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Long weekend in New Orleans


joiei
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I just spent 3 days in New Orleans. Most people who leave New Orleans after living there for a while leave with a part of the city imbedded in their soul. I know that is the way it is for me. I had to go back to see for myself what the Storm had done. After this experience, I recommend that everyone go see just how much damage a hurricane can inflict on a region. I didn't have time to go over to Mississippi, that is next. I encourage everyone who loves food and the culture of food to go. Spend money, be your own charity funds dispenser.

Okay, and now on to the food of the trip.

I drove down on Friday, having a small tire problem in Krotz Springs and finding out the folks there are just the nicest folks. Having been slowed down, I decided to have lunch at Joe's Dreyfus Store Restuarant in Livionia. I had a cup of the seafood gumbo and a crawfish po'boy. The gumbo was so good, I ordered a second cup of the gumbo. When the cute waitress came by to see if I wanted any dessert, I told her that I had just eaten dessert in that second cup. Man, that was flavors that are timeless.

I arrived in New Orleans later in the day after driving on the Baton Rouge to New Orleans racetrack, I was doing 80 on the elevated to keep up and people were passing me like I was standing still. Traffic in Baton Rouge was BAD. After getting settled with my friends near the Fairgrounds, we took the tour. It was just unbelieveable. Driving out through City Park, so many trees are no longer there, just stumps now and the tent cities where workers are camped. I did not recognize Harrison until I was looking at what used to be the Steak Knife. We drove out Canal Blvd to Robert E Lee and I started missing Mimi's and the Roast Beef and the French Fry po'boys I used to get there. We then circled back down on Fleur de Lys. I didn't understand the house in the middle of the street until I realized that I was looking at where the break occured. The water marks on the houses were very high. My friends grandfather's house is condemned and will be torn down. So sad.

Then we went over to the 9th Ward. It is hard for me to describe my feelings when we came over the Industrial Canal bridge. This is something a person has to see for themselves. No photo or tv footage can impart the impact of the devastation. I cried.

I wanted a cup of coffee, so we went to the Quarter and found out that CC's on Royal was only open until noon. So we went to the Clover Grill and I was able to understand that the Quarter was okay. The characters that inhabit that part of town, that help make it what it is was safe. I took a deep breath and relaxed. The coffee was actually pretty good.

Dinner on Friday night was at Gerard Mara's Table One on Magazine. When we walked in, my buddy recognized one of the bartenders, so life was good. We were sat upstairs and the three of us dined well. I do not remember all the dishes we ordered, but it was a 3 course dinner for all. The food was good, I have had better at one of Gerards earlier places. But the atmosphere was lively and cheerful. Lots of locals, and several big tables with lots of animated conversation.

After this we went out to Mid City Rock n Bowl to catch Snooks Eaglin. It is rock'n again. I didn't indulge in the buffet they had laid out, but I did do some dancing.

Saturday morning began with a coffee and conversation at Fair Grinds Coffee near the Whole foods on Esplanade. When you go to New Orleans, involve local people in conversation. I felt that a lot of them just needed to talk. You hear incredible stories of the storm, before and after. Plus, I feel it is theraputic for the survivors to just talk and share what happened to them.

Went back to the Clover Grill for a quick breakfast and then on to exploring on my own. I have the feeling that Magazine is the new Main Street of New Orleans. It was very busy. I discovered a couple of new ceramacists or potters that I had never seen before. Then I met davebr's Mom for 1st lunch at Mona's. We had the mixed appetizer platter and the food is still excellent, even though the Banks Street location over by where I used to live is a long way from being ready to reopen. I especially like the hummus and the falafel. After a couple of hours of talk, talk talk, we moved on to 2nd lunch at Lilette on Magazine just a couple of blocks back down toward downtown. The grilled beet salad was just the best. The eggplant sandwich was aslo a high point. I did find out that the pastry Chef, Beth was there. I worked with her at the WCH a long time ago. She is doing excellent stuff. The Creole Cream Cheese tart with huckleberry sorbet and lemon curd, just perfect flavors. The Chocolate Bread Pudding made from brioche was also perfect. Nothing was tooo sweet. The bread pudding was more chocolate than it was sweet. The tart and tangy in the cream cheese tart was perfect. Make sure you have this place on your list of dining places.

