Alexis Yap: Grubbing NOLA by the bowls…

Of amaaazing food!
“NOLA” as in New Orleans, Louisiana. I could already hear the drum beats and it’s only four in the afternoon. College kids — and those who once upon a time were — are walking down NOLA’s world famous Bourbon Street, of course, with a fun drink in hand and their beaus in tow.
It’s definitely party central and no matter what time of the year you go, they do live up to the hype. This time around though, we were lucky to be there at Mardi Gras season even without exactly planning to be there specifically for the festival. I know right? So, it was extra festive and we were all ecstatic!
But aside from the flowing booze and the endless parties, the cuisine of New Orleans is perhaps the most distinctively recognized regional cuisine in all of America, known for extraordinary food, recognized by so many food experts and enthusiasts from all over the world.
Here’s a list of food and places to try if you happen to just drive by the Big Easy:

America’s Best Fried Chicken
It had started to rain quite a bit but our first stop still had to be at Willie Mae’s Scotch House, located just blocks away from New Orleans’ Historic Treme Neighborhood the Food Network and the Travel Channel, Willie Mae’s continue to serve the same great-tasting chicken they have been making for almost half a century to hoards of hungry fans. Opened since 1957, Willie Mae’s had only started making their chicken in 1970 when their hair salon at the front had closed. Well, aren’t we just glad they did!
Plenty of us stood in line and braved the rain for a taste of the famous Southern style fried chicken and I bet each one of us that did would simply agree that Willie Mae’s is indeed — like the experts say — America’s best fried chicken yet.


A side of Brussels Sprouts and Fried Okra (on the plate) with America’s
Best Fried Chicken at Willie Mae’s Scotch House

Say it with me: Beignet!
Yep! Everyone would say your trip to New Orleans would never be complete without getting your hands — and laps a mess from the sugar powder generously sprinkled on top of the beignets at Café du Monde, the quaint French market coffee joint located right at the heart of the French Quarter.
Their delicious, deep fried, square pieces of dough topped with powdered sugar are simply the best! Especially when paired with their freshly brewed cup of coffee — black, with one Splenda…
It’s definitely quite an experience. One step into their shop and you’re immediately transported back in time.


Beignets at Cafe du Monde

Jambalaya, Crawfish Etouffee, and Red Beans and Rice with Sausage
Just, writing, spelling out these words are making me salivate. I’ve tried Jambalaya everywhere else but New Orleans and when I did, it just hit the right spot! In my own words, I would describe it as the “cleanest,” most “simple” recipe yet the best one amongst everything else I’ve tried.
Being introduced to the Crawfish Etouffee and the Red Beans and Rice with Sausage for the first time — considered to be the trifecta (alongside the Jambalaya) in NOLA dishes — I must say it was definitely love at first bites.
Many different places in NOLA like the Oceana Grill will serve all three in one order. They usually call it The Taste of New Orleans. Definitely get that.


Shrimp Pasta, Crawfish Etouffee, and Jambalaya

Po-boys, Turtles and Gators.
One of the quintessential NOLA grub is the Po-Boy Sandwich which is still on my to-do list in NOLA. There’s just so many awesome food to try and so little time wherever you go, right? Also, I wanted to try the Shrimp Po-Boy at Parkway Bakery and Tavern which was what former US President Barack Obama had during their visit to the Big Easy back in 2010. Definitely coming back for that.
As for turtles and gators, well… honestly, I would still have to gather the guts to try those exotic food.
I’d say we definitely made the most we could out of barely 48 hours in New Orleans, walking around all the interesting sights to see in between all the eating.
Meanwhile, we still had over six hours of driving ahead of us to make it in time for the elusive chanteuse’s concert at Sugarland, Texas which we barely made on time. The adrenaline rush definitely made Mariah Carey’s Caution World Tour even more exhilarating especially for a Mariah virgin like me.


With the NOLA Crew at Cafe du Monde Christian Dy, Marell Quijano , and Oscar Pascual

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