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The Big Easy

Thursday, March 31, 2011

My husband and I recently had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful city of New Orleans while I attended a conference for the Society of Urological Nurses and Associates. Our hotel was right down in the heart of the French Quarter. Never having been to the “Big Easy”, I had no idea what to expect. My boss said that like Las Vegas – you’ll either love it or hate it.
We loved it! Everywhere we went from restaurant waiters and waitresses, to shop clerks, to street performers, we found the people to be so genuine and friendly. They give meaning to the phrase “Southern hospitality” that’s for sure.
Before we went, I was nervous about my eating while there. New Orleans is famous for its Creole cooking and those little French puffs of fried pastry coated in powdered sugar – known as a benae’. I’m still trying to get back down to my goal weight after a rebellious holiday!
My husband and I decided first of all that we would definitely sample the local cuisine. You don’t go to New Orleans and order a cheeseburger at the golden arches! We looked for little local bistros and “sample” the local cuisine is what we did.
Breakfasts for me where provided by my conference at an early morning meet and greet. The selections were perfect – whole grain bagels, fresh fruit, and low fat Greek yogurts. They did lay out the benaes’ everyday, but one little nibble and I had no trouble tossing the rest. Waaaay too rich for my morning tastes. We packed protein bars for my husband to eat in the room.
We walked all over the French quarter admiring the beautiful old architecture. We walked down Bourbon Street at night enjoying the hustle and bustle of the night scene and the clubs featuring signs like the one with the huge neon sign proclaiming:
1000’s of beautiful girls and 3 ugly ones!
We spent one evening enjoying some fabulous blues music in a club very typical of most of the clubs – no cover charge, but a one drink minimum. I joined my husband in having a non-alcoholic O’Doul’s beer for a couple of bucks and only 60 calories.
We found the creole cooking to have plenty of vegetables and fresh seafood. Red beans and rice were healthy and delicious. I had a Po-boy with shrimp that wasn’t fried and they graciously left off the tartar sauce. I didn’t want the fries so they kindly brought me a dish of the red beans.
Our most fabulous meal was on our last night – our 35th wedding anniversary. We got reservations at Emeril’s restaurant. I LOVE Emeril! I feared just a little bit that it would be packed and touristy but I didn’t care. I always laugh and say that Emeril can say “Bammm” in my bed any day!
We were pleasantly surprised! The restaurant was understatedly elegant. No traces anywhere of signs of celebrity. The wait staff was unobtrusive yet extremely efficient. My husband had a steak cooked to perfection. I had to try the dish entitled “Mac and Cheese” which was angel hair type pasta with small bits of vegetables and subtle garlic tossed in a creamy cheese like gruyere. Fantastic! A small salad accompanied it made from dark leafy greens and lightly dressed. Of course there was a crusty loaf of French bread but I only had a small slice with a light smear of butter. Since it was our anniversary, we indulged and shared a little piece of heaven – Tiramisu – our favorite dessert and a cup of bold New Orleans French roasted coffee.
I texted my son how thrilled I was to be in EMERIL’S restaurant eating a piece of tiramisu and sipping coffee. His reply? :
“Man you guys ARE old! Eating dinner at 5:30 pm and feeling all wild because it’s after 5 and you are having caffeine”!
Yeah and he should have seen me after walking 7 blocks back to our hotel in high heels! Talk about feeling old!!
The good news is that I came back from New Orleans down 1 pound. The bad news?
My blisters are just now healing up…
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