Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival

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icecreamchick
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Fri, 04/22/11 12:58 PM
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Baked Alaska is a "can't go wrong" kind of a dish. You get cake, ice cream, and caramelized meringue all in one desert -- and chocolate sauce too!  
 
I kind of wish I felt the same about broccoli. 
 
The video is of the fourth wedding procession I saw that day. I saw one when I was about to go into Church at Jackson Square. I saw a wedding coming into Church as I was leaving (this one did not have the brass band...yet!). I saw another, quieter procession of people (with the bride and groom at the head) walking back to meet Ralph and everyone else, then we saw that one. I think it's an incredibly joyful way to start your new life together! 
 
And that is a most excellent picture of Jennifer Jones. She was amazing! 

Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Sat, 04/23/11 12:40 AM
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Our bit of sitting down turned into an unplanned nap, and we weren't ready to go again until 10pm - which settled the question of whether we were going to impose on the Roadfood team. So we sought out something particularly close to the hotel. We considered K-Paul's, of which we'd heard great things, but waiting for a table there would have required forty-five minutes of standing. So we went down the street to The Original Pierre Maspero's, which (a) had a few tables available, and (b) tickled a memory: The Original Pierre Maspero's had won the oyster po-boy competition at the World's Largest Oyster Po-Boy. So with that much recommendation, we gave it a try.

(A side comment: I would think that a restaurant named "The Original Pierre Maspero's" that had a history section on its menu would mention someone named Maspero in that history.)

Lori ordered the roast beef po-boy. She didn't even try eating it with her hands; it was clearly a knife-and-fork po-boy.


I asked about the competition-winning po-boy. I thought it would be the Hot and Blue Oyster Po-Boy listed on their menu ("Fried Oyster Po Boy dressed with tobasco mayo and blue cheese crumbles"), but the waiter informed me that he'd have to ask the chef, because only the chef knew exactly how it was made. But I'd missed the Pierre Maspero's moment at the World's Largest Oyster Po-Boy, so I did not know just what I'd ordered.
What I got: light, crisp fried oysters on top of artichoke bottoms and creamed spinach, all topped with a spicy mayonnaise that was probably the tobasco mayo of the menu-listed po-boy. It was sumptuous and delicious, certainly a legitimate contender for the po-boy prize.
(This was the third time on this trip that I ordered something that wasn't obviously available. The first time was ordering the chicken bon femme at Tujague's; the second was asking for the cherry apricot almond turtles at Turtle Alley Chocolates that Hallie hadn't had room to put out on display. Ordering off-the-menu items makes me feel like an elite foodie, but it also makes me feel some ire on behalf of those who wouldn't have the same opportunity to learn of secret orderables.)


The menu mentions peaches and raisins in the bread pudding, but all I remember of the flavor is the white chocolate sauce.


Afterwards, we strolled to Jackson Square in hopes that Lori might get a psychic reading. We didn't find a mystic that suited her fancy, but we did find a very nifty busker performing upon an informal glass armonica.


video:
http://www.flickr.com/pho...set-72157626262108989/

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EdSails
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Sat, 04/23/11 1:53 PM
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Amazing, Ralph. I've passed through NOLA 3 times and had one really good thing (crawfish etoufee hand pie) the whole time. To have so much good food so accessible at once must have been incredible. I am going to have to put the next Roadfood Festival there on my agenda!

Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Mon, 04/25/11 8:46 PM
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Lori ordered the pancakes and bacon again, because they are so splendid that she's unwilling to take the risk of any other order being less delightful. She may be in a rut, but it's a rut with perfect pancakes, and she's very happy there.
I see that in my chronicle of our previous trip to Camellia Grill, I neglected to mention the bacon. The bacon was excellent, but I felt at a loss to describe it; it was simply extremely bacony.


Anne got the potato-and-onion omelette with grits. Though I know I sampled this, I don't remember much of it - though I remember that I found the grits pleasant but very mild.


Michael's pecan waffle was really excellent - it tasted like the buttery, roasted pecans at the top layer of a pecan pie. Advocates of small-tread waffles (I know Michael Stern to be one) have this as an excellent argument in their favor.


