Monday, December 21, 2009

New Orleans Souvenirs: Day 3

After such an action packed day, Seth and I decided to take it easy. Our hotel is very close to Magazine Street, so we headed that way in search of the Magazine Po-Boy and Sandwich Shop. I must say, I'm not a big fan of po-boys like Seth is, but when it came to deep fried pickle slices, it was love at first bite!

Mardi Gras beads decorate many of the homes and trees along Magazine Street:
Magazine Street is popular for its cute boutiques and resale shops, but I liked it for things like this. I really love this car, especially parked in front of the Pawn Shop like that:
It took us an hour or so to walk to Audubon Park, but with all the great food we'd been sampling it was nice to get at least a little bit of exercise. There's a big ol' Whole Foods on Magazine Street so we loaded up on vegetables and salad and had a picnic in the park. It was great fun to bird watch, especially with odd critters like this cross between a turkey and a duck running around. Talk about a bird of a different feather! What the @#$% is it???
It seems we couldn't let a day of our vacation pass without hanging out in the French Quarter, so, after ogling the grand mansions on St. Charles Street, we hopped the trolley and headed downtown.
This is the famous Cornstalk Hotel, so named because of its lovely cast iron fence:
Seth's one regret is that we didn't eat at an iconic New Orleans restaurant like Brennan's. There's always next time!
Instead, we had dinner at Molly's. Someone told us to eat here if we wanted a fantastic bowl of gumbo. It's not on the menu; the chef makes it when the mood strikes her. Luckily, she had a big batch ready when we got there.
We stopped at Napoleon House for a nightcap. I loved the ambiance but the Pimm's Cup left a lot to be desired, especially since it's the house drink. Way too sweet for me. I've had this drink many times before, but it's never tasted like cough syrup.
We didn't eat or drink here, but passed it while strolling along Urine Alley (my nickname for this stretch of sidewalk--Pee-YOU!) on our way to catch the trolley back to our hotel. Those little spots on the sidewalk are mosaics of oysters on the half shell.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Prospect Park, November 20, 2009

Little Prairie in the City

A fun after-work activity--especially with out-of-town guests. Meet at the Chelsea Market, head up to the High Line, then foot it over to Company for some of the best salads ever (in my opinion, at least) and pizza.
I still haven't been there during the day, but it sure is pretty at night:
Hi, Tina! I miss you:As far as I can tell, this section was just opened in the last couple/few weeks. When you walk under this building look to your right and you'll spot the perfect place to meet for cocktails. Not sure if it's open to the public, though:Whiskey sour, anyone?:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Orleans Souvenirs: Day 2

We joined Darin and Kaori, a couple friends from NYC, who happened to be vacationing in the Big Easy the same week we were and it turned out to be a great day--we met in the morning, hopped in their rental car and started off on the right foot with all things deep fried, fatty and delicious at Elizabeth's Restaurant in Bywater.
On the menu: cornbread waffles with sweet potato salmon topping, breakfast po boy, grits, salmon balls in seafood sauce, and the piece de resistance--praline bacon in all its salty sweet goodness. I rarely eat red meat, just a tiny bite of something super-special every other year or so, but one bite of this and I was ready to go whole hog:

