20 May 2012 New Orleans

Teagan and I left Franklin around 11am. We arrived at the Quality Inn in New Orleans at 7pm. It took us a while to unload the car and get it to the parking garage. We left the hotel around 8pm and headed through the French Quarter to find The Gumbo Shop. We walked along Bourbon Street and looked in various shops.

There was a big crowd waiting outside the restaurant, but we only had to wait a few minutes to get in.  Shortly after we were seated, a man came to our table and asked Teagan if she was associated with the Make-A-Wish Foundation (she was wearing and Make-A-Wish tee shirt).  He told her that he wanted to make a donation and was going to give her money if she worked for the group.  He was very nice, but probably a little inebriated.

Teagan ordered a crab cake appetizer followed by seafood gumbo. I ordered boudin with creole mustard followed by chicken andouille gumbo. This restaurant is supposed to be one of the best places in New Orleans to get gumbo. Teagan improved her seafood gumbo by adding garlic hot sauce. Richard’s boudin was very good, but it didn’t have as much rice as he was used to. The gumbo was excellent.

After supper we went to the corner of Jackson Square just to see the cathedral. We stopped at a few gift shops as we headed back to bourbon street. Now that it was later there was quite a noisy crowd along Bourbon Street. We hit a few more shops as we headed back to the hotel.

21 May 2012 New Orleans

We left the hotel around 11am and walked to the Cafe du Monde at the French Market.  We got cafe au lait and beignets (Teagans cafe was iced).  After our brunch, we walked to the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park next door for a good view of the river on one side, and Jackson Square/St. Louis Cathedral on the other.  We took a few pictures and then walked along the river toward the French Market shops.

Our plan was to get a Muffuletta for lunch at the Central Grocery, but we discovered they were closed on Mondays.  A quick search on the iPhone revealed a nearby shop with highly rated muffulettas, so we went with the new plan.

Before lunch, we hit many of the shops in the French Market.  Teagan bought a key chain.  Then we went to Alberto’s Gourmet Cheeses and split a half muffuletta.  We ate under the French Market canopy in an area with live music.

After lunch, we headed to Jackson Square to look at the artwork.  Then we headed back to the hotel for a break.  As always, we stopped in several shops as we walked.

After a rest in the hotel, we retrieved our car from the parking garage to go out for the evening. The plan was to visit Martin’s Wine Cellar for about an hour and then head to Pascal’s Manale for a 7:30pm dinner.  We had a little trouble finding Martin’s, and when we did we discovered it was also closed on Mondays.  So we decided to drive around the Uptown area.  We ended up at Audubon Park for a short walk before we headed to dinner.

At the restaurant, we ordered Oysters Bienville for an appetizer.  They were really excellent. For entrees, Teagan got the barbecue shrimp and I got a bowl of seafood gumbo and a side of grilled asparagus.  Teagan’s shrimp were a little difficult to peel (the shell would really stick to the meat),  but all the food was great.

After supper, I was ready to head back to the hotel and chill, but Teagan thought it was too early for that.  So we decided to go the Preservation Hall to hear some dixieland music.  We parked near the French Quarter at Royal and Canal Streets and walked to St. Peter Street.  The second set had just started when we got there, so there was no line.  We got right in and stood in the back of the historic concert room for almost a full set of dixieland music by several of the stock players (piano, tuba, drums, saxophone, trombone, and trumpet).  We also stayed for one song in the third set before leaving to return to the hotel.

On the way back to the car we stopped in a bar with live music for a few minutes, and also a zydeco shop on Canal Street.  The shop had some funny-named items, like bags of “Wake the fuck up”  coffee, and hot sauces with names that I don’t even want to write here.

We got back to the hotel around 11:30.

22 May 2012 New Orleans

We wrote a post card to Betty, but when we tried to mail it on the way out of the hotel they didnt have any stamps. We walked to a wallgreens to get some and back to the hotel to mail it.  By the time we left and got to the Audubon Zoo it was 12.  It looked like a lot of the zoo was built around the live oaks that were already there.  The zoo had a swampy area so that was unique.  There was also a pretty big aviary.  They had lions and leopards that were cool.  Dad got a post card to mail to Derek to see if he remembers going to the zoo when he was little.  We left the zoo around 5 when it closed.

