I almost felt obliged to skip breakfast before visiting the world famous Galatoire's. If all went right, the plan for midday was a ritual-filled, artery-clogging, three-hour Friday lunch at the celebrated historic hot spot on Bourbon Street.
But, all too easily, I buckled under the pressure of Sandra's grumbling stomach - not to mention the longstanding tradition of all out decadence in the Big Easy -- and ended up paying call on Cafe du Monde for a wake-up filled with Cafe au Lait and Beignets.
Nothing like caffeine, slabs of fried dough and copious amounts of powdered sugar to get a morning started off right.
So, how is it that the two of us were actually hungry when we headed through the French Quarter doors of Galatoire's at 11:15am? We arrived that early at the urging of New Orleans friends in the know. Early arrival was mandatory, if we wanted one of the desirable downstairs dining room tables which - by management's decree - could never be reserved.
Punctual, we hiked to the upstairs bar for a wait, and stepped into a room swarming with locals. Was it possible we got there too late? Thankfully, we were right on time and at noon we were rewarded with a plum table downstairs.
Seated among New Orleans' elite, our waiter and guide through the restaurant's weekly lunchtime festivities, Charlie, agreed that we should order a round of Sazeracs, lest we seem like scurrilous Yankees. A Galatoire Gouté was also ordered up right quick to start the meal off with a classic Creole combo of Shrimp Remoulade, Shrimp Maison, and Crabmeat Maison...
...offering up a trifecta which brilliantly showcased tomato zest, mayonnaise creaminess, caper zing, horseradish bite and sweet, meaty, fresh seafood. Oysters en Brochette was plunked down on the table as well, a light appetizer consisting of plump oysters and fatty bacon skewered, fried, and finished with meuniere butter. Dipping a piece of toast into the drippings, we agreed that this was a wonderful way to sinfully tease our palates, while concurrently widening our hips.
God bless Galatoire's!
The rest of the meal was a delicious whirlwind of delights, which included Sandra inhaling an entire loaf of Garlic Bread, smiling like the Cheshire cat and another round of Sazeracs. Next came a split twosome of entrees -- Broiled Lamb Chops with Bearnaise Sauce and Crab Sardou -- as well as a side of puffy, irresistible Souffled Potatoes.
And, the food kept coming. Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Spicy Pecans. Rich Caramel Custard. Potent cups of Cafe Brulot, dark Creole coffee tinged with cloves, cinnamon, orange peel, sugar and brandy, set aflame table-side.
But, little did we know that we had yet to reach the pinnacle of the Galatoire's Friday lunch experience.
That lofty distinction goes to a former New Orleans debutante that brought her baton to the restaurant and proceeded to enthusiastically twirl her way around the dining room...
You can't make stuff like this up. Even after three cups of Cafe Brulot.