Still have the compulsion to share the best things from my trip and not talk about books.
This is an awful picture of a wonderful dish: grilled oysters from Acme Oyster House in New Orleans. The place is always packed and it’s loud and possibly tacky, but despite the impression given by this photo, you do not eat under black light, so I guess not that tacky? Point is, oysters are grilled with Creole garlic butter and shaved Romano cheese and come to your table so hot they’re still bubbling. One of the best things I ate my whole time down south. The one-toothed chef told me they’re pretty easy to make. Grill them until the edge brown, then add the butter (which I couldn’t find, though I did find Creole seasoning, so perhaps you just combine them) and when that melts and bubbles, add the cheese.
This is not my picture, but I’m using to to make a point that cannot be made enough: beignets from Cafe Du Monde are amazing and worth all the hype.
This, below, is my picture and this is my sandwich – the chopped pork sandwich from Payne’s in Memphis. It comes with a big helping of mustardy coleslaw on top of tender, juicy, delicious meat. They chop it off whatever piece of pig they grab from the smoker from when you order it, so it’s fresh off the bone and not-so finely chopped that the pieces join forces to become a giant floppy piece of flesh, which simply wouldn’t have the same effect. I got mine with a combo of mild and hot bbq sauce. I know a lot of purists shy away from sauce, and I agree that people hide behind their sauce, but in this case the sauce just made a great thing greater.
My boyfriend got the bbq bologna sandwich, which I assumed would be disgusting based off the fact that bologna is disgusting (see, I have standards), but the person who demanded we go there in the first place was a chef (sushi!) and when he recommended the bbq bologna and I made a face and then he made a face that wiped the look off my face. The look on my boyfriend’s face while he stuffed his face showed me that the chef was right. Sadly there’s no picture of that.
Back to New Orleans: I took a much anticipated and very-much hyped-up to myself trip to Mosca’s, an Italian restaurant outside the city. I first learned about it on an NPR program I heard driving through a snowstorm in Oregon in March. The reporters were gushing and the world “garlic” came up a lot and I swore I would go. Once I knew I was going to New Orleans I looked it up and learned how well-loved it was and was set on making the trip. It was disappointing. The signature dish, oysters Mosca, was basically goo. The spaghetti and meatballs were very good, but not amazing. I know you’re supposed to get the chicken, but I don’t like chicken. It was a bummer, and made worse by the following incident: a couple, probably in their late 50’s sat down at a table, looked at their menus and left after a few minutes for no apparent reason. A younger guy at the next table, who appeared to be on a date, loudly, and seemingly proudly, announced to the restaurant, “Jews. I can tell.” It can’t be held against Mosca’s, but it sure didn’t make the food taste any better.
I did have some great Vietnamese food at Tan Dinh, which is in New Orleans in the neighborhood of Grenta. No way I can go two weeks with out pho. The place is really popular and they have a great selection of traditional dishes and dishes that involve a little local flava, such as Vietnamese po’ boys and alligator curry. It was just what I needed.