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Perlows Eat New Orleans


Rachel Perlow
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Whoever says that you shouldn't be here, or wonders why you are here, should be taken out and flogged. WE NEED PEOPLE TO COME HERE NOW! Not only to spend money , but to see what the hell is going on here and go home and tell their neighbors.

I, for one, am thrilled that you are here and are taking so much time documenting the food world here. A lucky interview with the mayor, a few minutes with P. Prudhomme (not easy to get, trust me. He is a VERY shy man and very tight with his time), and some of the other things that you have been doing show that you are interested in more than jambalaya.

Beyond that, it's important for people to see that some of this place works, but also to see that much of it does not-at all. Sure things are opening up, slowly, but many parts of New Orleans that used to be completely vibrant are now, for all intents and purposes, abandoned save for a few stalwart residents who just don't know when to throw in the towel. This, all of this, needs to be reported and not just by those of us who are frustrated, angry, tired, and disillusioned (the letter posted above is accurate-the "Katrina Fatigue" thing cannot be overstated). The divorce rate is out of sight, substance abuse rates are skyrocketing (primarily fueled by alcohol as it's hard to buy anything else as the drug business got washed away with everything else), and the suicide rate is much higher than it has ever been,. This place is a social anthropologists dream world. Lab rats living on their own is not a bad way to describe most of us. It's tiring. Everyday you see something, maybe even something minor, that reminds you of just how massively catastrophic this all has been

Thanks for coming. I'm sorry that I didn't get to spend more time with you than I did, but in this P-K world, if you have a good job, it's best to hang on to it. White collar work is hard to come by these days.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

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

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Whoever says that you shouldn't be here, or wonders why you are here, should be taken out and flogged. WE NEED PEOPLE TO COME HERE NOW! Not only to spend money , but to see what the hell is going on here and go home and tell their neighbors. 

...

I can appreciate that time must be of the extreme essence in many cases, especially for small restaurants and businesses. The sooner people go down there to help, visit and spend money the better. If people want to visit New Orleans, they should fight any reticence in delaying a trip.

Thank you for also sharing the trip here on eGullet, Rachel.

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Whoever says that you shouldn't be here, or wonders why you are here, should be taken out and flogged. WE NEED PEOPLE TO COME HERE NOW! Not only to spend money , but to see what the hell is going on here and go home and tell their neighbors. 

...

I can appreciate that time must be of the extreme essence in many cases, especially for small restaurants and businesses. The sooner people go down there to help, visit and spend money the better. If people want to visit New Orleans, they should fight any reticence in delaying a trip.

Thank you for also sharing the trip here on eGullet, Rachel.

Yes; another thanks, Rachel, from me. Lovely reporting.

And if anybody oughta know it'd be Brooks, eh?

I couldn't resist lifting (with permission!) Jason's blog photo of K-Paul's breadbasket, after it turned up in my entry for Maggie's NOLA-themed contest.

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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What? No Longbranch???

So glad you got the strawberries...I'm still dreaming about them. I can't get strawberry preserves here half as good as I got at August.

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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I'm glad you're here, too. Just reading about your meals is fascinating.

Whoever said ANYTHING negative about you visiting, why you're visiting or what you're doing, must be someone definitely NOT from New Orleans because we appreciate you.

Thank you for coming. I hope you have a great visit.

I don't know about the French Market -- it wasn't open the last time I was in the Qtr and I haven't heard anything about it.

Rhonda

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Casamento's! Lovely! When I joined eGullet last year, one of the first threads I found mentioned a trip to New Orleans, and I booked flights for my kiddle and I that day. The first thing that we did, after checking our bags at the hotel, was to walk to Casamento's(at 11:45 AM), stand in line and make friends, and then eat! Kiddle and I ordered about half of the menu, she's tiny but can pack it away. The highlight for us of that meal, aside from the wonderful PEOPLE, was the soft shell crab. The couple that we stood in line with later mailed us a vintage movie camera for kiddle's work, and the gaggle of men seated across from us were very friendly, and gave us plenty of tips for the rest of our visit. They also paid for our soft shell order, which we didn't find out until we were ready to leave, and they had already left. New Orleans doesn't just have nice people, it engenders niceness

IN people, it's the air, the atmosphere, the food. It was a fun beginning to a perfect trip to a perfectly wonderful city, and we'll be back, soon.

