Tuesday, February 16, 2016

TWTW - the one in New Orleans

Some people are like Sweet Brown, ain't got no time for trip or weekend recaps so for you, I'll shotgun my New Orleans feelings here: I did not have one thing to eat that I didn't like - the food is crazy in this town. Music surrounded me everywhere and I loved that. The city felt shrouded in mystery and made me think a lot about vampires and voodoo, of things we glimpse on the edge of our vision, of what we can learn from looking in nooks and crannies. I loved the alleys, courtyards, gates, wrought iron, balconies, buildings, colors, weather... I loved the funky shops and the artists and psychics in Jackson Square. I loved staying on Chartres Street close to the action but not right in it. I loved wandering the French Market and talking to local artists on Sunday morning. I loved the grand old homes in the Garden District and the raised cemeteries rising like small cities of the dead. I loved the walkability of the city and the spirit of its people. I disliked the stench of Bourbon and Royal Streets (Jana was correct in describing it as every type of excretion imaginable mixed together) and drunk people who must have thought they were filming their own personal girls gone wild video bumping into me beginning at noon and continuing on through the day, so I largely avoided both of those streets except in the morning. I expect that at night but in the early afternoon? Let me live.
And now the details and eleventy billion photos.

Friday afternoon found us sprinting through the airport to make a 3:30 flight to New Orleans (MFD loves to push his airport limits), and a few hours later we were aghast at the amount of people in the line for taxis. As in, over 150 people. Not one to let my time pass me by, we made the executive decision to go for the pumped up Uber fare ($75, taxi flat rate is $36) and we were heading into the Crescent City within minutes.

Friday night dinner at the Gumbo Shop on the recommendation of Gwen was the perfect introduction to New Orleans: a little spicy and in no great hurry. My tried and true Northeasterner self struggles with the pace of the South every time. I had crawfish and pasta in tasso cream and MFD had a creole combo so I sampled his seafood okra gumbo, jambalaya, and macque choux corn. I had a huge ass piece of pecan pie that was fabulous to top off the meal.
The Gumbo Shop was perfectly situated for our plan to see one of the three nightly shows at Preservation Hall. This was number one on my To Do list in New Orleans. Unless you buy advanced tickets (sold out when I tried), it's standing room only for the 45 minute show. I ended up sitting out on one of the old ass seats in the hall in lieu of behind the mystery farter in the room.The sound was just as good. MFD stood in the doorway and watched the whole thing with better views than he would have otherwise. It was awesome and absolutely worth the $20 each to get in. There are no frills, no refreshments, no bathroom, nothing pretty about the place except for the music and the music is enough. I'm still singing oh Eliza, little Liza Jane on repeat.
I got a beer and MFD got a red bull and we lasted about two blocks on Bourbon Street before taking refuge in the quieter streets behind St. Louis Cathedral, which has a statue throwing off awesome shadows. The quiet sign made me laugh. It was quietER. That'll do.
Of course we hit Cafe du Monde, both Saturday and Sunday mornings. I like their coffee and MFD loves his sweets.
We spent early Saturday morning in Louis Armstrong Park in the Treme neighborhood dedicated to one of the city's most celebrated native sons. A bust of Sidney Bechet, another NOLA music king, as well as other art is dotted around the park.
Saturday Jazz Brunch at the Court of the Two Sisters on the recommendation of Colleen K - we sat in the courtyard even though it was a little chilly. The setting was really lovely with brick and vines and burbling fountains. The jazz was a nice background, service was friendly, and I have never in my life had better sweet potatoes. Ever. Like I could have sat there all day and eaten 12 pounds of those sweet potatoes and I've already sussed out the recipe on the internets.
MFD headed off to his conference and I took the Saint Charles Streetcar to the Garden District, where I rambled around its torn up sidewalks under huge old trees, peeking at the grand houses on the wide streets. It was peaceful and quiet, a world away from the bustle of the French Quarter, if only about 20 minutes by streetcar. A note about the streetcar transport: cheap as hell (day pass for $3, go anywhere, use the RTA app on your phone and you don't even need cash) but operating on whatever schedule they want and passing you by if they're full. I waited a half hour on the way there with two passing me and 50 minutes on the way back with three passing me. And that was with walking down and getting on the car earlier in the line in lieu of at the popular Washington Avenue stop. I also perused Magazine Street and had some sweet sustenance at Sucre, taking some macarons to go.
Of course no visit to the Garden District is complete without a peek behind the walls of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, one of the oldest cemeteries in the city. The tombs are raised and wall vaults line the perimeter. Well shaded by Magnolia trees and gothic feeling, it takes up an entire city block. It was first active in 1833 and still has burials occurring.
Saturday evening dinner at Tujague's on Decatur, a recommendation from my coworker. This joint opened in 1856 under a different name but has been Tujague's for the past 70-some years and has adopted many of the original traditions, including serving hot coffee in rocks glasses. The service was impeccable and the food was amazing. MFD had oysters in brochette and I had fried green tomatoes with crabmeat ravigote to start, then a meh caesar that I didn't even need anyway, and filet Tujagues - a filet with creole seasonings accompanied by gulf fried oysters and a Crystal Hot Sauce bearnaise reduction (I got it on the side). The crust on this steak was unbelievable. MFD actually told the waiter he'd bathe in it. So the waiter got a little taste of Shit MFD Said and he liked it. 
I had walked one billion miles that day and had the blisters on my toes to prove it so I was done done done. MFD went and heard some jazz on Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny section and enjoyed it a lot. 

