On the 1st of April, 2009, we -- John and Jody -- set out on our motorcycles for a ride to New Orleans. We had been planning it for months, ever since Roadfood.com members were offered an opportunity to gather in New Orleans for food adventuring. I couldn't think of a better place to sample wonderful food, and Jody had never been there. Now Jody is ready to return, anytime. And so, of course, am I. (Well, not during a hurricane.)
We stopped for gas at a BP station in Pachuta, Mississippi, on SR 18 just off I-59. Jody noticed there were tables inside, so we decided to get lunch. "How many sides do you get with the blue plate special," I asked. "All of 'em," our server said. Two pieces of chicken, a mound of beans, a mound of potato salad, a mound of brocolli casserole, skillet cornbread or roll, blackberry cobbler, and sweet tea or a coke for $5.29. We ate all we could and left behind enough food for at least one more meal.
Those are 12" plates.
We stood in long lines both mornings (it was the weekend, the busiest time) just to have beignets and café au lait at Cafe Du Monde, an essential part of any New Orleans visit.
Jody enjoying a beignet. Why did we only get two orders, she asked.
Two food events were being held in the French Quarter that weekend, the Oyster Jubilee and the Roadfood Festival.
A coalition of New Orleans chefs builds the world's longest oyster po'boy sandwich on Bourbon Street. The sandwich will occupy the blocks-long table. They fix it, and then the people eat it. For free. I don't think there were leftovers.
Vendor booths set up along Royal Street for the First Annual Louisiana Roadfood Festival. There were lots more than pictured here.
I think this was crawfish boudin.
A member of a wedding party considers catfish.
I've eaten several times at the Desire Oyster Bar at Bourbon and Bienville, part of the Royal Sonesta Hotel. It's spotless and the food and service are always very good. Doors all along the Bourbon Street side open to let in the sights and sounds of the street.
The oyster-shucking team at work. The guy on the left did a lot of jiving, too. He's a funny guy.
The product (already sampled before the camera came out.)
We have photographic evidence that Jody and I both eat beignets with our right hands, but I eat oysters with the left. We don't know which hand Jody uses for oysters.
The Creole crawfish jambalaya was very good, but we prefer the brown Cajun style (made starting with a roux, no tomatoes).
The Central Grocery is an Italian-Creole wonder. We'd have done some serious shopping if we hadn't been on the bikes.
Why people were in a line stretching down the sidewalk -- muffaletta sandwiches. The olive salad makes them memorable. We split half a sandwich. It was plenty, considering that we'd recently had beignets for breakfast. Add Central Grocery to your mandatory New Orleans food stops.
Another line at Mother's, a few blocks from the French Quarter. Add Mother's to your food list too.
This is Mother's debris po'boy, red beans and rice, and bread pudding. Debris is the name for shredded beef. JB tipped me to Central Grocery and Mother's. I ordered what he told me to. Thanks, JB.
We Roadfood.com members who had signed up (and paid) for the shrimp and crawfish boil boarded the three Roadfood.com buses for our journey into the swamplands of Jefferson Parish.
They gave us Mardi Gras beads as we boarded, and some of us actually wore them. My beads are purple, green, and gold, the official Mardi Gras colors, signifying, respectively, justice, faith, and power. (Knowing that I wanted exactly those colors, I nearly got into a tussle to get the green ones.)
Michael and Jane Stern are the force behind Roadfood.com. We had Jane for our guide.
The first stop was before leaving New Orleans, Hansen's Sno-Bliz, a business that has stayed in the family for 70 years and still uses the original snoball machine that Ernest Hansen invented.
Our tour's choices.
John had Satsuma and Jody had Nectar, both with a dollop of condensed milk, which goes on top just before serving.
We arrived at the Bayou Barn, our hosts for a shrimp and crawfish boil and whole hog barbecue.
Have some shrimp ...
... and some jambalaya, your choice of regular or gator.
Now them's some boilin' pots.
I wore my Full Boar Barbecue Tour 2007
t-shirt. Nobody asked about it.
Those mud bugs are good. JB says he likes to get his ready-peeled, that a guy could starve eating them one crawfish at a time. I understand his point, but we were happy doin' 'em one at a time. We ate nearly 4 of these baskets between us.
The hog ready to come off the fire after about 15 hours.
Wood. It's for cooking meat.
Serving up the pig. They had a red honey sauce and a mustard honey sauce and seafood sauce like we had with the shrimp. I ate mine neat. It was very good picked pig, nice and moist and flavorful. A guy in line with me said he'd been waiting for this -- so far all could eat was rice, potatoes, and corn because he's allergic to shellfish.
Actually, I am too, but reasonable amounts of shrimp and crawfish don't bother me. Just don't offer me lobster.
Meanwhile, lurking a few feet away from the pit ...
Michael and Jane Stern thank all the crew who help with Roadfood.com and the tour.
There was a little bit more than food to our trip. If you'd like to see some French Quarter ambience, go here.