Sunday, October 30, 2016

New Orleans Oct. 15-18, 2016


I wasn't able to join Scott Babe on his business trip to "The Big Easy" two years ago, but I had always been curious about it.  So when my girlfriend Melinda and I thought about taking a long weekend together, we quickly decided on New Orleans because it was on her bucket list, too.

Saturday, Oct. 15th
Selfie at baggage claim in New Orleans :)

Inn On St. Peter
The historic New Orleans street tiles date back to the 1870’s.

The Inn on St. Peter -- Our home for the next three nights.

We had the upstairs suite.

We used this door on Burgundy street to get to our suite.

This is what we faced when we opened that door!
Since we were staying at a small establishment, I became the bellhop! :)

Room #23

We used our Keurig every morning!

Melinda's lovely pic. (To access the balcony, you open the window!)

 My room

Melinda's room

This was the perfect 3 night stay for us in the French Quarter.  I'm so glad my girlfriend, Cyndy, recommended this place.

Selfie

We enjoyed bubbly on our balcony after we got settled in. It felt surreal. We had this planned for many months and the time was finally here!

Wedding party going by on Burgundy Street

  Varied modes of transportation shot by Melinda

 
How we got to the balcony!

Bourbon Street

Doesn't this look good? Great reviews. Maybe next time!


Melinda's pic. (You could smell the paint on him a mile away.)

After our refresher, we checked out the famous Bourbon Street (two blocks from us) and surrounding streets. Bourbon Street was crowded like an amusement park!

Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone

We picked a busy time to check this out, but it worked out. We couldn't score a seat at the revolving bar, but got lucky with a corner table. We ordered the famous Sazerac. Perfect drink to put hair on your chest!
(A friend recommends their breakfast or lunch. Next time!)

NOLA Restaurant

We had a dinner reservation at Emeril's Nola. We took the elevator up in this renovated warehouse. Our expecting waitress was just lovely. We small chatted and learned that Emeril treats his employees well. She was offered more maternity time than the standard leave.

What I ordered:

LOCAL LOUISIANA CRAB CAKE - creole corn maque choux ∙ green tomato chow chow

SHRIMP & GRITS - sautéed gulf shrimp ∙ grilled green onions ∙ smoked cheddar grits ∙ applewood smoked bacon ∙ crimini mushrooms ∙ lemon butter sauce

I am a big fan of shrimp and grits, but sadly, Emeril's didn't meet my expectations.  I like every ingredient listed above, but something was definitely off with my dish. Raymond's in Montclair does a much better job. I should have ordered Emeril's buttermilk fried chicken.

We shared their tasty dessert special: Blueberry Cheesecake Bread Pudding - graham ice cream, blueberry compote, candied lemon zest.

No food pics! Lighting was too dim.

After dinner, we made an attempt to have a drink at the Napoleon House. It was very packed with people in a small space.

Sunday, Oct. 16th

I ventured out in the morning to pick up beignets for our room. I loved the antique window shopping along my walk. The glassware and sterling were breathtaking.

Cafe Beignet on Royal

A shop owner and my girlfriend, Kristina, both recommended Cafe Beignet.  I arrived at 9:25 am, got in line, and waited patiently for about 20 minutes. The beignets were cooked to order, so I had another 10 minutes. Not a problem, Somehow, I scored a table and enjoyed an iced coffee.

My table didn't have this cool vintage tile work. (I'm a sucker for tile.)

Back in our room - 1 of the 3 beignets above. Light and fluffy. I highly recommend! I also quartered a blueberry muffin. Delicious, simple breakfast.

Tropical Isle
Home of the Hand Grenade 🍹
Complete with a $250 fine for any other bar claiming to make it!

See those two small swing doors on the right?  There's a mini bar right behind them. Scott Babe and his friends picked up hand grenades to go while walking around town two years ago.

Scott Babe and his colleagues enjoying the hand grenades.

Melinda's three pics above
 


Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry" on Bourbon Street

Music on Royal

Jazz Brunch at Court of Two Sisters


Melinda's pic and Facebook caption: This Wisteria we sit beneath is 180 years old, and I understand that 3 duels during the Battle of New Orleans were fought beneath it. It was named Court of the Two Sisters during WWII.