The cherries in Amy's chocolate-cherry freeze were just barely identifiable, either by eye or by tongue. (As others have noted, it's very hard to take a good photo of a milkshake.)


I do not remember for myself the name of the sandwich Chris ordered. Reconstruction from the menu suggests it was a Camellia Special ("Turkey, Ham, Swiss cheese, Cole Slaw, Thousand Island Dressing, on Rye"), but I would have claimed that the sandwich had a person's name. I didn't regard it as a delight, but it's hard to make a cold sandwich with no special ingredients really outstanding.
 

While I was dithering about what to order, Chris said that he'd heard good things about the burger. So I got the bacon cheeseburger. It was excellent, a paragon of its style of well-done, thinnish burger with American cheese - but I'm unlikely to ever get it again, because it doesn't feel special to New Orleans to me. I'd rather get the red beans and rice or one of the specialty sandwiches and feel I was getting a New Orleans specialty. (It should be noted, though, that of all the restaurants we've sought out in New Orleans, the Camellia Grill is the one whose menu most tends to food that is not special to New Orleans. They have red beans and rice, gumbo, and a few specialty sandwiches, but the stars of the menu are things like the pancakes - and it is an error for me to say that the burger isn't as much of a specialty as the red beans and rice.)


For dessert, we shared a piece of the pecan pie. I expect that it was warmed on the grill as is done at the Uptown location, but I didn't confirm that. I liked it a lot more than I'd liked the pie last year; it was warm and rich and excellent.




mr chips
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Mon, 04/25/11 10:35 PM
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Wonderful report, Ralph. You make me feel like i was there.

leethebard
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Tue, 04/26/11 5:07 AM
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Thanks for the very interesting report! That Oyster po-boy looks great!

Nancypalooza
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Tue, 04/26/11 3:58 PM
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I would like one of all of those, please. :)  So I'm ignorant of the difference--is this the original location of the Camellia Grill or the new one?

Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Wed, 04/27/11 1:27 PM
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The Uptown location of the Camellia Grill is the original location. The French Quarter location is the new location; that's where Lori and I ate on Saturday, and where the six of us ate on Sunday.
 
The differences that I've noted between the locations:
- the Uptown location has white Greek columns outside, but the French Quarter location has square white columns inside.
- The walls of the Uptown location may be a slightly peachier shade of pink - or that may just be an artifact of the different cameras I was using between for different pictures.

Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Wed, 04/27/11 10:17 PM
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She advised us to get a divorce, which I think certainly qualifies as bad advice. But I was hoping for more; I was hoping for some stunningly grand piece of epically cataclysmic advice, like Love Secrets of Bonnie and Clyde or Iago's advice to Othello. This wasn't even at the level of "appearing on the Jerry Springer Show will lead to an sensitive and compassionate exploration of your issues."

I made sure to sample Vaucresson's hot sausage, because I had neglected to try it last year. From my time in Pittsburgh, I've come to expect "hot sausage" to be Italian hot sausage, and this was not at all like Italian sausage. It was more like a hot link from Texas Hill Country; it was a very taut, plump sausage, with pork seasoned with plenty of cayenne pepper. This po-boy wasn't dressed at all, and I think it would have been better with some sort of condiments, though I'm not sure what - this might have been a good sandwich to serve with coleslaw.


The pulled pork sliders from Central BBQ in Memphis, TN were pretty good - but my loyalties are definitely with Louie Mueller.


We stopped for a while to watch Smoking Time Jazz Club performing. We bought a CD, and this made me feel it was reasonable to record more than a snippet of video - and the video is a worthwhile souvenir, because they had dancers as well as musicians. But I made a noob mistake with my video; I'm so used to swapping between landscape and portrait with the photos I take that I flipped from landscape to portrait while recording video. So here's a snippet instead.


Lori got a cupcake from Cupcakes & Co. The cupcake was frosted to order, and she ordered the creole cream cheese frosting. The cake was moist and tender, and the cream cheese frosting was very tasty - but we couldn't identify what was "creole" about it, and neither could the staffer. (We had better luck on the creole cream cheese question later.)


