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Published: April 6th 2015
Traveling about the world allows the opportunity to visit some truly unique and beautiful cities. Outside the United States are a plethora of cities with charm and their own special character. Regrettably, the States do not have that many candidates for this designation as other nations, mostly due to the fact that this nation is so much younger. But there are a handful of them like New York City, San Francisco and of course, New Orleans.
New Orleans is a melting pot of cultures and tribal influences which provides a rich history and many ghost stories, tales of voodoo, black magic and a town that knows how to celebrate. Today on the surface of the French Quarter one might be overwhelmed by the bars and pub culture, the one too many strip club or gentleman’s palace that has popped up in the last decade. New Orleans is well known for its Mardi Gras celebrations which sadly we’ve never seen, maybe one day.
The Big Easy…….a city that has a special history, a great legacy and a laid back approach that only a southern city steeped in Arcadian (French), and many other traditions could display. Laissez le bon temps rouler!
(Let the good times roll!) Few cities better represent and embrace their history better than this city.
As our 21st
wedding anniversary approached, it only seemed logical to celebrate it in a special way, and so we did. We gathered with Art and Deb, our longtime friends who were there those many years ago when we gathered barefoot on a beach in Barbados to profess our love.
We set it up and hit the ground running…so much to see in only a handful of days.
Our flight landed in N.O. at 1230am and we had fantasies of grabbing a cab and making it to the hotel by 1am. A sea of tourist exit baggage claim with the same thought all to be disillusioned. The taxi line is long, we can’t see the end, we walk briskly hoping that all of these people have loved ones picking them up. Sadly not in New Orleans, they are all headed for the same taxi line we are in, at least 350 people deep. Standing at the end of the line we look a head and realize it may take an hour or more to get to
The wedding march
Streets filled with happiness
the front of this line. We settle in hopefully watching as passengers are loaded into vehicles-- that a flood of cabs will arrive, again we are disillusioned. We saw a sign when we landed advertising a shuttle service. Dave stayed in line and MJ wandered off to gain more information. It was closed. She saw a limo driver sign in hand waiting for his customer. They began to chat it up and he suggested she head further down the terminal explaining there are several cab stands and the ones further down will have shorter lines. On the return she went past the long line that Dave was still standing in, not finding the other taxi lines but she did find a shuttle line that was open. The line was much shorter than the line for the cabs but the guy at the counter hand to fill out a voucher for each customer by hand. MJ joined Dave in the line and sent him off to look at the shuttle line to estimate if it would take less time. Dave was gone longer than expected but no problem because the taxi line moves slowly. She looks up and sees the limo
driver walking out of baggage claim alone. He smiles and speaks to MJ. He looks up the line of people patiently and sadly waiting for a cab. He asked, “are you paying cash?” MJ smiled and says yes. He said come with me. MJ calls Dave and says I have a limo I’m walking toward you head my direction. We meet in the middle and head toward a parking garage. Dave whispers how much is it. MJ shrugs and smiles….Dave knows she must be tired if she didn’t ask. As we quickly trail behind the limo driver Dave asks how much. He said the cab would have been $36 how about $40. He nods and says great. Looking a head we see a s-t-r-e-t-c-h limo. The trunk pops open, he grabs our luggage, opens the back door and informs us cold drinks are in the console. We smile, slide in and off we go. We are giggling like schools kids reminiscing about the last time we were in a limo was in Vegas at our friend Mark and Patti’s wedding. Dave admits he had thought about getting us a limo because of our anniversary but decided not to spend the
money. Wow, the universe is taking care of us now. Our weekend is off to a grand start. We’re whisked to our lodging in no time…..
Of course a trip to New Orleans also affords a great chance to visit with Jack, who has advised us well over the years on how to best manage our assets. Jack has lived in New Orleans for many years. We also got the chance to meet Prentice, who most recently is working closely with us. Prentice is a native of New Orleans. Between them, they had much to offer on how to best enjoy our limited time. We were able to have lunch with them at Bayona and it was great to get caught up. Their recommendations served us well.
At Bayona Jack and Prentice feasted on a smoked duck, pb and j sandwich that looked sinful. They use cashew butter, and pepper jelly on a wild flour multigrain bread. Dave went for the roasted garlic soup with pita croutons and grilled shrimp, black bean cake and a coriander sauce. MJ unable to decide allowed the chef to decide for her. She was treated to an amazing capriole goat cheese crouton
with mushrooms in a Madeira cream followed by the sautéed veal sweetbreads with potatoes and mushrooms in a sherry mustard butter. Susan Spicer chef and owner certainly runs a nice place. Our taste buds were dancing and it was just our first day.
On our anniversary, we took Jack’s sage advice and dined at Galatoire’s. Certainly, a tradition in New Orleans. He imparted to us that he has been there many a fine night and that this fine establishment has afforded him the opportunity to have “his own waiter.” Galatoire’s is a fixture on Bourbon St. and locals generally will ask for a specific waiter when dining. Not to give up too much information, but Jack gave us the name of his waiter. Not only that, his waiter is the son of a waiter that Jack has known for some time. Great tradition! Well, we were certainly not disappointed as it was a culinary delight.
