This weekend the New Orleans Food and Wine Experience (NOWFE) takes place. It was at NOWFE that I first tasted chargrilled oysters. Aaah- chargrilled oysters …
Do you remember a time you first tasted something that woke up your taste buds in a way they’d never quite been awakened before – an alert went off, and you experienced a “first taste” that you were destined never to forget? For me, chipotles en adobo fall into that category, and Chevre (it was a Montrachet) – and then chargrilled oysters became an experience like that – first tasted at NOWFE’s Royal Street Stroll, a few years back- off the Drago’s “fire” truck.
Now that I live here, I get to visit Drago’s anytime I want. Fortunately for me, the restaurant is located in the Hilton New Orleans Riverfront, just a short walk from where the Algiers Ferry lets me off at the end of Canal Street. It’s one of the first places I visited when I was able to get around on my own after my recent surgery. I recently had the thought that it’s one of the spots I have to add to an updated list of things one must do when they visit New Orleans. In fact, I took my friend, Ann, there for lunch this week, as she was visiting. Okay, okay – I’ve learned that not everyone is up for eating oysters, and I can understand when it comes to raw oysters (I’m a little squeamish, myself), but really – chargrilled? Come on!
When I dined there not long ago, after a day in the sun at the French Quarter Festival, my dining companion, Debra, and I had the opportunity to sit right at the grill with a front row seat to the fabulous show. Fresh oysters thrown on the flaming hot grill, hosed to clean off bits of loose shell, drenched in loads of garlic herb butter, causing the flames to shoot up, sprinkled with copious amounts of Parmesan cheese, to help cool down the flame – not to mention make them scrumptiously more umami, then mopped with more garlic butter. I videotaped the guys at the grill who put on a great show for us, and I’ve posted the video here for you to enjoy, too.
Drago’s, a booming seafood eatery, was the first, as the legend goes, to chargrill oysters. Now they can reportedly serve over 900 dozen a day on a busy one. A great idea gets around, and there are several New Orleans restaurants serving them now. I still find the original Drago’s chargrilled oyster to be the best, though. And you must try them when you come to New Orleans!