Thanks for recording your visit for us all, Rachel and JasonPS: Has anyone visited Muriel's? How are they? My daughter is very much a fan of their kitchen.

Edited by Rebecca263 (log)

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I've heard (off the public forums of eG) that some people feel our concentrating on the food, restaurants, and other positive aspects of the current New Orleans, is callous, self-centered, that we're ignoring the trauma of the city.

Rachel, I don't know if the people who said that read eGullet, but I'd like to address them directly.

People who know nothing about the city seem to want to tell others how to treat us and speak about us. How dare you claim that only images of trauma are appropriate when speaking of New Orleans. We still live here, and even though times are tough life does go on. New Orleans may be half dead, but it's still got more life than most American cities.

Yes, we need tourists money. There is no doubt about that. I think, however, that there is another reason why we're so grateful when anyone visits.

Knowing that people can still be enchanted by the food and the architecture and the culture of New Orleans reminds us why we love the place. Somedays, it's hard for us to see it.

I've had the pleasure of escorting several first time visitors through New Orleans recently. When they see the beauty of the place, even in the face of all our troubles, it reconfirms for me that I made the right decision in returning.

If we followed the advice of those fools and only focused on the negative, I'm afraid it would break our spirit and we'd never rebuild New Orleans.

Edited by TAPrice (log)

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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I've heard (off the public forums of eG) that some people feel our concentrating on the food, restaurants, and other positive aspects of the current New Orleans, is callous, self-centered, that we're ignoring the trauma of the city.

Rachel, I don't know if the people who said that read eGullet, but I'd like to address them directly.

People who know nothing about the city seem to want to tell others how to treat us and speak about us. How dare you claim that only images of trauma are appropriate when speaking of New Orleans. We still live here, and even though times are tough life does go on. New Orleans may be half dead, but it's still got more life than most American cities.

Yes, we need tourists money. There is no doubt about that. I think, however, that there is another reason why we're so gratefully when anyone visits.

Knowing that people can still be enchanted by the food and the architecture and the culture of New Orleans reminds us why we love the place. Somedays, it's hard for us to see it.

I've had the pleasure of escorting several first time visitors through New Orleans recently. When they see the beauty of the place, even in the face of all our troubles, it reconfirms for me that I made the right decision in returning.

If we followed the advice of those fools and only focused on the negative, I'm afraid it would break our spirit and we'd never rebuild New Orleans.

What he said.

Incidentally, this is being spoken by a man who, along with his lovely wife, made a decision to move BACK to New Orleans after the storm when they absolutely did not have any reason to other than that's where they really wanted to live. Thanks for that, Todd.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

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

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Thanks for coming. I'm sorry that I didn't get to spend more time with you than I did, but in this P-K world, if you have a good job, it's best to hang on to it. White collar work is hard to come by these days.

No guilt, it's perfectly understandable.

What? No Longbranch???

Blame Brooks. :wink: Seriously, it'll have to wait for next time.

Comparison of taxi usage vs renting a car: Background, the place we stayed at last time (May/June 200) had excellent valet in/out parking for only $8/day, so we took full advantage of it. That place is still closed and not to be open until the fall of 2006 according to their website. We only had a couple of options when it came to timeshare exchanges this year, neither of which offered parking. Figuring out the costs, we probably spent less on taxis than we would have renting a car for the week, plus gas and parking. However, there are definitely some convenience benefits to having access to your own car (like being able to drive to Longbranch). You have to have plenty of cash on hand for taxis. You have to plan to call ahead, sometimes the cab is there in jiffy, sometimes it takes 20 or more minutes. You hear about an interesting store or something and you can't just jump in your car in go there. On the other hand, we made use of the free streetcar and bus service and did a lot more walking -- which definitely has its benefits after a big meal. :cool:

