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louisiana cochon with turnips, cabbage & cracklins

Another awesome dish, everything simply harmonized beautifully. I can't recall ever having more delicious cabbage.

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pineapple upside-down cake- cornmeal cake with coconut-lime sorbet & dulce de leche

Nice, though the sorbet was a little crystally and light on the lime.

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chocolate chicory mousse with red pepper flakes

Awesome flavor, my son and I fought over this one.

i can understand why this place has become so popular and highly regarded. They do a number of things very well in an extremely unpretentious atmosphere, yet with very good service.

More to come...

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Go Green Wave!

Ummm... Anyway.

I agree on the pork cheeks. Didn't do it for me, and I really wanted them to. However, I disagree on the service. I've never had very good service, and I've typically had ditzy waitresses who weren't helpful and weren't around all that much. I'm glad you had better, though.

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Go Green Wave!

Ummm...  Anyway.

I agree on the pork cheeks.  Didn't do it for me, and I really wanted them to.  However, I disagree on the service.  I've never had very good service, and I've typically had ditzy waitresses who weren't helpful and weren't around all that much.  I'm glad you had better, though.

While the service wasn't high end fine dining wonderful, I found it friendly and efficient - appropriate for the setting and food.

Sorry about the delay between posts, but I've been busy since returning and unable to get to the bulk of my photos.

After Cochon, we took a cab out to Metairie to see a baseball game between the New Orleans Zephyrs and the Las Vegas 51's. We couldn't pass up the opportunity to see the Zephyrs as they are the top farm team of our beloved N.Y. Mets.

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There actually appeared to be some decent food options at the park including $1 hot dogs. We were, however, too full from Cochon to partake. The options weren't bad, but they weren't that good!

Unfortunately, the Zephyrs lost that night by the same 2-4 score that their parent Mets did on the same evening. At least we had eaten well!

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Great photos, as always. Not sure NOLA is in my future, but I like the seeing the way the mousse was presented.

The rest of the meal made me appreciate a small place here in Seattle - surely not the same caliber, but a mighty nice lunch the other day, a touch of NOLA at Marcela's Cookery.

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docsconz, I hope for your sake that kid #2 is also considering Cal and Chicago!

:laugh: We could always go do a college visit! I'll take any excuse to visit those areas. This certainly was a convenient reason to return to New Orleans after too long of an absence.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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The following morning we got out later than expected in order to get to a 9AM info session and tour of Tulane. We stopped at a place near our hotel for a quick egg, sausage and cheese on a biscuit, but didn't have time for any photos. It wasn't particularly memorable anyway.

We managed to get on the St. Charles streetcar to head out to the campus and got off right at the admissions office directly across from Audubon Park. It was a beautiful day- sunny, but not yet blistering hot or insanely humid. The info session and the tour itself were excellent and informative. Our tour guide, a rising senior from D.C., had just arrived for her freshman orientation when Katrina followed on her heels. She provided an interesting perspective on that and the school itself. Overall, it was quite impressive.

The session finished shortly before lunchtime. Since the day was so nice, we decided to explore the area and set off across the park to Magazine St., where we came upon the Taqueria Corona, a place that had bee recommended by our friend the Mayhaw Man.

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The place was hopping so we sat at the bar. As the temperature outside and the strong sun had both increased during our walk, we were both parched and received wonderfully tall and generous glasses of ice water upon sitting down.

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My son ordered a chicken enchilada with guacamole.

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Being in New Orleans, I wanted to have as much seafood as I could get, especially gulf shrimp, so I went with a shrimp flauta and a shrimp taco.

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It was all good, satisfying and reasonably priced. We decided to have dessert elsewhere though and continued our walk.

By this time, it was quite hot and the sun quite strong, so we would duck in to suitable, air conditioned spaces for occasional respites. One particularly interesting one was at the most amazing Whole Foods I have ever seen (including the one at Time Warner in NYC) down the road a little bit on Magazine.

We still had a little way to go though...

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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That Whole Food is pretty amazing. The building is an old streetcar/bus barn that was converted, not too long before the storm, into a Whole Foods. There was a major neighborhood upheaval concerning parking and traffic, mostly justified, but several years later, I would say that it has worked out rather well for everyone concerned. That neighborhood has some of the highest property values in Post K NOLA, and while much of that has to do with the fact that it didn't flood (it's very near the river, aka The Isle of Denial), it also has not a little to do with the fact that, as compared to the rest of the city, there are three good grocery shopping areas (4 if you count Langenstein's) within a very short distance. They did a very nice, very architecturally respectful, job with the place and it's huge, as compared to many other WF's around the country.

