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TR 3/19-3/28 ....exceeded expectations

Cedar City, UT
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TR 3/19-3/28 ....exceeded expectations

We knew that it would be a good trip, but it surpassed all expectations.

I have to include a bit of the first 3 days even though they took place in the Slidell/Pearl River area.

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.

New Jersey
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1. Re: TR 3/19-3/28 ....exceeded expectations

I am truly enjoying your report, and look forward to more! Thank you! Starting your trip with Dragos charbroiled oysters-well, that's just perfect:)

Edited: 06 April 2012, 03:55
little rock arkansas
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for Little Rock, Arkansas
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2. Re: TR 3/19-3/28 ....exceeded expectations

Wow. - wheel chairs and mobility issues didn't stop you guys a bit!!! I wush I were a buddy of "Alice" ! I'm sittin here drooling over her "seafood fest" and fresh crabmeat stuffed redfish!!

Edited: 06 April 2012, 04:08
Blenheim, Canada
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3. Re: TR 3/19-3/28 ....exceeded expectations

Nice that all the guys finally got together again to spend some quality time together! Sounds like y'all had a wonderful time!

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Bossier City, LA
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4. Re: TR 3/19-3/28 ....exceeded expectations

Great detailed report. We went to Irvin Mayfield's once (only once) and also found it to be a bit to sedate for us. Can't wait to read the rest of your adventures.

Cedar City, UT
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5. Re: TR 3/19-3/28 ....exceeded expectations

Continuation of TR 03-19-0328

Happy Good Friday All.......

Our FL friends headed home Sat. morning while Alex, the MS couple and I headed off to the GD again. We had 11:30am Sat. Jazz brunch reservations at Commanders Palace and wanted to explore again before eating.

The many Mardi Gras beads, hanging from trees, power lines and fences were a lot of fun and colorful hangover from the great street party two weeks before.

We were lucky to walk a couple of blocks next to a carriage, with a guide pointing out some of the historic/celebrity homes to his passengers and telling the story of the porch ceilings of the larger homes, being painted baby blue to deter termites??? Maybe just a fun urban legend, but we enjoyed it.

We had time to explore the Lafayette Cemetery, which because it was a busy Saturday, also had several walking tours that allowed us to eavesdrop while strolling.

All cemeteries offer a deep sense of history and respect along with sadness for the children who passed too young, but the New Orleans cemeteries seem particularly powerful....perhaps the above ground, marble mausoleums in long rows, shoulder to shoulder, that offer a visible impression of lives passed.

On a lighter note Elaine and I were impressed with the younger women mincing over cobblestones, large tree roots, gravel and potholes in tall, spiked, stylish, ankle twisting, neck breaking heels.

Who says it takes sensible walking shoes to do New Orleans? Were we ever that young?

What can one say about Jazz Brunch at Commanders Palace..... on the courtyard, under the shade of a large umbrella, with birds singing, fountain splashing, soft shadows from the big oaks, wonderful smells wafting from the kitchen, impeccable wait staff, glasses clinking, happy laughter, on a beautiful sunny morning. FABULOUS.

The drinks, appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, desserts, coffee were all wonderful as was the service and the property. Even the powder room is a must visit with it's marble wainscoting and padded (yes padded) tulle fabric walls. I guess if one has too many blood mary's, stumbles a bit and falls against the bathroom wall, it will be a soft landing. There are polished wood stall doors, silver trays and glass vases holding ladies necessities .....all spotless. I doubt that you gentlemen have quite the same restroom experience at CP , but you can take your ladies word for it.

The only thing I might have done differently was to choose the strawberry shortcake rather than the bread pudding souffle for desert.

Rodent, please forgive me for saying this as we're both bread pudding fans, but it was almost too rich after such a big meal. The shortcake was light, fluffy and refreshing.......or I could have had two bread pudding souffles and skipped the meal! Next time.

We took the streetcar to Canal, walked down to the Riverwalk and strolled to the FQ, or should I say lumbered, after all that good food.