Sunday began with another morning walk in the French Quarter:
Jackson Square, which was truly magnificent with the cathedral in the back and ringed with artists and performers throughout most of the day:
After MFD was off to his conference, I strolled the French Market, talked to some merchants, enjoyed the sunny skies and warm breezes, sipped some coffee, and stepped into some galleries and shops. Perfect Sunday morning, right? I am a statue lover and this town did not disappoint. 
I walked along the mighty Mississippi for a bit, watching the Natchez steamboat take off with its wheel paddling furiously in the muddy river and listening to a joyful trombone player for a while. 
MFD and I had our au revoir lunch at Felix's, a recommendation from Angie, and hot damn it was good. We split chargrilled oysters that were incredible and I had a fried oyster po boy I swore I had no room for but finished. We even ate the delicious bread with the oysters even though I swear I have never had more bread in my life than I had this weekend. Allll the french bread. 
I know, I know, STFU with the food. Just two more for you: Spitfire Coffee (excellent iced coffee and very unique mole cortada that was great), they have tip jars and you place your vote for the day in them. MFD placed his dollar in science and I placed mine in magic. And Central Grocery for the muffuletta. Just do it. I could only eat half of a half but I'm glad I at least tasted the magic.
We stayed at the Hotel Provincial and I loved it. Really nice staff and a great location on Chartres tucked out of the way of the insanity. I also considered the Cornstalk. That was really cool looking from the outside and in a good location as well. If you do decide to stay at Hotel Provincial, ask for a room off a balcony. We didn't and wish we did. We stayed in building five, which is a restoration of the original 1875 structure that was at one time a Civil War military hospital. 
I'll just leave a few videos here of some music for those that like that sort of jazz...get it? I'm going to start with the one where the guy is playing a Kora African Bass Harp, an instrument that originates in West Africa. He built this one himself. I thought the sound was unique and I liked sitting and listening to him in Jackson Square on my way back to the hotel to leave for the airport.



Entertaining the people in line at Cafe du Monde on Sunday:



Royal Street


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On the way to the airport, I rode by a Second Line party in Treme on the way out of town and that was a fine sendoff. My brother picked me up and I got home around 11:15 and to bed a little before 1 after many lovely greetings from the dogs. Thanks to our friends Catie & Joe for watching the grumble this weekend while we were gone!

I worked yesterday as there are no bank holidays off here. Thus you get TWTW on Tuesday. 

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Linking up with Biana at B Loved Boston for Weekending

40 comments:

  1. This was a lovely recap for me because I've been to New Orleans many times, but I haven't been in over 10 years. I've been as a couple, as a girls' group, with a work conference, and more. I've even been to a wedding that was (get this) at Hotel Provincial in the very courtyard that you have a picture with an iced coffee (I think). The weather looked phenomenal for pictures. I've been to Felix's a couple of times and I don't even like oysters. And, I was licking my lips when you described the filet Tujagues. I went one year for NYE, that alone told me that I didn't ever need to go to Mardi Gras. Yes, I was one of the drunken fools in the masses, but I didn't need to be it ever again.

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  2. NOLA!!! what a great recap; i inhaled all of your descriptions because that place is def on my bucket list. so much history and thanks to The Originals, shrouded in secrets LOL.

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  3. NOLA is on our list. A long weekend sounds like the perfect timeline. I have no desire to go to Mardi Gras, but a food tour...that's high on my list. It seems like a fun music city too. Great recap!

