Monday, November 03, 2008

Home from our Travels to the South

Farmer Jeff and I are home from our lovely, restful, tasty and musical trip to the South.

We landed in New Orleans and, after having worked close to 6 months with an occasion day off, we slept most of the way and arrived to find tourists in New Orleans. We were very pleased to see more people in the city than we saw last year at the same time. YEAH!!! We didn't go far for our first meal. We stumbled to Mr. B's Bistro for dinner. It was right across from the hotel (Monteleone) and we were asleep on our feet. Good and convenient. We had Seafood Gumbo and their famous Gumbo Ya-Ya (chicken and sausage) and then I had Barbecued Shrimp and can't remember what Farmer Jeff had for his entree. We did get bread pudding for dessert. It was good but I prefer mine and Farmer Jeff's more. Especially his chocolate banana bread pudding. YUM.

The next day we just wandered. We took a long walk down Royal Street, walking the length of the Quarter,in the vain attempt to work off some calories that we were going to eat. We found a new and used cookbook store and just looked at the architecture. For lunch we hopped in the car and drove Uptown to Magazine Street. It runs through the Garden District and Uptown. After visiting several stores we decided to stop for a bite to eat and Ignatius was suggested to us. It is a traditional New Orleans-style restaurant named after the character of the quintessential NOLA book, A Confederacy of Dunces, Ignatius J. Riley. I had the traditional Monday wash day dish, Red Beans and Rice. It was SO good. Farmer Jeff had an Oyster Poorboy. Also delicious!

That night we ate at one of our two favorite restaurants, Cochon. (The other one is Herbsaint which is owned by the same folks!) We ate ourselves SILLY!!!!

I will give a full report on the rest of our meals. Tomorrow...

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The First Days of the Southern Adventure

Farmer Jeff and I awoke at O dark hundred for a flight from our little airport here in Santa Rosa, connecting in LA before heading to New Orleans, LA, the other LA. It was actually a frightening ride due to the Santa Ana winds and the fact that we could see the fires burning away on land on either side of the airplane. So odd and beautiful to see those powerful orange flames at dawn.

As if that weren't enough, we flew through and mercifully landed in NOLA during a horrible storm, one which flooded parts of the city and tested the Katrina failed pumps. Thankfully, the pumps worked. The citizens were so tickled with these pumps that they were included on our tour of the city the next day.

Our first bites of food in NOLA were at Acme Oyster Co. on Iberville. YUM. Even though we had dinner reservations later that night, we had to eat some oysters, red beans and rice, more oysters and some gumbo. We did wait 2 plus hours to eat our meal...and then we PIGGED OUT!!!

We ate at the fabulous restaurant Cochon.
We had 15 different dishes ranging from the seemingly tame fried chicken livers on toast drizzled with red pepper jelly to fried boudin balls with house made pickled peppers and the very wild pickled pork tongue and crispy fried pigs ear. Honestly, once you get past the cringe factor, it IS good! Among other dishes we had the outrageous plate of smoked ham hocks with grits and roasted peppers. Who knew that ham hocks could have a little sweetness like these??? Whatever you do...GO!!!

Our first full day there we actually went on a tour with Shelby and Gayle. They took us on a driving tour through the quarter, showed us the famous corn fence, built for a homesick gal from Kansas by her husband, and we even went to the famous grave of Marie Leveau, the voodoo queen. I felt a little strange going there. Okay...I am VERY superstitious!

We also went on a tour around the ninth ward to see the vast destruction. What really saddened me was the total annihilation of the houses/neighborhoods, street after street. Some folks have rebuilt, but only to have the Army Corps of Engineers try to "seize" the property. Believe me, the "Storm", as they refer to Katrina, is a very emotional subject. It was very strange to be in New Orleans, looking at the remnants of the storm, only to be watching another disaster taking place in San Diego and other sites in southern California. I heard bitterness in folks voices as they were talking about the speed with which the dislocated citizenry of the fires were helped by the government. It was not a happy comparison for them.

We did ask almost everyone we spoke to how they were feeling about life after the storm. Clearly the folks we were asking were the "survivors", the ones that had made the decision to live in New Orleans and environs. Everyone had a story that they wanted to share. They also wanted to be sure we knew they, and the city of New Orleans, we happy to have tourists and tourist dollars infusing the economy. Really, we were welcomed with the warm and sweet arms of New Orleans. Think beignets and pralines.

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