Hey Everyone! I am posting days 4 and 5 together as the last day was a quick half day on our way home.
My husband had to go to the convention center for a quick hour to wrap up some business. Which gave me a good amount of time to shower then grab coffee across the street and finally start packing up our room!
Once he got to our room, he reminded me that the restaurant we were headed to later for lunch had a strict dress code. Which meant, I had to change out of my shorts and into a dress. I swear I changed my outfit like three times a day on this trip! I felt bad for him however. The dress code for men was very strict with no jeans and needing to wear a suit jacket. It was about 90°F out with full sun! Luckily, he brought a lightweight suit jacket and it ended up being breezy along our day out.
We walked around the city for a little bit then grabbed a Lyft to our lunch reservations. We were off to The Commander’s Palace. The Commander’s Palace is one of those old-school restaurants that seem stuck in time but serve award winning food. The service is of the highest quality and you are treated like the most important guest in the room. We were seated upstairs on the second floor by the grand window. Neither one of us have been there before, obviously, but our waitstaff did a great job acclimating us and giving us insight to the best dishes offered.
If this restaurant sounds familiar it’s because this is where Emeril Lagasse made his start, and also Paul Prudhomme, Jamie Shannon and a handful of others. Oh, and it’s featured in one of Anne Rice’s books. Got that checked off my list!
We started off our meal with martinis, cosmos. This restaurant offers martinis for $.25 if you order a meal, and there is a three drink maximum per person. Unheard of right? Then we ordered the soup course; my husband ordered the turtle soup, yes turtle. At first I did not want to try it, because if you follow me on social media you would have seen that a few days before I left for this trip I found a baby turtle in my yard. Which stared at me soulfully for a long while. What beautiful eyes. So that’s all I could think about when I heard he wanted to try the turtle soup.
But then we got the soup at the table.
I did try it. Interestingly enough, the dish tasted like and looked like a rich lentil soup. The pieces of turtle were cut fine, and I took like two bites, which one was just the soup covered over the spoon. So I’m not sure if turtle would be rubbery or dry or whatever because the bites were like lentil soup… that’s the best way I can describe it. What happened next is how you know service is of the utmost importance to a place. Our waiter, the lead, checked in on us with the soup. When my husband said the soup was ‘good, but not out of this world’. Our waiter took the soup and came back with a chicken gumbo. He told us that even though we were OK with the soup he wanted us to be beyond satisfied and brought us a new soup.
And that gumbo was the best soup. So I’m glad he took it upon himself to switch out the dish. haha
Then we grabbed another round of martinis, the citrus blue ones below, just as our main dishes appeared. I ordered the white gulf shrimp and my husband ordered the catfish. Our main dishes were excellent. The care for these entrees was apparent. The shrimp was cooked perfectly along with the tomato sauté and the catfish was fried so delicately that it was a true joy to eat. We then ordered another round of martinis, back to the Cosmo. We had to make it a martini afternoon trifecta!
There was a bit of time between the meal and our dessert. We ordered the bread pudding soufflé with whisky sauce and the strawberry shortcake with Chantilly cream, which we had to order along with our meals because they took about 30 minutes to make. Holy fantastic! I am not a big dessert person and I don’t know what I was thinking ordering strawberries because I’m not a fan of strawberries. But the waiter described that it had my favorite cream, which is Chantilly. I grew up eating that in all my birthday cakes. Also, I am not a fan of bread pudding either. Haha Well, what amazing food. I have never had a biscuit like that ever in my life. The strawberries, the cream, the presentation… it was all superb. My husband’s dessert of the bread pudding, having that warm whiskey cream sauce poured inside, made it so special.
I would go back to New Orleans just to have those two desserts!
We made our way to magazine street. This area has a ton of art galleries, interior design stores, antique shops, just real eclectic shops just the whole way down. My husband is a really good guy, and one of my favorite things about him is he does like to go shopping. Even if it is to just browse, he will go into almost every store with me. So we weaved our way through all of the stores that we could, taking a rest here and there, but making our way to grab a Sno-Ball. These are New Orleans versions of a snowcone. Shaved ice flavored with a syrup but the way that they shave ice it comes out fine and fluffy versus a snow cone which has bigger granules of ice.
