Visions of gumbo, blackened redfish and hot pepper jelly-glazed duck breast swirled around me like a hurricane!
25 Definitive New Orleans Restaurants and a Dozen Damned Good Places to Drink by Author Steven Wells Hicks
Galatoire’s, Mosca’s,Pascal’s Manale & BBQ Shrimp,Bayona, Drago’s,Crawfish Étouffée, Gumbo, Clancy’s, Hurricanes and Sazeracs plus many, many more
Dear Mr. Hicks, you made me hungry and thirsty!
Visions of blackened redfish, bowls of gumbo and a hot pepper jelly-glazed duck breast swirled around me like a hurricane as I read about the history of yesterday and today about some of the most notable restaurants in New Orleans as well as the best places to drink, even the ones off the beaten path. There are no photographs in this book but you don’t need them. You will envision and even taste “from memory” some of the best cuisine you have ever had. Although I do not currently live in Louisiana, this is were I spent half of my life.
Author and New Orleans resident Steven Wells Hicks brings to life the vivid history of how these culinary establishments came to be and the people that nurtured them and even how a storm named Katrina couldn’t take it away their resilience. He guides us through the years of this distinctive culinary landscape and what it is today. Through his words, he reminded me of how my direct ancestors of my Delta Sicilian heritage influenced and created a fusion of the Cajun/Creole Cuisine with their indigenous Italian family recipes like no where else in the world. The culinary influences are imprinted on my soul and just reading the words made me homesick. Steven Hicks made me realize how much I have been missing out. When I was growing up in Northern Louisiana, a trip to South Louisiana or New Orleans was a treat. Now, I envy my friends who still live there and on a whim, can experience the most unique and satisfying culinary haven on the globe.
Mr. Hicks takes us through the colorful history behind many of the most famous restaurants and their famous dishes in New Orleans such as Galatoire’s and Antoine’s as well as Paul Prudhomme’s rise to “Champion of Louisiana Cuisine”. And, how current day Chef John Besh has added to the culinary riches of Louisiana and Chef Susan Spicer has become the creator of New World Cuisine, just to name a few! You will step into the neighborhood of Willie Mae’s Scotch House and swear you can smell the James Beard award-winning fried chicken cooking in the skillet .
Just between you and me, reading about the twenty-five restaurants that made New Orleans one of America’s greatest dining and drinking cities made my stomach growl from hunger and made me a bit thirsty too! He made me miss what it feels like; the excitement I feel when I am about to arrive in The Big Easy and what awaits me. I seem to always find a great reason for a weekend vacation or celebration in New Orleans which usually turns out to be 4 or 5 days of indulging on as much as the city has to offer. And knowing that as soon as I leave, I will immediately promise myself that next time, it won’t be so long before I visit again.
Yes, Mr. Hicks, I respectly disagree with you on one thing, as you might suspect. “The ruby red sticky concoction with God knows what!” or the Hurricane, which is one of my favorite hedonistic indulgences. I consider myself as somewhat knowledgable of perfectly hand-crafted cocktails made by some of the most notable bartenders around the country, but there’s just something about that Hurricane. Perhaps it’s the memories of friends I shared drinks with at Pat O’s or the pure excitement of partying in New Orleans in the French Quarter on a hot Louisiana night or reminiscing about all the memorable times I had growing up in Louisiana. Yet, one thing’s for sure, when I step off that plane I can assure you the first place will find me is at Pat O’s with a Hurricane in my hand, toasting to you! Thank you for reminding me about how much I am missing (sigh) and educating me of some of the history I never knew.
Just to let you know, I have been working on perfecting a Sazerec cocktail at my house in Tennessee, but it just doesn’t taste the same, I wonder why?
Over the past year, I have been craving Louisiana bayou and New Orleans food so I concocted a couple of my favorite New Orleans drinks and shrimp dishes combining several recipes that I have found to temporarily satisfy my need for my “Cajun-Creole food fix” and quench my thirst for one of New Orleans’ most notable and sometimes notorious beverages, the Hurricane. Follow THIS LINK for the recipes, but I warn that you too will be planning a trip to The Big Easy soon!