Food in the Field gives a sneak peek into what CNN's team is eating as they travel the globe. Today's contributor, Kay Jones is a Senior Editorial Producer for CNN and five years ago when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, she spent five weeks there, coordinating news coverage. She has returned many times - most recently for coverage of the fifth anniversary of the storm that devastated the region.
Growing up with family in New Orleans, I learned to love Cajun spices early in life. So every time I get a chance to come to the Crescent City, I jump at the chance. Fortunately, I’ve been here quite a bit the past five years and have managed to eat some amazing meals during my time here.
My week started off Sunday when I went across Lake Pontchartrain to visit my aunt and uncle. We decided to hit Rip's on the Lake in Mandeville. They had a huge menu - much bigger than I remembered the last time I was there. I decided on the shrimp and grits off the brunch menu and was not disappointed. The shrimp was grilled to perfection with a few Cajun spices and the grits were creamy and delicious. My family had never had this dish before, and after telling them (more like forcing) to try it, they loved it.
Monday, the team from CNN gathered at Herb Saint on St. Charles Ave for dinner and great conversation. Most of us got the spaghetti with guanciale - pig jowl bacon - and a fried poached egg. It was absolutely amazing. I was so excited, that I even forgot to take a photo! But the richness of the sauce was complimented by the saltiness of the bacon.
One of my favorite coffee purveyors is the New Orleans-based PJ's Coffee. The Royal Sonesta, where most of the CNN gang stayed, has one in the lobby now and I was able to get one of their homemade blueberry muffins - which has more blueberries than muffin - along with my iced coffee.
Dinner was across the street from the hotel at Arnaud's Remoulade. Normally an oyster bar, they were out because of the oil spill. But I managed to find something unique - a muffaletta pizza. Think Italian meats with an olive spread and melted cheese on a doughy pizza crust. It was a wonderful variation of the famous local sandwich.
Wednesday, I headed to Chef John Besh's restaurant, Luke. This is one of those places I make a point of visiting whenever I'm in town, and fortunately, my cousin feels the same way. We split the flamenkuche –an onion tart that melts in your mouth. I continued with a fried oyster, avocado and bacon salad while he had the gumbo. Thankfully, he believes in letting me taste and it was divine.
After a crazy day on Thursday, lunch came around 3:30 pm. Thankfully, I knew Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant would be open and have good food. The fish tacos, served ceviche style, had the perfect amount of lime and spice. A cherry limeade slush was the perfect dessert.
Later on, I managed to hit brunch at Stanley in Jackson Square. The Beaux Bridge Benedict sounded amazing and I decided to go for it. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a version of eggs benedict that has ever been that tasty. The perfect richness of the hollandaise with the creole seasoning mixed with poached eggs, boudin - a kind of pork sausage - on top of French bread. My mouth is still watering at the memory.
Saturday and Sunday saw lots of rain in the city and a couple of super busy days, but I managed a bowl of turtle soup at Muriel's, with an extra splash of sherry. I’ve long known that the soup was some of the best in New Orleans and was not disappointed.
My final meal before hitting the plane was in Mandeville, LA, across the lake at Coffee Rani. A grilled portabella mushroom and vegetable quesadilla was the perfect ending to a nine-day crazy work experience as well as a great week of checking out some of my favorite foods.