Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Orleans

A Long Weekend of Fun...
Friday Afternoon Photos: by Josh Huskin at Landa Library, capturing le bump in all its increasingly convex glory.

Hit the Road for New Orleans: planning to stop somewhere on the other side of Houston for the night.  Realizing I had an upcoming four day weekend, plans were readied - read Fodor's New Orleans, reserved a hotel room in the French Quarter, made dinner rezzies for someplace kinda special.  We had been thinking about a NOLA trip for a while due to relative proximity (everything in Texas is at least 4 hours away, so 9 isn't a stretch) and the impending arrival of Baby H, who will curtail our travelling for a bit (happily so).  Luke has been playing shows several nights a week and I often don't seem him at all in the evening; we pass like ships in the night.

It was marvelous to spend days with my beloved.

Imagine a small gray SUV winding its way along the blue line:

A nine hour drive, I-10 the entire way...

Musical Interlude: During the drive Luke mentioned Fitzgerald's, concert venue he had heard about, and after some tappity tappity on the iPhone it was determined to be situated just a half-mile north of the interstate.  We stopped in for a couple of performances and continued on to Baytown, where we settled into a La Quinta and watched cable television, always an away-from-home treat.

Waffle House Morning and Eastward: listening to John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces read by Barrett Whitener.  We have each read the book, and listened to a few hours in July while driving from Michigan to Iowa.  Again, we were doubled over with laughter and replaying the CD to hear some of Ignatius' hilarious invective again.  And primed to exclaim Oh mah Gahd, mutha! all over New Orleans.

NOLA Accommodations: Dauphine Orleans.  Highly recommend; one block off Bourbon Street without any noise.  Arriving in the afternoon, we explored the French Quarter:

Hot dog vendor

Bourbon Street is really, really tawdry, dirty, base, and definitely worth seeing.

St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square

Waiting for beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde

In the evening we walked to adjacent neighborhood Faubourg Marigny, had a little dinner, saw some music.


More French Quarter:

Sunday morning.  Our hotel bar has a piano...

 The statue of Ignatius J. Reilly on Canal Street which we found to be an offense against theology and geometry and even the most cursory perusal of the novel.

This is NOT what Ignatius looks like!

Celebrity Encounter: Taking the bus to the Garden District, we explored a cemetery and walked down Magazine Street.  We popped into Rehab Vintage Furniture and saw Sandra Bullock shopping with her family.  (That woman's voice sounds familiar, I thought, looking up from a mid century credenza, she sounds like Sandra Bullock.  And it was.)

Lake Pontchartrain Isn't the Second Largest Lake in the United States, But Maybe It's the Second Largest Estuary?: Later in the afternoon we boarded a bus for a city tour, the narration of which Luke started fact-checking almost immediately.  What it lacked in veracity it made up for in comfy seats and a taste of the city outside the French Quarter: City Park and the outlying neighborhoods.

Oh and we petted this adorable French bulldog puppy in the Garden District:

The Natchez steamboat

Food: In the evening we dined at August.  It was highly rated in the guidebook and every New Orleans website and its chef-owner John Besh was nice when he signed my cookbook last fall at a bookstore in San Antonio, so reservations were made.  The meal was delicious - oysters and gnocchi appetizers, spring chicken (Luke) and grilled shrimp (moi) entrees, and goat's cheese cheesecake and a deconstructed banana pudding for dessert.  The only item we didn't like was the amuse-bouche course: a fishy egg mousse served in an eggshell.

Evident apprehension

But the remainder was absolutely delicious and perfect for Fancy Foodie Dinner Out- fabulous, fabulous, fabulous.  Monday morning we drove west, listening to Confederacy of Dunces (Royal Street!  Chartres!  Dauphine Street- we were just there!) and David Sedaris' Live at Carnegie Hall.

Us and the Gulf: