Thursday, March 7, 2013

Walking and Eating Around New Orleans

This past week I visited New Orleans.  It was a quick excursion I planned as my husband's Christmas present (he's really hard to shop for) because the city has things we both like -- food and music.  We had a great trip and a fantastic time walking around to see cathedrals, cemeteries, and gardens while grabbing quick bites along the way.  In case you ever plan a trip to New Orleans, here are a few of the highlights and things I would recommend to see and eat...

Walk down Bourbon Street and take in the 'sights' (e.g., bars, souvenir shops, and people already drinking).  I suggest doing this in the morning because it's clean (they clean the sidewalks in the morning from what was clearly a debacle the night before) and less crowded.  Stop off at Musical Legends Park to grab a cafe au lait and beignet at Cafe Beignet (at 330 Bourbon St).  You can enjoy your breakfast outside in the garden area and listen to some live music (and the musicians take requests!).

If you have never had a beignet before, it's a must when in New Orleans.  They are little doughy pillows with sprinkled powder sugar on top.  It sort of reminds me of a funnel cake, but with a little more bread to it.  They are sweet and delicious.  

Head down to Jackson Square to check out what the artists are selling around the park (e.g., paintings, crafts) and enjoy the beautiful sights like the Saint Louis Cathedral.

On the weekends, there are a bunch of entertainers around Jackson Square like comedians, mimes, and brass bands.  It's a great place to listen to some free music and if you are like me, enjoy another cup of coffee.  **TO NOTE, public restrooms are difficult to find in NOLA, and down at Jackson Square is the one public restroom I was able to find in the city - in the JAX Brewery building - the best tip in this whole blog post**

For lunch, walk down to the French Market, an open-air farmers market and flea market.  They sell everything from Mardi Gras beads and t-shirts to spice blends and sauces -- all at a great price.  There are lots of places to grab a bite to eat in the French Market (and pick up a King Cake!).  We stopped for lunch at N'awlins Cafe and Spice Emporium - they have a huge selection of po' boys and things like a "gator on a stick."  I ordered the crawfish sausage po' boy, which came with cajun-spiced red potatoes (sauteed with peppers and onions).  It was spicy and delicious.  If you sit at the bar stools and eat, you can try out their different hot sauces on your po' boy, which was awesome.  I finally got to try some ghost-pepper hot sauce.  It was hot... but not as hot as I thought.    

Photo Courtesy of Thomas "bogmonkey" A. because I ate mine too fast
From the French Market, walk over to Canal Street and hop on the St. Charles street car to the Garden District.  The Garden District is a little neighborhood in New Orleans that is considered to have one of the best collections of historic Southern mansions.  You can see houses owned (or previously owned) by famous people such as Nicholas Cage and Sandra Bullock.  These houses are absolutely gorgeous and the landscaping is immaculate.  Since my husband is a huge NY Giants fan, we stopped in to see the Mannings...

Unfortunately, Eli was not able to come out and play. And, we were a little disappointed that no one asked us in for tea.  I believe that would have been the "Southern" thing to do.

While in the Garden District, stop by Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 and check out the haunting tombs and wall vaults.  

For dinner, I highly recommend you make reservations for Cochon, a cajun southern restaurant that was featured in Bon Appetit.  My review will be posted on Capital Cooking in a few weeks and I'll link to it so you all can read how delicious it is.   Okay, I'll give you a clue.  They like pigs.

After dinner, head over to Frenchmen Street to check out some live music at one of the many clubs like Snug Harbor, Three Muses and more.  We stopped at The Maison and enjoyed jazz quartet followed by the One Love Brass Band (a ska/reggae brass band).  It was a lot of fun drinking and dancing the rest of the night at The Maison.      

If you are ever looking for a getaway that is a short plane ride away from DCA this spring, check out NOLA.  You'll find fantastic music, delicious food and Southern hospitality.   


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