It’s kind of funny, how this area was set up with these places. Magazine Street was a straight shot of businesses, but it was in the middle of a highly residential neighborhood. Then on a corner rich with homes there was a restaurant, like the Commander’s Palace. Then the Sno-Ball hut, it was smack dab in the middle on a residential street. It was just interesting to realize now that I am typing it out.
After we had our quick icy pick me up, we made our way further down the neighborhood towards the trolley line to grab a trolley. The website http://www.norta.com gives you live progress of the street cars by line, this is a great tool as you walk around. The stops are right on the street, just marked with a simple sign. It was kind of cool because we’re standing on this giant Boulevard waiting for the trolley and I look up in the trees to see sparkling beads hanging from the branches and leaves. When I google the street and routes for the Mardi Gras parade, I learn that we were on one of the main routes. So these beads, I start to realize, are in every tree going down the street. It really was something so specific to New Orleans! These glimmering trees.
Frenchmen Street is very different from the other parts of New Orleans where I had visited. It’s grittier. It’s sketchier. It’s dirtier. It’s more lively. I don’t know if that’s even possible, because the whole city is so lively. It’s so full of electricity, buzzing in every direction. People are everywhere, but in the most beautiful way enjoying what they are immersed in. This eclectic beautiful city filled with great food, beautiful music, and rich history. Gah,I just loved it!!
We made our way down Frenchmen Street, passing so many night clubs with brass bands playing jazz. You can’t help but smile walking down the street. The choices of clubs are numerous. Our first stop, however, is not a bar to catch music, we started over at the palace market. It’s a local market where artists sell their handmade pieces that you really won’t find anywhere else. I saw some really cool unusual pieces. I didn’t grab a picture of it, but there was a seated area at the end of the market. The market ends in almost like a cul-de-sac kind of circle. And there are pieces of chalk laid out for everyone to draw whatever they want on the ground. The artwork was amazing and I kick myself for not taking a picture of it!!
We had heard about a club named The Spotted Cat, and it just happened to be a few doors down from the palace market.
It is a Wednesday night. The street is pumping full of music, people, food, everything! We walk into that club to find a jazz band playing, Shotgun Jazz Band. So fun!, they kind of remind me of one of my favorite bands, just slower paced, the Squirrel Nut Zippers. The club has a one drink minimum, so we fly right to the bar to grab a drink. We got the drinks just as the band took a break. Haha But. As soon as they leave the stage we jump right to the front of the bar, better seats, and guess what? The band comes back on. This time with a woman leading the band playing trumpet.
The restaurant was hopping! We got seated in a quaint booth. Our view of what I thought was of the bar ended up being the kitchen. They have a predominant part of their kitchen in the middle of the restaurant, so you can watch them cooking. It was really fun for us because we are deep into conversation watching these people deal with all these dishes that they have to put together, we just had a really good time with our view.
The meal we had was fantastic! Great recommendation and I highly recommend it as well. After reading the menu we decided to get a few dishes to share, ie. our own tapas style. We started off with a round of drinks; my husband got a cider and I got a calva dorsa royale cocktail. Then we started our meal with the porcini cream raviolo, that was delicious. We also started with the tuna crudo, that had pistachio, fennel, avocado and pieces of mandarin orange with a lime cumin vinaigrette; it was so good. For our main dishes we split the mushroom pizza that had leaks and fontina, and, the pork saltimbocca that had grilled broccolini with the marsala sauce. The food really was fantastic. We ended up hanging out there until the restaurant closed.
It really was another perfect day.
Day 5- Our last day.
We woke up with the plan to hit some of the French quarter sites my husband was not able to see with me. Our flight back home was mid-day, which left us a few hours to eat, sight-see and get a car for the airport.
We packed up our room then made our way to grab coffee and beignets over at Café du Monde, another Anne Rice location crossed off my list! Café du Monde is one of those historic places you just read about and have to visit. It is located at the end of the market by Jackson Square. Their menu is not fancy, it’s pretty straight forward with a minimal coffee selection. We grabbed two lattes, which are chicory coffee with milk and an order of beignets. The coffees were nice, and creamy, but nothing I would consider craving. The beignets, however, were so darn good!. They are served hot with a mound of fine powdered sugar on top (and underneath). The fry on these is done perfectly, greasy enough, crispy enough, doughy enough. All just right. We ended up grabbing another order, because the orders come with three, and my husband really enjoyed them! We also grabbed two orders to go as a surprise for our daughters at home.
Did I mention we were away without our kids? hahah I know, I know, shut up.
From Café du Monde we walked over to Jackson Square then back past to the Mississippi River. We met some interesting people as we were there. Very interesting. Then we looped down the water over to the first cross street and we went shopping around the French Quarter to an area I didn’t get to before. Then the time got the best of us and we had to make our way back to the hotel to get ourselves going.
It was so sad.
Well, that is all I have on New Orleans! The Big Easy! 🙂
I hope all of you who are reading have had the opportunity to go or one day get a chance to go.
Onto Day 3…
My husband had to be at the convention center at a decent hour, early but late enough to feel like he slept in. He left me with a kiss on the forehead quietly, leaving me to sleep, and sleep I did! I can party like a rockstar, I just can’t recover like one. By the time I got out of the room it was too late for breakfast, so I skipped coffee and took a walk to a place that I had wanted to check out, Lucy’s Retired Surfers Restaurant. It was just a block from the hotel, which was a perfect distance away as I was not feeling all that great.
Lucy’s is set up with a SoCal surfer bar theme with a California-Mexican menu. Which is why I wanted to go check it out. I LOVE MEXICAN FOOD! The cooking smells along my walk over were detected from the crosswalk, super good. I walked in to find the place thumping; filled with lots of people, which was a bit much for my head at that moment, so I opted to be seated outside in the sunshine. It wasn’t just quieter out there, but being in the warm sun was exactly what I needed to start to feel restored. I wanted to eat chips -n- salsa and chug water, but thought I needed a more comforting feel for my empty belly. So, I ordered a chicken quesadilla appetizer. While waiting for my meal, I decided to do more research of fun places to check out while I people watched.
When my appetizer arrived I was pretty surprised at how large it was. And it being for just myself, it was a lot; especially, without my husband, the human garbage disposal. haha MY LORD. It was the best quesadilla that I have ever had. THE BEST. The ingredients were super fresh. The combination of cheeses all melted together with the crispy grilled, yet juicy, marinated chicken made me so happy. Yummm, it was just a joy to eat all of the gooeyness. With the first bite I started to feel a lot better. Sometimes you need greasy foods to get over a hangover. Yes, I was pretty hung, kids. hahah I ended up sitting there for a while, enjoying the sights while putting a big dent in that meal.
I had planned on going for a walk around the area after eating, but as soon as I paid for the bill, I decided that going back to the room was probably best. I felt like I needed water and rest.
Before I knew it, I was in our room passed out. Yes, I napped. I woke up feeling amazing, though! I jumped up out of bed and started to get ready for our night out. My husband happened to call just as I was pulling my clothes together to let me know that he was leaving the convention center, walking back to the hotel. He was so happy to hear that I was feeling well, and that I napped. I don’t normally nap.
Our plan for the night was to attend the closing celebrations for the convention, which started at the National World War II Museum then moved to Ogden Museum then the Contemporary Art Center. All in one block radius. Before heading to the celebrations we were meeting up with a friend of his for dinner, it was one of his colleagues and my best pal from the night before. haha
My husband and I headed down to meet up with our friend to eat near the museum in the Warehouse District at Cochon Butcher, which is known for great local food. And guess what? It was sofahking good!! The place is inspired by a butcher shop, has a bar, and decked out in Star Wars and comic book memorabilia. Super fun aesthetic to the place. The food smells great inside. It is a very low-key order and sit, cafeteria style, place. We ordered drinks, a beer for our friend, a Kiss from a Rose for me, and an artisan cherry cola for my husband. My husband and friend both got the beer beef with mac n cheese and I got a BLT, of course. I will never pass up a BLT, and, definitely never from a place like Cochon Butcher!! Everything was delicious. My husband’s dish was cooked perfectly and was so comforting. The bacon in my sandwich was that thick cut savory goodness we all dream of. Like I am dreaming of now.
After downing all the goodness and gossiping about all the debauchery from the night before, we took off on foot for the museum. It was a quick ten minute walk over, which we all needed. We got to the rockin’ location happy and full. The place was a buzz of museum people outside. The whole venue was lit up and most of the party was held outside.
We had a quick drink as we grabbed tickets to see their 4D show, Beyond All Boundaries, for 8:30PM. Since we had some time, we started to make our way through the exhibit halls by way of the Road to Berlin then Road to Tokyo. It was pretty visually, a beautiful exhibit space. The stories they told were through America’s eyes, and each soldier they highlighted had such compelling stories.
As we left the building to head outside to grab a drink, we saw another person from our bar hopping the night before. She also grabbed tickets for the same time, so she tagged along with us to see the 4D show. The show was about 48 minutes long, it starts in one space then goes into a theater. It highlights the war narrated by Tom Hanks’ voice, which I loved. The show itself could lean to hokey for some, but it was fun for me. I loved the surprise elements and the stories they shared. It was like a visual media extension of the two exhibits we walked through; I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, because they really did make an impact with the story telling.
After the show we walked through the store, which had some fun products. Then we made our way over to the party across the way inside the main building, the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, where all the food was set up. The space was beautiful! Hanging from the ceiling was a c-47 aircraft and a Higgins Boat in the corner across from a mock train that I didn’t have time to see. There was a fun trio, The Victory Belles, who sang war time songs in flashy vintage military inspired costumes. They sang musical hits like Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, God Bless America, and then at the end they sang a Service Medley that a lot of people in the audience seemed to like. While we watched the show, we grabbed some bananas foster that was served with cheesecake. Bananas foster originated in New Orleans, and is a must eat.
Between sets, my husband talked with a lot of people. I did as well, which was nice. A lot of the people I had been meeting brought their significant others or were chatty themselves. We stayed at the party till it closed out talking to one of the people that worked for that design firm from the first night.
We never made it to the other celebration venues, but my husband felt like it was not a big deal as so many folks were at the WWII museum. We left there to beautiful bright night skies.
It was a really good day!
Day 2- The first half of my day was spent on my own trekking around the French Quarter. WHAT. A. BEAUTIFUL.NEIGHBORHOOD!
My husband went off to speak at the conference ridiculously early. He left so quietly that I was able to stay asleep soundly. I have to share this part of myself, I LIKE TO SLEEP IN. I ended up waking from sleep at around 9:40AM. This. Was. The. Best. Start. To. My. Vacation. I hopped out of bed to open the room darkening curtains to find glowing sunshine. Yes! Grabbed an outfit and hit the shower. This room had a great shower, the kind of shower head that is above your head not off the wall. And the water came out of it in a lush waterfall. Ahh. It was relaxing. I took my time getting ready, watching some TV along the way. The little luxuries I don’t have time for at home unless I am home without kids.
Did I mention no kids on this trip??? Haha
By the time I got my big butt out the door it was 11:20AM! And, I was starving! Luckily, across the street was a remarkable cafè, Revelator Coffee Company. Unluckily, they didn’t have food this morning (my husband had the same fortune, as he told me later.). I grabbed a 12oz latte, they serve by size in ounces not small/medium/large, and made my way to French Truck Coffee for something to eat, and to peruse through my travel book and online bookmarks. By this time, my husband called to check in, asking me, with his loving concerned voice, where I was, if I had gotten coffee and where I was planning to go. He told me his talk went well, and repeated his itinerary for the day. I had decided, while sitting in the cafè, right before he called, to take my own Anne Rice tour of the French Quarter then meet up with him at the Marriott on Canal for a quick hello, as he had a meeting scheduled to break at 2:30PM. He had a window of time before going back to the convention center.
