Sunday, August 29, 2010

Judith Plans Our New Orleans Adventure : A Travel Plan

We will go to Galatoires, Commanders, Stella, August.  Jake will want us to go to Jacques Imos.  We will take the trolley up Cartes.  We will sit and sip in the courtyard of the W, or one of the other, older, beautiful historic hotels in the Quarter.
We will browse.  We will dream.

Laissez le Bon temp rouler...
in NOLA again!

This post is a natural product.
The slight variations in spelling and grammar enhance its
individual character and beauty,
and in no way is to be considered flawed or defective.

Start your day with beignets and coffee from Cafe Du Monde..
Go next door (almost) and check out the French Market, a flea market of sorts, but some stands have baby bottles of hot sauces and there may be a find for you there!  Lots of food products, if I recall.

Walk to River Walk.  Stroll along the Mississippi.  Do NOT take the boat rides. 
Walk up to Jackson Square and take a horse carriage ride....
You are across the street from the Aquarium. They used to have rare albino or white alligators I think.  I am not sure about now.
It was rebuilt and restocked after Katrina. Interesting that they lost many species, dolphins ended up in the Gulf (they were recovered!), and had to 'farm out' lots of their stock to aquariums around the country.  Then, the world helped them restock after they rebuilt.
From here walk up into the Quarter:
Take a walk down Bourbon St.  It won't be too active in the morning, so plan to walk it again at night if you can. Once is enough!  Music wafts out from the bars and restaurants and there should be street performers.  Other streets, including Chartes, are where there are some interesting and wonderful antique shops, and lots of interesting places to peek into.  Royale is another lovely street to stroll. One of my most favorite places in the world is the Gallery of Fine Photography.  The owner Joshua Mann Pailet is a long time friend of one of my long time friends, and this Gallery is renown, famous, amazing, a virtual history of photography.  I could spend hours. I have spent hours!
It is on Chartes, almost across from the W (the W in the Quarter, there are two Ws in NOLA.  The restaurant next to this W, where we last stayed, is Bacco, one of the Brennan restaurants.  The Brennan's are one of the famous NOLA families, who also own Commander's Palace, and I love it.   It is not a must eat place, more Italian, but I think it is very good and I had possibly the best Eggs Benedict I have ever had in my life there, and I have had many!
Another Brennan restaurant is Ralphs on the Park, and is supposed to be wonderful (not in the Quarter, however I have never been so cannot say. My son loves it.   But I digress.  I will come back to this. The courtyard of the W is lovely, sit, chill, have a cold drink! 316 Chartes St.

You really should consider taking a cemetery tour, very interesting!  Actually to see these cemeteries, a few of them, is fascinating and the burial customs of NOLA are unique.  These tours are walking tours, and it will be hot.  Don't forget a small umbrella, as it can rain or shower at any time!  Tours are given by many companies and I think very, very worthwhile. Never go into cemeteries alone.  Here is a link to the various walking tours, but many companies offer them.  The famous Lafayette Cemetery is across the street from Commander’s Palace, so maybe you can do both. 
The cemeteries are referred to as the "Cities of the Dead."

Music I cannot be very helpful with, but Preservation Hall is world famous. No reservations, I believe.  Jake has a couple of suggestions toward the end of this document!  Preservation Hall:

Museums are many. Museums in NOLA include the D Day Museum and for fun, although it is across the river and you have to take a ferry (not sure) is Mardi Gras World.  I have never been, but believe they have floats on display.

A couple of places to grab a bite in the Quarter are the Acme Oyster Bar and the
Gumbo Shop.  I love, love, love Acme Oyster Bar.  Here I ate my first crawfish (don't think they are in season, not sure) and they are famed for their oysters. Felix is also well known, but I would go to Acme.  There is almost always a line, but worth it. Acme has much more atmosphere.   Gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, hamburgers!! 
Acme Oyster House
Have a Muffeletta, the famous New Orleans sandwich at the Central Grocery where it was created:

Casual Creole in the Quarter is the Louisiana Bistro.  Fantastic!!!!!!!

Galatoires in the Quarter is famous, if not the most famous NOLA restaurant, but the action happens downstairs and they don't take reservations for the downstairs. It is famed for its Friday lunch.   This is fine New Orleans cuisine, not a place for a quick bite.   They may have a dress code, I am not sure. 
 There other old famous places I have never been to, such as Antoine's, which I believe is one of the oldest and one of the most historic.
Remember, NOLA is not Cajun, it is Creole.  There are many Creole restaurants, but the newer ones are doing more of a 'take' on Creole, updating and using local ingredients, such as Chef John Besh.  More on him later.

Commander's Palace, love it!!!!!!!!!  It is in the Garden District across from the famous Lafayette Cemetery.  Dine in the Garden Room if possible.  If not the main dining room or upstairs are just fine!   Go for lunch or dinner, and they are famous for their Sunday Jazz breakfast.  This is fine dining, world class service and amazing food. They do have a dress code.  This is a meal, and in my opinion everybody should go at least once! 
Unfortunately the Gospel Hall I mentioned no longer exists.  Sadly, Praline Connection it was called was a victim of Katrina, so I really don't know where to suggest Gospel, maybe House of Blues.

Some miscellaneous sites to explore
The above is a fabulous site, some of the info is old; some is fresh and new with fabulous links.
Tom Fitzmorris website:

About Tom Fitzmorris:

The above is from the Times Picayune

Voodoo!  You can't think of NOLA without Voodoo!
The most famous practitioner of Voodoo is Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen.
She is interred in New Orleans' St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. (not Lafayette).
Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo and Reverend Zombie's House of Voodoo
have the same owners, so share a website, I believe.
Voodoo Authentica Cultural Center and Collection link below...

French Quarter shopping:
Chartes, Royal, each street has its own personality.

The oldest bar in NOLA is
Lafittes Blacksmith Shop.  It has an interesting history.
I would not suggest you eat here, but it is famous as the oldest, most historic bar in NOLA. Peek in.  Or, try a Hurricane at Pat O'Briens.  Let me know if you have one and can still walk!

A must do:
Take the famous trolley up St. Charles (or down). 
Jump off and check out Tulane University.  You will go through the Garden District, Uptown, and the University area.  The beautiful park across from Tulane is Audubon Park.

A fabulous place to eat Uptown is Jacques Imos.
Unfortunately, reservations but just too much fun, probably my son's favorite place.  It is casual, and a hoot!  Especially if Jacques, or Jack!!!,  is in the house.

Magazine St. is not in the Quarter, more Uptown/Garden District.  It is long, with many blocks, and of lots of fun shopping, small restaurants, nice!  We first drove it deciding on which blocks to stop and stroll
An exceptional place to dine, casually (but still is chic!), is a true neighborhood restaurant called Lilette on Magazine St.  I have been going since the day they opened.  One of my absolute favorite spots!  It is a neighborhood bistro:

 Let's talk about food! Again.  If it were me, I would try to reserve at Restaurant August.  Chef John Besh is as hot as they come right now.  It really isn't Creole, so research and decide if this would be where you would want to dine.
I also adore Stella, but is quiet.  It is very beautiful.  Almost romantic. It is beyond fabulous. 
Restaurant websites to explore are:

for po' boys:

(Uptown/Garden District, look at the photo, not much more than a shack!)

Here is a hip district to explore if you have time:
 Julia Street for art galleries:

Tipitnas (Uptown)

The Maple Leaf Bar (Uptown/University area)
Another great way to check out restaurants is:
Check out the New Orleans Board:
I have never been to either Mother's or the Court of Two Sisters, nor do I want to.  They are known for their brunches.

From my son!!! At last!  He says:
The big thing is to explore the French Quarter.  Jackson Square, Cafe du Monde.  While touristy they still should be done just to get a feel for everything.   Jacque Imos is great.  I like Ralphs on the Park a lot and the Besh places are very good.  During the day Audubon Park is nice, same with the zoo across the street.  Strolling up and down Magazine looking at the shops.  Lunch wise Parasol's, Domilises are good for po' boys.  Taking a tour of the 9th ward is interesting and checking out Frenchman in the Marigny which is nearby is also good.  Of course taking a walk up Bourbon once is very interesting and going to Julia Street during the day is cool since that is where all the art galleries are.  Music wise there is Preservation Hall, Tipitinas uptown, the Maple Leaf next to Jacques Imos, and the Marsallies (or Marseilles?)  Club in one of the hotels (I forget which one). 
Is my guy spoiled or what?  Imagine being able to live and eat in NOLA everyday!
Lower Ninth Ward tours:

For the future:
Swamp Tours:
Google New Orleans swamp tours and dozens will come up.  They last several hours. It is a half day adventure.  The airboats are more expensive, and very loud.
The bigger boats cannot get into some areas.  So, something smaller is better.   It is too hot in 4444440-                                                     vvvvvvvvvthe summer (although the critters would be out sunning), and honestly, I not even sure if they are running them since the nasty oil spill.   The swamps are beautiful, almost surreal. A must do if ever possible.   This is the company I took a tour with many years ago:
And finally….
It has been joyous thinking about and writing about all the fabulousness of my beloved NOLA.  Please, do not forget how much this city has suffered, and continues to do so.  The tragedy of NOLA is not over.  The tragedy of the Gulf is not over. 
Please watch Spike Lee’s heart aching and breaking masterpiece:
When the Levees Broke:  A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)
I personally believe this should be required viewing for every human being in this country.  New Orleans is this country’s personal shame, in my opinion.

Its sequel:
If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise (2010)

(John Galliano of course)


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