I missed a fundraiser party for the Krewe de Vieux because i was too busy eating. And because the only open reservation I could get at Alberta at 5015 Magazine, right next to the BP. I started with the crab salad, a mix of romaine, bacon, blue cheese, and buttermilk dressing next to a pile of fresh crab meat that had just a trace of remoulade. Then a soup of butternut squash, lobster and shrimp. My entree was roasted grouper filet and lobster mashed potatos with veal demi. Great flavors. Alberta was described to me as being the best new restaurant in New Orleans and they went a long way proving it to me with the cream Brulee. Warm on the top with just the thinnest layer of crunch and still cool on the bottom in a thin dish. Wonderful. Also, one of the waiters was someone I worked with over on the beach in Northwest Florida. Small world.

After a little nap, we went to catch George Porter at Tipitina. If you go to New Orleans and don't go to Tips for some music, you have missed a large part of your trip.

Sunday, I met another eG'er, Rhonda, at Cafe du Monde for coffee, begniets and conversation. There is truly nothing more New Orleans even for locals than Cafe du Monde. I even didn't mind paying the parking fees that exist now in the quarter. What a great time. Then I went out to Metairie, for the first time, to visit with some of my old professors in HRT at UNO. Catching up and going on.

Sunday night, considering that is a hard night to find restaurants open, we went to La Cote Brasserie for dinner. I had worked with Chef Chuck Subra at WCH before and respected his cooking. We had the gumbo and the duck confit with gnocchi, followed by a ribeye with blue cheese potatos and the whole fish of the day which was tempura fried soft shell crabs over an okra stew, the okra was killer. We had the Chocolate tower and the goat cheese tart with winter fruits for dessert. Nice, but not the same as the desserts at Lilette. In all, a very good dining experience.

Monday, I had to head out towards home. Otherwise, i would of started taking pictures, One of the reasons I went. At first, I found it hard to take pictures because I was getting so involved in the fact that it was peoples lives piled out on the streets. But the world needs to understand what has happened there. Go see it, you need to. Okay, i will try to stop preaching.

Left the city on Highway 90 through Houma and around the bend to avoid the racetrack on I-10. Stopped in Lafayette for lunch at Prejeans. It was okay, didn't really rock my world.

I had dinner that night in Paris, Texas. Definitely not a highlight of the trip. Now I am glad to be home, but so glad that I went. In the midst of all the rebirth, you can dine and dine well. I did.

So buy your plane ticket, rent the car and head on down. I forgot about overtipping the bartender at the Rendevous on Magazine. I did my best to leave money with locals. Go and have a good time but don't just stay in the Quarter and uptown like the visiting politicos do, get out and see the city and the condition it is in. Spend time talking with the locals. The city will change, the culture will change, but be aware of what will be lost. And I didn't see any of those taco trucks I have been hearing about.

Edited by joiei (log)

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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Thanks so much for reporting back. It sounds like a good, if emotionally trying, trip back "home." I am always touched by the reports coming out of NOLA. This morning on NPR there was a story of a family returning back home that I had planned to post/share with this board.

upside-down purple car

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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We were all over each other this weekend, though we didn't know it. I went to see Snooks for a bit (but he never sees me) and was in the Quarter for part of the time that you were, as well.

I'm glad that you had a good visit. Those beets at Lillette have become one of my favorite apps in New Orleans-certainly my favorite root veg treatment in town-and if I had known that you were going I would have told you to go for the pork belly with cucumbers and grape tomatoes. It's a great dish.

And you are completely right when you postulate that you just can't get it unless you see it. There is no way to comprehend just how totally this place was wrecked. The Gulf Coast is in many ways as bad or worse. You didn't miss much, just imagine bad or worse or just plain gone.

