36 Hours of Eating in New Orleans

Life’s been catching up to me, so I’ve been neglecting this blog, but now it’s time for me catch up. Exactly a week ago, I was driving my car from Virginia to Dallas. I have no idea why I thought that was a good idea, considering how much I hate road trips, but honestly, it was not bad at all. Thanks to my awesome boyfriend who helped me drive half the time. And thanks to Girl on the Train, which kept us entertained and awake the whole time. For this trip, we made pit stops in Atlanta and New Orleans. I’ve never been to New Orleans nor Atlanta, but I was more excited about New Orleans because of two words: cajun. food.

We had more time in New Orleans and you guessed it, all we did was eat, eat and eat. It was a marathon. I was on a serious mission to try as many restaurants as possible in the city. To be honest, I was pretty disappointed at some of the restaurants we’ve tried. I guess this means we have to go back and eat more. Anyways, here’s a list of restaurants we tried:

1. Felix’s Restaurant Oyster & Bar (4/5) — Located right across the famous Acme Oyster House, Felix’s is another restaurant people frequent for oysters, in particular the chargrilled oysters. Felix’s is also the restaurant people go to when Acme’s line gets too long and supposedly serves oysters that are just as good. Now I’ve never had chargrilled oysters, but after trying them here, I am in LOVE. These are so good, they’re nothing like raw oysters. They are half oysters chargrilled with cheese, garlic and butter and are served with french bread.

chargrilled oyste

2. Erin Rose (3/5) — Stopped here after Felix’s to give our stomachs a break. Got the famous frozen Irish Coffee, which tastes like a frappuccino (so nothing too great). Given how much Yelpers are raving about this drink, I expected more. My boyfriend got the bloody mary, which is not good — it’s too watered down and lacking the savory tomato flavor.

3. Oceana Grill (3/5) — I saw how highly this restaurant is rated on TripAdvisor, so decided to eat here for some classic Cajun food. I got the gumbo, and my boyfriend got the alligator sausage po’ boy. Sadly, everything was disappointing. The gumbo isn’t as flavorful as I’d like — it was lacking that cajun kick! The alligator po’ boy just looked sad, it needed more meat, salad and umpth. The bread was also stale and hard to eat. Not really sure what the hype is about.

4. Cafe Du Monde (4.5/5) — Finally, a restaurant a that lives up to its hype! Came here at 10 p.m. and did not have to wait at all. While these beignets are the bomb-dot-com, they are not worth waiting more than 15 minutes for. Considering that it’s open 24 hours, I recommend going off hours.

a New Orleans classic

a New Orleans classic

5. Stanley (4/5) — A famous brunch spot located in the heart of the French Quarter. Expect a long wait, but if you have time, just put your name and # down, and they’ll call you when a table is ready. For drinks, my boyfriend got the bloody mary. I don’t even like bloody marys, but I actually like this one. It’s savory and flavorful, but does not taste like tomato soup. I got the blood orange italian soda, which does not taste like blood orange. For entrees, I got the famous Beaux Bridge Benedict, and my boyfriend got the Eggs Stanley with fried oysters. The Beaux Bridge Benedict has a layer of some kind of mashed potatoes that looks like pulled pork, but tastes great with the poached egg. Also, instead of english muffins, they use a Texas-style toast bread for the dish! Unfortunately, my eggs were slightly overcooked; however, my boyfriend’s eggs were perfectly poached! Also, the breading used for the fried oysters are nicely crisp and tasty.

how brunch should look like

how brunch should look like

FAVORITE FRIDAYS: Dallas’ Sweet Tooth Cravings Satisfiers

When it comes to sweets, I can not get enough. I didn’t realize how much I love sweets until I devoured (more like inhaled) a slice of chocolate cake that my bf saved me earlier this week. Literally, it was the first thing I did when I walked into the apt after work. So for today’s Favorite Friday, I want to share with you the places I daydream of and go to satisfy my random sweet tooth cravings.

1. Steel City Pops

photography by Beau Gustafson

photography by Beau Gustafson

During hot summer days, I prefer to eat popsicles, because ice cream melts too fast and popsicles are more refreshing (and healthier). I love Steel City Pops — they have such a great selection of fruity and creamy flavors. My favorites are blood orange, mango, coffee, passion fruit and guava. I also do not recommend their cookie pops as delicious as it sounds — the brownie gets too gritty, and the texture reminds me of coffee grind.

