Sunday, April 21, 2013

The NOLA Chronicles, Part 2: Magically Delicious and Musically Delirious

I woke up on a high; my mind still reeling and senses still tingling from the first night in New Orleans.  Keith officially started his conference this morning, and I was left to my own devices.  The morning was thrown by a hardcore deluge of a rainstorm, so I met Keith and his Mainstreet cohorts at the Roux Bistro at the Sheraton New Orleans where Keith's conference was taking place.  Despite the balmy temps outside, the restaurant's temp was set on bone-chilling deep freeze, so I went for some Cajun spice to warm me up: a blackened redfish Caesar salad with a cup of hot gumbo.  Both were pretty tasty and the spice opened  up my senses to once again hit the streets to catch what was left of the French Quarter Festival. Heading into the Quarter, the city's spell was starting to weave once again.  Music flowed from not only multiple stages but every open door; every street corner, every balcony.  I would stumble upon musicians that would stop me in my tracks frequently and I would find myself adrift in musical genius time and again.  It's easy to get dizzy from the Big Easy with its undulating, ever-changing maelstrom of live music and fabulous food.  So dizzy in fact that I needed to kick back to take it all in and so I found a courtyard seat at the Gazebo Cafe.  The sun's rays were warming me up as were the Boudin Balls I ordered.  I sat listening to the Cafe's live jazz combo while nibbling on these deep-fried, spicy Andouille sausage and rice concoctions and sipping on an Abita Purple Haze.  I was utterly and completely relaxed and it has been a long time since I had been able to truly feel that way.
I strolled the streets again and stopped when I felt like it, snapping pics of store windows and signs like the one over Channing Tatum's bar Saints and Sinners.  There was no guidebook involved on this particular day, so I went where the warm wind took me. Highlights of the walk, and there were many, included an inspired stop at way-cool vintage record store Peaches Records and a drink at the gorgeous Carousel Bar (that actually revolves) at the Hotel Monteleone.  The kicker that left me in love with the day was seeing the killer string band Yes Ma'am light up the middle of Bourbon Street (my video of them at the bottom of this post.

Later that night, Keith and I met his fellow Mainstreeters again and this time for dinner at seafood restaurant  Ralph and Kacoo's. While my dinner companions were in session all day, I selfishly regaled them with my Tales of the City.  Finally, I was wallowing in a perfectly satisfying end to my day: a chilled glass of local wheat brew Canebrake by the Parish Brewing Company paired with oysters on the half shell dabbed with Crysal Hot Sauce.  My entree was the Crab Trap; combining soft-shell crab and some of the best crab cakes I've ever had.  By the time I worked my way through my fresh seafood dinner, I was really glad I had walked so much in the course of the day to help offset these fresh crab-laden calories.

I slept like a baby that night and the soundtrack of my dreams had a decidedly Zydeco feel.  More to come, but please check out my brief snippet of Yes Ma'am and click here to learn more about the band and how to purchase their hot tunes.


Anonymous said...

Ah, my faith is restored as you did indeed imbibe in the glorious raw oysters that NOLA I've ever eaten! When I was there I swear to you I ate my whole body weight in raw oysters. I had them at every meal and sometimes they became my meal. I was there for a conference and my co workers were taking bets on how many oysters I could consume. In the back of my head I was thinking "Silly co workers. It's not how many I can CONSUME. It's how many I can AFFORD." LOL! My visit to NOLA was my first foray into steak tatar. LOVED IT. Loved that little ice cream scoop sized mound of raw beef mixed with mustard and spices and who knows what else I could have literally eaten a bucket of it. Again, the co workers were thinking I had completely lost my mind and cautioned me. I said "HEY! We are in N'awlins for God's sake. Why would I order a burger? I can get that back home. Can we not just step outside our culinary county lines for a minute please?" They laughed as they ate their oh so delicious burgers and steaks cooked with a cajun flare. I'm sure at least two of them were worried I would immediately die of botulism the minute I ate my last bite or at least become violently ill so they were prepared to rush me to the nearest hospital. But nay, I survived and by midnight on Bourbon Street I'm thinkin' the same two were wishing I would die LOL! It's a fabulous city! Thanks for sharing your take on it. Brings back fond memories for me!

~ Kristy

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Hema Mulani said...

You love for sea food is really amazing. Nice posting!

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