Edited by Rachel Perlow (log)
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Thursday morning, we had arranged for a tour of the Simon Hubig factory. We got the Willy Wonka tour of the bakery with the Drew, the current owner. He's the third generation of his family to run the place. He told us all about their PK adventures dealing with insurance company catch-22s and trying to help their displaced workers get their pay, and to come home. They are currently at about half BK staff and have cut back their product line to just the hand held pies (they used to do regular round baked pies and larger ones for institutions). We saw some lemon pies being filled and ate apple pies fresh off the line! A photo tour and interview with Drew will be on Jason's blog. At the end of the visit, he said, "let me get you a couple pies to take with you." He came back with an armful! They earned us some good will points throughout the day... you'll see.

We decided to walk to Elizabeth's for lunch. Drew said it was only a few blocks away, but as we arrived where he said, two blocks over and one up, it wasn't there and we asked some people on the street. "It's on Gallier and Chartres, about 15 blocks from here." We were at Frankin and Royal. Look it up. We consulted our map, it was actually about 10 blocks from where we were, and we'll already walked several. But onwards we went. We stopped in a small grocery store and bought a drink, noticing their display of Hubig pies was sorely missing Apple (we had about 10 pies, all apple), we traded with her for a Peach and Strawberry!

After about another 5 blocks, we were more than halfway there, but the sun was blazing and it was also getting late (we had an appointment to keep back on Canal Street at 2 PM). I spied a young woman leaving her house, heading to a car. I straight out asked her if she would mind giving us a ride the rest of the way. She graciously did, and we rewarded her with a couple of Hubig pies (for her and her cousin, whom she was on her way to pick up) as thanks.

We had a lovely lunch at Elizabeth's, which included a great seafood vegetable soup (no matter how hot it is outside, when you step into an air conditioned restaurant, the desire for soup returns :laugh:). I had a salad topped with shrimp salad, Jason had a burger and fries, some of the best fries of the trip. Lot's of iced tea, of course. Elizabeth's is known for their desserts, and they sure looked good, but we had to get to Palace Cafe for our appointment with Dickie Brennen, and knew we wanted to get some Bananas Foster and White Chocolate Bread Pudding while there. We called a cab for the ride back. Pastor Jesse the cabbie got an extra tip, guess what... A Hubig Pie!

We arrived at Palace Cafe and headed upstairs with Mr. Brennen and his Marketing VP, LeAnn. He asked if we had had lunch, which of course we had, but did say we'd love to sample some dessert. Before we got started, we told him about our tour of the Hubig factory and he got a little dreamy with rememberances. While LeAnn, Jason and I shared some desserts, the above, plus a delectible Strawberry Shortcake (even though I was the one who really wanted the bread pudding (hadn't had any all trip) that Strawberry Shortcake was my favorite of the three), Dickie Brennen ate that Hubig Pie!

So, by this time, we knew that Brooks wasn't going to meet us, again. (He was supposed to take us on a "disaster tour" on Tuesday, but work interfered, as it did on Wednesday and then Thursday. Look, I don't want you to lose your job either, but don't make plans you can't keep, buddy! :angry::raz:) So, after consulting with the concierge at the Marriott, learning that all the commercial disaster tours only visited Lakeview (which Jason had already seen), we decided to rent a car. Picked it up at Avis' Canal St location, and we're going to return it at the airport location later today. We payed to park overnight at a local garage, even though you can apparently park on the street without getting towed or ticketed these days. I'd rather not risk it.

Now that we had a car, we headed out to the hardest hit areas, including Chaumette and St. Bernard's Parish. There's a ton of pictures on Jason's blog. It was very disheartening to see the piles of debris that are still on the street. Some houses show evidence of work being done to them, that being that they had the debris cleared and you could see though the windows the place had been gutted to the studs. Other still had garage doors askew from the water knocking them out of their tracks and you could see a shambles of furniture in the interior. I tried to imagine all of our belongings just piled on the street as garbage. Picture it in you mind, your antique bedroom furniture, just sticks in a heap under your broken Ikea bookshelves and piles of mouldy carpet. That's when it really hit home to me, really trying to imagine it happening to me.

