Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Weekend in the Big Easy

My sister-in-law, Aubrey, and I both LOVE to travel. Our husbands, not so much. So, we thought we'd try traveling together. We spent Saturday-Monday and visited New Orleans and it was a blast. I loved the culture, history and especially the cuisine. We most definitely ate our way through the city. 

I'd never been to New Orleans before and only had heresay knowledge of the culture, but we were quickly introduced. For example, I knew that being in the street with open (alcohol) container  container was legal, but didn't realize it was expected.
Immediately upon arrival, we sought out sustenance in the form of a delicious fried oyster po-boy from Johnny's, but first we had to stop for a Second Line Parade, one of two parades we saw in the two days were were there. During Lent, mind you.The line at Johnny's was fierce, but we persisted. The oysters were worth it. Giant, briny and moist under a light, crunchy coating.
After first lunch, we had a second (shared) lunch of a muffaleta and a pimm's cup at the historic Napoleon House. Not made to look old, it is truly 200 years old. 2nd lunch, much more relaxed and cultured, all my style.
We cruised Jackson square and other notables of the French Quarter, like St. Louis's Cathedral and the French Market.
And rested along the way. :-) We did not hang out on Bourbon St or drink a Hurricane or Hand Grenade or Fish Bowl and avoided the ill-attired tourists that did (after we quietly made fun of them). Instead, we walked to the Warehouse/Buisness District and had a disappointing cocktail called a Swizzle Stick at Cafe Adelaide.
Where everyone was dressed as rabbits, even the bride. 
Mostly. (See the tail?) It was quite entertaining. After talking to a few "rabbits," we came to understand that the party wasn't just a birthday party, or just a wedding reception, but merely an entertainment on an un-eventful weekend (pre-St Pat's) so some of the good people of New Orleans deemed it an "Easter" bunny pub-crawl. "Decadance and Decay," accent on the decadence.

After that, we had a scrumptious meal of handmade pork products at a restaurant named, Cochon ("pig" in French). Mmm. Love the piggy. Extra decadent.

Sunday morning, I saw more of the elegant "decay" while running along the edge of the Mississippi river, past the French Quarter and into the old black settlement of Treme, also beautiful in a slightly derelict way. The shattered sidewalks and root-strew esplanade were especially treacherous, my skinned elbow can testify. C'est la vie.

Then we took the St. Charles Streetcar through the Garden District to have a lovely brunch in a garden cafe, Dante's Kitchen, in Uptown.
Bacon sticky bun. French press coffee. Poached eggs and salmon. Bestill my racing heart, it was delicious.
To burn off a few calories, Aubrey and I walked back along St. Charles through the spectacular Garden District. Beverly Dr in Highland Park has got nothing on this place.
We walked Tulane campus with the Spring Break campus tour groups, and rested in Audubon park. The fountain was just so southern and old and lovely, a snapshot of New Orleans itself.

Sunday afternoon, we cooked. After a not-so-brief history of the city, the New Orleans School of Cooking taught us how to make fish meuniere, pralines, and gumbo, using lard to make the roux, "not peanut-butter colored, but darker" and "just keep stirring, until it's just right."
It was a fun class, and the gumbo was delicious. "Gorgeous" the head teacher, Pat, told us. I'm going to try to re-create it this week (minus the lard).

Stuffed, but not yet satisfied, we walked through the Quarter into Faubourg Marigney, to Frenchmen's street and a relaxed jazz club. Very enjoyable.

And to wrap up the evening, we stopped by Cafe du Monde. Very nice. But the beignets at Cafe Beignet are better. We braved a rainy cold Monday morning to compare and sample some Chicory coffee. Both delicious, but we were ready to get home. We'll be back, though. So much more to eat!

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