It has been a while since we last wrote and we apologize for the long absence, life happened, but please know that we did miss you.
The 17 years Brood X Cicadas have emerged in Maryland, not being a big fan of insects, I escaped in New Orleans. Whist there is so much to write about since I have been here, yesterday’s experience is definitely worthy of a blog. I got inspired.
Sherry has been talking about wanting Paella for a while. As she was doing her research, she found a Spanish influenced restaurant called Costera in uptown. The reviews claimed that it was the best Paella outside of Spain, reservations were made for 6pm last night. We dressed up and made our way uptown.
Side note, we left a little early since I needed to fill up my car with gas. Once at the gas station and trying to put gas in my car, the fuel intake refuses to take the nozzle, it was completely blocked off (I have a Ford Explorer that does not have the cap). I had a 60 miles reserve, the restaurant is only about 5 miles away, food was more important (we have our priorities). As we make our way uptown, Sherry is researching YouTube videos on how to fix my little gas problem. She is reading me what she finds, the issue being quite common, debris, dirt and the likes which could cause that problem. The fix? WD40. I found an auto store on the way and got me a can, sprayed it in the fuel intake and drove the restaurant. (How did we ever survive without YouTube??).
While driving towards the restaurant, we were pleasantly surprised on how charming the neighborhood was. The first surprise was the Lyons Street name a couple of blocks before our destination.
We found a parking spot right in front of Costera, only 3 tables outside (all filled), it was a lovely evening and we wished to be seated outside. Before going in, we looked around and saw a charming restaurant called “La Crepe Nanou” right across the street, which immediately transported me back to France. This place was just calling our name and wished we had reservations there instead. Looking around some more, a wine shop around the corner, a cheese place next to it, a bakery, ice cream parlor, need I say more..
I looked at Sherry and told her: I need to live HERE.
But since we had reservations at Costera, we had to go in; our reservation was unfortunately inside, and the place was FRIGID. We sat down, complaining to each other on how uncomfortable this dining experience will be and decided to take our chances and walk to La Crepe Nanou. The place was packed, but decided to go in and speak with the hostess anyway to see if there was any chance to get in. They were completely booked, and we could possibly get in around 8 to 8:30pm (it was 6pm). As we were outside trying to figure out what to do next, a lovely lady came out and asked us if we have already been helped. This is when Sherry took charge (she is good at that stuff). She told me to look French (I can do that) and told her: “We had reservations across the street, my friend Aida is French from Lyon and she told me how much this place reminded her of her birthplace, we have to be here” (as I am looking very French). The lady tells us again that they are completely booked but she is going to go inside to see what she can do. She comes back out and shared that she could take our names down with a phone number, and call us as soon as something opens up, which could be as late at 8pm to 8:30pm. We took it and decided to go back to Costera, have a little appetizer and a glass of wine as we wait for their call.
The hostess at Costera was a bit bemused to see us again and sat us down to another area of the restaurant which was not “as cold”. They did have a lovely wine list (no paella on the menu by the way), we ordered some olives, I ask to have a taste of their Pinot Noir, Sherry wanted to try a Chardonnay. Our waiter brings the Olives (which were quite delicious) and a taste of the Pinot Noir which was lovely. I ordered a glass, Sherry didn’t get a chance to order hers yet. We ordered the Gambas Al Ajillo (with oregano, lemon and Sherry). AND WE GET THE CALL FROM LA CREPE NANOU!
We left $25 on the table, ran to the waiter and ask him graciously to cancel everything, apologizing profusely for their trouble (thinking out loud that we hope they would never see us again and forget our faces) and almost ran to the other restaurant.
The same charming lady that accommodated us originally sat us down, her name is Elise. We had a table across from the bar. The décor was exquisite, tasteful, charming and made me feel like we were immediately transported to a Bistro in France.
We told Elise how thankful we were for being able to be there, and how badly we felt about leaving Costera the way we did. We ordered a bottle of Domaine Du Vieux Lazaret Chateauneuf Du Pape 2018, escargots and a Salade Chevre Chaud (Green salad with tomato, vinaigrette du jour and goat cheese crouton).
I am a HUGE escargots fan, if it is on the menu, I am going to get it. However, I get annoyed when restaurants try to get creative with that dish and add “flair” or a “twist” to this most iconic French dish. Don’t do it. Butter, garlic (lots of it), THAT IS IT, do not mess it up. The Chef must have heard my inner thoughts since they were simply perfect. Sherry does not like escargots (I think it is a mental block), but I was proud of her since she did try one. She does however LOVE to soak bread in that yumminess buttery garlic heaven. I mean, butter and garlic… How can I one resist that combination.
As far as the Salad, why on earth haven’t I ever thought of slicing a baguette, put butter on it, then lather it up with goat cheese, and put them under the broiler????
I also prefer butter leaf lettuce than Romaine (I find it tastier). The Chef did his research as far as how French people serve their salad. To not toss the Vinaigrette into the salad and bring it to the table. Bring a side dish with the vinaigrette, a separate bowl with the salad, and let the customer mix it up as they wish. (I noticed that here, you have to ask for that to happen)
Elise came back to check on us, I told her that I wanted to kiss the Chef; come to find out that the Chef is actually her husband. I told her I would not make it weird or awkward, I would do it the French way (a kiss on each cheek like we do in France (mwah mwah). She promised to send along the message (as she explains that her husband is not too keen on PDA while working).
We ordered the special of the evening which was a half chicken roasted with frites and Haricot Verts.
You would be surprised on much how much people can mess that dish up which may sound quite simple in theory.
Side story: since we have been here, and even before we arrive in New Orleans, we have heard over and over that we needed to go to a place called Bacchanal, located in the By Water area. The place is very popular, it took me a while to finally be able to have a reservation there. We were highly disappointed. It felt like we were invited to a bad wedding with mediocre food being served, the chicken we had made us both sick (literally). I hate talking bad about a restaurant, especially in the midst of recovering from this pandemic, but my god, when the hype gets built up from everyone talking about this place, the disappointment is even greater when it is bad.
Going back to Crepe Nanou, this chicken dish was REDEMPTION.
We ordered the Chocolate mousse for dessert. Dark Chocolate Mousse, topped with whipped cream.
Like Sherry always says with her Southern Accent: “OH MY WORD…”. Absolutely decadent, texture was a hybrid between a Pot De Crème and a mousse, topped with the delicious red wine we were drinking. We simply died in ecstasy.
We had to take a picture with Elise and grab her email address because we told her that this restaurant inspired us to write again.
The kicker: our bill was only about $150 for both of us, $88 of that was the wine. BARGAIN and worth every single penny.
We thanked our hostess again for being so accommodating and decided to roam the neighborhood for a bit.
As we walked, I saw a Citroen 2CV with French license plates! (2CV mean 2 horsepower engine car) a car that I have not seen in about 30 years! When my siblings and I were little, we used to pinch each other every time we saw one.
We then came across a charming market, a community bar called The KingPin where people had chairs across the lawn, and another street name called Perrier!!! (that is what I drink!).
If the Universe could only speak to me any louder. This was not a whisper, this was loud and clear, I need to live here.
The fact that we ended up at The Crepe Nanou was indeed a happy accident since we went from Spain to France in New Orleans.
As I am writing this blog, Sherry is by my side already looking at houses in this neighborhood.
We missed you all!
Stay tuned for our next adventure.
Aida & Sherry (The Hungry Women are still hungry)