Back in the Kitchen

New Orleans Vacation 2011

I am back home in Toronto and I had an amazing time in New Orleans Louisiana! I went to New Orleans for the International Food Bloggers Conference put on by Foodista. I went to the IFBC last year when it was in Seattle and I really enjoyed it so I was looking forward to this years! When I heard that it was in New Orleans, I immediately signed up as I have long been fascinated by Southern/Creole/Cajun cuisine and I had been wanting to head down there for a while.

I left for the conference a few days early to ensure that I would have plenty of time to explore and eat at a lot of different restaurants. When I got to New Orleans on the Wednesday it was just in time for lunch and given my recent obsession with po-boys I quickly went out to try a fried shrimp po-boy at Jonny's Po-boys. After the very filling lunch that I wandered around the French Quarter until the heat got to me and I headed back to the Monteleone to relax in the air conditioned Carousel Bar with with a pint of Abita, a local beer. For dinner I went to the Red Fish Grill to have their signature dish, the hickory smoked red fish along with a cup of their seafood gumbo.

New Orleans Vacation 2011

On Thursday morning I went on a swap tour with Cajun Encounters and had a great time traveling through the swamp. Along the way we encountered several alligators, some turtles, birds and a family of raccoons. Of course we got to see the alligators up close as the tour guide lured them in with marshmallows. The tour guide even had a baby alligator that had been sick. They were waiting for it to fully recover before releasing it back into the swamp. By the time the tour was over I was pretty hungry and I headed over to Drago's to try the char grilled oysters along with a bowl of their seafood gumbo. For dinner I met up with Stephanie of Copy Kat Recipes and Brook of Learn to Preserve who were also in town for the IFBC and we headed out to Pascal's Manale where I had some drum fish topped with BBQ shrimp.

New Orleans Vacation 2011

On Friday morning instead of going for the hotels continental breakfast I headed out to Something Else Cafe to try their crab cake topped with sunny side up egg with corn machoux after hearing Brook talk about it the night before. For the rest of the morning I wandered around the French Quarter and stopped by a few art shops before heading to Mr B's Bistro for lunch where I had the blackened red fish. And with that my free time was up and it was time to head to the conference. There were two sessions on Friday afternoon and they were on the morality of food blogging and a food styling and photography talk by Andrew Scivani which was really good. Up next was the food which was provided by several local restaurants and I got to try the following:

  • Fried pork cheek balls by Le Petite Grocery
  • Spicy tuna tartare with avocado mousse, coriander, grilled country bread and rabbit ragu with house-made pappardelle, parmesan by Ste. Marie
  • Shaved brussels sprouts with apples, pecorino, hazelnuts and chicken liver crostini with Maras Farm’s sprouts, dandelion gastrique by Sylvain
  • Crawfish etouffee by Langenstein's
  • Black truffle hazelnut macaroon ‘PoPs’ by Sucre

After consuming far too much tasty food it was time to head out on the Cocktail Crawl put on by Nosh by Firespotter Labs which included stops at three bars on the edge of Bourbon Street with the final one having some live music. Although I was having a fun time on the crawl, I made sure to head back to the hotel in time to get a good night sleep for the big day in the IFBC.

One recommendation that came up a lot when I ask you my readers about where to eat in NOLA was beignets and chicory coffee de lait at Cafe du Monde and I was quickly running out of time. To make sure that I got there I decided to get up a bit early on Saturday morning and do it then and there. I am not really a big coffee drinker but I have to say that I am glad that I got the chance to try out Cafe de Monde! After enjoying a leisurely breakfast I ran back to the conference for the session that I was most looking forward to, the session on marketing and branding and it did not disappoint. Up next was a really interesting session on food and culture and then it was time for the IFBC meal that I was looking forward to the most. I had seen the menu ahead of time and it was filled with tasty sounding food and I ended up getting to try the following:
  • Oyster po-boy with spinach, artichokes and lemon thai aioli by Pierre Maspero's
  • Grilled gulf shrimp and blackened avocado po-boy and crab bisque by Red Fish Grill
  • Shrimp and jambalaya grits by Riverfront Restaurant
  • Stewed turkey and alligator sausage gumbo by Parkway Bakery
  • Shrimp remoulade by Royal House Restaurant

There were some more dishes but unfortunately I was completely stuffed and could not eat another bite. After lunch we continued with a talk about food sustainability by Poppy Tooker, a very entertaining local from New Orleans and a cooking demonstration by John Folse.

