Seeing as how I completely forgot to pick up Starbuck’s mugs from the last two places I’ve visited, – New York & Denver – to add to my collection, I made sure I was on top of my game when it came to buying one from New Orleans!
This gem reminds me of the Las Vegas mug in color – dark, chocolate brown – and features a sax player on the front. How appropriate for a city where you can always hear some good jazz music playing!
We were SO excited for our final, full day in New Orleans, because we had early lunch reservations at Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA Restaurant!!!
NOLA is one of three restaurants Emeril has in New Orleans (we passed by another one in our St. Charles Streetcar!) but we picked NOLA because of its location – in the heart of the French Quarter – and it’s reputation for unpretentious, yet kicked up (as Emeril would say) Cajun & Creole fare.
The inside of the restaurant is super modern and funky, yet has the elegant touches of the French Quarter like beautifully arched, and wide open windows.
We were the first ones seated for lunch and couldn’t wait to dig in!!!!
After ordering, our waitress promptly brought over two, warm specialty breads: Jalapeno Cornbread and Pancetta Rolls. OMG. The cornbread was good, but the rolls were out of this WORLD! Warm, squishy and studded with chopped pancetta. We were thrilled when they came back around to give us more.
For an appetizer I ordered a salad with baby field greens, fresh cracked pepper, toasted pistachios, manchego cheese and marinated cherry tomatoes.
The cherry tomatoes tasted like roasted garlic!! It was the strangest, most incredible thing! And I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to eat another pistachio if it’s not roasted. Heaven, I’m telling you.
Next came the big ta-da. I was torn on whether I should order the Shrimp & Grits (I wanted to give grits a second chance!) or the Sweet Barbeque Atlantic Salmon. I asked my waiter for advice and while he said the shrimp & grits was the most ordered dish at the restaurant, he’d get the salmon. So I did!
I am telling you – this is a meal that I will remember for a very, VERY long time!!!! The barbequed salmon was crusted to crisp perfection on the outside, and sat on a bed of creole maque choux that I can now die a happy woman after eating.
Maque choux is a southern Louisiana dish that combines fresh vegetables, including fresh corn-on-the-cob, which are braised, then simmered until they are creamy and PERFECT!!!! I’ve never tasted sweeter corn and this is one dish that I dying to try and recreate at home!!!
Emeril’s was absolutely outstanding in every way. We never felt hovered over, yet the wait staff was at our side, cleaning our table and refilling our water glasses at every opportune moment. They didn’t miss a beat, and I would go back in a second. A New Orleans MUST TRY!!!
The good thing about lunching at a place like NOLA is that you get lunch prices, but not lunch-sized portions. We left the most stuffed we’d been since coming to New Orleans – our meals were HUGE! We hobbled out and knew that walking around the quarter was the only way to feel better!
It couldn’t have been a more beautiful day to wander and say goodbye to our beloved French Quarter.
We went back to all the stores we had window shopped at in previous days, and stopped in many of the local art galleries that line the streets.
As we were coming out of one shop, we walked straight into Spike Lee!!
Who promptly turned the other way when he realized he had been recognized, only to be asked for his autograph by this gentleman. Oh, Spike.
Most of all, during our walk, we just looked. In case you can’t tell, the French Quarter is utterly, wickedly charming.
We’re smitten actually! When you see homes, gardens and quaint courtyards, like those in the streets of the quarter, you truly never want to leave!
The intricate, iron balconies and blooming, fresh flowers suck you in to a fantasy land.
We couldn’t have been more pleased with our trip to New Orleans. The weather was gorgeous, the food was outstanding, the city was clean and we never felt unsafe.
We would will absolutely return to New Orleans someday!
We finished our day the best way we knew how – with Beignets from Cafe Du Monde!
The perfect sweet ending, to a perfectly sweet vacation!
The next day, with souvenirs in hand – Zapps, Pralines & Beignet Mix – we headed home, back to Iowa!
Well I hope you’ve enjoyed my recap of our New Orleans vacation! I’ve really enjoyed sharing with y’all you all. Spreading the word about such fantastic places makes me a happy gal.
With that, it’s back to IGE’s regularly scheduled programming tonight – complete with a “ring in the summer” kind of dinner! ‘Til then!