After leaving the zoo we stopped to Martin’s Wine Cellar, but it didn’t have anything interesting to look at.  All it had was wine and alcoholic beverages.  Then we had the idea to look in the Whole Foods we’ve seen driving around.  It was pretty much like a whole foods anywhere else though.  So we just headed back to the hotel and rested.

When we got back to the hotel room we just rested.  I took a nap and Dad just chilled.  I woke up around 7:30 and we got ready to go to Cochon’s Cajun Southern Cooking for dinner.  We had a reservation for 8:30 and the place was packed when we got there.  We ordered alligator with chili garlic aioli sauce as an appetizer.  They also brought out rolls that were very good.  For entrees, I got Louisiana Cochon with Turnips, Cabbage, and Cracklins.  It just tasted like pulled pork with cabbage.  The turnips tasted like potatoes.  The only weird thing was the cracklin but it didn’t taste bad at all.  Dad got Rabbit and Dumplings.  He thought it was really good, but by the end he got a little tired of the saltiness.

Once we were done, we drove around a little to see the Aquarium and Riverwalk to see where we would spend the next day.  Then we headed back to the hotel for the night.

23 May 2012 New Orleans

There was an announcment on the hotel p.a. system that there was an emergency in the building and that everyone had to evacuate.  This came at 4:30 am.  There were a lot of groggy people slowly walking down the stairs.  Once we got near to bottom from our 8th floor room, we learned it was a false alarm. About 10 minutes after we got back to our room, the same announcement occurred,   but we just ignored it and went back to sleep.

I got up around 9 and we got ready to go to the aquarium. To save a little walking, we took the Canal Street Streetcar. There was a very talkative elderly man who immediately struck a conversation with me. He seemed a little creepy at first, but when I saw he was with a younger man a couple of seats away, I felt better.

We arrived at the aquarium around 10:15. Since there was a penguin feeding/talk scheduled for 10:30, we headed to that area. Most of the penguins were from Africa, but there were three rock hoppers from South America. It was interesting that each penguin had its own preferred method for being fed. Some liked to be thrown the fish, while others liked it placed directly into their beak.

There was also a good seahorse exhibit that we spent some time at. They had a small sea otter exhibit. We finished off the rest of the 2nd floor and had lunch. Next, we did the first floor and the gift shop. There was a huge Gulf of Mexico tank, a Caribbean area, and a nice jellyfish area. Once we were done, we took a picture of the poodle structure outside the aquarium. We have seen these structures all over New Orleans painted in different colors, but we don’t know why.

Next we took a shuttle to Mardi Gras World. A guide took us in a warehouse where they build and store mardi gras floats year round. He talked about the old way they built them with wood on the inside and many layers of papier maiche. Today they build the floats structures with styrofoam and a thin layer of paper maiche on the outside. Then they paint them. They try to re-use the floats figures whenever they can. They are a lot lighter than the old ones were. They’re definitely easier to make, but still a lot of work. There were floats there from movies and characters like Mr. Potato Head. In addition to mardi gras stuff they had some cows for Chick-fil-a and they had the car that was used in the 2nd Batman movie. The gift shop had some interesting stuff in it.

Next we took a shuttle to the Riverwalk. To start out with I had a smoothie and Dad had a daiquiri. We just sat down for a few minitues cause our legs were tired from standing up/walking around all day. Then we continued to walk around the stores. Teagan ended up getting a shot glass in one of them. Another one of the stores had mardi gras christmas ornaments. We ended up buying one that was both an ornament and a magnet. Once we were done at Riverwalk, we rode the streetcar back to the hotel area.

Around 7 we left the hotel to go eat dinner at a poboy place called Parkway Bakery & Tavern. I got a fried catfish poboy and Dad got a fried shrimp poboy. I was glad to have a lighter meal instead of a full out restaurant size meal. The poboys were good, but not anything spectacular, especially considering they were the top-rated poboys in New Orleans. They didn’t have the special New Orleans Poboy bread we were looking for.