I think this is a good place to stop for now. I have to pack us up for our return home. More Thursday later.

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Rachel and Jason,

Thank you for sharing your trip with us. New Orleans is one part of the US I have always wanted to go to and your stories have made me want to go there even more.

This was my favorite:

After about another 5 blocks, we were more than halfway there, but the sun was blazing and it was also getting late (we had an appointment to keep back on Canal Street at 2 PM). I spied a young woman leaving her house, heading to a car. I straight out asked her if she would mind giving us a ride the rest of the way. She graciously did, and we rewarded her with a couple of Hubig pies  (for her and her cousin, whom she was on her way to pick up) as thanks.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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So, where was I? Oh, yeah, the disaster tour. After driving around the disaster area to the east-north-east of the French Quarter, there's a clear difference in the recovery efforts between the 9th Ward area west of the canal (not Canal St) and after you drive over the drawbridge to Chaumette to the east of the canal. (Here's the best map I could find online (if you have a link to a better one, please send it to me), the canal with the drawbridges is the one adjacent to the letter V in the word River on the map.) Like I said above, in St. Bernard Parish, there's still many, many piles of debris everywhere, and houses where either no one has returned, or at least no work has begun (still piles of furniture visible through windows and garage doors). It feels more desolate in this area, although there are signs of life (on the main roads, and the fact that many FEMA trailers are parked in front of wrecked houses).

To the west of the canal, however, in the Treme for example, we saw far fewer piles of debris and untouched houses. Many more have been ripped to the studs on the interior and there are more people living in the neighborhoods. Not to say that it's in any way in good shape, there's just a clear difference in the amount of progress being made.

We then proceded to the Lakeview area of Metairie, where Jason showed me what he had seen on Sunday. Here, the homes seemed completely deserted. Very few FEMA trailers to show that someone had returned to work on the homes. Actually, there were a lot of "For Sale" signs. We took a lot of pictures, Jason has them on his blog, but after you go through a few blocks, they just get really repetitive and depressing. Some houses have "please tear down" painted on them, others have "no bulldozing" but no one's living at either place. I just don't know what else to say.

On a more positive note, I watched an episode of The Dog Whisperer on my flight home on JetBlue, which showed the story of three dogs separated from their owners because of Katrina. At the end of the episode one of them gets reunited with her family. So, sometimes there's good news.

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Jason had wanted to go to Drago's all week, and we were finally in Metairie with a car. We had also wanted to get some boiled seafood, and we were right near Deanie's. So, so had appetizers of some boiled crawfish and shrimp, and an appetizer portion of BBQ Shrimp at Deanie's, then moved on to the charbroiled oysters at Drago's. We made it back to New Orleans in time to get dessert at Sophie's on Magazine. Once again, I highly recommend ordering a scoop of Strawberry and a scoop of Peanut Butter gelato. Sophie's is under new management since our last visit, but it is still a cute 1950's style ice cream parlor (serving Italian style gelato). We had a wonderful conversation with the new owner, a former actress, the podcast will be on Jason's blog.

Wait! Did I tell you about the pickup truck BBQ? While driving through St. Bernard Parish, I noticed a pickup truck with a drum BBQ set up on the flat bed, a handwritten sign on the street pointed the way as well. I had Jason make a U-turn and we checked it out. The guy didn't want to take any money for the rib plate we ordered, but Jason gave him $10 anyway, to feed others. It wasn't the best BBQ ever, but that closed Po-Boy shop's parking lot seems to have become a gathering place, we weren't the only ones there checking out the 'cue.

OK, so that's Thursday. I'm going to start on Friday now.