Any Anne Rice fans reading today? She is a spectacular writer, and used her city as the backdrop for most of her books. As a younger woman I had read a few of her books. The world she created always fascinated me with her romanticized characters, bloody stories and mysteries. Then when the movies came out, it was beyond a thrill to watch. So, I figured since I was in New Orleans that I should pay some homage. When I google mapped a route, I found that one of the houses was about a mile away, a twenty minute walk, down Royal Street. Which we had walked down a part of the day before. The cafè I was in was a few steps from St Charles, which a few blocks down made its way to Royal Street. Royal had a lot going on.. shops, music, and art galleries, just my speed to check out.
So off I went.
First stop was over to the only Starbucks I had seen the whole trip, on the corner of Canal and St Charles Street. At least I think that is where I was, hahah. Where, of course, I grabbed a New Orleans themed mug. I can’t give up this tradition quite yet. My cabinets wish I could though. From there I got to see the St Charles St trolleys in action, which were beautifully painted red and green. Ringing their bells as they went by. I love trolleys, especially the ones in San Francisco, but these trolleys were special, too.
The best parts of walking around on your own is that you can stop anywhere without anyone giving you grief. Not that my family does that, they are truly great to walk around with, but there’s a freedom to just go where you want without anyone around asking you for things or pushing you to something else. I had the whole day at my leisure, and let me tell you I took full advantage.
I ended up going into every store because the humidity was pretty high, not a complaint, but my hair needed the breaks! haha I ended up tasting homemade pralines and hot sauces while talking to the local people. It had started to rain as I left the praline shop. I tucked myself away under a balcony by a sidewalk to grab my umbrella, when I noticed a big brass band playing jazz. They were spectacular. The banjo player was walking around through the crowd, and he was just so cute and talented, most of the folks walking by stopped to take a listen.
Really, I had such a great time shopping for souvenirs. There were so many eclectic shops filled with unique gifts. As soon as the rain started it stopped, and I was keeping on my trek of finding the first stop on my Anne Rice tour, the houses along 700-900 Royal, then a walk a couple of blocks to the the Gallier House. This was home to vampires Lestat and Louis in Interview with the Vampire. From there I took a coffee break, where I got some time to rest up my feet and talk to my husband a little bit. He was on his way to lunch with everyone and wanted to make sure all was kosher with me. It was :).
After my coffee break, I took a walk up to 632 Dumaine Street to see Madame John’s Legacy house, which was where they filmed some of the movie IWAV. The house was closed for renovations, so I kept going forwards down Dumaine Street. I took a right down a small street and ended up upon Jackson Square. Which was beautifully laid out. Across from Jackson Square is Cafe du Monde, another Anne Rice book spot, and an amazing place for coffee and beignets (but I don’t go till our last day because of timing). Beyond the bustling street of Decateur, is a set of stairs that takes you across to the Mississippi River. And you are right to think I sang typing that out just now.
New Orleans is such an interesting place. The Mississippi River sloshes right up to the city, without walls or barriers. None either while walking along it for a mile..NONE! The brown water tries to glimmer in the sun as the freighters chug along puffing smoke from their engines. It felt like I was watching a television show on a time that once was. They recently put in a walking path along the river, aptly named The River Walk. I talked to my husband about meeting him for a brief minute after 2:30PM, so I decided to make my way to the hotel from there. I didn’t realize how far a walk it was, because, baby, it was FAR. But it was a nice walk. Lots of tourists and school groups checking out the local history right along with me, so it was sweet.
Then I finally made my way to say hi to my husband at the Marriott on Canal. Boy, what a walk! He was wrapping up a meeting, and I just quickly went by to give a kiss hello and rest my feet a bit. He didn’t have much time, so he went on his way and I went to go find food. I went down to Mother’s Restaurant for a po’boy. I had read this was the place to go to have one. Not only did I read that, but one of our Uber drivers from the night before was adamant I go. The place is pretty unassuming, a cafeteria style place with lots of memorabilia on the walls. You order at the cashier and sit, then someone brings you the order. I treated myself to a Coke, which I rarely do, and a small shrimp po’boy. I ate every single piece of that sandwich. HOLY DELICIOUS.
After this meal, I took a walk around the area then headed to our hotel. All I was told by my husband was that he would be back a certain time and that I should be ready to go out for dinner and then more museum convention events. I believe there were three going on this night. But dinner where? He didn’t want to ruin it for me. He likes surprising me, and he does this a few times on this trip..which I think is why I loved NOLA so much.
Second half of my day started off amazingly.
I got ready to go out for dinner just in time for my husband to make it back to the hotel. We walk about three blocks to the restaurant he wouldn’t tell me about.. which was EMERIL’S!! YAY!!!! I was hoping we would get the chance to go!! Just a back story, when he asked me where I wanted to go while in New Orleans, I had said at least one of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants, because, BAM!, I love him. He sort of skirted around telling me he couldn’t get reservations to any of them, but only that he scored reservations to a few places I wouldn’t be disappointed with.
Dinner was superb. The service in this place is top notch, we had a gaggle of servers to attend to us, by far the best service of our lives, and we have dined in some swanky $$$$ places, my friends. We got a couple of cocktails to start, a side car for me, of course. Then we were served bread 3-ways; pepper focaccia, corn bread, and rustic white bread. Just the bread alone was worth the trip into the city, haha. We ordered lobster fettuccini, filet, and a chocolate soufflé. Very straight forward dishes, but the way they served them and how they put the components on the dish together was ..in a word..perfect. My husband’s pasta dish was so lush and creamy, and the lobster was delicious. That filet with the creme fraiche sauce was the best of my life.
I didn’t want to leave this restaurant, but we had to. 😦
We left there to head over to the first museum of the night, the Museum of Art. What a beautiful spot. The whole place was electric with people walking around. They had these women dressed in the coolest costumes I had ever seen. They each had a full body suit on in the theme of the character, like a peacock for instance. Then the costume had a light up piece, like the peacock feathers she wore propped up. It was so cool.
My husband knew a lot of people at this party, and we ended up having one of the folks he knew from MN join us to walk the gardens. This is where they had stations of food and bars set up. As we were walking along we bump into his colleagues from his office, who become our group through the night. We hopped from station to station grabbing drinks, and talking, and gathering more folks into the group. I met a lot of great people this night. From the art museum we walked down to the next location which was the children’s museum, it was set up outside as the building was under construction. We hung out here a long while drinking and talking, and after a while our group got larger, and decided to walk to the next stop. The next stop was short lived, we grabbed a mint julep and talked to two people then all ran for the buses to take us back to the main hotel for the event.
When we got to the hotel, we decided to go on partying and bar hopping. Which I was excited for, because I wanted to head to the Hotel Monteleone to get another sight from Anne Rice crossed off my list, AND, because they have the carousel bar inside. This bar is so beautiful, and surrounds the inner workings of a carousel. As you sit at the bar you spin, the bartenders and such stay static, but you go around. Now, all I can say is that these bartenders have a great memory, because after one spin around I would forget who was who and what they owed me. hahah
From the carousel, we headed down to Bourbon Street.
Ok, so I said my second half of the day started amazingly, so does this mean it ended not so amazingly..and the answer is.. sort of!??
Let me explain. The night wasn’t terrible, nothing dramatic happened or anything, it’s that some of us drank a lot. We were socially having a great time, and well, we drink, and party over here, and then over there.. then over here. And then at that place…and let’s just say, etc., etc. Some of us get hammered. Some of us get trashed. Some of us don’t remember much other than waking up with a massive hangover.
That would be most of the group we are with, including yours truly. 🙂 But the good thing is, I didn’t have to be anywhere the next day as they did! hahah
Overall, it was a real fun night, but it leaves me quite quiet the next morning. 😛
HelloooOoo, my beautiful WordPress readers!
Last week I joined my husband on a work trip to New Orleans…our very first time visiting. He had to speak and attend a museum conference, and thought it would be a great opportunity for me to tag along. So glad that I did.
What a dynamic city!
New Orleans is rich with history and tradition; it’s welcoming and familiar. It’s culinarily vibrant. Architecturally beautiful. It’s diverse. Artsy. A phenomenal party city. It’s musical. Eclectic. It’s friendly. And it’s hot!! (Which is not a complaint. I’m a heat loving girl!). I have never enjoyed a city as I did on this trip.
To acclimate myself on sights, sounds, and eats, I did do research online and in books, but then I just ran on my own wits when I got there for fun. It is the perfect city to abandon guided ideas to and get lost in adventure. That seems to be my ‘thing’ when traveling.
A good portion of my days on this trip were on my own, because of my husband’s daytime schedule, and we went without our two kids. I know! Woo!! It never was an issue for me to be on my own, however; I think New Orleans is a great place for a single person. Even though it is a city, it’s not astronomically large, like, say, LA, where you need a car. There’s a trolley system that is proficient and the city is definitely walkable. Ubers and Lyfts are everywhere, too. But the best part is that the people are super friendly. And I mean friendly. It was odd for me at first. Being from Boston, up North, the people are like the weather; we pride ourselves on being friendly, but in reality, we are selectively friendly… when we feel like it. In New Orleans, you will get hellos from every direction as you walk, from even the sketchiest folks. You will hear a lot of people address you as ‘Sugar’, ‘Baby’, ‘Honey’, or, as I even got a ‘Sugar Baby, Honey’! Haha. The folks we encountered were special for sure and I liked that intimate interaction even for those brief moments. Well, one woman did talk to me for thirty minutes as I was buying pralines from her. She was an immigrant from Thailand, and our conversation was about the history of New Orleans..and, we got to talking because of plastic bag usage. We were both not fans of using them, and she liked that I had my own bags to carry souvenirs so she just started talking to me over that commonality. She was so sweet and I believe she called me ‘Miss Lady’ fifty times, which kind of made me chuckle.
The local people are usually the best part of travel, just FYI. They show us how people are culturally different but for the most part, are the same. The interactions we had with that ‘Southern hospitality’, we had always heard of growing up, actually made me feel good, and a community connection. I kind of like being told I am sweet as sugar. 😉
Now let me talk about the food in New Orleans. New Orleans is as awesomely food centric as a great city can be. If you follow me, or know me, you see that I am pretty food obsessed myself. Food is a large part of the traveling experience. Second to the locals, it is a great way to understand the cities and towns you visit. Sounds weird, but it is absolutely fact. Travel Italy from the North of the Alps to the edge of Sicily tasting all the different pastas, or Paris for breads, or even hit up NYC for pizza, and you will understand how each region has its unique spin and/or ingredients, which taps a real connection within us to the culture and to that place. Especially, if that place uses ingredients locally. Enjoying (or not) a meal, in general, is like an automatic trip whenever you eat that meal again. Like from my favorite scene from Ratatouille; the one when Anton Ego eats the ratatouille (a peasant dish- which I love to eat myself) at Gusteau’s restaurant. He is immediately transformed from a cold man to a joyous boy when he traveled back to that special place and time… from just a bite. Boy, I just love that scene!!
Though my trip to New Orleans was short, it left an impact on my soul. Which means, I will definitely be going back there one day!
Ok, let me get started with the actual trip with photos and what not.
Day 1- The Cambria Hotel, a Quick Adventure then Two Parties
We took off for New Orleans pretty early, as we had to drop off our daughters to my in-laws first. The only good thing about traveling on a Sunday is there is barely any traffic heading to the airport, so we drove right in within 25 minutes. Parked then our adventure began!
We got to New Orleans at about 1:15PM. It was grey with rain, but we didn’t care much since the day was to be spent bouncing around indoors at functions. We checked into our hotel, The Cambria, right in the city. This hotel was decorated so cute inside that I almost died. Almost. We had originally booked the Marriott on Canal, but changed it so my husband could walk to the Convention Center if needed. At first I was apprehensive to change, but man, I am so glad that we did! This hotel was just perfect for us in every way.
We got ourselves put together for a run to grab some food in the French Quarter. One of us didn’t eat anything but the blue chips on the plane and was about to eat their purse. (ME) The walk from our hotel to the French Quarter was just a quick 20 minutes, but with so many things to see it felt way faster than that. The rain stopped and the skies opened up to partial sun! WOOHOOO!! Walking around to the French Quarter was un, and boy, what a beautiful city. There are so many buildings ornate and stuck in a different time. We walked down a lot of their well-known streets like Royal Street, Decatur Street, Chartres Street, and Bourbon Street, which in the daytime looks very unassuming, just tired and dirty. haha I want to make a joke here but I think I shall refrain.
