Where Y'Eat

New Orleans writer Ian McNulty hosts Where Y'Eat, a weekly exploration and celebration of food culture in the Crescent City and south Louisiana.

Ian gives listeners the low-down on the hottest new restaurants, old local favorites, and hidden hole-in-the-wall joints alike, and he profiles the new trends, the cherished traditions, and the people and personalities keeping America's most distinctive food scene cooking.

 

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Ways to Connect

Deyan Georgiev / Shutterstock.com

True oyster lust does not stop -- not when you're full but there are still a few oysters on the tray and not in summer, despite that old adage you may have heard concerning months spelled without the “R.” The romance of the oyster cannot be so primly constrained. Still, though, as winter arrives and as our Gulf oysters inch closer to their seasonal prime, the anticipation gets keener and the pleasure of oysters grows sharper. If you’re the sort of oyster eater whose interest perks up as the weather cools down, it's time to catch up on some changes around New Orleans since last season.

A sign points the way to Second Line Brewery in New Orleans.
Ian McNulty

It's not hard to find a drink in New Orleans. But getting a beer direct from the source at one of the local breweries now proliferating around our city often means venturing to back streets, dead ends and once-forgotten corners of town. Beer making is essentially light industrial work. It calls for an industrial setting. Beer drinking is often a social pursuit. And so, the taprooms where these new small brewers now sell pints of their product direct have created a different sort of social space -- luring beer lovers to niches of New Orleans neighborhoods that had not seen much life until lately.

Louisiana wild boar, served as a barbecue platter at the New Orleans restaurant Carmo.
Ian McNulty

Look around and you may see more wild boar on restaurant menus and even now in grocery stores. It’s no coincidence. In fact, it’s all part of a new response to the old problem of a rampant boar population in Louisiana.

A dark roux, country style chicken and andouille gumbo from Brocato's Catering in New Orleans.
Ian McNulty

No dish in New Orleans is more Creole than gumbo. And, appropriately enough for that Creole identity, there’s no single answer to just how it should taste and what can go into the pot. This has been on my mind because this weekend a veritable dream team of New Orleans Creole eateries will serve more than a dozen versions of gumbo at the Treme Creole Gumbo Festival (see full details below).

Boudin from the New Orleans butcher shop Bourree at Boucherie.
Ian McNulty

The natural habitat for boudin is Louisiana Cajun country, and across its range you find the delicious pork and rice sausage everywhere from gas stations to bait shops. But for a long time, where you didn't find boudin was New Orleans. Well praise the lard and pass me a link, those dark days are done. Boudin has found a second home in the Crescent City.

Ian McNulty

In New Orleans, there’s long been a natural order when it comes to enjoying a bit of natural beauty with your dinner and drinks. It was the courtyards of old French Quarter restaurants or a seat by the flaming fountain at Pat O’Brien’s. Watching streetcars rattle past from the porch at the Columns Hotel always qualified, and any balcony was fair game. But now the game has changed, and here’s the latest twist: more restaurants and bars are going the full monty, devoting most of their space and much of their business model to the al fresco appeal.

You can't really count on the calendar to tell you when seasons change in New Orleans. Balmy and temperate one day, you know we can still plunge right back into humidity the next. You’ve got to be on your guard. But there are other cues that let us know where we stand.

The new Saturday location of the Crescent City Farmers Market is at 750 Carondelet St.
Ian McNulty

Around the world, you find farmers markets in historic halls of iron and glass and in leafy, bucolic town squares. For 21 years, we found the Saturday version of the Crescent City Farmers Market in a small corner parking lot in downtown New Orleans. Normally it was a utilitarian space. But for one day each week it came alive, animated by the energy of people and food and hand-to-hand commerce. Well now, the Crescent City Farmers Market is out to create that organic ambiance all over again at a new location. That’s because the Saturday market has moved to corner of Carondelet and Julia streets in downtown New Orleans.

Phil Roeder / Flickr

Beignets these days! I mean, can you even recognize them? In case you haven’t noticed, the French donut that New Orleans made famous has been seeing a revival. There’s more places to get them, and more flavors and more different shapes and forms. But can beignets be burgers? Can they double as crab cakes or stand in for chicken and waffles?

One night recently at Commander's Palace the two reigning queens of New Orleans cuisine shared a table and, for a moment, the spotlight. It got me thinking about the long game, one so long we can't even see it amid the hubbub of what's new, who's ranked where, and which spot is getting all the attention. It got me thinking about the future, and who’s next.

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