Forget the cleansing, healthy, lean green, raw and organic diets. I designed my own, original, personal five-day eating challenge in New Orleans last week – Gumbo Every Day for Five Days. Nah, too easy. I raised the bar, requiring gumbo prepared by the finest chefs in New Orleans. But wait, there’s more. I vowed to vary the meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The gumbo got better and better with every meal.
Day One: Dinner at Pascale’s Manale, the 102-year-old Italian restaurant in the Garden District famous for inventing New Orleans’ BBQ shrimp. I ordered seafood gumbo as an appetizer while I waited for the arrival of my BBQ shrimp – and the drool bib that goes with it. The gumbo had a kick, just like the shrimp. Both were great choices to start my challenge.
Day Two –The Gumbo Shop in the French Quarter for
dinner. As an appetizer, I ordered the Trio, which includes a cup of chicken and sausage gumbo, a cup of seafood gumbo plus a cup of the soup of the day. Day Two tasted even better than Day One. The chicken and sausage gumbo is worthy of its many awards.
Day Three – Lunch at K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, the French Quarter restaurant owned by Chef Paul Prudhomme. I savored delicious chicken and sausage gumbo while reading the gumbo poster on the wall. I’m glad I have Chef Paul’s cookbook because the poster only lists the ingredients, not the steps. I’ve never been able to master the dark, smoky roux like K-Paul’s serves. Now that I’ve seen and tasted it, I can cook the roux to the right color.
Three days down and the gumbo is getting better and better.
Day Four – Irish Chef Matt Murphy of Chopped fame has opened the Irish House neighborhood pub on St. Charles. The food is delicious and the entertainment lively. Here I had a bowl of Irish Bayou Gumbo which includes chicken, sausage and crawfish. It reminded me of Irish stew. I don’t know how he makes gumbo taste like lamb, but it was the best gumbo so far.
Day Five — I finished my challenge with gumbo for breakfast at the Camellia Grill on Carrollton. It was a delicious prelude to my mushroom omelet and the first gumbo in five days to feature okra. Superb and mild enough to taste all the flavors.
I loved my five-day challenge and plan to extend it to seven days on the next trip. But first I have to shed the five pounds I gained during my inaugural gumbo challenge.
On second thought, maybe I should blame the Guinness chocolate cake, bread pudding and pralines.