Fun fact: At the beginning of each month, Steel City Pops releases new flavors! Also, make sure to get yourself a punch card.

2. EatZi’s

I never liked carrot cake until I tried EatZi’s carrot cake. The cream is not too sweet and the cake is moist. Their chocolate toffee cake and tiramisu cake are also delicious. You can buy the whole cake or just get single slices.

3. Nothing Bundt Cakes

taken from Nothing Bundt Cake’s Yelp account

First time, I tried Nothing Bundt Cakes was at work — and now I am o b s e s s e d. I keep wanting to get some, but haven’t had the chance. These cake are like pound cakes, but better and perfectly moist (for lack of a better word). You can also buy single serving bundt cakes (called bundtinis) at their store!

4. Fat Straws

Hands down, my favorite bubble tea place in Dallas. I have yet to try Magic Cup, so I will let you know if that’s better. Great smoothies and teas. Their tropical fruit smoothies are all great, and their taro smoothie is one of my favorites!

5. Haute Sweets Patisserie 

haute sweets

Haute Sweets Patisserie started off as a caterer. However, their macarons got so popular that people would buy the macarons straight from the kitchen. Seriously, these macarons are one of the best I’ve tasted — and I’ve tasted A L O T of macarons. I’ve been to Paris before, and these come really close! These macarons’ have a nice bite to them and the flavors are on point! Due to popular demand, Haute Sweets Patisserie now has a storefront (that I have yet to visit). The location is different from their old location so be sure to check out their website.

Meddlesome Moth – Great Food, Better Beer

With so many restaurants to try in Dallas, I often don’t repeat — and this is not intentional. I don’t eat out often, so when I do, I like to try a new place. However, Meddlesome Moth is one of the few restaurants that I find myself coming back to, and it’s mainly due to the beer selection.

meddle beer

Meddlesome Moth is an American gastropub with over 100 beers. They also have a brunch menu that I have yet to try. I’ve tried their chicken salad, a risotto special, mussels with the thai sauce, steak tartare and duck wings — and all have delivered, except for the steak tartare that was too mushy. Additionally, I like how next to each item on their menu, there is a beer pairing suggestion. Unfortunately, I have not followed their guidelines — I know, I know…as a beer enthusiast, I should be more aware of my food + beer pairings; however, Meddlesome Moth often rotates their beer so there’s always a new beer I really want to try, and it gets tough to coordinate my beer and meal. If you’re a beer geek like me, I suggest following Meddlesome Moth on FB to stay updated on their tap list and beer events. And if you’re a wine drinker, Meddlesome Moth also has a great wine selection.

meddlesome moth

No matter what day you go to Meddlesome Moth, it is bustling. There are some people dining and others gathered at the bar for a drink after work. There is a happy hour special where selected beers are $1 off.

Overall, Meddlesome Moth is one of my favorite restaurants in Dallas — great food selection with an even better beer selection.

FAVORITE FRIDAYS: COOKIE RECIPES

Last weekend, I decided to up my baking game by deciding to bake macarons — and baking macarons is no easy task. They are delicate cookies that require precision and patience. While I was stressing out at every step of the baking process, I began to appreciate cookies a lot more. They’re low maintenance (in comparison to macarons), make great presents, tasty and who doesn’t love cookies? So for this week’s ‘Favorite Fridays’ I wanted to share my favorite cookie recipes — just in time for Mother’s Day!

1. White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies via The Domestic Rebel

cran cookies

I just discovered this recipe a month ago and baked it for a friend’s birthday — and they were a popular hit! I l o v e white chocolate and cranberry cookies, and I’ve baked them using several recipes before, but this one is my favorite. The texture is the best among the other recipes — it’s perfectly soft & chewy. I also recommend using Ghirardelli white chocolate chips — they’re 10x better than the normal ones! Sometimes its okay to splurge on your ingredients — I’ve always been reluctant to splurge on chocolate chips, but now I’m hooked on Ghirardelli. They’re even good plain! And here’s another tip: refrigerate the dough for at least 24 hours before baking.

2. Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Chip Cookies via Bakerella

via Bakerella

via Bakerella

Jacques Torres is a famous master pastry chef with a few chocolatiers in New York City — and lucky for us, the recipes for his cookies are available online. Sadly, I haven’t gotten a chance to try his cookies firsthand. I’ve been meaning to go every time in the city, but never make it in time. However, this recipe is a solid one and my go-to recipe for regular chocolate chip cookies. I also like to sprinkle some sea salt on top of the cookies for the sweet/salty flavor. 

