Those of us who love to travel also tend to be passionate about food. We often search out great eateries before we go, and sometimes plan a good bit of our trip around these gastronomic sojourns.

This can have a delightful carryover effect in our own kitchens, especially now that so many great restaurant chefs write a cookbook or three. (And of course now, many recipes are available on the Interwebs.)

My first foray into this realm was the chicken tortilla soup from Rick Bayless of Chicago's Fronterra Grill. It's now a staple in our menu rotation, and a great winter company dish. Then came morel-dusted scallops from Patrick O'Connell's Inn at Little Washington in Virginia (amazing kitchen below).

And then I got serious. Smitten with the food at Donald Link's New Orleans mecca Herbsaint, my way better half and I decided to cook our way through his "Real Cajun." The amazing smothered pork roast, the biscuit-y chicken and dumplings and the uplifting sauce picante have been beyond stellar.

Eating these dishes doesn't quite transport us to New Orleans, but at least we can see it from there.