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Thursday, 16 June 2011

New Orleans: It’s Not Just About the Music - Page 2

Written by Scott Haas
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The food in New Orleans is so satisfying that the time between eating isn’t spent thinking about your next meal, but is allotted instead to absorbing the fascinating variety of architectural styles of the city, the resilience of the locals, and the remarkably outgoing and friendly styles.

Then of course it’s time to eat again.

MiLa (817 Common Street, 504-595-6774) is a collaboration between the husband and wife team of Mississippi born Slade Rushing and Louisiana born Allison Vines-Rushing.  A bit austere, as it’s inside the Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel, MiLa delivers a unique but southern experience. “Deconstructed” oysters Rockefeller, Sweetbreads with black truffle grits, pan roasted grouper, and pappardelle with shiitake are stand outs.  Our waiter looked a whole lot like Roy Orbison, which added something magical to the evening as we expected him at any minute to burst out with, “Pretty Woman,” rather than, “Your orders will be right out.”

No trip to New Orleans is complete without a daytime visit to the Treme, the largely black section of the city, which suffered devastation from Hurricane Katrina, and where even now, nearly six years later, emptiness and tragic loss remain profoundly evident.  You can support local businesses here. 

A great place to start is Willie Mae’s Scotch House (2401 St Ann Street, 504-822-9503). I suppose you can find fried chicken as good as Willie Mae’s, but for sure you won’t find any better. Two rooms of happy customers digging into food, enjoying iced tea, and taking it easy make for pure joy. This is also one of those places where it’s not just about the food.  We’re talking the urban experience: Soul at its finest. The “How You Doing?’s” you exchange as you walk through the Treme to get here reach a crescendo inside.

You might think that by now, we’d have been sated, but no culinary mission to New Orleans is complete without a trip to Emeril’s (800 Tchoupitoulas Street (504) 528-9393). Before Emeril Lagasse was a household name, before his signature shout, “Bam!” was parodied, there was his original restaurant where the guy showed up, ran a crew, and cooked as if his life depended on it. I am here to tell you that Emeril’s still rocks.

Regulars hugging waiters, a happy group of customers, and food with powerful yet reined in flavors. Emeril now has 11 restaurants, from Vegas to Miami, but this place is the heart of the empire.

It’s good because its original and flavorful and, ultimately, straightforward. Salmon “cheesecake,” glazed salmon, fried gulf shrimp, and, my favorite, Andouille Crusted Drum: A type of redfish from the Gulf that has been rolled in bits of sausage and then roasted.  Fine, it doesn’t sound good, but the play of pork and fish work wonders.



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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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