Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How to Curry Favor

I had a head of cauliflower sitting in my refrigerator for a few days.  The problem for me was not a lack of ideas for preparation, but a wealth of ideas.  I couldn't choose just one way to use this winter vegetable.  So, it sat...until yesterday...

It has been really cold and dreary here in DC.  While, I am grateful we have not been bombarded with snow as we were last winter, it still is not that pleasant to me.  I needed something soothing and warming, and I needed that refrigerator space.

Curried Cauliflower Puree
Serves 6

1 2-lb head of cauliflower
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened (can add more, if desired)
2 1/2 tsp hot curry powder (I used Penzey's)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper (white looks prettiest, but black is okay)
1/4 - 1/3 cup heavy cream, optional

Trim the leaves and cut out the central core of the cauliflower.  Break the cauliflower into small florets.  You can peel the core and slice crosswise or discard.

Add the cauliflower pieces to a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to boil.  Cook the cauliflower, covered, until tender.  It will probably take about 5 minutes.

Drain the cauliflower pieces, reserving the cooking liquid, and place in a food processor.  Add butter, curry powder, salt, and pepper, and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid.

Puree to desired consistency, adding more cooking liquid or more butter, if desired.  I added about 1/4 cup of heavy cream which added a lovely richness to the puree.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Serve immediately while still warm, or pour into a baking dish and reheat in a 250-degree oven when you want to serve.

Curried Cauliflower Puree

Monday, January 24, 2011

Peanut Butter, Banana, and Chocolate Chip Muffins

These easy and tasty muffins are a great way to start any day.  You can't beat combining the flavors of banana, peanut butter, and chocolate.

My mom sent me a recipe for peanut butter banana bread which served as my inspiration.  I modified it to add a few more ingredients and turned it into muffins.  Enjoy!

Peanut Butter, Banana, and Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

2 ripe bananas
1/3 cup plain yogurt (fat-free is okay)
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (natural is okay)
3 Tbsp butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp flaxseed
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, chopped
1/3 cup miniature chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Add first five ingredients to mixing bowl and beat at medium speed.

Add sugars and beat until blended.

Combine flour, flaxseed, baking soda, and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Add flour mixture to banana mixture and beat until just blended.

Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.

Pour batter into greased muffin tin, filling each cup about 3/4 full.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool about 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.

Remove from pan and finish cooling on rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  They will keep for about three days in an airtight container, and the muffins also freeze well.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

90 Hours in NOLA, Part III - Twelfth Night & King Cake

One final highlight from New Orleans...our visit coincided with the start of the Carnival or Mardi Gras season, and we were able to see some festivities marking Twelfth Night, a festival to celebrate the Epiphany.  (In Christianity, Twelfth Night - January 6th, is the celebration of the night the three wiseman visited the baby Jesus and concludes the twelve days of Christmas.)

Doesn't he look like he's thinking of Baby Jesus?

That evening we learned about two annual celebrations for January 6.  The first honors Joan of Arc's birthday with the Krewe De Jeanne D'Arc's parade around the French Quarter.  A young woman portraying Joan of Arc wore a breastplate and carried a battle sword.  Other members of the krewe dressed in medieval style and some rode horses and passed out medallions.  The second celebration takes place Uptown on the St. Charles Streetcar line.  The Phunny Phorty Fellows ride the streetcar for the duration, tossing beads, singing, and enjoying refreshments.

Twelfth Night is also the beginning of king cake season.  This cake takes its name from the Christian biblical three kings.  Catholic tradition states that their journey to honor the Christ child took twelve days.  The season for the king cake extends from the Epiphany to Mardi Gras day.

The cake comes in a number of styles, the most simple is a ring of twisted brioche-like bread dough with a cinnamon-sugar filling and topped with icing or sugar in the Carnival colors of purple, green, and gold.  The cake usually has a small trinket (a bean, nut, small plastic baby, or another symbol) inside, and the person who get the slice of cake containing the trinket has various privileges or obligations.  In New Orleans, traditions holds that whoever finds the trinket is considered "king" of the party, but must provide the next king cake or host the next Mardi Gras party.

