Thursday, April 12, 2012

Culinary Tours

While in New Orleans, one thing that I demanded that we do is take a walking historical culinary tour of the French Quarter. Known for its rich history and wonderful blend of food, I knew that we'd be in for a treat. They are approximately three hours long, and include a historical tour as you hop from one restaurant to the next. We started the tour at 2PM at the famous Hermes Bar at Antoine's Restaurant.Known for creating the first Oysters Rockefeller, the restaurant is still family-owned since 1840 and was just packed with history throughout its 14 dining rooms. We saw all kinds of memorabilia, and their block-long wine cellar made us drool.We sampled gumbo at this restaurant before moving on to stop number two: Leah's Pralines (pronounced "praw-leens") across the street.Too sweet for me, but everyone else seemed to really enjoy them.

Then on to Arnaud's Remoulade for some shrimp remoulade with a great kick to the mustard-based sauce. This restaurant was just as unique as the others, and included artwork from the Spongebob Squarepants creator.Then we moved on to Desire Bistro & Oyster Bar for some turtle soup.This was our favorite dish of the tour, with lots of Creole heat and depth of flavor. We dined outside on their enclosed patio, and enjoyed a view of their hidden garden.You'll find hidden gems like this all over New Orleans- just peek down alleyways and you'll find these treasures.

Then it was time to try New Orleans' famous sandwich- the Muffalino, and some gelato from La Davina.With thick bread, several Italian meats, and a house-made olive salad topping, the sandwich gave us a small taste of what all the fuss is about.

We landed at Tujague's Restaurant (the second oldest restaurant in New Orleans) next for some beef brisket and a wonderful horseradish remoulade. This was a close second for favorite dish of the tour.By this point, it was about 5:00PM and we still had one more stop to go. Last stop: Creole Delicacies for a quick cooking demo and samples, and then shopping for sauces, spices, cookware, gifts, and more in their great shop.We picked up some popcorn rice, a crawfish boil seasoning packet, and a Christmas tree ornament to remind us of this fabulous trip. The great news is that you can order online, and they'll ship you all of the wonderful flavors of New Orleans!

This tour was simply fabulous. Candy, our guide, was very knowledgeable, had a passion for good food, and a great sense of humor that kept us chuckling all day. We learned a lot about the French Quarter and the many influences in their culinary world- including French, Spanish, Italian, German, Creole, and Cajun. Such a melting pot of great history and flavors.

It really reminded me of our own NEO Food Tours that started up last year. "R" and I attended the Shaker Square signature tour and had such a good time learning more about the neighborhood and sampling food from several of the restaurants on the Square. The tour in New Orleans was $45 a person, and for $75 in Cleveland you get a little more bang for your buck with portion sizes and cocktails are included at each stop. We actually preferred the Cleveland tour over our New Orleans one! The good news? NEO Food Tours is kicking off their signature tour series in June with a stop in Little Italy.

I highly recommend checking out one of their tours, and enjoying some great food while you explore a neighborhood in your own city. Also, when you are traveling- check into whether or not the city offers some sort of walking culinary tour. It's such a fun way to explore a new city and sample the food that they are known for.


wearingmascara said...

I've only been to New Orleans once, loved it, and have been meaning to go back. Going on a food tour is such a good idea. I can't wait to return.