I ventured to The Praline Connection on Frenchmen Street within my first week in New Orleans. My friend and fellow intern, Connie invited me there for a Duke University farewell party. I walked there from the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, navigating the length of the French Quarter for the first time. I remember being so scared that I was headed into a bad neighborhood (I was still getting to know the city). But I found the restaurant soon enough, and walked in to find waiters in black fedoras and white button down shirts. They seemed to blend into the restaurant which was decorated in white and black tiles and framed newspaper articles. One of them was kind enough to show me out of the main dining room, to a private room in the back. The room was colorful: a mixture of red, white and black--peppered with family photos, newspaper clippings, and local awards. There was a large bakery case full of delicious treats: pralines, pecan pie etc. There was a smorgasbord of goodies along the far wall: seafood gumbo with a dark brine broth, fried okra, fried shrimp, fried oysters...fried EVERYTHING. Welcome to New Orleans!
Rock 'n Bowl was one of the first New Orleans institutions that I went to with my fellow Yalies. Rock 'n Bowl is not just any bowling alley, it is so much more than that. It is a place of celebration, a venue for dancing, and a New Orleans icon. When we arrived, we walked into the middle of Swing Night, and a 16 year old girls birthday party. No matter! We were still able to bowl (for free, thanks to the kindness of the 16 year old's mother). We grabbed a few Abita beers, bowled a few sets, and then danced to the live Big Band music. I loved watching the 70 year old men in white Oxford shirts and bow ties playing their triumphant music. There were many locals on the dance floor showing off their honed in swing skills. I was only slightly jealous ;)
Believe it or not, I forgot that I had eaten at Willie Mae's Scotch House! Once I saw the photos, I began to remember the meal there: the extra crispy and ultra light breading on their home-style fried chicken, the soggy green beans, and the red beans and rice. I remember my friends noting the religious iconography that graced the walls of Willie Mae's, and I remember the Abita root beer that we drank out of red plastic glasses. What a great meal (and we only had to wait outside for about 20 minutes before we were seated).
Finally, I've been thinking about the bread pudding souffle at Commander's Palace. I need to make my way uptown to have that queen of New Orleans desserts...