On par with trying local beers is my affinity for dining on the local cuisine when I'm traveling. That's why I tooled around Greenville, SC looking for Henry's Smokehouse, "home of the leanest butt in town," as what could be better than Carolina style bbq in the Carolinas? It was also my introduction to Brunswick stew. That's also why I ordered the amazing Black & Bleu burger (blackened with Cajun seasoning and topped with crumbled bleu cheese) at the Montgomery Brewing Co, which, incidentally, for those of you keeping track (ok, just me) made it 27 states that I've visited a brewery in. Only 23 to go, but I just haven't had time on this tour to stop at one in most of the states I've driven through so far.
Back to food, you can imagine how excited I was to be in New Orleans, the Big Easy. It went down like this. I pulled in around 8:30 Friday night. By the time I made it out, all the good joints near me stopped serving. So I got in my car and hit some others, but I'd just missed them. It never used to be like this. Pre-Katrina, this was more of a 24-hour town, the Quarter notwithstanding. So that's where I headed, but I just couldn't get enthused about a regular hamburger when I coulda been eating some etouffe or even a decent po'boy.
In the morning, I sat down to a boudin omelet, boudin being akin to a well-spiced sausage. And cafe au lait. The book signing at Octavia Books was set for 12:01 p.m., because Dixie Brewing provided free beer samples, and you
shouldn't drink before noon. As an added treat, Joe, Kendra, and Maddi Bruno (the owners and their granddaughter, though Kendra cracked that Dixie actually owns them) were on hand so a lucky few got books signed by both the author and the subjects of the New Orleans chapter. Quite a few people came running in, one of them literally, to get a signed copy. Sweet.
Afterward, I received an invitation from the Brunos for a late lunch. When I showed up, a plate of fried oysters appeared before me. Bad time to tell 'em I'm, uh, allergic to shellfish? Still, we had a great lunch and it's always good to see the 3 of them when I'm in town. Which means I'll see them again in exactly 6 months for Jazz Fest.
After that, I headed to the reception for a beer dinner. Yes, they're doing beer dinners in NOLA now! The offer came from the woman who ran into Octavia Books, upon her completion of a 7 mile run. She bought 2 books, for her husband and his brewmaster. Kirk and Peter, respectively, are opening a brand new brewery here in NOLA called NOLA Brewing. (New Orleans Lagers and Ales.) This is very exciting news. Peter Caddoo, I should point out, spent many years as Dixie's brewmaster. I tried their brown and blonde ales, and canNOT wait to try them again on tap when I'm back. They open in January, just as soon as the brewing equipment from Left Hand Brewing arrives from Boulder.
The night ended with hitting Le Bon Temps Rouler with my friend Steven in town from LA to do some hurrican Gustav cleanup. We caught a set by local musician Anders Osborne, a favorite, and then hit Cafe du Monde around 1:30 a.m. for some beignets and cafe au lait!