How to Eat, Drink and Celebrate in New Orleans!

Marci took us all (me, my two sisters, and my sister-in-law) to New Orleans for her birthday.  What a nice treat!  She made reservations for us at the Windsor Court Hotel which was just off Canal Street and walking distance to the French Quarter.  I was the last to arrive, so the girls sipped cocktails while they patiently waited for me in the hotel’s Polo Club Lounge.

With the afternoon ahead of us, we wandered through the French Quarter while shopping at all the local boutiques.  We did a little clothes shopping and a little antiquing.  Those that know me realize I’m not much of a shopper, but it is OK to browse around new places for a few hours especially while catching up with much of my family that I have hardly seen over the last few years.  Whenever the pace was a bit slow, I’d just go outside and people watch.  After all, we were in New Orleans!

Fortunately, I was spared a long afternoon of shopping as our dinner reservations at August we early.  Our server was so good at describing the dishes on the menu, I think saliva drooled from mouth.  We wanted everything and proceeded to order four out of the five hot appetizers which included duck dumplings, flash fried oysters, truffle gnocchi, and fried squash blossoms.  We each had our favorite.

For dinner, we all ordered fish.  I went with the flounder which was topped with crabmeat and mushrooms, Liz and Christian got the snapper, and Marti and Marci ordered the Dorado.  We decided even at the fancy restaurants, there is no way to be healthy in New Orleans.  Our food was drenched in rich cream sauce!

Marci’s birthday dessert was excellent.  While we were at her birthday dinner, she gave all of us a present.  Just taking us to New Orleans was enough, but we each got a long strand of pearls that we put on and posed for a few photos.  It was a fun night.

A few of us are early risers, so we walked a block to Mother’s Restaurant.  This place was a true Louisiana diner.  Upon entry, a gentleman greeted us as he pointed to the box on the wall, “Grab a menu and order at the register when you are ready.”

We had a choice of a few kinds of eggs with biscuits, grits, and a variety of meats including sausage, ham and brisket, but no bacon!  Since bacon wasn’t an option, I went with the special for only $6.50…scrambled eggs, grits, a biscuit, smoked sausage, and coffee…NO SUBSTITUTES!  After taking my order, the lady looked at Liz, “Do you want coffee while I’m over hear?”  Efficient…  Waiters came around, collected our receipts, and brought us our food in a flash.  The “No Tipping Allowed” sign really wanted to make us tip!

After that heavy breakfast, I went to the gym while everyone got ready for lunch at 11:30 at Galatoire’s.  This fancy, French restaurant has been a mainstay in the French Quarter since 1905, and is one of the best restaurants in New Orleans.  Apparently, many famous people dine here and coats are required for the evening.  We ate in the upstairs dining room at table right next to the window offering a pleasant view.  The bread and butter were definitely worth every calorie.  I was hoping for a bit more seafood in my seafood gumbo, but I made up for it with an avocado stuffed with crab meat.

We strolled a little further down Bourbon Street, and decided we needed to stop in at the world famous, Pat O’Briens.  Neither Marci nor Christian had been to New Orleans, so it was time they ordered a Hurricane.  The fruit punch like drink is too sweet for me, so Liz and I decided to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a chilled shot of Patron.  Tasty!

The ladies were on a mission to find sunglasses so we went to Krewe.  Everyone came out donning new shades.  I, on the other hand, have my old ones.  Liz, Christian and Marci wanted to antique and shop for linens which didn’t make the list for me and Marti, so we wandered back up Bourbon Street where we sat on the curb and listened to a street performer play jazz.  When he finished his set, we decided to drop into the Cat’s Meow, for old time’s sake.  We had both been there previously and sang karaoke.

The Cat’s Meow was dead at 4:30 in the afternoon, but it didn’t stop us from singing.  Marti got on stage first and belted out “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” while someone on the staff pretended to play the fiddle.  It was quite entertaining.  I was too chicken to get on stage alone, so Marti joined me in singing “Sweet Caroline”.  By this time, people were trickling in.  Too bad they had to listen to our terrible tunes!!

It wasn’t too long before Marci, Liz, and Christian joined us at front row tables as we cheered on other singers.  We had to wait about an hour before we got to sing our third song.  The staff was probably hoping we’d leave before they were subjected to more screeching, but we waited until Liz, Marti, and I sang our final gig, “Son of a Preacher Man”.

By this time, I had to eat.  Liz directed us to Mr. B’s Bistro on Royal St.  It was between the Cat’s Meow and our hotel, so it was a perfect location for dinner.  The appetizers were AMAZING and the lamb, spectacular!  This may have been the best restaurant we tried all weekend.  We were lucky to get one of the few open tables in the back room at 8:30pm.

On Bourbon Street…headed to Mr. B’s

There weren’t as many early risers on Saturday morning.  As such, just Marci and I tried The Ruby Slipper Café.  We arrived just before 8am which was a good choice as by the time we were served our fancy meals with pig candy bacon, the place was full.  We had bacon and egg biscuits with a fried green tomato.  The food was tasty, though the service a bit poor.

Marci scored tickets to Jazz Fest.  We walked a few blocks to the Sheraton Hotel on Canal Street where buses lined up beginning at 10:30 to shuttle festival goers to the event.  We had been told to arrive early to get a spot at one of the two main stages and then walk around to look at the craft vendors, food vendors and other stages.  We placed our recently purchased $10 chairs at the Gentilly Stage, the second largest.  Had I realized how easy it was to get to Jazz Fest and had I known headliners were not Jazz Bands, like Megan Trainor and Stevie Wonder tonight, I think I would have come to this event a long time ago.  I especially liked that it ended at 7 too!!

Jazz Fest takes place at the infield of the horse track.  Had it rained or been sweltering hot, I can imagine it might not have been quite as enjoyable, but the windy weekend kept us somewhat cool on this sunny day.  We followed a road that wound around the food and craft vendors as we checked out the different stations and mingled among the light crowd.

By the time we had purchased our food and sat down to listen to a few acts at the Gentilly Stage, scores of people streamed past.  As much as we wanted to see a little bit of Stevie Wonder and Megan Trainor, the thought of leaving Jazz Fest at the end of night with the whole crowd seemed daunting.

We decided to leave early and go watch the Kentucky Derby at Red Fish Grill.  The bar was quiet and the bartender kindly turned down the music while increasing the TV volume so we could hear the announcer call the race.  While we didn’t don hats or drink mint juleps, we snacked on BBQ oysters as we watched Always Dreaming, with hardly a splatter of mud, join the winners circle as he led most the way.  I would really like to go to the Kentucky Derby just once…any takers?!?

With dinner time nearing, Felix’s called our name.  It had a much shorter line than Acme Oyster House which is across the street.  Nothing like some good ole fried food!  I’m pretty sure I gained 5 pounds on this trip.  I had to leave early on Sunday morning so I missed out going to Café Du Monde for beignets, but my waistline thanks me.  We really had some great laughs, and I’m thankful I got to see everyone together…it doesn’t happen much.  ETB

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