The Ultimate Oysters Rockefeller

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Nola – New Orleans, LA

Normally I prefer my oysters like my Eddie Murphy, Raw. In fact, “prefer” is putting it mildly. Truth be told I tend to find something inherently very cheap about cooked oyster dishes such as this. Like something you’d expect to find at bas mitzvahs and weddings and other heavily catered events. Done with the sole purpose of covering up the flavor of the mollusk. Assumingly due to one of two reasons:

  1. To hide the fact that it’s not fresh enough to be served raw.
  2. To make it more palatable for an audience who doesn’t truly like oysters.

Well, at least that’s what I used to think, until Emeril showed me the light- along with some bacon. And about a dozen other ingredients. But somehow it was all done in a way so as not to drown the mollusk in a sea of over-preparation. Instead, he still somehow managed to pull the flavor of the oyster through this onslaught of other palate pleasers, rising up like a seventh wave of the attack. I say seventh as a nod to “Dream of the Blue Turtles,” because apparently the seventh wave is love according to Sting, and who am I to argue with Sting, because I truly did love every last complex morsel on the half shell.

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Cafe Du Monde

French Market 800 Decatur St. New Orleans, LA 70116(504) 525-4544cafedumonde.com

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If you’re visiting New Orleans, it’s almost sacrilege not to visit the legendary Cafe Du Monde. But in all fairness, this legend is not the end all be all of fried dough. In fact, I’m not sure it would even crack my top five beignets. And let’s be honest shall we, beignet is basically French for “funnel cake.” I mean, who are we kidding? And at the end of the day it’s not like fried dough with powdered sugar on it is never going to suck, so it really becomes shades of decadence.

But all caveats aside, they quite good. And quite enormous as beignets go. One order should easily be enough to satiate two ravenous beignet cravings, or four modest ones.

As for the venue itself, the fact that it’s right on the water is nice. And because it’s such an attraction, the people watching is prime. Sadly, most of those people tend to be the ones you don’t really want to watch.

3 teeth

Commander’s Palace

1403 Washington Ave. New Orleans, LA 70130(504) 899-8221commanderspalace.com

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I know this place is the paragon of Cajun cuisine, having birthed both Paul Prudhomme (K. Paul’s) and Emeril Lagasse, icons unto themselves, but that does very little for the meal sitting in front of me in the here and now. And I hate to say it, but there, the here and now sucked up and down.

The moment we set foot inside, our tourist trap meter was pegged. From the clientele to the decor there is absolutely nothing desirable about the inside of this place, including the food. It was the worst meal we had in New Orleans by a wide margin.

With so many phenomenal restaurants in the French Quarter, please don’t waste your time going here. It is the quintessential  emperor, or should I say commander, having no clothes.

2 teeth

NOLA

534 Saint Louis St. New Orleans, LA 70130 • (504) 522-6652 emerilsrestaurants.com/nola-restaurant

 SOS+NOLA

BAM! That was the sound of my skepticism exploding. I mean Emeril Lagasse was obviously a talented chef once upon a time, but now that he’s become as over-exposed as Paris Hilton, the likelihood of him actually having any real influence on what goes on in the kitchen’s of his restaurants seems about as likely as the United States selling Louisiana back to the French for the same 4 cents per acre.

Speaking of great deals, I don’t think I’ve ever had meal this great for so little. I would’ve gladly paid double for the exact same meal. In fact, it was so inexpensive, I felt guilty only leaving 20% as a tip, especially when the service was as  exceptional as it was, so for the first time ever I tipped 35%. Not bragging, well, at least not about me. It’s more a commentary on the excellence of our server. Southern hospitality at its finest.

But not to be outdone by the service, the chef made New Orleans proud, dropping Ultimates like they were going out of style. The best oysters (Rockefeller) I’ve ever had in my life, loaded with bacon and about 15 other ingredients. Followed by the best dessert I’ve ever had in my life- bananas foster bread pudding with drunken monkey ice cream. The ice cream alone is Ultimate within an Ultimate. Other dishes were also very good like the cedar plank salmon, but compared to the previous mentions it was a mere mortal.

Now if it’s one thing New Orleans is definitely not short on, it’s great restaurants, but do yourself a solid and put this one toward the top of your list. It’s WAY better than K. Paul’s and blows the Commander’s Palace out of the oil polluted water. A class act top to bottom and I meal I will never forget.

5 teeth

The Ultimate Bread Pudding

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Perhaps it’s one of the more polarizing desserts out there. Some people just absolutely LOVE bread pudding, while others wouldn’t even give it a second glance. Now I’m sure you can guess which end of the spectrum I fall. So let’s just dive right in:

The Dutch – Soho, New York City

I’m not sure I need to say anything other than “Mexican Hot Chocolate Bread Pudding.” This things is so damn good I almost wanted to puke it back up so I could eat it again. What? Too far? Anyhoo. The spicy-sweet combination is a thing of beauty, balanced with ample doses of creamy and gooey. Just perfection.

Hundred Acres – Soho, New York City

Beyond the décor, the only other stand out at this place is the bread pudding. And WOW does it stand, tall and proud. Soaked to the bone in sweet caramel goodness, this thing is like a thick, moist bread pudding steak.

La Petite – Breckenridge, CO

This is your basic bread pudding. No creative spin. Just pure awesomeness. As pure as the driven snow outside the restaurant. With the most kickass crème anglaise you’ve ever laid your taste buds on.

Nola – New Orleans, LA

If sex were a dessert it’d be this. Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with Drunken Monkey Ice Cream (which would also make my Ultimates list for Ice Cream). This thing was so damn good I could swear I saw God, and I’m an atheist, so that’s saying a lot.