Thursday, June 14, 2012

New Orleans and Back!

This ocelot only eats gators.

Well, folks, I somehow lived to tell the tale of my experiences in the furthest-South, furthest-West place I've ever been: New Orleans, Louisiana! I saw so many things that even with an overloaded photo card I feel a little bad I didn't take MORE pictures. Ready for a see-what-I-saw photo extravaganza? Let's look! In no particular order:

1) Souvenir shops:

I didn't buy either of these vests because they were $59.95 apiece. When you think of that in terms of price--per-sequin, it's really not so bad!!
Gator piano. 
I know it's kind of disgusting, but I so love this farm-raised gator head, purchased in a Walgreens on the first day of our adventure. We named him Snappy.
Ride, snappy, ride!

2) The Dairy Bar, Scotsboro, Alabama:

We stopped here on the way down and were much impressed with straightforward, EXTREMELY DELICIOUS BBQ-with-mustard-slaw-and-pickle.

Bab had a cheeseburger.

This is our friend English Rob, who, in spite of looking more at home at a NASCAR race than any of the three of us,, is actually an Oxford educated particle physicist. He's our "Laine" from Mad Men!

The man who owned and ran the place was named Luther. He was about 70 years old and would take your order, then close the window, then holler out "Cheeseburger, no onions" while proferring the white paper bag out the window to its intended Dairy Bar guest. WON.DER.FUL.
 3) Street performers and other locals:

I'm not even sure what this guy was doing, but there were tons of people dressed up in weird getups that you could get your picture taken with. This is "bone man". Notice Matthew's Pat O'Brien's "to go cup". What kind of place lets you take your drink order to go? New Orleans, apparently!
This is Hack Bartholomew, a traveling preacher/singer/trumpet player. I was actually shocked at how good most of the street performers in New Orleans were! In Nashville, if you see someone playing on Broadway, believe me, it's not the next Merle Haggard. Bartholomew truly sang like an angel. See him on youtube here!
OH MY GOD, IT'S ONE OF THE FEATHER COSTUME PEOPLE LIKE ON TREME. I am seriously disappointed in myself for not taking a photo with him.
New Orleans public access shows are absolutely amazing. This woman was the host of a music show called "Next 2 Blow" and was interviewing an up and coming New Orleans female rapper with a deep Louisiana accent. We also saw televangelists seated in front of a green screen of flames, preaching about Revelations, and an Asian heritage dance troupe. I wanted to tape hours of it!

4) Cafe du Monde + beignets:
The Cafe du Monde coffee stand is a huge open-air type coffee and beignets place that serves food 24 hours a day, as it has since 1862. EIGHTEEN SIXTY TWO.

There had to be two cups of powdered sugar on top of these bad boys. I spooned a little off to put in my coffee even though there was also granulated sugar on the table. Honestly, I didn't even dare ask about the possibility of a Splenda packet for fear of being thrown out.

Matthew actually spoons some of the sugar from the plate onto the beignet for maximum sugar coverage. 

We each ordered a cup of their famous coffee before realizing at 100% humidity, it was like hell itself trying to finish a cup of even the best piping hot coffee. I think this is the one time in my entire life I haven't finished a cup of coffee. Le sigh!

5) Court of the Two Sisters:
The Food. Was So. Good. OMG! THE FOOD WAS SO GOOD! Here I am next to the wishing well in the middle of their courtyard dining area. The brunch buffet was a MILE long. See the heavy concentration of shrimp on my plate. That is not a coincidence.
Their "Jazz Brunch" runs until three, and though it's $28 a man for admission, I really think I actually came out ahead in terms of how much food I ate. SO. MUCH. FOOD. DID. I EAT. Above, you can see a catfish rouillade, shirimp étoufée, braised veal, duck à l'orange... CRAZY.

 6) 30 minute carriage tours of the quarter = totally worth it!

Look how happy we look!

In front of the church and the statue in the middle of the quarter. Note the fringe on the surrey top! I'm in heaven.

Our guide, Harry, looked like a Bayou version of Christopher Lloyd. His mule is called Choctaw (they have mules in N.O. for the rides instead of horses because the mules are less susceptible to heat. And totally cute). We pulled up in front of one bar that calls itself the "oldest bar in America", whereupon Harry proceeded to tell us al-l-l about how it was NOT the oldest bar, how it was NOT founded actually until 1941, and how you shouldn't believe everything you read on signs...while the people at the bar, which was completely open to the street, looked on in mute horror. He said he's had waiters chase him away from the bar before, and I for one am not surprised. BEST. TOUR GUIDE.

Every building we saw was beautiful. Look at the ironwork on that window!
Because of the tour, I was reminded of the whereabouts of this house, the infamous LaLaurie New Orleans murder house that Nicholas Cage bought and subsequently had to foreclose on after his tax woes. So Spooky! SO SPOOOOOKY.
7) WWII Museum
U-S-A! U-S-A-!

We had these pimento cheese and ham grilled sandwiches at the museum restaurant. We are always eating, we are never stopping.

A parachute dummy to test the new models of parachutes. Poor little "Rupert"!

One of the best pictures from the exhibit, this is from a sudden disembarkation from the camps in France, I think...Johnny left this note on his tent for his local girlfriend. I get a little choked up thinking about it! The "Beyond All Boundaries" show at the Victory Theater was my favorite part of the whole museum. Like a Disneyride of a WWII documentary... in FOUR D (how?! how!).

8) Tropical Isle

Adorable drinks, a completely solid cover band onstage, laser lights, bubbles to blow at the bar...what is not to love about this place? The most fun bar in the Quarter, and less than a block from our hotel!