Another tamale from Tucson Tamale Co., because Lori had missed my Saturday tamale and we'd both been pleased by our conversations with the Tucson Tamale folks at the opening night party. This, too, was very soft and tender; the texture of the filling was like that of pulled pork, with only a bit of seasoning.


It was another hot day, and we both yearned to sit down for a bit, so we stopped in Antoine's Annex. They offered an unusual beverage: their lemonade was unsweetened (though it could be optionally sweetened). I ordered a glass with interest, because the usual lemonade I get at Pittsburgh-area fairs is far too sweet for my taste. It did convince me that a bit of sugar in my lemonade is a good thing; the unsweetened lemonade wasn't too sour for me, but it just tasted like lemons, and it needed a bit of something to round out the flavors and make it more refreshing.
Lori chose her lemonade to be sweetened with raspberry Italian syrup. It was tasty, but a bit sweet for my taste.

I snapped a photo of Lori as she took a sip of my lemonade, in hopes of capturing a repeat of the extraordinary face she made when first sampling Braums' limeade. (We stopped at a Braums as we were driving through Kansas in 2007, and I ordered a limeade. I really enjoy Braums' limeade, because it's got a lot of lime and not much sugar, so I find it wonderfully refreshing. Lori's expectations for limeade were very different from mine, though, and when she took a sip, she puckered up into exactly the extreme-pucker face that cartoons use for "ate a lemon".) But her reaction to the unsweetened lemonade was not nearly as extreme. Of course, she's on guard when she samples drinks of mine now - I may never capture that face.

Lori's main goal for Sunday was a return trip to the baked Alaska. I liked it a bit better today, and it's very possible that a big reason why is that it looked much more dramatic today:



We had done most of our Turtle Alley shopping on Saturday, because we were eager to see Hallie again and because we knew that she had sold out of many things on Saturday in 2010. But apparently I didn't take a picture, so we stopped again... and filled another bag with goodies. Hallie is so nice and so friendly that it would be a pleasure to visit with her if she were selling eggplant-on-a-stick - but the excellent chocolate is a splendid thing too.




Nancypalooza
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Thu, 04/28/11 11:02 AM
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I'm with Lori; well, I'm with both of you, because I know the too-sweet problem of which you speak, but it needs something.  Otherwise it hurts.  When I make lemonade, I make it in a too-big pitcher so you can add water if you find that it's too much.  You're watering down the lemon as well as the sugar, but there you go.  I am sorry I haven't been to the festival on behalf of those turtles though; they look really good.

Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Thu, 04/28/11 9:56 PM
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The bar is a ring-shaped bar that slowly rotates around the center. As we sat there, we got the answer to a question I hadn't thought to ask: how do bartenders get into the center to serve drinks? The answer: the bartender going on shift climbed neatly over the bar with an air of long experience. (We noticed later that he had left, but we hadn't seen him leave. One drink isn't much explanation; I think it more likely that I'm just not that observant even sober.)

For a drink, I got a Pimm's Cup, another cocktail that I know of only through reading about New Orleans (though it's more closely associated with another restaurant, Napoleon House). The Carousel Bar's version is Pimm's No. 1 Cup (a fruit liqueur) and triple sec, topped up with Sprite, and garnished with a cucumber slice. I really enjoyed this cocktail. It was fruity without falling into the sweet trap of most fruity drinks; it tasted somewhat like a Long Island Iced Tea. The cucumber garnish, though, really changed the character of the drink; each time I raised the glass to my lips, the scent of cucumber filled my nostrils like a cool breeze on a summer day, making the drink much more refreshing.




Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Thu, 04/28/11 10:09 PM
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Nancypalooza


I'm with Lori; well, I'm with both of you, because I know the too-sweet problem of which you speak, but it needs something.  Otherwise it hurts.  When I make lemonade, I make it in a too-big pitcher so you can add water if you find that it's too much.  You're watering down the lemon as well as the sugar, but there you go.  I am sorry I haven't been to the festival on behalf of those turtles though; they look really good.

 
It didn't hurt to me, but I found myself seeking flavors other than lemons.
 