New Orleans Vacation 2011

Next up was a small break before the final meal of the conference and I took the opportunity to walk around a bit. While I was out I passed by a Bourbon Street wedding procession which I certainly had not been expecting. Dinner was really nice and it consisted of a dariole of crab ravigote topped with shrimp, a tournedo of beef perigourdine topped with foie gras an black truffles and a white chocolate creme brule topped with fresh berries. Dinner ended with an entertaining talk by Chef John Besh about food in New Orleans and his restaurants.

On Sunday morning I went back to Something Else Cafe as I had seen another dish on their menu that I had to try, the Crawdaddy Omelette which was an omelette filled with crawfish etouffe and melted jack cheese topped with more crawfish etouffe. For the final sessions of the IFBC I attended the session on time management and the one on food science and they were both very interesting. With the end of the final session there was a wrap up talk by Foodista and then it was time to say goodbye to friends both new and old.

While I was at the IFBC I met a few old friends and I got the chance to meet many new friends! It was really amazing having the opportunity to talk to some fellow food bloggers and friends about food, blogging and this and that! I am definitely looking forward to the chance to attend next years IFBC!

New Orleans Vacation 2011

I took the opportunity to do all of my souvenir shopping on Sunday afternoon after enjoying a fried oyster po-boy with blue cheese and hot sauce mayo at Pierre Maspero's. After an afternoon of walking around in the sunny New Orleans heat I went down to the carousel Bar to meet up with some friends who were still in town; Jamie of Life's a Feast, Jennifer of Merry Gourmet, Chef John of Food Wishes and Deb of Smitten Kitchen. After enjoying a Sazerac Jamie, Jennifer, Chef John and I headed over to GW Fins to enjoy a really excellent seafood meal.

On Monday I finally got the chance to hop onto the St Charles street car and I headed out to the Garden District where I took a tour of the Lafayette Cemetery before crossing the street to Commanders Palace. Commanders Palace came highly recommended and I have to say that the meal was one of my favourites! The food was really good and the service was amazing! I even got to try their Creole cream cheese cheesecake. After lunch I walked around the garden district and looked at all of the fantastically expensive houses before hopping back on the street car to ride to the end of the line stopping off at Audubon Park to take a look. For my final meal in New Orleans I headed back to Mr B's Bistro as I just had to have the BBQ shrimp! When you order the BBQ shrimp they bring you a bib so you know that it is going to be messy but it turns out that it is really worth it! The shrimp are so nice an moist and tender and succulent and good and the sauce is so addictive that you will use every last piece of that complimentary bread to sop up every drop of it that you can.

Overall I had an amazing time in New Orleans! My trip was just packed full of tasty food and that is thanks to all of your suggestions! Thank you so much for all of your great suggestions!

I think that this just might be my longest post to date. If you have made it this far, I promise to get back into the kitchen and get back to posting about food wand recipes tomorrow! :)

If you are interested in seeing more photos from my vacation you can see them in my Flickr gallery: New Orleans 2011


NancyFeasts said...

Thanks for a recap that made me feel like I was there - in fact, it made me feel like I need to put on stretch pants! We met ever so briefly at IFBC in Seattle, but I didn't make the trip to NOLA. Sounds like I missed out!

bunkycooks said...

Hi Kevin,

It was great to meet you in New Orleans! I am glad you were able to experience so many great restaurants and dishes while you were there! I hope we see each other again at another event sometime soon. :)


Colleen said...

Wow - sounds like you ate fabulously in New Orleans! I haven't been back there since Katrina ... after reading your post I'm ready for a visit. :)

Andrea Meyers said...

