Thursday, November 15, 2007


I went to Brenda's on Monday! I had a lunch that tingled, surprised, pleased and disappointed my tongue. I finally got to try my beloved Po' Boy. I am still undecided, however, as to how I felt about this sandwich. The fried oyster Po' Boy was definitely exciting, but I can't tell how it compared to those I had in New Orleans.

The oysters were soft and chewy with a thin but crispy fried batter around the edges. The sandwich was filled with these tasty little morsels. The oysters were stuffed into a soft, grilled French roll. My favorite part must have been the remoulade sauce. This is a very creamy topping, similar to an aioli, but with more of a kick to it. It's creamy, tangy, spicy flavors complement fried seafood far better than tartar sauce in my opinion. These essential ingredients of a Po' Boy were very well done and helped to impress my taste buds.

Still, I'm not sure what it was, but it just didn't feel like it lived up to the memory. Maybe it's just been too long since New Orleans for the comparison, maybe the necessary ingredients aren't as available outside of the Big Easy. Whatever the reason is, I wasn't as thrilled by my lunch as I had been hoping to be. I spent the entire meal comparing it to the flavors of Po' Boys of the past. The flavors and tastes just didn't match up. To tell you the truth, I think that the reason for this may actually be that the ingredients here are of higher quality. Don't get me wrong, everything in New Orleans tasted fresh and local, but it just wasn't like the California Po' Boy. At Brenda's the French Roll tasted like it may have actually been baked earlier that day, and it was toasted so that it was golden brown on the inside. In New Orleans the bread was generally slightly harder and chewier, and rarely toasted. Here the oysters were succulent and juicy, there they were often drier and smaller. Even the remoulade sauce here seemed to have more of a prominent bite. All of the veggies seemed more organic here. For example, the pickles here seemed like they were fresh, crunchy, sour, and slightly bitter dill pickles. In my Po' Boys in New Orleans they were generally filled with the sweet and sour, yellowish-green sandwich pickles general found in supermarkets. It seemed that the majority of the ingredients in the Po' Boy here simply had more of a "California" organic feel.

I don't say this to take anything away from either sandwich. I only say it because after trying my first Bay Area Po' Boy I have developed the theory that a "California Po' Boy" will never resemble a New Orleans creation. This is due to the growing emphasis on the freshest and most organic ingredients here. In New Orleans this is different because this is not nearly as much of a priority in Louisiana. While attempts will be made to replicate the famous lunchtime meal, I'm not sure I will find anything that reminds me of the original Po' Boy. We shall see.

My next stop, Jesso's in Oakland...

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