Last week was our first in New Orleans, where Joe and I are living for about six weeks until making the long drive home for the holidays. Our arrival in the Crescent City caps off our first six months living as digital nomads, living in new places each month as we work remotely. (Next up, Europe!)
We kicked off our stay with a cooking class at New Orleans School of Cooking, thanks to a sweet birthday present from my dad and stepmom. My, oh my, are we going to eat well during our time in New Orleans.
On the docket:
- Gumbo, a classic cajun stew packed with sausage, seafood, and vegetables. Recipe here.
- BBQ Shrimp & Grits, which didn’t actually have any BBQ sauce and was all the better for it. Similar recipe here.
- Bananas Foster Crepes, with rum sauce and fire and all that jazz. Recipe here.
We’re slowly learning what’s worth repeating as we settle into our new ‘home’ each month. Booking a food tour or cooking class off the bat has jumped to the top of our list — we love being introduced to a new city by way of its food. We did something similar when we arrived in Montreal, and will likely continue the tradition.
We made a full evening of the experience — and even took some pictures to boot! Check out our night cooking up classic NOLA cuisine.
We walked the thirty minutes to class, so we could explore our new Bywater neighborhood on foot. It’s full of color and — dangerously — we’re across the street from the classic Southern brunch spot Elizabeth’s.
The New Orleans School of Cooking is smack in the French Quarter, and has a neat street-front shop in addition to its classroom spaces. We spent some time exploring their cajun rubs, hot sauces, bags of grits and rice, and their famous ‘Joe’s spices.’ After some local Abita beer and a food-centric history of NOLA, we got cooking.
The mise en place for our gumbo shows that the recipe is actually pretty simple: a solid roux of butter and flour, andouille sausage and chicken, and the ‘holy trinity’ of onions, celery, and bell peppers make up its bulk. Time and patience is what makes the stew magical. My favorite learning: The key to quality cajun gumbo is a roux as dark, as they say, as peanut butter.
We tackled the shrimp ‘n grits next. This was not for the squeamish — we ripped each shrimps head off and sautéed them in a hot pan with butter. Mmm…. added flavor!
Gosh…. this was so, so tasty.
After annihilating our gumbo and shrimp ‘n grits around the group table, we headed back for dessert: bananas foster crepes. Joe remained cool as a cucumber making his — who knew he was a bananas foster pro!