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New Orleans

May 3, 2018

Ah, the Big Easy! I spent a few crisp days in early January exploring Nola. I really love how this city does a lot of things– like 300 year old oaks and a gondolier in the city park.

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They close off certain streets midday to make space for musicians and artists. There’s jazz everywhere and hollandaise on absolutely everything!

I went to several restaurants I can enthusiastically recommend: August is an understated but refined little place just outside the French Quarter, serving thoughtful, seasonal, chef-driven fare.  Deannie’s Bucktown Seafood is a fun diner-style eatery with a Lousiana kick, and Felix’s Oyster Bar laid-back bar and dining room serves up some of the city’s freshest oysters.

I ate a ridiculously satisfying fried black-eyed-pea sandwich in a hole-in-the-wall called Bennechin which specializes in in the comfort food Africans brought to the area. Sucre Salon‘s brunch was all about cakes, waffles, and caviar. Tempt by Andrew Nguyen at the Saint Hotel serves the chef’s signature global cuisine.

I found two fun karaoke bars. Cat’s Meow has fun hosts and a great stage and a live webcam so you can shout out to your people back home. It’s right on Bourbon Street, so it gets a lot of “bad” karoake–like bachelorette parties screaming (Summer Lovin’.) After I left Cat’s Meow, drunk, I got lost, and wound up on some of the seedier streets outside the French quarters. There, I found a local’s dive gay karaoke bar that reminded me so much of my neighborhood dive gay karaoke bar, I made myself right at home. It’s called Grand Pre.

After a bit of research, I bought souveniers at a place called Voodoo Authentica, because it seemed more like the “real deal” than any other place I saw. From even before I walked in the shop, I’d been feeling the spirits of the old city all around me.

This statue of slaves dancing in Congo Square mesmerized me.

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You see, slaves were given Sundays off. First, they attended church (mandatory) but afterwards they could take jobs to earn money in hopes of purchasing their freedom, or they could gather with loved ones. Problem was, slaves weren’t allowed to congregate inside the city walls, lest they start plotting revolt. So, the slaves jumped the ramparts to sing and dance together just outside the city limits.

The Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium put me in geek nirvana. I worked for a butterfly garden years ago, so I understand a bit of what goes into such a place. This one looked well-curated and the critters seemed happy and clean. The butterfly garden itself was not nearly as well-manicured as the one I worked for, and the butterflies, koi, etc. were allowed to have a little wing (or fin) damage or faded colors without being culled to make the place look “perfect,” which I liked.

Their little bug cafe was kind of lame, they just had a few samples. I ate a Cajun spiced waxworm and got a sticker proclaiming “I ate a bug!” After eating the cricket taco at Taquiza (an authentic and organic Mexican place in South Beach, Miami) a tiny waxworm was easy.  Just think, if the Western world would embrace the farming of insects, we could do away with the factory farming of mammals, which is resource-intensive, harmful to the environment, and hell for the creatures being eaten. Bugs make for great lean protein.

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