A handgrenade (left) is the most famous drink from this bar, but I have to admit, I was equally impressed by the "shark attack", which involves: the bartender blowing a whistle, yelling "EVERYONE OUT OF THE WATER!", ringing a bell, and pouring grenadine into a toy shark's mouth. The band plays the Jaws theme and the shark is plunged into a blue drink, turning "the waters" red. COULD YOU DIE? It was everything I dreamed it would be.

After all that, I can't lie, I'm in much need of a rest! But I wouldn't trade our New Orleans adventure for the world. Such a neat town!

Have you been to NOLA before? What were some of the hotspots you hit? Did you see any fights (I didn't take pictures, but LORD did we see verbal altercations left and right. That's what happens when you start drinking at 11 AM and it's night fall!)? What was the best food you ate?

Anyway, back to business as normal next week, but before then, I'll see you tomorrow for Photo Friday!


  1. What a trip! New Orleans is definitely like no other place on Earth. To me it feels like it should be another country all together. i mean, alligator heads at Walgreens? That shot of you cheering is awesome! And I'm glad that you got an actual legit shark attack. Welcome back to Nashville. I assure you that it's just like it was when you left.

    1. The funny part about the gator was the trail to the full head. We went in looking for a six pack of diet Cokes, and we saw gator teeth on keychains. It went something like "OH! COOL! GATOR TEETH! NO WAY, LOOK, THERE'S GATOR CLAWS! NO WAY, LOOK...GATOR PAWS!" And then finally, down the aisle where the diet Cokes were: "GATOR HEADS! AAAAAAH!" So creepy...yet so neat.

  2. Now I'm HUNGRY!!! New Orleans seems like such a cool place, but my brother and his wife were mugged there on their honeymoon, so now I have an irrational fear of the place. You're making me think it's not so bad - except for the drunken altercations!

    1. The VIOLENCE with which people had arguments in that city. One night walking through the quarter, in the course of twenty minutes, we saw six separate sets of people having f'bomb filled, dripping with vitriol, close to coming to blows exchanges with each other.Strangers, couples, store clerks-and-customers, people in cars to other people in cars...No actual blows thrown, but eek! Enough to put you on your guard. Some places were worse than others though and we just steered clear of those areas. BUT THE FOOD! IT WAS WORTH IT FOR THE FOOD! haha. :)

  3. "Price per sequin" I am still cackling at that!

    Your trip looks amazing! I've enjoyed New Orleans the couple of times I've been there. But I'm not sure I saw half as interesting things as you did... though I did have beignets, mmmmm. Now I want one!

    1. I almost bought a box of beignet mix and then I forgot. :( I did get a Justin Wilson cookbook! I hope he can teach me the ways of his peoples' cuisine.

  4. Wow!! I've always dreamed of going to New Orleans, and this is exactly why.... seems like such a strange and magical city. Oh, and I'm very jealous of your ride in the mule-pulled surrey with a fringe on top!

    1. Ridin' in style, for sure! I'm now part of the legion of people who've gone who always would tell me "YA GOTTA GO! Even just once!". Such a great town.

  5. i want to go there! i haven't been before. i kind of love those gator heads too. do you get the emails? a while ago there was a "vintage" shop that was selling those for 75 dollars each!! redic! i don't have a head, but i have one of those shrivled claws on a stick, or, back scratcher. haha.
    i love the dress you are wearing at cafe du monde! how pretty. and your tour guide! amazing!
    i don't even drink and and I would get a shark attack! i LOVE IT!!!!!

    1. I used to get the fab emails and then I was like "IF I SEE ONE MORE MIRRORED MANNEQUIN/EAMES CHAIR/DRESS I OBVIOUSLY WANT FOR $700...!!!" and unsubscribed. $75! The biggest one I saw, which was about the size of a classroom model globe, was only $40. I think ours was $12. I couldn't commit to it and then I was like...COME ON. It's kind of like my scorpion cool is it to see something close up and still like that which could totally kill you in the wild? I love the backscratcher thing, I didn't see one while I was down there! HI-larious.

      Also...Shark Attacks for life. Promised to be more appealing than the mint juleps at the derby. All the drinks in NO were like LETHALLY high alcohol but tasted like cotton candy. Dangerous! And adding theatricality to standard booze imbibing = so fun.

    2. i unsubscribed from them too. whenever i saw anything cute it was at least 400 bucks.

      oh dang i would be GONE. i had HALF of a woodchuck cider once, and was totally drunk. haha, lightweight realness.

  6. Thanks for sharing. Had a trip to NOLA booked last fall and had to cancel. Bummer. So it was fun to take the photo trip with you. Love your dresses btw. Where did you find them? I am thinking I need a new summer wardrobe NOW!

  7. I've been there 13 times. From the very first time I went my favorite thing has been the St. Louis Cathedral. I also love the French Market. You can get alligator on a stick there if you're brave enough (I'm not!). I saw that bag of Zapps in one of your pictures, I think they are the best chips in the world (and I've eaten a lot of chips). Looks like you had a great time.

  8. Zappos chips, Cafe du Monde, Mardi Gras Indians (that's the feathered guy), Mardi Gras the celebration, parades, food, hurricanes, Dixie beer, Hubig's Pies, Haydel's bakery and their fabulous King Cakes, the Saints, and the Clover Grill...OMG We have been so many times the bartenders call us "out of towners" rather than tourists - New Orleans is my town! Glad you had a great time - you need to go back for Mardi Gras and get you some beads!



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