Your observations about Magazine St might not be far off of the mark right now, as so many things on Canal have not yet reopened. Even then, there are still many kinds of businesses that have not reopened there and I am sure that will slowly change-but slowly is the key word.

I have not been to Alberta yet, though coincidentally I was invited there by two different folks this weekend. I will need to check it out soon, I think.

I'm glad that you had a good visit and thanks for the report.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Great report, and it was so wonderful to be able to meet you in person. The things you cook and your experiences in Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, etc. sound so unique and exciting.

Hope to see you again, and until then, I'll have an extra cafe au lait when I'm in the Qtr for you!

Rhonda

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My s.o. was reading the newspaper highlights aloud to me (yes, it drives me crazy but we all have our idiosyncracies) and I perked up my ears when I heard him say that 3000+ (I forget the exact number) persons were still unaccounted for after Katrina. It took a minute for that to soak in; after a few comparisons came to mind and I began to fathom just how significant that number is, I wondered how I had missed the article. "What page is that on?" I asked him. He looked to the bottom of the page and replied "page 6." :sad::angry:

Thanks to Mayhaw Man, joiei and all the rest for keeping this on our front page. I think you may have inspired us to re-route our vacation plans for this year and laissez les bon temps roulez with our courageous neighbors to the south. You guys rock (& bowl :wink: )!

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Charlie,

Your wife's pictures are beyond description. The rebuilding efforts seem, to me, to be so ad hoc, that I wonder if the collective brain-power of a foodie group like this can't come up with something more effective.

I'm all ears.

Barbara

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Hi

My husband and I saw your pics, and we decided we must go. We're coming March 17-21 and staying at the Quality Inn. First, what is the status of oysters and crawfish--available or no? Are any of these places open-- Uglesich, Elizabeth's, Herbsaint, Dick and Jenny's?

We'll be in touch closer to then to find out where we might help out as an extra pair of hands. Thanks in advance.

Sara

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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Are any of these places open-- Uglesich, Elizabeth's, Herbsaint, Dick and Jenny's?

Sara

No, but maybe later if they decide they are bored enough

Yep, ate there last weekend. Still good.

Nope, done for.

Yes, it's good too. Really good.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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new orleans menu lists herbsaint as open, and i'm just hoping mayhaw man mis-typed, as i know he knows whats up...my first sazerac was at herbsaint...sigh.

http://www.nomenu.com/RestaurantsOpen.html

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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Surely Brooks was drinking when he wrote that. :biggrin:

Herbsaint was one of the early openers. I ate there in late October--as good as ever. Although I haven't been down that way recently, I can't imagine that anything happened to it. Fear not!

I've heard that Donald Link still plans to open a second, more casual restaurant. Not sure when.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am going back to NOLA for Mardi Gras. I am going with a great sense of humility, to eat and give what little support I can to the greatest food city in America. I will stay in my costume for most of the trip, so my daughter doesn't spy me!

Please keep posting the wonderful things to eat and where to eat them.

Thanks.

Bob

"Gentlemen: Madame Dodin-Bouffant."

So, when there is the slightest doubt, Marry the Cook!

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I understand that some of the good restaurants close in NOLA during the long Mardi Gras weekend. Is this possibly true?

Thanks.

Bob :blink:

"Gentlemen: Madame Dodin-Bouffant."

So, when there is the slightest doubt, Marry the Cook!

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not to my experience. In the past, it was hard to get a reservation because most of them were all packed out during the festivities.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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I am making a number of calls over the next two days and will ask specifically about Mardi Gras, but usually, most places, with the exception of a few that rent the whole joint out for private parties, will be happy to accomodate you.

This is not to say that you shouldn't make rezzies now, though. Many places have limited hours, aren't serving lunch, or have some other problem that make it a damned good idea to get organized ahead of time.

Brooks

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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I am making a number of calls over the next two days and will ask specifically about Mardi Gras, but usually, most places, with the exception of a few that rent the whole joint out for private parties, will be happy to accomodate you.

