Thursday, May 6, 2010

fun. and lots of it.

Oh man, the swamp tour was HILARIOUS! It seemed as though we were the only people in New Orleans who thought an 8am wake-up call on a Saturday morning to feed marshmallows to alligators was a great idea, since we were literally the ONLY people to board the bus that shuttled us to the swamp entrance about 40 minutes outside of the city, but luckily a few other brave (or maybe just stupid?) souls joined us and off we went.

It was actually quite beautiful, albeit slightly trashy… since we literally fed marshmallows to alligators who seemed suspiciously well-trained. But we definitely enjoyed it, and after two-plus hours of wildlife sightings and creepy stares from the weirdo German solo-traveler sitting next to me, we still had the whole day ahead of us for more adventures.

We changed out of our sweaty swamp clothes and headed out for a stroll down Magazine Street to check out all the home goods and antique stores, and man was it a gold mine! SO many beautiful, interesting things to look at! And Magazine street runs through the most gorgeous
neighborhood, the garden district, with all of these beautiful, tree-lines streets and impeccable, classic homes painted pretty colors, and there was jasmine blooming all over the place it was really crazy. Between the streets and the stores, I think I found my color scheme for my new place – lots of richly textured whites and greys, with dusty purples and pale greens mixed in, punctuated by a few pops of a warm gold. We dubbed it “New Orleans decay”, since a stop in to the famous Court of the Two Sisters restaurant in the French Quarter revealed a kind of artfully decrepit wall in the courtyard, covered in layers of peeling paint, that literally consisted of exactly those colors. I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of it, but it’s burned in my mind as inspiration.

After wandering around all afternoon, I met up with Matt and some of his friends for one of the most ridiculous nights I’ve had in a long time. We started at their favorite local bar, Mimi’s in the Marigny and then moved on to the slophouse of all slophouses, Gold Mine, which was SUCH a good time. Sometimes you just need a room full of fratty dudes, mysterious black puddles on the floor, and the best of early 2000’s hip hop blasting on very large speakers.  I could have done without those last 2 (or 5...?) bourbons, but hey, when in Rome…

Needless to say, after a 4:30am arrival back to mom’s apartment, our 11am reservation for the Jazz Brunch at Commander’s Palace was both a blessing and a curse - blessing, in that I would be promptly treated with some hair-of-the-dog; curse, in that it had to happen before noon.

Luckily, Matt and his friend Sarah came with us, so I wasn’t alone in my horrendous hung over-ness. And four ended up being the perfect number – we all ordered different things and got to taste some of the most ridiculous food of the whole trip. Some highlights – my insane Creole cream cheese gnocchi with crawfish tails, Matt’s venison with melted leeks, poached egg, sautéed mushrooms and goat cheese grits, and Sarah’s ridiculous bananas foster bread pudding, all of which were really just legendary. Three courses, several bloody marys, and some lovely live jazz later, and we practically needed to be rolled out of there.

I’m pretty sure that’s all we managed to accomplish for the day… It was kind of a blur. I think there was another short stroll through the garden district, and definitely a nap… and a rainstorm I think?

The next day we went all-out touristy: we strolled over to the French Quarter and started the day off with some beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde, then took a riverboat cruise (and nice nap) down the Mississippi, followed by a fried oyster po’ boy at Stanley’s and some shopping around the Quarter. Then, being the cheeseballs that we are, we took a haunted house tour, complete with a mid-way bar stop where we got to engage in one of my favorite cultural anomalies of New Orleans – wandering through the streets with an open container of alcohol. LEGALLY. Amazing.

We managed to stay generally skeptical throughout the duration of the tour, but as soon as we got on our own and turned down a dark alley on our way to Tujagues for some secret-menu fried chicken, we ended up scaring ourselves so bad that we ended up running and screaming down the block. Classic.

Upon arrival to Tujagues (pronounced “two jacks”) upon the recommendation of one of mom’s costars who is a Nola native, we skipped the dining room and went straight to the grungy bar, and immediately asked the rather grumpy bartender for a few beers and the “fried chicken bon femme” and then waited patiently for almost 45 minutes until it arrived, towering in all its glory, piled upon a silver platter and piping hot. You are given the choice of a whole chicken or half (the answer is WHOLE, obviously), and the “bon femme” means it arrives buried under a pile of perfectly fried potato slices, and topped with mounds of a modified chimichurri sauce, that tasted like it was an even blend of fresh minced garlic and parsley.  TO. DIE. FOR. Seriously. We slept like happy little babies that night.

And then our last day was another tourists’ paradise – we hopped a trolley to the Audobon Zoo, the highlight of which was the ADORABLE baby orangutan who put on a huge show for us. So freakin’ cute. Then we strolled back down Magazine Street to catch the rest of the shops, and finished up with dinner at Emeril’s. Which, despite being the restaurant of a “celebrity chef” and a pretty cheesy one at that, was impeccable. SO delicious. We started with some lovely cocktails – a Violette Royale for me, which was a flute of champagne topped off with Crème de Violette, a sweet and lightly floral liquer that made my cocktail distinctly lavender-colored, and a Flirtini for Mom (yeah, she’s that girl…) 

We split some scrumptious calamari and a gorgeous steak with arugula and gorgonzola, followed by a slice of quite possibly one of my favorite items on the planet: Emeril’s banana cream pie. It’s really just orgasmic. If any of you experienced my banana pudding from two summers ago, it’s in the same family of deliciousness; however, I find Emeril’s custard base almost too sweet, whereas mine was almost too creamy, so I might just have to make it my mission this summer to somehow merge the two recipes to create the ultimate dessert… stay tuned for kitchen experiments to come. And tales from New York!

1 comment:

  1. Ahhh cafe du monde is amazingggg and if i lived in NOLA i would be soooo fat from the amazing beniets and cafe au lait :)

    PS love your blog

    -Sarah Lindland