After the poboys, we tried Angelo Brocato’s to get a cannoli or other italian dessert. There was a pretty good line outside the store though so we decided to wait until tomorrow or friday to go. We went to see the Superdome. It looked really cool with the lights on it at night, and the nights would change colors. Then we drove over the Greater New Orleans Bridge to see the view. We had trouble getting on the expressway because, will, Dad and his GPS were a little stupid.

After the bridge, we returned to the hotel.

24 May 2012 New Orleans

I had trouble getting to sleep last night, plus I woke around 6:00 am, so I felt pretty tired in the morning. I got Teagan up around 9:00. We arrived at the New Orleans Museum of Art a little before they opened at 10:00, so we took a few pictures outside.

Once inside, we began on the first floor with the Medieval art room, then the European Renaissance room, the European Baroque room, and finally the Dutch and Flemish room.  The rooms were very clearly organized so we could see the evolution of European painting through the different periods.

We ate very nice salads in the Cafe NOMA for lunch and proceeded to the third floor where we saw collections of African, Oceanic, precolumbian, native American, Japanese, Indian, and Chinese art.  Teagan was way more interested in these areas than I was.  I guess I prefer paintings over the vases and more functional art.

On the second floor, we saw collections of contemporary and modern art, impressionist art, and French art from the 17th to 19th centuries.

We left the museum at 3:30 and headed to the Martin’s Wine Cellar in Metarie. Based on the Yelp reviews, that one has the best selection of non-wine items. We found a couple do cheeses there to bring back to Franklin. I realized that years ago, when I used to visit Martin’s when I lived in Mobile, it seemed like heaven. But now that I live in Franklin, Martin’s seems pretty ho-hum. We found very little there that we can’t get in the Nashville. And when compared to the Liquor Barns in Lexington, Martin’s pales.

We headed back to the hotel for a brief rest, then we walked to the Southern Candymakers shop on Decatur Street. The store smelled amazing when we walked in. We bought lots of pralines for gifts, as well as a few for ourselves.

After that, we headed to the Shops at Canal Place. The anchor store there is Saks. We walked through the mall but didn’t find much of interest. Then we headed up Canal St. And went in a few shops. We stumbled onto a street festival on Royal St. There were tents along the street that were serving food and wine to ticket holders and many of the shops and galleries were open late. We were able to visit many of the galleries that are usually closed by the time we make it to the French Quarter.

We headed to Mr. B’s Bistro for our 8:30 reservation. We were seated right away. Two glasses of ice water were immediately delivered. Within a minute, our waiter was there with the menus and some brief explanations about the soup and catch I’d the day. We ordered the duck and goat cheese spring roll appetizer first. Then Teagan ordered the braised rabbit entree, while I ordered a bowl of gumbo ya-ya and a half dozen fried oysters served on the half shell with Hollandaise sauce.

The spring rolls were very tasty, but nothing spectacular. My gumbo was excellent, although a little light on the chicken and andouille (but since it was from the soup part of the menu, that is probably ok). The fried oyster were very good and went well with the sauce. Teagan’s rabbit dish was very good, although filling. The braising liquid packed a lot of flavor. She especially enjoyed the garlic mashed potatoes served with the dish.

The food at Mr. B’s Bistro was good, but the thing I will remember the most is the outstanding service.  The waiters were very non-intrusive.  They provided service without interrupting us.  Our waters were always filled, the proper utensils were always provided just before the dish arrived, and we never had to ask for anything — it was just there.  Bravo to the wait staff.

After supper, we took a last walk along Bourbon Street. Things were getting pretty lively by that time of night. We bought some decorative beads at one of the shops, then we headed back to the hotel, satisfied that the week had provided us with a good New Orleans experience.

25 May 2012 New Orleans

We ate breakfast in the hotel and checked out.  I retrieved the car from the garage and drove it to the front of the hotel where we loaded up.  We headed to the French Market area so we could visit the Central Grocery. After looking around, we bought some dried salami, I forget the exact name, along with an olive salad mixture.

We returned to the car and headed to Angelo Brocato’s for a cannoli.  We each had a cannoli (Teagan’s with milk, mine with expresso), and we bought a couple of items to bring back to Franklin.  Then we headed back home.  We arrived around 9:00pm.