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Our last day in New Orleans started with the packing. As you can imagine, Jason's shirts (OK, mine too) can get lots of spots on them. I highly recommend packing some Shout® Gel with the scrubby top, and rubbing it on all stains as you pack. In fact, I put the dirty clothes in plastic bags, separated for my laundry back home. It keeps the suitcase cleaner and makes the job go quicker. SC Johnson should pay me, I recommend it to so many people... It works way better than regular Shout spray or Spray N Wash.

Once again, we had a car for the day (yay!), so we took advantage of some of the recommendations we had heard from more than one person. Actually, the first of that was on Thursday. After touring the 9th ward, etc., we stopped at McHardy's Chicken & Fixins, to sample the fried chicken recommended to us by a visiting relocated local we met at Cafe Du Monde earlier in the week. That was some GOOD fried chicken. Although the article says the line is always long, I didn't have to wait. A half chicken is five pieces (we got an extra drumstick) from a small bird. It was crispy and peppery, and the breast meat was very moist. I highly recommend you try it, even though it is deep fried and not pan fried. Oh, and the "fixins" consist of french fries, bread, and hot pickled peppers; no cole slaw or potato salad, we didn't try anything but the chicken. It is also very affordable, our chicken and one fountain soda totaled $4.50.

On Friday, we hit Two Sisters Kitchen based on the recommendations of both the hotel desk clerk and Mayor Ray Nagin. It opens for lunch at 11 AM, we arrived by 11:30, and it was already 3/4 full. By the time we left, most of the tables were occupied and there was a line for take-out. The menu changes daily and I wanted some Shrimp and Okra, unfortunately it wasn't ready yet. So, we got a fried chicken dinner plate and a side of smothered pork chop. The chicken was pretty good, a little over cooked (the breast wasn't too juicy), I thought the smothered pork chop was good, but most items seem underseasoned (and that's coming from me, the salt-phobe). The first bite of the corn bread was positive, the crunchy grit of good corn meal, a nice crust, etc., but an interior bite had an overwhelming taste of baking soda. Oh, and the iced tea was sickeningly sweet and the (asked for) extra lemon never arrived. While the mac & cheese wasn't cheesey enough, it was a good with the pork's gravy. Actually, the best thing on the plate was the potato salad - semi-mashed, yellow with mustard. I want to call and hit them up for a recipe. I hate to be down on an apparent soul food institution, and maybe if I had been able to sample that Shrimp and Okra (recommended in many of the online reviews of the place), it would be a slightly different story. I really missed Willie Mays, sniff.

So, it wasn't too hard to not eat everything on our plates at Two Sisters, which was good, because I was determined to go to Crabby Jacks before we left. Once again, the best fried oysters of our entire trip. As I mentioned in some of my posts above, almost all the fried oysters we'd been having had been hard fried, some with a flour rather than cornmeal crust, too chewy, etc. An oyster platter ($15) at Crabby Jacks is overflowing with oysters. And they were perfect. Some large, most not too big, lightly crispy exterior, creamy interior. I'm cheating here, but I don't have Jason's current picture yet, and we even ordered with a side of jambalaya this time too, so here's the shot from 2005:

Crabby Jack's

428 Jefferson Hwy

504-833-CRAB

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A Plate of fried oysters and Jambalaya. These were perhaps some of the best fried oysters we had during the entire week -- big and juicy.

We also got a shrimp po-boy, because Jason insisted, not that it wasn't great. And, there was Shrimp and Okra on the menu. After missing out on it at Two Sisters, how could I resist? It tasted very similar to the sweet tomato sauce accompanying the jambalaya at Jacques-Imo's. I'm wondering if he adds a lot of sugar to his sauce or he's found some really sweet canned tomatoes? Really, I could eat at Crabby Jacks every day and order something different each time. But get there early! We arrived around 12:15, the place was mostly full, Jason scoped out table space while I waited on line to order. I only had to wait for about 5 people. By the time we got our food, the line was out the door. Get there early or at on off hour.