We stopped into Kingfish Kitchen for our first meal of the trip. IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT! We got greeted by the sweetest staff, with their Louisiana drawl seeping through their words a bit. We opted to sit by the window to people watch, which was a good idea. See New Orleans doesn’t have open container laws, people just walk around with cocktails and beers all day long. As long as it’s in a plastic cup, there is no one to stop you from public drinking. Needless to say, I watched a TON of people at 5PM holding onto large fish bowl style cups having a great time walking past that window. I loved it! hahah
We had two plans after hitting the Kingfish, two parties. One was a private function at a design house and the other was the kick-off celebration for the museum convention. Sounded boring to me, but guess what, guys? Not at all boring!! So, as we had to head to two parties afterwards we didn’t want to totally pig out on this meal. We grabbed a set of daiquiris to start, because we miss Cuba so much, and then two dishes to split, a shrimp and grits and a pork taco with crackling. Gosh, I can’t tell you how amazing these two dishes were without salivating right now. I have NEVer, and I mean never, had shrimp and grits this good! NEVer! And this was my first attempt at eating crackling, fried fatty pork skin, which is the most delicious food ever invented. After another round of drinks, we took off on foot to our next stop, the private party.
Well, I wore the worst shoes for my first day, especially for walking as much as we were, that making it to the first place was pretty taxing on my feet. We decided on the walk that we would go back to the hotel after this party to change for the next event, which is another “so glad we did” moment. haha But let me go back to the private party.
This party was by invitation only and thrown by a design firm in New Orleans. We all figured this party was going to be drinks in an office, but again, we were so wrong!! We were greeted at the door of the firm by two lovely people who handed us drinks and waved us in towards the elevator to go up to the second floor. Before going up, one of my husband’s colleagues, Ed, arrived. Which made me happy, since I love Ed and knew no one else by my husband. We all got on the elevator together, wondering where we were headed.
On the second floor was the firm’s owner’s flat..and by flat I mean HOLY CRAP AMAZING APARTMENT!! Wowweewowwowow!! The place was perfection in every way, except I was not living in it. It was decked out with plush designer furnishings, an outdoor deck with pool, and it smelled like fresh squeezed Sicilian oranges. Just perfect.
We walked around a bit, grabbed a drink at the bar set up at the front, then headed for outside. There was a brass band playing on the back deck that lead to a newly installed pool that overlooked N’Orlins, as the firm’s associate outside was saying it to us.
I wonder what it’s like to have money.
↓There’s Ed finding us, eventually, outside.
The catering at this party was crazy good. I, again, tried something new, broiled oysters Rockefeller. And holy frack, was I missing out never trying these before. I swear I ate like six in twenty minutes. Ok, I am slightly exaggerating, more like 25 minutes. hahah The prosecco flowed, and conversations did too, it was a good place; and my husband was having a great time with colleagues and networking with new people, too.
I got to sit on some plush seats around the apartment to rest up my feet, too! heehee
I did not want to leave, but I had to. Our first stop out of there was back to the hotel for a shoes change and then we were off to the second party. This was the kick-off celebration for the convention, and it was at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, which was to say the least, interesting. The place is decked out with tons of vintage or vintage-inspired signs, props and photos. There was a lot of fun going on with walking through the swarms of people. But personally speaking, this museum party was more odd than a celebration. Maybe I am odd?, but it was set up wonky and there wasn’t much food or drinks to celebrate with; we figured the party would have been to the nines with food and beverages, seeing that we were at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum… but we were wrong! hahah This is why you eat before going out!
Anyways, this was a fun stop after all. I got to meet a lot of people in the museum world, some familiar too, and I got to talk with the Museum of Science folks who were traveling separately from us to the convention. There was only a small group from Boston on this trip, which was nice.
We had to make this an early night, as my husband had to talk at the convention pretty early. We hung out at the museum till around 10:30PM, then jetted right back to the hotel to wind down and unpack. I secretly wanted to head back to the design firm’s party, but oh well. 😉
It was a pretty fun day to start this trip!