The menu presented us with a multitude of decisions and opportunities. Deb tried the turtle soup, which brought a big smile to her face followed by the salmon. Art went with oysters and lemon fish, Dave and MJ shared the Galatoire Goute which
Jack recommended but we learned it is on the list of 500 best eats, This is a combination of three familiar cold appetizers, all of which are good to make it on this list on their own. The crabmeat mason is described as (a dish other restaurants call crabmeat ravigote) is jumbo lump crabmeat touched with a very light mayonnaise flavored with a touch of mustard, capers, and lemon. The sauce is minimal, the crabmeat almost as good as it gets. (It would be better if it were always unpasteurized, but they run through so much crabmeat here that it’s a logistical problem.) The second part of the trio is shrimp remoulade, second only to Arnaud’s, tangy, spicy, and involving Louisiana shrimp of unimpeachable merit. The third item on the list crawfish, intertwined with a mustardy variation of the sauce on the crabmeat. MJ then tried the trout and Dave the amazing shrimp etouffée.
New Orleans is a foodie paradise because the chefs are not afraid to use spices and the flavors and sauces are amazingly rich and powerful. We recommend a short visit to New Orleans because you will make yourself miserable eating too much. Every place you
Billy from Galatoire's Restaurant
Come on in and we'll take good care of you.
see claims to have the best oysters, the best gumbo, the best etouffée, the best jambalaya, the best beignets and you will try all of them just to make sure. We won’t take the time to tell you about every meal, every snack and every drink or we would embarrass ourselves. We’ll make a short list at the bottom and allow the photos to tell part of the story.
We stayed right around the corner from Bourbon St., which is what most tourists think of when they think of New Orleans. Bourbon St. many things, from traditional to downright debauchery, but then again, that’s the beauty of Bourbon St. We were in a place that allows you to stroll down the street with an alcoholic beverage in hand. Called a “to go cup,” many a reveler can be seen with a adult beverage in hand as they stroll the street.
As you walk the streets of New Orleans the scents waft through the air. French-Creole, Spanish-Creole. African-Creole, and native-America Creole you are not hungry but you want to eat again and again.
On our second night in town our hotel was invaded by a couple hundred college
the mystery of NOLA
kids and they were not as well behaved as we would have liked and imagine their parents would not have been proud of their behavior. On Friday night at 2:30am one of the frat boys attempted to break into our room via our balcony. We were able to frighten him off. Saturday security was called to the floor following loud noises and some kind of property destruction. Certainly alcohol was involved but it is sad when a beautiful property is destroyed all in the name of “fun”. We were never like that and won’t ever really understand that behavior. Not to mention how did they afford these digs as college students….
Of course there is so much more to New Orleans….
Including the walking tour that allowed us a glimpse into the sordid past of the city and the challenges that were presented to it’s early inhabitants. The place literally burned down twice in its youth (1788 & 1794). Information about how the French, Catholic, Haitian, slave culture evolved to give the town a feel like no other, was quite interesting. The walk included a visit to a cemetery, which many would wonder why
The Batch Bar Hyatt French Quarter
someone would spend time visiting a place like that. But this is New Orleans, where because of the water table, many are buried above ground. The stories of how people were buried, how the families would pay for eternal upkeep of the crypts, mingled with how they dealt with yellow fever and death were to say the least, different. Plenty of ghost stories abound in this town along with tales of voodoo princess Marie Lavoo for those interested.
This is one of the birthplaces of jazz and it’s easy to find music to suit your tastes even if jazz is not your first love. The Preservation Jazz Hall is the hallmark of the French Quarter, but there is so much more…… as you walk the streets of the French Quarter and other areas in town you can hear music coming from bars, restaurants and many street performers. The French Quarter is alive
A monster hurricane did a tremendous amount of damage to this fine city, but the French Quarter fared better than most. Ten years after this cataclysmic event, there is nary a sign of it in the French Quarter. Other parts of the city have never really
The Batch Bar- Hyatt French Quarter
recovered. It is sad.
We wiled away our days just drinking in (sometimes literally) what the Big Easy had to offer. Hanging out in Jackson Square, wandering the French Quarter, finding tasty cuisine that was full of flavor kept us busy as we moved at a leisurely pace.
Our last time to visit NOLA was a decade or so ago. We stayed at Hotel St. Marie on Toulouse St. On one of our evening walks we stopped by to see what it looked like all these years later. It was lovely and we wished we had stayed there again. The quiet garden and dining area was so inviting we had drinks and dessert. The most amazing carrot cake I’ve ever had. YUM.
New Orleans has a façade……it is so much more than the French Quarter, if you get away from the tourist areas, dig a bit deeper you’ll find an even more fascinating city.
We planned to tour the W.W. II museum but never found the time in our wandering.
On our last day, we ventured to the Garden District, where we went to the famous District Donuts and…..sampled doughnuts that were unbelievably tasty and
Minion and Dave
They are everywhere!
strolled Lafayette Cemetary No. 1 and the neighborhood. One could just feel the history. This area was far more to our liking. After wandering the streets, looking at the shops we stopped at The Bulldog for a cold adult beverage. Sitting on the patio in the shade of the trees discussing past travels, friends, anniversaries past and wondering what the future will hold.
There is so much more to this storied city, but our time was limited. We definitely had a marvelous time with great friends. Restaurants:
The Pelican Club
The Gumbo Pot
The Cafe Dumond
The Cresent Brewery
The Batch Bar
Hotel St. Marie's restaurant
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