We enjoyed time on a Moonwalk bench, people/river watching and digesting before the next meal.

We did some window shopping on Royal, walked through Jackson Square, listened to good street music, eventually made room in our bodies for a cocktail (when in Rome.....) enjoyed some late afternoon gumbo and shared a muffaletta.

I have to say that I had no intentions of using any of my appetite for muffalettas, because even though olive salad sounded good, I'm not a fan of hoagies, subs, etc......too much bread. We ended up enjoying them so much that we now have a gallon of homemade olive spread and 2 lbs. of salami, ham, mortadella, provolone and mozzarella in our Utah fridge. If only I had Signore Lupo Salvadore here to make the bread.

What can I say, New Orleans is an addiction.

More walking and exploring, back to the St. Charles streetcar, which we used a lot and loved, having great respect for the drivers who have to avoid risk taking drivers and oblivious pedestrians. The few near misses we saw were on the Lee Monument Circle where drivers either didn't see the streetcar or thought they could outrun it on the turns. It seemed that everyone enjoyed the rides, both tourists and regulars alike. I even had young men offer me their seats, which I declined as my ever expanding rear needed to stand. One young man, at the front of a packed, standing room only car worked his way to the back to politely warn a seated mother and her young daughter of the dangers of the little girl sticking her arm outside the window. The streetcar always had lots of friendly chatting folks with recommendations of places to go, cute children and the lovely clatter of wheels on tracks. The maintenance of the polished wood is impressive. We intended to also ride the Riverwalk and Canal cars, but never got to it......next time.

That night we went to the Rock n' Bowl on Carrolton. That was a lovely drive on a warm Sat. evening, past the beautiful Tulane Campus, stately mansions and large manicured lawns with towering oaks. Seeing it at night, with the warm interior light of chandeliers and gas lanterns on the porches was charming. Many had what appeared to be black tie parties or perhaps wedding receptions, under white tents on the lawns and young women in beautiful gowns. It was a Southern postcard scene.

We LOVED Rock n' Bowl. The parking was easy, the space large and accommodating, with long, friendly, horseshoe shaped bar, big dance floor, tables, chairs and then there's bowling......all under one friendly roof.

There were babies in parent's arms (not sure their tender ears are suited to the loud music, but they slept peacefully) a group of young kids doing hoola hoop tricks, teenage couples practicing their swing dance lessons, singles at the bar, birthday parties with cake and balloons..... a big, happy, come one-come all atmosphere. Where else can you rock out on the dance floor, between frames?

The opening band was good and Kermit Ruffins was great; fun entertainer, high energy, big band horn and infectious crowd rapport.

My San Francisco friend, who spends two weeks at Jazz Fest each year, and told me about Rock n' Bowl, gave us another great steer that we'll return to on every visit. She has tickets for 7 nights this year. I'm envious.

Again, I've worn y'all out reading so will stop here and save Sun., Mon. Tues,.....Snug Harbor, Spotted Cat, Apple Barrel......more food, music and fun, for the next installment.

Blenheim, Canada
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6. Re: TR 3/19-3/28 ....exceeded expectations

Randi--You haven't begun to wear us out reading your trip report! It is fablous and I am enjoying all of it very much!

Blenheim, Canada
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7. Re: TR 3/19-3/28 ....exceeded expectations

wow...so much to read, and so wonderful to read it all! What a great time you had!!! Keep these reports coming!!!

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8. Re: TR 3/19-3/28 ....exceeded expectations

More, more, more! Love your TR! Keep the installments coming. I'm walking every step with you as you are a really good writer!

Destination Expert
for New Orleans
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9. Re: TR 3/19-3/28 ....exceeded expectations

I am loving your report! Can't wait fo. r the next installment!

Houston, Texas
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10. Re: TR 3/19-3/28 ....exceeded expectations

Fantastic report! I love your use of descriptive language. It sounds like you had a wonderful time. I'm making note of all your suggestions too!