it's okay to play with your food

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Chapter 1: Frankie and Johnny's

Thank God for Andy Vaught. Besides being an all-around great person, Andy Vaught is the reason Daniel and I actually had a place to stay in New Orleans (hotels during Jazz Fest are few and far between...). Andy Vaught is also the reason for our first and last meals in NOLA, at Frankie and Johnny's.

About a mile from Andy Vaught's house in the Garden District, Frankie and Johnny's is a neighborhood place, with a down-home menu, bar and video games (Ms. Pac-man!).

For our first meal, almost immediately upon arriving in town, Daniel chose the red beans and rice with hot sausage; I was craving my first po-boy, with shrimp. A po-boy is a french bread sandwich; get it with dressing, and that includes lettuce, tomato and pickle. The tiny shrimp were delicately fried (though not deveined, which I tried to overlook). Daniel was happy with his meal, though beans and rice is rarely something I get excited about.

What I did get excited about were the mountains of crimson crawfish coming out of the kitchen every few minutes. We were going to have to make a return visit to Frankie and Johnny's.

And we did, three days later. For our final meal in NOLA, I had to had to had to get some boiled crawfish. Daniel wanted crawfish too, but of the fried and in a po-boy variety. We also had our first taste of Boudin balls, a mixture of rice and boudin sausage that is then fried.

The Boudin balls were tasty, slightly spicy, mushy on the inside, crisp and golden brown on the outside. They were served with some kind of creamy dressing; I think it was a horseradish sauce.

The crawfish were amazing. Spilling out of their red basket, and topped with empty paper baskets for the shells, they were intimidating, to say the least. Neither Daniel nor I knew exactly what to do with them, but the waitress gladly gave us a demonstration: separate the head from the tail, suck out the juice from the head (if desired), pinch out the meat from the tail, eat.

The crawfish were spicy, and the juice was so good. Like any good seafood, it was of the sea, but not too fishy. By the end of my 2 1/2 pounds, I was something of a pro, pinching the tail and sucking out the meat simultaneously (and while I think that food can be really sexy, boiled crawfish does not fall under that particular category of food.)

Daniel was fine with his po-boy, but we both decided that po-boys don't really do it for us. Too much bread, not enough meaty goodness.

Up Next... Chapter 2: Cochon, A Restaurant That Matters

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