For you I took a closeup of a pair of turtles we haven't eaten yet:
Turtles from Turtle Alley by Ralph Melton, on Flickr

Nancypalooza
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Fri, 04/29/11 10:49 AM
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/Homer Simpson droooooool  ;)

Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Fri, 04/29/11 7:57 PM
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Those of you who are particularly inclined to remember every picayune detail of my trip reports may recall that several weeks ago, I included some ominous foreshadowing when describing our airline travels. In this episode, the implied prophecy of that ominous foreshadowing comes to pass.

Our first sign of a problem came when we tried to check in at the automated kiosk at the airport. The kiosk said "Unable to recognize your flight. Please see a representative." We got the attention of the agent behind the counter, N, and she took a look. After a few minutes, she started frowning a "this is not as simple as I expected" frown and started digging further. (I'm going to refer to the agents in this story by initials, so that I can speak critically of them without worrying about it affecting them.)

After fifteen minutes, N was able to tell us what happened: when we had been rescheduled from Delta to US Airways on Wednesday, the Delta agent hadn't dotted all the i's and crossed the t's for our reschedule. In particular, she had not done the right things to suppress the automated system that says "they didn't fly on the first leg of their round trip; we can cancel their reservation for the return trip and resell their seat." So our return reservation was cancelled, and the flight was full.

Fortunately, we could handle the delay. My schedule is flexible, and Lori had an in-service day scheduled for the next day, so her coming home a day late wouldn't entail a last-minute search for a substitute teacher.

After lots of phone consultation, N had a proposal for us: she'd reinstate our reservation on the overbooked flight, but we'd be among the first volunteers taken when they called for volunteers to be paid to give up their seats, and she would go ahead and make our reservations for the flight the next day. (We chose a late flight, because this was an opportunity for more fun in New Orleans.) I had a definite impression that N was playing fast and loose in doing so; in particular, she went ahead with this plan before she'd gotten approval to do so. But she was exceedingly pleasant, and we were very grateful for her help; I made sure to note her name, and I sent an e-mail to US Airways praising her in careful terms that didn't mention how she might have exceeded corporate approval in her generosity.

N told us we should show up at the gate, fail to get on the plane, and return to the ticketing area to get our travel vouchers and hotel arrangements. We did so ... and waited and waited and waited at the ticketing area for someone to arrive. Finally, after two phone calls to US Airways, D showed up. D was short-tempered and gruff - but she mentioned that she'd been on her feet for over eight hours and hadn't yet had a chance to eat lunch. She said that N had screwed things up, and we should have received our travel vouchers and meal arrangements at the gate; despite her grouchiness, D got us our vouchers, made arrangements for us to stay on USAirways' dime at a hotel near the airport, and gave us food vouchers.

So I don't know how to interpret this tale. It could be "N finds creative ways to resolve the problem, D grouches and shows up late for her part of the job" or "N maintains her pleasant demeanor by not following correct procedures and foisting her work onto D". This is why I used initials to refer to them.

Another tale from the line at the ticket counter: one woman there had arrived an hour early for a 6am flight home. The whole line at the ticket counter had been held up for thirty minutes because someone had forgotten to bring their ID and there was only one agent to handle everybody. Because of that delay, she'd been unable to check in for her flight. Since then, she had tried to fly standby on every flight out, but every flight had been full. We heard her talking very angrily on her cell phone with US Airways, and I thought that she sounded very harsh and unpleasant - but I cannot say that I'd be any less crabby after being in an airport for twelve hours with no satisfaction.

I think the bigger issue, though, is that the airline system is running so close to capacity that both flights and personnel are stretched so thin that there's no slack to handle problems gracefully and pleasantly. That's my rational response - but my emotional response is to take that previous sentence and scrawl "SLIMEGUZZLING MONEYGRUBBING SCUMWEASELS" across it with Magic Marker and lots of exclamation points.


So we got a shuttle to our hotel - we think it was a Fairfield Marriott, but it was one of a large class of airport hotels that carefully cultivate unmemorable blandness. And there I had an idea that was brilliant or disastrous or both: we could rent a car for the cost of a couple of taxi trips, and that would give us a chance to visit New Orleans restaurants and attractions that weren't in the French Quarter.
Like Mosca's - but not exactly like Mosca's, because Mosca's is closed on Sunday and Monday. And that shows the way to the flaw in this plan... by the time we got the shuttle back to the airport and had rented a car, it was 9pm on Sunday night, and none of the Roadfood-listed places in New Orleans were answering their phones.
We tried finding places with Urbanspoon, but couldn't find anything open and auspicious. And hunger made us crabby and argumentative.

