Melissa and I are about halfway done with our NOLA getaway... here are some photos splitting the difference between "documenting our trip" and "I like the way this photo came out" (so not showing all the food diary shots, I'm better at eating food than photographing it.)
December 10, 2019
Open Photo Gallery
We arrive Sunday afternoon - the hotel concierge (Roy at the Maison on Dupuy) suggests hitting the French Market and then Coop's, local favorite but with a great tourist-friendly "Taste Plate" - Rabbit & Sausage Jambalaya is Melissa's favorite NOLA food so far. But this shot expresses how the locals feel about hot sauce...
View from our Balcony at the Maison Dupuy... the hotel restaurant is playing some great jazzy pop but with a Christmas bend, which always feels like a disconnect to witness in a land with palm trees (I'm not sure if it's just the tourist aspect but NOLA seems more into Christmas than Boston.)
Bourbon Street at night - earlier we were walking around the French Market, the Saints were playing the 49ers, and a lot of fans were in the area at night (we nervously split when we saw a Mardi Gras-esque float by the 49ers fans approaching, not sure how it was going to be received...) Before that we grabbed a Muffuletta and a link of Alligator Sausage.
I'm always a sucker for good signage.
Waiting for a tour bus we got a second look at something our cab driver from the airport had pointed out - in October an under-construction building (future Hard Rock Cafe hotel) had partially collapsed.
Our destination was the Whitney and Oak Alley Plantations. Whitney is strongly focused on presenting the perspective of the enslaved people that so much was taken from - including the heroic tragedy of the 1811 German Coast uprising. Oak Alley (as seen in many films including Interview with the Vampire) is also very careful at showing the human cost and not whitewashing the period. Photograph from the balcony of the main house there.
After dinner at Mahoney's we went to Frenchmen Street - The Young Fellaz, a group I knew a bit from HONK! in October, were in full effect on the corner. (After their set I went up and one of the tuba players let me borrow his horn (I had brought my own mouthpiece), and a few of the players briefly jammed over my signature bass line Space Cadet)
Tuesday bright and early we headed out for a city bus tour - you get a local telling you great stories and you cover more geography than on foot... we stopped at St. Louis Cemetery No. 3. (The NOLA burial traditions are fascinating.)
After the tour we went to the Audubon Insectarium - once upon a time a fellow student in a photography adult ed class asked me (in her charming irish brogue) "ooo, y'like boogs, doncha?" and I sort of denied it but you know, she wasn't wrong.
The Insectarium even has a cafeteria where you can sample crickets and waxworms in various preparations, like hummus and chocolate-chip-ish cookies, but the Butterfly Garden was more photogenic...
Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.Found this quote I grabbed 16 years ago... it really summarizes an important aspect of my philosophy. There is an objective truth, and you should feel compelled to align yourself with it, but you can never be certain you're there, and an important part of both understanding both probability and empathy is to be respectful of other's view of it, so long as there is a good chance they are being sincere and not obviously cynically manipulated.
Heh, another relevant previously blogged quote form 5 years ago:
The universe of ideas is just as little independent of the nature of our experiences as clothes are of the form of the human body.
December 13, 2019
Open Photo Gallery
Tuesday evening we went to Red Fish Grill (our driver the day before mentioned her son was a chef there, and seafood besides 'fried' seemed like a good change.) After we hit Preservation Hall - the quick, polished 45 minute set you get (with 3-5 shows a night) is a good little sampler. We sat in the good cheap seats, meaning on the floor on bench cushions right in front of the musicians. No photos permitted during the performance, alas.
Wednesday morning we set out to District Donuts and a quick jaunt through the garden district. Melissa was stoked when we overheard a segway tour leader pointing out a place Melissa's high school idol Trent Reznor had lived there for a bit. Meanwhile, we laughed at how her chilly weather gear made her look like she was casing the joints.
We spent the afternoon at The National WWII Museum. Yeah, it's a bit too rah-rah, and distinctly the American story - though I give them some credit for confronting the racism and sexism of the time. (Like the Insectarium, they had a "4D movie" but this one was truly grand: physical props flying in, suds as artificial snow for the Battle of the Bulge, good use of light and sound and rumble effects.)
The gift store offered knock-off LEGO ("COBI") sets with reproductions of military stuff. The front display was a diorama representing a beach landing, probably D-Day? I uh... I remembered why it took LEGO so many years to have any kind of weapons in their sets.
That night we dressed up a bit to dine at Galatoire's and then went to Snug Harbor where Doug had promised Delfeayo Marsalis' Uptown Jazz Orchestra was the best jazz in town - that night featuring a second half with Tonya Boyd-Cannon (former Top 20 Finalist on "The Voice"). Our seats were meh, and so no great photos for the evening.
Melissa had been hankering to try Fried Soft Shell Crab and we got some (along with my less photogenic, but tasty, eggs and grits) at Thursday brunch at Restaurant Stanley near the Plaza de Armas. Honestly? Looks weird but if you dig fried clams you'll be fine.
Languorous statue behind the French Market.
There's a small brass squad that seems to play mornings outside the famous Cafe du Monde (Legendary Beignets!) kind of a casual group, the Decatur Street All-Stars
Swamp Tour! We had Captain Eddie of Cajun Encounters.
Captain Eddie had to work hard to get us any glimpse of gator (they'd rather be sleeping), so that's one of the minor drawbacks to December travel to New Orleans, but still we spied 3 or so little guys...
Later he steered us to another part of of the Old Pearl River where there was a crew of racoons about....
Super cute racoons! I realize this group is probably a bit over-acclimated and maybe reliant on the tours...