I used to live about a half block behind it and, all night long, you would hear the speakers calling out bus numbers and orders. I promise you that having a relatively quiet, clean neighbor like a giant, expensive grocery store beats the hell out of constantly hearing, "498, pull forward for fuel" at top volume at 3 in the morning.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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We got to see quite a bit of that neighborhood as we continued our little sunbleached stroll all the way to...

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If ever two people were in need of a little ice-cold refreshment, it was my son and I. Fortunately, we found the perfect place to provide it. Much has been said about Hansen's here, though I'll post our impressions in this topic.

When we walked in there was a little line, but as we would be meeting someone there, we waited and let a few people pass us. That gave us some time to ponder the imponderable - what flavor(s) should we have?

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If one lived around the corner, this would not be difficult. should my son wind up at Tulane, it would become slightly easier, but for a one-time visit, the question is nearly impossible. :blink:

I watched some being made.

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and one resonated with me...

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...at which time, our friend arrived...

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...and we ordered. I opted for half cream of coffee and cream of chocolate...

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...while my son went with the more colorful half strawberry/half pineapple.

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Our friend went with his usual cream of almond, which I did not photograph as I was too busy devouring my bliz!

We also got to try the tart lemonade...

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...and noticed a couple other happy customers...

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The flavors were great and the blizzes extremely and welcomely refreshing, however, the real magic was in the texture. This would be a dangerous place for me if I lived nearby.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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That Whole Food is pretty amazing.

And covered parking to boot. The only bad thing about about it was that it made the one on Esplanade superfluous, subsequent iterations notwithstanding. Now if Mimis would only open up at the old K&B on Canal as rumored, that would be great.

I must say Cochon is really putting out some good food porn lately. Reminds me of all the mouth watering shots from Jaquimo's. And I had forgotten how much I liked the super melty cheesy enchiladas at Taqueria Corona, love the tacos too. Will have to bypass Felipe's next mexcian night. Just wish they had some parking. Seems like people are really digging New Orleans lately, good to see. ch

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We took a taxi back to the hotel and then went shopping for a pair of pants, with my son having neglected to bring a pair beyond shorts. With that mission accomplished we made it back to our hotel, the Renaissance Pere Marquette, where I decided I needed a different sort of refreshment.

I stopped at the lobby bar to visit with Chris McMillan, as sage a bartender as they come and one of the founders of The International Cocktail Museum. I deposited myself on a barstool and listened to Chris regale me with cocktail yarns while he made me a wonderful Sazerac.

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After that soothing libation, I returned to my son. We spent a few moments in the hotel pool before readying for that evening's dinner.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Dinner that night would be at John Besh's Restaurant August. It was not a far walk from the hotel and we arrived in time for our reservation. The hostess took us to a small table in the back room. The table was fairly dark. I asked if it would be possible to move to a table with better light. Rather than telling me that she couldn't because all the tables were accounted for, she told me that the light was all the same. While the lighting in the restaurant was not particularly good anywhere, there were a number of as yet unoccupied tables at which the lighting was significantly better. In any case, it was not worth getting into an argument or even a protracted discussion.

My son and I perused the menu. I wanted to simply let Chef Besh cook for us. They had a 9 course degustation menu available that would achieve that, however, they stated on the menu that it would require a minimum of three hours. We had designs on heading over to Vaughn's for some jazz, so we felt that perhaps we should not commit to so long a dinner. Instead, we settled on the 5 course tasting menu with wine pairings for me

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The amuse was a seafood custard with truffle and American caviar served in the eggshell - a nice introduction.

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A salad of grilled melons, tomatoes and prosciutto was the initial course. The combination of flavors showed a deft hand and a pretty palate. We were off to a good start, although one problem I had through the meal was that the young man who served the food was practically unintelligible when he announced the course. This remained the case even after I asked him to repeat it several times.

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A Raviolo with an egg inside, brown butter sauce, parmiggiano and fresh peas. This dish was quite tasty, though the egg was cooked through and lacking the runny yoke that would have put it over the top like the superior version at Schwa in Chicago.

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Grilled quail with peaches, mushrooms and arugula. This dish worked on all levels. It was my favorite of the evening.

