It recently occurred to me that that New Orleans is the yin to Minnesota’s yang.
They’re geographical bookends to the Mississippi. Where Minnesota is chapped lips and numb fingers on a -15 degree day, New Orleans is sweat and frizzy hair 15 minutes after a shower. Where Minnesota is a quiet dinner party, New Orleans is Mardi Gras. Where Minnesota is Nordic folks eating Lutefisk in a church basement, New Orleans is a gumbo of all kinds of people.
I became enchanted with New Orleans as a teenager after a bread pudding-filled trip with the high school band. I had never experienced a place so colorful, unique or culturally rich. I was hooked, I had to go back. I applied and was accepted to Tulane, but for a variety of reasons, chose not to go. The Twin Cities was never on my radar, but here I am almost 8 years later, a happy and proud Minneapolitan.
I was delighted to discover this weekend that a little bit of New Orleans is alive and kicking right here in the Twin Cities.
Friday night, we visited Vieux Carre, a St. Paul jazz club from the owners of the Dakota with a New Orleans-inspired small plates menu. Sam was lulled to sleep by the piano and bass while Mike and I chowed down on an incredible slow roasted apricot dip, gumbo and king crab cakes. We washed it all down with a killer, king-sized piece of King Cake. We can’t wait to go back and warm up at this cozy spot again this winter.
Saturday on our way to the Como Park Zoo, we stopped by the Dockside Café on a whim after a recommendation from my friend Erica. Having no idea what it was, we were amused to discover that we had stumbled upon yet another New Orleans-inspired joint. Mike’s Creole hash was a perfect savory complement to a small mountain of beignets with fresh powdered-sugar snow. Seriously, beignets…. So New Orleans and so darn good.
Like French fries with ice cream, a little bit of the Big Easy sure tastes good here in the Minnie-apple. Laissez les bons temps rouler.
Until We Eat Again,
Two Happy Cooks