The food at the buffet was just ok. Thumbs up to my  Jameson + Ginger. Our waiter from Chicago, who has lived in Nola for 40 years, likes this drink, too, but never tried it with a slice of lime. He was going to try it when his shift ended!

After our brunch, we took an Uber a few miles to City Park for our gondola ride! Melinda and I booked this well in advance. We were both agreed that we did not want to do the touristy steamboat on the Mississippi. We highly recommend this alternative water escape!

Gondola Tour in City Park
Melinda's two pics above

 We left our mark!

Sculpture Garden on the right.

Our gondolier, Robert, took our pic. :)

Frenchmen Street

We took an Uber to Frenchmen Street after our fun gondola ride. This street is a must for anyone that visits. Just keep in mind that the bars don't open until 4 or 5 pm.

We were dropped off in front of The Spotted Cat and enjoyed live music.


We visited the Frenchmen Art Market that was just setting up next door:


After browsing the art market, we made the mistake of trying a place called "30°/-90°." The restaurant/bar was lively with a band and large crowd, but where were the bartenders?! Time was of the essence -- we moved on.

Melinda's pic of Bamboula's

Bamboula's was our favorite.  The Messy Cookers Jazz Band were performing. They were so good that we even bought their CD. The atmosphere was hip -- the space was once an old printing shop.

If time had permitted, we would have stayed on Frenchmen Street longer and visited again.

We took an Uber back down to the French Quarter for dinner.

Brennan's
(Our favorite meal!)
Chanteclair Room (Brennan's photo)
This restaurant was recommended by Cyndy. I was also sold when I saw this image on their website. I loved the classic French look.

When we arrived, I said to the hostess, "Do you have a good table for us?" She said, "As a matter of fact, we do. You're getting the table people request most. It's by the window facing the street and you can people watch!"

Photo taken from our table in the Vieux Carre Room.

HIBISCUS PIMM'S CUP - delicious
Pimm's No. 1, Flight 69 Gin, hibiscus infused simple syrup, seasonal fruit and cucumber

There were six warm buns and salted butter placed before our eyes. I try to avoid bread, however, I had a feeling this one was going to be too good to pass up. I can't remember if Melinda ate one or two or if I had four or five!!! I was even using one to finish off the sauce from our lobster appetizer. I never do that! LOL.

What we devoured:
Lobster & salad appetizers

NEW ORLEANS BBQ LOBSTER
Creole spiced butter, lemon confit, toasted Bellegarde baguette.

JACKSON SALAD
A Brennan’s Original - quail eggs, Nueke's applewood bacon, Valdeon blue cheese & French dressings. (sans the eggs & bacon!)

FILET OF BEEF STANLEY
Parmesan herb roasted bananas, porcini mushrooms, horseradish yogurt, sauce perigourdine.

CHANTERELLE TAGLIATELLE
Housemade tagliatelle, Louisiana chanterelle mushrooms, heirloom grade tomatoes, sweet corn, Taleggio cream & herb purée.

When it appeared that Melinda was finished with her tagliatelle, I said, "Don't let them take your plate." I felt like I had become Scott, who always finishes my plates!!! I ate the last remaining bites of her plate! SO DELICIOUS!


Monday, Oct. 17th
(Last full day)
Inn on St. Peter 

8:45 am - I stepped out to grab some bottles of water from the front desk. This meant going around the corner from our suite entrance. I ran into this borzoi beauty named Zelda. The owner really liked to chat!  I kept thinking, "I didn't have my coffee yet!" hehe. She was very friendly, though, and gave me travel tips for her lovely city. (Columns hotel was one of them. Stay tuned...)

Annie and Abby were the happiest pooches in the French Quarter! They were so excited to meet Melinda! I took a dozen photos. This one is my favorite.

The Ruby Slipper
The Ruby Slipper was a last minute addition to our itinerary, thanks to my cousin, Diane, who recommended it. It looked great (and it was!) and was in an ideal location.

