Sunday, June 27, 2010

NOLA Eats: Part 1 - Adventures in Po Boys

by Erin

Hey BCD fans! Remember us? We're those slacker girls who sometimes blog about food...

Anyway, speaking of food, we just got back from one of the culinary epicenters of our country: New Orleans!! A big bunch of us from work (including Xani) were attending the National Urban Area Security Initiative conference (not Xani - she was just there for vacation!) and got to spend almost a whole week in the Big Easy! This was my fourth visit to NOLA (longtime readers will remember previous visits) and my longest visit, so I was ecstatic to spend 5 whole nights in one of my most favorite cities in the world.

Now, we did a lot of eating while in the Big Easy (or, as we came to call it, "The Big Sweaty" since it was SO HOT and SO HUMID), so we'll do several posts about some of the great food we enjoyed. Tonight I'm writing about two of my po boy experiences.

We arrived on Sunday evening, checked into our hotel, and hit the French Quarter, which was about a 10-15 minute walk -- a walk we did often. We tried to hit Johnny's Po Boys for sandwiches, but they were closed. So, we headed to a place called Coop's Place for Po Boys. It was definitely a down-home, local place and we had to wait a long time for a table. We finally got two tables and chowed down!

First we started with a couple bottles of Abita beer, which was a staple in our diet for the week. We started dinner with this sampler platter called "Coop's Taste Plate" that had Seafood Gumbo, Shrimp Creole, Red Beans & Rice, Rabbit and Sausage Jambalaya, all topped with a piece of Cajun Fried Chicken. YUM! The red beans and rice had such a delicious hammy flavor and a great texture. But the fried chicken took the title - it was incredibly juicy, crunchy, and SPICY from all the great creole spices in the coating. Popeyes, you're outta here.

I got a Shrimp & Oyster Po Boy as my main, and while it was great to have some great fried seafood, I was not overly impressed with the sandwich overall. There were no condiments -- no glue, if you will -- to keep everything together.

A yummy mayo or other topping would have really spiced it up. There was some mayo on the shelf next to our table but it was about 90 degrees out and wary of tableside mayo. I tried a little on my sandwich but in the end just enjoyed the seafood, minus the sandwich.

Fried shrimp Po Boy of a colleague; you can see they are very generous with the portions!

A few days later, I ended up on a journey for more Po Boys with friends and colleagues Cezar and Paris (both of whom are great travel buddies, aka great eaters!). Paris had heard about a place called Parkway Bakery & Tavern that supposedly had GREAT po boys. Parkway is located in a part of the city called Mid-City, so we hopped in a cab and arrived a few minutes later. There was a bustling lunch crowd in the sunny, comfortable diner. We stood in line and tried to decide what kind of sandwich to get. Since I always get some sort of fried seafood po boy, I decided to go for a specialty of theirs: the roast beef po boy.

For some reason I was expecting deli roast beef on a bun. Boy was I mistaken. This sandwich (on house-baked bread, BTW) was overflowing with incredible roast beef brisket, plus gravy. And of course I got it "fully dressed" - lettuce, tomato, pickle, mayo.

And speaking of being "dressed," I practically was wearing the sandwich by the end of it - messiest thing ever! (Sorry no pics - I was so excited to eat this sandwich I forgot!). I had to eat it with a knife and fork after about 1 bite, but it was so good.

Cezar and Paris got fried shrimp po boys that looked amazing and were overflowing with sweet, crunchy shrimp. We got some regular fries and some sweet potato fries to share and they were both excellent (and you know I'm a fry snob!). Last, Cezar got a piece of rum cake, which he shared with me and Paris. It was very good - not too sweet, not too rummy.

In short, Parkway is SO worth the $10 cab ride across town. It's down-home, delicious, and better than most things you'll find in the Quarter.

More posts about NOLA coming soon! We did a lot of eating and drinking, including one of my new favorite drinks: the Pimm's Cup! Why the hell don't we have that up north?

Happy NOLA eats -

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