Memories of NOLA

In honor of the upcoming IFBC, I’m retracing our steps through NOLA in 2009, and the delicious meals we shared with our dear foodie friends Johnnie and Melinda.

We started the journey to JazzFest at Bourbon House, indulging in generously sized gulf oysters and Abita Beer.

Melinda at Bourbon House Abita Light at Bourbon House

A short walk from our rental in the Warehouse District, we dined al fresco at Herbsaint and shared lots of laughs. The decor was just as delightful as the food.
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Nothing says vacation like endless Mimosas on a Friday morning, which we enjoyed while waiting in line at Mother’s. The cheesy grits and authentic Soul Food ambience were well worth the build up.
Mimosa while waiting in line at Mother's n1344248675_30168449_5859389

Our Friday food crawl continued with l’escargot at Pelican Club, in an alley graced with my favorite NOLA artist, Michalopoulos.
Michalopoulos Gallery L'escargot

…and a memorable bar-side meal at NOLA, where I indulged in two of my favorite things: champagne and macaroni & cheese. Emeril now shares a special place in my stomach. 😉

n1344248675_30168785_5016855 Emeril's NOLA

It was an incredible run of fine local dining, topped off at Cochon and Commander’s Palace. I would return in a heartbeat (after properly training my stomach first)!

Rethinking Pomodoro

I’m a huge fan of Capellini Pomodoro (as witnessed here and here). But tonight I needed to get to the point. So I improvised by cooking angel hair in chicken broth instead of water, and served it with olive oil. It had the same rich quality as a good Pomodoro, in half the time. And it still paired nicely with a glass of Zin!

Simple Pulled Pork

Sometimes you feel like playing with ingredients and seasoning, and sometimes you don’t. Here’s a pulled pork recipe that’s stripped down, but just as tender.

Bring a pan full of salted water to a boil, add a drizzle of maple syrup if you like. Add pork tenderloin and cook covered until it falls apart with a fork. Then shred meat with two forks and cook on low until you’re ready to eat it. I served mine with rice, and it was simply delicious.

Beyond the BRAT Diet

This post might make you squeamish, but if you’re like me you passed that point a long time ago. There’s nothing worse than sticking to the BRAT diet when you love food (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast), and there’s a limited amount of “safe” eating guides out there. So I thought my pain could be your gain, by sharing what I’ve eaten on the road to recovery from stomach troubles.

Traditionally, the BRAT diet doesn’t include many of the following items. But I chose to take a few liberties in the name of enjoying myself, not getting bored, and getting back to normal. So proceed with caution, stay away from veggies, and eat at your own risk…

Breakfast

  • If coffee is too much, I recommend Penguin caffeinated mints. (Tea was much too acidic for me.)
  • Oatmeal is a good choice and Malt-o-Meal with a drop of maple syrup is delicious (no milk, sorry).
  • Plain bagels are safe and the chewiness distracts you from the lack of filling (or have eggs, but no cheese!)
  • Bananas are the first letter in the BRAT acronym, but make sure they are nice and ripe to cut down on acid.
  • When you’re ready, scrambled eggs with salt and pepper (avoid butter).

Snacks

  • Triscuits are satisfying, and the texture is a little more normal and exciting than saltines.
  • Tortilla chips (without salsa) are a safe bet, especially for dining out.
  • Toast with olive oil or honey (no butter).
  • Raw, whole almonds.

Lunch

  • Brown rice or white rice: I purchased the microwave-ready kind for convenience at work, but cooked the rice in a ceramic bowl with a little water instead of the packaging (personal preference). Add canned tuna or chicken if you have the appetite – or stick to salt, pepper and soy sauce.
  • Plain pasta with olive oil. Cook a large batch for several meals, including dinner. (Or cooked in chicken broth, as I did here.)
  • Ramen with mild (not spicy!) broth; you can purchase Annie Chun’s Ramen House, but only use a small drop of sauce.
  • Canned tuna with olive oil instead of mayonnaise, on bread, crackers or rolled up in a tortilla and sliced into pinwheels.
  • When you’re ready, ease into sandwiches that don’t have mayonnaise or veggies (i.e. turkey, chicken and cheese worked okay for me in the later stages).

Dinner

  • At home, I made either rice or pasta and ate it plain or with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • When I was ready to add meat, the safest bets are white meat: chicken, turkey and pork. For me, beef is too hard to digest.
  • Taco shells filled with ground turkey (cooked in its own juices, seasoned with salt and pepper), plus rice.
  • At restaurants, menus can be intimidating. I found that roasted chicken was usually the best choice for me – not perfect – but better than other options and usually served with mashed potatoes.
  • Skipping the salad or appetizer course is hard, but ask for a second bread basket to keep you from making a desperate move.
  • See more BRAT-friendly dinner ideas here.

Beverages

  • I drank water with most meals and in between. (SmartWater and coconut water have electrolytes!) For me, juice and soda are too acidic.
  • I eased back into adult beverages with beer, but made sure to combine it with food and lots of water. Don’t rush it until you feel ready though.

Godspeed my friends – and please share your own stomach safety tips in the comments section below.