 The place was packed, even on a Monday morning! We happily sat at the bar. Above is my iced Irish cream coffee with whipped cream. Yummy!

There were at least six different options for Benedicts, and they gave you an option of "The Peacemaker" if you couldn't decide on just one. :) I chose the Corned Beef and the Shrimp Boogaloo (with pork tasso served over fried green tomatoes). Both were over a buttermilk biscuit. Both were amazing.  But I preferred the corned beef.
The side of candied-bacon wasn't bad either!

Streetcar ride
Melinda's pic of the red line.

Pics taken from our streetcar ride.

After breakfast, we walked two blocks to catch the St. Charles Avenue/green line streetcar. This ride was recommended to us by a few locals. It was cool to be seated in the oldest, continuously-operating streetcar in the world! The plan was to take the ride to the last stop (about 45 minutes) and then, on the return back, stop at the historical Columns Hotel for a refresher. Sadly, their bar didn't open until 3 pm. There's always Plan B.

We got off at the posh Pontchartrain Hotel in the Garden District:

Pontchartrain Hotel's photo above
Melinda's lovely pic of the Caribbean Room

 My pic in the Bayou Bar

Melinda's pic
Bayou Bar at the Pontchartrain Hotel (run by New Orleans chef John Besh). The streetcar ride was a little too long for my liking, so my "Morrison Mule" hit the spot!

After drinks, we called an Uber to bring us back to the French Quarter to enjoy a slice of chocolate pecan pie at The Grill! This was another awesome recommendation from Cyndy. :) I also ordered a chocolate shake -- why not? ♥

Victorian Silver Plated Napkin Rings - England, Circa 1890
We checked out New Orleans Silversmiths on Chartres Street, where I couldn't turn down these lovely napkin rings. I had been on a hunt for new or vintage ones ever since I started my new china collection -- the same dishes The Villa Richard uses, made by Lenox. (Pic above includes cup and saucer from that pattern.)

St Louis Cathedral - Oldest Catholic Cathedral in the U.S.
One of the best examples of French architecture in the country, this triple-spired cathedral is dedicated to Louis IX, the French king sainted in 1297.

A visit to NOLA is incomplete without a stop at Cafe Du Monde!

My Bar 635
We tried a couple of bars on Bourbon Street before we were glued to our stools at My Bar 635.

Billy Joel's, "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me"

An Instagram Story I did to show what was happening outside of this bar. (Guns N' Roses cover of Sweet Child of Mine)

Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire :)

Bruce Springsteens' Jersey Girl

Elton John's Bennie and the Jets

We LOVED the bar so much that we opted to stay longer instead of heading back to our room to change into fancier clothes for dinner at Commander's Palace. Melinda looked dolled up—she already had a dress on. I, on the other-hand, was in a nice top/necklace and jeans.


Commander's Palace


This is one of those restaurants you hear about, but think you'll never have the chance to dine at! I remember my Grandmother saying she enjoyed it, but wish I had remembered which dishes she like the most.

Unfortunately, we had a very awkward moment when our waiter, Gabriel, served Melinda her glass of red wine. She and I must have been chatting away when he came with her glass.  After pouring her glass, he just stood there staring out into space.

Melinda and I look at each other with our eyes speaking, "What is going on???"

I thought maybe he didn't get my drink order, so I repeated mine: their version of the classic Tom Collins.  Gabriel said, "I got your order Ma'am."

He continued to stand there and Melinda and I had no idea what was going on. :(

Gabriel continued to stand there like a statue.  I wish he had said, "How is your wine, Ma'am?" But no, he stood there for what felt like five minutes.  We didn’t realize that he hadn’t poured a full glass of wine for her.

Ordering was also uncomfortable with this guy. On each occasion we saw him throughout the evening, he maintained the condescending and patronizing (almost mocking) air about him.

Melinda is semi-vegetarian and asked if the duck could be eliminated from the Butternut Squash Gnocchi.  He said he would check.  I then (mistakenly) asked if I should go for the filet or one of the gulf fish entrées. He assured me that I can get steak anywhere and that I should go with the seared fish.