Then we checked out the Backstreet Cultural Museum. It's located in what used to be a funeral home in Treme, which is the oldest neighborhood of "Free People of Color" in the U.S. One room is filled with beautiful feathered and beaded Mardi Gras Indians costumes, many of which, including the black and white one pictured below and most likely the other one, were worn by the Fi Yi Yi tribe (one of many that represents the different cultures that make up the Mardi Gras Indians). The other room is filled with memorabilia from Skeletons, Baby Dolls, Social Aid and Pleasure clubs and funeral parades. Robert, our tour guide, makes many of these costumes himself and it was great listening to him talk about how they're made and what they represent, the Second Line and Funeral parades, the neighborhood, New Orleans in general, his favorite music...this was hands down my favorite part of the trip. If you want to see something truly beautiful and unique while you're in New Orleans, if you love music and need some great recommendations, VISIT THIS MUSEUM!!!!
One of Robert's favorite places to see music was the Ernie K-Doe Mother-in-Law Lounge, named for Ernie K-Doe's R&B hit. It was closed when we stopped by that afternoon and we didn't get another chance to go back, but it's well worth checking out just to see the murals of K-Doe and his beloved wife and the courtyard around back. There's always next time.I was a bit torn about visiting the Lower Ninth Ward, but after talking to some of the locals felt better about it. Our waitress at Elizabeth's encouraged us to see it and to tell our friends what we saw--she also recommended reading 1 Dead in the Attic. Another person told us: "Everybody blaming it on Katrina, but that neighborhood looked that way before the storm." On the other hand, Seth had read in Douglas Brinkley's The Great Deluge that before the hurricane, the Ninth Ward had more African-American property owners than any other place in Louisiana, rivaling the ownership rates any African-American neighborhood in the country. Beyond the levee in the photograph below is the Mississippi River--it was strange to look up and see a ship floating so far above our heads and homes in the Lower Ninth Ward. From the top of the levee looking down into the neighborhood you see the two Doullut Steamboat Houses that seem like they're in perfect condition despite the flood, a few of the new construction "Brad Pitt" homes (still for sale), and original homes--some inhabited; most in various stages of repair or deterioration. This levee stayed intact after the hurricane doing as good a job keeping the water from Lake Pontchartrain in the city as it did keeping the Mississippi out.
From there, we headed out of the city to check out Louisiana's wetlands making a pit stop along the way at one of the many drive-through daiquiri stands so Seth could get his drink on. (Seth wants me to mention that Darin insisted we stop.) We timed it perfectly, arriving at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve just in time to watch the sunset through the cypress trees and listen to the owls hooting at each other.
But the day wasn't over yet. Seeing Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf Bar was one of the highlights of the trip. Recommended by Robert, this is the best band ever. We had had a really full day that day and I felt like a zombie by the time the band started, but one they started they were so good! Talk about the perfect pick-me-up. They played to a packed house--with everyone dancing. At one point a 90-something-year-old man got up on stage and danced until he fell off. (Luckily, he was okay.) The perfect end to a perfect day.These are just the highlights. See more pix on flickr.

Talkin' turkey

Only a week has passed since Seth and I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner with Laurie and Bryan here on the 'bush, and I still can't stop thinking about the meal...:

(Yep, that's me caught in the act of gazing lovingly at my dinner plate. Embarrassing.)
...and the friends who braved our grimier than grimy kitchen to create it...:
...and the ones who waited (and waited!) for it to be ready. (Thanks again for making it such a great day):
Some of the highlights include:
enari sushi:

a beautifully carved, perfectly crisp and juicy turkey:...chestnut stuffing, two kinds of sweet potatoes both sweet and savory, fruit salad, cranberry sauce, parker house rolls, then there were the desserts. (Okay. Everything was delicious!) Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the dessert table laden with apple pie, chocolate burbon pecan pie, and irresistible pastries including baklava.And if you're a longtime reader/fan of The Old House Club (Hi, Mom!) you know that my Thanksgiving table isn't complete without green bean casserole. Here's the recipe in case you're interested.
Unfortunately, the leftovers are gone--at least the memories remain!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Orleans Souvenirs: Day 1

It stormed the first night we were there, casting a pretty pink glow over everything, including St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square:
Other highlights on day one of our vacation/honeymoon in the Big Easy:
- Seth's first taste of beignet ever at
Cafe Du Monde--one bite and Seth was hooked. This was our first of three visits.- World's best hamburgers with a Neptune's Monsoon to wash it down at Port of Call. Unfortunately, I was too full (if your idea of the perfect baked potato is equal parts potato and sour cream, don't miss theirs!) to get a picture, so here's the next best thing. This isn't Port of Call, though. I liked how the window framed the customers and this was my attempt at capturing an Edward Hopper / Nighthawks kind of feel. Apparently there's more than one world's best burger in Nawlins:- A nightcap at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop. It looks like it wouldn't take much more than a gust of wind to blow this candle-lit building down, but it's been around since the late 1700s, surviving two fires that destroyed practically all the buildings in the French Quarter. We heard that there's a 100-year-old white pianist here who sings like Louis Armstrong. Sadly, he must have had the night off.If you want to see more--A LOT more--check out my New Orleans set on flickr.

Just Married!

So much to write about, I don't know where to start! It's been ten years in the making, but Seth and I tied the knot on a sunny Monday morning at City Hall before heading to JFK to catch our flight to New Orleans.

Second thoughts?
Meet Mrs. & Mr. Rachel Corbett!These are just a few of the highlights--if you want to see more check out my flickr account.