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  4. I took a like 2 hour pit stop in NOLA while roadtripping from AZ to FL with my then boyfriend. I was driving into NOLA and it was DOWNPOURING. like torrential rain and wind, can't see 2 feet in front of you shit weather. and it was only like 2-3 years after the floods so I was a basket case, clearly convinced that it was going to flash flood and we would die. I pulled over and refused to drive any further until the rain slowed down. Thankfully it did stop and we ended up having a nice break from the endless driving. I've always said I'd love to go back to really experience it. If I do end up back in NOLA I'll be coming back to this post for suggestions! You are my travel/nail polish guru haha

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  5. I'm planning a trip to NOLA in April with a girlfriend so this post was top-notch for me! I'm looking forward to the food (of course) and some of the culture and history. I wasn't to set on a jazz show, but now that you've talked about it it sounds like something that would be fun! and for $20 that's not bad at all.

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  6. Felix is good. There's a place across the street, Acme, that is even better. I love New Orleans in the early morning and the area around Charles Square in the late evening. Some of my favorite post rain pictures are of the French market and Louis Armstrong park. Magical light off the statues and reflections in the puddles. Can do without Bourbon Street.

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  7. Awesome x 50 million. I want to visit! The food descriptions are marvelous. The music videos. Descriptions of everything. Another superb travel blog. Lol at Mike Doyle bathing in the sauce. Have an easy week from today on getting back in the swing of things!
    Love. Your. Momma!

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  8. Most disgusting smelling city in the history of time.

    All the things you did? What my friends and I planned on doing had we, you know, not gotten lost. But we had an amazing time in all these weird little shops in whatever part of the city we did wind up in.

    The husband has his annual conference in NOLA in 2018 so I'll be going back and hopefully getting to do all the things I missed the first time around.

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  9. I have never been to New Orleans but am dying to go. We have a conference there in November and I can't wait. One more state off of my list! I may eat beignets all day every day while there.

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  10. I so want to go just to eat. I love the way you travel and take your time. I'm not good at that. I should stop on more benches for more street performers and the like. Now I want cajun food for lunch.

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  11. I need to go back to NOLA! I have only been during Mardi Gras and that was super fun but so much history missed. Great recap! All the food looks freaking amazing!

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  12. This is some place that just seems like it holds some sort of aura...
    I want to go visit those cemeteries there.
    & that French Quarter. Just makes me think of the show "The Originals" :) (its set there)
    That Pecan Pie... I literlly stared at it for a good minute thinking about how good that looked :)

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  13. I love New Orleans so much, and you seriously can't beat the food! It sounds like y'all had some great recommendations from friends, and couldn't eat enough on your trip, which is supposed to happen! The statue at St. Louis' Cathedral casts such a weird statue, doesn't it?

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  14. What a fun weekend. All this food is making me hungry!! I just want to visit New Orleans for the food. hahaha

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  15. You guys are reminding me of my first year of marriage we made a pact to travel every month. We were home for 10 weekends that year it was amazing - Enjoy!

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  16. I love NOLA so much! It looks like you had a great time. You're right, the food never disappoints!

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  17. Looks like so much good food. Blisters from walking is no fun, but I'm sure was worth it. The streetcars passing me would have irked me, but I guess to be expected there.

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  18. I've been to New Orleans a couple of times and I really enjoyed it. It's so different and full of different cultures and the food is seriously out of this world. Now all I want is a shrimp poboy.

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  19. Food is always my favorite part of vacations... mine and other people's, lololol
    What is tasso cream?! Whatever it is, it looks delicious!
    The cemetary would be so cool to visit! Why do they call it No. 1? Are there others with the same name??
    LOL at the waiter "getting a taste of shit MFD said."

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  20. This is on my must see list someday, where else can you visit cemeteries without looking like a freak but the south?

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  21. Mmmm, the crawfish pasta sounds delish - I almost always go for crawfish since it's not something I can usually get here. I almost told you to go to Court of Two Sisters, but I wasn't sure if you could do brunch with MFD's schedule. We go there every time we're in NOLA. And oh, the French bread. Everywhere.

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  22. Ahhhh, I'm jealous - I <3 NOLA! ........................
    ^My cat just typed all those dots for you, so I figured it's a pretty important message and I should leave it. ANYWAY - I've only been there once (for one day!) but can't wait to go back! I love old cities where the air just feels heavy with history!

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  23. I agree with you that the food in Nola is just amazing. We stopped in Tujague's for a drink and appetizer but didn't have a full meal. Yours sounds amazing! How long did you wait in line at Cafe Du Monday. I know you were probably smart and hit it up early but everyone we were in the area, the line was hundreds of people long.

