Friday, June 09, 2006

Gallumphing Through The Big Easy - Part II: Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler!

Let The Good Times Roll!While the remaining four days of our excursion to New Orleans were action-packed, we still managed not to rush around too much. It was simply too hot for that. After the first few days, we got ourselves into a good routine; stay out really late bar-hopping and catching some really excellent jazz and blues at numerous little clubs, then heading for home and sleeping late (the phrase for the week was, "It's 3pm, time for breakfast!"). Then we would take our time getting up in the morning, go to some neat little cafe or restaurant for breakfast, then spend the day touring around the city in the car, either getting a good look at the damage done by Hurricane Katrina in the Lower Ninth Ward and the surrounding areas or simply exploring, and checking out various places of interest.

One of these places was Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street.Of course, it's now a bar. According to the plaque inside the place, this is the oldest bar in the United States, dating back to 1772. It looks it. There's not much in the way of electricity in the place, as the back room where we sat was completely in darkness until we lit some candles.
One of my favourite places we went to was a tiny little bar called The Spotted Cat on Frenchmen St. in the Marigny district, which is right beside the French Quarter. This place has a bar, a few chairs and a small stage. But the music that came out of that place was unbe-frickin-lievable. We caught a band called the Washboard Chaz Blues Trio (on Thursday? Friday? I can't remember), which was a harmonica player, a slide guitar player, and Chaz himself playing, you guessed it, a washboard. It was the nicest couple of hours I spent in a bar in recent memory.
Of course, we also sampled the local cuisine in our ramblings, and one of the places we went to was Mona's Middle Eastern Cuisine, also on Frenchmen St. In addition to the traditional Middle Eastern dishes, Mona's also serves local favourites, like po' boy sandwiches and such. I'm a little embarassed, because for the life of me, I can't remember what I had to eat there. I know we started off with hummus and tabouli and pitas as appetizers, but after that all I remember is that I didn't have the catfish, because I'd had it the night before and was looking for something different. Oh well, it must have been good, or I would have definitely remembered what it was. Y'know, they say the memory is the first to go. I think. Anyway, did I mention that beer is available 24 hours a day, from every store? There's got to be a connection there somewhere......
OK, one other place we visited, on the insistence of Paul's friend George, was the RiverShack restaurant in neighbouring Jefferson Parish, which apparently is the "Home of the Tacky Ashtray". We all had what was listed on the menu as a "Shank You Burger", consisting of a patty of beef, and one of hot sausage. Quite tasty. In addition to the burgers, we had Gator Bites (alligator sausage), and Fried Pickles.
After almost a week packed full of shenanigans, we had seen and done a lot, but not nearly as much as we had wanted to. As Paul put it, "That's OK, it just means you'll have to come back." Yes, it does.

I'll leave you all with a picture of the sun setting over Lake Pontchartrain.Ahhhh.


evelyn said...

It's so good to read a happy recount of New Orleans, one of my favorite cities in the world.

Anne said...

I have to say after reading all of these accounts that I'm thrilled that you went and had such a good time.

I was heartbroken after the hurricanes not just for all the people that lost lives and homes and loved ones there but also culinarily speaking-the loss was tremendous. So much of America's Culinary prowess is there in NOLA and I so hoped they would make a comeback and it sure seems as if they have!