Nola Restaurant – New Orleans, Louisiana

nola6I couldn’t leave New Orleans without trying one of celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse’s popular restaurants so I  gave Nola a try for lunch. Located in the heart of the French district, this rustic eatery which is named as the acronym for the big easy,  offered an interesting menu of mostly creole  cuisine.  Brick walls, high ceilings and an ample open kitchen give it a lofty appeal straying  from some of  the rococo joints  in the area.

To start, I ordered the bacon cauliflower soup for $8 that although lovely in texture and flavor, could’ve used less salt. Along came some  delicious homemade brioche and some  jalapeño corn bread from Nola’s in-house bakery, giving the place a fine Portuguese touch of Lagasse’s  roots!  nola1

After walking around for days and seeing po’boys advertised in every corner, I made it a mission to try Lagasse’s. A French bread sandwich made with whatever is in offer. Here it was the braised pork cheek po’boy with Provolone cheese and a side of house cut  fries for $15. All served along  some creole mustard aioli and giardiniera ( pickled peppers). Although very tasty, I must say that the cheese was unnecessary. The cheeks are flavorful and  fatty enough, no need to add anything!

nola4One of my  creole favorites has always been the shrimp and grits so I had to give Emeril’s a try; sautéed gulf shrimp, grilled green onions, smoked cheddar grits, applewood  smoked bacon, cremini mushrooms in a red chili abita butter sauce for $19. Perfectly cooked shrimp over tender and  smooth ground corn in an absolutely delicious sauce that gave it a nice little  kick, heavenly! All in all, it was a really enjoyable experience to try a menu created by Emeril  Lagasse, a Portuguese -French-Canadian who’s become the quintessential New Orleanian!

 

Nola Restaurantnola5

534 Saint Louis Street

New Orleans, LA 70130

504 522 6652

http://www.emerilsrestaurants.com

 

* You can find the recipe for the shrimp and grits at www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/nolas-shrimp-and-smoked-cheddar-grits-recipe

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Chargrilled chicken – Bica – Tavira, Algarve, Portugal

chickBica is located right on rua Almirante Candido Reis and although it doesn’t look like much from the outside, take a seat at one of its alley’s tables and you will be pleasantly surprised with the great service and wonderful local food, not to mention the ever so reasonable prices. This place is a true Tavira landmark that has been in business for over forty years and tables  fill up rather quickly . A menu consisting of mostly seafood, fish, chicken and meat is served fresh daily for 8 to 12 euros.

I ordered the chargrilled chicken for 8.50 euros and although it did take a while to make, I was served some delicious green olives as well as some  bread and butter to keep  the wait less painful.  In many restaurants in Portugal, it can be a while before you get your food  because it’s usually made to order from scratch, a habit that makes the whole experience a more gratifying one. Be patient, the Portuguese are!

A generous serving of  half  a chicken seasoned with lemon, garlic and little else, served with homemade french fries and a salad made with lettuce, tomato, onion, carrots and red cabbage. Even though the chicken was tender, moist and deliciously seasoned, I have to mention that what really got me was the wonderful service: diligent and easy going. When it came time to pay my bill, I was a  euro short  but told not to worry, no big deal!  Of course, I’ll be back!

 bica2Bica

Rua Almirante Candido Reis 22

8800-318 Tavira

Tel: 281 323 843