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  24. Looks like you did it up right!!! i love New Orleans so much. So much great food, history and awesome people. when i was there recently someone commented on my instagram that cafe du monde isn't great. i was stunned. anyway, love your recap and so glad y'all have fun!

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  25. What fun! (but I gained 10 pounds just reading about it... )

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  26. One of my all-time favorite cities! Love that you guys had another trip to look forward to right after South Africa. And yessss to all the food, and it sounds like the extra money for the Uber was more than worth it <3

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  27. Wow, fabulous recap! I love how MFD said he would 'bathe' in the crust. Not drink it but BATHE in it, lolol. Your "let me live" quote made me laugh out loud, good point about the day drinkers. They need to learn their manners in all their reverie!

    I don't know why everyone hates on food pics and posts, as long as the food is yummy, I love them! All that stuff looks incredible, truly incredible. Looks perfectly heavy, savory and delicious.

    I have never been to the South, it's the only part of the US that I never have. So I'm dying to go and I really want to go to New Orleans and Savannah. I love the statues and music you have described here! Sound incredible (minus the mystery tooter- no bueno!).

    Looks like a fun time. I was sad to work yesterday too ... bah humbug indeed, esp. since the city was practically empty meaning everyone else got to play.

    Good recap, thank you for the little travel snippet.

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  28. New Orleans is on our short list. (Toronto/Niagara won out this year, but it was between those two). I'm worried that I won't be able to eat a thing besides sweets though! Haha! Your pictures are so colorful. Was it still crowded or had everyone gone home after Mardi Gras? And what was the weather like? I do not want to go in the summer, but also not in the fall during hurricane season either. I want to wander around and take in the sights just like you did!

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  29. I'm dying to go to New Orleans! It seems to be such a photogenic city and the food... *drool*

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  30. This is great and very helpful. I'm trying to convince my job to send me to a conference in NOLA this May and I'll take M along with me. I loved the musical/raw/earthy aspect of Memphis so I'm thinking this is right up my alley. I REALLY hope I can go!

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  31. i have only been to new orleans once, and it was definitely for a bourbon street girls gone wild type trip... lol. obviously i would never do that again, but it sucks to know you don't at least get some peace in the day time. also, i don't remember anything we ate, i probably ate mcdonalds the whole time (ew) so obviously i need to go back and eat all the things.

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  32. Love, love New Orleans! Bourbon Street . . . not so much! I could wander the streets and shops for hours. It was fun to see if through your eyes . . . so glad you got to join MFD!

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  33. I haven't been to New Orleans since May of 2001....a few months before Katrina. I would love to go back now and see what has changed. Plus I wasn't of proper age to do much when I was there last. I loved Cafe du Monde and the graveyard that you visited. I remember driving by the Real World House on a bus tour that we did. That was pretty funny. The Real World gives me all the laughs. Looks like you guys had a great time! You are killing me with the pasta and food pictures! YUM!!!

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  34. I love New Orleans! You are so right: the food is the biggest reason to go. Should've told you before you went but The Camellia Grill is one of my favs that I must visit anytime I'm in NOLA. Glad y'all had a great trip!

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  35. I LOVE all the food pics! Yes yes yes to this entire post. I've been wanting to go to New Orleans for years, for the food, magic/voodoo shops, and music. I've heard about the stench on Bourbon Street, and wonder if it would rival some NYC streets. The mystery farter LOL. I think I need to see a show there. You certainly got around and saw so much in such a short time- sounds like an awesome trip!

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  36. I am so jealous! I was gushing over your Instagram telling my husband that we have to go in the near future! I am extremely jealous of all The FOOD!

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  37. New Orleans is high on our list of places to visit, and I'm not going to lie ... One of the main reasons we want to go so badly is the food. Haha.

    It was on our short list for anniversary trips last year, but New Mexico won out when we realized it would be less expensive. We wanted a "cheap" trip, and even though it wasn't actually that cheap, we saved a lot of money by driving. We would definitely fly to New Orleans!

    I love that the waiter got a taste of Shit MFD Said. I read that and thought, "This is like going out with Eric." I really need to start keeping notes on the random shit he says to people when we're out. Haha.

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  38. YES! We are heading there in two weeks and I can't wait. We have 3 full days and all I want to do is eat. I'm definitely going to send this to our group.

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  39. Just to let you know how helpful this post is, I've forwarded it to one of my customers here in Australia who will be visiting New Orleans for a couple of days next month.

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