As you can see, I have two good reasons for not updating this blog often enough these past few weeks. Now that we're settled in to our new apartment, upstairs from Jen and Seamus and around the corner from Wealthy Street Bakery, it should be easier to share my latest culinary adventures.
So, what's it like being a vegetarian in New Orleans? In two words, not easy. After five days it the Big Easy for the ALA annual conference, it was pretty easy for me to spot the other vegetarian librarians. We were either eating overpriced, anemic-looking salads at the convention center or standing outside of restaurants, studying their menus quizzically. And what do you mean collard greens aren't vegan? When I asked the locals for advice, they told me that vegetarian restaurants in New Orleans generally go under, and that my best bet was to stick to the higher-end establishments and ask them to prepare something for me. Since I'm notoriously cheap, I decided to ignore their advice.
Nevertheless, I managed to get some good eats in NOLA, so I thought I'd share some of the highlights:
Eggplant soup at La Boucherie, 339 Chartres St.
Walking around the French Quarter shortly after my arrival, I spotted this little cafe. The soup was deliciously spicy, in an Italian sausage sort of way.
Portobello club at Rosie's Diner, 200 Magazine St.
Thinly sliced portobello mushrooms served with tomatoes, carrots, and baby spinach in a club sandwich. The diner had an awesome art deco clock on the wall.
Eggplant po-boy, somewhere in the French Quarter
I met Ahmed, who is from Cairo, Friday while working the International Registration desk. The topic turned to food, and he said he won't eat meat in the U.S. because it isn't halal (permitted). Saturday night we wandered around the French Quarter till we found a neat looking restaurant with veggie options. Ahmed had a vegetarian muffaletta, which was made of olive salad and loads of cheese. The fried eggplant po-boy came slathered in marinara and prolovone. Very tasty, but I only finished half!
Gumbo z'herbes at Gumbo Shop, 630 St. Peter St.
Yes, Virginia, you can find vegetarian gumbo in New Orleans. And their garlicky mashed potatoes were just that. Mmm, pure vampire-killing power. If I would have had more room, I would have tried the maque choux (corn smothered with tomatoes and green peppers). We ate outside in the shade.
And of course I went to Cafe du Monde to watch the other tourists over beignets and an iced coffee. I didn't get out of the downtown area, but even so, there were still signs of Katrina's lingering effects. For one thing, every other restaurant I passed had signs in the window looking for waitstaff. I suspect that the people who held those jobs have relocated since they can no longer afford to live in New Orleans.