So by 9:30, we were reduced to driving around aimlessly looking for open restaurants of any stripe. We settled on a chain restaurant called Raising Cane's because it had two virtues: it was unfamiliar to us, and it was open.

It was a dismal meal. Raising Cane's has only chicken fingers, and the chicken fingers we were served were tough and dry. We would have assumed that they had been lingering under a heat lamp for hours, but if that was so, I don't understand why it took them so long to serve us. But I still have good things to write about, so I shall waste no more words upon a dismal meal.

In retrospect, we should have rented a car without the long detour to the hotel. Perhaps we should have gotten something to eat at the airport - but by the time we were waiting in line at the ticket counter, most of the airport restaurants were closed, so I don't think we could have foreseen how long we'd be delayed at the airport in time to eat there.

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Buffalo Tarheel
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Fri, 04/29/11 9:01 PM
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Ralph,
Belated thanks for a well-done report.  As Mr. Chips said earlier, you make us feel as though we were there with you all.
As far as the airline situation, I think that your logical and emotional assessments are right.  They are generally understaffed and overworked, but that blame lies with the higher-ups who refuse to provide enough personnel and equipment.  Oh well, at least Southwest seems to do it right.  Glad that overall the trip was a good one.

MilwFoodlovers
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Fri, 04/29/11 9:32 PM
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Ralph and Lori, I hope you don't think I'm here to hijack your thread but we just returned from New Orleans yesterday and we too went to the Camelia Grill. It was 9:30 am and neither myself or Mrs MFL were in the mood for breakfast. We ordered a Bloody Mary and

A Camelia Grill Muffeletta which was made with corned beef, ham, Swiss and the olive mix.
 
I wanted some heat so I had a
 

Hot Sausage Po-Boy and got my wish and then some.
I love gumbo and so had a bowl of the
 

Camelia Grill gumbo which was eaten until the bowl again looked spotless.
Hope you didn't mind my two cents here. Mike

Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Fri, 04/29/11 11:02 PM
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Mike, I don't mind at all. What did you think of the food, particularly the Camellia Grill muffaletta? I've considered ordering it, but I've held off because I didn't think the corned beef was authentic.

MilwFoodlovers
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Fri, 04/29/11 11:47 PM
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I really enjoyed the food but the staff banter made this a restaurant I'll eagerly return to.
The corned beef was lost in the mix but the melding of flavors made it a nice change of pace from Central Grocery, Franks or the Napoleon House versions. For the first time, last year I got burned with a dry horrible muff from Central; this after perhaps 15 great ones previously. I had my first warm one at either Napoleon House or Frank's  and I think this is how I'll have mine in the future. The drippings from the warmed meat and cheese, combined with warm olive salad guarantee your sandwich won't be too dry. Like the po-boys I sampled, the bread used on a muff can elevate a good po-boy or muffeletta to a great one. That said, Acme Oyster House po-boys and Camelia Grill po-boys and their muff are very, very good but fall just short of being great. Both have fillings that are so good you wish they took it just that extra step. I'll add that I think the po-boys at Tracey's, Parasol's, and Johnny's all hit my great mark. I'm loving your reports.

BuddyRoadhouse
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Sat, 04/30/11 1:44 AM
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Nothing worse than a dry horrible muff.  My condolences.
And my apologies if this excellent report suddenly takes an ugly turn.
Sorry Ralph, couldn't restrain myself.
 
Buddy

Nancypalooza
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Sat, 04/30/11 9:48 AM
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Oh no you di'int!

scrumptiouschef
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Sat, 04/30/11 1:54 PM
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The muff at Central Grocery is now pitiful. I've eaten there since I was little kid and the last couple visits were abysmal.
 
http://chowpapi.com/?p=660
 
Let's hope they can right the ship cause I love Central Grocery.

