Ok, our trip is really on day 4 or 5. The only thing is, we kinda had a big old detour at the beginning. We flew into Baton Rouge last Friday morning and rented a car. Then we headed east on 12 toward the Florida panhandle. Since we flew on a red eye flight, we needed a cup o' Joe mighty serious. The only thing was, it was pert near impossible to find a place for a decent cup of Coffee. Bars? Plenty of em open. Cajun joints? Plenty of em open? Where's my Starbucks? Nary to be seen. I even started to look for McDonalds for some Coffee I was so desperate. Finally after about 30 miles I saw signs for a Dunkin' Donuts. They make cute TV commercials about their Coffee so we headed that-a-way. As soon as we got to Dunkin' Donuts we saw a sign for a Starbucks about another mile away, so we continued driving. YEAH! Finally got my cup of dark roast Coffee! We headed back to I-12, and on the road another 300 miles to Seaside, Florida, as we craved some beachtime.
I won't bore you with the details, as this is a NOLA forum. Seaside was great. Weather sucked, but Seaside was great. We had great Happy Hour oysters for $6 a dozen three days in a row and we ordered 3 dozen each night. Plus the best thing we ate the whole trip was a Grilled Shrimp Po Boy at Hurricanes just outside of Watercolor. We also stopped at the famous Red Bar on the beach for a beer, and to look at the world famous clientelle that frequent that establishment :)
Back to NOLA. Since we had 330 miles of driving time to kill, we played "colored license plates on the drive to NOLA from Seaside". We counted 35 states, and 4 Canadian provinces. Including the tough states to get "Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire,and Vermont".
On our drive back to NOLA, we had targeted the LA Pines cafe in Slidell, as our first place to visit. We got there right at 1:30PM. Triple D did a profile of this place so we had to give it a try.
We got there right after the heavy breakfast/lunch rush had subsided. Apparently it was a tough day at the office for the crew, as we listened to them talk about the day. Since it was close to closing time, I ordered the special Po Boy Guy Fiere had covered in his episode on Triple D, the smoked Prime Rib Po Boy, with a side of Corn Pudding. My better half ordered the Fried Shrimp Po Boy with fried green tomatoes, and she had a side of cole slaw. As our the meals came to our table, the owner came through the front door. A big tall, nice fella, with a big smile. All I have to say about our meals is the side dishes were the highlight of our meal:( The Corn Pudding was awesome. The Po Boys were ordinary at best. The service was great, just a so so meal. We went over to the map and put the pit on the map where we were from, and headed to NOLA to check in.
We got to NOLA around 3:30PM, a little early for our B &B check in time (The Avenue Inn, on St Charles). We decided to drive around the City a bit to get a feel for the layout, as this was our first visit here. We drove the length of St Charles, then headed up to Magazine and drove the length of Magazine back. We spied Casamemto's and we were hankering for a dozen Oysters, so we pulled over. They were closed on Mondays, so we were out of luck. About two blocks away, was another place called Nawlins, which also was purported to be an Oyster Bar. So we walked in. On the outside of this place, we saw the words "World Famous". We've been in NOLA about 26 hours, and just about half the places we see here label themselves as "World Famous" :) Anyway, we walk in and say "two Abita's please, and a dozen Oysters on the half shell". The bartender says, "Our shucker ain't here, sorry". We ordered a bowl of Gumbo instead :(
All I can tell you, is if you call yourself a World Famous Oyster Bar, you sure as heck better have a backup shucker!!! The Gumbo was fine, as were the Abita's. We left, and drove a few blocks to check in to The Avenue Inn. We had a friendly and informative checkin with Joe, the owner. Our room wasn't ready yet, so Joe suggested we go next door to the Sports/Oyster bar on the corner. They had a nice little Oyster Bar and their shucker was there! Since we just had a bowl of Gumbo and two Abita's. I ordered a Hoptoulis, and my wife a 44. A signature 3 rum concoction from the place which was yummy. BTW. In the back of this place they have a coffee shop, that serves Cafe' O Lait, and fresh Beingets!!!!
