A Big Time in the Big Easy

Here is the obstructed view I had of the stage at Mulate’s a New Orleans institution for Cajun food and fare.  I am in New Orleans for a national convention of planners and to give a presentation.  My presentation was completed on Sunday, so Monday and Tuesday are devoted to conference sessions, and well, getting out and experiencing the city.  This restaurant is right across the street from the convention center, so it was convenient and a lot of fun.

When you are in the Big Easy and the band starts to play, what else should you do but dance!  And dance they did!  There was one gentleman that must have been in his upper 80’s and he danced every dance.  Wow I hope I have that kind of energy when I’m his age, I’d like to have it now too!  So what about drinking?  What is the local fare in New Orleans?

Abita is a local favorite, and even though I have that weird amber beer allergy this brew didn’t affect me.  Perhaps it is because it is light, or maybe it is Bayou Voodoo  that keeps me from sweating like a mad beast.

The Beer poured a golden amber color and tasted like a spicy iced lager that had a bit of a hop bite and finished sweet.  It was really nice, but frankly this is one of those context beers.

What do I mean by context beer?  Well if I was drinking this beer in my kitchen, I probably wouldn’t care too much for it, but down here with the food, the warm and humid air, and the Cajun music and jazz playing all over the place, this beer is light and refreshing and blends perfectly with life in the Big Easy.

I will drink this beer again, because when I do I will be transported magically back to New Orleans and all the music and fun.  I strongly recommend coming to New Orleans and trying this beer on tap!  It is amazing how the vibe of this place gets into the brew and transforms it from a mildly interesting session beer to something special and memorable.

So what about my meal?  After all the food is amazing down here.  Here it is.

If you are in Louisiana what better to have than crawfish!  I couldn’t decide what to have so I got a combo plate with fried crawfish and crawfish etouffee, pronounced  A-2-Fay.  This was amazing.  Great flavors and just what I wanted for my first night in the Big Easy.

I liked this so much I went back there for lunch the very next day and had the Blackened Alligator and a full bowl of the etouffee.  The Alligator was great, and it is actually a very lean meat that is very healthy.  And what a great flavor.  And no it doesn’t taste like chicken, it tastes like Alligator, and man was it delicious.  I’m going to look for Alligator again, and maybe try to make it myself at home.

I finished this evening with a night cap in the hotel.  What did I have?  You guessed it…Whiskey!

This is a snifter of Bookers Kentucky Straight Bourbon.  This was about 127 proof, or what they call barrel proof whiskey.  There is no cutting for this hooch, it is what it is as it comes out of the barrel.

As you can see it pours a golden color and as I swirled it around the glass it left a lot of legs dripping back into glass.  It was oily and delicious.

The nose on this whiskey was a ton of alcohol, but it blended so nicely with the barrel notes of pear and caramel.  There was a lot of alcohol, but it was in no way medicinal or antiseptic smelling, it was a perfect blend of spice and fruit in a very enticing aroma.

The flavor was splendid.  It started sweet with a nice combination of pear, cherry and caramel, then there was burning sensation on my tongue provided by the alcohol and then the big finish and a huge flush of heat and spice at the end. The finish lasted about a minute and was amazingly smooth but large.  Very good.

So then last night I went out to Bourbon House on Bourbon Street.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me,  my phone had run out of battery and unfortunately I didn’t have it available for my time in the French Quarter, but I have been able to grab some internet photos as representations.

Because I didn’t have my phone I had to go from memory as to how to get to Bourbon Street.  I started walking and actually followed the architecture as it went from  large office buildings and hotels to smaller buildings with the traditional french architecture with posts and balconies.  Then I knew I was getting close when I heard the music, so I followed my ears that guided me directly to Bourbon Street.

This is not the street band that was playing, but it was very similar.  It had two drummers, two tubas, three trombones and a trumpet player.  The thing that struck me was first the music had such a soul to it and the kids playing it was so young.  It was awesome.

Well then I went to the Bourbon House Seafood Restaurant.  

This place was awesome.  I sat at the Oyster Bar and had my meal.