There was also a grand wild pig who would come up for a hand out...
We went back to Coop's Place to bookend our trip, I finally got a properly dressed po-boy (not sure why I was mayo-shy before), fried crawfish and Melissa had fried chicken and more of their legendary rabbit + sausage jambalaya.
A nice lagniappe - Kenneth Terry outside the Café du Monde
52 Things Tom Whitwell learned in 2019 - great stuff.
I'm not usually a food glamour shot person but it seemed to make sense to do a log of the most interesting meals we ate in New Orleans... we tried to make our own food tour in terms of hitting most of New Orlean's most well-known specialties.
December 15, 2019
Open Photo Gallery
Coop's Place was recommended by the Maison Dupuy concierge Roy, and the only place we hit twice... this is the "Coop's Taste Plate": A cup of seafood gumbo, shrimp creole, cajun fried chicken, red beans & rice with sausage, and rabbit & sausage jambalaya
Street corn from the French Market... a little mushy but seasoned so well, loved it.
Grasshopper for the frog. Err, me. Never thought just being able to wander a street with a cup of booze would feel so liberating...
That night from the Court Tavern (I think) - muffuletta for Melissa, alligator sausage on a bun for me... I sort of loved the ingenious detachable handle to let you hold a large cheap plastic cup of cold beer without things collapsing.
Mahoney's was a bit too commercial maybe? Though friendly. I'm an idiot not getting my Po'Boy dressed, and we got onion rings and fried green tomatoes... at some point we realized maybe we were leaning into the friedness a bit much...
Beignet from the New Orleans Coffee & Beignet Co in the Garden District...
At the Insectarium - waxworms and crickets to sample... just shows you the power of proper seasoning!
Well, not actually something we sampled, but Moxie at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum...
Dinner at the Red Fish Grill (one of our tour drivers mentioned her son is a chef there, and grilled seem like a nice diversion from all the fried) I got Blackened Catfish (Cajun shrimp rice, shrimp veloute, green tomato chow chow) and Melissa's wood grilled snapper with Canelli beans, collard greens, and a veal sauce
Double Bourbon Pecan Pie.
District Donuts... mine was Hot Chicken & Honey Butter French Toast Biscuit, hers was Croque Madame (Applewood smoked ham, Havarti cheese, dijon, bechamel, sandwiched on a griddled donut topped with a sunny-side-up egg)
Fancying it up at Galatoire's - on my NOLA checklist was Turtle Soup (here "au Sherry"...)
My Shrimp Etouffée..
Melissa's Crabmeat Ravigote (Louisiana jumbo lump crab, green onions, béchamel sauce, hollandaise, and a side of sauteed spinach). For this meal and Red Fish Grill and District Donuts, Melissa's getting annoyed that we're both liking my choices a bit more than hers...
Brunch at Stanley of New Orleans... kind of mundane breakfast for me though I wanted to try authentic grits, Melissa had red beans and rice and fried soft shell crab
That crab again...
For our last night, back to Coop's Place. I finally got a properly dressed Po'boy (fried crawfish to boot)
Melissa met her craving for fried chicken, with their famous rabbit & sausage jambalaya.
My "first half/second half" galleries of our NOLA trip had more of an eye for the photos that worked well visually... these are photos that didn't make the cut but help tell the story of a lovely week, a story we might want to refresh our memories of later.
December 16, 2019
Open Photo Gallery
Jet Blue was a pretty nice choice.
First afternoon, down by the riverside... we were approached by a young guy who said he liked my shoes... we were a little too uptight and wary so we didn't engage, later I learned it was probably the setup for a busking joke where he'd bet me he could tell me where I got 'em...
Fanciest Walgreens I've seen. Plus, palm trees - I know it's small-minded of me but I'm always surprised by palm trees outside of like Hawaii and L.A.
Melissa stretching, waiting for the bus... it's the "French Quarter" but the architecture is heavily Spanish influenced, which might explains why it reminded me of Mexico (specifically Mérida) especially on the smaller streets.
The Whitney Plantation does the best job of telling the stories of the enslaved peoples brought to the area, and has statues of young residents of the place.
Mahony's had some loaned Ford GT40s on display.
Riffing with the Young Fellaz on Frenchmen Street.
1955 statue of the guy who picked a sub-sea-level location to build a city on...
City tour guide Butch at St Louis Cemetary #3
St Louis Cemetary #3 above-ground tomb.
Melissa peeking up through an aquatic exhibit at the Insectarium.
Melissa's bright yellow shirt attracted the butterflies.
At the Pharmacy Museum, this is the kind of stuff that inspired "Love Potion Number Nine"...
Line for Preservation Hall on a rainy night.
Some roughed-up sidewalk in the Garden District... I'd seen broken up sidewalk before, but never quite this way.
Tried to capture The Ohio State University flag in front of one of the homes.
The National WW2 museum - tried to be even handed in someways, but definitely the nationalist perspective.
Striking diorama about D-Day
Always love these.
KIRK! Rufus Kirk was an F4F "Wildcat" pilot, this is his B-$ "Mae West" life preserver.
Our seats at Snug Harbor weren't great but they cleverly put up a big mirror across from the balcony...
I sorta dug the Crescent City's police logo. This type of barrier was often used to block off traffic during street-party times. Which is a lot of the time.
My friend Karen Dunahm is fond of this sculpture and fountain...
Well done street statue performer...
By the swamp.
Swamp... there's a bit of gator if you look carefully!
Many houses in the area are raised so they are ready for extensive flooding...
Whole swamp raccoon party actually...
Fun "Best of" Video for my far and away favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon, the street style teaching marching band that is School of Honk :-D