Thursday, June 15, 2006

New Orleans

Returning to work Monday after spending part of the weekend in New Orleans, I was relating my adventures to co-workers and mentioned the fact that during the past 20 years, I've vacationed there more than 60 times. One of my friends asked if I would ever consider moving there.

Without thinking, I immediately responded "no, I would not even consider moving there because you see, for the past 20 years, New Orleans has been and remains, my mistress."

A mistress who always welcomes me with open arms, embracing me into a culture of great music, fine food, and amazing history; after which she lets me go.... hungry to return again.

My friends Tim and Bill accompanied me this weekend, as they have on several occasions. They are perfect travelling companions and like me, enjoy the flexibility of meeting for drinks, dinner, etc. but also going in different directions as we see fit. We don't stay in the same guest houses, and rarely frequent the same clubs, but we stay in touch by cell phone.

This was my first stay at the French Quarter Suites Hotel, deciding on the change because they are pet friendly and my intention is to eventually introduce the PUGS to New Orleans.
This was a very old, well maintained all suites hotel with immaculate rooms and superior service. My suite consisted of a large living room, a smaller dining room with full kitchen, a bedroom with two queen beds and adjoining bath. The location leaves much to be desired (on the outskirts of the French Quarter) but for me it was perfect.

One of the owners two cocker spaniels is in this photo

After checking in at our respective hotels, Tim, Bill and I met for drinks at the Bourbon Pub.
Bloody Mary's made from scratch with cajun spiced green beans replacing the standard celery stalk. Delicious.

I left the guys with their drinks and proceeded to Harrah's casino where after one hour of playing slot machines, I broke even and left to again meet the guys for lunch.

Petunia's is housed in a 3 story Creole Townhouse erected in the 1830's by Barthelemy Bacas, a noted cabinetmaker of the time. The interior is especially fascinating for his mastery of intricate details of the all cypress millwork including the mantels surrounding the original coal-burning fireplaces.

The menu is a combination of cajun and creole cooking and their specialty are the enormous crepes filled with a variety of interesting ingredients.

today I chose....

Cajun Sausage Breakfast
Grilled andouille, boudin, two eggs, potatoes and toast

Tim and Bill selected

Succulent Shrimp Barataria over Rice
Gulf shrimp smothered in a curry and dill sauce with tomatoes.

The food was wonderfully cooked, beautifully presented and delicious.

After lunch, we left for our respective hotels to rest because it was now 2 PM and we had met at the airport in Tampa at 5 AM that morning.

After resting I visited several art galleries on Royal Street, stopping at Hove Parfumeur for a bottle of my favorite cologne "Louis XIV" created and blended on the premises, and eventually met up with my friends at LaFitte's on Bourbon Street for afternoon cocktails.

Maspero's for dinner.....

I don't remember a time when I've gone to New Orleans without making a stop at Maspero's for a large platter of fried oysters. While Tim and Bill were happily enjoying the "happy hour" club scene and still well nourished from lunch at Petunia's, I had to have fried oysters. I wasn't disappointed. Oysters fried to perfection!

I returned to my hotel, rested and showered.
I telephoned home, the PUGS were doing beautifully I was relieved... time to party!

I met up with Tim and Bill at LaFitte's after which we went in different directions; Tim to Rawhide, Bill to OZ while I chose the Bourbon Pub. Most of my friends have not returned to New Orleans since Katrina due primarily to lack of housing, but I spent the evening in interesting and informative conversation with other patrons of the Pub. I chose to go home alone that evening and arrived back at my hotel after 1:00 AM.

Friday was spent shopping, visiting the French Market, purchasing Praelines for my sister and friends at work, and enjoying a fabulous jazz brunch buffet at the Court of Two Sisters; another favorite spot where we spent most of the afternoon eating exquisite food including made-to-order omelets, Eggs Benedict, sausage and bacon, grits and grillades, and shrimp or veggie pasta with a creamy Alfredo sauce; alone with Creole jambalaya, turtle soup, oysters Bienville, Duck a l'Orange, and Shrimp Etouffee.

The cold buffet consisted of boiled shrimp and crawfish with a choice of traditional cocktail or Creole remoulade sauces, seafood and pasta salads, ceviche, marinated artichokes, pâtés, cheeses and a variety of fresh fruit.

For dessert, we chose Bananas Foster and bread pudding with whiskey sauce. All of the above accompanied of course, with several mimosas which included two bottles of champagne and a pitcher of orange juice!

We walked thru Jackson Square and along the boardwalk overlooking Lake Pontchatrain. Tim chose to spend the evening at the Corner Pocket, Bill at the Bourbon Pub and I headed for LaFitte's where I partied until 2:00 AM leaving with the thought of reluctantly flying home the next morning.

Tim and Bill have no clue that I am considering leaving in the morning. I will call them from the airport.

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