Monday 5 January
Yet another thing we love about New Orleans: the Times Picayune dining guide, which tracks chefs the way other papers track athletes, runs a feature listing local restaurants that are open on Mondays. One of them is Dante's Kitchen, which was just a short (and tonight, freezing) walk away from our B&B.
The well-informed hipsters who serve and wine there started us out with lagniappe: a little iron skillet of molasses spoon bread with melting honey butter in the center. We lapped it up so quickly that we only have a picture of crumbs.
To accompany it and the meal, we chose an intriguing new grape - or rather, an old California Gamay - 2013 Valdiguié, from Broc Cellars, Berkeley.
Our starters consisted of way-spicy steamed mussels in New Orleans style shrimp stock, roasted corn, mushrooms, andouille, and tranches of green chile; and giant grilled shrimp, swimming in andouille-studded redeye gravy, on top of the most buttery and luscious stone-ground grits imaginable. As traditional, we had to suck the heads and squeeze the tails.
For mains, we went for the renowned sweet maple-glazed half chicken grilled under a brick, with a potato and bacon hash cake topped with a fried egg; and trois mignons - tiny beef filets each on a puff of caramelized onion mashed potato, one topped with pulled pork debris, one with beef worcestershire, and the last with stilton sauce.
So much for not having steak and potatoes in New Orleans.