I collected a couple of recipe books and food essays while in New Orleans, and I used them as a guide to bake my own king cake.

King Cake
Makes 12-inch cake

1/4 cup warm (not hot) water
2 1/4 tsps active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm (not hot) milk
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp orange zest
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pecan half

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 to 2 Tbsp milk
food coloring for purple, green, and gold

For the dough:  Before starting, I lightly warmed my mixing bowl in the oven because our house was so cold and I wanted to create a good environment for my yeast dough.  Pour warm water into the warmed bowl and sprinkle with yeast.

Stir in warm milk, butter, sugar, nutmeg, salt, and orange zest.

Add 1 cup of flour and blend well.

Stir in eggs and add enough of remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth and elastic, less than 5 minutes for me. Add more flour if the dough is sticky.

Put dough in large greased bowl and flip the dough to grease both sides.  Cover with towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size.  It took me about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

For filling:  Once dough has doubled in size, punch down.  Transfer to floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll into a large rectangle.  (Mine was about 14" x 24".)

Brush with melted butter.

Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the dough.

Then, roll it up tightly from the long side, like a jelly roll.

What you do next depends on what shape you want for your cake.  I decided to cut the roll in half, lengthwise and then twist the halves into a ring or wreath shape.

Transfer the cake to a greased baking sheet.  If you are using a dried bean or pecan half, now is the time to push it into the underside of the dough and hide it in the cake.  (Plastic charms go in after baking.)

Cover and let it rise again in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, about half an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

You may want to remove the cake from the baking sheet and let it cool on a wire rack.  If you are using a plastic charm, push it into the underside of the cooling cake.

For the frosting:
In a small bowl mix together powdered sugar, almond extract, and milk until smooth.

Divide among three bowls and tint one mixture purple, one green, and the other gold.  Mix well and drizzle each color over the cake.

Friday, January 14, 2011

90 Hours in NOLA, Part II - Eating

New Orleans is a delicious city. We literally ate our way around town. I think the only thing that allowed my pants to still button when I left was all the walking we did. I really recommend you try to skip cab rides as much as possible and just walk or ride a bike to your destinations. And by destinations, you know I mean bars and restaurants. So, pack comfortable shoes!

Cafe Du Monde
1039 Decatur Street

Yeah, I know Cafe Du Monde is on everyone's list, but that is because it is good. I mean, who doesn't enjoy starting the day with fried dough and coffee? No need to look at the posted menu. Just ask for an order of beignets (you'll get 3) and a cafe au lait.  

Beignets were brought to Louisiana by the Acadians. They are squares of dough fried in cottonseed oil and covered with powdered sugar. Many places in New Orleans, including Cafe Du Monde, serve a mix of coffee and chicory, which is not to everyone's taste. Chicory is the root of the endive plant and was added to stretch coffee in times of scarcity. Some folks feel it lessens the bitterness of coffee. At Cafe Du Monde, most folks order au lait. That means, 1/2 hot coffee and 1/2 hot milk. I prefer my coffee black most days, but I enjoy it au lait with my beignets.

Please note the line you will see on a weekend morning waiting for a table. If you can't avoid going on a weekend, join the  to-go line and then walk across Decatur Street to Jackson Square to enjoy your messy treats and watch the street artists. I'm warning you that powdered sugar can get everywhere...

6100 Annunciation Street

This elegant, but simple restaurant is a bit off the beaten path. We would not have discovered it without a recommendation. (Thanks, Dave.) It is tucked into a residential neighborhood in the Uptown area and full of locals. We needed to take a cab from the French Quarter.  You should also plan for a cab ride back, if you don't get your driver's number the hostess can help you out when you finish your meal.

I consider it a toned-down Arnaud's or Galatoire...upscale, but not stuffy. Great service with friendly staff who want you to leave happy. Ask to be seated in Daniel's section.  Get the smoked duck and anything with lump crab meat. You won't be sorry.

