**Spoiler Alert** this is the draft for my personal blog, MTPlates. I’d like to share it here first. Please let me know what you think. Seriously. Feedback would be awesome, even if you crush my hopes and dreams 🙂 …here we go…
What you’ll find…
MTPlates. What’s in a name? Aside from the obvious “empty”, it’s also a play on my first and middle initials. As for the “Plates”, they can be filled with gorgeous creations, laden with homemade offerings, delicately plated elegant fare or lovingly filled with comfort food, to be admired in the moment of presentation then happily consumed and left empty, our ultimate compliment to the chef – appetites sated and mood elevated. Even better when shared with friends.
Of course when we eat, we drink! So along with my MTPlates, I’ll also ket you know what was in my MTGlass. I plan to share some pretty cool spots I’ve come to love, maybe wandered into on a whim (those are the best experiences!) and hopefully pique your interest. Been there, done that? I welcome your recommendations too, so leave me a note or send me a link, I’d love to see where you’re going too!
A little taste of things to come…
I have been lucky enough to visit New Orleans, LA a couple of times. Here is my plate after some delicious home cooking at Coop’s Place, a Cajun restaurant on Decatur Street in the French Quarter in New Orleans. I have been there on a hot steamy August night, the epitome of humid Louisiana and on a warm, much more comfortable November afternoon. The food was just as I remembered it on the second visit, perhaps even better since I knew what to expect and was thrilled that it was just as good.
Coop’s is a local’s kind of place (our favourite kind), nothing fancy, but full of character and serving up homemade Cajun fare at homemade prices. Sit at the bar and be entertained by the staff who offer a never ending commentary about the guests while you sip on one of the hottest Bloody Mary’s ever!! Hint! Hint! I also bypassed the waitlist for a table by sitting at the bar. Coop’s offers an extensive list of cocktails, wines and craft beers. Sip, chat, eat, laugh, repeat.
My plate of choice was “Coop’s Taste Plate”. A generous combo of their most popular dishes, including a bowl of seafood gumbo, and a plate that included fried chicken, red beans and rice, shrimp creole and sausage jambalaya. Yes…I emptied that plate. Twice now, by my count. The crawfish and fried oysters will have to wait for a return trip. Because I know this will happen.
Coop’s gumbo is all about the rich roux base and file (ground sassafrass) that provides the unique gumbo flavour. The shrimp creole had a kick from the spicy tomatoes served on rice. At this point I had to ask for a beer as the Bloody Mary and Shrimp Creole one-two punch was making me sweat. The jambalaya brought things down a few degrees with it’s smokey sausage. Beyond it’s wonderful crispy skin, the fried chicken was tender and juicy. I just kept going around and around my plate, sampling each dish, like a culinary merry-go-round. But seriously, that gumbo!! It’s the stuff of dreams.
A definite brunch destination in NOLA is The Ruby Slipper Cafe Did I mention that time we had brunch with Queen Latifah at The Ruby Slipper? Of course I didn’t, this is my first blog! Ok, so maybe she sat at the table next to us and maybe she got called away before her breakfast arrived, but we were THERE, in the same restaurant and even exchanged a few laughs. She was lovely. And so were my Eggs Cochon. A biscuit, split in half, smothered with pork debris, pork debris!! – tender succulent apple braised pulled pork – topped with perfectly poached eggs and hollandaise. Swoon!! The Shrimp Boogaloo Benedict that I tried on a return visit was love at first bite. The oven fried green tomatoes were served over biscuits and topped with shrimp creole sauce. I could have eaten a plate of the fried green tomatoes. I still think about them and hey, they are vegetables. Good for you! If you can’t decide which benedict to order, they offer “The Trifecta”, three different benedicts , but plan on sharing this! Or try “The Peacemaker” and choose 2 from the list. They serve every other breakfast/brunch option you can imagine including a kid’s menu. Mimosas, eggs cochon, fried green tomatoes and rubbing shoulders with the Queen herself in The Big Easy? Pretty cool.
A must stop would be Pat O’Brien’s for a refreshing Hurricane, a potent rum punch, aptly named, given the city’s struggle against Mother Nature. Hint!! Hint!! Ask to sit in the courtyard, next to the fountain and enjoy the complimentary popcorn, which of course makes you thirsty. Clever. The hurricane is pretty potent, so pace yourself, there are plenty of courtyards to visit. You can even take it “to go” and wander the French Quarter, hurricane in hand. Check out Preservation Hall right next door, the holy land of traditional jazz. Marvel at the beautiful buildings, and ornate balconies, all the while thinking about the revelry that has been happening here since 1718.
Staying at the Hotel Monteleone is on my NOLA bucket list. Luckily, you don’t need to be a hotel guest to have a drink at the world famous Carousel Bar, a spectacle to behold and a feather in your cap if you can claim a seat at the bar that will take you around and around. Sip on a Vieux Carre, a cocktail that was created by the Hotel or a classic Mint Julep, pictured here, while sitting at the gorgeous bar with a great view. The hotel has been around since the late 1800’s, so drink it all in!
A visit to NOLA is not complete without a stop at Cafe Du Monde and a seat on the world famous green and white striped covered patio where people watching is at its best. Don’t let the long lines scare you away, they move pretty quickly and you won’t even notice because there is so much happening around you. Your reward for your patience is a freshly made plate of hot beignets (think puffy deep fried dough) sprinkled with mounds of icing sugar that you can enjoy with a cup of chicory coffee. Delicious!!
While you’re in the neighbourhood, walk over to the French Market and pick up all those souvenirs you need, including some of NOLA’s best pralines at Loretta’s. You’ll find food vendors, bake shops, t-shirts, local artisans and voodoo dolls. But you must stop for a plate of fresh oysters, expertly shucked by the Singing Mothershucker! Oh yes, you will be serenaded while waiting for your oysters in the open market and more than likely you’ll provide backing vocals. Ain’t nothing like the Big Easy!
New Orleans is truly the triple crown of destinations. Discover it’s rich history on many of the walking tours offered, listen to some fantastic jazz and indulge in it’s decadent cuisine. It’s ongoing recovery from Hurricane Katrina is a testament to it’s people. Strong and proud. I look forward to a return visit, new discoveries and more plates.
Stay tuned for NOLA Part 2. There will be fancy plates, final resting places, some great jazz and a little bit of voodoo sprinkled on top. What’s your favourite NOLA plate? Bring them to the table and share with me. Let’s make some MTPlates…
Twitter Post: MTPlates and NOLA, read this short list of must-do places http://bit.ly/2oxkjHp
Facebook Post: The French Quarter awaits. View MTPlates must-do list here http://bit.ly/2oxkjHp