dandelion

Saturday in New Orleans

It was clear and sunny but so cold I asked John to get my down coat out of the car, and I was very grateful for it. We met the Burkes in the elevator on our way out to Beignet Cafe, and they wanted to go to Mother's, so we changed our plans and waited for them in the lobby to get warmer clothing.



Then we made our way out to Mother's Restaurant on Poydras, into that biting wind, but the building sheltered us from it as we waited in the line that had formed outside. They let in a whole counter's worth of people at a time to order, and I thought that this time I'd try their debris. It's the meat that falls off the roast beef while it's cooking and being cut, and they serve it as well as any other breakfast meat, though they're most famous for their hams.

The Whole Thing
We went with the Burkes, and as John and I were sitting down the lady who was taking the receipts to get our food asked John, "How many y'all wit' y'all?"

John stared at her a moment, before managing to parse what she had asked, and then said, "Six."

We didn't have as much luck with their being timely or nearly as fast or accurate as they were when it was just John and I last year. They were pretty slow, all in all, and they missed all our biscuits until they were reminded, though they were good with that. The debris was tasty but not quite as intense as I'd been hoping for after having had their Black Ham from last time. John's spicy sausage was pretty good and spicy, the pancakes that someone else got were quite tasty, and we got to see the biscuits being made in the window as we waited and they were just as delicious as last time, and we each got two!

The coffee was really good, though.

After breakfast (at nearly noon by the time we finished and the waiting in line and waiting for food and waiting to order had been done) John and I did our usual walking about. There was the New Orleans Mint I wanted to see, and the usual Farmer's Market, i.e. outdoor market that this time actually did have produce and the like as well as all the tourist goodies. I was surprised by the actual produce, and the food stalls lined up along some new stall construction which was all doing a good, brisk business. There was even an open bar with some pretty amazing alcoholic drinks to be had. I liked the idea of a Peaches and Cream, which was real peaches with ice cream and rum. I'll have to make that at home some time.

I bought pralines at the Southern Candy Makers along with a little present for Jet. There was a lovely little mask shop called Serendipitous Masks that also sold aluminum Krewe doubloons for a quarter a piece. So I got ten different ones. We looked and looked and looked for t-shirts and I couldn't find any that I liked enough to buy. John looked a lot as well. We stopped by a little coffee shop somewhere along the way back, and I got a cafe au latte with cocoa and he got a plain coffee, and we sipped those and warmed up in the sunshine and with the drink.

At St. Louis Cathedral, which actually faces Orleans St. not St. Anne, is Pirate Alley, which often has a lot of artwork on the fence, just as Jackson square often has a great deal of artwork up on the fence for sale. We saw a number of paintings, canvases that had been taken off their frames, that were hung there. There was a beautiful crab in blue, jagged and sharp looking with all the right hints of color at the claws, legs, and belly. There was a lovely woman all graceful lines and attitude in minimal shapes, and a mosquito drinking from a martini glass as red as blood. *laughs* It was beautiful art, but no one was there, and my knee was starting to hurt.

Tuba Skinny
As we walked, they closed off Royal to make it a walking street and allow the street performers to start up. There was a three-man a capellla group, a juggler, a magician, a celloist, and just across from the police station, there was a lovely little six-man jazz ensemble that accompanied a woman whose voice made me perk up. They turned out to be a group called Tuba Skinny that's a little blues group that just plays when they can and were all with different bands before Katrina. Then they joined up together and have made two CDs, which they had there. John bought one and we listened to it for a while when we got back to the room, and then he went back out to buy the other one and see what he could see about the artist.

After he found the artist, he asked about prices, and then went wandering about again, and when he went back to her, he bought the crab, which we now have rolled up in a shipping tube and are going to take home with us. It's beautiful and very characteristic of the art around here, but there's a touch to her paintings that I just loved compared to everything else we saw. I think we will be able to find a place for it in our house, somewhere, even if we have to change a few things around. It's very different from what else we have, but I think we needed something.

Heck... it might be a good reason to rip out some of the old wallpaper and do some painting for ourselves.

I took a small nap while he wandered, and then got to do a little writing. At 4 he came back and we went wandering trying to see if the Acme Oyster Company might be able to take us in for a snack, but they still had a large line outside. Dickie Brennan's Oyster House had no line, but a nice looking menu as well, but we kept going, and I had an address for another coin seller at 400 Poydras, which was right across the street from Mother's. But that turned out to be a closed office building, and I suspect that it's actually a place that isn't open on the weekends, just a business office with the business run out of a real office rather than a store.

So of the two things we'd hoped to do we didn't do, but on the way back I finally found a t-shirt that I liked, it's pretty simple with just a shadowed soprano sax and Bourbon Street on it. We didn't find another thing for Jet, though we looked around pretty hard. And we got back to the hotel in time to meet up with everyone at 5:30.

The group decided to try Mulate's again, but once we got there, it was a two hour wait for a table for all of us, so we headed just kitty corner from there to the Cajun Skillet, and had a really, really nice meal there for all that it was kind of spendy. I just got a small cup of crawfish etouffe that turned out perfectly spicy a little rich and chunky with crawfish, and a Strawberry Fields salad which was spinach, goat cheese, pecans, and a strawberry-based vinaigrette that was just the rice mixture of sweet and crunchy and soft. John got lovely corn and crawfish "fritters" that were more like pancakes and served with a spicy roumollade with his Strawberry Fields salad. We ended up with a lovely piece of Bourbon Street bourbon pecan pie that was rich, decadent, shortbread crusted, and good and aromatic with bourbon, and I really wanted a decaf coffee to go with it, but it took so long for it to get brewed that I ate the pie without it, and then really didn't want it so I asked the waitress to take it off the bill. That took her an extra bit of time, and then she offered me a free cup of coffee anyway, but I thanked her and said that I really didn't want it, but that I appreciated the offer.

Walking to Dinner
The boys hadn't gotten enough beer and it was kind of expensive there, so they dropped by the liquor store across the street, bought a six-pack and a package of cups and split the six pack on the sidewalk. They also had Abitta root beer, which is made here, and made with Louisiana cane sugar, and the darn six-pack cost more than the six-pack of beer!! The good thing was that the Bells offered to take it back to Colorado with them as they drove, as much as Judy said that it was possible to pack it into my suit case, I really didn't want to get home to find a root beer popped open all over my wool blanket, pillow, and clothing.

I went home after that. I'm too tired and sore and I have to help someone get to the airport tomorrow morning at 8 am, so I think that I'm going to just go to bed rather than walk Bourbon Street this close to Mardi Gras. They're really out tonight, and I can hear the police sirens going even from the 19th floor of the hotel and a whole block away... so I suspect that it's pretty much the way it's always been and just a bit more crowded, a bit more garish, and a bit more alive than last year. The hotels and restaurants, this year, have been far more packed than they've ever been before on our other trips. Big city, part of it, I guess, and folks coming in like that frat house, to just enjoy being in the city. It's funny in some ways as John noted that while all big cities have an adult entertainment area in them, it's only in New Orleans, that they've made it a central attraction for tourists and visitors.

I like New Orleans in the day time, a lot. I guess I've seen enough drunk people through my 20's and 30's even that I'm just not that interested in the things that they'll do anymore. It's just... predictable and not particularly attractive anymore, not nearly as fascinating as the other charms this city has.

I guess it really fascinated me as even with my knee, I did 20,000 steps today. *laughs*

So to sleep and extra duties in the morning, and maybe we'll try to hit Acme when it opens and see if we can beat those lines.

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