Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Feelin' New Orleans

I need to go back to New Orleans.  The words "New Orleans" have always been in my vocabulary because it's where my parents went on their honeymoon.  So, growing up, I'd look at photo albums (my parents looked like babies!) and I'd hear stories about this magical far-off place.  Somehow, it seemed like a familiar place, like I'd somehow been there, even though I'd be in my 30's before I ever actually made it over there. 

The way I ended up finally hitting the 'Big Easy' was that the National Association of Realtors(r) Annual Convention was being held there.  The dates of the convention actually coincided with Neil's birthday.  So, of course, we decided we'd both go...I'd do the convention, write it off, and we'd celebrate his birthday in the coolest city in the U.S.  It was a great plan!

Since I'm in business with my mom, she was also attending.  She was rooming with a good friend and Neil and I had our room as well.  Ours was on a really high floor...I can't remember which.  But, we had this incredible view over the city.  We were facing the water and were right across the street from the French Quarter.  One night there was a huge thunder storm that came through.  Our room had floor-to-ceiling windows and being so high up, we had an incredible lightning show to watch!  

We got settled in, and immediately walked into the Quarter looking for lunch.  I don't remember the name of the place we chose, but it was so cool.  We were led through the place and out into the courtyard to a table.  I ordered shrimp remoulade.  It was all I had hoped it would be.  Sorry, it's been so long that now I can't remember what Neil ordered.  But, we still talk about that lunch to this day.  We spent the rest of the day wandering around exploring.  We found restaurants we wanted to seek out, found the hotel that mom and dad had stayed in for their 1966 honeymoon, we ate and we drank.  The following day, we found the Convention Center:  I checked in, got my bag of swag, and we left and went right back to the Quarter.  I never made it back to the Convention Center.  Dohh!

The rest of our trip was filled with great food and drink and fun.  One night we met friends at a place called Herbsaint for a great meal and LOTS of wine.  We had dinner with mom at Commander's Palace.  All I can say about Commander's is O.M.G.  I bought their cookbook.  We had lunch at the Court of Two Sisters.  We were going to have beignets at Cafe du Monde, but Kevin Bacon was filming a movie there, so we went to a similar cafe across the street instead.  We spent way too much time at the Absinthe House and a pool hall that was a hangout of locals who lived in the Quarter.  And then, there was Mother's.  This place was rockstar.  There was a line out the door, kind of like at Jestine's in Charleston.  While you waited, their doorman, "Elvis", would walk the line taking Bloody Mary orders.  It almost made you want the line to move slower.  Then, once in, you went through the order line which was very reminiscent of the Beacon in Spartanburg.  Mother's signature food is this oven roasted ham piled super high on giant french rolls.  They will also serve you "debris" which is the little roasted bits that accumulate in the bottom of the roaster.  In fact, you could add debris to your sandwich, or have one made completely of debris.  It may not sound very tasty, but I'd eat a bucket of that stuff!  One other day that we went there, the special was a soft shell crab sandwich. Neil ordered it and we were both shocked by what arrived.  It was two of those enormous french rolls, each with a huge crab hanging out of the sides.  He could only eat one so we went walking back through town with a huge crab sandwich in my pocketbook!

I don't see a trip to N.O. in our near future, unfortunately.  So, tonight I may make a small tribute for dinner.  I'm thinking of grilling some smoked beef sausage and then using it in 'red beans and rice.'  It's not as glamorous as Commander's bread pudding, Mother's debris or the crawfish etouffee at Two Sisters, but it'll be delicious nonetheless!  Let's just cross our fingers that it doesn't turn out too spicy for the Vivinator.

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