3. Oreo White Chocolate Pudding Cookies via two peas & their pods

via two peas & their pod

via two peas & their pod

Oreo cookies is one of my guilty pleasures. One bite always leaving me wanting more. I like it with ice cream, shakes, cake, etc. It’s probably one of the most fun and versatile grocery store cookies out there. I’ve also made cookies stuffed Oreo, but I prefer mashing it up into crumbs and mixing it with my dough. This recipe is always a hit and my go-to recipe if I’m baking for a special event. You can have fun with this recipe by using different types of Oreo cookies like birthday Oreo or red velvet!

4. Classic Peanut Butter Cookies via allrecipes.com

Super easy, super simple and delicious.

5. Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies via allrecipes.com

This recipe was the first recipe I used when I started to get into baking. It was always my little secret. This recipe is perfect for those who like their cookies softer and less chewy. The secret is the vanilla pudding mix.

Cafe Momentum: Eat, Drink, Change Lives

Yes, come here, dine and you’ll help the restaurant change lives (well, it isn’t as serious as it sounds). Café Momentum is a non-profit, upscale American bistro located in downtown Dallas. Not only is Café Momentum a restaurant, but it also serves as a culinary training facilitating providing mentorship and support to at-risk youths. Their mission is to provide these teenagers with a unique opportunity that provides them guidance and teaches them valuable life and professional skills. So yes, the kitchen staff is made up of these ‘students’ who will be serving you — but don’t worry, the service is up to par with the scene and quality of its food. With such a unique concept and great mission, I could not resist and make my boyfriend take me here to dinner last week. It’s always nice to support local businesses who are doing what they can to give back to its community. If you are interested in learning more about their program and mission, I recommend going on their site here.

table

Not only does the restaurant pride itself in its mission, but it also prides itself in its food (which is the most important aspect of any restaurant). Each month the restaurant features a Pop-In local, national or global chef whose specials will be featured on the monthly and seasonal menus. According to Yelp reviewers, the dessert (in particular, the s’mores) is one not to be missed and is crafted by a local pastry chef. Unfortunately, I was too full by the end of my meal.

octopus tiradito

octopus tiradito

For appetizers, my boyfriend and I started off with the octopus tiradito, which is thinly sliced octopus drizzled with a aji amarillo sauce — this was my favorite dish. And unfortunately, not enough per serving. For our entrees, we got the beef barciole and the market fish, which was salmon that night. The beef barciole has a prominent curry flavor to it and the meat is tender with a hint of pink — it reminded me of an Indian curry dish or a stew. The salmon is nicely seared where the skin is crisp yet the meat is flaky. Overall, both are solid choices. I don’t think you can go wrong here!

market fish - salmon

market fish – salmon

While the pricing is on the higher end, it is not bad at all for the quality of food you’re getting. The average is about $30-50 per person depending on what you get, of course.

Good Food. Reasonable Pricing. Great Cause. Need I say more? If you haven’t been, you need to go now and check out this restaurant for yourself.

Favorite Fridays: Fast Casual/Fast Food Chains

During the week, I try to cook at home so that I can eat healthier and save money at the same time. However, since I was running out of food this week, I decided to spoil myself with some Chipotle (yes, Chipotle is definitely a treat). Like most people my age, I l o v e Chipotle — it’s cheap, relatively healthy, convenient and tasty. It also makes the best leftovers. So as I was scarfing my Chipotle down as if it was my first meal in days, I came up with this week’s Favorite Fridays topic — fast food. Below you’ll find my most frequented fast food chains. These are the places that are comforting and the ones i’ll miss if i’m ever abroad.

ff fast food

1. Chipotle

Like I said earlier, healthy (relatively), quality ingredients (no more GMO – not that it means much, but woo hoo!), cheap, fast and tasty.

2. Hopdoddy Burger Bar

Not sure if this counts since it’s only available in Austin and Dallas, but I am obsessed with everything at Hopdoddy — the truffle fries, the bread & butter pickles, the shake, the burgers, etc. Hands down, my favorite place to get a burger (with Shake Shack coming a close 2nd).

3. Shake Shack

I remember the first time I had Shake Shack in its original location in New York, I waited 1.5 hours for it. No, definitely worth it, but that’s what New Yorkers do — they just wait in line for everything. However, I love Shack Shack. I like their fries, shake and of course, burgers. Their house brewed beer is also pretty good and goes well with the burger.