Oh, and no, I couldn't finish all those oysters (if anything our plate was more generously filled than last year's pic shows) and only had a few bites of the jambalaya, but the security guard at the business across Knox Rd was more than happy to have our leftovers for his lunch!

We did a little shopping at Dorignac's, a gourmet supermarket on Veterans Memorial Highway in Metairie (Jason was looking for Community Coffee in pod form); swung back to the French Quarter for a couple muffalettas to bring home (should have kept one on top of the bag for dinner on the plane, JetBlue only offers snacks and our flight left at 6 PM, we ended up hitting a diner around 11:30); and picked up some pralines at Southern Candymakers and headed out to the airport.

We had a great vacation in New Orleans. Sure, they still have a lot of problems to work out, but the hospitality industry is well on its way. Why don't you go down and see for yourself?

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Rachel's been posting dligently on eG Forums for the last week or so, while I've been updating Off The Broiler with photos and podcasts. We've just gotten home, and I still haven't posted all the material yet. There's at least several really important podcasts that are backlogged and a lot of pictures that haven't been posted yet, so you'll have to bear with me for a bit before I get some stuff posted here. I'm going to be posting selected hi-res versions of my photographs, there's more material the blog, but not all of it is food related.

I'm going to be in Austin for two to three weeks working at a client starting Monday, so I'll be posting intermittently during that time. I hope to get you a few good barbecue photos (and some podcast interviews with some of the local pitmasters) though.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Night #1: Casamento's.

Casamento's is a true New Orleans institution. Opened in 1919, it's probably the most famous oyster house in the entire city. A narrow passageway of a restaurant with only 12 tables, it still does everything the old fashioned way, using cast iron pots filled with pure peanut oil to fry its seafood. Casamento's recently lost its patron, Joe Casamento to Hurricane Katrina. But Casamento's is continuing on under the guidance of his nephew and neice, CJ and Linda Gerdes, and as a true testament of his legacy, the food is as fantastic as ever.

Casamento's is one of the places I had greatly anticipated going to with this trip, and I absolutely wanted to go there our first night. Something told me it would be special, and I was right. On the line going out the door to the restaurant, I came upon no other than Ms. Leah Chase, owner of the famed Dooky Chase restaurant, which was heavily damaged by the storm and is currently being rebuilt. Dooky Chase is of huge historical and cultural importance to New Orleans and to African-Americans, because it was a virtual headquarters of the the civil rights movement in the South during the 1950's and 1960's. I got to speak to Ms. Chase about food, her restaurant, and Casamento's, of which she is a huge fan.

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Leah Chase and Family.

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Raw oysters from the bar.

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The Oyster Loaf on Pan Bread. The original.

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Crab and Shrimp gumbo.

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The folks that tought me how to properly eat oysters on the half shell, New Orleans style.

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The old school frying set up that's been in place since 1919.

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Chef CJ gets ready to put a softshell out of his misery.

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He tasted very good.

NOTE: I don't know where the hell my hi-res shots went from the first night... if I can find them, I'll replace them.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Day #2: Breakfast at Mothers, Vietnamese in Gretna

Mother's is by far the most famous 'Po Boy eatery in the entire city, and it has throngs of devoted fans, including US presidents and major celebrities. But Mother's is an everyman's sort of place, and irregardless of your station in life, every patron is treated the same way — you line up to the counter, place your order, and take your stuff to an avaliable table. On our first morning in New Orleans we went for brunch, as Mother's was just down the street from our downtown hotel. I also got a chance to speak with Jerry Amato, chef/owner of Mother's.

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The big sign on Poydras Street, beaconing like the lighthouse at Pharos.

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Big lines start to queue up by 10AM.

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The reduced post-Katrina menu.

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Shrimp Etouffee Omelette with Grits.

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A plate of fresh biscuits.

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Roast Beef Debris Po Boy.

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Shrimp Creole Omelette.

