NEW ORLEANS MARCH 2017
Having visited New Orleans only once, for a very brief stay back in the 70s, I was very keen to return. And since there were inexpensive, direct flights from my winter base in South Florida, I decided to make this the year. I deliberately chose the week after Mardi Gras, as I had no wish to compete with the raucous festivities for which the city is famous.
Instead, two of us booked a Monday morning Jet Blue flight from Ft. Lauderdale to New Orleans Armstrong airport. For the fair price of $60, a local driver took us to the FLL airport in time for the early morning flight, which transpired without a hitch.
We arrived on time in New Orleans, stood on a taxi line for a very few minutes, and were then whisked into the commodious taxi of a young man whose Croatian father had settled in the city decades before. He was delightful, and we got the sense of how many different peoples of varied cultures had poured into the city since its founding. The talk turned to food, of course, and the driver revealed that his uncle (recently deceased) had been the proprietor of Drago’s Oyster restaurant. I was on a quest to sample as many local foods as possible, so I took note off Drago’s, as well as the existence of roasted, charred, and grilled oysters. I could not wait to get started!
The taxi fare from the airport to our hotel was about $33; we quickly ended up at our preferred hotel, the Windsor Court, booked with Virtuoso, which allowed us one free lunch or dinner at the Windsor Grill during our stay (we had no time to take advantage of either) as well as an allowance for breakfast in the very elegant dining area. But we were most happy with the fact that, upon chatting with the front desk people and having them notice how enthusiastic we were about the food of the city, we were given a large Senior Suite and access to the Club Lounge.
The Windsor Court is a locally owned (non-chain) property, perfectly located between the Quarter and the Warehouse District within easy walking to Treme and Lower Magazine Street (not to mention Harrah's across the street) and I would hesitate to stay anywhere else in New Orleans. The only disappointment was that the long pool was not heated enough to swim in early March. The pool had been one of the reasons I chose this hotel over more economically priced properties and I was disappointed.
But the service, the accommodations, and the general ambience over the next four days made up for any lapse, and we were very, very glad that we had chosen this hotel over others.
After leaving our luggage in the room (early check in is another Virtuoso perk) we were off to wander the city, vowing to take it easy on that first day. But lunchtime was approaching and visions of muffallettas were dancing in my head, so we made our way, skirting the edge of the French Quarter, to the much vaunted Central Bakery, established decades ago by Sicilian immigrants and still famous for their version of this classic New Orleans/Sicilian mash-up.
Note that in addition to the legendary sandwiches, Central
Grocery has a good selection of local foods to take home; I found dried bags of Giuseppe Cocco Bucatini at prices to rival those in the Bronx; and it was here that I first spied the Steen’s Cane Syrup that I had been longing for for years. Those, and a few more local and imported items, made their way into my shopping bag even before we placed our order for a muffalletta, split into two halves.
OK, the sandwich is very tasty..layers of cured pork, provolone, and that all-important olive salad which they were giving out today at the local Costco in Lantana, Florida. Try as I might, I could not make a dent in a quarter of the sandwich but oh, my, yes, it was tasty as I had imagined A no-nonsense place with super friendly staff; looking as it might have 70 years ago. a must visit!! Open daily from 9am to 5pm.
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NEW ORLEANS AND CAJUN COUNTRY...A WEEK-LONG FOOD QUEST
NEW ORLEANS MARCH 2017