But we got up. It was colder and windier this morning than it was yesterday. It had rained the night before and everything outside was wet and dripping with water. We headed to Cafe Beignet and got cafe oles and three beignets along with a "Southern Breakfast" that consisted of bacon, scrambled eggs, two slices of French bread, and a good cup of buttered grits. The coffee burnt my throat and mouth in all the places I'd been burnt before.
At altitude water nearly never gets hot enough to actually BURN you after it's been made into a drink. Coffee and tea are never as hot as they are at sea level and this is just about as low towards sea level as you can get. So I just keep burning myself on hot drinks. You'd think I'd learn after the first two or three of them, but I burnt my throat and tongue again on my coffee with milk in it this morning.
The beignet were wonderful. Fluffy, more solid than the ones I make but I think that's because they use a mix with chemical leavening rather than the yeast ones I make. I liked them a lot, and they were mounded high with powdered sugar. Beautiful things that they were. Crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and beautifully hot with the coffee. I could have had just that, but the breakfast was nice as well. Thin-cut bacon crisped to perfection. The scrambled eggs were almost crepe-like, in that they'd spread the beaten eggs out thin, so that it was cooked in thin sheets that were then mounded together for the serving in the breakfast. The grits were smooth and silky with that golden sheen that can only come from lots and lots of butter.
It was a great breakfast and we ate it in the wet courtyard next to the shop. A tour was leaving soon for the ghosts and vampire tour of the area. Three cats all came and visited the tour guide as he gathered up his money.
We then headed off to Jackson Square, and the Festival. We met up with various folks and families and then left them when we headed in different directions. It was fun to meet up, but cool to be able to part ways when the mood hit, and we wanted to go somewhere else. We walked through all the art displays around the Square, shopped at the shops, walked down Decatur, and then back up it to the Riverwalk.
The Riverwalk runs right by the Mississippi. And the river was really really high today. It was running fast and high and muddy as it usually is, a big, deep, rolling brown river. There were steps that normally lead down to an observation deck for the river, but the river was running so high that it had not only covered the usual deck but the next five steps up. So we were able to hop down a couple of steps, shed our shoes and put our toes right in the cold, Old Man River.
New Orleans is called the Crescent City because it's nestled in that curving bend of the Mississippi.
There were more bands along the Riverwalk and dozens of little food shops. John and I ended up sharing a bowl of crawfish ettoufe with plenty of crawfish tails in it and lots of good stuff. I also shared sweet potato tartlets with a praline sauce with Alan, as they came as two tarts for five bucks. We walked as we ate, and they wanted to go to the General Store, where muffaletta sandwiches came from, and they got sandwiches that they wanted to eat in the music festival.
While they got sandwiches I ducked into a t-shirt shop that had some shirts that looked like they'd been hand-painted and studded with rhinestones on black. I do well in black t-shirts and the designs were artistically gorgeous, not the usual run of the mill tourist shirts. Turns out that they were expensive as well, in right relationship to the rarity of the designs. So I bought two, one with a fleur de lis on the breast with silver wings on the back with a sign very much like the Malakite sword with wings. So I bought it and loved it. There was another with the hint of waves overtaking the fleur de lis, but the far side was like vines growing up from the same source. Again in grays and whites and sparkleing rhinestones on dead black. Both t-shirts were the fitted variety that I haven't bought in... well... ever, really. But with this new upper body I got since I retired, they were worth buying.
There is a beautiful statue of St. Joan right near the t-shirt shop. Gold on marble given to New Orleans by the French New Orleans as a gift to a sister city. She died at 19.
Together, we all walked back to the Festival. Bill showed up, so Alan and Fred went to the Festival and Bill came with John and I for a bit to find a statue I'd seen last night. We went down Pirate Alley alongside one of the churches. Last night, when we were walking down Bourbon Street, I'd turned and saw a statue lit with a front light so that it threw a shadow up on the church. The shadow had giant wings to either side and was hauntingly beautiful to me, especially amid all the stuff on Bourbon Street and it had been lit by flashes from people trying to take a picture of it. But it turned out to only be a statue of a praying Jesus that wasn't nearly as interesting as the shadow had been. Ah well.
We hit a grocery store to look for some BBQ sauce John was supposed to bring back for someone. But they didn't have it. They did, however, have cheap beignet mix and spices for the local style of BBQ shrimp (which is more like spiced butter on shrimp) without any salt added to it, so you can add your own salt to your taste. So I bought two packets of that and was content to go back to the hotel to try and catch up on this journal and stuff.
John and Bill went their own way, and I walked down Royal Street, thinking I'd avoid things; but it turned out that every two blocks there was another platform and cover and a band playing!! They were far enough apart that they weren't battling like they do on Bourbon. So it was great! I could actually hear each band as I went by and at the third one there was a blues band with an astonishing harmonic player playing against a really great guitarist with some great bassist and a keyboardist that could keep up and a solid drummer and I just stopped to listen. Then I realized Vicki and Gary were there listening as well. I just sat on the steps in the sunshine and closed my eyes and listened.
That was worth the whole weekend trip. Just to sit there and listen.
Content, I went back to the hotel, did computer stuff until John appeared, napped, and then we headed to Mulate's for dinner. I wore one of my new t-shirts and got compliments. It's a Cajun place with Zydeco bands every Friday and Saturday night. They had Amanda Shaw there with her Cute Boys, she learned to play here in this city and at ten was playing at Mulate's. So for her it was a homecoming, and her violin music made me close my eyes and listen the same way I'd listened on the street. The sweet wail was just heart stopping. And her energy and enthusiasm powered her voice. She was so small that it didn't seem possible that such a big voice could come from someone so small. Her band backed her up beautifully and I wanted to dance so badly that I dragged John onto the floor for just half a song and then I wanted more.
Mulate's was terribly slow, as it completely packed. The blackened crawfish tails pasta was spicy and good. The bread pudding was dense and rich and thick and probably would have served for breakfast. But we were there for nearly three hours to get what was pretty much mediocre food. Ugh.
We headed back out to try and find some music, but after a dismal run up Bourbon they wanted one of the older folks to experience the Dungeon. It was a really loud punk experience with skulls, good, solid wooden cages, and bars and a hidden bathroom behind bookcases. It wasn't really anyone's cup of tea. Four of us gave up completely and headed back to the hotel.
It was a very odd and interesting thing to remember so many details on and off Bourbon street. The curve of a banister, lighting and angle of a certain set of rails off into an alley shadowed by night. There were half a dozen places where I would say, "I remember that for no good reason." And it might have been from when I was here before, as the person I was with was a native of this place and knew where to go to really get to hear the music that lay everywhere. But with the group it was kind of useless to have these intuitions and not really be able to poke my head in and figure out if I really remembered true.
I wonder, now, if Jyuushiro or Shunsui, with 2000 years of memories, would have that problem all the time. Memories that flit through without knowing why they were remembered.
Tomorrow's plan is to get all packed up and ready to go by 9:30 am and do a quick tour of the various places around New Orleans, probably disaster areas, grave sites, and maybe the Garden District before heading back to Baton Rouge and the flight home.
I have a head cold now. I am not a terribly happy camper, either, but I managed the evening okay, I think. Though it's nearly 2 now. Oops. I guess writing takes more time than I think. *laughter* But now I'm caught up as far as reality is concerned given my connection. Whew....