Green Goddess
307 Exchange Alley

This tiny place (I counted 8 table seats and 4 bar stools inside) is hidden away on a pedestrian-only alley. We lucked out by showing up right as they opened at 11, so we were able to get a cozy table for two. The friendly and helpful staff send out a strong hippy vibe (or maybe scent...was that patchouli?). The menu is progressive New Orleans...think seasonal and local ingredients with a few exotic flourishes.

My companion ordered a vegetarian Cuban sandwich with coconut milk. It tasted great...not like anything I've had before. We didn't miss the meat at all. I ordered boudin sausage patties served between sweet potato biscuits with hot pepper jelly and cane syrup and grits on the side. Yum. I'm already at work in trying to recreate it.

701 St. Charles Avenue

This is one of two restaurants we visited that are owned by Chef Donald Link. We didn't really plan to go, but we wanted to see some of the Twelfth Night festivities along the St. Charles streetcar line, and it worked perfectly to grab some drinks and snacks while we waited for the parade. (I'll share more on Twelfth Night in a later entry.)

The menu is a kind of cross between French and Southern cuisines. For the three of us to share we ordered two dishes: shrimp with grits and homemade spaghetti with guanciale and a poached egg. These were just okay...not bad, but far from transcendent. We also ordered sweet potato doughnuts for dessert and I found them to be awful. I think they were not cooked properly, but one of my companions thought they tasted good.

What made this a memorable stop for me, though, was the service. Our waiter seemed to invent his entire personal history for us. You served in the special forces? But now you are a floppy haired waiter without much muscle tone? You have lived all over the world, including Korea?  But you don't know what kimchi is and you've never been to Manhattan? Hmmm...entertaining, but not endearing. I'm not sure why we inspired this creativity, but it gave us a few laughs.

547 St. Ann

Located right on Jackson Square, Stanley bills itself as serving New Orleans comfort food. Run by Chef Scott Boswell, this restaurant and its sister place, Stella! were both recommended to us by locals. It has a comfortable and casual atmosphere with friendly staff.

They serve breakfast/brunch all day, which is great if you've visited too many bars the night before, like I did. I ordered a bowl of their gumbo hoping it would offer me the medicinal qualities of gumbo bowls in my past.  Not so much.  But, their bread was pretty tasty.  My companion ordered the omelet sandwich which she voted a success.

401 Poydras

This restaurant also came recommended to us by locals.  We decided to visit it for Saturday lunch and as we approached we saw a line out the door.  Not being immediately deterred, we stepped up.  Well, the line moved very quickly and before we knew it, we got to place our orders at the counter.  And, the place is huge...we wandered through three rooms before we found a table.

The three of us chose the po'boys - the fried oyster and the Famous Ferdi Special (ham, roast beef, debris, and gravy).  What's debris?  Those are the bits of roast beef that fall into the gravy when it is being carved...all that goodness is scooped up and poured over the sandwich.  The sandwiches were good, especially when hot, but they weren't as flavorful as we hoped.  It was corrected with some of the cabbage, pickle, and mayo dressing and plenty of Crystal's hot sauce, but we were still a bit surprised.  It is a very popular place and the staff were friendly.

This restaurant is in the Central Business District near a number of the large hotels used for conferences. It can handle large groups, so if you are in New Orleans for a conference, you should add this place to your list.

Praline Connection
542 Frenchman Street

This restaurant is located in Fauborg Marigny an upcoming area adjacent to the French Quarter with several great live music venues.  It has been described as the locals' version of Bourbon Street.  While it is in easy walking distance of the Quarter, it does have a steady stream of cabs running through the area at night.

They have absolutely great prices on down-home Southern cooking and terrific service.  The daily specials provide lots of food for a low price.  Our table of three enjoyed gumbo, etouffee, fried chicken, fried catfish, greens, and cornbread.  We finished our meal with a tasty bread pudding.  We could only manage a few bites each and were grateful for the walk back to the Quarter.

301 Tchoupitoulas Street

One of America's best restaurants, August is owned by Chef Jon Besh.  The three of us had dinner here on Friday night.  The food and service are great here, and when compared to fine dining establishments in other cities - the prices cannot be beat.  Plus, the decor is warm and inviting, and while you don't want to wear jeans, it is a very comfortable place.  And, even if you don't have much experience with fine dining, this is a restaurant that can help you feel at ease.  The staff happily answer any questions and can make accommodations for you without awkwardness.