Nancypalooza
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Sat, 04/30/11 4:32 PM
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See, I was being funny before, but I don't agree.  I had my first Central Grocery muffaletta in 97 or something like that, and my most recent one last October.  The bread is supposed to be on the dry side because the olive salad is so oily.  It's a little bit of labor to chew, but it's still pretty delightful.

Foodbme
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Sat, 04/30/11 4:56 PM
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Gambit is a local NOLA Weekly newspaper and they have a "Best Of" readers poll. Here's the 2010 results for Muffs:
Best Muffuletta
1. Central Grocery (923 Decatur St., 523-1620) — This Decatur Street landmark picks up where Italian street vendors left off at the turn of the century. Eat in or take out one of its famous muffulettas, a classic served cold and packed with olive salad, capicola, mortadella, salami and emmentaler and provolone cheeses, all piled high inside a thick wheel (or slice of a wheel) of bread.
2. DiMartino's Famous New Orleans Muffulettas (1788 Carol Sue Ave., Terrytown, 392-7589; 3900 Gen. DeGaulle Drive, 392-7589; 6641 Westbank Expwy., Marrero, 341-4096; www.dimartinos.com
3. The Market Cafe (1000 Decatur St., 527-5000;
www.marketcafenola.com
 
Here's the rest of the List:
http://www.bestofneworleans.com/gambit/best-of-new-orleans-2010/Content?oid=1338136

mr chips
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Sat, 04/30/11 7:00 PM
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I actually liked the muffaletta at the napoleon because they heated it and the delighful seediness of the napoleon made me feel that i truly was in new orleans. Throughout my time in the french quarter i remembered a remark about faulkner. Some of his non-fans said he didn't write, he just wrote verything down. no city seems more novelistic to me than new orleans.

Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Sat, 04/30/11 10:19 PM
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mr chips, your phrase "delightful seediness" makes me much more interested in visiting the Napoleon House.

Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Sun, 05/1/11 1:22 PM
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Monday morning greeted us with the question of where to eat breakfast. We didn't want to return to the Camellia Grill for a third morning. Roadfood lists few other breakfast places around New Orleans. We knew of delectable places in the French Quarter, but I didn't want to drive there; it may not be literally true that I'd prefer to be stabbed with a rusty spork than drive in the French Quarter, but I'd have to take a moment to recall the date of my last tetanus shot before making the choice. (Pedestrians in the French Quarter are bad enough that I became ruder as a pedestrian there, because I would reason "They're driving in the French Quarter, so they must already be hating themselves; another offense won't make much difference.")

Urbanspoon suggested the Buttermilk Drop Bakery and Cafe, so off we went. It wasn't quite what we expected from a "bakery and cafe"; it was just a case of pastries and a steam table of breakfast items, with two small booths in a dimly-lit corner.

The lunch specials sign piqued my curiosity. My transcription:
Buttermilk Drop
presents
DAILY HOT LUNCH SPECIALS
we specialize in
stuffed bell peppers, macaroni and cheese
gumbo potato salad
smothered chops, chicken & turkey
red/white beans and rice & much more...
So the signmaker can use a comma, but chose not to use one between "gumbo" and "potato salad", which raises the possibility that they might offer some dish I've never heard of called "gumbo potato salad". Unfortunately, the staff seemed busy enough that I didn't ask the question. And my picture of the menu board obscures the lunch specials, so that provides no clues.


We were very interested in the flavored beignets, but they were out. After a few more tries off the menu board, it became clear that they were out of most things, so we went with what we could see on the steam table. Lori ordered bacon, eggs, and hash browns. The bacon and eggs were good but uncompelling. The hash browns were too spicy for Lori, but I quite enjoyed them; they were soft and zesty, some of the best hash browns I've had from a lingering stay on a steam table.


I ordered the smoked sausage sandwich, which turned out to be tough, dark patties of breakfast sausage with egg and cheese on barely toasted bread. It was actually pretty good, but I think that was mostly in spite of the sausage, not because of it.


Because we were at the Buttermilk Drop Bakery, we ordered buttermilk drops. They were large cake donut holes, crusty on the outside and tender on the inside, with a rich flavor and mild sweetness.


