Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Quest for Muffalettas

We just got back from a fun day in New Orleans that was full of surprises and adventure.  Mom, Chris, Melissa, and I all drove down for the day with the intention of checking out Central Grocery in the French Quarter.  We drove the two hours to sample one of their famous Muffalettas.  If you haven't had one, a Muffaletta is a traditional Italian style sandwich that originated in New Orleans made with a huge loaf of bread, Italian deli meats, pickled vegetables, and cheese.  They are absurdly scrumptious, and I was jonesin' for one big time since I got back home.

We made remarkable time on our drive with light traffic since there was no game and no scheduled Mardi Gras parades.  Mom decided to take the Canal Street exit and the scenic route into the Quarter to show Melissa and Chris some sights along the way and we were enjoying our auto tour until we were forced to dead stop a few short blocks from our destination. No one told us, but in the middle of New Orleans, there was an impromptu parade going on.  Such is Mardi Gras! Seeing that there was no way we would be moving anywhere fast, we hopped out of the car while still in traffic to catch a glimpse of the parade.

Once we made our way through the crowd, we saw a parade of men all dressed in drag marching down the street with roaring crowds of people all around.  Apparently, a well-known sports commentator had made an announcement that if the Saints ever made it to the Super Bowl, he would put on a dress and parade around New Orleans.  Well, that day has come, and there were many making good on his promise.  Folks in NOLA seem to like any excuse for a party and a costume.  Who can blame them!

In any case, we escaped the traffic by jumping the median of St. Charles Avenue along with a bunch of other cars in our same predicament and reversed direction.  Our mouths were watering and we couldn't wait to eat by this point.  We arrived at Central Grocery and found out then and there that they are closed on Sundays!  ARGH!  Luckily, we spied a little place a couple doors down that also served Muffalettas.  Undeterred, we stepped into Frank's, a nice little spot featuring Italian-American classics and of course the sandwich for which we were on a hunt.

We ordered a bottle of bubbly and stimulated our appetites.  Finally the sandwich arrived dripping with olive oil and full of delicious salami, cappicola, ham, olives, provelone, and pickled vegetables.  It was big enough for the four of us to share and make a substantial lunch out of. I had to soak up every last bit of olive oil off the serving plate with the remains of my sesame roll.  It was just what I needed and I was so happy to be able to satisfy my craving finally.  Our bottle of Piper Sonoma was just the thing we needed to quench our thirst from the salty, meaty sandwich, and to make us feel like fabulous New Oreleanians drinking in the middle of the afternoon.

What a day!  I'm gonna try my hand at the Muffaletta when I get back to Boston.  We've decided to throw a little Mardi Gras party.  Melissa, Chris, and I all have plenty of beads and trinkets to adorn ourselves, and it will be fun to share our Louisiana stories with our friends over King Cake, Muffalettas, and Hurricanes.  Laissez les bon temps rouler, cher!

1 comment:

  1. Driving on the median with the street cars made me remember driving on the sidewalks of Paris. Sometimes you just have to do it.