N’awlins is a curious beast in the daylight… the morning after. The whole of Bourbon simultaneously does the walk of shame. The veil of darkness and alluring neon lights is lifted to reveal a decrepit cesspool of rotting buildings and potholed streets littered with broken beads and shame. If the actual “walk of shame” had a smell, it would be Bourbon Street in the morning. And you can never quite pinpoint any one location for the smell. It just hovers there, constantly swirling about, whirling in and out of every bar and strip club to add to it’s acrid bouquet.
But that’s just Bourbon Street, and until this trip to NOLA I hadn’t ventured anywhere other than that one long strip of depravity. Venture off Bourbon and over a street or two to Royal or Chartres and you’re overwhelmed by the character and variety of all the little shops and boutiques, the brilliant street musicians and performers, and of course the noticeable change in odor. Even my demeanor is lifted after venturing away from filth-ridden Bourbon St.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty good to take in on that street, like Sing Sing Club. Not your typical gimmicky, annoying tourist trap. Rather, a small closet of a venue boasting immense local talent crammed onto a dinner plate of a stage. It’s the best of New Orleans minus the worst of Bourbon Street, namely many of the obnoxious beaded nightmares that roam the streets.
Before I continue, I should say I’ve only been twice and never during Mardi Gras (nor would I ever want to), and I haven’t left the French Quarter. I’ve visited a number of bars, eaten at a variety of restaurants, and generally wandered about, so my opinion is not too far removed from your average noob. So these are just my opinions. If you don’t like it, save it. I am, however, interested in any recommendations for next year. And pictures. I didn’t take more than about 3 pictures and they’re really not that good so I’ll pirate a few from elsewhere to illustrate a few points. Going forward I guess I should take pictures if I’m going to blog about it.
Back to the streets.
There’s Pat O’Briens, which draws any and everyone in for it’s world famous hurricanes and amazing patio. (This totally could have been my pic if we had been served in a glass instead of a plastic cup, or if I hadn’t taken this from their FB page.)
I really haven’t ventured very far into any the five Tropical Isle locations on Bourbon Street, but I do like their Hand Grenade drink… a big, green, sugary frozen melon slush served in a ridiculous bright green plastic yard cup. I hate drinking out of that big bong of a cup, but it’s hard to pass up. Just one though. They boast it’s the most powerful drink in New Orleans, more so than the hurricane, and I’d say that’s probably accurate. Doesn’t necessarily taste too strong, but it grabs you by the boo boo when you’re not paying attention. (My pic, shortly before Aimee gets grabbed by the boo boo.)
The food. Holy crap the food. I don’t think you can really go too terribly wrong, but there are places that are clearly better than others. As one local pointed out to us in our hotel lobby (and for no good reason really because I don’t recall engaging him or even making eye-contact): “if it ain’t got a line, it ain’t worth it.” Acme Oyster House always has a line, and it’s well worth a little wait. We tried but missed out on our first go around so this trip we weren’t about to be denied. We had some crawfish bisque, tore up some chargrilled oysters, and did battle with their Fried Peace Maker Po-Boy… an unbelievable sandwich with seasoned, golden fried oysters and shrimp, and Tabasco infused mayo. An unreal lunch. (Aimee’s pic so this one’s not stolen.)
For me, no trip would be complete without a muffaletta from Central Grocery, and old-timey Sicilian grocery/sandwich counter on Decatur Street. The muffaletta consists of capacolla, salami, mortadella and provolone served with the store’s signature version of olive salad. Salty goodness that shaves a month or so off my life each time I have one. Both times we stayed our hosts (my client) catered in these amazing sandwiches to their hospitality suite, along with big steaming pots of jambalaya. Oh the heart burn. (Snagged this image from the net, you get the point.)
Everyone mentions beignets. A doughy fried cake covered with powered sugar. Had to have one, so we did, and I’m not impressed. It tastes like a doughy fried cake covered in powered sugar… or as we call them at Six Flags, a funnel cake. (Ya, not mine either. Looks really yummy here though.)
There’s so much more to dive into, and I plan on doing so tomorrow. I actually planned on blogging while in New Orleans, but I forgot to pack my laptop charger and of course no one has a charger for a Mac. Even brought along our iPad and tried blogging on that but of course the iPad apparently isn’t entirely compatible with WordPress because the iPad is the single most worthless piece of crap ever invented. That’s an entirely different blog.
Until tomorrow. Or tomorreaux?