You can order items a la carte (individual dishes) or prix fixe (several courses provided for one price).  Wine pairings can be provided for the prix fixe menus.  We chose the a la carte route.  Our table started with an amuse bouche of layers of sabayone, egg froth, caviar, and a brioche crouton served in an egg shell.  We ordered widely from the menu and all had bites of each other's meals.  A great way to dine, in my opinion.

Besides the food and service, I also enjoyed our cocktails.  Two of us ordered from the selection of infused bourbons.  Delicious.  Another inspiration for home experimentation.

930 Tchoupitoulas Street

We spent our last evening in New Orleans at this second Chef Donald Link restaurant.  Link embraces a snout-to-tail approach with his modern Cajun cuisine.  They have an in-house boucherie for making sausages, bacon, and head cheese and a wood-burning oven for roasting meats and seafood.

Per the recommendation of Chris and Laura McMillen, the bartenders at Bar Uncommon, we steered clear of ordering separate entrees, and ordered small plates to share.  It was the perfect solution.  It gave each of us several bites of what the kitchen had to offer and wasn't too heavy.  I thought the offerings were both familiar and adventurous.

The kitchen isn't the only one offering local ingredients.  The bar is focused on my favorites - bourbon and local beers.  They also have several brands of moonshine.  It was a bit noisy, but it was not difficult to talk at our table and it felt comfortable.  And, even though it was a crowded Saturday night, we were not rushed through our meal and the food was delivered in a timely manner.  You should definitely give Cochon a chance on your next visit to New Orleans.

Central Grocery
923 Decatur Street

Not far from Jackson Square, this small, old-fashioned Italian market is the famous home of delicious muffulettas.  Picture a round loaf of soft Italian bread that sandwiches salami, ham, and provolone with a dressing of black and green olives, garlic, peppers, and other goodness.  The muffuletta sandwich is just as much a part of New Orleans as the po-boy.

Lucky for us, it was recommended that the muffuletta travels well.  So, we saved the stomach space and picked up the sandwiches to carry home on the plane.  Central Grocery will sell the sandwiches wrapped  and boxed for travel, if you like, but I just took mine to-go wrapped snugly in waxed paper.

The recommendations were spot-on. The sandwich traveled beautifully. The hardest part to taking it home was smelling it on the plane ride every time I jostled my carry-on bag. Ugh...so hungry, but planned to share. Don't worry - the sandwich is big enough to share without feeling deprived. Although now I am wishing I brought home more than one.  I'm going to try and create an olive salad to make muffulettas at home. I promise to share it when I figure it out.

NOTE about my pictures:  As I mentioned in an early post regarding bars, I have not included many pictures of our meals or the inside of restaurants. That is because I haven't discovered how to balance enjoying the moment and being a considerate patron with taking good pictures. I honestly don't know how to master the lighting, angles, and composition a good picture requires while still maintaining a conversation with my companions and not being an obnoxious jerk to the servers or other patrons. You will just have to take my word for the stuff that is not documented with images.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

90 Hours in NOLA, Part I - The Bars

I recently joined my friends Wendy and Virginia on a four-night trip to New Orleans.  We had a great time and stuffed ourselves silly.  Armed with recommendations from a variety of friends, we did quite a bit of exploring that I want to share with you, but let me start where I always like to start...with drinks.

Napoleon House
500 Chartres Street

This was our first stop for a drink and a snack.  This 200-year-old landmark is right in the heart of the French Quarter.  The first owner was Nicholas Girod who served as mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815.  He offered his residence as a refuge to Napoleon in 1821 during his time in exile, but the former general never made it.  The name has not gone away, though.

I recommend the Pimm's Cup (their signature drink), but the Sazerac was also nice.  I don't recommend the food.  Not awful, just okay.  The staff were friendly and our bartender, Mike, took care of us.

Every bar seems to have their own version of this drink, but here is what I saw Mike do.  He said the lemonade is made fresh every day, specifically for these drinks.