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"Kobe" beef shortribs with potato gnocchi and summer truffles. I inquired if the beef was true "Kobe." Initially, the server did not know - in fact he had no idea of the significance of kobe or what wagyu is - but he went to the kitchen to find out. He returned shortly after to state that the beeef was "kobe" from Snake river farms in Idaho. I informed him that if it was from Idaho, the beef may have been wagyu, but it wasn't "Kobe." I'm not in the least bit surprised that it wasn't true Kobe as the cost for that dish would likely have been more than the cost of the entire dinner, however, i was a little put off by what was at best an ignorant error and at worst a deception. My attitude was not improved by the fact that the dish held little pizzazz.

Dessert was a fairly sweet and somewhat ordinary chocolate-nougatine Napoleon. Mignardises did not arrive until well after the check as we were readying to leave.

The paired wines worked well enough with their dishes, though none were extraordinary. While my report is less than glowing in an absolute sense, I can't say that the dinner was a terrible value by today's standards. The dinner with wines was $100pp exclusive of tax and tip. Had service been better, the "Kobe" issue not been one and slightly better execution of at least the raviolo, the meal would have been much better received. The other issue was that it felt as if we were rushed through the meal. While we did not want to commit to at least three hours dining time at that point in the evening, neither did I care to be rushed through the entire meal in little over an hour. Our reservation was for 7:30PM and we were out by 8:45 PM with time to kill. With that we took a walk across Bourbon Street before getting a taxi to Vaughn's.

Unfortunately, that too proved to be a waste of time as Kermit Ruffin was not going to be there that night as we had come to hope and there was no-one under 21 years old rule. By this time we were both pretty tired and so we returned to our hotel for some sleep.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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docsconz, I hope for your sake that kid #2 is also considering Cal and Chicago!

Are you a Maroon, Hungry C?

Let's hear the Scholarly Yell!!!

Maroon, hell no. I'm a proud SEC alum thru and thru. Geaux Tigers. Hot boudin, cold couche-couche, and all that. Went in dumb, came out dumb too, just like Randy Newman says. I can sing the alma mater and both verses to the fight song. I did graduate from TU as well, but the Hullabaloo is the dumbest cheer in all of college football.

And docsconz, you walked right by my office window today. Too bad I'm home sick or I would have given you a campus tour myself. Thanks for considering the Wave....to make this food related, some of the best NY style pizza in NOLA is located just off campus at the Dough Bowl, with a cute little creperie just a few feet away from it.

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I deposited myself on a barstool and listened to Chris regale me with cocktail yarns while he made me a wonderful Sazerac.

That drink, by that man, is one of my favorite reasons for living in this town. Nice picture of it, too!

“The secret of good cooking is, first, having a love of it… If you’re convinced that cooking is drudgery, you’re never going to be good at it, and you might as well warm up something frozen.”

~ James Beard

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Thanks, Sarabeth. That is not a bad reason! I'm generally not one for hanging out at bars though I like a good cocktail, however, that is one bar I could get addicted to. Chris has the knack in making classic cocktails and the patter to go along with it.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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There is one place in New Orleans that always seems to attract nearly everyone who visits the city - Cafe du Monde in Jackson Square. This place essentially sells two things, things they do exceedingly well - chicory coffee and sugar drenched beignets.

We came over on Friday morning for a light breakfast. The place was packed, but we managed to find a table inside.

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We ordered a single order of beignets...

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...and I had a cup of their wonderful coffee.

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That made a nice start to the day. They sell cans of their coffee and beignet mixes, both of which I have bought in the past. They have never, however, approached anything close to what they are like in Jackson Square! I didn't buy any this time.

We continued walking down to what was supposed to be the green market only to discover that it is not yet completed or open. We walked back along the river, where we noticed clean-up procedures from a recent oil spill.

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I was amazed that I hadn't heard anything about this spill - the result of a tanker having been run into on the river a week or so prior. The clean-up appeared to be a massive undertaking, We had hoped to take the ferry across the river, however, it wasn't operating due to the clean-up efforts. Instead, we went to the Aquarium of the Americas to check out the denizens of the deep as well as an IMAX movie on hurricanes in New Orleans.

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John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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docsconz, I hope for your sake that kid #2 is also considering Cal and Chicago!

Are you a Maroon, Hungry C?

Let's hear the Scholarly Yell!!!

Maroon, hell no. I'm a proud SEC alum thru and thru. Geaux Tigers. Hot boudin, cold couche-couche, and all that. Went in dumb, came out dumb too, just like Randy Newman says. I can sing the alma mater and both verses to the fight song. I did graduate from TU as well, but the Hullabaloo is the dumbest cheer in all of college football.