This is not to say that you shouldn't make rezzies now, though. Many places have limited hours, aren't serving lunch, or have some other problem that make it a damned good idea to get organized ahead of time.

Brooks

Thanks so much, Brooks.

I am coming down on the 25th and staying until the 1st, unless my daughter spots me and I have to leave earlier.

I'm going to see Dr. John and I want to eat, eat, eat..

And, I miss my old home.

Thank you.

Bob

"Gentlemen: Madame Dodin-Bouffant."

So, when there is the slightest doubt, Marry the Cook!

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I just got an e-mail from Casamento's and they said they are closed on the Mardi Gras weekend, except Fat Tuesday.

Is this pretty much the deal?

Thanks for helping me through my travel back to eat.

Bob

"Gentlemen: Madame Dodin-Bouffant."

So, when there is the slightest doubt, Marry the Cook!

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I just got an e-mail from Casamento's and they said they are closed on the Mardi Gras weekend, except Fat Tuesday.

Is this pretty much the deal?

Thanks for helping me through my travel back to eat.

Bob

Casamento's is in a very tough place to do business (or stop doing it, take your pick-either way it's tough). They are just off the corner of Magazine and Napoleon and will have parades FORMING in front oof them for 10 days in a row at all hours of the afternoon. They've always done this, or at least for a long time.

Hell, you know, if it's an oyster po boy that you're after, the Acme is not far from there on Prytania. They make a good one-it's not the same, but it's pretty dependable-though that place has been doing tremendous business.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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I just got an e-mail from Casamento's and they said they are closed on the Mardi Gras weekend, except Fat Tuesday.

Is this pretty much the deal?

Thanks for helping me through my travel back to eat.

Bob

Casamento's is in a very tough place to do business (or stop doing it, take your pick-either way it's tough). They are just off the corner of Magazine and Napoleon and will have parades FORMING in front oof them for 10 days in a row at all hours of the afternoon. They've always done this, or at least for a long time.

Hell, you know, if it's an oyster po boy that you're after, the Acme is not far from there on Prytania. They make a good one-it's not the same, but it's pretty dependable-though that place has been doing tremendous business.

I appreciate so much the help you are giving me. I am staying on Toulouse wearing a costume to hide from my daughter, but coming to town to eat.

Any suggestions you will give me will be most appreciated.

I guess I should make reservations for everything now.

Please give me any suggestions you can.

I am getting to town on the 25th of February.

Thanks..Very much!

bob

"Gentlemen: Madame Dodin-Bouffant."

So, when there is the slightest doubt, Marry the Cook!

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Hell, you know, if it's an oyster po boy that you're after, the Acme is not far from there on Prytania. They make a good one-it's not the same, but it's pretty dependable-though that place has been doing tremendous business.

Brooks meant the new Felix's on Prytania and Upperline (more or less).

I've only been once, but agree that it's good. The room is a little sterile (put something on the walls, why don't you!), but that weekend it will be so jammed with people that no one will notice. Not a place where you'll need a reservation.

I bike past there pretty much everyday on my way home from work. It's great that Felix's replicated their neon sign from the Quarter.

Edited by TAPrice (log)

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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Hell, you know, if it's an oyster po boy that you're after, the Acme is not far from there on Prytania. They make a good one-it's not the same, but it's pretty dependable-though that place has been doing tremendous business.

Brooks meant the new Felix's on Prytania and Upperline (more or less).

I've only been once, but agree that it's good. The room is a little sterile (put something on the walls, why don't you!), but that weekend it will be so jammed with people that no one will notice. Not a place where you'll need a reservation.

I bike past there pretty much everyday on my way home from work. It's great that Felix's replicated their neon sign from the Quarter.

Sounds like I picked the wrong weekend to come to eat..Oh well, if you have any thoughts for a guy who is really missing NOLA and wants to eat..on a tough weekend, please keep talking to me.

I really appreciate the time you are taking to help me.

bob

"Gentlemen: Madame Dodin-Bouffant."

So, when there is the slightest doubt, Marry the Cook!

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