Thursday, May 16, 2013

New Orleans 2013 - The Rest of Friday

 Prior to our trip to Mardi Gras World, DB~ and I ventured out into a very rainy New Orleans last Friday (first stop was a CVS to buy an umbrella).  DB~ had a little checklist of things she wanted to do and tops on that list was eating beignets at Cafe du Monde, next to Jackson Square.

Beignets are little French donuts.  Essentially, they're French funnel cakes that are dredged in powdered sugar.  A typical order in the Big Easy is 3 to an order.  We ate our beignets and DB~ had her hot chocolate as the rain poured outside on Decateur Street.  We had a few minutes before our scheduled shuttle would arrive to take us to Mardi Gras World, so we walked up Decateur to Canal Street to get a lay of the land in terms of things to do later in the day.

After the trip to Mardi Gras World, the rain had stopped and the sun was out, so we perused various bookstores in the French Quarter.  These stores are all jammed floor to ceiling with dusty old books and dusty old booksellers.  I had hoped to find a good old timey map of New Orleans to take home, but there wasn't a lot of variety and the ones that were there were crazy expensive.

We had po' boys at Huck Finn's -- I had fried crawfish and DB~ had fried shrimp.  It was a solid restaurant that had a nice selection of po' boys.  There's no shortage of restaurants, in general, and restaurants that serve po' boys, but we made a good choice.

We crisscrossed the French Quarter all afternoon until we wound up at Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo.  At least on the surface, the voodoo in New Orleans professes to promote positive energy and are amulets to bring either luck or money or love.  I'm sure that in some backroom or back swamp, there are old school "sacrifice an animal to curse your boss" voodoo priests and priestesses.
DB~ loved the handmade dolls so she bought this one to bring love and patience.

After our purchases at the House of Voodoo and various other FQ establishments, we decided we stimulated the economy enough and headed across the street for some afternoon drinkin' at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop.  Said to be the oldest bar in the United States, it is said to have been open since 1772.  The interior is lit only with candles and lanterns, even at night time.  We had a few drinks and people watched for a while.  The rain returned and we didn't much care.

We went back to the hotel and got cleaned up for our "classy" dinner (that's blazer in the house!) at a "grand dame" restaurant known as Broussard's.  We had reservations for 7 pm, but had to take a cab, because of the rain, and were 10 minutes late.  It didn't quite matter as the restaurant was fairly empty.

We were skeptical because of this, but DB~ said it best "It's like Mallorca back home -- it needs freshened up".  The food was great and the service was fantastic -- we had an actual French waiter who, you could tell, was a career professional waiter.  Rather than just ordering a standard dinner, we went with each of getting an appetizer, soup, and salad in order to get a wide breadth of the restaurant.

I got Shrimp Remoulade, Chicken and Andouille Gumbo, and an Applewood Smoked Bacon Salad.   DB~ got Crabmeat Broussard, Sweet Potato and Shrimp and Corn Bisque, and a Blue Cheese Salad.  She had the better of the selections, as the hot crabmeat topped with brie and Herbsaint spinach was fantastic.  The real stunner was the Sweet Potato soup.  Its velvety texture was due to the puree on the sweet potato and the introduction of cream.

After dinner, we looked too good to go home, so we journeyed down to Frenchman Street to check out some live music at the clubs.  At the Spotted Cat, we saw a trio featuring a guy on the washboard and a guy on harmonica.  We walked down the street to Club Negril (a Jamaican bar) to see a blues-rock band (American) and had chicken tacos in the back made by a Honduran in a city that prides itself on being French.  The final stop was a club called Vaso, I think, to see the final two songs of a set by high school playing upbeat jazz, including a cover of Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison".

And oh yeah, we walked right through the set of a commercial being filmed for Jeep featuring a traditional jazz band and an old man in a crazy tophat.

The sad part is that as we were connecting through Atlanta on Sunday, we heard about the Mothers' Day Parade shooting that took place about 10 blocks from where we were on Frenchman Street.

But that's what New Orleans is to me.  Great on the surface, maybe a little edgy if you scrape off the top layer, and gritty all around you.

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