There was a beverage cooler well behind the counter, and I saw that they contained a soda called "Big Shot". I'd never heard of Big Shot, so I decided to order one. But I couldn't see the flavors clearly. So I ordered "green", figuring it would be something novel. I invite those of you who are not familiar with Big Shot to make a guess of what flavor you expect a green soda to be before you look at the picture.

If you guessed that a green soda would be "pineapple watermelon", you're a much better guesser than I am. When I tasted it, I thought it was pretty good; the watermelon cut the sweetness of the pineapple to make something that was pretty drinkable and refreshing. But when Lori tasted it, she said that it tasted "like liquid SweeTarts", and after that, it tasted like that to me too.
(I learned later that Big Shot is a brand from the same company that makes Faygo and Shasta, so I suspect that Big Shot is a local downmarket soda.)

Buttermilk Drop Bakery is definitely a very local place (supporting evidence: we were the only white folks in there the whole time of our visit), and our meal was pretty good. I would give it another try, but I'm not ready to nominate it as a Roadfood place yet.
 

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Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Mon, 05/2/11 11:46 PM
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To give a hint of the visual impact of Mardi Gras World: Imagine the warehouse scene from the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, as if it were done by the visual designer of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. We were taking lots of goggle-eyed pictures even before we went in to take the tour.




I included Lori in this picture for a sense of scale:
 

The tour started with a short movie that taught me a lot about the parade tradition. I hadn't previously realized that parade season starts at Epiphany and last through Mardi Gras - though there are enough parades that they have to spread it out over that time to fit them all in. I also hadn't realized that the parades are more of a suburban thing; women collecting beads are on Bourbon Street aren't collecting them from parades. (It makes sense, once I think about it - piloting a parade through the French Quarter would be a big challenge.) One more fact: 80% of the floats are new each year - so Mardi Gras World is a place where the floats are being broken down after one parade season and redecorated for a new one.
After the movie, we were all served king cake. The king cake was so brightly iced that I expected that it would be very sweet, but it was more like a sweet bread than a cake.


Taking pictures in the warehouse was difficult, because everything was large enough that I had to aim upward, but skylights in the roof made it hard to get good light aiming upward.

There's a whole lot of reuse that happens. A fine head that graced one float may grace another - or even a piece may get sawed off and reused. And there's a figure of a football player that wears many different numbers in different years.


This polar bear was getting a suit of clothes to become one of the Three Bears:


These Kong and Mrs. Kong figures are of the maximum possible height for float figures; tree limbs and power lines prevent figures from being any taller. These are currently wearing sailor and nurse outfits for a WWII themed parade.


The floats from Krewe of Orpheus were still mostly intact. Their theme this year had been "fantastic places", and the floats were covered enormous flowers and brilliant imagery. (I'm only including a sampling of the pictures; there are more in my flickr account.)





This splendid flaming skull was made for Harry Connick, Jr.'s superkrewe, but I forget the name of the krewe.


I think that there's potential for a graduate thesis in American history on the race relations signified by the Krewe of Zulu (the first black Krewe), and I can only dimly see those complexities myself. (Such a thesis has probably already been written, but I haven't looked.) On the one hand, this was an example of New Orleans blacks organizing for a visible presence in a white-dominated society. On the other hand, the Krewe of Zulu uses a lot of "African savage" imagery that I would feel hesitant about using myself - but, of course, it is different for me to use such imagery as a white man. I know that Louis Armstrong (who probably knew much more about mid-century race relations in New Orleans than I do) was very happy to be the King of Zulu's parade.


One last picture: an outfit from one of the fancy-dress parties for one of the krewes. I suppose I could say that this brings this back to a Roadfood theme...




Littleman
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Tue, 05/3/11 4:36 PM
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Ralph............Try Surrey's for breakfast next trip to NOLa.
 
Surrey's Restaurant and Juice Bar @ 1418 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 504 - 524 - 3828.
http://www.surreyscafeandjuicebar.com/

Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Tue, 05/3/11 4:51 PM
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Thanks for the suggestion. What do they do well?

billyboy
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Tue, 05/3/11 5:30 PM
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Wow, thanks for the visuals and the education on parades.  Love your description that worked in Raiders and Priscilla.  Two films I bet are hardly ever mentioned in the same sentence!

Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Tue, 05/3/11 6:01 PM
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From there, we went to Cafe Reconcile. Cafe Reconcile is the customer-visible face of a program that trains disadvantaged youth in the job skills they need for jobs in food service. (From signs in the restaurant, I believe that the skills they're teaching start with things like "showing up on time". Teaching this skill to someone who doesn't have it would certainly be a big upgrade for someone's earning capacity.)



I ordered two soups and a bowl of collard greens.
I was particularly interested in the crawfish bisque because Chris had described it as super rich, "so rich I couldn't finish it." From that, I'd formed an expectation that this would be a very thick, smooth soup, with lots of cream, probably some sherry, and very finely chopped crawfish. I was wrong. It was definitely cream-based, but it had large hunks of crawfish and tomato; if it had included diced potatoes, I would have called it a chowder. It certainly was very tasty, and I really liked the crawfish bits, but I didn't have any trouble finishing the whole cup.


The gumbo was the gumbo I had yearned for, the gumbo joy that I had not found from Tujague's or Prejean's. It was full of bright flavors of chicken, andouille, and a bit of okra; this was one of the best dishes I had on this trip.


I'd expected the collard greens to be cooked til tender, with plenty of pork, but these were still kind of crisp, and had no savory pot likker taste.


Lori got the chicken breast with mac and cheese and green beans. Her chicken was okay but not outstanding. The mac and cheese was rich and cheesy, with the spaghetti-style pasta that I've only encountered in mac and cheese in New Orleans.


One side question we had in mind: what would the service be like here? The answer, unfortunately, was "not great". Our food did not all arrive at the same time, and we had trouble getting drink refills and getting the check. But there was enough greatness in our food that I'd happily return.


Ralph Melton
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Fri, 05/6/11 5:45 PM
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With time for one last stop, we visited Creole Creamery, an ice cream shop near Tulane University that Chris had mentioned visiting Saturday night.


We noticed "Creole Cream Cheese" among the ice cream flavors, and asked what was particularly Creole about it. The college student serving us didn't know exactly, but she said that there was apparently some traditional local dish of homemade cream cheese. "All the little old ladies come in and sample it, and say that it tastes exactly like what they had when they were kids." To my unsubtle palate, it tasted like cream cheese.

Another flavor I remember discussing: "Doberge" is a local style of many-layered cake, and the "Doberge" flavor includes that cake in the ice cream.

I ordered the Steen’s Molasses Oatmeal Cookie ice cream. It was very good, with a clear oatmeal-cookie taste. It does not substitute for the gingersnap molasses ice cream from Rancatore's in Boston, though.


Lori's ice cream... well, we've forgotten the name, and the list of flavors at http://www.creolecreamery.com/flavors/ lists over 300 flavors, so we can't pick out the one that she ordered. (What do you think "Water Cooler" tastes like as an ice cream flavor?) We remember that it included chocolate shavings and a caramel swirl, and it was very good. My best guess is that it might have been the Rocky Rue.


From there, to the airport once more. They let us on an airplane this time, and we bid farewell to New Orleans and returned home without further incident. We splurged with our meal vouchers in the Charlotte airport, but still did not manage to spend them all.

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agnesrob
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Sat, 05/7/11 7:33 AM
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Ralph, After I read your trip reports I feel like I have been on your trips with you! Great detail and pictures!

Root-Beer Man
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Sat, 05/7/11 7:37 PM
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Glad to see someone stopping by the Creole Creamery. We stopped in there last year and were really impressed by their ice cream offerings. They'll certainly be on on our short list of places to go the next time we get to NOLA. I really liked their Cafe Au Lait. It was just what I expected. Rich coffee flavour and just the right amount of sweetness. This place is a not to be missed treat!
 
I must say tho, that I'm sorry to see this report wrap up. I've been enjoying the heck out of it.

ScreamingChicken
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Tue, 05/10/11 9:45 AM
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Root-Beer Man


I must say tho, that I'm sorry to see this report wrap up. I've been enjoying the heck out of it.

 
Same here.  Hang a star on it, Ralph!
 
Brad

ann peeples
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Re:Ralph and Lori at the 2011 New Orleans Roadfood Festival - Tue, 05/10/11 11:52 AM
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Its been a fun journey!

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