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    © 2008-2017 Nicole (a.k.a. Bay Area Foodie)
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Sucré


I first heard about Sucré Sweet shop on our visit to New Orleans in August. The Pastry chef  Tariq Hanna had just won TLC’s “Ultimate Cake-Off” so he was all over the local TV news. I really wanted to stop by while in town but time didn’t allow. Then 2 months later I received an email from one of their reps asking if I’d like to sample the goods. What a coincidence…. it was heaven sent.

Soon after I had my hands on a selection of Sucré chocolates. We received their Sugar & Spice collection which is handmade for the holidays. It includes 3 varieties of truffles: gingerbread milk chocolate, candy cane white chocolate and eggnog dark chocolate. Since I’m a sucker for anything eggnog I grabbed one of those immediately. I was worried that the dark chocolate was going to mask the eggnog flavor but it didn’t. It was a perfect silky bite. The candy cane was next and it had a velvety texture with a minty fresh flavor. The final offering was the gingerbread. I knew even before tasting that it would be my least favorite. I’ve never been a gingerbread fan. This was spicy and a bit more dense than the others. Mike enjoyed it but he is a “hot” guy :wink:.

We were also sent a milk chocolate bar with Sicilian pistachios and candied rose petals. I know … really unique combination. It was almost too pretty to eat. The bar itself was creamy and the nuts and petals didn’t add any prominent flavors but it did add a delightful crunch.

Good news — I’m not the only one getting a treat this year! I have been given a discount code for my readers so you can also indulge in the Sucré goodness this holiday season. For $5 off shipping use code: SPCA (expires 11/30/09).

What makes this deal even sweeter is that a portion of every dollar spent online will benefit the animals of the LA/SPCA. As you’ve seen on our blog we are dog lovers. Our Edison was a pound puppy so we think this is a great way to support a good cause. Sucré luxury chocolates would be great stocking stuffers!

To buy go to: http://www.shopsucre.com/

Luke Restaurant

lukesign
pasta fish This was my overall favorite dinner in New Orleans. John Besh’s Lüke is a French brasserie paying homage to NOLA’s past. The decor is bright & simple with a business casual vibe. We were seated in the back room in front of the kitchen. The menu reminded me of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon (which is a good thing). Lots of hearty bistro dishes with a Louisiana spin. Many entrées were calling to me (mussels, steak & frites) but I went with the redfish amandine since it was a more local ingredient. Mike decided on the nightly 3 course special. His meal began with a crawfish bisque, a light and flavorful soup. Then came lamb shoulder in a giant house made ravioli with a tomato sauce. It was delightful. My redfish had a light, flaky, salty crust and a wonderful almond butter lemon sauce. It was perfect. We finished the night with Mike’s third course a pecan bread pudding with vanilla bean ice cream. Simply scrumptious. The only thing that was a little off during our visit was our server. She would come and ask if we needed anything but you could tell her head was somewhere else and she was not really listening to our response. No big deal. I would return in a heartbeat.

Rating:
Website: http://www.lukeneworleans.com/

Lüke on Urbanspoon

The New Orleans School of Cooking

nolacooking
We went to New Orleans in August because Mike had a convention to attend (not because we are gluttons for punishment!). While Mike was away I had to keep myself busy so I decided to take a cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking. Every morning they hold a 3 hour session where you watch local dishes be prepared and then eat them. Our cook for the day was Miss Barbara a native of Louisiana. The menu was a cajun feast: chicken & andouille sausage gumbo, chicken & smoked sausage jambalaya, pina colada bread pudding with a whiskey sauce and pralines. Along with the lesson you learn about the differences in cajun and creole cooking styles and cultures.

nolafood2

They may not be the most beautiful or colorful dishes but they sure tasted good. I left with a packet of recipes to try at home, a full stomach and a cold Abita beer. What a wonderful find.

Tip: make a reservation in advance and bring a coupon. You’ll find one in the visitors guide.

Website: http://www.neworleansschoolofcooking.com/

The Kupcake Factory

kupcakes

banana on top

Would I pass up trying a gourmet cupcake shop? Hell, no! The Kupcake factory is a chain in New Orleans and they just happen to have a location down the street from Cochon. By the look of the place I really wasn’t expecting much. The decor/presentation was lacking.

We bought 2 cupcakes: banana and hummingbird (banana, pineapple and walnut cake with cream cheese frosting). I was pleasantly surprised with the banana. It was the first time that I’d had a cupcake that is cut in half and frosting is layered in the middle. This made the cake a little messy to eat but worth the trouble. The banana flavor was on point. The hummingbird, although it had a cute name, didn’t taste like anything at all. Conclusion… I wasn’t blown away but, I’d come back to try some more.

