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Trip Report New Orleans - Long!

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We just got back from New Orleans and I’m posting my report. I warn you – it’s long! I tend to write a little bit every day, so I don’t forget it all.

A little bit about us. I’m 59 and work as an IT consultant and my husband is 63 and retired a few years ago. I’m usually planning a trip somewhere and we’ve done a fair amount of travelling. We booked a trip to New Orleans years ago and had to cancel for various reasons. A few months later, Katrina hit and we temporarily took New Orleans off our list. In December, we got a couple of vouchers from Westjet (after a flight from St. Martin was delayed) and with the seat sale, well, New Orleans was back on the list.

So, we left Toronto on Wednesday AM and arrived in New Orleans at 11:10 AM. In no time at all, we were in a cab and on our way to the Marigny. I had booked the Chez Nous B&B and it’s wonderful! 12 foot ceilings and great A/C. We had 2 big rooms, with a queen bed and a large bathroom. It’s a “non-traditional” B&B – no breakfast room, they provide you with coffee, fruit, cereal and bread for toast. Perfect! (They only have 2 units – the other one is a 2 bedroom, and I believe it has more kitchen facilities.) It’s 1 block from Frenchmen Street. After dropping our bags, we set out for the French Quarter. We found El Gato Negro where we ordered too much food and a margarita for me, lemonade for John. The food was very good, but as I said, too much of it. We wandered around the Quarter to orient ourselves, and then walked back to the B&B to get some rest before heading over to Lafayette Square for a free concert. The performer was a guy called Anders Osborne, probably quite good, but not really our style. (Trombone Shorty had performed 2 weeks earlier, and we were disappointed to miss him.) We had 7:30 dinner reservations at Boucherie and we noticed that the St. Charles streetcar was right there. According to our map, the streetcar went right to the restaurant (end of the line). The restaurant was excellent. I had a sazarac and John had mineral water. We ordered 3 small plates (house made smoked chorizo, boudin balls with garlic aioli and duck confit) and the big plate (wagyu beef brisket with the parmesan fries). Again, too much food, but John even ordered the dessert – chilli chocolate “chess” pie. Service was very friendly and the restaurant was bustling. Prices are also very good. They don’t take online reservations, and I called them the week before we went.

Next morning, we were both still full, so just had coffee and some OJ. We had booked the Ninth Ward Rebirth Bike Tour and it meets at Washington Square, about a block from Chez Nous. There were 4 couples (3 from Canada and 1 from the US), none of us kids. I wore a bike helmet, since it’s been 3+ decades since I rode a bike. The tour is excellent and I highly recommend it! The bikes are cruiser style, and apart from some anxiety at the start getting on and off, I was fine. The tour goes from 9:30 to 1:30, with a stop for lunch and time to go through the House of Feathers & Dance and meet Ronald Lewis, the owner. We shared an oyster po’boy for lunch (very good but I’m glad we were smart and had only 1 between the 2 of us). It was very interesting to see what the area is like 5 years later. The guide is excellent and I came away with an appreciation of the situation there. The tour is $55 / person. After the tour, we came back, had a much needed shower and we were good to go out again. We wandered around a bit more, stopped for beignets & iced cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde (no line up so it was easy to get a table). I was glad I hadn’t eaten a whole po’boy at lunch. We wanted to hear some zydeco, so eventually we ended up at Krazy Korner for Dwayne Dopsie (zydeco). Wonderful music! Bourbon Street is all that’s supposed to be – not my idea of fun, but each to his own.

By now, it was time to head to our 8 PM dinner reservation at Cochon. I had booked online a few weeks ago. I loved the food – first of all, I was actually a little hungry and that helps! We ordered the wood fired oyster roast, I ordered the bacon & oyster sandwich and John had the pork shoulder special with swiss chard. We also had an order of the smothered greens. Dessert was the black bottomed brown butter banana cream pie – wow! Service was efficient and friendly.

