Friday, April 30, 2010

Oh, hey, New Orleans, you're awesome.

Oh man. New Orleans is a TRIP! The FOOD! The MUSIC! I love it here. I could do without the sticky-hot weather in spring, but it’s a small price to pay for all that this city has to offer.

And it’s already been somewhat of a blur. I was so jetlagged from my red-eye to New York the day before that I totally slept through my alarm (SO unlike me) and almost missed my flight to New Orleans, so spent the entire morning running around my apartment, and then the airport, like a chicken with my head cut off (and one that hadn’t showered in two days, no less). I promptly passed out on the plane, to awake with a funky crick in my neck, no idea where I was, and a 5:30pm dinner reservation (the latest we could get at the chi-chi Cochon).

After a nice shower and a moment to get my bearings, Mom and I walked down the block to Cochon to meet Matty Bo and his friend Sarah who was in town for jazz fest and promptly got down to business. Two Champagne cocktails, a plate of fried alligator (!), fried rabbit livers, and the juiciest roast suckling pig you can imagine later (and it was still light out, mind you), the team was raring to go. I don’t know what possessed us, but we decided to stroll down to Harrah’s (yes, the big, cheesy chain-casino; stop judging!) and play some video poker. I think we were really in it for the free drinks (that’s right – as long as you’re still playing, you get unlimited free drinks), but we had a grand ol’ time regardless. After one last drink around the corner with one of Matt’s fellow Teach-ers for America, we called it a somewhat early night to rest up before the Jazz Fest-ivites the next day.

Jazz Fest doesn’t really get rolling until the afternoon, so Mom and I walked a few blocks from her place to the fabled Mother’s Restaurant, home of apparently the most retardedly delicious biscuits, ham and po-boys around. Mom can attest to the latter from prior experience, but this being a morning jaunt, we decided to go for the biscuits and ham this time around.

Holy. Dear. Lord. Fluffly clouds of buttery carb heaven. That’s really all I can say. The ham was, well, ham (apparently I’m supposed to order the black ham, which is just the crispy, salty, caramelized, outer layer, but oh well, I have 5 more days here, I’ll make it happen), but the BISCUITS! Oh lord. The coffee was unexpectedly outstanding as well, a really rich, smooth café au lait (which is the default; if you want your coffee black, you have to make a point of it) in a nice heavy mug.

We needed to get into our Jazz Fest gear (aka heavy sunscreen and cheap shoes to be ruined by mud) so we had to stop back at Mom’s apartment before we left, and I somehow managed to fall into an involuntary biscuit-induced nap the moment I found myself in the same room as a bed, but once my mom was ready and found me sprawled across my bed she got my ass up and out the door, and we were on our way.

Jazz Fest was awesome. Not even just the music, but just the experience as a whole. It was really such a foodie’s paradise, with more treats than you could ever sample in a week, let alone one day, but we did our best to get a thorough taste of what the festival had to offer. We listened to some gospel to work up our appetite, then worked our way through a softshell crab po-boy (complete with three mysteriously unlabeled sauces, which we determined to be hot sauce, melted butter, and lemon juice), a giant strawberry lemonade, and something called “Crawfish Monica”, which turned out to essentially be a mediocre mac-and-cheese, but studded with luscious crawfish tails, which elevated it to downright yummy.

We let our bellies rest and caught the end of Elvis Perkins in Dearland, who we had never heard of before but totally fell in love with, and before we knew it, it was time for the headliners to take all the various stages. We started with the first 20 or so minutes of the Gipsy Kings, who were just awesome, but tore ourselves away to catch the middle of Louis Prima, Jr., who actually played a really fun set, getting even the old creaky festival-goers on their feet and dancing around to “When the Saints Go Marching In.” And finally, we dashed over to the main stage to catch the end of Earth, Wind and Fire, and they played so many awesome hits right in those last 20 minutes that it made us wonder what the hell they played the REST of the time they were on! Everyone was getting down and having an awesome time. SO much fun.

Before we left we made one last food run, snatching up what was possibly the best item of the day, a duck, pheasant, and andouille sausage gumbo, which was super rich and gamey and AMAZING, followed by a mango freeze (delicious mango sorbet), and banana bread pudding (which should have been awesome but sadly just tasted like artificial rum flavoring and sugar. Ew.) for dessert. After all that food, music and sunshine, Mom and I were whooped, so now we’re back at her place, calling it an early night in preparation for our SWAMP TOUR that we are taking tomorrow morning at 8 am. All we need are some fanny packs and oversized white tennis shoes and we will be the ULTIMATE tourists. Love it. Fill you in later!

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