We finished our drinks and finished checking in. It was now late afternoon and we were tired from the long drive, so we decided to stretch our legs a bit. We decided to explore our neighborhood. We walked down Napolean Avenue in the opposite direction of Magazine street. We ran into lots of residential areas, semi-industrial areas, and some seriously seedy neighborhoods. We walked about 30 blocks in total, and did a u-turn to head back toward St Charles. Pascal Manale's was ight off of Napoleon Avenue, and we had read about it, so we peeked inside. Right there in the bar area, was a standing only Oyster bar, with a shucker right there. We decided to stay for dinner. We got a dozen, monster size Oysters, then sat down for Dinner. BTW, the dozen Oysters we had, were the equivalent of the three dozen Oysters we'd had the night before. We dined on their famous (world famous of course), grilled Shrimp shrimp, and split a Caesar Salad. A top flight meal. We walked the two blocks back to the Avenue Inn, and crashed for the evening.
The next morning, we had a nice continental breakfast, chatted with the other guests, and planned our day. Our plan was to walk our brains out, and check out the Garden District and the Lafeyette Cemetary, and most of Magazine Street. Before we started this trek, we snuck a peek into the Coffee Shop, and Beignet place next door. We saw a young family feasting on some hot Beignets with gusto, so we thought "what the heck?" We ordered 3 Beignet's and a Cafe O' Lait. I gotta tell you the coffee and the Beignet's were great!
We then walked about 12 blocks down St Charles toward the Garden District. We got to third street and turned right. We basically walked every block, every street of the Garden District. Lovely homes, historic homes. A home built in the 1850's with an iron fence, cast in a foundry in Philadelphia, and the fence posts, are crafted in the image of corn stalks. No I'm not kidding. It was pretty cool. The Azalea's had mostly flowered out. Some Carolina Jasmine were in bloom. Their bouquet alerted you to their presence. Some Sweatpeas were in bloom too, and they smelled just as sweet. While this is an historic neighborhood, lived in by the well heeled, it is also a family neighborhood. Basketball hoops, play structures abound. We took multiple pictures too of family pets, who sat by their fences doing "their" people watching. We visited the Lafayette Cemetary too. Glad to see some renovations are being done. Next on to lunch. We started at Parasols on Constance St. A NOLA red ale, and a we split a Roast Beef Po Boy. A+. We mosied up the block to Tracey's. A Irish competitor of Parasols. We stopped for a Smithwick Ale, and got our niece Tracey, a T shirt from "Tracey's". We then walked about 10 blocks down Magazine Street, window shopping along the way on our way to Mahoney's. We found a great tile shop to browse, as we are remodeling our Master Bath. We passed Sucre too, which we planned on visiting after stopping at Mahoney's. At Mahoney's we stood dutifully in line, and ordered the half of a Muffaletta, and small order of the thin sliced Onion rings, and a Pint of Blue Moon Ale. The half of a Muffaletta was massive, and between the two of us, we couldn't finish it. The thin sliced Onion rings were crazy good. I almost ordered the large order, which would have been stupid, since we couldn't finish the smaller batch. Onion rings A+, Muffaletta B+. Service was very friendly and attentive. We then walked back a few blocks to Sucre for some Gelato, although we eyed the chocolates closely. We settled on a dark chocolate gelato. Yummy. A+.
Our feet were tired, our legs were tired, and our stomach's quite full. We walked down Magazine to Napoleon, turned right and then walked the 6 blocks back to our B & B. Passing a Catholic school that was finishing it's day. Parents all lined up in traffic to transport them home.
We crashed in our room for a two hour nap. Got up took a shower, and decided to drive around the City a bit more. We drove down to the river, then headed along the levee, until we were out of New Orleans proper, and came across a joint called the Rivershack. It was packed which is a good sign. No tourists, all locals. We ordered a couple of beers as the band was setting up. We thought we might stay, have a light meal and listen to the music. However, a large private party was there, and we didn't want to crash, so we headed back to Magazine Street. We had walked by the Bouligny Tavern earlier in the day. We weren't famished, we just wanted something light and simple, and a glass of wine. The Bouligny Tavern was perfect. I had a Dolcetto from Italy, and my wife ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. We ordered half a dozen Oysters on the half shell. Three from Nova Scotia, and three from Washington (Miyagi). They were served with a Champagne Vinagerette, with chopped shallots. Molto Bene! We also ordered a trio of of Hummus (Olive, Eggplant, and Red Pepper). Excellent. Finally we had some seared scallops, with stauteed Hearts of Palm in Olive Oil, Garlice and Lemon. Light and delicious. Quite a full day.
Tomorrow, we'll head down to the WWII Museum, and let the day take off from there.