Friday we decided to explore the garden district. After seeing the Lower Ninth, it was time to see another side of NOLA. We caught the St. Charles streetcar, and got off at Washington. We looked at beautiful homes, also went through the cemetery. I had made a 1:30 lunch reservation at Coquette, on Magazine, so we eventually ended up there. I had the Coquette Collins (which was probably the best drink I had in New Orleans). They have a $20 lunch menu or you can order off the menu. I went for the $20 menu. I started with oysters in a fennel & bacon ragout, then shrimp with creamy grits, finally beignets (5 round ones) that comes with 2 little pots – 1 with caramel sauce, the other with chocolate. I had a glass of pinot grigio with it. John didn’t order the lunch menu – he had a salad of seasonal greens and the black drum, that came with pickled ramps, peas and a truffle vinaigrette. He had 3 of my beignets and also some of my shrimp & grits. My meal was sublime – I’m not exaggerating, I loved it all. The service was also very good. I had booked Coquette through Open Table. The area along Magazine is kind of funky, all the vintage stores remind me of my neighbourhood in Toronto.

The streetcar was packed, so we ended up taking a cab back to the Marigny. After resting up, we decided to head over to Three Muses on Frenchmen Street. We got a couple of seats at the bar, and then ordered small plates through the night – seasoned olives, feta fries, pork belly with a tomato chutney, falafel sliders and a peanut butter & chocolate brownie with dulce de leche ice cream. The bar food there is very good, and it was fun to order a dish at a time throughout the evening. The entertainment was wonderful. There were 3 female singers earlier (the Pfister sisters), then Glen David Andrews at 10 PM. He’s an amazing performer, and his show was incredible – we highly recommend him. Almost 2 hours later, we got outside and the street was hopping. By this time, though, I was ready for bed.

Our last day, we had planned to go on the Save Our Cemeteries tour, but it starts at 10 AM and there was no way we were going to get moving that early. So forget the tour. We wandered around the French Quarter, checked out a few shops and made our way to Bayona. (I reserved it through Open Table as well.) They have a $25 fixed price menu on Saturdays. I started with the cream of garlic soup (really good), then the pork belly with black eyed peas and smothered greens. Dessert was amazing – a chocolate mousse trifle with orange peel and pistachios. John had a crepe with cream cheese, served with salmon belly to start, then hanger steak with a corn cake and relish, and finally a smoked duck, cashew-peanut butter and pepper jelly sandwich – that was the one thing on the menu that he really wanted, so we were happy to see that it was on the Saturday lunch menu. Everything was very flavourful and I’d highly recommend it. (BTW, I ordered an Abita SOS beer, thinking it would be a regular sized beer – it isn’t – it’s about twice the size of a regular beer, and was only $1 more – apparently 75 cents goes to charity.)

After lunch, we walked over to the St. Louis cemetery – so many tour groups there, we didn’t need to feel nervous about being there on our own. After walking around a couple more hours, we picked up a muffaletta at Central Grocery for our dinner. We ate the sandwich on our little porch at the B&B - inexpensive and delicious dinner. Dessert was a chocolate praline that we had bought earlier. I guess it’s better than a regular praline, or at least not as sweet, but I don’t think I’m a praline fan.

For our last night, we went to d.b.a on Frenchmen Street. The 8 PM performer was David Boutte, the man who sings the theme song for Treme. The show was good, not as exciting as the night before, but we enjoyed the music. Again, the street was really busy when we left d.b.a. – the area is really popular. And it seemed fitting that the last song we heard in New Orleans was the theme for Treme.

Finally it was time to leave New Orleans. After a big b/fast at Envie (coffee shop nearby), we caught a taxi to the airport and flew home. Our Westjet flight was on time and now it’s back to real life.

We really enjoyed our time in New Orleans. I like the Marigny area very much – with the exception of Frenchmen Street, it seems to be a real neighbourhood where people actually live. We lucked out with the weather – while it was hot, there was always a breeze. Food was great – I had done my research and it paid off. All the restaurants were busy and I’m glad we had made reservations in advance. In terms of clothing, I wore black leggings (Capri length) and tunic tops most of the time. On my feet, I wore either sketchers or slide type shoes. We walked a lot and I had no problems with my feet. Apart from 2 coffee mugs (with a fleur de lis on them) and a t-shirt from Cochon for my husband, we didn’t buy anything. Our $ all seemed to go on great food!

Overall a very successful weekend!

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