And docsconz, you walked right by my office window today. Too bad I'm home sick or I would have given you a campus tour myself. Thanks for considering the Wave....to make this food related, some of the best NY style pizza in NOLA is located just off campus at the Dough Bowl, with a cute little creperie just a few fe et away from it.

Varsa Varsa Tee Ay!

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Since we had a light breakfast, we needed a good lunch, so we headed to Mid-City and Parkway Bakery for some po'boys.

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The joint was jumping when we got there. It took us a few minutes to figure out the system, but once we ordered, it moved smoothly.

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Justin, in the blue shirt is from the family that owns Parkway. He was running the kitchen while we were there. I had a chance to talk to him for a bit later in the meal. He is a very friendly and knowledgeable young man, who filled us in on the history of Parkway and the area. While the flooding from Katrina was extensive in that area, their building had benefited from having been recently renovated, enabling it to withstand the stresses of the storm and the flooding. They re-opened relatively soon after the hurricane in December of that year.

My son had the roast beef with gravy and fully dressed...

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...while I had a 50:50 shrimp and oyster...

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Both were excellent sandwiches, albeit a bit messy :biggrin: The shrimp and oysters were top notch with a lot of shrimp and oyster compared to coating. The shrimp come from relatives of the owners and were of decent size with great flavor. We accompanied our sandwiches with fine fries and Barq's, making for an excellent lunch.

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These were hanging out on the porch, presumably as some insect repellant. I had seen something like this in Mexico, though I have no idea if or how it works.

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A view of the porch as we wound down our lunch. By this time, the rush was over.

From Parkway, we walked through the neighborhoods out towards the park, ultimately winding up at the cemeteries before hopping on the streetcar and back towards the river.

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We eventually made our way to the excellent Southern Food Museum in the Riverwalk complex. Housed within this museum is the Museum of the American Cocktail.

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Though the physical space for the Cocktail Museum is small, it is chock full of interesting paraphernalia and information. It is well worth a visit for anyone even remotely interested in cocktails.

That museum certainly whet my appetite for a good cocktail, so I made another stop back to the bar at the Pere Marquette to visit with Chris McMillan. I had him make me a cocktail of his choice and he chose...

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...an Old Fashion.

That cocktail was well crafted and tasty, but I couldn't leave without trying one of his classic...

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...mint juleps. The photo, though not as good quality, is a homage to the master, Philadining and his photo of the mint julep at the Pere Marquette.

I would have loved to try one of Chris' legendary Pimm's Cups, but I still had dinner plans. I'll have to save it for my next visit.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Our friend went with his usual cream of almond, which I did not photograph as I was too busy devouring my bliz!

Actually, I did go with my usual, but let's get it right.

I had a Cream of Almond with a topping of condensed milk. While topping off with Condensed milk may be a fine example of "Gilding the Lily" it's awfully tasty. If this rain stops, I think that I may pass by this afternoon for another one.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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I just have to say that I'm really enjoying this.  All of the food looks delicious, but the po boys....the po boys.......  Um, could you mail me one????    :raz:

I wish that I could mail myself one as I am no longer in NOLA! :laugh: They were gooood!

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Our friend went with his usual cream of almond, which I did not photograph as I was too busy devouring my bliz!

Actually, I did go with my usual, but let's get it right.

I had a Cream of Almond with a topping of condensed milk. While topping off with Condensed milk may be a fine example of "Gilding the Lily" it's awfully tasty. If this rain stops, I think that I may pass by this afternoon for another one.

That was a detail that I didn't think to add to mine :shock: Next time. :wink:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I'm so glad that you made it to Parkway. It's around the corner from my house and and so it's my de facto poboy joint. While I am also partial to the 50/50, I love their corned beef.

Glad you enjoyed it!

“The secret of good cooking is, first, having a love of it… If you’re convinced that cooking is drudgery, you’re never going to be good at it, and you might as well warm up something frozen.”

~ James Beard

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I had a "College Boy Blog" day with my own soon to be college boy, yesterday (though, much to my entire family's dismay, he is on his way to Baton Rouge, thanks to the Stelly Plan and a not very well thought out arrangement made, years ago, with his parents and grandparents :wacko: ). Hansen's, Parkway, and the Saints game were all part of the day, and all of them were great, though the Saints, as they do most of the time, managed to perform just well enough to blow yet another game.

Had the highly underrated ham and cheese poboy at Parkway. I love that thing. It's a big, giant greasy mess of pork and cheese nirvana. Most people can't break away from roast beef or seafood, but I promise this is a fine choice if you intend on not needing another bite of food for about a week. It's a helluva big sammich.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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