On Tuesday, we got some great barbeque at a place called the Shed and made it to New Orleans by the afternoon. Wandered around the French Quarter and found the guesthouse where my buddy Scott and I had stayed nearly twenty years earlier and booked a room there for a couple nights. Walked around with a beer listening to street performers, drank some wine with the owners of our inn, ate some fried gator and red beans & rice at a place on Bourbon Street.
Treated ourselves to beignets and coffee at Cafe Du Monde the next two mornings. Took in the galleries, stores, and the French Market. We had a nice dinner at Galatoire's (soft-shelled crab for K, crawfish etouffee for me). Oh, and apparently I drunkenly told off some bartender for making lousy Hurricanes and he was all "Well, we're the bar that invented the Hurricane." Perhaps, but I'm pretty sure they were mixing real fruit juices and three varieties of rum (light, dark, and spiced) back then, instead of just stirring up some powdered fruit punch mix with light gold rum in those days. But that's kind of Bourbon Street in a nutshell: an artificial facsimile of something that used to be great.
Did a great cemetery tour. In New Orleans, they don't bury the dead, the let them cook in a hot mausoleum for a year and a day (exactly) and then the move the remains into a shared mausoleum. Saw the reputed resting place of Marie Laveau, New Orleans' so-called voodoo queen, which is covered in ritualistic graffiti. The idea is that you write three X's on her grave and make a wish, then when the wish comes true, you circle your X's. Our guide said he never saw any circled X's in his life until the Saints won the Super Bowl.
Two days in the French Quarter was more than enough, so we moved out to a nice place in Faubourg Marigny, which had a sweet swimming pool in a blessedly cool garden enclosure. After moving our stuff, we took a streetcar ride through the garden district and grabbed dinner in the neighborhood, before catching a cab out to Vaughn's to see Kermit Ruffins play. He's a regular on HBO's Treme if you watch it and the guy who plays Antoine Baptiste was in the audience. Kermit does an incredible show, playing trumpet and singing. He did a lot jazz standards, several originals (mostly about smoking reefer), and put his own jazz twist on some pop songs. The best was when he did a mix-up Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" with Rob Base's "It Takes Two."
On Friday, we rode bikes up through Treme to the New Orleans Museum of Art, which was a lot of fun. That night, we did Frenchman Street, which is the perfect antidote to the non-stop frat party of Bourbon Street. Frenchman Street is two solid blocks of great restaurants and bars with really good bands playing for tips so you can just wander in, listen to a few song, drop them a couple bucks, and move on to another joint. If you're there in a Friday night, definitely check out Mykia Jovan at the Blue Nile. Her voice was just amazing. Then we had an awesome dinner at Adolpho's, a Creole-Italian joint, which was one of the best meals ever. Started with frog legs in a spicy remoulade, then K. had some sort of whitefish covered with spinach and crabmeat and I had grouper covered in crabmeat and crawfish. So good.
The next day, it started to rain and we headed west for Austin. To be continued….