New Orleans isn't just about Creole and Cajun cuisine — its also one of the biggest centers of Vietnamese food in the United States, due to the huge community of Vietnamese vegetable farmers and agricultural workers. Gretna, on the southeast of the city on the other side of the Mississippi river, is one of their largest enclaves. In addition to a number of large Vietnamese eateries. After sleeping off our breakfast at Mothers, in the afternoon we joined fellow eGullet member TAPrice to check out the somewhat incorrectly-named Hong Kong Market, which is a veritable Wal-Mart of Vietnamese food.

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Inside you'll find Mr. Bubble's Tea House, a Bubble Tea/Sago Drink parlor.

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This is the flavor selection. There's also different flavors of tapioca pearls you can put in your drinks.

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After blending, each drink is sealed with this really cool heat sealer machine, leaving a plastic seal on top that you puncture with a thick plastic straw.

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The supermarket inside.

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Aisles upon aisles of amazing asian food items.

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The very scary Durian.

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There's a number of live fish tanks where you'll find, among other things that swim, fresh tilapia.

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The Banh Mi stall, where you can get an amazing sandwich on Vietnamese French rolls for $2.

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These are the meatballs they put on top of the luncheon mystery meat and the fresh veggies.

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Banh Mi cross section.

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Pho Danh, the restaurant in the shopping center.

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A plate of raw Pho condiments.

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A fresh lemon soda.

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Beef Pho, and one of the best broths I have tasted in a Pho anywhere.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Day 3: Seder Plates in New Orleans / The Upperline

On Sunday morning and the afternoon we joined Congregation B'nai Israel in their Passover food project. Before I left for New Orleans, I interviewed Rabbi Steven Bayer and congregation member Evelyn Baron about their special New Orleans mission. We passed out lots of Passover food to Jewish families in need of help, and I got a chance to interview the recipients as well as the Jewish Federation project manager, Jackie Silverman as well. I hope to have Part 2 up in a few days.

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Left to right: Rabbi Steven Bayer, Jackie Silverman, Evelyn Baron

In the evening, we ate at Upperline restaurant. I got a chance to interview Jo Ann Clevenger and Chef Kenny Smith. Jo Ann is very passionate about being a New Orleanian and helping her community, and Kenny is her perfect partner in running the kitchen in one of the finest restaurants in the entire city.

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Chef Kenny Smith and Owner Jo Ann Clevenger

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Crab Cakes over Fried Green Tomatoes in Crystal Sauce Beurre Blanc

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Day 4: French Quarter / K-Paul's

If you take the devastated areas of the city out of the equation and only concentrate on the areas that are of concern for tourism and dining, one would think that virtually nothing happened to the city. It was a beautiful sunny day today in New Orleans, and mondays are pretty slow to begin with in the city, so we decided to take a walk thru the Quarter, have a casual lunch, and look at the pretty architecture.

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Oyster Gumbo at Stanley

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Bulgogi Beef and Kimchi Po Boy at Stanley.

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Jumbo Shrimp Po Boy at Stanley.

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Yes, the Beignets are Back.

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Beignets from Cafe Du Monde. I'm quite sure they are overdoing it on the powdered sugar, just out of solidarity.

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A view down Decatur Street.

K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen is the fine dining restaurant that really started the Cajun cuisine movement in New Orleans, and is the one that everyone benchmarks Cajun food to. When you hear of "Blackened" anything at any restaurant throughout the U.S., its largely because of the fact that Paul Proudhomme (as chef at Commander's Palace in 1975 and later at K-Paul's in 1979) was responsible for introducing that dish in the mid 70's. Prior to that time, Cajun food was relatively unknown in New Orleans and throughout the country — it was relegated to the Acadian parrishes in Louisiana. Up until that point, it was Creole French that was featured at classic New Orleans restaurants such as Galatoire's, Arnaud's, Antoine's, Dooky Chase, as well as Commander's. Today many of those restaurants have Cajun dishes in their stable — but you can credit Paul Prudhomme with all of that.

Rachel and I had dinner at K-Paul's, and it was phenomenal. I also spoke with Chef Prudhomme for a bit, and I hope to have that podcast up in a few days along with a few others. However, at K-Paul's, I also ran into New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, and I did manage to get my interview with him uploaded in time.

