Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Big Easy

Hey Readers.  Were you wondering what happened to me?  On Friday I headed down to New Orleans for work.  I packed so light for this short trip.  I had one casual outfit (jeans and a black top) and two outfits for work. I got all this in a really small over the shoulder carry on that is actually smaller than my purse/bag.  I made sure to get there early so I had a few hours to myself before I had to work.  I stayed at the Marriott New Orleans on Canal which was a great location.

The only thing I did to prepare for this quick trip was to do a walking tour of the French Quarter that I found online from Frommers.  The afternoon started nice but turned to a thunderstorm with times of down pouring.  Knowing that it would be scattered thunderstorms, I did pack an umbrella, but left it in my room since I ran out of there so quickly to enjoy the city.  I continued on my self-guided tour but stopped for lunch when I was drenched.  The tour took most of the same route that the trolley tours do. 

The first thing I ate was a chocolate croissant from Croissant D'Or which was tasty.  When I stopped for lunch, I went to the Old Coffee Pot.  The atmosphere was nice but the service was unbelievably slow.  Since it was raining quite hard, I couldn't eat in courtyard.  I ordered Seafood Gumbo to warm up and went with a classic Catfish Po-Boy.  The Gumbo was so delicious with a hint of spice.  The po-boy was interesting, it was the first time I had catfish, which was surprisingly light and not 'fishy'.  The sandwich itself was really hard to eat - it was way to fat with the fried fish pieces and the lettuce and the big bread.  I put on some 'Lousiana Hot Sauce' and took a bite or two but it was just too difficult for my small mouth so I ended up just eating the catfish with a fork and knife. 
 After lunch I continued the tour and walked to the French Market.  On the way back towards the hotel, I stopped at Cafe du Monde for some beignets.  These fried dough creations were good - but honestly, I have had the Italian pizza-fritta/zeppole so I am glad I indulged but I wasn't 'shocked' with it.

Leaving the Cafe du Monde, I ran into one of my clients and we looked at the riverfront and then went to Bourbon Street to walk around and listen to some music for the next 90 minutes before we had to get ready for dinner.

Dinner we had as a group at Crescent City Steaks on North Broad Street.  Honestly the steak was not amazing, but it could be that I don't eat a lot of steak these days.  This was the first time I saw all my clients since the last meeting, and they all loved my hair.

Saturday I was with my clients all day.  The hotel restaurant had a nice breakfast buffet.  There I tried a blintz for the first time.  Dinner we went to Clancy's which was about 18 minutes from the hotel.  This small restaurant was cozy and had a decent Creole menu.  I ordered the stuffed shrimp and the half order of lobster and mushroom risotto.  I don't have pictures since I was with my clients - but the stuffed shrimp were AWESOME.  The risotto was also quite delicious.  Everyone else's food looked really good.  After dinner, I walked around Bourbon Street with a client and his son to see the nightlife.  The Bourbon Street nightlife was quite different than during the afternoon.  I can't imagine Mardi Grais, this was enough for me!
 
Sunday I woke up early, put my casual outfit back, checked out and left my small bag with the bellhop to take the trolley to the Garden District.  Unfortunately I did not realize that there were more than one trolley, and so I took the Canal Street trolley to Cemetery.  On this ride, I got a call from Delta that my flight was cancelled and rescheduled for Monday.  The driver of the trolley was nice and while we were waiting to turn around, he gave me a transfer for an additional $0.25 and told me about BBQ shrimp.  Once we got back downtown, I took the St. Charles trolley to the Garden District and did another Frommer's walking tour.  I absolutely loved this area and the houses.  After the tour I took the trolley further north to see the colleges and whatever else was up there. 

BBQ Shrimp at Desire

 I was famished having only had a whole wheat cranberry scone and no beverages all day, so I stopped at Desire for that BBQ shirmp (jumbo shrimp sautéed in garlic, rosemary & lemons in a rich worcestershire sauce, with garlic bread) the trolley driver talked about.  This was my favorite food I had while I was in New Orleans

After the morning I headed back to the hotel and got another room for the night and took an hour break.  I took the free ferry to Algiers and then just walked around the outer paths in both directions of the ferry terminal.  I wish I stopped to ask the concierge what there was to do on that side of the river...but since I wasn't really planning on having all this extra free time, I was unprepared. 

I was quite exhausted from my day but decided I couldn't leave New Orleans without having a drink on Bourbon Street.  I have never been to a bar by myself so I was a bit nervous about this, but it had to be done.  It was only about 6pm so I walked along the road until I found one that I liked the music so I went in for a 2 for 1 deal.  I got 2 Miller Lite's for $5.75.  I sat at a table and listed to this kid - it wasn't what I thought from outside...he was just killing time until the band got there, but it was a bit entertaining.  He sang a few songs but really talked to us.  He had a thing for me, kept picking on "New York" and dedicated a few songs to me.  He wanted me to participate in his show by giving me a lap dance but I said I wasn't comfortable with that, I was only on beer #2.  When his gig was over he came over and asked me to go to his next bar when he did the same thing (I didn't).  When the band finally started playing I enjoyed their laid back style, but it wasn't enough to keep me there after I was done with my second beer so I headed out. 

I then stopped at --- and had another 2 Miller Lite's this time my bill was $6.50.  Unfortunately I was only at this bar for 3 songs before the band was done, but they were really good for the three songs I heard.  I poured my fourth beer in a plastic cup and hit Bourbon Street.  I next stopped at the Cat's Meow for some Karaoke which was surprisingly good then headed out to another bar, Fat Catz, that I really enjoyed.  They played a bit of Elton John, Billy Joel, Journey, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeplin, etc.  I finally finished that fourth beer and decided I needed some food from drinking four beers in 2 hours.

So I wound up in La Bayou and had some corn & crab chowder and I tried blackened shrimp with fried green tomatoes and grits.  Both items were really good.   I really wanted to go to the Howl at the Moon since I had a great time there in Chicago - and they weren't open when I first got there.  While there was no cover charge - there was a drink minimum and I felt I didn't want anymore...so I just left and went to the Hotel at 10:30 to hit the sac for my early flight in the morning.  I would have stayed out later if there was someone else there.


Lesson learned:  don't pack so frugally.  I don't know why I didn't use a regular wheeled carry on, but really it was 2 1/2 days.  I am impressed that I was able to pack so light, but I ended up wearing my casual outfit THREE LONG days with the flight cancellation.  I can't imagine if the clothes smelt - I tried to air them out and put lotion on...but still. 

New Orleans was a lot of fun and I would love to go back and enjoy the music but with my beau.

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