Tuesday, April 09, 2013

New Orleans - Gulf Shrimp and Other Delicious Things I Just Ate

I've been to New Orleans many times in the past several years, always for work. But even while working, one must eat, no? I love the food in New Orleans, and I really mean that - I love the exuberant commitment to local seafood and to traditional dishes. And if you've not been there, let me tell you this - the cooks in New Orleans have mastered their dishes and it's easy to find fantastic food, from complex things like gumbo or étoufée to the magnificent simplicity of a fried shrimp po'boy. There are so many ways to eat these and other things, at high end restaurants and at more modest but equally charming joints. Here some of the great things I ate on a recent trip:

I went to Domilise's for the first time. It's in the uptown neighborhood but not far from the river.

The man behind the counter said that it opened over 100 years ago as a bar, serving mostly the fellows who worked on the river all day and wanted a drink afterwards. It's been in the family since then, the wife of the man who opened it would cook for the patrons, and it caught on that her cooking was good.
If I were forced to choose only one, I would say that this is the very finest sandwich that I have ever had in New Orleans, and that's saying something. Domilise's fried shrimp po'boy was a thing of beauty. Copious amounts of very fresh sweet shrimp, fried but not too much, not past the point of crisp crust and succulence inside, dressed with lettuce and chopped pickles and a swab of their version of remoulade. I don't really know what else to say here - this sandwich is a masterpiece in Domiliese's hands.

Domilise's roast beef and gravy po'boy is excellent too, and most assuredly in the messy style.

Domilise's is not the only great shrimp sandwich in New Orleans, not by a long shot. This beautiful shrimp and fried green tomato remoulade po'boy comes from Mahoney's, uptown on Magazine Street.

Mahoney's also makes a fine Muffaletta, the New Orleans classic sandwich with Italian roots - salami, mortadella, and other cold cuts on round sesame seed bread with a generous layer of chopped pickled vegetables. Hard to argue with that.

But to return to the beautiful sweet gulf shrimp of New Orleans, I also ate them for breakfast one day at Ruby Slipper in Mid City. Really this dish is about the grits, which were creamy but retained a lovely grainy texture. Topped with fresh gulf shrimp, this is sweet and savory paradise.

And at the delightfully old school Uptown classic The Upperline, I enjoyed fresh gulf shrimp remoulade over fried green tomatoes. This remoulade was made with a lot of whole mustard grains and was very delicious. I love all of the different remoulade interpretations in New Orleans - that could probably be the subject of a book.

Gulf drum fish was also very good at Upperline, although not as wonderful as the shrimp that accompanied it, which were meant to be dipped in a somewhat spicy habenero pepper sauce.

It wasn't all gulf shrimp, although I would sign up for that today. New Orleans boasts one of the better BBQ joints I know of (disclaimer: I have never been to Texas, Kansas City, or St. Louis), called The Joint. They make very compelling ribs, indeed. Great home made baked beans too.

Yes, New Orleans draws tourists for Jazz Fest and plenty of other things, but to me it is a city that is worth visiting even if only to eat and drink.


baltimoeronvino said...

Did you happen to hit up Stein's deli on Magazine? Single greatest pastrami I ever had. For Jewish/Italian deli's, its at the top for me. I'd also suggest Walker's for Cochon de Lait suckling pig. Of course, if it were just a couple weeks from now, the best eating is always at the fairgrounds for jazzfest. Even after I had an excellent meal at Bayona, after two trips to jazzfest in the last few years, this is a belief I still stick by.

Ben said...

Judging by your enjoyment of your Ruby Slipper grits breakfast, try the rice grits, scrambled eggs and gravy if it's on the breakfast menu at Boulette's Larder when you're in San Francisco. I recommended this place in the San Francisco post comments and had thought of mentioning (but didn't) this particular dish. When my wife and I had it, Amaryll Schwertner put it together herself and we still wonder how she made the scrambled eggs so well, the simplest part.