Pimm's Cup
Makes 1 drink

1 1/2 oz Pimm's #1
3 oz lemonade
cucumber slice for garnish

Fill a tall glass with ice and Pimm's #1 and lemonade.  Top off with 7UP soda.  Garnish with cucumber slice and serve.

Swizzle Stick Bar/Cafe Adelaide
300 Poydras Street

Located in the Loews New Orleans Hotel, the Swizzle Stick bar and Cafe Adelaide restaurant is managed by the Brennan Family who own the famous Commander's Palace Restaurant.  (This is part of a growing trend.  More corporations are recognizing the benefits of partnering with local entities to manage their establishments in New Orleans.)

One detail that is apparently important to Lally Brennan is the large ice block behind the bar.  It is supposed to convey tradition and demonstrate a care about cocktail culture.  I was impressed until I realized it is only for show and they have an ice machine that is used for drinks.  You can see in this picture how it has almost melted away.

We stopped in during the day.  It is a popular spot for lunch as they offer 25-cent martinis.  Really!  Our bartender was Douglas.  He was friendly and offered a wealth of knowledge about the city, where to eat well, good liquor stores, and tips for comparision shopping for technology.

I enjoyed their signature drink, the Swizzle.  It includes a secret ingredient, which is even noted on a bottle behind the bar, but I think it may have been Velvet Falernum.

The Swizzle
Makes 1 drink

1 1/2 oz Old New Orleans Rum
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
1/4 oz simple syrup
3/4 oz Velvet Falernum liqueur
club soda
lime wedge for garnish

Combine the rum, lime juice, bitters, simple syrup, and Velvet Felernum in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and shake vigorously.  Strain over ice into a highball glass and top with club soda.  Garnish with lime wedge and swizzle stick to serve.

NOTE: Velvet Falernum is an alcoholic sugarcane-based liqueur used to flavor a number of rum cocktails.  It has flavors like almond, clove, and allspice.

Carousel Bar
214 Royal Street

Located in the historic Hotel Monteleone, this bar is outfitted like a carousel and actually rotates.  I was fearful of getting nauseated, so we grabbed a table instead of seats at the bar.  It is a tourist attraction, but not too crowded.  The service was not that great, but it is a pretty place to visit.  I recommend stopping in before 6 pm.

They were offering specials on champagne cocktails, and since champagne is one of my favorite beverages I had to partake...

French 75
Makes 1 drink

1 oz gin
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz lemon juice
brut champagne
lemon twist for garnish

Combine gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice in cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake vigorously and strain into a champagne flute.  Top with champagne.  Garnish with lemon twist and serve.

Sazerac Bar
123 Baronne Street

The beautifully restored Roosevelt New Orleans has housed the Sazerac Bar since 1949. The hotel was named to President Theodore Roosevelt in 1925, but was renamed the Fairmont in the 1960s until the Roosevelt name was restored recently.  The populist Governor and US Senator for Louisiana, Huey Long kept a suite in this hotel while he was in office during the 1920s and 30s.  He's responsible for a number of colorful stories concerning the hotel.

The bar is lovely with an art deco style, gorgeous murals, and lots of wood.  I, of course, ordered the sazerac.  As best I can gather, here is their version...

Makes 1 drink

1 cube sugar
1 1/2 oz rye whiskey
1/4 oz Herbsaint
3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
lemon peel for garnish

Pack an Old-Fashioned glass with ice.  In a second Old-Fashioned glass place the sugar cube.  
Add the bitters to it and crush the sugar cube.  Pour the rye whiskey over the crushed sugar and bitters.  Returning to the first glass, empty the ice and coat the glass with Herbsaint, discard any remaining Herbsaint.  Pour the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture into the glass coated with Herbsaint and garnish with lemon peel.

NOTE: Herbsaint is a New Orleans brand of anise liqueur.

I saved my two favorite bars for last...

4905 Freret Street

Cure is a cocktail-centric bar housed in a renovated fire station with really tall ceiling, exposed brick, and a mirror-backed bar.  There are no pre-made bar mixes, no beer on tap, and I didn't even notice a soda gun behind the bar.  I recommend going with an adventurous spirit and don't expect Bud Light.  They offer small plates, but we only came for the drinks.  Don't go on an empty stomach, though.

