11 April 2009

New Orleans Part Deux

Greetings from New Orleans and Happy Easter to everyone!

Yes, dear readers, we are in New Orleans for Easter with the family and I have to tell you we are having a blast! My wife and I both took Friday off of work to drive down and the first thing we had to do when we got here was get some crawfish and a po-boy...short history lesson here, a po-boy is a sandwich that is an institution here in New Orleans; the sandwich arrived back in the days when it was a humble sandwich the "poor boys" would eat for lunch because they could not afford anything else. So, when we came rolling in on I-10, we had to go to Fisherman's Cove in Kenner to pick up about 10 pounds of boiled crawfish for us and my wife's parents; then it was on a to a little slice of heaven we call Bobby's Seafood in River Ridge for shrimp and oyster po-boys...what could be better than fried shrimp and/or fried oysters on french bread with mayo, lettuce, tomato and Tabasco? NOTHING!!!

Ok so Saturday the wife and I headed to the French Quarter for a day of fun in the sun. If you ever get here you have to stop at Central Grocery on Decatur Street for a mufuletta (moof-a-lotta)...Italian meats and cheeses slathered in olive oil on an Italian bread with olive salad...OH MY!!! Of course, once you get it, you have to go up to the levee and sit on the river bank to devour your sandwich and a Barq's Rootbeer. The weather in spring is so nice in New Orleans, the breezes blow just right to knock the heat down for you; the street bands play delicious music for your ears and Jackson Square provides the quiet respite you may need after walking around the Quarter.

Let me tell you, walking around the square and up St. Anne Street to Royal Street and strolling past all the art galleries with my beloved wife while taking in the sights, sounds and smells of this wonderful city made me think I had died and gone to heaven today. Of course a stroll down Bourbon Street past the burlesque clubs and gawdy bars is also in order here; you can't really say you've been to New Orleans without doing this. The thing is when you come to New Orleans, if you get away from Bourbon Street and venture out a little further you will see more than the news channels want you to see; New Orleans is not all about Bourbon Street, drunks and bimbos flashing their goods for beads. In fact, during Mardi Gras the vast majority of those drunks and bimbos aren't from New Orleans; nope, we natives are on St. Charles or we are in Metairie for Mardi Gras with our families. So the next time you see Bourbon Street on Cops or on the news, remember that the dumb drunk on the tv is most likely NOT from here.

Ok, back to the best thing about this city...the food! If you want to get away from the touristy areas on the French Quarter, you can go on down Tchoupitoulas Street to Bellecastle St and Domilise's on the corner there at Annunciation St. This little po-boy dive has what is arguably the best po-boys on earth. If you go, you HAVE TO order the shrimp & cheese po-boy "dressed". I swear they must put crack in the sauce on the po-boy because it is highly addictive!

Later Saturday night we met the extended family at a New Orleans Italian mainstay, Venezia on North Carrollton, this wonderful dive has been here since 1947 and is as quirky as it is fun. Once inside, you will have a hard time choosing from the menu...I prefer the Eggplant Vatican which is fried eggplant with a shrimp sauce and fettucine alfredo...again, heaven! Of course if you don't feel like Venezia, you could always go to Liuzza's (lie-youza) on Bienville Street. These places were hard hit after Katrina and flooded out; the mere fact they came back is a testament to this city and its heart and soul.

I just hope when you do get down here to New Orleans you don't spend all your time in the Hard Rock Cafe or on Bourbon Street...come on out to the local places like Domilise's, Liuzza's, Venezia, Cafe Mesparo or any of the hundreds of other family-owned local places. They will love you for coming and will welcome you with open arms! Now, you may need a tour guide for your trip and...well...I would happily be of service to rescue you from the tourist traps and take you to the places only the locals know!

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