Food file: New Orleans

Food file: New Orleans
January 23,2011
Ute Junker
The Sidney Morning Herald

Food file: New Orleans
January 23, 2011

Glamour ... Commander's Palace, New Orleans.

Glamour ... Commander's Palace, New Orleans.

Ute Junker grabs a bite in the Big Easy.

Favourite flavours

To eat well in New Orleans, you'll need to learn the lingo. The local cuisines, Creole and Cajun, have their own vocabulary, and menus that may at first seem indecipherable are often surprisingly simple. Andouille or boudin, for instance, are both types of sausage; gumbo and etouffe are both stews. The names reflect the mixed French and Spanish influences that produced these spicy, flavourful cuisines but if you find them confusing, just plunge in and try your luck.
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The local drop

How seriously do they take their cocktails in New Orleans? Not content with being home to the Museum of the American Cocktail, every July the city hosts a festival devoted to the cocktail. Classic local versions include the Sazerac (rye whisky, absinthe and bitters) and the Hurricane (rum and passionfruit punch).

Top tables

It's a fair bet that any chef who calls his restaurant Cochon, the French word for pig, is not courting the vegetarian market. Sure enough, chef Donald Link celebrates the Cajun way with meat at this converted warehouse (930 Tchoupitoulas Street, Warehouse District, +1 504 588 2123, Carnivores will love the charcuterie and dishes such as fried boudin balls. The irresistibly named Swine Bar is the place for nibbles and vino.

Rule No. 9 of the diner's handbook: run a mile from any establishment with a name that starts with "Ye Olde". Ye Olde College Inn (3000 South Carrollton Avenue, +1 504 866 3683, is a rare exception, offering Louisiana classics at reasonable prices.

Stella! (1032 Chartres Street, +1 504 587 0091, restaurant offers some of New Orleans's most inventive cuisine. Not every dish comes off but if a foie gras and duck BLT tickles your palate, you'll love this place.

Budget bite

Slip into Casamento's Restaurant (4330 Magazine Street, +1 504 895 9761, casamentos, slap yourself down and slurp on a dozen oysters, the traditional working man's dinner in the Big Easy. This no-fuss diner delivers a traditional oyster bar experience, using lard for fry-ups (it apparently gives extra crunch) and closing in the summer months (the oyster off-season).

Night out

Its slightly kooky glamour and excellent food have made Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Avenue, Garden District, +1 504 899 8221, the city's most venerated restaurant. Still going strong after more than a century, this is the place to savour dishes such as the melt-in-your-mouth slow-cooked pork belly cured in molasses and black pepper, served with brandy, black truffle and goat's-cheese greats.

Locals love

New Orleans has a sweet tooth and La Divina Gelateria (3005 Magazine Street, +1 504 342 2634, ladivina has some of the best ice-cream in town, made from local ingredients. Flavours change daily but include unusual offerings such as dark chocolate with cayenne or sorbet made with the local Abita Turbodog beer.

Don't leave without trying ...

The po' boy is a local classic: a crispy baguette traditionally filled with fried seafood but available these days in a bewildering array of options. Parkway Bakery and Tavern (538 Hagan Avenue, +1 504 482 3047, parkwaybakeryandtavernnola .com) has some of the best in town.
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