While I am hesitant to share this information since I hate crowded bars, Kirk Estopinal really is one of the best bartenders I've ever had the pleasure to meet.  He returned to New Orleans after a stint in Chicago working at the Violet Hour, which is considered one of the best bars in the country.  Yes, the bartenders at Cure are concerned about quality, but the bar definitely didn't feel pretentious.  We all wore jeans and didn't carry fancy handbags and we were treated great.

Kirk was a great conversationalist and when we put our taste buds in his hands we were not disappointed. We just told him what flavors and liquors we like and he took care of the rest.  I didn't find him snooty, but drinks are not poured super fast because they craft each one from scratch.

My drinks had perfectly balanced flavors, but the spirits (primarily whiskey) weren't hidden by mixers.  I thought they were absolutely delicious, but I couldn't for the life of me tell you what they were named. Okay, if my life depended on it, I could easily make up names for the drinks since that was it sounded like Kirk was doing.  He would list the ingredients which didn't sound too complicated, but then the names were like "Life is Short But Aging Whiskey Is Not So Be Sure to Buy A Horse From a Reputable Man."  Or, "You Can See Stars in the Daytime When You Wear Yellow Shoes and Braid Your Hair So Don't Forget to Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Street."  Yeah, really.  I am not exaggerating.  Kirk would push the drink towards me, tell me what was in it, and then would look down, and with embarrassment mumble some string of phrases that would make me giggle so much I couldn't hear him.

So...no recipe here, just go check this place out.  But, please give me some space at the bar when you see me come in...And, don't tell your friends.  Or, at least don't tell many of them.

Bar Uncommon
817 Common Street

This last one is a real gem.  Hidden away in the Renaissance Pere Marquette  Hotel, Bar Uncommon is a great cocktail bar.  The decor is very modern and I liked the glass bubbles hanging from the ceiling.

Our bartender was Chris McMillen and he came highly recommended.  Built like a football player, I must admit I doubted his sophistication, but I was wrong to do so.  Chris works behind the bar with his wife, Laura.  They were both just delightful - friendly, knowledgeable about New Orleans dining and   cocktail history.  Chris lectures annually at Tales of the Cocktail and is a founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail so he had some fun stories to share and they both offered some insider tips on our dining choices.  Both Chris and Laura are very down-to-earth and relaxed...no pretention from them.

Again, we didn't use a drink menu.  We just described our preferences and Chris made our cocktails accordingly.  I offered that we had just had Sazeracs at the Roosevelt and Chris made me his version.  It was seriously the best Sazerac I ever had.  From what I understand, however, anything he creates for you is just great.  But, the drinks are just part of what he offers.  They are indeed delicious, but he also tells a great story and seems to embody the legend of the barkeep from another time.

I won't try to recreate what Chris did in crafting my Sazerac, however, I will offer my thoughts on how his version is different from the recipe listed above.  I think he used a bit more rye whiskey, and I believe he used Old Overholt.  Also, he didn't drop the strip of lemon peel in my glass.  He twisted it over the glass and rubbed the peel over the rim.  It tasted more citrusy than other versions I have had.  I cannot wait to experiment, and I'm sure my husband will appreciate that.

Now the key to drinking this much, is to eat a lot.  Luckily, we had that covered, so stay tuned for more about where we dined and what we ate while we were in New Orleans.

NOTE about my pictures:  You will notice I don't have any pictures of the beverages and few pictures inside the bars we visited.  That is because I haven't discovered how to balance enjoying the moment and being a considerate patron with taking good pictures.  I honestly don't know how to master the lighting, angles, and composition a good picture requires while still maintaining a conversation with my companions and not being an obnoxious jerk to the bartender or other patrons.  Plus, my focus probably suffers after a couple of cocktails.  I did ask Kirk if I could take his picture, and he agreed as long as I didn't use a flash or make a big deal of it.  Well, obviously that isn't such a good picture.   You will just have to take my word for the stuff that is not documented with images.