I woke up early our first “real” morning in New Orleans but my husband and daughter slept in. I had an online test for a class due that day, so I went down to the hotel courtyard to do it—if you have to do something crappy, why not at least do it in an awesome setting! Once that was out of the way I woke the others up and we got ready and headed out. Got some pictures of interesting tags such as “Pirate This Society!!!” and “Black Is Beautiful” (it is) and then we had breakfast at Somethin Else Café on Conti, three or four blocks from Jackson Square. It was ok but I doubt we’ll go back very often, if ever. Our server, Mylah, was great but I was disappointed that they didn’t have the ice cream advertised with their French toast—that was the whole reason that we went there instead of the old standby Stanley—well, we also like trying new places. I was really looking for a decadent breakfast though (don’t judge!)
We ordered a few plates to share, Crab Cake Nola, a crab cake with corn machoux and topped with a sunny side up egg ($14), Egg-n-da-Hole, an over easy egg cooked in the center of a slice of toast ($3) and the Cochon Biscuit ($7), which turned out to be a massive pile of biscuits all cooked together in the shape of a mountain, topped with a huge pile of cochon. I loved it—my husband felt some type of sauce would help but I thought it was perfect. Total with tax and two sodas was $30.52. After breakfast we walked back to the hotel, loving all of the Tibetan prayer flags everywhere from the Dalai Lama’s recent visit to the city. My husband went on up to the room when we got to the hotel but my daughter and I stopped in at Croissant D’Or, which is right across the street. We picked out a pink petit four (which was good) and something labeled “strawberry mousse,” which was fantastic. It was a chocolate-covered ball of chocolate mousse so cold it almost resembled and tasted like ice cream. There was a strawberry slice on top of it, so I’m not sure if that is where the “strawberry” comes in or if it was mislabeled. Either way, it was great.
We rested up a bit and then strolled up Bourbon St to meet Rodent and Mr. Rodent at Red Gravy. On the way there was a brass band made up of young men playing St James Infirmary, one of my very favorite songs! That was perfect to set the NOLA mood, and after stopping to listen to the end of the song we tipped them a fiver, told them they were awesome, and headed on to Red Gravy. Rodent and the Mister were already there with Bloody Marys. The bar at Red Gravy is new and they’re still working out some kinks but they definitely get an A for effort. I had a Pimm’s Cup and my husband ordered a Long Island, which they had never made before—I also tried a sip of Rodent’s Ramos Gin Fizz. For the meal I ordered The Nanni--red gravy with two huge meatballs and a piece of garlic bread—very good ($9.95). My husband and daughter split the Shrimp Scampi and Rodent had a great looking sandwich called The Nina Panini, which is Chisesi ham, brie, spiced apples and cranberry walnut mayonnaise. Our server was great and it was wonderful getting to see the lovely Roseann again.
From Red Gravy we took the St Charles streetcar, which is a great experience. I’ve never done it in the summertime before and it was really nice having all the windows open with the breeze coming in. My daughter had a good time checking out all the ridiculously fancy houses, each more ornate than the last. The streetcar line was under construction so we switched to a bus and I realized our daughter had never been on a city bus before when she asked, “What is this thing?” Of course, it was also her first time on the streetcar! We got off the bus on S Carrollton and walked a few blocks to Plum Street Snoballs on (you guessed it!) Plum St. Its actual address is on Burdette St but Burdette Street Snoballs just doesn’t sound as good. The neighborhood is very cute; it was the first time my husband and I had been in the area and I’m really glad Rodent suggested checking it out. The snoballs at Plum St were better than any sno-cone or shaved ice we’ve ever had but I was later spoiled by the snoballs at Piety St Sno-balls in the Bywater. More on that later! I had a half Candy Apple and half Blackberry Cream snoball that was really good and my husband tried half Strawberry Cheesecake and half Blackberry Cream. Our daughter had a mix of Banana Cream and Coconut Cream. I can’t remember what Mr. Rodent tried, although I do remember him liking it, and I know Rodent tried a brave mix of Cookie Dough and something fruity like Mango.
From Plum St we walked over to the coffee shop Z’otz, which is on Oak St a block north of S Carrollton. I love the vibe there, and all of the artwork. It’s a very funky place and right up my alley although my husband and I aren’t huge coffee drinkers. We hung out a while and I tried some of my daughter’s (yummy) iced coffee with chocolate sauce and then we moved on further up Oak St, past Jacques-Imo’s restaurant, which I’ve heard great things about. Parked out front was an old, funky painted little truck that Rodent told us sometimes has a table set up in the bed where people can dine! I love it! This place is definitely on the list now with the shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake recommended as a must. We turned back toward S Carrollton and went into the best used bookshop I’ve encountered in years, Blue Cypress Books (also located on Oak St.) It had everything: A great selection, seriously good prices, a friendly cat, engaging staff who like to talk books, a basket labeled “Things I’ve Found in Books” full of old letters, lists and pictures, and great quotes on the wall like this one from Chris Rose: "We dance when there is no music. We drink at funerals. We talk too much, and live too large and, frankly, we're suspicious of those who don't." Doesn’t that just sum up NOLA? We found several books and then made our way to the bus stop where we caught the bus and then streetcar back down St Charles to Canal.
