Last week, I went down to Biloxi, Mississippi with The Maryland Law Katrina Project (see also the Project's blog) to rebuild homes and help people affected by Hurricane Katrina. It's amazing that 2.5 years after the storm, we were helping people move out of their FEMA trailors. It was such a fun trip, and I made a lot of new friends and most importantly, helped those who needed it. But this is a food blog, and you came here to read about FOOD, and that's just what you'll get!
It was cheaper to fly into New Orleans than into Biloxi, so on our last day, we left Biloxi very early so we could spend some time in the French Quarter before heading to the airport (we also allotted some time to drive around the Upper 9th Ward to see the destruction and rebuilding efforts). As soon as it was decided that we were going to the French Quarter, I almost exploded with excitement because in my mind, French Quarter = BEIGNETS from Cafe Du Monde!
Xani and I went to New Orleans last March for my spring break and we frequented Cafe Du Monde many times - it's open 24 hours, after all! It's been in operation since 1862 and only closes on Christmas Day (though it closed for over 30 days after Hurricane Katrina). It has a very limited menu: beignets (french square donuts covered with a pile of powdered sugar) and coffee, which is either served black or au lait (half hot milk, half coffee).
This is all I need to survive: beignets, coffee, and water
I was so excited when we sat down in the open-air seating area that I could barely contain myself! We each ordered an order of beignets and coffee (I got au lait - it's my lovely sister who has the ability to drink her coffee black, not me). Our orders of beignets came up almost immediately, hot and fresh, crispy and chewy, and just sweet enough.
The coffee was really good too as it was traditional New Orleans coffee, which is made with chicory. We all enjoyed our beignets and one of my friends even ordered another batch to take on the plane!
As we were getting ready to leave the French Quarter and head to the airport, we passed my second-favorite place in New Orleans: The Central Grocery Co. I had to go and get what I have deemed one of the top three best sandwiches I've ever eaten: the Muffaletta. This was another stop for me and Xani last year, and it was such a great experience I had to go back!
Central Grocery, in operation since 1906, is a cute grocery store with lots of imported goods and is known as the original home of the Muffaletta, the traditional New Orleans sandwich made on a big round loaf, with italian meats and cheeses and the signature component: the "olive salad." I decided I would buy a whole one (which serves 4, it's so huge) and bring it home to the BCD Family. Several of my friends from my trip followed suit and soon the whole store was filled with law students buying sandwiches! Unlike when I went with Xani and had to wait in line for an hour and a quarter, we didn't have to wait at all since it was about 10am - sweet!
All my friends agreed that it was a great sandwich (though they could have just been humoring me), and when I finally got the chance to have mine I remembered just how AMAZING it is! I did a little investigating and it looks like they use provolone cheese (or maybe swiss, couldn't tell), mortadella, some kind of ham, and genoa salami (or as Xani used to call it "general salami"). The olive salad on top was tangy but very oily, and the bread was firm and delicious, and covered in sesame seeds. YUM!!
Friends modeling their sandwiches for me
I was so glad we got to do some good eating in the Big Easy on our last day - it was a great capstone to our incredible trip!
Cheers to Black Coffee and a Donut!
ps. The picture at the top of the blog is from our first visit to Cafe Du Monde last year. Take a good last look at it because a mini blog makeover is coming soon!!