This time of year always brings forth so many feelings. I feel nostalgic while decorating the tree with my childhood ornaments, frantic when I think about all the holiday shopping I have to get done, and then pure excitement when I think about starting a new year with the people I love. Of course, the holidays wouldn’t be quite the same without some fantastic food, and Christmas came a little early this year when my boyfriend’s dad treated us to a fabulous dinner at Emeril’s and bought him a brand new Canon Rebel T1i.
I am so excited about featuring the beautiful pictures this camera is capable of taking, which will give Fleurdelicious part of the face-lift it so desperately needs. And while we’re still in the learning stages of figuring out how to take the best pictures possible, we think owning a high quality camera is certainly a step in the right direction. If my pictures of food evoke mouth-watering responses, I’ll know I’m doing something right.
Emeril’s was a great place to test out the new camera for the first time. The restaurant design is certainly something to marvel over and only the best pictures are able to not only capture it’s size, but also all of the small details that make it so visually appealing. Exposed brick, hanging lights, and massive metal columns stylishly elude to the fact that Emeril’s is housed in an old warehouse. While we waited to be seated, my boyfriend snapped a few practice shots.
We were seated in the smaller dining room, to the left of the bar, and while the seating arrangement was comfortable, I did have the unfavorable view of the office and kitchen doors. After reviewing the menu we decided on three appetizers: the Escargots Fondue with Amarelo, Chorizo, Parsley, and Country Bread, the Creole Marinated Calamari with Olive Salad, Smoked Tomato Sauce, and Parmesan, and the Homemade Andouille and Boudin with Southern Cooked Greens, Beer Braised Onions, Whole Grain Mustard, and Emeril’s Worcestershire Sauce. The escargots were covered in a thick, rich sauce that was a little spicy but mostly smoky. A great combination with the chewy snails and fresh parsley, not to mention a welcomed change from the predictable olive oil/garlic/butter/herb sauce.
The Creole Marinated Calamari with Olive Salad, Smoked Tomato Sauce, and Parmesan were also very different. Normally olives aren’t my thing, but I found this combination to be surprisingly pleasant. The calamari were breaded and fried in an excellent batter that was flavorful all on its own–the accompaniments only enhancing its eating pleasure. Once again, Emeril thought outside the box, ditched the creamy aioli, and used salty olives and tangy tomato sauce to bring a whole new dimension of flavor and richness to this popular appetizer.
The Homemade Andouille and Boudin with Southern Cooked Greens, Beer Braised Onions, Whole Grain Mustard, and Emeril’s Worcestershire Sauce was also amazing. The boudin and andouille were mild enough to appease the taste buds of someone who might be unfamiliar with these spicy meats, but flavorful enough to provide locals with the classic “kick” they crave. The Worcestershire sauce saturated the meats and the collard greens were slow-cooked with molasses, making them a perfect blend of sweet and savory.
For my salad, I ordered the Truffled Gulf Shrimp “Louis” with Butter Lettuce, Asparagus, Tomatoes, Smoked Bacon, Chopped Egg, and Tobiko Caviar. I’d be lying if I didn’t say this was one of the best salads I have ever had. The shrimp were cold and drenched in a delicious remoulade-like dressing that was peppery and decadent. Chopped asparagus and tart tomatoes brought light, refreshing elements and the salty tobiko caviar took it over the top–in a good way, of course.
I had read on Tom Fitzmorris’s website, The New Orleans Menu, that when presented with the opportunity to order one of Emeril’s specials, to not pass it up. Apparently, the Emeril’s chefs put a lot of thought and preparation into their specials, and my entree of Scallops with Sauteed Cabbage, Lardons, and Arugula was certainly evident of much forethought. The scallops were beautifully seared with a peppery crust, the crunchy blend of cabbages brought texture and earthiness, and the fatty cubes of lardons provided a smoky backdrop. Before digging in I managed to take, what I think, was one of the best pictures of the night.
Here are some pictures of what everyone else ordered. All beautiful and all delicious.
Dinner at Emeril’s was completely unexpected and a real treat. The restaurant had some beautiful Christmas decorations up and shining, making our extraordinary meal all the more magical. I had always expected the Emeril’s experience to border on being “touristy,” but I’m happy to say that I felt like the restaurant is exemplary in its ability to serve both locals and tourists alike. The ingredients are local, seasonal, and presented in a manner that is undoubtedly sophisticated but not without elements of down-home indulgence. Prices were certainly up there, but so was the service, decor, and, without-a-doubt, the food. My holidays are most definitely going to be happier now that I’ve sampled the delicious offerings of this popular New Orleans dining destination.