Eat here: K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, New Orleans

K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen
416 Chartres St, New Orleans
http://www.kpauls.com/kpaul

I enjoyed my visit back to New Orleans yesterday, so I’m gonna stick with it a little longer. Back in January when I visited the Voodoo Museum, it was late in the morning and I was pretty hungry by the end of the visit. So from one NoLa classic we went to another: K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen.

If you have even the slightest interest in the cuisine and history of New Orleans, you’ll probably have heard of Chef Paul Prudhomme. His legacy includes several restaurant, cookbooks, spices mixes, blackened redfish, staying in the city post-Katrina where he and his team cooked over 6000 meals in 10 days for the military and remaining locals, and of course for bringing Cajun cuisine to the world. The man is a living legend, and I was really excited to actually visit his restaurant, which opened its doors back in 1979.

Seeing as we were visiting one of the classics of the city, we decided to order the classics: po boy and gumbo 🙂

We decided on the Andouille sausage po boy, which came on a soft roll, dressed with lettuce and a tomato/onion/herb salsa type concoction, as well as a side of breaded, deep fried cauliflower. Because almost everything in America is deep fried (seriously, I even ordered a tofu salad in LA thinking that’d be a safe bet to settle my upset stomach – the tofu was breaded and deep fried. I shit you not.), apparently. I really liked the sausage, and the fancied up salsa was a nice change to a classic. My only complaint was that the bread roll was a little too soft; it got soggy quite quickly under the weight of the filling.

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The second classic of the meal was the chicken and Andouille gumbo. And it was magic. Honest to goodness magic. Not really sure what else I can say about it – sounds as floggy as all hell, but the depth of flavour was out of this world, the chicken pieces were so soft and tender, delicious chunks of sausage, oh my God it was perfect! If you only order one thing from K-Paul’s, make it the gumbo!

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I really enjoyed the lunch service and was glad we chose to go then instead of dinner; the atmosphere is really laid back, feeling more like you’re in a familiar school canteen or something. The lunch menu is also a fair bit cheaper than the dinner service too, meaning you can eat more! Winning all round!

In a city known for incredible chefs and food, it’s pretty hard to stand out, but Chef Prudhomme has been a big name for decades for a reason; after you visit the Voodoo Museum, you should probably drop by K-Paul’s for lunch, too!

 

K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Eat here: Coop’s Place, New Orleans

Coop’s Place
1109 Decatur St, New Orleans
http://www.coopsplace.net/

You know how some places are just referred to as a city institution? This is one of them. We asked a few locals where they’d recommend for a good feed on our way to a gig on Frenchman Street, and every response was “COOP’S PLACE! YOU GOTTA EAT THERE!” OK!

So we roll up to this dicey, dive bar looking place on Decatur St. It’s early (around 5:30pm) and already completely packed to the rafters and noisy as hell. There’s nanna sitting in the corner with her cocktail, and a dude in bike leathers on the next table. This is obviously the place to be; remember, first glances can be deceiving!

We settled into a corner table, placed a drink order with the no-nonsense guy who gave us menus in return, and got studying. We decided to go with the classics:

– fried crawfish (top left)
– gumbo (bottom)
– fried chicken (top right)
–  rabbit jambalaya (bottom of the big white plate)
– and slaw

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Holy wow.. Coop’s Place doles out some SERIOUSLY good food, and it’s absolutely no wonder every man and his dog pointed us in that direction!! The gumbo was magic, such intense flavours that were all perfect in that little bowl. The crawfish were amazing, despite not quite being in season yet – buttery, white meat with the perfect coating; the exact same can be said for the chicken, actually. Tender meat, perfectly seasoned and golden crunchy coating. The rabbit jambalaya was a little on the dry side for me, but mixed in with a little slaw, and it was gold again.

On a night where I was feeling a bit flat and unwell, this was THE perfect table full of comfort food. Not only that, Coop’s Place itself was like walking into a crazy family dinner; a lot of people, obviously locals, knew each other and were having a great time. Even we couldn’t help being drawn into it, laughing along when the table next to us erupted at God only knows what, singing along with another table when song we knew started to play over the speakers. I tell you, if a night at Coop’s Place doesn’t get you in a great mood, not much else will! So when you go to New Orleans and people tell you to eat at Coop’s Place, don’t be put off by your first look at it – walk right on it without hesitation, make yourself comfortable, and enjoy some gumbo and crawfish!!

 

Coop's Place on Urbanspoon

The New Orleans School of Cooking

New Orleans School of Cooking
524 St. Louis St, New Orleans
http://www.neworleansschoolofcooking.com

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Now this was one hell of an experience! I’ve always wanted to visit New Orleans, one of the reasons for which being the food culture here; it’s like no other part of America, in that it is SO unique and specialised. The mix of nationalities that had a hand in creating this city all brought with them elements of their foods from back home, which leads to dishes that have no comparisons in other parts of the world, like gumbo and pralines.

We purchased tickets for one of the cooking demonstrations, for around AUD$30.00 each, and it started from the moment we walked through the doors. We were greeted, checked in and invited to look around their store before the class began: questions welcomed and encouraged!

Right on 2pm, the gorgeous Pat breezed into the store and welcomed us all. Up to the third floor we trekked and took our seats at the scattered round tables, set with cutlery, recipes, condiments and drinks (water and iced tea) on a checkered tablecloth. The stove was already well and truly alive with a few pots of stock and the beginnings of a gumbo bubbling away.

Pat was quite simply amazing. This gorgeous lady gave us a full and truly entertaining run down of the history of New Orleans, constantly bringing it back to the food and history’s impact on Louisiana cuisine, intermittently fluttering back to the stove to explain the steps to getting the andouille and chicken gumbo together. Once everything was in the pot, she left it to simmer and do its thing, moving fluidly onto the next recipe, creole chicken.

She threw together another classic recipe, explaining as she went, all the while still giving us historical information and fielding questions from some of her more eager students; now, this lady really knows her stuff, answering questions on everything from the smoke point of butter and oil versus lard to how long your creole sauce will keep for. Count yourself incredibly fortunate if you should find yourself in her kitchen!

Again, leaving the creole to simmer away, she moved onto the pralines, the most famous of New Orleanian sweets. I plan to attempt all of these recipes when I’m back home, so if you’re interested in recipes and seeing how I did recreating them, visit back here soon : )

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Then, like the seasoned professional she clearly is, Pat’s lunch party was on! We were served bowls of gumbo and plates of creole chicken on rice. Beer appeared on the tables, as well as second servings for those of us who couldn’t get enough (more gumbo for me, please!). And that food.. It was like being served warm bowls of hugs, seriously.. New Orleans food is true comfort food. It’s rich and full of flavour. It’s the food you wanna be eating when it’s cold, when you’ve had a shitty day at work, when you’re mentally and physically exhausted. It’s not difficult to put together, but there are layers of flavours that work in absolute perfect symphony. If you don’t like the food in New Orleans, then you just don’t like food! Amazing class run by an amazing woman; do yourself a favour and sign up when you visit!