Sounds like you enjoyed the extra time in Nola. It was great to see you again!

Michelle J said...

New Orleans cooking is the ultimate comfort food! Next time you're in town, try to hit the Sunday brunch at The Court of Two Sisters, dinner at Tujagues and drinks at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shoppe. ;)

And now I'm craving a Johnny's catfish Po' Boy and a slice of pecan pie. Dang it, Kevin! ;)

--rock over london said...

I love Besh! Sounds like you had a great time filled with lots of deliciousness.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Welcome back! Good to know that you had much fun in NOLA. What a wonderful event.



Sumiko said...

Mmm, it all sounds so good! I've always been curious to try a po boy having seem Guy Fieri indulge in them on his show and more recently, a street vendor here in Vancouver that specializes in po boys.

Joanne said...

I'm so glad you had a good time, Kevin! It sounds like you really ate your way through New Orleans!

merry jennifer said...

It was so wonderful meeting you, Kevin. It was great to sit and chat in the Carousel Bar and then share a fabulous meal at GW Fins.

jordanrae said...

my girlfriend's brother is a head waiter at mr. b's! i'm so glad you got to experience their bbq shrimp - it's my favorite!! (luckily, we are headed to NO this month to celebrate his wedding, so i'll get to have some!) new orleans is definitely a great food city and sounds like you had an awesome time eating your way through :)

Bios go here? said...

What a treat to see NOLA through your eyes and taste buds! I'm still waiting for my chance to get there, but I will make to note to reference this page before I go! Thanks for all the tips and links too. Sounds like a great conference.

Jen said...

Yum! I love vacations filled with tons of yummy food! Those beignets look amazing!

Alisa said...

This post is a must-read for NOLA tourists,your photos are beautiful! It's almost like being there. I love all the different dishes you tried esp. the Po-boys. I wish I had a Po-boy right now.

Erica said...

Thanks for being my tour guide. It was "almost" as good as being there. The photoss were wonderful. The food...well, I'll bet you'll be trying your hand at a dish or two, though I suspect it may be diffficult to get your hands on authentic ingredients.
Thanks for taking the time to blog and share.
BTW, I have many of your recipes saved/printed out for future use.

Hyosun Ro said...

Glad to hear you had a great time. I've been to New Orleans only once, but loved it. My only regret was that I did not have enough time to try more of their great food. I should remember to come back to your post next time I go there. Also, I have long been thinking about attending a food blog event, and IFBC sounds great.

Demeter said...

Great photos & great blog! It was a pleasure for Carla & Mi-Young from Design My Meals to meet you in NOLA. See you at IFBC Santa Monica! :)
- Demeter

Gloria said...

welcome back Kevin! Sounds you had a lovely and fun time! gloria

Jamie said...

Kevin, next time there is a food conference I am hanging out with you from beginning to end! You saw everything and ate everything everywhere! What a fabulous experience! I fell in love with the city and know I need another vacation there to discover what I didn't. And I am not only so glad I finally met you but I loved that we had the chance to have cocktails and a meal together - you are great fun! I hope I get to meet you at yet another conference! Thanks for a great post!

cher said...

OMG ! Sounds like an awesome vaca ! I am so jealous ! Good for you ...what an experience right? Now I wanna go too ! :op

The Galley Gourmet said...

Sounds like a great trip! I spent four years in Mandeville, LA (North of Lake Ponchartrain) and I spent many of weekends in New Orleans. Good to hear you were able to stop by Café du Monde-- miss that place! Glad you are back:)

Slauditory said...

So glad you liked the food in New Orleans! Next time you're there, try Surrey's on Magazine. It's a breakfast/brunch place with a bit of a Creole twist, plus fresh-squeezed juices! Yum.

Helene said...

I went couple times at Café du Monde for the coffee and beignets. Also like the location. One day I walked many streets and took pictures. The French Quarter is beautiful. Glad you enjoyed your time.

easy recipes said...

Cooking vacations can be very inspiring and there is no need to be part of a group. Exploring on your own can be a fascinating experience.

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