Monday, March 5, 2012

New Orleans Trip #5: Freestyle Chowhounding

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I'm back in New Oreleans, and it's time to get serious. I have less than a week here, and there's work to do.

I don't like eating around on a scavenger hunt, following other people's tips. I never make out as well - and it's never as much fun - when I lose the serendipity of freestyle chowhounding. It's an irony seldom remarked upon that Chowhound, a site conceived to urge people to stop eating where they're told, is used mostly for people to be told where to eat.

I don't read Chowhound much. I never have. I use it when I get stuck (when I'm looking for something particular, or need to be explained stuff), or when I'm in a hurry or lazy (and need a specific sure-fire bite of some specific thing in some specific nabe). Other than that, I hardly track the conversation. Really, to me eating out is an adventure. A hunt. A quest! That's all the fun!

But New Orleans deserves special respect. I've spent too little time here, so there's catching up to do. I haven't eaten enough gumbo, for example, to know the difference between a very good one and a great one, so I need to calibrate on places known to be dandy for this or that. And so this trip will, alas, mostly be catch-up/calibration work.

Except tonight. Very late on a Tuesday night in the Marigny (the less touristic neighbor of the French Quarter), there's not much to eat. So I ducked randomly into a slightly shiny place, unknown to me, up the block from all the music clubs on Frenchman Street, called Marigny Brasserie (640 Frenchmen St., New Orleans, LA; 504-945-4472). I ordered linguini with charbroiled oysters, and it came pre-showered with plenty of sharp grated cheese, which is normally the last thing I'd want anywhere near oysters, but the combo was frickin' great. This dish scratched an itch I hadn't known I had:

When you've ferreted out your own deliciousness, the glow is that much sweeter. The effect seems deeply engrained in the human psyche, perhaps a legacy from the days when we speared our own wooly mammoths and such. It's likely adaptive to prefer your own kills, since they're more dependably fresh and well-chosen. And this dish, indeed, killed. Killing was achieved. Gaaaa!

NOLA's hometown brewery, Abita, makes a lot of blah products. Their single best beer, a strong "Select Barleywine", is almost impossible to find. But Marigny Brasserie had it on tap. And the servers are friendly, as were the customers that night.

Good. Happy. Gaaaa!

Read the next installment (#6)

1 comment:

Dave said...

I think MB is the descendant of Cafe Marigny. It's a good thing that you didn't read Chowhound before venturing forth. CM used to get much love from Chowhounders, and unless things have changed in the past 6 months or so, MB has received mostly disdain.

In the early days of Chowhound, when there were a fraction of the posts that there are now, I used to read every post, regardless of whether there was any chance I'd ever visit the town. I enjoy reading people's reports and opinions, and I love triangulating differing opinions (the same reason, I guess, I'm obsessed with predicting Oscar races). I think this gives me a similar kick that you get from freestyling. I like figuring out whether I have a fix on a restaurant just from reading other civilians' reviews.

That pasta photo is enticing.

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