Website: http://www.thekupcakefactory.com/

Kupcake Factory Gourmet Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

Cochon Butcher

butcher
When I read about a new hot spot in the warehouse district of New Orleans that featured the pig I put it on our list of things to do. Cochon butcher is the tiny sister cafe for Cochon Restaurant. It serves up house made meats in different forms, beer, wine and also has a full bar. We popped in for lunch one afternoon and ordered the pastrami with sauerkraut on rye and the BBQ pork with potato salad.

pastrami bbq

The pastrami tasted nothing like the pastrami I’ve had in the past. Covered in thousand island dressing and kraut the flavor became unrecognizable but still tasty. The pork was smokey, spicy but a bit dry. We are guessing it was a vinegar based BBQ sauce cause we couldn’t see anything. It could have used a little KC Masterpiece. The bread and sides for both sandos were very good. If you’re looking for meat this is the spot to come.

Warning: when we left we smelled like fried food for the rest of the day (not sure why). I would have preferred to smell like bacon…

Website: http://www.cochonbutcher.com/

Cochon Butcher on Urbanspoon

Cafe Du Monde

cafe du monde
I arrived at Cafe Du Monde thinking we were walking into a tourist trap. I expected mediocre food for outrageous prices but knew this is something you just don’t skip when in New Orleans. We sat down at one of the many outdoor tables and a waitress came by and took our order… 2 orders of beignets and 2 cafe au lait. A few minutes later we were covered in powdered sugar and happy as clams. I was soo wrong about this place. The beignets were hot, light, fresh and under $2 for 3! They could be making so much more money – I would pay double.

Website: http://www.cafedumonde.com/

cafedumonde

Cafe Du Monde on Urbanspoon

NOLA Restaurant

nola
You can’t go to New Orleans and not eat at one of Emeril’s many restaurants. We decide to try NOLA located in the French Quarter. It’s a 3 story building so we needed to take an elevator to get to our table on the 2nd floor. Mike thought this was so cool. The cuisine is an updated twist on classic New Orleans fare. For my main course I chose the shrimp and grits and Mike ordered the hickory roasted duck for his. Our dinner arrived within minutes. No joke…in under 8. It kinda felt like a fast food joint it came so fast. I took a bite of my dish and it was delightful. Cheddar grits with smoked bacon and mushrooms topped with plump shrimp in a creole tomato glaze and a butter sauce. It was a salty, sweet slightly spicy masterpiece. Unfortunately, Mike’s meal wasn’t as good. His duck was cooked well and was smokey but the whiskey caramel glaze wasn’t really there which left the meat a bit dry. It was accompanied by cornbread pudding and a green bean/corn salad which were great. It would have been a knock out dish if only it had more sauce. Maybe they left something out in the rush to get it to our table? As soon as we placed our forks down our plates were whisked away and we were handed dessert menus. We didn’t order appetizers because we knew we wanted to have dessert. We went with the banana pudding layer cake and fancy coffee drinks with liqueur. Both were tasty but nothing to write home about. We paid the bill and were in and out within an hour. The evening felt rushed. It was as though they were in some kind of competition to see how many tables they could turn in a single night. In the end there were ups and downs during our NOLA visit so we left with mixed feelings.

shrimp duck

Rating:
Website: http://www.emerils.com/

NOLA Restaurant on Urbanspoon

New Orleans French Quarter Culinary History and Tasting Tour

foodtour
When I heard there was a food tour of NOLA I was intrigued. This was a 3 hour walking tour (mostly inside!) that covers the rich culinary history of New Orleans. Here was our tour schedule:

1st stop – the historic Antoine’s where we received a tour of the many dining rooms as well as the kitchen.
Tastings: Gumbo creole (Louisiana gumbo with blue crabs, oysters, and gulf shrimp)
Crevettes remoulade
(boiled Louisiana shrimp served cold in Antoine’s remoulade dressing)

2nd stop – Supposed to be Leah’s pralines but it was closed on Sunday (we went back the next day and tried some)

3rd stopBrennan’s for a tour of the restaurant (no food)

4th stopKitchen Witch (new & used cook book store)

5th stopTony Seville’s Pirates Alley Cafe
Tasting: Rum cake

6th stopLa Divina Cafe
Tastings: Muffalino (twist on the classic Muffuletta sandwich – same ingredients but in panini form)
Coconut Gelato

7th stop: Creole Delicacies (small grocery)
Tastings: Pralines & Red Beans & Rice

8th stop: Tujague’s Restaurant
Tasting: Beef Brisket with Creole Sauce (horseradish ketchup)

The pics:

Overall Mike and I enjoyed all aspects of the tour especially the food. All the dishes were wonderful. Antoine’s deserves all the praise it gets and the muffalino is better in my opinion to the original Muffuletta. Our journey through the French Quarter led by a local former chef passed quickly and our tummies were full at the end. The concept of a food tour is brilliant. Being able to sample different cuisines at one time is awesome. Each major city should have one.

