Bites of New Orleans

The Culinary Corps part of my trip is over; our group parted ways early this morning, and instead of flying back to Washington toute de suite, I'm continuing my stay through the weekend, with Mr. Mighty Appetite in tow. Below, a few spots our group hit along the way to restore our spirits and recharge for the next day. This is just the beginning; stay tuned on Monday for more nibbles.

Earlier this week, we had lunch in the French Quarter at the Creole cottage that is Bayona, domain of chef Susan Spicer since 1990. We took advantage of the $20 lunch special that included three small plates, sweet or savory, from at least 20 different dishes. The food here combines traditional Creole dishes with global twists. You'll see Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Moroccan notes, to name a few. A most romantic spot, particularly in the enclosed courtyard.

Wednesday evening, we supped at Cochon, the pig-centric eatery headed up by Chef Donald Link, who just won a James Beard award. What a hoot this place is. This little piggy definitely went to market, baby. I've never seen so many variations of pork on one menu; choices included smoked ham hock, cracklins, ribs, head cheese, boudin and andouille sausages, house-cured salamis and hams of several varieties. It is a serious hog-down.

If I were to go into business for myself, I'd want to run something like Savvy Gourmet on Magazine Street, a multi-purpose space of all things culinary. Part cookware shop, cooking studio (with a fabulous demo kitchen to boot), and restaurant, Savvy is the brainchild of Aaron Wolfson, who opened the space just before Katrina came to town. Savvy survived the storm, which prompted Wolfson and his partner Peter Menge to start cooking for relief workers and offer the space as a distribution hub for fresh produce and a community space for the restaurant community. I couldn't resist the brightly colored, whimsical line of apron-dresses made by a local designer; in fact, three of us gals bought one (see accompanying photo).

Kelli Wright-Morales, Tomoko Iwaki and I modeling our fab new apron dresses from Savvy Gourmet. (Jessica Su)

The Ben & Jerry's of New Orleans is David Bergeron and his childhood pal chef Bryan Gilmore, who have whipped up Creole Creamery, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. Wacky flavors prevail: Red velvet cake, honeydew and green tea and fried banana are just a few intriguing examples. I was quite happy going back to my childhood with a scoop of chocolate malt chip.

For our last supper, we embarked on a mini road trip to La Provence, a French country home on the North Shore, in Lacombe (or Big Branch, depending on who you talk to). To get there, we drove over the Lake Pontchartain Causeway, which at 24 miles is the longest bridge in the world.
Under the leadership of chef John Besh, another James Beard winner, La Provence is a charming French country home serving local and seasonal fare. In the back yard is a burgeoning farm comprised of chickens, two Berkshire pigs and heirloom goats, plus a garden filled with heirloom tomatoes, microgreens and melons.

Share your favorite New Orleans haunt in the comments area below. I'll have more tidbits on Monday. Have a delicious weekend!

By Kim ODonnel |  June 8, 2007; 5:27 PM ET New Orleans
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Never been to the Chocolate City and I never desire to go there.

Posted by: Vanilla | June 8, 2007 10:02 PM

Vanilla, They call me Redman because I burn easily in the sun. I just had a good trip to NO whose neighborhoods are still devastated and depopulated. In the spirit of the article and your posting I can feel justified in giving a suitable response to you. Bite me!

Posted by: Redman | June 9, 2007 8:19 AM

Thanks, Kim. We are having a lovely weekend in Copenhagen. Sun shines, the parks and cemeteries are overflowing with topless sunbathers; the beaches too; i was thinking this morning how in some countries an exposed breast in a public place is reason for arrest and charges of indecent exposure, a twist of morality from the dark agaes, but here, no such thing, and quite understandable; here, in scandinavia, the summer, even while hot, as now, is uncertain, and we take what we get, becsause we are never sure of tomorrow, and our optimism has been soured by so many green winters of the past: and enjoying this beautiful, godblue day, looking out the window now, my eyes resting on the pink orchids on this table, and having just read yr wonderful and informative new orleans blog, well, what more can one desire, except to be laughing with you & yr loved one in New Orleans. Thanks for being such a wholesome, positive soul, Kim. Ur an inspiration. Your culinary wit melts anticipation; and sprinkles sunshine in the pot.

Posted by: Lennox Raphael | June 10, 2007 6:32 AM

Where to start! We go to NOLA at least once a year to attend the Jazz fest and the local restaurants are always tops on our list. On our first visit after Katrina we made a trip to Cochon and fell in love with his low country cooking. If you are looking for good -- low cost cooking though....try Fiorella's. Used to be a truck stop over by the French Market but serves some of the best fried chicken ever......

Posted by: Bob Dobbs | June 14, 2007 4:45 PM

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