4. Popeyes

Honestly, not many fried chicken places compares to the consistency and tastiness of Popeyes. While it’s probably the worst thing for your health on my list, it’s also delicious. I love the breading — so flavorful and crispy! Not only is the fried chicken good, but the cajun fries, the mashed potatoes and biscuit. Just sprinkle some cajun sparkle, and you’re good to go.

5. Chick-Fil-A

Two essentials one must get at Chick-Fil-A: the spicy chicken sandwich and the chick-fil-a sauce. And if you have never tried the Chick-Fil-A sauce, you need to change get off your computer and drive to the closest Chick-Fil-A.

I came, I waited, I conquered: My Experience Waiting for Franklin BBQ

My boyfriend and I love Austin, so we always try to find an excuse to visit Austin — and all we do is eat, eat and eat. So it’s no surprise that we spent this past weekend eating our way through Austin. And we decided that we would do it – that we would embark on the whole ‘Franklin’ experience. Honestly, I’m impatient and am not the kind to wait more than an hour (more like 30 min.) for food, but somehow I convinced myself to wait five hours for BBQ — and I did it. I came. I waited. I conquered. It’s because I keep hearing locals and Yelp reviewers rave about the brisket and how no other place compares that I decided to devote half of my day to Franklin. Also, I haven’t heard a single person said that “it wasn’t worth it.” And I would be dishonoring my title as a ‘foodie’ if I never try such a famous and highly regarded restaurant. Overall, the experience can be broken down into three parts:

1. Before – The Arrival & Waiting Game

oh you know, just chilling and waiting 5 hours for BBQ - no big deal

oh you know, just chilling and waiting 5 hours for BBQ – no big deal

you think you're almost there, but you're not.

you think you’re almost there, but you’re not.

We got there on Sunday around 8:45 AM, laid down our tarp and we brought some snacks, books and music – we were prepared, but so was everyone else. If you don’t have a lawn chair, don’t fret — Franklin has lawn chairs you can borrow. However, do bring entertainment and snacks, but not too much cause you don’t want to ruin your appetite. We even befriended our neighbors behind us, which made the time fly by. Waiting is definitely part of the “experience” so make sure to make the most of it — entertain yourself, study, nap or befriend your neighbors.

Also, note that you can buy beer while waiting in line or you can bring your own, which I recommend. Furthermore, someone will go down the line and provide clear instructions on how Franklin works. There will also be another person who will ask you what you plan to order to make sure that there is enough. This is great, because this prevents you from waiting in line for hours only to be left starving and disappointed. They’ll also tell you when you’ll tentatively be eating – they are pros at this so believe them when they’ll say you’ll be eating 5 hours later.

2. During – The MOMENT(s)

So close yet so far

So close yet so far

That moment when you’re inside and waiting for your turn to order is quite exciting even though you’re still in line. However, once you see everyone eating trays of that brisket, sausage and pulled pork, you’ll begin to salivate and your heart will begin to race. Once you see that there’s only ONE guy cutting up the meat, you’ll wonder why the heck haven’t they hired one more person, but you’ll soon forget that thought when it’s your turn to order.

      fbbq food

The moment I took the first bite of that brisket was one of the most rewarding feelings ever — I have never waited so long for food. We got 1/2 lb fatty brisket and 1/2 lb lean brisket. The fatty brisket melts in your mouth like butter and falls off your fork easily and nicely. The lean brisket is tasty as well, but nothing as good as the fatty parts. There are several BBQ rubs you can choose for your meats. As weird as it may sound, the espresso rub went well with the brisket. The roasty notes paired well with the smokiness of the brisket. We also got the sausage and pulled pork, and all were as good as you expect it to be. The sausage – plump and smoky. The pulled pork – moist, but a little bland (but that’s what the sauces are for).

FBBQ food 2

3. After – The Food Coma

Of course, we were ambitious and ordered more than we can eat, but we were not going to wait 5 hours to order a small amount of food. The leftovers heated up in the microwave fine and made a great lunch the next day. Best. Leftovers. Ever. (besides Chipotle – lol). We had plans to drive straight back to Dallas right after, but did not make it more than 8 miles, because we were so tired. Consequently, we pulled into a neighborhood, found some shade, parked our car and napped with the windows down. So if you ever plan to embark on this adventure, just remember it’s a whole day kind of ordeal.

And you’re probably wondering was it worth it? Yes. But will I ever wait 5 hours again? No, probably not. With all that being said, it is definitely a fun experience and something worth doing once — and only once.