I was served my Collins by another staff member along with the table bread.

After some time had passed, long enough for Melinda to forget what he would have been referencing, Gabriel came back (slightly behind Melinda) and said to her, "YES."

"Pardon me?" Melinda said.

Gabriel replied, "Yes, we can leave out the duck."

Wild Louisiana white shrimp, tasso ham, pickled okra, sweet onions, 5 pepper jelly and Crystal hot sauce beurre blanc
*Gracious permission given by Melissa Gonzalez to post her lovely shrimp photo!

My highlight of dinner (aside from my the wonderful company of Melinda!) was this the Shrimp & Tasso Henican appetizer -- pictured above! It was EXCELLENT. The restaurant's website even has the recipe listed!!! Anybody want to make it for me?! Click here. (It looks like a ton of work -- that's why I don't want to attempt it!)

I was extremely disappointed with my Griddle Seared Gulf Fish entrée. Just awful. I regret not ordering their steak.

When it was time to order dessert, we were ready to bolt. Had the experience been better, I probably would have ordered Lally’s Praline Parfait or their Dark Chocolate Tart.

We had our Uber driver, Jamal from Jerusalem, laughing when he asked how our dinner was. We were the first riders he has had in 20 years to say anything bad about Commander's Palace.

Our nightcap was at the 700 Club
 (Pic taken from our balcony on first day)

Tuesday, Oct. 18th

There are many haunted tours in this city but, we didn't need to bother; Melinda had her own haunting in our suite! She prepared her Earl Grey in the Keurig, took a sip, and sat it down on the coffee table. She went to the other room and, upon her return, it had been spilled!

Breakfast

Melinda's pic
We were planning to just get a coffee/pastry at CC's Coffee House, but Pere Antonine looked good, and it was!

We also checked out Southern Paws, a hip dog boutique that even had a very cool section for cats. They just opened up a month ago. I hope they are successful.

George Rodrigue Gallery



French Quarter snapshots

Old doors next to Pat O'Brien's


This is Lafitte’s Blacksmith - a 300 year old pirate smuggling head quarters.  We didn't have time to stop in, but Scott Babe had drinks here during his trip.  He says they have some weird slushy drink called "Purple Voodoo."


Melinda's pic and caption: The locals are very fond of, and attached to, this water meter design, as the majority of them were washed away during Katrina.

Melinda's pic taken on the marble steps of 924 Orleans

From the book "912 Orleans, The Story of a Rescue" by Walter Lowry, 
written about the 1960s renovation of the family home:
“The sun sets slowly. Its long red rays steam horizontally down the stillness of Orleans Street. Miss Carrie has brought out her folding chair and has taken her seat by her stoop to observe her domain. She insists she is 78 years old. Her physique denies this assertion, but her wisdom stoutly sustains it…Her friendship is very highly to be treasured.”

 Washing Well Laundryteria

Bourbon Pub

 Erin Rose




Jackson Brewery

Souvenirs

I LOVED the souvenir shops so much that I've made a little list in case I want to shop some more!
WhatsNew
Roux Royale
Royal Praline Company
Toulouse Royale Gifts
Forever New Orleans

Other tips

For anyone planning to visit New Orleans, here are the things that were on the list that we didn't have time to do.
Acme Oyster House
(but a friend later told me to skip Acme and do Felix’s across the street)
Drago's is highly recommend by Melissa. She devoured their charbroiled oysters.

Preservation Hall

Lunch options:
Coop's
Johnny's
K-Paul's - A must for second visit. Best meal Melissa had in NOLA.
Erin Rose - little back restaurant with the best Po' Boys, says my gf Katie!

Pat O'Briens
Bar Tonique

Central Grocery

Ice cream:
The Creole Creamery
La Divina Gelateria
Salon by Sucre

Croissant D'Or Patisserie (I wanted to also check out their beautiful tile work inside)

The End!

2 comments:

  1. Love, love, love this post! You should be a trip advisor; so thorough !

    ReplyDelete