Of course you don’t go to an Oyster Bar and don’t have Oysters.  These were served raw on the half shell and were from some magical watery place in Louisiana.  They were awesome!

I also had an absolutely wonderful redfish on the half shell with a crawfish topping, YUM!

For drinking that night I had another Abita amber, and an Abita Turbo Dog.  The Turbo Dog was dark malty treat that wasn’t very complex, but had the same refreshing qualities that the amber enjoys.

Finally I had a flight of whiskey.  This included a Noah’s Mill, a Pure Kentucky, and a Rowan’s Creek.  All were good, but the Noah’s Mill was outstanding.  This was a 114 proof bourbon that had a great nose and a flavor that was woody and I could really taste the rye in the mash.  It was very nice.

All in all this has been a great experience.  I hope I get the chance to come back again and again.  Today I’m headed to Mothers.  A great hole in the wall place that is supposed to have great Sugar cured Ham!  Yes, I am eating and drinking my way through New Orleans!  If you get the cance to come down to the Big Easy, take it and have fun!

-Don

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Categories: Beer, Lifestyle, review, Whiskey

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13 Comments on “A Big Time in the Big Easy”

  1. April 13, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    Hopefully your heart won’t stop by the time you get up to NJ tomorrow, Don. Looks like a lot or irresistible fried goodies. You gotta try ’em all if you’re down there, right?

    I had the exact same experience with Abita, and it does take me back to New Orleans every time I have one. I just usually wait for a humid summer’s night so I can recreate that cajun feeling in the air.

  2. April 13, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    Sounds like a good time Don! I wish my job took me….anyplace!

    Agree on the context-beer concept. I had a Tecate a while back with some Mexican food and I remembered I really hated that beer when I reviewed it. Yet, with some good Mexican food and some friends, it tasted much better.

    • April 13, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

      The circumstances under which any spirit is consumed can greatly affect its taste. I’ll drink a can of Coors Light while pitching horseshoes and not mind it at all, mostly because that’s how I spent a good deal of the early 90’s!

    • Don
      April 13, 2010 at 5:33 pm #

      Scott, its been a lot of fun, and I would recommend that you and your wife plan a trip down here if for nothing else than the cajun blackened alligator!

  3. April 13, 2010 at 6:48 pm #

    Mmmmm. Texture.

    • April 19, 2010 at 11:17 am #

      Turns out I got my nose back just in time. The food at Victory was really awesome, as it was all very foodie and creative, but geared to an average person’s palate. It’s like their beers – accessible, inspired and delicious.

      If I lived in Downingtown, they’d name a booth after me I’d be there so much!

      • Don
        April 19, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

        If you lived in Downingtown, you’d be like Norm on Cheers. I’m sure there would be a booth or a stool perfectly contoured to your ass! 😉

        • April 19, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

          My stool is usually perfectly contoured to my ass.

        • Don
          April 19, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

          You’re a tool.

        • April 19, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

          aaaaand?

  4. TeflonDon
    April 14, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

    Don – I had a great time in the Big Easy and thanks for treating me to lunch. I had been looking forward to trying Abita on tap in its native environment. I think I had all of their offerings on this trip except for their Strawberry (shortcake) seasonal. Nothing was better than being able to walk down the street while freely sipping on an adult beverage of choice. I opted for the malted variety while my wife chose something frozen and mango-y. I’ll make a trip to Bruisin’ Ales this Friday for you. And enjoy Joyzee!

    • April 19, 2010 at 11:14 am #

      Can’t wait to hear what Bruisin Ales is like. It’s a beer mecca!

    • Don
      April 19, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

      Don, I had a great time too. It was fun to catch up, and I’m glad you’ve been able to make that job change. I think you will like it a lot better than where you were. I had both the Abita Amber and the Turbo Dog, and I was pretty impressed with the big malty backbone of the turbo dog. It was a really nice difference from the Amber which is everywhere. I think it is a choice on the fountain at McDonalds in the French Quarter. Enjoy Bruisin’ Ales. You’re lucky to have such a great store locally.

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