We arrived and immediately started drinking it in. Literally. Neither Rob or I had ever been to New Orleans before so to say we were excited would be an understatement. We checked into The New Orleans Courtyard Hotel (not to be confused with a Courtyard by Marriott, because I did that when booking,) and set off on our adventure. (I’d highly recommend the hotel, especially if you don’t mind a lovely historic building, quaint, but perfectly clean and comfortable room and incredibly friendly service.)
Our first well-researched and highly recommended stop was Central Grocery (on Decatur St.), the birthplace of the Muffuletta sandwich. We got our giant sandwich (seriously, the things are bigger than most heads) and hopped two doors down to a liquor store for a Gingeroo, a beverage that is made and can only be found in New Orleans. We took food and drink and sat ourselves down on a nearby bench and savored. We savored where we were, that we were there together, the multiple layers of flavor and oil-dripping-down-you-chin goodness of the sandwich, and the spicy I-don’t-know-whats-in-this-but-its-so-good-and-I’m-drinking-it-outside flavor of the Gingeroo. Seriously, all of the travel was worth it just for that one experience but luckily we had a lot more to enjoy.
We floated around the quarter for a bit after that, trying to decide what to drink next. Not even being basically accosted by shoe shiners because we had a camera out and looked like tourists could ruin our buzz. (Yeah, look out for them, they’ll sweet talk you and before you can object they’ve got your foot on their knee and they’re going to town whether or not your shoes are actually leather …)
We probably walked closed to three miles each day we were there, and we the trend began when we decided to walk to Port of Call to get a giant, Hurricane like beverage on a friend’s suggestion. That was about when the drinking with reckless abandon began. OK maybe not complete reckless abandon, but we had a mighty good time, enjoying one of the most novel things about New Orleans – you can take your drinks to go! It probably took us until Sunday to realize we could order drinks in a to-go cup, even at the fancy places!
The drinks may have also fueled our stop in a mask store off of Jackson Square after watching a street magician (yup, Rob even participated in the guy’s act) and the purchase of a few souvenirs. The one I’m wearing in the picture is currently adorning the living room mantel.
After our little tour of some of the more touristy drinking holes (when in Rome) we headed back to our hotel for a quick nap and to clean ourselves up for dinner. The one and only reservation I made before our trip was at Peche, the most recent James Beard Award Best New Restaurant of the Year winner, and that was our ultimate destination for dinner. We stopped at The Sazerac Bar for, what else, a Sazerac before dinner and then ventured to the much-acclaimed restaurant. Oysters were a must and they were huge and delicious. There’s definitely a taste difference, these being less briny than many of the oysters eaten at home. We tried a bowl of the spicy ground shrimp and noodles, fried brussels sprouts and at our servers suggestion, a tuna collar. I had never heard of such a thing before but when you tell me something is phenomenal and there’s only one left, chances are I’m going to believe you and order it. Of course it was amazing and was the perfect ending to our meal.
After dinner … well there were stops at a lot places. I almost sung karaoke at Cat’s Meow (but we got bored waiting) and there was definitely a trip inside the Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street, but the music wasn’t as great as we had hoped. There were a few stops at other places too, but not memorable enough to mention here. If you’ve never been to the French Quarter before, just be OK with getting swept up in it. The drinks are good, there’s music everywhere and as long as you’re happy to go with the flow, you’ll have the time of your life. Parts 2 and 3 coming soon!