Monday, May 21, 2012

Jambalaya in the Big Easy - New Orleans Louisiana USA

The mellow notes of a saxophone drift on the warm Gulf breeze through New Orleans’ French Quarter, past elaborate wrought-iron balconies toward the jazz bars of Bourbon Street, mingling with the spicy scent of jambalaya wafting from restaurant windows. Welcome to the Big Easy – an extraordinary cultural and culinary melting pot where the good times roll.

New Orleans – nicknamed the Big Easy – is a sultry city that drawls its way through the daytime heat but snaps into life after dark, when the laughter, liquor, and music flow in the bars of the French Quarter. Set along the Mississippi River, it is also a vibrant port, known around the world for its music and its exuberant Mardi Gras festival.
New Orleans is a city of districts, each with its own character. Uptown – home to two universities – has a young vibe, while the Warehouse District offers art lovers the Contemporary Arts Center and Ogden Museum of Southern Art. The Garden District, with its grand antebellum houses, was created by Americans after the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Its sobriety is a stark contrast to the frenetic French Quarter, where you can see the city’s historic Creole townhouses decked with ornate wrought iron, visit antique shops, and enjoy plentiful entertainment.
At night, it’s time to explore the city’s musical heritage: New Orleans is the home of Dixieland jazz, but you’ll also hear big band, jazz fusion, Delta blues, zydeco, funk, and rock music bursting through the doorways on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter.
Jambalaya is the dish that perfectly embodies the city’s history. Founded by the French in 1718, New Orleans remained culturally French through subsequent years of Spanish rule, and long after it became an American territory in 1803. The descendants of the French and Spanish settlers – the Creoles – lived alongside African slaves and Haitian refugees, as well as Cajuns, Frenchspeaking exiles from Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia).
Acquiring its name from the Provençal word for “mixture,” jambalaya was born in the French Quarter when Spanish settlers tried to recreate their favorite rice dish, paella, using ripe tomatoes instead of saffron. Caribbean spices such as cayenne enhanced the trinity of peppers, onions, and celery cooked with chicken, peppery andouille sausage, and fresh seafood.
The result was Creole, or red, jambalaya. Cajun-style brown jambalaya is an earthier version of the dish that gains its color from meat drippings browned in a cast-iron pot. It can contain such wild game foods as crawfish, alligator, duck, or venison. But whether juicy red or smoky brown, the best jambalaya is simmered slowly for an hour or more, allowing the rice to absorb the pungent blend of meat, seafood, and spices that makes it so delicious. The result is a dish both hearty and exotic, much like New Orleans itself.
A Day in New Orleans
With its many museums, plentiful live music, Audubon Zoo, and Aquarium, New Orleans has plenty to offer visiting families, but it is best known as a party city, with festivals throughout the year. The partying reaches frenetic levels during Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday” – a season of carnivals, parades, and masked balls centered around the day before Ash Wednesday.
MORNING : See the highlights of the French Quarter, including the Presbytère and Cabildo, St. Louis Cathedral, the French Market, and Madame John’s Legacy.
There are quirkier attractions, too, such as Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop and the Historic Voodoo Museum.
AFTERNOON : Head to the riverfront in the Warehouse District for Blaire Kern’s Mardi Gras World at Kern Studios. It’s the next-best way to experience New Orleans’ biggest street party if you can’t be there in person.
EVENING : Return to the French Quarter and party the night away on Bourbon Street.
Getting to New Orleans
Major airlines operate from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, 15 miles (24 km) west of the city.
Where to stay in New Orleans
Bon Maison Guest House (inexpensive) is a good budget choice at the quiet end of Bourbon Street.
Claiborne Mansion (moderate) has an air of elegance.
Hotel Monteleone (expensive) is the pick of the French Quarter.
2020 St. Charles Avenue; (800) 672 6124

New Orleans hosts a renowned spring jazz festival, but live music energizes the city throughout the year

Best Places to Eat Jambalaya

K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen

Chef Paul Prudhomme is a Louisiana legend, the first chef to make New Orleans food respectable to the modern gourmet diner. His Louisiana Kitchen is now a city landmark, and though the atmosphere is casual café-style, the food is upmarket, the quality superb, and reservations essential. The restaurant building dates from 1834, with dining rooms on both floors, and alfresco tables in the atmospheric courtyard or on the balcony in season. Prudhomme uses only fresh ingredients, so the menu changes daily.
Appetizers might include a cup of his chicken and andouille gumbo, made with his own andouille sausages; turtle soup; or his own inimitable version of Cajun jambalaya, simmered for hours in a rich stock with just the right amount of rice.
The main-course temptations might feature another classic, crawfish étouffée – a stew simmered with the lid on, or “smothered” – or an eggplant pirogue (the name for a Cajun canoe) deep-fried and filled with Bay scallops, Louisiana shrimp, and crawfish.
416 Chartres Street, French Quarter, New Orleans; open 11 AM–2 PM Thu–Sat, 5:30 PM–10 PM Mon–Sat;

Like its name, which fuses French and African influences, jambalaya brings together ingredients as diverse as seafood and game

Also in New Orleans
You can sample the Creole version of jambalaya at Mr. B’s Bistro (; expensive), where dishes like gumbo ya-ya, seafood gumbo, and Gulf shrimp with grits offer more tastes of the Creole south. Come for the Sunday Jazz Brunch, when a jazz trio lends a festive air. The Gumbo Shop (www.; inexpensive) offers an atmospheric taste of old New Orleans, from its faded decor to the long menu of Creole and Cajun favorites.
Also in the US
For authentic New Orleans food and atmosphere in southern Florida, head to Jambalaya Jeb’s (; inexpensive) in Bonita Springs. This simple place in the Flamingo Island Flea Market is run by a family from Louisiana. They love the home cooking they grew up with and make their jambalaya, gumbo, and other dishes fresh each day and serve tasty New Orleans-style beignets.
Around the World
In the southern hemisphere, South Restaurant (; moderate) brings Creole cuisine to Sydney, Australia.
Dishes include Creole jambalaya, gumbo, crawfish étouffée, and the traditional New Orleans muffaletta sandwich – a round loaf filled with salami, cheese, ham, and garlic, topped with an olive salad – which owes its origins to Sicilian immigrants to New Orleans.
What Else to Eat
Gumbo is the Creole answer to bouillabaisse and may be seasoned with file, a Native American spice made from dried, ground sassafras leaves, and served over white rice.
Etouffée is a thicker stew typically made of crawfish, though shrimp, crab, or chicken can also be used, cooked in a roux with vegetables and spices. Red beans and rice is a typical New Orleans dish that may be served with grilled fish “blackened” with a coating of spices. Po’boy sandwiches of fried seafood or meat on foot-long baguettes are classic New Orleans street food, as are beignets, square doughnuts covered in powdered sugar.

No comments:

Post a Comment