New Orleans, a city of dégustation, a city of debauchery, and a city of blissful, drunken stupor. I was a bartender in Texas for a period of time and New Orleans was the mecca where indulgence was celebrated and never looked down upon. That’s just as much for the general public than just bar industry folk, told by the solo cups carried around the French Quarter or the fact that bars are open for 24 hours. On my second trip here, there’s no denying the fact that it holds its own culture, art, food, and drink in both old tradition and in a new, innovative direction. New Orleans has always been an amalgamation of culture and the present day doesn’t stray away from that.
In speaking of the integration of new culture, Shaya, opened by Chef Alon Shaya of Domenica, has been the place on everyone’s lips. With local Louisiana ingredients, Shaya focuses on Mediterranean and Israeli cuisine as a testament to his upbringing. Dinner consists of small and large plates and a hummus-only section that includes the three that I indulged in - curried cauliflower, a short rib with walnut and harissa, and lamb ragu. Let’s be real though, it’s this wood-fired, puffed-up pita that will make eating hummus as a late-night snack never the same again.
Shaya is a wine geek’s dream. There are wines that span different Israeli up-and-coming regions including Galilee, the Judean Hills, and the Negev (a good amount of altitude and proper soil). The white and the roses that I was able to try had body and weight while still maintaining some killer acid to go with the food. The list is rounded out with Mediterranean favorites such as Chateau Musar, Occhipinti, Domaine Skouras, and some lesser known wines from Eastern Europe.
Another tidbit about me is my love and nostalgia for diners. I’m a New Jerseyan who has lived in different states and the struggle is real. Slim Goodie’s is located in the Garden District and is every breakfast lover's dream that fuses any brunch dish you could think of into its crawfish and crab ball-loving cousin. Their website is also a sweet homage to the pride in its Gulf-location and in its support from the neighborhood.
Cane & Table
Situated in the French Quarter is Cane & Table and its best and most exciting part? The way they structure the menu. I think menu structure is an exciting topic and deserves its own post but the menu is split into historical and classic, boozy and citrus that wraps around a beautiful wheel of ideas and tastes. There isn’t an exact formula but it couldn’t have spoken more to the concept of Cane & Table. I was able to hang out here with one of the main curators of the list and every cocktail we tried had a purpose and every ingredient spoke to the history behind the cocktail. They’re also delicious. I had at least five for research's sake.
Ogden Museum of Southern Art
A forever skeptic, I walked into this smaller art museum thinking I’d be looking at a lot of beige and green in landscape form but this became one of my favorite places in New Orleans with the more modern artists being some of my favorite. The collection spans different media from textiles to photography. Personal highlights included John McCrady with his Evening Meal, Duck Hill, Mississippi and The Parade- two paintings that depict Southern life and the life of African-American in the early 1900’s. Clementine Hunter, a Louisiana painter who spent most of her time at Melrose Plantation, used paints leftover from visiting artists and any canvas she could find to create works that depicted that of her life on the farm. Two rare paintings, Flowing River, and Cotton to Gin & Baptism are on display here next to one of her most famous, A Funeral at Isle Breville. The collection goes on to to include many artists that were able to exhibit great representation of life in the South from textural painting to photography from the 1800’s to the present.