If you were making a list of the best party cities in good ole US of A, we’re guessing NOLA would end up near the very top. This iconic city has a lot more to offer than just Mardi Gras (we’ll cover that in a later post), which means a New Orleans theme is perfect for your next date night.
Creole food that New Orleans is famous for has countless culinary influences, from Europe to Native American. Your taste buds can travel the world with just one meal! The French influence is easily the strongest, but one wouldn’t call it overpowering. Often Creole and Cajun are used interchangeably, and while they are similar, they’re actually different types of cuisine. To start, Creole uses tomato based sauces, while Cajun does not – but the differences run deeper than that. Creole has a wider influence of cultures whereas Cajun is more of a French / Louisianan type of thing. Either way, you are likely to be eating lots of seafood like catfish and shrimp.
For our New Orleans theme date night we chose Shrimp Po’Boys, because well, we like bread. Po’Boys are “sandwiches” made by topping a baguette with shrimp, oysters, or catfish – and typically fried, just like the one in this recipe (credit – Grandbaby Cakes). They’re a delicious, easy to eat (and make) snack. Perfect to soak up the drinks and give you the energy to dance the night away. As fans of both bread and shrimp, this a New Orleans classic we can totally get behind.
If by same odd chance you are not into fried shrimp on a sandwich, there are plenty of other New Orleans classics that are perfect for your date night. Here are some of our favorites:
- BBQ Shrimp (credit Once Upon a Chef) – Don’t let name fool you, this is not in any way like the BBQ you know. It’s essentially just shrimp cooked in sauce, but it’s really freakin good. This has been a good to dish for us for many years.
- Jambalaya (credit Cafe Delights) – The great thing about Jambalaya is you can make it however you want. It’s one of the original “one pot” dishes. This one is perfect if you want to just set it and forget it and have something amazing for later. It’s similar to Paella but with a different taste profile.
- Gumbo (Credit Taste Better from Scratch) – Gumbo is the official state cuisine of Louisiana, so you know it’s got to be good. Essentially it’s a thick stew, heavily seasoned with any meat or seafood of your choice. The main difference between gumbo and jambalaya is the rice. Gumbo is served with rice separately whereas jambalaya is cooked with it included. Either way, both are delicious.
Beignets for Days
There’s a lot of reasons why we want to physically visit New Orleans one day, but one of them is definitely to have authentic New Orleans beignets. Beignets are fluffy little fried doughs of delight covered in powdered sugar, with a standard 3 per serving. Without a doubt, the most famous beignets in New Orleans are served at the famous Café Du Monde.
Café Du Monde is one of New Orleans most iconic places. It’s an open air cafe that opened in 1862 in the New Orleans French Market. It’s open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, and is known for their dark roasted coffee au lait (“with milk”) with chicory, and of course beignets.
If you want a touch of authenticity and reduced stress, we recommend picking up a box of Café Du Monde beignet mix that comes complete with a can of their infamous Coffee and Chicory grinds. If K-Cups are more your style, you can find them here. Regardless your coffee style or how you get your hands on them, beignets should definitely be a part of your day.
America’s First Cocktail
Considered by some (debated by others) to be the oldest known American cocktail, we bring you the Sazerac. It was created in 1838 by Antoine Peychaud, an apothecary owner in New Orleans. Named for the French brandy, Sazerac-de-Forge et fils, today it’s made with rye whiskey or bourbon, bitters, and Herbsaint (to substitute the original ingredient absinthe).
If you can’t find herbsaint or absinthe at your local liquor store, you can substitute it with any anise flavored liquor. You can find a great Sazerac recipe here.
Jazz It Up
New Orleans is well known as the birthplace of jazz, and is probably the first thing you think of when you think of the city. However New Orleans is known for all kinds of music, including New Orleans Bounce (New Orleans hip-hop). We’ve put together a playlist comprised of both for you to set the scene of your New Orleans theme date:
Take Me There
Now that we’ve covered your cuisine essentials, it’s time to hit the street – Bourbon street that is. (Don’t worry, you don’t actually have to go outside). Since so much of the New Orleans experience is dependent on the vibes of the city, we thought we’d get as close as we could from our couch and do some virtual sightseeing. We’ve pulled a few virtual tours for you to explore as you enjoy your beignets:
- Haunted Ghost Tours are incredibly popular in New Orleans, partly due to its rich culture of voodoo and magic. Here are a couple to check out:
- Beacon Street is the most famous street in New Orleans, known for night life, clubs, and restaurants. Take a walking tour of the nightlife here
- Watch the film Street Car Named Desire, that was set in New Orleans. It’s an hugely famous film originally adapted from Broadway play, and is also Marlon Brando’s first major film.
- Check out other jazz artists online (Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong to name a few), or if you can find drive to leave your house, go check out one of your local jazz clubs!
We hope you give our New Orleans theme night a shot. If you do, let us know what you came up with!
Not feeling the jazz scene but looking for something more tropical? Then check out our How to Have a Tropical Hawaiian Theme post for more ideas.