We walked down Royal from Canal, and passed a pair of women doing a wonderful rendition of Pachelbel’s Canon on a guitar and a violin. When we got back to the hotel we hung out for a while and enjoyed some drinks and conversation with Vincenzo, who was working that evening. Eventually we were lured outside by sirens and the sound of an approaching brass band—a secondline! A wedding secondline to be exact, and they paraded right past the hotel, first the bride and groom with their parasols followed by the band and then their wedding guests, many of whom were twirling white linen napkins in the air over their heads. Vincenzo and my daughter fell in behind as he taught her how to dance in a secondline! That was a really great moment. After the secondline made its way on up Ursulines we departed with Mr. and Ms. Rodent and caught the streetcar down by the river. We got off at Canal St and walked over to Poydras to Piazza d’Italia, which is a really pretty and funky Italian style plaza that was fairly deserted—check it out, right behind the Loews hotel. That night was El Txupinazo, the pre-party for New Orleans’ version of the Running of the Bulls, San Fermin en Nueva Orleans.
We walked down Convention Center Blvd to the Sugar Mill, where the party was being held. This venue would probably be really great for a wedding reception, and the Piazza d’Italia would be gorgeous for a ceremony. We got to the party just in time to see the vote for best horned helmet made by a “bull” (rollergirl.) A lady by the name of Dead Girl won with her huge sparkly white horns but there were several other great entries, including a pair of stained glass horns. Several chefs from restaurants like Cochon, Patois, Commander’s Palace and Borgne had tables set up and we all tried several things. Rodent and the Mister had some fried garbanzo beans and a potato omelet, which (I think) were both from Cochon. My daughter is a pescetarian (she eats seafood but no meat) so she tried some Crawfish Croquettes that were fantastic—unfortunately, I didn’t pay any attention to where we got them. My husband and I shared a grilled Manchego & serrano sandwich and yuca fries garnished with something that resembled pork rinds. A live band played, we got some drinks from the bar, picked up our registration for the run the next day, and our daughter commandeered the camera to get some pictures of the rollergirls. She definitely made the rounds and all the ladies were super nice to her, posing for her and asking her if she skates. It turns out that she was also pointing out my husband to all of them, asking that they hit him harder during the running the next morning! Can’t help but wonder if the one who got him across the shoulder blades was one of her cohorts! Later, while looking through the pictures I discovered she’d made her way up to the upstairs VIP section and had taken several selfies on the balcony overlooking the party! Although we got there kind of late the party was a lot of fun, and the proceeds went to charities such as Animal Rescue New Orleans and the MS Society of Louisiana. When the party ended we called a cab (United) and the driver stopped by our hotel before taking Rodent and Mr. Rodent to their apartment. The driver was really great, one of the best we’ve ever had—I love someone who will just jump into a conversation about movies!
We decided that we couldn’t waste a good Friday night in New Orleans and our daughter had gotten her second wind, so we headed over to Bourbon St where we saw the obligatory shirtless woman posing for pictures with random strangers. Our daughter totally missed it since the woman’s torso was painted, but she did get several sets of beads thrown by people on balconies (thanks guys!) She also got to pet a police horse, which was also surrounded by several intoxicated young women. Some people get upset about kids on Bourbon St but I feel like it’s definitely something for each parent to decide on their own how sheltered they want their kids to be. Personally, we feel like it is fine to explain to our kids that grownups like to have a good time too since we have to work and be serious so much. We also make sure to educate about respecting their bodies, responsible intake of alcohol, etc. so that crazy partying isn’t necessarily glorified. We saw several other children and tweens around and everyone appeared to be having a good time. We did see some religious protestors with a huge scary cross, but as far as that goes I feel like they’re really wasting their time giving others grief when they could be trying to help the homeless population or any number of more positive things. My husband and I split the obligatory Hand Grenade on the way up Bourbon, and stopped in for Hurricanes at Pat O’s on the way back down. My husband went in for the drinks while I got some pics of our daughter posing with the big leprechaun. We strolled down Orleans St toward the cathedral and saw Touchdown Jesus in all his glory. After making our way back to the hotel we encountered Vincenzo just getting off of work and ended up talking his ear off for about two hours! Hopefully he enjoyed it as well, and we went away from the conversation feeling much more educated about what life in New Orleans will be like when we make The Move.