Do or Don’t: New Orleans
DO stay in the French Quarter if you plan to send your evenings at the bars. It’s not terribly priced and walking the streets is relatively safe after dark.
DO go against my usual advice and splurge on a hotel. Many cheaper options in the area had not fully repaired their rooms from water damage. I couldn’t care less when it comes to the looks, but the mold issues plagued us even in the lower levels of a five-star hotel (they moved us up to the top floors at no charge). This may or may not be accurate since it’s been a while, but definitely ask when they last renovated the rooms before booking at a less expensive option. If it sounds too good to be true, it definitely is when you’re in NOLA. (more…)
What to Eat in New Orleans
Beignets: Fried sugary deliciousness that’s light like a pillow and not like a donut. Get them at Café du Monde with a café au lait. This is not up for discussion.
Gumbo: Seafood gumbo is the best. The best. Think: spicy peppers and rice and hot sauce and shellfish. It warms your insides but doesn’t coat them (unless you eat too much and want it to). A Creole favorite, this dish is best eaten spicy. If you don’t do spicy food then you might as well skip this because there’s no point in having mild gumbo. That’s just silly. (more…)
What to Eat in Budapest
Chicken Paprikash: One of the most traditional and ubiquitous dishes in Budapest. It’s basically paprika-coated chicken served with spätzle (a pasta-ish dumpling). It’s orange-colored and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Butcher’s meat: Check out any butcher’s shop and help yourself to a cheap meat dish served with potatoes and dressed with condiments such as mustard.
Fried cheese burger: A hunk of cheese is breaded and fried and slipped between buns. There is no meat involved. It reminds me of the fried camembert I had in Prague except that this one goes the extra-caloric mile with its bun and onions. It’s delicious – but maybe split it or plan to do nothing but walk for the next two days (your heart will thank you).
Lángos: Deep-fried flatbread native to Hungarians (who also brought it to Serbia). You can eat it alone (but why would you?) or you can toss dozens of different ingredients on them that range from hot to cold, sandwich-like to stew-like.
Tokaji: A sweet, dessert wine that needs to be tasted. It’s a lot fruity and a little honey-flavored.
Marzipan: A sugary, honeyed, almondy confection that you can get at both street stands and in confectionary shops. It has a museum dedicated to it in Budapest. If that’s not enough reason to give it a taste then I don’t know what is.
Dobos torte: A shortbread, chocolate, caramel encased cake with chocolate sprinkles on its end. Get this at any number of traditional cafés throughout the city. It’s a little rich for my taste as I’d rather have a hundred chimney cakes than one of these (though, in all fairness I’d take a hundred chimney cakes over many many many desserts or meals or – you know, if you’re offering up a trade of any sort I am all ears).
Kürtőskalács: The infamous chimney cake. Buttery, light, sugar-coated deliciousness that you can carry around to eat. You can get it topped with chopped almonds, coconut flakes, cocoa powder, or cinnamon as well as a simple sugar-syrup that calls itself vanilla.
Gulyás: This is the dish we all recognize in word but in form looks wildly different from country to country. In Budapest, gulyás (or goulash outside of Hungary) is a slow-cooked beef served still in its juices (so a soup or stew depending on who’s making it) and covered in paprika.
Potato Pancakes: Like everywhere else we’ve been in Eastern Europe – only plate-size. They’re amazing and sometimes even take the place of a plate for stews or chicken dishes.
– M. Ray Hall