Website: http://www.noculinarytours.com/

Dante’s Kitchen

dantes
So I wanted to go to a neighborhood gem. Something away from the French Quarter. After doing some research I came up with Dante’s Kitchen which is located in Uptown. The best way to get there is to hop on the St. Charles streetcar and get off at Carrollton & Maple (close to the end of the line). When we arrived at the cute cottage for Sunday brunch (15 minutes before the restaurant opened) there was already a line of about 6 people. I was immediately reassured that we had made a good decision about making the trek from our hotel on Canal (~30 min streetcar/15 min taxi). When the doors opened we were quickly seated and proceeded to look over the menu. It was difficult to decide what to order since everything sounded delicious. I ended up with the brioche french toast with peaches and Mike had the debris with poached eggs (biscuits topped with pulled pork, eggs and hollandaise). Yes, we reversed our usual orders. We had a 3 hour walking tour following our meal so I didn’t want to eat anything too heavy. Both dished were fabulous. I can only imagine what dinner is like.

frenchtoast debrisbene

Tip: There are no reservations for brunch so if you’re not going to arrive before the doors open come about 30-40 minutes after because the entire dining area was filled within 10 minutes of opening and you don’t want to stand out in the heat waiting for a table. It’s brutal or maybe it’s just me. No one else seemed fazed…maybe we were the only tourists?

Website: http://danteskitchen.com/

Dante's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Mother’s Restaurant

mothers

This was our first stop after getting off the plane in New Orleans. Mother’s is a well known establishment featuring down home Southern/Cajun fare. A couple people who are from the area had recommended we come at some point on our trip. When you arrive there will most likely be a line outside. The operating procedure is to get in line and wait until the bouncer at the door gives you the okay to enter the building then order and pay for your eats at the counter BEFORE sitting down at a table. The setting and service is not the best… just remember you are there for the food. We ordered the fried chicken, famous Ferdi Po’Boy and the bread pudding. We started off with the Ferdi which is baked ham, roast beef and debris (the yummy drippings left in the pan after the meat is roasted) on a soft roll. It was tasty and my first experience having debris. Where have you been all my life? I am a fan! The fried chicken came 25 minutes later because it is made to order — it’s not sitting under a heat lamp (they tell you this before you order). The chicken was wonderful – cooked perfectly with a thin crispy, salty skin. We finished with the bread pudding which was good but not the best I’ve had. It was the perfect meal after a long day of traveling. I see why this is a NOLA institution.

Website: www.mothersrestaurant.net

Mother's on Urbanspoon

New Orleans Vacation Wrap-up

Mike and I just returned from our trip to the big easy. We had a blast eating our way around NOLA. When people said it’s hot in August I figured I could handle it since I went to school in Arizona but this was a heat that I had never experienced. I could only make it one block before the sweat began drippin’ everywhere. Since we new it was going to be steamy we planned to keep our adventures casual and fun. Here was our itinerary:

Day 1 (Sat): Dinner at Mother’s, walk down Bourbon Street

Day 2 (Sun): Brunch at Dante’s Kitchen, Ride the St. Charles Streetcar, French Quarter Culinary history tour and tasting

Day 3 (Mon): Air-boat Swamp tour, Dinner at NOLA, walk around French Quarter

Day 4 (Tue): Breakfast at Cafe du Monde, Lunch at Cochon Butcher, Cupcakes at the Kupcake Factory, Vampire tour

Day 5 (Wed): Cooking class, Check out farmers market, dinner at Luke, Music on Frenchmen St.

Day 6 (Thur): Muffuletta sandwich from Central Grocery

*I will write a separate post for each of the restaurant reviews over the next few days.

Non-Foodie Highlights:

SWAMP TOUR – We went on an air-boat tour of the Louisiana swamps. It was fast and furious. This is not a nature tour, this is a high speed excursion through the swamps on a search for alligators… and there were plenty! Check it out:


Website: www.airboatadventuresllc.com

MUSIC – Walking back to our hotel on Monday we ran into a 7 piece brass band on the corner of Canal & Bourbon St. in front of the Foot Locker. They were fantastic and they played for a couple hours for tips. What made it even more entertaining is that people would just start dancing in the street. It was hilarious to see some battle as if they were on “So you think you can dance”. This location seems to be where many groups come to play because we saw a 10 piece band on Wednesday night but they were not as good. Here is a sample of the boys from Monday:

vamp tour

Start of Vamp tour - St Louis Cathedral (check out that full moon)

VAMPIRE TOUR – Interesting tour about the history of vampires in New Orleans. We also saw some of the sites from the movie “Interview with the Vampire”. I gatta be honest it kinda creeped me out. Tip: wear your bug repellent. We didn’t and we have many bites all over (weird… no other night did we even see mosquito’s…)

Website: www.hauntedhistorytours.com

PEOPLE – everyone from the tour guides, to the taxi drivers to the hotel staff were really friendly. Very polite folks.

Low-light:

BOURBON ST – We had no idea that Bourbon Street was just a string of bars blaring cheesy karaoke type music, strip clubs, daiquiri/pizza joints and more strip clubs. It’s Vegas to the 10th power. Don’t expect cool jazz clubs cause you won’t find them here – go to Frenchmen St!

We did everything we wanted to do except eat a peanut butter bacon burger at Yo-mama’s bar. We just couldn’t get ourselves to do it. Maybe next time.

Tip: if you’re going make sure you have a tourist guide mailed to your home before you go. You can get one here. This was the first city I’ve been to that didn’t have millions of “things to do” kiosks and flyers/brochures all over the airport. The place was a ghost town.

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