The Sun Also Rises

We’d been placed on the 25th Floor of the downtown Sheraton on Canal Street and that first morning, and promptly every morning after, as if by magic, the sun rose and lit up the Mississippi.  We saw barges and tugboats.  Is there a more beautiful river?  Show me, I don’t believe you.

The Haas Diet and Exercise Program demands that each participant run a minimum of two miles and up to six miles daily.  How else you gonna eat everything you fancy without turning into a human tugboat?  You cannot, I tell you, I tell, you cannot.  Me?  I’m a size 31 waist and Kanye and MIA in my ears, off to the races.

That first day in New Orleans began with a walk through the French Quarter, just across the street, where, wandering, I wound up at Cafe du Monde.   Over a dozen Vietnamese women worked alongside African-American women in the kitchen serving cups of bitter, chicory-laced coffee and beignets.  The minimum order of the beignets is three.  Ordering take-out, I received a bag of thick, fried dough and about 1/3 cup of powdered sugar.,  Honey, you not awake after eating and drinking this, you dead.

Just around the corner from Cafe du Monde is Central Grocery: Lackluster in stock, the place is famous for the muffuletta, which is a pretty amazing sandwich of deli meats, cheeses, pickles, and olives piled high on sesame seeded bread that has been oiled.  John Mariani just sang its praises in Saveur.  I am here to tell you that it’s good, but not great and while Central Grocery deserves credit for the invention over 100 years ago, better versions are readily found in town.

Having dispensed with half of a half sandwich, I retired to my room to write.

Having written, it was time for Cochon.  Now here’s a place worth your time.  In the warehouse district, cool as can be, we’re talking upscale, clean versions of pork and fish.  You needn’t have tats to dine here, but if you do, you will bond with staff.  Simply the best pork in the city.

After going to the Dome that evening, preceded by cocktails at Herbsaint, where James Carville could be seen perusing the wine list, and then watching the Hornets lose to the Lakers, despite CP3’s valiance, we walked to Luke.

Luke is a bistro.  A wonderfully ditsy waitress brought over brats and drinks.  Again, a delicious meal.

All within walking distance.

Dining in New Orleans & Bin Laden Shout Out

I’d no idea.  Thought it was hype.  But it’s true: After NYC and maybe even before SF, New Orleans is for sure the best food town I’ve visited in the USA.

Shout out to the drunk, t-shirt waving dude on Sunday night who, after hearing of the Bin Laden killing, took to the alley beside the streetcar in which I was riding to shout: “USA!  USA!  USA!”  Followed by a not too too bad rendition of, “Born in the USA.”  Doesn’t killing make you want to sing?

Anyhow, back to the food:

Got to New Orleans late last Wednesday.  I’d reserved tables months ago, as far back as January.

First up, that night, was Bayona.  We had to walk down Bourbon Street to get there: Brain addled pedestrians, perhaps as drunk as the aforementioned patriot, or not, looked over the “titty bars” and pole dancing clubs.  I don’t know about you, but these were the kind of places that give Internet porn a good name.  Seedy in every sense of the word.  “Never saw a woman so alone,” sang the late, great Jim Morrison.

Bayona is housed in a little residence.  Too hot, I guess, to eat on its sweet patio, we dined indoors.  The decor was faded glory.  Looked like a set for Sunset Boulevard.  The food was delicious: Garlic soup, sweetbreads, and oysters.  The garlic soup was dense and inspiring.  The sweetbreads: Nutty and wonderfully textured.  The regional tastes, the specificity of flavors, and the use of vegetables.  Well, yum-yum says it all.

Bayona is helmed by Susan Spicer; she’s kind of a genius, I think, for her restraint and ability to coax deep flavors from ingredients.  I hadn’t known she had helped set up Herbsaint: Now that’s a restaurant I need to tell you about at a later date.  Simply amazing.