​Pregame Platter: Ravens at New Orleans

Our picks for the best eats and drinks during this Monday's Ravens game.

By Mike Unger -

​Pregame Platter: Ravens at New Orleans

Our picks for the best eats and drinks during this Monday's Ravens game.

By Mike Unger -

Sláinte's seafood gumbo. -The Food Network

Ravens at Saints, Monday Nov. 24, 8:30 p.m., Mercedes-Benz Superdome, ESPN

By the time Monday Night Football kicks off, 15 days will have elapsed since the Ravens last suited up. So you can bet the players—and certainly the fans—will indeed be ready for some football. Baltimore returns to the city of its last title triumph for a game that could affect each team's hopes of getting to this year's Super Bowl. Remarkably, the Saints are tied for first place in the woeful NFC South division with a 4-6 record. But they still have Drew Brees, one of the league's outstanding quarterbacks, and a rabid fan base that will be lubed up and ready to explode. I have a feeling that will describe a lot of Ravens fans watching in Baltimore as well.

What to Eat: Stop into Sláinte in Fells Point for a big ol' bowl of seafood gumbo (recently featured, and rightly so, on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives), or pick up a bucket of spicy fried chicken (and dirty rice) from Adam Jones' beloved Popeye's. (Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema consistently lists it among his guilty pleasures.) If you don't want to leave the house or even “cook," grab a box of McCormick-owned Zatarain's jambalaya mix, some smoked sausage and de-shelled oysters, chop up an onion and a bell pepper, and dump it all into a pot of boiling water. Reduce the burner to low, cover, and 30 minutes later douse with hot sauce. I guarantee it's the easiest (only?) Cajun meal you've ever made.

What to Drink: Abita has been brewing excellent beers 30 miles north of New Orleans for nearly three decades. Its Jockamo IPA, Purple Haze, and Turbodog (a dark brown ale) are staples throughout the city and can be found in many liquor stores in Baltimore. I'll be having Restoration Pale Ale, sales of which has raised more than $550,000 for hurricane relief. Brewed with pale, caramel, and carapils malts, it has a “rich body, mild bitterness, and a snappy citrus hop flavor and aroma."

The Sazerac Company has been producing spirits in New Orleans for nearly a century. The Sazerac cocktail has been a favorite in the Big Easy for even longer. Here's how to make one at home.

  • 1 cube sugar
  • 1 1/2 ounces (35ml) Sazerac Rye Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon
  • 1/4 ounce Herbsaint
  • 3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
  • Lemon peel

Pack an Old-Fashioned glass with ice. In a second Old-Fashioned glass place the sugar cube and add the Peychaud's Bitters to it, then crush the sugar cube. Add the whiskey to the second glass containing the Peychaud's Bitters and sugar. Empty the ice from the first glass and coat the glass with the Herbsaint, then discard the remaining Herbsaint. Empty the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass and garnish with lemon peel.

If You Go: Please, please wander off Bourbon Street. With plenty of chain restaurants and bars, crappy strip clubs, and drunken revelers who think they're in the “real" New Orleans, most of Bourbon Street is not unlike Harborplace and The Block rolled into one. There are exceptions of course (the venerable restaurant Galatoire's, blues bar The Funky Pirate, and touristy-but-still-worth-at-least-one-trip Pat O'Brien's and Lafitte Blacksmith Shop Bar being a few), but would you want an out-of-towner to judge Baltimore based on a trip to Hooters or the Hard Rock?

The soul of this beautiful and other-worldly city lies in the narrow brick-lined streets of the greater French Quarter, in the music clubs that line Frenchmen Street (The Spotted Cat is always hoppin'), in the nouveau restaurants of the Warehouse District (Donald Link's Cochon executes Cajun cooking brilliantly), and in the magnificent mansions of the Garden District.

For every must-hit like beignets at Café du Monde, mix in a trip to a place like Miss Mae's (an Uptown dive bar near the legendary music club Tipitina's). The best way to enjoy New Orleans, however, is to have no plan at all. Stroll through the city at a leisurely pace (if you're in the quarter you can even sip an adult beverage so long as it's in a plastic cup), stopping into a restaurant that lures you with the smell of boiling shrimp, or a bar from which the sweet wail of a saxophone proves irresistible.

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Sláinte's seafood gumbo. -The Food Network

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