New Orleans School of Cooking
New Orleans, LA - Events of Wednesday, May 1 to Thursday, May 2, 2013
As expected, Wednesday brought more clouds and the possibility of more rain. We decided to run some errands instead of doing any sightseeing because of the gloomy weather forecast. In the end, we only got a few sprinkles, and we even got a few glimpses of the sun. However, it was cloudy most of the time, so it was a better day for errands than sightseeing.
After we made our stops for the day, we ended up at the Texas Roadhouse a few miles up the road from the campground for lupper.
Texas Roadhouse restaurants have an early bird special before 6:00 p.m.
on Mondays through Fridays that features about a dozen entrees for
$8.99. We usually get the 6 oz. sirloin steak. However, they also have
Wild West Wednesdays, which features an 8 oz. sirloin plus three grilled
shrimp for $9.99. Since we were there on a Wednesday, we both opted for
the 8 oz. sirloin and shrimp. Margery had a Caesar salad and a baked potato for her sides, and Paul had a house salad and mashed potatoes.
After lupper, we headed back to the motor home for an evening of TV.
We made reservations several weeks before arriving in New Orleans to attend a cooking demonstration at the New Orleans School of Cooking in the French Quarter on Thursday morning. The school has cooking demonstrations every morning and afternoon, and they have hands-on classes two days a week. They have several different menus to choose from for the demonstrations. Since you get to sample the food after watching it being prepared, we picked a menu that sounded good to us that included corn and crab bisque, Shrimp Creole, Bananas Foster and pralines.
We don't take our car into the French Quarter. Parking is expensive and sometimes hard to find. There are also lots of narrow, one-way streets to navigate in the French Quarter. Instead, we park at Algiers Point and take the free ferry into town. On the city side of the river, the ferry docks at the foot of Canal Street, which is at the southwest corner of the French Quarter. The French Quarter is about a mile long and half a mile wide, so it's possible to walk anywhere in the French Quarter from the ferry dock.
There is a parking lot at Algiers Point that used to have a regular parking rate of only $5 for all day. If there was a special event going on in town, the price increased to $10. This year, we were unhappy to find out the regular price of parking at Algiers Point had doubled. In the two years since we were last in New Orleans, they increased the height of the levee adjacent to the parking lot at Algiers Point. When they did that, the width of the base of the levee also increased taking away about half the parking lot. We figure they raised their prices to compensate for having fewer spaces. Even at the higher price, however, parking at Algiers Point is still cheaper than most of the parking in the French Quarter. Not only that, but the ride across the river on the ferry is kind of fun because it gives you a good view of the riverfront and of some of the boats traveling up and down the river.
The ferry runs every half hour. We left in time to catch the 8:30 a.m. ferry so we would have time to walk to Café Du Monde in the French Quarter to have beignets before the cooking demonstration started at 10:00.
In spite of the fact the forecast was calling for a 70% chance of rain, it was a sunny morning. Since it was sunny and since we were early, we took the scenic Riverwalk once we got off the ferry.
On our way to Café Du Monde, we passed by St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square. The existing cathedral, which is the third church built on the site, was built in 1789. The cathedral was expanded and largely rebuilt in 1850. Carriages line up on Decatur Street with the square and the cathedral in the background waiting for customers.
Café Du Monde is right past Jackson Square.
The beignets at Café Du Monde are less expensive than at Panini Pete's ($2.42 vs. around $4), but there are only three per order instead of four. Since there were fewer beignets and since it takes a while to watch the food being prepared at the cooking school before you get to sample any of it, we decided to get three orders of beignets to share.
We were serenaded by a street musician playing trumpet while we enjoyed our beignets.
The beignets at Panini Pete's are light and airy, while those at Café Du Monde are considerably heavier. They were yummy; but they were very filling, and two orders would have been enough.
Café Du Monde wasn't nearly as crowded as we thought it might be, so we still had plenty of time before the start of the cooking demonstration. Therefore, we walked past St. Louis Cathedral on our way to the school.
From the cathedral, it was only another couple of blocks to the cooking school. On the way we saw a street lamp adorned with dozens of strings of Mardi Gras beads.
When we attended our first demonstration at the New Orleans School of Cooking back in 2010, we learned names are called for seating in the order in which your reservations were made. The room holds over 60 people, so it is advantageous to be able to pick your table sooner rather than later. Last time we reserved a few days in advance and ended up sitting in the back of the room. This time we reserved several weeks ahead of time, so our name was called about 6th or 7th. We got pretty good seats near the front of the room except for the fact the very large man who came in after us and sat right beside us partially blocked our view much of the time. Fortunately, they have mirrors over the demonstration area, so we could still see most the action.
The chef for our demonstration was Kevin, who was the same chef we had the last time. He is a real hoot. He is about 6'-6 and 300+ pounds, and his personality is bigger than he is. He adds a lot of humor to the presentation, and he is a very good story teller. He has lots of amusing interactions with the audience.
In the next photo, Kevin is adding flour to melted butter to prepare a roux for the Shrimp Creole. The trinity (onions, green peppers and celery) for the Creole is being sauteed in the large, oval-shaped pan to the right. You can see inside the pans in the overhead mirror that runs across the top of the photo.
After the corn and crab bisque and the Shrimp Creole were underway, Kevin put them on the back burner to simmer and began working on the Bananas Foster. The recipe is very simple - bananas, brown sugar, banana liqueur and dark rum. The dish is special because it is a flambé-style dessert. The lights were dimmed prior to adding the rum.
After the demonstration of the preparation of the Bananas Foster, it was time to serve the samples.
Everything was delish! We had a lot of fun at the cooking demonstration, and we loved learning more about New Orleans-style cooking.
It had started to pour rain just before the cooking demonstration was over. Fortunately, we had taken along our new raincoats, so we were able to walk back to the ferry in the rain without getting soaked. Unfortunately, we didn't take the pants, so we did get a little wet, but we were wearing shorts so it wasn't that bad. We are singing the praises of our new Frogg Toggs rain gear. The set came with a pouch. The suits are so lightweight that carrying them in the pouch slung over your shoulder is a breeze. They're so lightweight, Margery forgot she was carrying hers and was startled a couple of times thinking she had left it somewhere. The Frogg Togg rain suits were an outstanding purchase.
We boarded the ferry, headed back across the river to where the car was parked and made our way back to the motor home. We have more sightseeing planned, so stay tuned.