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The famous bread basket containing jalapeno bread, blackstrap molasses muffins, and biscuits.

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Jambalaya with Sauce Piquant. Spicy.

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Blackened Fish with Crabmeat.

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Smothered Veal Chop with Grape Tomatoes and Crabmeat.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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It's amazing that I have not discovered Jason's podcasts yet. I'm incredibly impressed. You have a great laid back style that really suits the kind of people you interview. If anyone has not heard these yet, they are outstanding. Obviously not done in a studio, but it sounds like friends talking. It's also great to hear those ancestral accents talking about the good things.

I can't wait to hear the Prudhomme interview.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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Thanks FFR. I have to admit though, I really hate listening to the sound of my own voice. If anyone thinks I sound bad now, you should see what I sound like BEFORE I do the editing and I pull out all the extraneous "ummms" and "ahhhhhs". The first two or three I definitely was asking questions too fast and I was very nervous -- I'm now a bit more conscious about slowing down and annunciating my words properly. Recording converstation and talking in a broadcast form is way, way different than a natural conversation, but I try to keep them as natural as possible. I'm seriously considering taking voice lessons.

You are right about them not being done in a studio -- they are being recorded in the kitchen or noisy dining rooms or the streets of New Orleans, so they have quite a bit of background noise. I need at some point to really read up on the editing software I am using, Audacity. It has a lot of stuff you can use to improve sound quality, and it has nice splicing features for editing in music and fade out/fade in effects to make things sound more professional. The hardware I am using is very cheap, its an Olympus DM-20 with the optional external stereo condenser mic, which ran me about $230 total. If I want to take the next step up in sound quality I will need to go with a Marantz recorder and a studio type microphone like a Sennheiser which is like another 200-300 bucks.

I havent done the editing and the intro segment on the Prudhomme yet, I hope to do it tomorrow in my hotel room in Austin.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I went to Hong Kong Market last night (it's actually quicker for me to run across the bridge to big box land than it is to drive uptown and stand in line at the groceries there-grocery shopping is pretty limited in New Orleans proper, though it's improving slowly-I only live 5 blocks from the now famous Wal Mart and all operations there, once it was cleaned up, seem to have ceased. I'm thinking that they may not reopen at all, but everyone says that I am wrong) and enjoyed pho with my youngest son, a bit of exotic grocery shopping, and a couple of those 2 buck sandwiches to go. It's a great way to kill a couple of hours and it's conveniently located between Wally World and Target, so it's a great enticement if I am trying to get the boy in the car. After all, Hong Kong Market has exotic drinks, weird vegetables, live fish, live crustaceans, weird pickeled fish in jars (I'm sorry, I'm adventuresome, but I'm not the adventuresome), a killer candy aisle with all manner of odd treats, and a frozen food section that is, really, the bomb if you are looking for some frozen oriental fast food.

I love that place.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

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

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I only live 5 blocks from the now famous Wal Mart and all operations there, once it was cleaned up, seem to have ceased. I'm thinking that they may not reopen at all, but everyone says that I am wrong.

Wal-Mat has been open for a few weeks, but only a small corner. And it's not the corner you can see from the street.

At this point, it's basically a grocery store and a drug store. I'd prefer to shop elsewhere, but we certainly need more places to buy food.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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I only live 5 blocks from the now famous Wal Mart and all operations there, once it was cleaned up, seem to have ceased. I'm thinking that they may not reopen at all, but everyone says that I am wrong.

Wal-Mat has been open for a few weeks, but only a small corner. And it's not the corner you can see from the street.

At this point, it's basically a grocery store and a drug store. I'd prefer to shop elsewhere, but we certainly need more places to buy food.

That's amazing. I drive by it every morning on my way to work and I assumed, wrongly, that it was closed. GIven what the parking lot looks like, it seems pretty bereft of commercial activity. Who knew?

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

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

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