Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hello NOLA

We are spending a few days in New Orleans, and will be in the Superdome on Sunday for the game between the Saints and the 49ers. Who Dat!

We had an early morning flight on Thursday, and we were running on little sleep when we arrived at the airport. The worst part of any trip for me is that drive to the airport when I go over in my mind all the things I hope I didn't forget. Over and over.
Loved watching the sunrise as we began our journey.
We made a stop in Houston, where Jim spent some time with his electronics, and I checked out the shops.
We left Houston on Southwest airlines where seats aren't assigned ahead of time. The boarding was interesting, but we all got on, and landed safely in NOLA. I love it that passengers are greeted by music in the baggage claim area. We hopped in a cab for the ride to our hotel, and after a short conversation with the cab driver, I asked him where he was from. Haiti! I thought I recognized that accent! Of course, I then tried to impress him with the three Kreyol phrases I know. He laughed. Mesi anpil. :)
We stowed our bags at the hotel, and took a walk to find some lunch while we waited for our room to be available. I will apologize in advance for all the food and drink photos. It's just part of what we do in New Orleans. We had our first hurricane at Desire Oyster Bar on Bourbon Street.
We also had a delicious bowl of gumbo. (Not the dog.)
I love Gumbo. (The food and the dog.)
Jim found these Christmas cards at Fleurty Girl, and thought we might want to consider them for our card this year.
We were sad to see Brennen's all closed up. Apparently there was a buyout between two sides of the family, and it remains closed for now. We will miss having our Eggs Benedict and Bananas Foster. On one of our trips to New Orleans, we ate in one of the upstairs rooms near a door leading to the next room. Our waiter told us there was an NFL players' meeting of some sort going on, and Dan Marino was expected to be there. When he started to close the door so we wouldn't be bothered by the noise, I quietly told him to just leave it open. :) We did not see Dan, though.
This place makes these beautiful gas lights all by hand.
On our first day in NOLA, we like to go on the Original Cocktail Tour. This was our third time, and we enjoy learning some of the history of the old French Quarter establishments, and meeting the other tourists in the group. We liked our tour guide, Brian, who was new to us, and who obviously loved telling the stories of New Orleans.
Our first stop was at Antoine's, where we had a Pimm's Cup at the Hermes Bar.
Brian gave us a tour of the entire restaurant. and pointed out photos of some of the famous folks who have dined there.
The history of New Orleans includes the Mardi Gras 'Krewes', some of which have meeting rooms at Antoine's. This room is dedicated to the Krewe of Rex, and has photos of all the past 'Kings of Rex' which seem to be prominent business men from the city.
The buildings in the French Quarter are deceptive in their street side appearance, as they sometimes extend through most of a city block, often with beautiful courtyards and interior areas. This is the wine cellar at Antoine's, which appears to be a half a block long. At the far end is a street side window that pedestrians can look through from the other side. That's a lot of wine!
Brian told us about some kind of secret snail society that meets in this room.
I think they refer to themselves as 'escargot' instead of snails. :)
This room is for the Krewe of Proteus.
Many of the costumes and jewels from past parades are on display.
This is a duck press, used to prepare young duck into an elegant dish. Brian says they still use it if someone happens to bring them a fresh young duck. We thought some of his stories just might have included a wee bit of embellishment. :)
In this room he told us stories of New Orleans in the days of prohibition, when the only entrance was through a door in the women's restroom.
Our next stop was at the Court of Two Sisters, which has one of the most beautiful courtyards in the Quarter.
This wisteria bush in the center provides a canopy over much of the courtyard. He said the wisteria is hundreds of years old (or maybe just one hundred, you know me and numbers), and blooms for just a few weeks in the spring. I've been trying to grow a wisteria at home for several years now without much luck.
We tried a Bayou Bash at the Court of Two Sisters, and took it in a 'go cup', which is legal in the streets of New Orleans.
Last on the tour was Arnaud's. We have enjoyed dinner in the Jazz Bistro there several times. We had not, however, been upstairs to the Mardi Gras museum. It was really quite impressive, and Brian allowed us to look around and take photos of some of the extravagant costumes worn by the daughter of Count Arnaud, who reigned over twenty-two Mardi Gras balls.

And on the way downstairs, I spotted some old friends! Boiler Up! Who Dat!
After the cocktail tour, we headed for another favorite, Acme Oyster House. We met some nice folks from Houston in line, who were in town for their daughter's wedding. We talked football, basketball, and wedding plans. It's always fun to visit with other tourists.
I like the char-grilled oysters,
and Jim likes the raw oysters on the half-shell.
This is the fountain in the courtyard at our hotel, which they cover with a tarp for the winter. It was a little rainy yesterday, so the tarp keeps things dry and warm.
We took the streetcar out to the Garden District for lunch at Commander's Palace on Friday. We ate there for the first time last year, and enjoyed it so much that we wanted to go back. We started off with the 25 cent martinis. This is the Commander's martini, which is the color of the outside of the restaurant.  It would be good for a Colts fan, too. :)
THIS, is what I came for.. bread pudding soufflé. It is made to order, so you have to tell them you want one when you order your lunch. It is brought to the table hot, and then the waiter breaks the domed top as he spoons the sauce over and into the soufflé. Soooo good!
On our way back to the streetcar stop, we found this corn stalk fence around a house in the Garden District.
I love all the iron work in New Orleans, and this is a beautiful example of the detail in some of the fences.
Jim liked it too, and thinks he might need to install one of these somewhere at home.
And back to the food theme we're on, we ate dinner at Irene's, and enjoyed another helping of oysters. These are called 'Oysters Irene', and have an Italian flair. Delicious!
We concluded our Friday evening with our first visit to Preservation Hall. I have heard about it, and pictured a 'hall' as in Clowes Hall. It is not that. It is a small, intimate venue tucked away in the French Quarter, that would barely be noticed by passersby. There are wooden benches for patrons, with standing room and floor cushions for overflow. We did purchase a ticket ahead of time, so we would be sure to get a seat on a bench.
I took this picture when we were seated, but they don't allow photos or recording during the show. We saw the Preservation Hall Jazz Masters, which included one woman, who played the trombone, and five men on drums, bass, trumpet, saxophone, and piano. It was an enjoyable evening, and they included one of my favorites, made famous by Louis Armstrong.
"I hear babies cry, I watch them grow,
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know,
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world."

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