Friday, February 18, 2011

Day 1 in New Orleans: thank God for the advice of the locals

Well, it is official we are on vacation!  The first thing I was told when I landed at MSY in New Orleans last night was that I talk too fast and to slow down. . . I guess that is the point of a vacation!  I have only heard it once today.  It probably helps that my I had a Bloody Mary before my first cup of coffee, it's like Vegas here, take your drink with you everywhere!

Our first stop for all day breakfast was "Mother's" a New Orleans legendary spot that was packed with locals and tourists alike.  There was a homage to the military that have served and several interesting historical artifacts, like the letter from Eisenhower from 1944 telling soldiers what they were fighting for.  We had to figure out how it worked to order, you wait in the line with your menu figuring out what you want, looking at the other diners did help, and then get to the cash to choose and pay, then your food is brought out to you.  Biscuits were the must have item, fresh, hot and $1.25 with 3 pats of butter and I swear 1/4 cup of jam for each of us.  I couldn't quite try grits.. maybe tomorrow.  Our egg and biscuit breakfast was delicious and we left stuffed.  If that scrambled egg was only 1 like we ordered, that is a BIG chicken!  Portions overall were huge, and the diner's chairs were very strong judging from the size of the diners.  I learned what "debris" was (the bits that fall off the roast beef and cook in the juices) and opted out for my breakfast.. . although I know James was tempted.  He had a cup of delicious gumbo instead and seemingly okra free.

We began our walk in earnest then, and found the Mississippi.  I had a good laugh as I was approached by a trickster who did the N.O. shoe scam on me. . . ."I'll tell you where you got those shoes. . . if I do, I get to polish them"  "You got 'em on your feet"  I was in stitches and who knows what he was squirting onto my boots, I had to let him wipe it off and gave him $5 for the laugh!

Next stop was the flea market, after passing by Cafe Du Monde, we saw tons of art shops and local artists being represented.  We began to walk the French Quarter then and we were surprised by how big it is, it goes on for blocks and blocks and seems to be set up in sections, vintage with vintage, art with art, and bars and restaurants everywhere.  We stumbled upon Coop's and tried Abita beer, a local brewery that reminded us of Wild Rose, the raspberry beer was delicious!  I also tried a cup (this is the portion size I have to go for here or  I will never fit in my jeans) of the rabbit and sausage jambalya. 

Our walk through the French Quarter led us to Jean Lafitte's, the oldest structure in the US known to be used as a bar, and then we saw that we were on Bourbon Street, ah, the famous Bourbon Street.  At 3 in the afternoon, the place was getting packed with tourists wearing beads and the music was coming out of every bar.  Live music is everywhere and standing in the middle of the street you could here competing bands on either side.  After tweeting where we were, people told me that we had to go to Pat O'Briens and we found it 20 seconds later!  It is a pretty amazing courtyard bar and restaurant and James and I tried Catfish Strips and Gator Bites as I had my first experience with Bourbon in the form of a Mint Julep.  Note to self. . . wait till the ice melts a bit. . . this is strong stuff!  We then continued down the street as it got seedier and seedier with strange smells, really interesting painted people and Larry Flynt style girlie bars all calling in the tourists.  Not our scene but still thought the people watching was fabulous!

Now a BIG thank you to the locals that sent us down to Frenchmen Street for our dinner and musical experience for the evening.  We knew Bourbon wasn't our scene and Frenchmen is the music street that the New Orleans folks have created to avoid the over made up cheeseness of it all on Bourbon Street.  No 3 gallon drinks, no weird painted dudes, no cat calling to get us in places. . . 3 blissful blocks of jazz, blues, soul, funk, and that brand of New Orleans jazz meets big band sound you only seem to hear in the Big Easy.  We stumbled upon Three Muses, a tapas style lounge with a great band and menu.  Rabbit skewers, lamb sliders, the bikini sandwich (killer mini grilled cheese), and a beet and goat cheese salad (our first vegetable of the day) hit the spot while the band kept the atmosphere lively and I continued to make friends with the locals and get all the other spots we should hit while we are here.  We then continued down the street and checked out D.B.A with 100's of beers from around the world and a Latin Band mixing up Cuban, Brazilian and Spanish music.

When the clock hit 1am, the local party was still going on Frenchmen Street but we decided to head back to the hotel.  The fog was settling over the city as we walked down Decatur Street.  It is easy to see why this amazing 300 year old city has so many ghost stories associated with it. .  the fog was eerie and quieting as it filled up the streets.

We can't wait for today, Abigail and Natalie at Three Muses gave us a new list of locals spots to try out and we are going to follow their advice.  Thank you to the locals, we will be making friends everywhere to find those spots that the regular tourists wouldn't know about.  I mean we looked so much like locals when we were out last night we got asked for directions!  Of course we had no clue but it was a cool compliment!

No comments:

Post a Comment