We knew that it would be a good trip, but it surpassed all expectations.
Our flight arrived MSY at 4:30pm so the owner at Woodridge B& B, where we stayed, recommended that we stop at Dragos in Metairie for dinner, to avoid the worst of the city commuter traffic.
What a good spot that was and great way to start the eating fest that continued for 8 more days. Their chargrilled oysters were terrific; large, plump, creamy, drenched in butter, garlic, cheese, smoky flavor from the blackened shell and good bread to sop it all up. We started with a dozen, then another dozen for dinner along with one order of the Shucky/Ducky (?) that was an Alfredo type pasta with oysters and two duck breasts. That was also very good, but to do again we would have stuck with the chargrilled oysters as they were such a treat and the pasta dish was overkill at that point. Drago's has good atmosphere, service and a very busy, happy clientele.
We arrived at the Woodridge about 8:30pm and after parking under the huge oaks, in the dark, were met by the resident kitty who led us down the correct path, under the trellis, to the front door. The owner/husband Tim made us feel very welcome, despite the late hour of our arrival.
Breakfasts were wonderful: always with fresh homemade buttermilk biscuits, homemade preserves from organic berries grown on property, egg dishes from their own organically raised hens, fruit, juice and delicious Community/chicory blend coffee.
The morning conversations, that included history of the area, the large renovated brick school house and their Mardi Gras museum going up the staircase walls from their years of participation, including King and Queen, made for a fun stay.
The next day, two other couples from out of town and ourselves all met at the home of another couple in Slidell who are old friends. This was a reunion of 4 guys who had been Air Force buddies over 50 yrs. ago so important and poignant as some medical conditions make this the last reunion of all 4.
Alice had a seafood feast planned for us that night, so we captured her hubby and went off to the Pearl River Eco tour of the Honey Island Swamp to get out of her hair. Doc, New Orleans born and raised, thought we "tourists" were a hoot, paying to see the swamp, but later admitted that the tour was good. Our guide, Mark, was great. The staff was very accommodating to the two husbands with mobility issues, on and off the boat.
We returned to fresh crawfish salad, the best crab gumbo ever, fried shrimp with homemade cocktail and tartar sauce, baked red fish stuffed with fresh crab that Alice had also spent hours shelling the day before and ice cold beer.
Our LA visit was off on the right foot.
The next day, 3/21, we all met for lunch at the LA Pines diner in Slidell. Alex and I shared prime rib and shrimp po boys....stuffed again.
That night we all had dinner at Copelands in Slidell. Even though it's a chain restaurant the crawfish bread appetizer was scrumptious and the cheesecakes looked like nothing I've ever seen, which I somehow managed to resist, but others said it was the best. I wasn't terribly impressed with my crab cakes, but the service was great and again, a busy, fun atmosphere.
On Thurs. morning, in blinding rain that had begun the day before, we drove into the city and the place we were staying in the lower Garden District.
It was a great location, on St. Charles Blvd. with the streetcar stop out the front door.
One of the reunion couples also came into the city for 2 nights, before heading back to FL. They stayed at the Prytania Park, an easy walk from us. They liked the hotel, room, included parking and "extra mile" service of a wheelchair ramp placed on the threshold of their room door.
Another couple, friends from MS, drove down and stayed for 5 nights.
The FL friends went to Harrahs for the afternoon. We other four walked down the street to the Avenue Pup, on St. Charles, for lunch. It was recommended by a local and didn't disappoint. A small, funky neighborhood joint with small, well used bar, tall bar tables and stools, long shuttered window/doors that opened to the street, great sandwich menu , made by cook "Bull" (aptly named) and 41 beers on tap.
Two had muffaletta hot dogs that were more like polish sausage, one a black n' blue burger and I had the grilled, 3 cheese sandwich with smoky bacon & tomato. All came with jalapeno slaw. We sampled each others.....loving it all.
This was our first taste of not just New Orleanian love of life, but how infectious it is for visitors.
The table of young, out of town party guys, next to us came over to chat, asking where everyone was from and on hearing that Alex and I live in Utah, one of them told us his love of skiing in Utah, the incredible powder, etc. etc. He apologized for being hung over and still drunk from the previous night and pulled a huge wad of bills out of his pocket to proudly display the $2,500 he'd won at Harrah's. Having children much older than he we lept into parental mode and told him to put his money away and not to take it out again until he was sober. They were darling, having a great time and one of many happy encounters during our visit.
Late that afternoon we walked to the Prytania, loaded the 6 of us & wheel chair in a cab/van and headed to the FQ.
From the helpful suggestions here, we went directly to Three Muses where we were early enough to get a table up front.
We loved that spot; good food, music, atmosphere, service and more fun folks loving their NO visit. The wife of a couple next to us, and I, discovered that we were both casino dealers at South shore Lake Tahoe, decades ago, when Harvey's Casino was blown up by bombers.....small world.
Later, we taxied to Pat O'Briens, but a packed crowd and continuing drizzle that had the patio wet made it not a good choice. That was OK with Alex and I as we came for the Jazz, Blues, Cajun and Zydeco so the Jimmy Buffet standards being belted in the bar weren't appealing. The husband/wife and wheelchair got in a cab for Mayfields (another good suggestion from TA) while the four of us walked.
Music at Mayfields was great, bar nosh good, but the sedate crowd was a bit of a surprise. Even the musicians commented on "don't be so polite, get up and shake it out." We six old folks were the liveliest in the room. We had a good time there also and fell into bed with happy smiles from our 1st Nola day.
The next morning, the two husbands went to a breakfast joint across the street, where they loved the chili/cheese omelets that reminded them of Landry's in Reno, NV 40 yrs. ago and came back with rich, dense almond croissants for Elaine and I......always important to throw all good intentions to the wind and start each Nola day with a fattening foundation of calories to prepare the stomach for what's to come!
We walked through the Garden District, down to Magazine, through the Irish Channel and eventually stopped for large, wet, thirsty ice teas at the picnic table outside Traceys at Magazine and 3rd. The homes are beautiful, but we were especially in awe of the incredible ancient oaks, with thick sprawling branches that form the shaded canopies over most GD streets and boulevards.
That evening the other couple met us at Dick n Jenny's (Rouse's, across the street, had great parking) where we had one of our very favorite meals. We chose it based on reviews here and proximity to the Uptown Tipitina's where we had tickets for the Malone Brothers that night.
Dick n Jenny's was quaint, darling, colorful, fun, more great service and fabulous food. The six of us ordered 3 appetizers to share and we each tasted each other's entrees. One friend, born and raised in Louisiana, said her Thai, coconut pot with soft shell crab was the best she's ever had. My shrimp n' grits was wonderful, it was all great.
With time to kill, we checked out the large Rouse market (I'm now an envious cook of all who have that store to shop in) and then had a loud, fun, rock n roll, guitar/bass blasting evening at Tips.
Again we fell into bed satiated, tired and proud of our old folk selves for lasting until 1:00am.
Enough reading to put on you all for now. Will continue more tomorrow.